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When I was pregnant with our last baby, Aury, I had contemplated having an artist do henna on my big ol’ belly.  After some research, I felt convicted that hiring someone to do it would possibly jeopardize my values, knowing that there is a lot of symbolism in henna art, plenty that may conflict with my personal beliefs.  And not being experienced or knowledgeable enough in this area, I didn’t want to compromise accidentally.

Earlier this year, however, a dear friend of mine posted about this wonderful ministry through International Mission Board called “Share the Gospel with Henna.”  I ordered their e-book, chalk full of stories and henna art and symbolism that tells the story that I find the Greatest Story on earth.  What a cool concept!

The problem?  Well, two summers ago we had a majorly failed attempt at mixing our own henna paste, and buying pre-made paste was a) not fresh, and b) often full of yucky chemicals that I have no desire to share with our unborn baby or myself.  You also have to know the “right” kind of henna to buy, and there are a zillion recipes out there.  I felt like it was way over my head.

With renewed inspiration – and encouragement from two girlfriends who were extremely supportive of my desire to share the Gospel through my swollen belly – I went at it again.  This time, with much more success.  I’ll share my recipe (and tips) below.  Meanwhile, I want to share with you what a blessing this was for me.  You see, at heart, I’m a DIY’er. I wanted to beat this thing – this defeat – of last time.  Temporary tattoos with meaning could be something I’d enjoy so much if only I could figure it out!

Freshly pasted belly.

I also want to share here some changes in our lives that made this henna’d belly such a blessing to me.  Y’all should know by now that change is not my favorite thing.  In fact, this was one that left me feeling pretty vulnerable and uncomfortable at first.  But, as always, God is good – and provides peace if we’re willing to accept it.

Halfway through this pregnancy, I found out that we would no longer be able to continue with our previous midwives unless we were paying cash.  In fact, unbeknownst to us, we had racked up many thousands through them that our insurance would turn out unable to cover.

Knowing we have excellent insurance, we had to make a hard decision and decided it’d be best to find someone who was able to utilize our resources.  Until this pregnancy, we’d always had a plan from the get-go, and stayed with our same midwives through birth.  In fact, in previous pregnancies, we were doubly covered with both OB’s and midwives, “just in case.”  So we were definitely fish out of the water this time.  And five months pregnant, oh my!

Thanks be to God, I had the immense privilege of walking side by side with a sweet friend as she journeyed through her first pregnancy late last year.  She had been seeing a midwife group that was unfamiliar to me, and I got the honor to watch in action as I doula’d and photographed her birth.  Having been to some prenatal appointments with her as well, I was really impressed with the practice’s services.  At the time, though, I wasn’t shopping.  Then just like that, here we were, provider-less.  Ah ha!

Fast forward to now, and we’re in love.  They meet almost all of our criteria and have pre-authorization with our insurance, shockingly less than expected, and so we were able to pay up front – and know what to expect.  No surprises.  Whew!  I cried with relief when I found out.

You’ll note I say they meet most of our desires.  Here are a few of those:

  • Covered by our insurance
  • Confident they can make it to the birth (we birth fast!)
  • Have a similar (very natural) philosophy as us, and yet:
  • Have the ability, wisdom, and medical know-how to handle what-if’s
  • Have privileges, but not be in partnership, with a local hospital

Feeling protective of my first-timer girlfriend, I had asked a lot of questions of them when I had attended her prenatal visits.  One was how they handle over-due birthers.  We’ve gone significantly over our estimated due date several times, and you’ll recall that it got a little dramatic with Flynn.  I wanted to know what their game plan would look like for my girlfriend’s sake, just in case.  Their answer was spot on, which has been an immense relief to me then and also now that we’re using them as well!

A huge selling point?  They have copies of Nourishing Traditions in their waiting room.  Bingo!

Early on when searching for new midwives, I was surprisingly concerned with the fact that there was a possibility that the people providing for me during birth – one of the more intense and intimate times of life – may not share my beliefs (aaaaaaand we’re coming back around to the original point of the post, and the “thing” I wasn’t sure they fit with what we’d “want”).  I don’t know why this bothered me so much, because it really doesn’t meet my general jive of what I think about midwives, birthing, etc.  It was this feeling, though, that led me to want to be a witness, even in birth… even on my belly.

