The more or less mother – part 1

As a parent it sometimes seems that you cannot turn a page or click the keyboard without noticing some  new  article, book  or claim by someone, informing us on the best way to raise our offspring. Best for who? That is what I am often left wondering…  As a society we are inundated with more penned  information on parenting than any generation before us;  opinions and recommendations abound.  Are we better parents than our forebearers?  Armed with all this knowledge and awareness, one would assume that we are sailing through parenthood, over smooth, emerald waters with the  wind in our backs,  basking in the sun and salty air.   In reality we are in very choppy waters, constantly  verifying our nautical charts.

The truth is, we all seek to use this knowledge to the best of our ability (for the most part) and as mothers we endeavor to tailor everything to fit our unique families and lifestyles.  Which is what we really should be doing, taking into account our different needs, means and situations. But we are also opinionated and judgmental.  We mothers  are known for using any one of the numerous studies on child development as ammunition in the “mommy wars”.  Join a playgroup or take your little ones to the playground where you get  to spend some quality time with your peers and you will know what I am talking about.  Stiff lines are drawn in the sand on all the the  issues  of parenting starting from pregnancy  and birth, through feeding, diapering, educating, disciplining , sleeping  – and the list goes on.  It is “us” and “them” and even within the  “us” and “them” teams there are more lines drawn and more division.  The sand is crisscrossed like apple pie, just not as sweet.

So how do we bridge the chasms and blur the lines? We stand to gain so much more from camaraderie. As mothers we are all in this together. We can be respectful while still having differing opinions. We can stop judging each other and cultivate kindness. Maybe the new mother, sitting opposite you, bottle feeding her baby, had her heart set on nursing her newborn and for reasons beyond her control was unable to. Does that make her any less of a mother than you? Smile at her anyway, it might be just what she needs .  As mothers we all need support and validation in our craft. We need to stop using what we perceive as more or less parenting in others as our yardstick for good parenting.

Sometimes less is more. Sometimes more is what is needed and sometimes more can also look like less!  Some of our kids need to be held more or comforted more. Some of our kids need more space and some need their mommy to be close to them always. Some of us thrive wearing our babies and having constant contact with them, some of us need more time alone.  While I am one of those moms who has worn her babies and practiced attachment parenting even before it had a name, does it mean I did more as a mother or less? To me it means I listened to my gut instincts (we all have those by the way) and followed my  natural intuition into mommyhood.  Yes, I was one of those mothers  who cloth diapered her bambinos  and  I embraced the whole  “butt sweater” culture with a passion, going gaga over yarn, the colors, the texture, even the smell.  I did spend hours knitting cute little wool soakers and chatting with fellow knitters, exchanging patterns  and  tidbits of exclusive information on where to buy yarn, which diapers are the newest and cutest and which hold up best at night . But I digress (I did say I love yarn!) That was my personal choice for my family and something I enjoyed while also believing it being best for my babies.  Anyone of you could think I had lost my mind (we can always discuss that another time) or maybe some of you might think it commendable. Either way, you need to do what works for you and your family and it might be something totally different.

At the end of the day, when the lights go down and we have a moment of quiet reflection, we often doubt whether we are doing enough for each child (even more so with a child with special needs, but that is for my next post). Sometimes we do make  mistakes, take chances and get messy (Channeling Ms. Frizzle here!) but hopefully we learn and grow and our kids are often more resilient than we give them credit for. So we don’t need to be judged by others whether we are doing enough or too much, we are our own experts and we have to live with ourselves  and our kids too.

