Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Life Is Precious {A Review and Giveaway!}


I just finished going through the Life Is Precious unit study with some of my kids and today I get to share my thoughts and a complete set to give away!

I don't do a whole lot of prepared unit studies with my kids.  At least, not intentionally.  We'll get engrossed in one subject or another but I tend to let it just happen naturally rather than plotting out the next subject matter we'll immerse ourselves in.  Unless there's a specific reason for us to focus on one topic like a family trip or a major current event, I just don't really plan things that way.  But a few months ago American Life League's Culture of Life Studies Program asked if I would review their new K-2 program called Life Is Precious and I said yes.  With everything going on with the release of the undercover videos from Planned Parenthood a few months ago, I felt something stirring in my heart that I need to focus a bit more with my kids on this topic and that our family should be doing more.  The timing of their request seemed inspired.  It's become abundantly clear to me that we need to be intentional with our children about forming them to live in a world that is more and more at odds with the dignity of every single human life.  One part of that is building a very strong foundation from an early age that every life is important and valuable.

I was so glad to see that the program is really really well done.

First, let me start my thoughts with the fact that it motivated me to do crafts, guys.  And I didn't mind.  That right there should tell you that it's got to be good.

See?  Crafts.  And I didn't twitch once.

American Life League introduced this new unit study Life Is Precious to teach the dignity of life at all stages.  The curriculum is a simple four week study aimed at K-2 that contains reading and activities based on four children's books.  Those books are purchased separately but easily found at the library or reasonably priced online.  We had one of them already and the other three I purchased used for a few dollars each.  I worked through it with my 3, 6, and 8 year olds and I've been so impressed with the quality of the program.  It comes with the teacher guide containing all lesson plans, a CD-ROM of printable appendices and coloring pages, a 12 week fetal model and card, and Baby Steps, a short DVD featuring 4-D ultrasounds of various stages of pregnancy.

The program is designed around those four children's book, each week devoted to the lessons gleaned from one of the books.

The topics covered with each book are:

  • Preborn Life and Fetal Development - Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman
  • The Uniqueness of Every Person - On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
  • Standing Up For Your Beliefs - Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss
  • Defending Those Who Are Mistreated - One by Kathryn Otoshi

 I love that there is an emphasis on scientific human development.  I love that it completely respects their innocence and builds upon the child's innate understanding that every life is important, no matter where it is or how small it is.  With that solid, positive, and evidence-based foundation in place it becomes blatantly obvious to the child later on why things that violate that inherent dignity (like abortion or euthanasia) are so disordered and horrendous.  The program does not address those violations but simply builds that age appropriate framework for understanding and loving a culture of life.


The boys were eager to do each of the lessons and loved the projects we worked on together.  They especially loved learning more about the development of the unborn baby.  We've talked a lot about that during my pregnancies and I often reminisce with them about when they were inside me.  The diagrams and projects reinforced that and we talked about the growth of the baby, the food from the placenta, how the baby knows when it's time to come out, and so many more things.  They loved creating their own book and putting our poster together and learning what develops during the different weeks.  We talked about our responsibility to defend those who cannot defend themselves and about how unique and unrepeatable each person is.   


My six and eight year olds were more able to understand and complete the activities than the three year old, of course.  He followed along and did most of it with us but his attention predictably petered out after a while.  I absolutely love the approach the creators of the program took by using the books they did.  They take truths that are more easily accepted by the culture at large (such as the need to defend someone who is being mistreated or that every person is unique) and show that they apply to ALL persons.   


I'm really glad we did this program and that it gave me the push I needed to be more intentional about teaching certain concepts to my kids.  I would love to see this program disseminated to every single Christian grade school in the country.

And now I have one copy of the program to give away to a lucky reader!  Winner will receive the teacher guide, CD-ROM, fetal model, and DVD.  If you'd like to win, please enter through the Rafflecopter form below using your email or Facebook account.  Giveaway ends next Tuesday, September 29.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, September 21, 2015

Learning to Love in All the Wrong (to us) Ways


You met somehow.  You fell in love.  You couldn’t help but share with your friends and family how amazing this person was and how you just have SO MUCH IN COMMON! and how it all just seemed to click.  Remember that?  Then the years pass and you get closer and know each other more and more and the differences begin to be clarified and become maybe just a little bit more glaring.  And despite the fact that from a distance there are far more similarities and congruencies, it sure becomes easier and easier to see the areas where you differ



Original Image Source


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Please Pray With Us! An Our Lady Undoer of Knots Novena for the Papal Visit


It's been growing and growing on my heart the last few weeks that we Americans need to be praying for this upcoming papal visit.  It could be absolutely amazing and a catalyst of conversion for SO many people.  I see and hear more and more fallen away Catholics and non Catholics who are really listening to what our Holy Father has to say - or at least, as much as they can glean from the mainstream media.  And hearts are moving.  They really are.  Even if they misunderstand what he says or he doesn't say exactly what some of us think he should, I see and hear comments more and more from people who are really beginning to be drawn to Christ and His Church through him.  Led by the Holy Spirit, this visit could bear amazing fruit.  