48 hours after application, nice and dark.

Since we made the decision to go with these midwives, I have gotten to know one of the two particularly intimately and feel extremely comfortable talking openly with her about any subject.  The bond with women is real, sisters.  And I’m so thankful to have it with her instead of feeling like she’s a “new person” in my life that I have to filter my beliefs with, etc.  I feel quite similar with the other midwife there, but haven’t yet had as many intimate opportunities with her.  Well, I guess I will soon if she’s the one on-call!  And I’m very, very comfortable with that.  I’m so thankful!  Why was I so worried?!

We’re not fish out of water when we allow God to direct our lives and do not fear.  We never are.  Let that sink in.

One of my favorite ladies and someone I consider a second Mama will also be at our birth, Lord willing.  She’s made it to each one yet.  We’ve prepared and are ready when this little one’s ready, and once again, realize there will be less change than fear caused us to believe (fear is a liar, after all).  We are also, once again, supported and surrounded by so many wonderful friends and family – for the birth and the days after.

Today, I must admit, I’m excited for labor to start.

Henna Paste

  • 14 T. henna (we used this one, and since it worked, I’m linking it for my future reference)
  • 6 T. white sugar
  • 5 T. eucalyptus essential oil
  • 1 T. clove bud essential oil
  • 3 T. espresso powder diluted in 1 cup water
  • more water, as needed

I mixed the first 4 ingredients, then added the espresso water bit by bit, stirring aggressively along the way.  I did end up adding a couple more tablespoons of water to get the consistency I was wanting.  It should be gooey like toothpaste, and very stretchy/elastic.  But still thick enough that it doesn’t dribble out of the fine-tipped applicator you’ll be using.  You also want to be sure to not have ANY lumps.  You can get this by sifting the henna through cloth (we didn’t) at least 3 times.  We also found that letting this mixture sit overnight in a semi-warm spot to “cure” (to allow the dye to release) made nearly all lumps there may have been dissolve by the final mixing that next day.

We made our own cones to apply out of page protectors, as this YouTuber suggested.  Turns out, we used about a tablespoon total of henna paste for my whole entire belly.  We filled and froze cones (with about a tablespoon each) for later use.  The recipe above made approximately 18 cones.

I also made a “henna balm” with beeswax, cocoa butter, castor oil and coconut oil.  Apparently applying some before water exposure (shower, pool, etc) will help the art last longer.  And it smells amazing, so there’s that.  Update: after several uses, I’m convinced I’ll be using this regularly long after the henna is faded and gone.  It just may replace my trusty Palmer’s pump bottle (the goo that I’m convinced have kept stretch marks away for six full-term pregnancies now).

Back in the day when I did ballet, I was exceptionally flexible. So much that I was told by professionals to avoid working on additional stretch, instead focusing on supportive muscles, so that I wouldn’t suffer long-term problems.

Well, at last I’m seeing some ramifications for what was a lovely blessing during my dancing days: After Aury was born (I didn’t notice during pregnancy at all), I suffered for 9+ months Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD), also called pelvic instability or pelvic girdle pain. I didn’t realize what my problem was until this pregnancy when it started around week 26 and I recognized the feeling.* It has gotten progressively worse and is what (even minor) makes pregnant women “wobble” as they grow. Some women experience it more/less than others. It can potentially become a big issue, but not often.

Hoping to keep post-birth recovery more simple and shorter than after Aury’s birth, I’ve been doing a lot of research and bringing out some of the tools from my dancing days. Thanks to my sister who is a professional athletic physical therapist, I’ve been doing several exercises & implementing restrictions (below) to help, and have added kinesiology tape to my bag of tricks (it’s been a surprisingly wonderful thing!).  I also just got a supportive belt last week (and will wear it after birth, as necessary). Rather than support my growing BELLY or back, it just snugs up my whole pelvis to keep flexibility to a minimum. So far, so good. I’m feeling so encouraged after a couple of weeks of pretty intense discouragement!

