Monday, March 31, 2008

ginger - easing the tum

i am in the throes of the flu - picked up from callum who picked it up from his cousins at easter. argh, my mind feels like a foggy spot - clear thoughts are hard to come by.

a spice that i have used more in the past several years is ginger, and mainly for its therapeutic effects.

ginger = best friend of a pregnant, nauseated woman? possibly, but ginger is good for so many reasons.

and you know i'm going to write about them...

some of the health issues ginger has been used for over the years include: digestive ailments, arthritis, infectious diseases, fever, high blood pressure, pain and muscle aches.

ginger, used therapeutically, is one of the few spices that have no contraindications for pregnant women. and i have taken in a lot of ginger tea in the past while i was pregnant.

ginger can be added to a bath to help with colds or flus, and even to help reduce inflammation.

an interesting article about this spice - Ginger causes ovarian cancer cells to die, U-M researchers find

Sunday, March 30, 2008

well i just finished making a video slideshow of callum

whew...i have a lot of photos, but this is callum's first year with us
this is my first video, and of course i am in love with it right now
...callum turns 1 on april 8

Saturday, March 29, 2008

he's not getting better

so after another difficult night, callum is now not eating
his fever has broken each morning, but this latest development along with the inconsolable crying has led us to making sure of what it is

of course i had hoped that his cousins had only given him a cold or the flu, but apparently there is more to this

i am trying not to be upset. moral is i suppose to not visit family if they are going to interact with your child when you are sick. i worry too, because callum was born a preemie, and we had been advised by the nicu nurses that he may be more at risk for infection. amazing that we went 11.5mths without even a cold given that we were told that more than likely he'd need hospital care again within his first 6mths.

but i am upset

i really like a lot of the dr. sears info out there and have read several of his books, and this article about coughs, colds, and sinuses is immensely helpful in determining whether you need to seek medical attention for your child, and distinguishing the many common symptoms of childhood illnesses:

Friday, March 28, 2008

fighting off illness

so callum got a late easter gift from his cousins - his first illness
steve and i were so happy that it looked like he'd make it through his first year without getting sick.
but at 11.5mths, he is full on unwell -the ear infections his cousins had must have been worse than that because callum does not have an ear infection - he does however have free-flowing mucous and a dry cough with elements of mucous to it.

when it comes to illness, i try and use only natural things, anything that can trigger the body's natural ability to heal itself.

callum is just under a year, and this makes it tricky, as several natural remedies are contraindicated for the under 12mth crowd.

one of these remedies is raw honey, which has been shown to be more effective for coughs than your over the counter, synthetic cough syrups. but 12mths+ only

so i have turned more to homeopathy and aromatherapy, and good old hydrotherapy

a few of the things being done...

baths with a few drops of eucalyptus - like a natural form of vick's vaporub sans alcohol and petroleum based gels

take a baby jar, add a teaspoon of salt, and add two drops of eucalyptus. seal it with the lid. open and breathe in as required - a nice jolt to the system

coryzalia - love this - another boiron product that has been helping with cal's symptoms

steams - i found another use for our electric fondue pot - add lots of water, a few drops of eucalyptus and use as a humidifier. now that a lot of the mucous has been flowing out, i switched over to lavender as it has a gentle sedative effect and relaxant.

i've been doing a few immune boosters myself, as well as taking natrum muriaticum and my usual course of vitamins, and of course a round of boiron's oscillococcinum.

am still upset he came home sick, but we are working our way through this - and hopefully the cough starts to resolve soon so we can finally enjoy some early spring walks

Thursday, March 27, 2008

cinnamon - spices of life

cinnamon's turn:

as an essential oil -
- known as an aphrodisiac
- anti-depressant
- reduces pain and frequency of headaches
- relaxes muscles, painful joints, menstrual cramps
- increases circulation
- enhances the action of enzymes - so helps with metabolism
- anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial
- immune system booster

1/2tsp cinnamon a day lowered blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes, published in Diabetes Care in 2003. The same study found it also lowered cholesterol.