No- granola bars

After playing around with different ingredients, I finally have  a kid friendly, nutrient dense,  snack bar! There were quite a few requirements that needed to be met.  Firstly  it had to be gluten free , dairy free, peanut free, sesame free and refined sugar free; and then it had to be nutritious and delicious.  Quite a tall order, considering some of my kids wanted something like a rice-crispy-treat, chocolate chip cookie, sunflower seed, almond something…

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So, I let the kids, at least the more picky ones ( I am not saying that any of my kids are picky), help choose some of the ingredients. At the end of the day, this is a snack for them and if they don’t eat it, well, then I haven’t accomplished anything except a very full belly since I will be left to eat what I made.  The kids  will still be asking for store bought gluten free granola bars or rice-crispy-treats which are so sweet,  they may as well have a real cookie instead and they also  don’t really have much in  there that I would call super nutritious.  In addition it would be pretty costly, since I would need 2 boxes for everyone to have one – and as all mothers know, one is never enough. So, if they want a cookie,  I say give them a cookie, but if they want a snack bar – lets pack in the nutrition, with just  a few compromises.

Since this is not rocket science you can substitute some of the ingredients or even omit some.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed
  • 1/3 cup almond butter ( you could use another nut butter)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds ( you could use sesame seeds)
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds or pecans
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax meal
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup toasted rice cereal (crushed)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips or raisins
  • optional  5 drops stevia for a sweeter snack
  • optional 1/3 cup of shredded coconut
  1. preheat oven to 325 F grease 8 x 8  inch baking pan with oil of your choice.
  2. In a food processor pulse pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and slivered almonds or pecans, just to break them up, but not  turn them into mush.
  3. Add almond butter, coconut oil, syrup, and vanilla.
  4. Add almond flour, flax meal and baking soda.
  5. Gently  stir in chia or sesame seeds, chocolate chips or raisins and toasted rice cereal.
  6. Press the batter into the baking pan, wet your hands or use a spatula to to pat down.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Let cool and then cut into squares.  They can be stored in plastic wrap in the fridge for snacks for school, camp or travel.

 

World Down Syndrome Day Jojo 3/21/2014

In honor of world down syndrome day, Iam breaking from my usual herbal musings, recipes and DIY, to celebrate and share about our son Jojo! Here he is a year ago,  4 years old, at his sister’s wedding.

Photo-155Jojo shared in our  excitement about everything for the wedding. He loved how he looked in his new suit, couldn’t wait to wear his new shoes, kept telling everyone that he had a new suit and new shoes and that his sister was getting married! He was even excited to wear his bow tie…although it was the first thing to go, when he felt the novelty of the “new suit” wearing off, and thankfully decided that pants and shirt could stay on! Best of all he has a new brother in law who he loves and who loves him back just as much, if not more.  After the wedding, he told us soon it would be his wedding and that he wants to get married too. We are  obviously overjoyed to hear this and hope and pray that this will indeed, come to fruition in the future, although I think he has lots of time and a little more growing to do.

Jojo, definitely has a plan and lets everyone know. he talks up a storm and knows he is cute, he’s quite the charmer. He is still doted on by his siblings (being the youngest of  eight, has it’s perks). Since we homeschool, he has the advantage of constant interaction, there is always someone to read to him, play with him and even argue and make trouble with. Having older brothers has even enriched his language to include words  I honestly would never have thought of teaching him, but he get’s it- he get’s the silly talk, the potty talk, you name it.  So, while I guess I shouldn’t be proud of all his language skills, I secretly smile, you know that big inner smile that starts in your belly, fills your heart and spreads from ear to ear, stretching yours cheeks –  till you feel  the tears…Yes, that’s it, my Jojo “gets it”. He is really more alike than different !

Jojo, is the blessing that we never knew we wanted or needed, and we feel so enriched by him. Yes, there are challenges; some days can be tiring, many nights are still spent reading and researching. I will probably always ask myself, “am I doing enough?”.  I  don’t  have enough time to  do all that I dream of and  plan to implement.  I will probably always think about his future. But, mostly we live in the here and now, dealing with just regular day to day stuff, you know the stuff of parenting and raising kids.  From the mundane of “whats for dinner tonight” to the exciting and wonderful ” oh my gosh, he toilet trained!”.