The pain was slight at first, ramping up as I made errors in judgment.  The first time was when I was back-wearing Aury and slipping in the mud – flip flops on a rainy day to do chores?  Stupid fool.  It was the incident that made me ask for advice more aggressively.  Thanks to a referral from a friend (and then my midwife), I went to my first ever physical therapy appointment last week.  The PT was compassionate and empathetic.  She helped me with additional exercises at home (below) that I could use to support my pelvis.  I was in a good amount of pain on this visit, but by my follow up visit two days later, I already noted significant improvement.  They did some deep massage and had me working on some more exercises.  I had another set back late last week, but already am feeling encouraged by a decently quick recovery after a weekend of being doted on by my kids and husband.  And very, very little movement.

This gets me excited.  This flies in the face of the research I initially did on the internet.  Everything I read said there was no cure, other than waiting out hormone adjustments after birth.  Umm, I’d rather that not be an option.  I want to be more proactive with my body, even if I get their reasoning.  Surely there’s something one can do in the event that my SPD is not extreme!?

Here are a few immediate changes I made as soon as it started, and have noted has definitely kept things in check:

  • Less picking up the babe – This guy’s a snuggler, and has intuitively started needing me more as I’m nearing the due date of his little brother, so this is tricky.  But I stopped wearing him.  And I stopped loading him in and out of the car (thanks to big kids!).  I found alternatives, like snuggling on our over-sized bean bag in the living room.  A lot.  That’s been fabulous for both (all!) of us.
  • Keep knees together when rolling in bed at nighttime – This made a huge impact on nighttime pain.  In fact, I really can’t complain about SPD while sleeping at this point.
  • Sit while putting on bottoms – This was the worst part, trying to get un/dressed.  Lifting one leg at a time was a real doozy, and limiting that motion in general not only made the activity itself easier, it made the rest of the day so much better.
  • No crossing legs at knees –  sitting cross-legged has not been an issue since the pelvis stays level.  However, crossing at the knees (feet down) causes the pelvis to twist.  And twisting is b-a-d.
  • Fewer stairs – since our bedrooms are upstairs, this can’t be completely eliminated, but rather than head up for every little thing, the kids are really stepping up (see what I did there?) and helping me if something’s needed, including putting our little fella down for nap.** When necessary to climb stairs, use support.  Hold on to that railing, by gum!
  • Live like a mermaid – I’ve been taking this one more and more seriously as time goes on.  Here is The Tummy Team’s video on the matter, giving a great visual of what you want to avoid.  The Tummy Team is an excellent resource for SPD and Diastis Recti, and strengthing your core before/during/after pregnancy if you’re in the PNW!  I have many friends who have had wild success there with repairing and recovering and building.
  • SLOW DOWN – this has been the most important and most challenging one.  It’s time to just take it a bit easier.  No huge projects.  No big shopping days.  It’s time to just relax a bit.  And that’s okay.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.

One last thing that I’m just now looking into is grapefruit seed extract.  I have a gal friend that just had baby #9, and has said using this particular blend (can be bought at Costco, etc – I’ve no affiliation to link) to keep cartilage and ligaments tight has been a huge asset in her pregnancies and general ladies health.  I’m on it!  It looks like it supports heart health, too.

This feels a lot like my Roy Family story (and subsequent songs of praise despite such a sensitive subject).  I’m a pretty self-sufficient gal, and sometimes I poo-poo “help,” often judging that it’s silly or a waste of time.  Yet I continually learn that there are resources out there that can literally be game-changers, despite my assumptions.  Why must I resist?!  It’s really embarrassing how I have to explain – in shock – to the PT’s that it’s working.  I guess they know that what they do works.  I’m thankful for their patience with me!  And I’m thankful that mobility and pain have been subsiding and improving immensely!  I guess I don’t have to “suffer” it out, but instead can enjoy pregnancy as much as I always have!