i love cinnamon and add it to lentils and in the coffee maker, or with lemon juice and hot water.
so many benefits and ways to cook with it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spice Up Your Life - and live better!

people who know me best know that i almost rabidly love all things natural for remedies.

i love homeopathy - i'll write about that later, naturopathy and tcm

however, you don't have to get all complicated when it comes to health. could your next health improvement be lurking in your spice cabinet? i've obviously posed what i believe is a rhetorical question so YES YES YES!

from ginger to turmeric, cinnamon to garlic - there is magic waiting in your cupboards....and i plan to look through some of the spices of life!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Self Massage of the Face - Acupressure Points, Massage for Relaxation, Flights

I am really proud of a lot of the articles i write. but i love it when my passion for travel and massage can be blended and used on my work website.

so, if you haven't read any of the 1000++ articles i have written over the years, this is one i am particularly proud of. it was a lot of illustrations, writing, and editing - all which came together in -

Self Massage of the Face - Acupressure Points, Massage for Relaxation, Flights

now, i am not reprinting the entire article here because it is simply too lengthy for this blog. but it is essentially a massage routine that i created, wrote down, and illustrated. best of all, you can do it yourself, on yourself.

i am hoping to come up with other self massage routines for travel - a lot of time, but well spent.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

we need more natural medicine in the world

...and i am not just talking about homeopathy and naturopathy and tcm - i love them all, and have used them all

but i am talking about the medicine that our own, human, bodies provide.

the benefits of breastmilk are just beginning to be recognized - not just for infants, toddlers and their mothers, but for the immuno-supressed as well.

consider this - "When there is milk available some milk banks will distribute it to adults who are immuno-compromised. Preliminary research indicates that breast milk can have nutritive, immunologic and palliative effects for cancer patients (Radetsky, 1999). Adults with GI disorders and organ donation recipients can also benefit from the immunologic powers of breast milk." wikipedia

it is both obscene and criminal to me that there is only one human milk bank in canada - in bc. what are we doing? why are we not considering natural products made by humans, for humans?

we need more research, and to respect the incredible powers within the human body.

Friday, March 21, 2008

baby foods that adults can eat too - red pepper soup

always trying to come up with ideas

2 tbsps butter or olive oil
4 red peppers chopped
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
20-24 ounces chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional) - or even coconut milk
pinch of ground black pepper - or to taste
Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the red bell pepper, onion and garlic in saute for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Pour in the chicken broth, stirring well, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth, return the liquid to the saucepan over medium low heat. Stir in the heavy cream and the ground black pepper and allow to heat through, about 10 minutes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

stem cells found in breastmilk

it is a beautiful thing to see research being done into the benefits of breastmilk.

but the benefits could extend beyond the nursing relationship between mother and child.

in australia, scientists have found stem cells in breastmilk - STEM CELLS! this could perhaps usher in an age of stem cell research without the ethical questions.

it is time to return to the things our body produce to bring health - that it should be from mothers' milk seems just that sweeter

here is the link to the article

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

passionate about breastfeeding

callum and i had a very rough start with breastfeeding. being in the nicu, and born without a sucking reflex, he was whisked away from me minutes after he was born.

i pumped exclusively for 2.5 months before he learned to latch for good. i never knew something natural could be so difficult. i'd sometimes pump for an hour, take an hour off and pump again 10-12 times a day i was pumping in order to have enough breastmilk for my son. i often cried while pumping. the motor was loud enough to drown out the sounds of my despair. but i wanted him to have breastmilk, and only breastmilk. the fact that nothing about his coming into the world came close to what i would have hoped for, i would at least commit to this. so i did.

i was told i'd lose my supply if i didn't take drugs - WRONG

i was told i'd probably quit because you can't just pump - WRONG

i was told i would need a lactation consultant to get him to latch - WRONG


no one told me breastfeeding could be so hard

this is just part of why i am so passionate about breastfeeding, and here are a few of the 101 Reasons To Breastfeed Your Baby (from