This has been a busy year for all of us, Jojo has grown and learned so much. While I can go on and on about  him, I am also wary of perpetuating the   misinformed image of kids with down syndrome having a permanent happy disposition. I feel it is so important to educate everyone that this is not true! Most kids with down syndrome  can have bad  mood days, throw tantrums, get feisty, cry, get their feelings hurt and pretty much run the gamut of emotions that all  other kids do.  Jojo is no exception, he has had his share of tantrums, he  pouts, and sometimes he just seems to wake up on the wrong side of the  bed (not unlike some of his siblings). Jojo has favorite toys, things he dislikes with a passion and like most kids his age, he just wants to have fun. Jojo loves playing, running his trucks through the mud, getting down and dirty. In fact he just wants to drive already!

Jojo drivers ed”in his Abba’s ( father’s) truck”

DIY saline nasal wash

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Just in the past week two people have asked  me for my homemade saline nasal wash recipe, so  I know it’s time to post it on the blog.

You  may already know that I like  to make a lot of my own  natural products, and this is no exception! Often, it is easier than you think.  You get to  control the ingredients,  many of which you may have at home or can easily purchase. It is empowering, can be fun,  creative and frugal too.

Benefits of saline nasal wash

Most of you are probably familiar with nasal sprays and  have used a saline wash or spray at some point on yourself or with your little ones.  Here are some of the more common uses and benefits of a saline solution:

  • Daily nasal washes can help reduce symptoms for people with chronic sinusitis and allergies
  • Clears out thick mucous and helps reduce nasal congestion by thinning secretions
  • Helps to relieve nasal dryness
  • Reduces coughing and other symptoms of post nasal drip
  • Soothes inflamed membranes
  • Helps clear stuffy congested noses for infants and babies  who cannot yet blow their  own noses. Have you ever tried to nurse a baby with a stuffy nose? They cannot, they need their little noses to be cleared and this is a gentle and effective method. This can also help reduce and relieve their cold symptoms.

Saline solutions are similar in composition to that of our body and can actually cause less tissue damage and be more soothing than plain water. Obviously we are not talking here about pouring   a cup of salt into a cup of water…ouch – that would sting! It is all about ratio.

What is xylitol ? why do I add it?

Xylitol, is a sugar alcohol and is naturally found in low concentrations in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables and can also be extracted from fibrous material such as corn husks and birch.  Xylitol has long been used as a natural sweetener, although  there is some debate as to it’s  health benefits as such, mostly due to  the methods of it’s production.  There is also research showing that xylitol can help remineralize enamel and help prevent cavities.  Some of the early  studies conducted in Finland in the 1970s were already  showing the effectiveness of xylitol on the prevention of cavities.

Xylitol has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria by preventing them from sticking to the tissue. Bottom line, if they can’t stick they can’t cause infection.  Xylitol helps to reduce germs, irritants and pollutants.  So, adding xylitol to a nasal spray makes the saline solution even better!

 Some people add essential oils to their nasal washes and people often ask me about this.  While some oils are very effective at combating bacteria and preventing infections, many of them are not safe to use internally, especially with babies and kids and some oils can cause irritation as well as allergic reactions.

There is so much more information about xylitol and it’s uses for oral health, upper respiratory infections and even otitis media, but this post is really about adding it to your nasal wash.  If you are interested in reading more, HERE is an article about some of the uses with case reports.

Recipe

1 cup of boiled water  – It is very important to use boiled filtered or distilled water for this, since the amoeba that could be present in regular water can pose a real danger.

1/2 tsp salt – for infants I use 1/4 tsp – I use natural Real Salt like  this one

1 tsp xylitol

A pinch of baking soda

mix all the ingredients  in a glass jar and cover. After it has cooled  pour into smaller squirt bottles or spray bottles.  Use as often as needed.