But.
I've also had a bad feeling about it.  Maybe I'm crazy.  It sure wouldn't be the first time ;)  I can't put my finger on it and don't really need to but I've felt very moved that there needs to be a greater effort for the faithful to be praying hard for this trip.  Praying that the Holy Spirit will move our pope to say exactly what needs to be said in our country right now.  Praying for minds and hearts to be opened and discerning to what he has to say.  Praying for the media who will be covering and reporting his words.  Praying for his address before Congress.  Praying that his words will be poignant and powerful and unafraid.  I'm also praying that if it be God's will, he address the life of the unborn and the Planned Parenthood issue with clarity and force.  And I'm especially praying that the forces of evil that will want to distort and twist the truth during this time of promise will be crushed.

So.  Want to pray with me?

I thought about novenas I could pray and Our Lady Undoer of Knots came to mind.  Pope Francis has a strong devotion to her and was instrumental in promoting the devotion around the world.  And we sure have a lot of knots to work out politically, socially, and spiritually, right? 
And you know what I learned as I looked it up?

Her feast day is September 28.
The papal visit ends September 27.

HOW AWESOME IS THAT??

So if we start TODAY, September 19, then we will end the novena on the last day of his visit and celebrate the feast the next day.  Guys.  I don't think that's just coincidence.  It's quickly becoming known as a very powerful and intense novena.  One that changes things in big ways.  We can start today and pray all the way through his visit for Our Lady's intercession and for the Holy Spirit to move powerfully.  Let's pray that Our Lady will intercede and through this visit untie knotted hearts, knotted politics, knotted social issues, and so many of the known and unknown knots we struggle with in our country and world.
Let's do this.  Pray with us, please.

(Thank you to the folks at Pray More Novenas for sharing it.)

I'd love to hear in the comments or on Facebook if you will be.  We'll be praying either way but it's so encouraging and motivating when you know that there are other people united with you in prayer.  (And helps me not forget ;)  I'll be posting reminders on the Facebook page and maybe here on the blog, too.  Please consider sharing this link to get as many people possible united in prayer.

 Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us.




Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Blessing of Ben


I just have to share this kid with you a little bit.  If I could, I'd have you over to my house and you could see firsthand how much joy he is.  That would work better.  You can't not smile when he's looking at you and I'm certain it could lighten whatever load you're carrying, even if just a little itty bit.  He reminds us every day that God is here and there is reason for joy.

But for now, pictures will just have to do.

{pretty, happy}






{funny}
I caught this shot when Ben was meeting his newest cousin and realizing his reign of baby of the family had been already usurped.  

Goofball.  He is the sweetest faced little goofball.

And always ready for a party, this one.

{real}
He didn't get to be born in water but he loves it nonetheless ;)  The last swim at Grandma's pool for the season.

And one of the (embarrassingly) few baths.  

Can you believe this guy's gonna be four months in just a few days?  Remember when I was all hugely pregnant and nervous and all how-in-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-this?  I barely do.  Life flying, y'all.  But I can really honestly say that even though I know in a few years (heck, months) they'll be a memory, we've soaked in these newborn days as much as humanly possible.  He is such a gift to every single one of us.  This little person's existence in our home has been pure grace and joy.  God is so good.

Linking with {phfr}


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

This Month in Boys - September 2015


-a monthly recap of some of the things I just don't want to forget-


John Paul


-has been catching the American Ninja Warrior bug from his cousins.  He's been dreaming about building the course in the back yard.
-fills every car ride with learning every single car make and model he can from me.  The three older boys have started a game where they get points for different sports car models they see.
-reads a book every day or two.  This month included Mysterious Island, Kidnapped, the first three Horatio Hornblower, Time Traveler, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in 80 Days, and a whole lot of encyclopedias.
-built his own working trebuchet.  He claims he wishes he had been born in medieval times.  A few days later he figured out a huge ballista.  Suburban medieval armory growing.
-learned to make cobbler and lemon blueberry cake.
-is looking oooold!

Michael


-began the ever desired big guy chore of lawn mowing.  He looks ridiculously cute on that thing.
-finally has those two front teeth growing back in!
-loves the crafty things.  And loves to be led in said crafts.
-every morning holds a vote with the brothers while they're still in bed on what they should do that day.
-is probably our best sleeper of our bunch.
-worked very impressively creating a makeshift zipline between two trees in the yard.
-gets excited seeing new types of birds around the house
-still prays every night for my Grandma's old roommate who died a few years ago.
-is very much looking forward to his feast day coming up.