1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends it

5. Not breastfeeding increases mother's risk of breast cancer

10. Breast milk contains immunities to diseases and aids in the development of baby's immune system.

14. Nursing helps mom lose weight after baby is born

15. Pre-term milk is specially designed for premature infants

16. The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend it

17. Breastfeeding protects against Crohn's disease

18. Formula feeding increases risk of baby developing type I (juvenile, insulin-dependent) diabetes.

21. Not breastfeeding increases mother's risk of developing ovarian cancer

22. Not breastfeeding increases mother's risk of developing endometrial cancer

23. Formula feeding increases chances of baby developing allergies

24. Breast milk lowers risk of baby developing asthma

27. Breastfeeding protects baby against diarrheal infections

28. Breastfeeding protects baby against bacterial meningitis

29. Breastfeeding protects baby against respiratory infections

30. Formula fed babies have a higher risk of developing certain childhood lymphomas

31. Breastfeeding decreases chances of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

32. Breastfeeding decreases child's chances of contracting Hodgkins disease

33. Breastfeeding protects baby against vision defects

34. Breastfeeding decreases chances of maternal osteoporosis in later life

39. Breastfed babies have less chance of developing ulcerative colitis

40. Breast milk protects against hemophilus b. virus

44. Breastfed babies have less chance of developing necrotizing enterocolitis

52. Breast milk acts like a natural tranquilizer for baby

53. Breastfeeding acts like a natural tranquilizer for mom

59. Fewer waste packaging products

65. Natural pain relief for baby

77. Facilitates proper dental and jaw development

80. Better speech development

86. Contains no synthetic growth hormones

87. Lack of breastfeeding associated with multiple sclerosis

88. Less chance of inguinal hernia

93. Protects mothers against anemia (iron deficiency)

96. Breast milk is good for combatting eye infections

97. Breast milk is a good natural antibiotic for wounds

101. It's what breasts were designed for!

For the medical resources, and all of the 101 reasons to breastfeed your baby...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the importance of rear-facing seats

luckily callum has only had to be in a car just over a dozen times in his 11mths of life.
but, he will be rear-facing as long as possible.
in a few countries, rear-facing is common until 3 or 4 years of age.
unfortunately, in canada, the maximum weight for a rear-facing seat is currently 30lbs. that is what we have for him. hopefully this will change
but am thankful he is such a lightweight as we should get close to the 2yr mark if he gains as he is.

in this province - current recommendations are 20lbs and or 1yr. you are not compelled to put an 18lb 1yr old rear-facing. this is not in the best interest of safety. as a registered massage therapist, i have seen my share of mva - motor vehicle accident victims - and the muscles most affected are along the course of the cervical spine. anything superior to a c5 injury is frankly deadly. and our youngest people are especially vulnerable.

a brilliant youtube video says it best...

Monday, March 17, 2008

the loss of a normal, natural childbirth

time has made space for a great deal of joy in my life

but it would be dishonest to say that the first few weeks, hell months, after callum was born were normal.i grieved the loss of a normal birth when i had a preemie, everything about it was unnatural. part of processing it and moving to a place of gratitude was in recognizing my feelings, and seeking out other women online who had preemies as well.

the following list was taken from a website discussion among mothers of preemies. it made all the difference to me.