Closing in on the finish line in theory. In reality, we often go up to a couple weeks late. I’m just happy I can still see my toes. #aprilshowersbringmaybabies #ourfirstspringbaby #readyornothereyoucome

 

*I had a lot of struggles on our Alaska road trip last summer because of my pelvis hurting, especially as I lugged my big fat (healthy) baby around. I wasn’t about to let that stop us, tho’, so quietly endured (I’ll confess: there were tears some nights).  I was taking supplements (collagen, etc) thinking the pain was “just” depleted minerals from baby-birthing and age, and tho’ I’ve no doubt those were beneficial, now realize what I was actually dealing with – and am better prepared! Super thankful for this!

**Aury is a man of routine, similar to one of his big brothers.  This has been good for him as he learns to let his siblings nurture him as we make some transitions to a new babe joining the family.  He adores his siblings, but often resorts to me for sleepy comfort. He’s finding that he has loving nurturers all around him instead (we’re all learning and embracing this, more than usual).  It’s been a really special thing to experience.  And has been good for everyone here.  Thankful for this time of bonding and excess love in these last days before our family expands once again.

We’re So Poor

There have been several recent incidents where it was clear people have assumed we were living high on the hog.  In fact, Adyn’s gotten grief for it from fellow students at his aviation class.  He’s learned to keep his accomplishments and achievements quiet. Which is a shame.  It’s okay to be proud of what you work for, especially if it isn’t easy, financially or otherwise.  All glory (not hiding) to God for His provision and opportunities.

Our kids wear hand-me-downs, or we buy second hand almost exclusively.

We rent a house from a wonderful old man who charges us several hundred less than it should be per month.  Our bus pays for itself and it’s own upgrades.

We usually raise much of our food, and barter for a lot as well.

Adyn’s aviation experience has been significantly beyond our financial ability.  But thanks to the gift of relatives, motivation and perseverance (and creative financing through scholarships, etc), he’s been able to pursue this dream.

We drive old vehicles.  Almost nothing we own was purchased new.  We do not have a smart phone, instead share a single, old-school flip phone.  We have a second pre-paid phone for when Adyn’s out and about in case of emergency.

Our hot tub was free, with the “expense” of many hours of [my Dad and Adyn, mostly] tinkering to learn about it and how to fix it.  We’re on a well, so it’s free to fill, and costs $20/month to heat.

Until a couple of years ago, because of our family size and single-income-ness, our family was poverty-level.  We have since moved to low-income.

Funny thing is, I’m not complaining. 

Really, we know that we’re blessed beyond measure.  In fact, we choose to realize we’re quite wealthy and actually prefer this lifestyle in a lot of ways.  BUT I think appearance sometimes confuses people.  And it’s a great reminder for me to be slow to judge what “looks” to be true.

So though all of the statements above are true, and could make me feel like we are “roughing it” (as if), instead, we are making conscientious choices, when paychecks are lean or plentiful.  We’ve found that there are always ebbs and flows, so we consistently:

choose to not owe financially

choose to live small

choose to leave comparison behind

choose to hold our earthly treasures loosely

choose to give freely

choose to be thankful always

Shepherd’s Purse – Tincture Blend

This one is new to my personal use.  But it’s one that I’m in the middle of adding to my apothecary now.  I’ve been learning a lot about Shepherd’s Purse, and have noted that it’s a blood coagulant and vasoconstrictor, traditionally used immediately after birth to control potential hemorrhaging and to promote blood clotting.  This website had an extremely useful blip about mixing it with Motherwort, Black & Blue Cohosh for a tincture useful to promote uterine contractions (never to be used pre-birth), help uterus clamp down, and stop bleeding quickly.  Would be a very useful tool in your labor or birth bag.  Brewing some up in my cupboard.