Onion Honey

imageOnion Honey syrup is a true old fashioned, time-tested home remedy! I love using simple remedies that are easy to make from ingredients you probably have at home, or are easy to find in stores.  Onion honey has traditionally been used as a cough syrup, but is also used for colds and as  an immune boost,  helping to prevent that cough in the first place. It is especially good for that annoying tickling cough. Both onions and honey have healing qualities. Onions  are known to have anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, while honey  is soothing and  healing. Honey also has medicinal properties, in fact  the “survival Dr.” James Hubbard M.D.,M.P.H. recommends honey as a safe and effective cough syrup for children  over one year of age. He also cites a study  on his  blog here ,  http://www.thesurvivaldoctor.com/2012/08/09/new-details-on-safest-cough-medicine/

There are many variations to this recipe , you can add herbs and even garlic.  I recommend that you experiment with it and find which one works best for you and your family. One of my favorites is with fresh thyme, rosemary or sage.  Your little ones may not love the taste with the added herbs, so for them you might want to stick with the simple onion-honey-syrup. Remember, you can always  use it as a delicious glaze for chicken or add a little to some homemade salad dressing with balsamic vinegar and fresh garlic. Yum!

Without further ado lets get to the recipe;

  • 1 organic onion (this is medicinal so organic is important here)
  • Raw honey

Cut onion in half  and slice into thin moons. Put the onion in a stainless steel, cast iron or glass pan and cover with the honey.

Optional additions;

  • Fresh herbs, like thyme, sage, rosemary or oregano.
  • or
  • Dried herbs, like mullein, marshmallow, licorice or slippery elm.
  • sliced raw garlic
  • 1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1-2 tsp fresh grated tumeric

Gently warm on a very low heat, until honey softens and liquefies. Remove from heat and keep covered for another 30 minutes. After it has cooled you can  strain into a glass jar, cover and label. This can be kept for several weeks and even longer ( If you don’t finish it first) in the refrigerator.

There is no real dosage, but a general suggestion is 1 tsp for kids and 1 Tbsp for adults. Take up to 4-5 times a day or  when needed.

Please remember not to give honey to infants under one year of age.

What’s your favorite onion honey?  Do you also  eat it by the spoonful like me, just because you love the taste?

How we survived Chanukah – gluten free

imageI had meant to post this around Chanukah time and I know it was over a month ago. I was just  going to file this post  away and move on to the next topic, when I realized something.  Yes, Chanukah is way behind us, the menorahs have been cleaned, dreidels put away and recipes are back in their place.  But, if you are anything like me, you know that life happens, kids need to be cared for and that  reality often  does not reflect the image portrayed by a blog or a photo.  I  realized that  this information is going to be useful for anyone dealing with family  members who are gluten free; the recipes could be used for other holidays or family gatherings; the cookies could even be made for pesach, since they are grain free!   Also, if you are anything like me, with a busy bustling family, you  just might find yourself scrambling the day before chanukah next year, looking for last minute recipes and ideas and then you will remember that I did do a chanukah post!

In all honesty,  we didn’t  just survive chanukah but actually ate very well. Yes,  we did eat latkes, homemade, gluten free and über yum.  I  used  my mother in law’s original recipe; grated potatoes, grated onions, eggs, salt , pepper and fried in coconut oil ( OK , she didn’t use coconut oil).  No added flour or starch and they were crispy too. We also made latkes from purple potatoes for those who are trying to avoid white potatoes, but still love the taste, or just for a burst of color. Another hit with some of the family, were latkes made from  combinations of potato, sweet potato, apples and ginger.  For those that love the savory and spicy, you can always add some garlic or a little sriracha.