-Don’t tell me about how lucky I am to not have to go thru the last month or two of pregnancy.
-Don’t tell me how a cesarean-section is so much easier and I’m lucky I had to have one.
-Don’t tell me how it’s ‘no big deal’ and everything will be fine because people have preemies all the time and they are just fine.
-I’ve been through something traumatic. My body has failed me at a very primal level to have a preemie.
-Research is great. Educating yourself is awesome. Please do not act like you are an expert on the subject because you read something on the internet or know a friend of a friend. Each baby is unique and different, and as such my baby may not fit into what you have read. Please do not attempt to teach me about my baby.
-Please don't ask when my child is finally going to "catch up" with other children. I DON'T KNOW! Try to focus on what my child can do, not what they can't.
-I appreciate that you had a close friend or family member with a baby in the NICU and you have seen a NICU baby before. I hate to sound harsh, but if it wasn't your baby you really cannot completely understand how I feel.
-Don’t compare my child and her development to other preemies. It may give them hope but there will be other things that can happen to that baby that didn’t happen to my baby.
- Don’t expect me to answer your call or return it within the first 4 weeks of my preemie's arrival.
- Don’t ask about doll clothes.
- PLEASE, PLEASE don't tell me that my baby is so big, and already caught up that couldn't possibly have been in the NICU.
- Don't then ask me why my baby isn't doing such-and-so yet, so-and-so's baby is doing it who was born within days...
- Don't tell me how "lucky" I am to have a small baby...I didn't WANT a small baby...
- Never compare my baby to a runt
-Ask me questions! There's a lot about preemie care and NICU life that people don't understand, not to mention questions about my baby's condition. Don't be afraid to ask me...most of the time I am willing to answer and explain because talking about it helps me understand it too, and if you understand more then you can be more supportive.
- Also if I am crying it isn't Post Partum Depression, it's because all my hopes and dreams for a healthy pregnancy, vaginal delivery and healthy baby have blown up. I don't need medication, I need support!
-That said, mommies of Preemies/Nicu babies are at high risk for Post Partum Depression. Please keep an eye on me, without smothering me, and help me get needed support and treatment if PPD does hit me.
-Ignore the tubes and wires and tell me he is beautiful. Because he is.
-Please don't preach to me. If you have not been here as the mother of a sick baby, you don't know anything about this.
-I'm still a new mom. I'm hormonal. Please be kind to me, and give me lots of breaks for any bad behavior.
-I'm tired. Please don't say "be glad your baby is in the hospital" or anything like that. I am not sleeping well; I'm either up pumping or worried for my baby.
-Please don’t ask what I did to cause this.
- Please don't ask questions I can’t answer, like will my baby ever be "normal".
- Please ask how I am, I may need a shoulder.
-PLEASE don't try to tell me that you understand, because unless your child/baby is sick, you truly, honestly DON'T.
-Please don't tell me about another smaller, younger baby who is 'just fine' because every baby is different, has had different circumstances in utero, and frankly, isn't my baby.
- Please don't say clich├ęd phrases like, "if it was meant to be...", no baby is meant to be born early and sick.
- Thank you for the congratulations but please don't pretend that everything is wonderful right now and I should be a glowing new mother.
- Waking up every three hours to pump is not restful, and it is much, much harder than waking up next to your sweet newborn baby.
- I'm not "over it" and I might not ever be. Try not to be awkward, change the subject, or roll your eyes if I still get emotional about my daughter's birth and NICU experience 2 years later.
- Don't ask when I'm having more children, or if I will try for a boy, or nod knowingly and say 'It is probably for the best" if I say we are done having children.
- Don't disappear off the face of the planet after my baby is born. If you are scared of the hospital, tell me. If you don't know how to deal with me in a fragile state, let me know it is tough for you. But walking away completely...makes me feel that you were never my friend, especially if you try to come back into my life after 6 months of not talking to me.
- Don’t give me a hard time because I didn’t tell you details about whatever was happening. It was hard enough for me to understand and discuss w my dh.
-I don’t have the time or emotional energy to deal with your drama. Please keep it to yourself.
- Do drop off a care package of tabloid magazines, anything you know I like to read or something I like to do to pass time. Pumping rooms are so lonely and need something to read. Besides, the nurses also like tabloids and it takes the edge off sometimes.
- Please don't judge me if nursing is not going well. I'm trying. It is very hard to pump. My time is so tight, and pumping is just one more time and emotional demand on me. If I ask for help, please give it. It is emotionally draining. I'm tired.
- If I ask for help with pumping/nursing and you know the answer, please help me. If you don't than say so. Please don't guess and give me bad advice.
- Please don't talk about how easy it was for you to breastfeed and pump.
- Don't ask me how I intend to feed that teeny baby with my chest

