Day to day musings living a natural, close family life and loving it! We are on the road to self sustenance, acquiring land to homestead, and striving to reduce our carbon footprints. We are a do-it-yourself family, taking pride in our work while enjoying each other. Our principles and values are based on educating ourselves, not on following societies rules.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

First Foods

Judging from how many mamas talk about it, feeding babies "real food" for the first time can be daunting, confusing, and downright scary!  When to start solids, how to avoid choking, and bad reactions to foods are the three big concerns I hear.  Most pediatricians recommend starting an infant on rice cereal at four months old! This raises a couple concerns for me - the age and the cereal. Four months old, based on my research and most every other country, is entirely too young and can damage their gut. Grains are not tolerated well until at least two years (if ever), raising another problem with the gut (not to mention the "grains" are overly processed and added with synthetics, I don't consider infant cereal food).  The choking issue is easily solved by turning whole foods to mush by pureeing them and spoon feeding, making parents' jobs more difficult and then having the issue of when to switch to finger foods.  Reactions to foods is very much a validated concern, as it seems every kid these days has intolerances or allergies (hmmm, could it be because we're feeding then the wrong things, too young?!?).

So my answer to the questions of so many mamas is, like with everything else, to do it the most natural way I know and it's been easy, fearless, and I feel more confident about it than my first time around.


7 months old, his first hamburger
Ever stared really trying to grab for food around 5 months or so. Knowing that breast milk is the best, most nourishing food for at least the first year (though we'll continue nursing much longer than that) and he doesn't need anything else, I waited until six months to even let him explore it.  We started with a barely cooked egg yolk from our chickens and I simply dipped a spoon into it and let him suck on it. He absolutely loved it! I've since given him whole yolks (cooked more) to hold, play, explore, and taste. I think more ends up on the floor! Next I gave him a small hamburger, made with local, grass fed beef.  That was fun, he really likes the textures, exploring it with his mouth, swallowing a bit, spitting out more. He also enjoyed a frozen piece of liver I gave him, yum!  He's also had apple slices, but those are more for sucking on and teething, as well as carrots (great for teething, but none goes into his belly!).  I won't be feeding him any grains, we barely eat any so it makes it easier. He also gets herbal tea sometimes, chamomile and lemon balm mostly (for sleeping and teething).

I don't get worried about him choking, I think everyone needs to realize that our bodies are made to eat without choking (swallowing or spitting is a natural reaction to something being in the mouth)...a baby shouldn't have anymore problems with choking than adults unless something is wrong, we have them laying down, or they're not ready for solids. Of course, I'm not going to give him raisins and walk away, but feeding a child normal food for their age and teeth should not be a concern. Or, like many peoples in the world, mamas can chew some of the food for them before molars come in and are able to do it.  There's simply no need for the special blenders, freezing trays, baby food jars, etc. when you are an aware, informed, and natural family!

Good sources to check out are babyledweaning.com and http://westonaprice.org/childrens-health/feeding-babies (I love WAPF, but really wish they would stress the prolonged breastfeeding and disagree to start babes as young as 4 months on yolks).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Leaves for Healing

"On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food....Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing" 
~Ezekiel 47:12