After Birth Soup

This one is a real treasure, and is as good as hidden gold.  My Aunt made this for me right after I gave birth to my first babes.  Her midwife had made it for her.  It’s so full of all of the important – and depleted from birth – minerals and vitamins a new Mama needs.  This isn’t something that can be purchased or stored or begged, but rather is a gift of love.  If it’s something you want to make to minister to your new mama friends, consider making a bone rich broth.  Don’t skimp.  Simmer for 72 hours (or pressure cook for a minimum of 4 hours) using quality grassfed bones with joints, eggshells, vegetable scraps, herbs like astragalus and garlic and parsley.  Home make herbed noodles with quality, fresh-ground grain and pastured egg yolks.  Add high-quality pasture raised chicken, as-fresh-as-possible root vegetables (reddish colored root vegetables like carrots, beets & yams are great galactagogues!), and fresh herbs such as black pepper, basil, leaks.  The recipe I make is a cherished, passed-down secret – but with some sweet thought and lots of love, you can create your own to pass on for generations to come!

hanging pasta

Traditionally, before we got all picky and squeamish with our palate, women consumed their placenta’s.  Not only does it replenish minerals and nutrients lost during labor & delivery, it can offer a real maternal boost as well as balance hormones that can otherwise go nutty.  Some women have theirs dried and encapsulated (often adding supportive herbs) to prevent their mind from wandering to the grotesque part of it all.  If encapsulating, one would take several a day just after birth, tapering down to last up to 4 weeks postpartum.  Many swear that this keeps the baby blues at bay!

Goldenseal

Goldenseal is known to be a potent antibiotic and is excellent in fighting infections. It has been used on scrapes, burns, hemorrhoids – and a slew of other things, but these are the ones that are significant to this season of application. Because of overharvesting concerns (it’s native to the northeast U.S. and Canada), it’s an endangered plant (and not a cheap one!). Use minimally and responsibly.  With our first couple of babes, we used alcohol around their umbilicals until they were dried and sloughed off. In my last birth kit – with Aury – there was a tiny envelope of powdered goldenseal root to use (some come with 3-4 capsules, more than enough). Genius. This made so much more sense from a holistic standpoint! His umbilical never smelled (the others: like death – cuz let’s face it, it’s literally decaying flesh), and fell off in a matter of days vs. over a week. This, paired with a cord ring instead of clamp made a huge difference in umbilical healing. Swift and easy. No challenge or guck. I’d recommend it!

 

miniature things for gigantic postpartum health

 

Nest Tea

It’s so important to stay nourished during the precious times after birth.  Make sure to consume lots of good fats and protein, fruits and vegetables.  Don’t forget that you are still supporting your baby nutritionally 100%, even tho’ she is now on the outside!  There are many teas on the market that support these after-birth times.  Be sure to get one that has some (or all) of the following: red raspberry leaf, nettles, oatstraw, alfalfa, lemon balm, red clover flowers & herb, rosehips – these are women-friendly herbs that serve as a tonic, a stimulator, a milk-booster, and an over-all nutritive booster for you. IF you need additional lactation support, consider checking out this post in my Nursing Tips series of a list of herbs that may be helpful, and/or consider purchasing a tincture for quick help.  As always, a lactation consultant can be your best friend in times of trouble.  Often a simple pointer may be all you need!

Sweet Relief

This tea is for external use after birth (hemorrhoids, tears, swelling, stretching).  It’s incredibly healing and soothing to sore parts. I soak a thick feminine pad (or flannel) generously with some tea, and wear it on top of a winged pad while nursing or sitting or any other time — 15-minute bouts every couple of hours is soothing, a cleanser and healing. It has a ton of herbs in it. I try to keep things simple, but there are SO many good healing ones that I got carried away when I made my own: calendula, comfrey leaf, plantain leaf, rosemary leaf, yarrow leaf & flower, myrrh gum powder, self heal, st. johns wort, gota kola, marshmallow root.  There are oodles of recipes online, but this is my favorite.  I find when I make things myself, I understand them better.  Also, several purchasable teas online are more simple, and tend to miss some of the ingredients I really like added, and aren’t always made with top-notch ingredients.  Make some tea (1/4 cup herbs to a quart of boiling water). Sit overnight. Strain. Keep in fridge for three days before making new, or when needed.