...and 11 months later many of these points still ring true, even though i am so grateful and blessed to have a healthy, happy child.

but it is simply not a normal experience. it was incredibly lonely, and isolating. becoming a mother of a preemie, even though he is doing well, is just a different experience. the sadness comes from being separated from your child at the moment of his birth - when you both need each other the most.

and there is joy that he doesn't seem to carry any ill effects of being born early, but the sadness needs to be acknowledged too.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

travel tip - albania

albania is not an easy country to travel
it's difficult enough to get to

what i found is that you really need to rely on the kindness of strangers due to albania's lack of tourist infrastructure

there are NO bus terminals, bus stops change all the time

travelling south from montenegro means being dropped at the southernmost bus terminal in montenegro and hopefully finding a minibus to take you over the border
so the tip -
make friends with people on the bus in montenegro

we did and thankfully so as there was no minibus for albania, and one of the albanians called and got one, and then helped arrange a minibus to tirana after crossing the border at albanian prices

tirana is chaotic and the same new-found friends walked us to one of the inns we had marked down and negotiated a decent rate for the night

tirana is not worth spending much time in - most of the buildings are communist blocks, and there are few historical remnants. but the pizza is good!

i found the everyday albanian to be wonderfully hospitable even though we didn't share a language to communicate easily in

and the most useful word to learn in albanian is thank you - and i used that a lot

Saturday, March 15, 2008

why i love bs

...baking soda

in my quest to make all of the products i use in the house (and i do make all of our household cleaners, laundry detergents, dishwashing soaps and detergents), i have found baking soda to be an absolute marvel!

a few uses...

1. natural deodorant - well at least part of the deodorizing routine. you take a bit of baking soda, rub into your armpits well while showering and then rinse off. i am experimenting making balms as well for personal deodorant. works really well

2. cleaners - i use this in almost every cleaner i make - disinfectant to all purpose

3. fabric softener - wet a baby cloth, rub in bs, throw in the dryer. add essential oil too for scented laundry

4. scouring - great for sinks and other grimy spots, toilet bowls too

5. dishwashing - along with borax, this is my dishwasher detergent

6. +++ - it's in my laundry detergent and cleaners too

baking soda is just amazing - power cleaner!

st. patrick's day

luck, blessings and love to all

better late than never - callum aodhan

callum arrived 6wks early on easter sunday of 2007 - 8 april

there was no forewarning

there were no complications that would have indicated i'd have him early

there were no red flags, warning signs, premonitions

and there were no answers

he just came early

so at 48cm and 2502g, callum arrived at the general - and obviously my planned home birth did not occur

after a week in the nicu he came home

so now for a first few pics -

birth is easy for no one - this is not a home birth

callum didn't really like the monitors and squirmed a lot, here his heart monitor is flinging off - the tube is a gauvage tube - a feeding tube - callum was born before he had a sucking reflex, and used too much energy trying to eat. pumped breastmilk was fed through the tube in his nose.

callum was born unable to properly regulate his body temperature. here he is in an isolette, set at 35 degrees celsius. once they were finally able to drop it to 29 degrees, and he was able to maintain his temperature he was moved out of the incubator into a normal hospital crib.

this was the day we were told that callum would leave the nicu, no more monitors or tests or invasive tubes and bloodwork. he is a little champ. instead of the predicted 3wks in the nicu, he was out in 1wk - already impressing his parents...

and the months pass

i had stopped blogging here for so long, given that part of my employment involves constantly blogging i wasn't sure if i wanted to do so anymore

and now that i am finally catching on to this being a mother thing, i am back and ready to catch up

so much has changed - it can't be placed into a few short sentences or a blog post, but i am taking a different turn with this blog

i have really embraced as much natural living as possible, and will share it as much as possible.

i want to blog some of the experiences of the past year - good and bad - traumatic and triumphant

and of course blog about travel.

and now...getting started
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