I have been into herbs for a few years now and am constantly amazed at the multiple medicinal uses they bring to us.  What amazes me even more is how far we've come away from them and nature to heal our bodies and how comfortable we are instead to use man-made chemicals.  Drug companies will tell you the herbs might not be safe and they're not proven, but what's been used for thousands of years? Herbs. What's often rushed through testing to be thrown on the market to quickly make money, causing nasty side effects, even death? Pharmaceutical drugs.  I think I'll take the herbs, they're cheaper, less side effects, and NATURAL (and that's what I'm all about!). 
I not only use herbs for medicine (usually in the form of tinctures or oils), but also as a way to get my minerals (usually in the form of teas or infusions).  This weekend I will begin my medicinal herb garden to have them on hand at all times, but in the mean time I will continue to buy through Mountain Rose Herbs. MRHs really has no competition when it comes to dried herbs and accessories. They're cheaper than any I've seen, have a very wide selection, and are usually beyond organic. Instead of just being certified organic they try to source theirs from farms that grow on very fertile soil, soil that has not been depleted of its minerals (like almost all has been). They are based out of Oregon and partner with local farmers who actually care about people's health as opposed to Monsato's money;) I praise MRHs endlessly and, no, I get no money from them or referral perks, I just really like the company.
I've put together a list of herbs that I don't like being without, but I'll probably update regularly as I'm constantly discovering more!
  • Stinging Nettle - this I use almost daily because it is the most mineral rich, being high in calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, iron, and chlorophyll, to name a few. The nutrients are easily assimilated, making them more easily absorbed for people than they would in pill and/or synthetic form (not to mention more healthy!).  I try to drink at least one or two cups of nettle infusion every day. I don't love the taste, but find mixing it with spearmint a yummy mixture.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf - the number one herb for pregnancy! It has amazing notifying effects for the uterus and provides several vitamins and minerals especially helpful in pregnancy (such as vitamins A, C, B complex, and E and calcium, magnesium, and potassium). It is also known to decrease morning sickness, helping prevent miscarriage, increase fertility (for men too!), and quicken labor. As many of my readers know, my births were 6 hours (Jack) and 3.5 hours (Ever) and I contribute the speed to the RRLT I drank so much of (well, that, and their extreme curiosity and adventurousness!).  There's even an old protocol for drinking it, adding up to about seven pounds of RRL consumption throughout the pregnancy. Aside from pregnancy RRL can regulate women's cycles and help the uterus shrink back to shape post partum.
  • Mint - Mint is easily grown, and can take over a garden. I like to mix it with teas as it is refreshing and cools the body. Spearmint is milder than peppermint and I mix that in most my teas.
  • Oatstraw - this is another that I like to create infusions out of because of its high calcium and magnesium content. There has been, in the last few years, a concern that Americans aren't getting their calcium and it's leading to osteoperosis. Unfortunately this leads to more calcium supplements, leading to greater problems! Calcium needs magnesium to be absorbed by the body and over 80% of us are not getting enough magnesium.  Supplementing with extra calcium is actually doing more harm, by letting the calcium collect in the soft tissues instead of being absorbed to the body. This can actually cause arthritis, instead of helping the bones. Magnesium is actually what is needed often and oatstraw brings a whopping 400 mg/oz.
  • Chamomile - there's a reason why chamomile tea is so famous. It really is calming and relaxing. It also helps with irritability caused by teething and stomach upsets. It is a perfect herb for babes! I use it in its homeopathic form, tea, tincture, and infusion. Recently I've made infusions and given some to E in a dropper before bed. Another great thing to do with it is freeze ice cubes of it (remember an infusion is stronger than tea) for teething babies (put it in a teether or washcloth to gnaw on).
  • Lemon Balm - this is an easily grown, though invasive, herb (also attracts bees and detracts mosquitoes so great around the garden!) in the mint family that's great for sleep induction, calming the nerves and relieving tension. Lemon balm is also anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. It is one of my favorites for treating colds and sore throats mixed with raw honey...tastes great too! A little known fact about lemon balm is its help with teething. I love that it's calming and aids in teething pain, just as chamomile, so the two combined make a great tincture!
  • Skullcap, valerian, passionflower - these are all known as excellent sleep aids.  I am fond of anything that helps my insomniac house get more sleep!
  • Echinacea - its become quite a famous immune system booster! I make it into tincture form and take a dropper a few times a day when I feel the sickies coming on. It makes a nasty tea and is more potent as a tincture.
  • Goldenseal - another herb for immunity.
  • Motherwort - as the name says, its the perfect herb for mamas! It's best taken in tincture form (very strong taste!) and used in labor for pain and in the days following for postpartum cramps. Its especially useful for stress, as it acts on the heart. I take 10-20 drops when feeling like I want to scream at my boys and it really does help:) It can also lower fevers.
  • Elderberries - a very effective flu-fighter, elderberries have been shown to prevent the flu and lessen its course. My favorite form is to make it into asyrup. We have a drink every day in flu season, more if we're getting sick. Jack loves it!
  • Lavender - well known for it's calming abilities lavender has other health benefits. It also has antibiotic, antiseptic, disinfectant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, making it great to apply to skin irritations or put in lotions or shampoos. It is also known for relieving headaches. I add lavender to our homeade body butters, put a couple drops on the boys' feet before bed (or the sheets), add it to our homeade insect repellent, and add it to baths. 
  • Calendula - this is a great one for the skin. I use it in our body butters and healing salves. I always have a jar of infused calendula oil on hand for any irritations that might come up. It's easy to add it to baths too, or rub the oil on diaper rashes.
  • Cannabis - unfortunately for most of us it's an illegal herb. It's one of the stronger herbs, helping with nausea, pain, insomnia, and depression. Hemp (which is part of the plants that are not the type one would experience a "high" from) is highly versatile, renewable, and underused. It's oil and seeds are healthy for consumption and it can easily supply the world with clothing/textiles, building materials, and fuel. It's unfortunate that the government fails to legalize the growing of the cannabis plant and the consumption, many people could greatly benefit from this herb.
  • Garlic - everyone should have garlic on hand. Use it as often as possible in cooking, but its benefits are greater after being exposed to the air. I chop it up and wait before using it. We make garlic tea often when sick, steeping the garlic in hot water, then adding lemon and honey. IMO garlic is the single best herb for sickness-prevention and healing. I could go on and on, but I think we're mostly familiar with this popular herb;)
  • Cloves - make it into an oil and it's one of the best teething relief rubs, or for a toothache.
  • More "cooking" herbs: onion, cayenne, ginger, oregano, turmeric...there are many benefits to herbs that are known more for cooking (cayenne has amazing abilities to stop blood loss by clotting and can stop a heart attack in 30 seconds!). Cook with them often!
The list is never ending, I really could go on, and on, and on...but I won't! Maybe I'll list more soon, but there's just so many and no one-size-fits-all. Have an issue? Look it up and find an herb that can help you! God gave us the plants for a reason and I bet that reason was not to completely transform them into a man-made drug to increase profits. Contrary to popular belief, natural herbs can have just as strong, or stronger, effects on symptoms as OTC and prescription drugs. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Six Months!

My little Sweet Pea, he came to us so beautifully.
 And now, already 1/2 a year has past and I would never have imagined how amazing he could be and how much joy he could bring our family!
I thought he would be so laid back, one of those kids that doesn't move around for months because they're so content just being.  He was just so peaceful and relaxed his first couple months!






He's become more and more like Jack, curious about everything and ready for adventure! 










He's shown us that by starting to crawl before 5 months and fighting sleep by 4 months.  






   He is quite the happy boy, he busies himself these days by crawling throughout the house, checking everything out. Recently his favorite is to climb to the top of Jack's slide            and hang out on the patio watching the chickens.
Happy 6 months, Ever Peace! 


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