Coconut Oil

A tablespoon a day of coconut oil keeps things “smooth”. Be sure to get extra virgin, expeller-expressed, high quality oil.  Add it to your hot beverage, put it on your toast or mixed with some peanut butter, eat it in a “fat bomb”.  Lots of ways to get it in without having a swallow a spoonful of oil *gack*!  If you’re struggling with that first elimination (nerves or consistency), or any after, considering eating more fruits & vegetables, too.  Also considering drinking a tea with ginger or marshmallow to keep things moving nicely.

Coconut oil is my #1 favorite nipple cream.  I used to swear by lanolin, but after my struggles with Aury, I switched to coconut oil and noticed instant results.  It was much more soothing and didn’t stick to nursing pads (which can be hellacious if you’re having any troubles).  And it’s nutritive and good for baby too!  Lanolin is my runner-up, but only in moderation, and if neither of us are having any trouble.  I used it exclusively for my first several seasons of breastfeeding, and then didn’t use it once with Aury.

If your newborn develops cradle cap, coconut oil will be a huge helper rubbed on babe’s scalp.

Lastly, coconut oil is a great slippery aid to getting your nookie game back on when the time is right!

*****

If you’re interested in any (or all!) of this in a kit without having to shop for the best quality, contact me!  I’d also happily give you pointers on your After Birth Soup, and have encapsulated placenta (w/ or w/o herbs) as well.

Our Last Years

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. ~ John Quincy Adams

Our family has really focused this month on getting our Christmas hygge on.  One of the most obvious things we’ve done is that we’ve bailed on most of our regular social routines.  I didn’t know we were needing at first, but we just started creeping away from the busy, and bailing on things that weren’t directly related to quality family time together.  Even projects got stuck on the back burner.  Cuz, meh!  January will be filled with endless days – heck, up through April… sometimes the coming months go a little slow.  So we may as well really hunker down and *delve* into this one without extra nonsense that can be saved for ‘boring’ months ahead.  Eh?

Scott has split up a week of vacation to take 3- and 4-day weekends all month, giving us the opportunity to really focus on slowing down, be it making candies at home, hunt down Christmas lights, hit lots of holiday performances, or spontaneously drive to the Olympic Penninsula to crab.  The latter was such a lovely experience!  We had the car loaded and out the driveway in 2 hours time from when the decision was made.  The drive was perfectly scrumptious.  Music and chat – it slipped by so quickly and then we were there!  At a quaint, safe-looking, funky strip motel that sported a fish cleaning, fire-burning gazebo and all!  The room was perfect.  We got us some pizza and brewery-made root beer in a growler and plopped down for a late-night Christmas flick.  Aury is a man of routine, so tho’ he loved the entertainment, was not too keen on a long night sleep, so we got up early (crazy early for our night owl family!) and bundled up for a day on the docks with a thermos full of hot cocoa.

Everyone was so friendly and helpful.  Everywhere we went folks freely gave advice – good advice!  So unlike the fishing environment down here in SW WA, where everyone holds their secrets tightly.  The town was clearly a crab-town, and quiet of tourists, so we felt like part of the community.  We had a commercial crab pot and a set of rings that kept us checking and catching. Lots of cute crawly crabs in the traps kept us feeling successful, even tho’ we had to give the many wee ones back.

We had to be careful, as a mama sea lion and her pup were hanging around the docks as well.  Mama was perfectly fine letting us know that we were in her space, and she would be watching us.  We did the same.  Things can go south quickly in this scenario, so we moved pot-throwing to the raised boardwalk, where our littles could play more freely and safely.  We had such a wonderful time.  The weather was perfect.  Overcast but not windy, chilly but bearable.  Peaceful but energy-filled.

Investing in more memories, less stuff.

A lot of times I’m the one who hunts adventure.  Scott is always up for the fun, but not always the instigator.  But this trip was all him.  My heart just melts seeing him so enthusiastic about it.  Even better, the trip was a success instead of the typical “learning curve” that a first attempt often is.  And another new hobby that we can do as a family, and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.  AND concludes with good eats.  Perfect!