Latkes, are easy enough to make gluten free, but what about doughnuts? Well, yes, we did eat gluten free doughnuts too. Scrumptious, delicious “babycakes” doughnuts.  If you didn’t already know, babycakes are gluten free, vegan and refined sugar free, best of all they really do taste good. We have made our own from scratch, doughnuts before, but this was well worth the expense for a special occasion.  Even I had one, ok maybe two.  Thankfully, we don’t get babycakes that often, although I am sure my kids would be saying “unfortuantely” we don’t get them  often enough! They also freeze well in case you have leftovers or in case you want  a few leftovers – no-one needs to know. To top it off, since you know, latkes and doughnuts were just not enough for us my daughter baked these awesome grain free and refined sugar free, chanukah shaped linzer cookies. What a treat! She got the recipe  from the blog http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2012/06/raspberry-linzer-cookies-vegan-grain-free/
imageSo, in the end we ate all the traditional food and then some. The kids loved chanukah, of course they lit their own  menorahs, sang songs (well some did) and played dreidel. But mostly they didn’t feel like they missed out on anything due to being gluten free . They have great memories of family fun and food – mission accomplished!

The truth is, it did take some effort and planning, but frying latkes or even just feeding a family our size takes effort, whether we are gluten free or not.  Holidays can be very stressful times for families with food allergies.  Even though we adults want to impress upon our kids the spiritual side of our traditions, we want them to have warm, happy, meaningful memories to draw on as they grow up.  Somehow, food always plays a major role, no matter what we are celebrating.  For a child who has food allergies and has the everyday experience of not being able to eat this and that and only these etc;  putting in the effort to make their holiday special has a huge impact.  A positive one at that.  Iam still hearing from the kids  about those amazing doughnuts and cookies and I should probably be planning for Purim already, but as you already guessed, I will probably be scrambling the week before too!!!! What special foods have you made for family members with food allergies? I only addressed gluten free here but would love to hear about other allergy free foods your kids love.

Almond butter banana chocolate chip muffins

imageThese muffins are so yummy. When I bake them, they are usually gone before they have had the chance to cool down!  If your kids are in any way like mine, you might want to double the recipe. One of my sons always says ” best muffins ever, make some more please, please, please”

Gluten free and Grain free

Look Ma….no flour!   But you will need your hands to whip up these muffins. No flour, no starches, no grains: nada.  Good ole Almond butter or Cashew butter or even Sunflower seed butter, though I haven’t tried that one yet.  At this point , you are probably thinking, o.k. she said yummy, her kids said yummy, but they are probably really dense. Surprise – they are super light and moist.

Nutritious and delicious

While these muffins have passed the taste test, they also have a high nutrient score. Packed with protein in every bite and just lightly sweetened.  Almond butter contains several essential water soluble and fat soluble vitamins,  is a good source of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and even vitamin E.  In addition, Almond butter contains calcium, iron,  zinc and trace amounts of B vitamins. It is also a source of omega 3 fatty acids. Even though these are sweet,  they are a great snack and combined with the eggs and banana they are filling too.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Almond butter ( or other nut butter)
  • 2 medium size bananas
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup ( 1 is sweet enough for us)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips ( I use these)
  • Optional topping of cinnamon and coconut sugar, or just cinnamon to sprinkle on top.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Mix all ingredients together except for the chocolate chips and optional topping.  You can use a blender or a food processor.
  • Mix well.
  • Pour into a greased muffin tin or muffin/cupcake cups. Makes 12 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins.
  • Add optional topping.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or 10 minutes for mini muffins.
  • Cool on  wire rack if possible. Bon appetit!

Aromatherapy – Thieves oil

I was going to do an introduction to essential oils, but with the cold and flu season upon us, it is time to get some Thieves oil.

Thieves oil is actually a blend of 5 essential oils.  Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon,  Eucalyptus and Rosemary. These 5 oils together have antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. If that isn’t enough for you,  Thieves oil was actually tested by Weber State University in Utah, in 1997 and found to kill 99% of airborne bacteria when diffused in a room!

Some interesting History

 legend has it, that a band of thieves used these oils to protect themselves, while robbing the dead and dying  during the 15 th century plague. Upon being caught, they were supposedly saved from death by revealing their secret weapon against catching the plague. Whether or not this is true, we do know that this powerful blend can keep colds and flu at bay!

How do I use it?   