In November, we both separately felt the pull to step away from some of our “busy” and to hone in on our wee family.  Perhaps it was because he’d been working long hours for just a smidge too long.  Perhaps it was because we were struggling to find much time as a family during the week without other needs calling louder, keeping us focused elsewhere.  Perhaps it’s because we had to cancel our Christmas travel plans because – for the first time – we had to consider our kids’ schedule which conflicted with Scott’s potential days off, leaving us traveling without our family intact if we left.  One night I was crying and sharing with him how I had a sudden realization that our time is so very limited with our little people, and that I wanted to cherish and prioritize our little bits together just a bit more.  He said he was so glad I said it, because he was feeling the same.

It’s just so easy to get caught up in things.  Things that matter a lot!  Each season requires something different from us, I’m certain, and this one seems to be pulling us to our family first, everything else after that, no matter how much we’re tugged at.  We’re not a family that is big on going separate ways, and knowing the time is coming soon enough for this, we’re just soaking each other up this Christmas season.  Even bailing on other things that perhaps we wouldn’t usually.  And we’re okay with that.

Another thing that was unspoken but we’ve all sort of implemented somewhat subconsciously this year: Less presents.  If something doesn’t jump out at us for someone, we just haven’t bought it.  So friends, tho’ last year we got something for each and every one of you pretty much – and may again next year – or heck, even midyear randomly because we love gifting – don’t expect much in the way of wrapped goods in the next week or two.  But I guarantee you’ll get holiday cheer and love from us when we see you.  Because we adore you.  We’re so thankful for the people we are surrounded by.  We are so very blessed by our village.

We’d rather people than things any day of the week.

A sign of welcome, inviting all to enter in… a reminder of Christ’s invitation for all to come to Him. – Holly Gerth #heisthereason #reminderseverywhere #allarewelcome #noturningback

Get a Shot of the Flu?

This one is for me.  Mostly I want to hang on to these resources, but also want to keep all of these thoughts in one place.  I have a bad habit of researching and learning things, and then not storing them as well as I’d like in my head.  I remember the concept, but the details get lost.  It’s times like this that I use my blog as a journal for myself more than for any other purpose (below is definitely not recommendations for you!).  But you’re welcome into my head for the sharing.

How effective? Balancing risk vs. benefit.

This article was put out this month in regards to the success of this seasons flu shot, which they’re claiming is 10% effectiveness.  This isn’t the first time the vaccine hasn’t proven to be as effective as hoped. In their defense, It’s a complicated process to decide which strains are covered each year, projecting what may come.  But knowing that it is not a blanket fix helps us choose to 1) weigh the choice of if it’s worth the toxins injected, and 2) be aware of what you need to do to continue immune-building and protecting ourselves and understanding contagious-potential to protect others best.  We do not want to be under the false illusion that we’re protected just because we got a shot.

Did you know that in Washington State it is now mandatory for ALL people living in a foster home to receive the flu (and other) vaccine/s?  Our state – which already has a huge deficit of it’s needed homes – reportedly lost over 800 licensed hosts when this became required.  It is also mandatory for any personnel working at a hospital that refuses (strong language) a flu shot to wear a mask.  Even tho’ it’s only potentially 10% effective.  Even if the employee is not sick.  Even tho’ it’s not promised protection.  It’s really a sad situation.  Mostly just because of the fear it’s based on, and loss of education because of it.
Reasons Some Choose Not to Take the Shot
This article below is a follow up to the last with a link containing some well-written reasons some choose not to participate in the flu vaccine. Weighing the health vs. benefit of chemical injections (will they benefit more than harm?), the flu shot is a no-brainer-no for me personally for now. Unfortunately, it’s not a choice for everyone, as some jobs require it (as stated above).
What About Herd Immunity?
Here’s a post that explains why the concept of herd immunity has some flaws (tho’ still has value, of course!).  It briefly discusses how certain vaccines work, which ones encourage milder symptoms vs. which ones promote active immunity.

Then How Do We Protect Ourselves & Others?

In a more positive light, consider using the same concepts of boosting your ability to stave off the flu with natural, body-building methods that eliminate the negatives of mainstream alternatives that are proving to be somewhat ineffective.  Here is an article that provides some excellent ways of doing just that.  I’m happy to reconsider mainstream options (vaccines) when it makes more sense for us to!  I’m not opposed to the concept, just the implementation.