Thieves oil can be used in a carrier oil and massaged on the bottom of the feet. Since it is such a strong oil it needs to be diluted before applying on the skin. Also, always do a patch test first, since some people may be sensitive to some of the oils. A good ratio is 6-12 drops added to 1 ounce carrier oil. You can use grapeseed, jojoba or even almond oil as a carrier oil.  I would always start with the lower amount, especially for kids. This oil is not recommended for children under two.

My preferred method of use is the diffuser.  Remember, these oils have been shown to kill airborne bacteria.  2-3 drops is all you need in a  room diffuser. There are quite a few different diffusers, electronic mist diffusers, scentball plug in diffusers and the simple candle lamps and ceramic diffusers . So there you have it , so many choices. I have a few ceramic and candle lamps as well as the plug ins. I have not yet tried any of the misters, but there are some good reviews.

It is a good idea to use a diffuser for 15-20 minutes a few times a day, especially  during peak season.

 

Recipe please

Thieves oil can be bought, but I have a great recipe for those of you who like to make your own.

Thieves oil recipe

  • 40 drops Clove oil
  • 35 drops Lemon
  • 20 drops Cinnamon
  • 15 drops Eucalyptus
  • 10 drops Rosemary

Mix all the oils and store in a dark glass bottle.

That’s not all folks     

There are other uses for Thieves oil, It can be added to a spray bottle filled with water and used to spray counters, bathrooms and other surfaces.  Add one drop of Thieves oil to every 1 ounce of water.                Add a few drops to the laundry to disinfect and freshen.                                   Thieves oil can even  be sprayed on mattresses and pet  bedding too.

Have you used Thieves oil? Have you used the ultrasonic mister? I would love to hear about your experiences.

 

Neem oil – multipurpose herb extraordinaire

Neem  Tree

Common name: Neem

Botanical name: (Azadirachta indica)  Neem,  is native to India. There are so many uses for the seed oil from this evergreen tree and an interesting range of uses too. You may have heard of Neem oil , and it’s use as a natural non toxic pesticide and insect repellent. It is also used for treatment of lice,  nits, dandruff, skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and even as a natural effective spermicide – yes, you heard that right, I did just say spermicide!

A little History

Neem has been used in India for thousands of years and the  oil  has been used medicinally and cosmetically for hundreds of years.  Neem is considered a major component of Ayurvedic and Unani medicine . All parts of the Neem tree, including the leaves, flowers, oil, seed and bark have been used for a variety health conditions, but in this post I am talking specifically about Neem oil.

All about Neem oil

So, first let’s start with the fact that Neem is antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, antiseptic and anti-parasitic!  If that is not enough, it contains limonoids which block the growth and development of insects and parasites like lice and prevents them from multiplying. In January 2007 Egyptian researchers published the promising results of a small clinical trial of a neem  head lice shampoo  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16900389

I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of neem oil for lice. Without mentioning names, some family members once  came back  from a family trip, with some extra baggage…..yes, those pesky lice. Neem to the rescue.  Even after we  got rid of our uninvited guests, I still dutifully added Neem oil to every bottle of shampoo and conditioner that entered our home. Just in case.

Those many uses

I make my own organic neem spray to deter insects from my herb and vegetable garden. Safe for all plants and humans too.  Mix together in a quart or liter of water;  1 tsp Neem oil – 1/2 tsp dish soap ( I use Seventh Generation) or Castille soap.  Pour into spray bottle and voila – ready to use.

Research shows that Neem oil can help relieve symptoms of eczema and psoriasis. It is recommended to dilute the oil before applying or buy a Neem oil product specifically for that skin condition.   A little goes a long way and is very effective, so adding a few drops to your favorite lotion can turn it into a bug repellent  and healing salve. You could also add a few drops to your liquid soap and body wash.

Last but not least..

According to studies in India neem oil is an effective spermicide  Based on these studies, a pharmaceutical company in India has developed a Neem based polyherbal  contraceptive cream.  Tests have shown that it is just as effective as the chemical based ones and is safer to use, causing no irritation or discomfort.    Here is a quick  link to one  study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8131399 .  It seems, that while this is becoming the  birth control method of choice in India, it is  a little slow  at gaining acceptance  in other places.