And, as always, if you’re sick, be considerate to those immuno-suppressed and don’t share.  It’s the best way to protect those around you.  As a society, we need to learn how to stay home more.  To slow down.  To heal.  To refresh.  To grow.

Sharing isn’t always caring.

If You Are Pregnant

This link is an excellent resource for vaccines – particularly the flu shot (and a bit about the dtap) – while pregnant.  It addresses communicating with your practitioner about safety.  There is also the encouragement to ask these (and other) questions of your practitioner so that you can gauge the intent of a recommended practice (be it a vaccine or otherwise), and be able to make a sound decision:

Are you recommending these vaccines due to being advised to recommend them, or have you done your own research regarding their safety and effectiveness?

Will I be registered with the Pregnancy Registry which is not listed on the letter you received instructing you to recommend these vaccines, nor is it listed in the links provided in that letter, but IS listed on the insert of both Tdap vaccines, and will I be paid to be a part of this passive reporting study?

Ultimately, don’t be scared.  Be prepared.

We’d all be better off, no matter if you vaccinate or not, if we understood this concept.

Yearning for a good, balanced public discussion about vaccines – where science can be bantered and not emotions (fear, defensiveness, anger on either side…).  We all have really awful stories on both sides of the issue.  But let’s talk about what works, what doesn’t, and how we can best implement health & safety with a holistic approach.

Prepping for Holiday

ColbySanta

Christmas 2015

‘Tis the season!

You’ll want to give cold pressed homemade soap a minimum of 3 weeks to cure, so now is the time to gather your ingredients and consider making it for holiday gift-giving.  My go-to nearby to find all kinds of oils (palm, coconut, etc), butters (mango, shea, etc), and lye is Shay & Co. in Portland.  Shipping can be a real doozy, so this is a great resource for those in the area.  Remember to store your oils in a cool dark place.  Some go rancid faster than others!

Snap up your 18-pound box of black olives from Chaffin Family Farms* in California if you’d like to cure your own olives for holiday eats.  They are my favorite place to get high-quality olive oil, and I’ve used their green olives for curing before with great success.

Marinate your feta in olive oil & herbs to last you through the cool months until spring cheese comes again!  Some of our favorite herbs: chili or paprika, basil, thyme, rosemary, winter savory, black pepper.  A mix or any single.

Order some deliciously fabulous vanilla beans from Mountain Rose Herbs to make homemade extract for gift-giving and holiday baking!  This is my favorite place to get conscientious, organic, safe wild harvested herbs and spices – and much more!  Their vanilla beans (and loose tea bases, etc) have far surpassed the quality of any other company I’ve bought from.  I’ve been spoiled.  We often place a big enough order to get 30% off.  Connect with me if you’d like to join in on that.

Rosehips

Start your cordials and dessert apples & pears in sweet vinegar for sharing with your mulled cider!  Can up some apple pie filling!  Make some rosehip & elderberry syrup while they’re ripe and ready for picking!  Hunt down some cranberries from Oregon at the farmers markets!

And my favorite: Use up all of that last-of-the-garden eggplant and pickle it for winter time pizzaz!

Indian-Inspired Pickled Eggplant

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 T. fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 T cumin seeds
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (approx. 1 small head)
  • 1 dried red chili, mashed
  • 1/2 t. mustard seeds
  • 6-10 curry leaves
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 T. salt
  • 2 medium-sized eggplant, cut into small cubes
  • 2 inches ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 T. turmeric
  • 2 fresh green chili, cleaned and sliced

Heat the olive oil in a thick pot, add fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds.  Let it simmer for a couple of minutes, then add garlic until light brown.  Add red chili, mustard seeds & curry leaves.  Fry while stirring over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.  Add vinegar, water and salt.  Stir.  Add eggplant, ginger, turmeric and green chili.  Let it boil for at least 20 minutes.  Cool and pour into glass jars.  Store in fridge.

*The links are affiliate-free.  I do not gain by sharing my favorites with you all.  ❤