So, you are possibly thinking at this point, it sounds too good to be true, there must be a catch, right?  Neem, really is  all this and more, but there is one minor characteristic  of this rich oil that I have not yet mentioned. It does have a heavy odor, so you will probably not be opening your bottle of Neem oil and slathering up your whole body! Adding a few drops to a bottle of shampoo or body lotion is not really going to change the smell of that product, but using the oil neat or diluting just a little with a carrier  oil like olive oil might not mask the smell much.  There is always the option of adding essential oils or buying a good quality Neem product.

Just a friendly reminder that Neem oil should be used topically and not ingested and as with anything you put on your skin, always try a small amount first.

 Have you used Neem oil ?  What have you used it for and how did you use it? I would love to hear about  your experiences with Neem oil.

OSHA to the rescue!

Monday, it could only happen on a Monday. Rushing all morning to get the kids to their homeschool martial arts class on time. Making sure the youngest had shoes. Getting everything done before the downpour. We were finally on our way home. While driving via a different route, I noticed a clothes donations box and did a quick turn around, happy I could drop off the couple of bags I had in the back.
A pretty good Monday after all.
One of my sons helped me open the trunk and get the bags out and I started throwing them in…at the same moment I felt something sharp in my side. Then, I saw them coming out of the clothes drop box…..WASPS!!!!aaghhh!!! I screamed to my son to close the trunk and get into the car fast and I ran as fast as I could too. Thankfully, he actually listened right away and was so fast that no wasps got inside the car to sting any of the other kids! As soon as I sat down, I was overcome with PAIN! Ouch, wasp stings, Really. Do. Hurt. I felt like screaming, but remembered I had a car full of kids and yes, they were my kids and we homeschool and all that, sooo, I need to set a good example of being calm and might as well turn it into a “learning experience”.
So I took a few deep breaths in and exhaled calmly ( somewhat calmly) and asked my other son to please pass me the first aid kit.
Yes, I do carry a first aid kit around.
Yes, it is an herbal first aid kit too:)
I opened it up and rummaged through band-aids of all shapes, colors and sizes, you know you can never have enough band-aids. And there it was. That small 1/4 oz cobalt blue glass bottle of Osha root tincture. I took about 2-3 dropperfuls and also poured some on the sting. I took another droperful about 10 minutes later and applied it externally again. At that point the pain was subsiding and the redness and slight swelling were slowly receding. I had taken a pen and made a mark around the initial inflammation to show my kids, how to tell if swelling is progressing or receding. Such fun to have real life lessons like these, I am not sure who was having more fun…:-/

Anyway, as the saying goes, all is well that ends well. Drama of the day was now over and I was free to drive uneventfully home and carry on with the rest of the day. I will add that I knew I was not allergic to wasps and bees, having been stung before, so I was not in danger. I do also, usually carry benadryl and an epi-pen around too, since one of my sweet boys has a peanut allergy.

I first learned about Osha root, Lingisticum porteri from herbalist Susun Weed; and more about its applications in first aid from herbalist 7Song. This plant grows wild in the beautiful Rockies, typically at the higher elevations. One of its primary uses is for insect bites and stings, due to its anti venomous properties. Osha also has antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It is also used as an expectorant, for colds, sore throats, other respiratory conditions and even altitude sickness. While not everyone loves the flavor, I do! It is a little like maple syrup sans the sweetness. I always envision adding it to a cold brew coffee for a unique taste. For a cough, it could be made into a delicious syrup.

Osha is very useful in first aid due to its many applications. It is more practical and convenient to schlep less and take just the few herbs that you can get more uses out of. A small bottle of Osha tincture can easily be slipped into a small purse or diaper bag and voila! You are then prepared for any scrapes, stings or other not so fun things you might encounter along the way.