David


-turned golden blonde in the summer sun.
-finished his 100 Lessons reading book!  We're now moving on to Frog and Toad.
-is loving his school classes.  He is just thrilled especially with his Literature class that's all about Narnia all semester long.  
-on a recent trip to Confession was SO excited to be able to go to Adoration in the little chapel.
-has been asking to take and play with Ben and is old enough to walk with him for just a little bit.
-still chooses green and purple as his favorite colors.


Luke


-has been going through a little chess phase and actually knows pretty well what each piece does.
His challenge:  "Mama, will you play hard on me?  Because I'm really good at chess."
-and wants to play games all. the. time.  Not always the greatest loser either, that one.
-has begun the fourth birthday countdown.  Three months to go…
-has been so very very very eager to cook with me and loves being my little kitchen helper.
-is back to getting up at 5:45 or 6 every morning for the last month or so.  Not cool.
-likes to entertain Ben by dancing for him.  Or stomp-jumping in a circle as most people would call it.

Ben


-learned to roll front to back a few months ago but just the other night decided to pull the back to front maneuver.
-loved his first forays into swimming.
-seriously happiest baby ever.
-except once in a while when he will suddenly (or when he is startled) give you the absolute most heartbreaking baby frown face ever and you have approximately 2.6 seconds to do something silly and happy and ridiculous to prevent him from crying.  And you will do it because the face.  Oh, that face.
-is beginning to just barely reach for things.  He's found his hands and enjoys chews on those often.  I absolutely adore watching him figure stuff out.
-when excited (which is often) will kick up a storm, especially stomping that adorable little left leg.
-prefers to be swaddled for sleep still.
-went through a talk mimicking phase and would hold the best baby conversations ever.  Hysterical.
-is arguably the most kissed and loved on baby ever.



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What Does a Doula REALLY Do?



The role of a doula is becoming more and more valued by the wider community when it comes to birth.  Especially as the medical system stands today, the presence of an experienced, loving, knowledgable, confident other woman can make a tremendous difference in a mother and baby's birth experience.  Studies show that women with continuous labor support are more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and are less likely to have Pitocin, pain medication, epidurals, negative associations surrounding their birth, the use of vacuum or forceps during birth, or a cesarean birth.  Their labors were also shorter and the newborns had higher Apgar scores upon birth with a noted decrease in newborns being admitted to the NICU.  

That's all kind of a big deal.

Still, there's question among many women about what a doula actually does.  We hear that she's a professional trained in childbirth who provides support for women before, during, and after birth.  She's hired by the family and works independent of the hospital or medical staff.  She is accountable solely to the family.  Great.  But what does that really mean, practically speaking?  

In my doula practice, as a bare bones answer I could say I provide a commitment-free interview, two prenatal meetings (sometimes more upon request or need), continuous support from active labor until an hour or two after birth, 24/7 email or phone availability, and one postpartum meeting.  But that doesn't nearly encompass the heart of what it is that I do.

So I thought I'd compile a list of just some of the things I've done as a doula:

talked through birth plans
squeezed hands
gave lower back counter pressure
caught vomit
spooned ice chips into mouths
prayed out loud
prayed silently
researched
massaged backs and shoulders
grabbed the nurse/doctor/midwife
answered questions
changed chux pads
relayed messages
counseled
explained and demonstrated the birth process
put laundry in
compressed hips
taken labor photos
taken baby's first photos
demonstrated birthing positions
swabbed foreheads
walked and walked and walked
provided resources
calmed panic
read Scriptures
shown dad what to do
fed
napped (while mom was ;)
held the space
cried
timed contractions
held legs
packaged placentas
filled birth tubs
discussed options
driven newly born babes to the hospital
given recommendations for OBs, midwives, pediatricians, and chiropractors.
applied essential oils
gave statistics
helped onto the toilet
helped off the toilet
washed dishes
played music
filled (and refilled) the water glass
helped latch babies to breast
swatted flies
brushed hair
fanned
answered worried calls in the middle of the night
mopped floors
done the labor sway along with mom
gotten supplies
changed their clothes
changed diapers
listened
reassured dads
poured water on backs
cleaned up poop
massaged feet
driven 95 m.p.h.
played music
comforted siblings
cooked food
vocalized with mom
offered my Mass
lit candles
sent birthday cards
helped process past birth experiences
encouraged
loved

All of that - the physical care, the emotional support and availability, the information supply, the spiritual strength, the investment of time and confidence - it all creates an atmosphere where a woman believes she has what it takes within in and around her to have a dignified and positive birth.  How many times I've heard from moms who believe that if only they had had a doula for a previous birth,  x, y, or z would not have occurred.  So often moms don't realize the support they need until they are in the thick of it or are not receiving it.  Doulas are helping to fix that and in turn are helping build a culture of birth that treats women and babies better, a culture that respects all the aspects of a woman's personhood as well as the collective wisdom and strength from which we can draw.
We are one part of slowly reclaiming the feminine genius of women when it comes to birth.

It makes sense then that a growing number of Christian and Catholic women are seeing this work as beautiful and are becoming doulas.  While I believe every woman can benefit from a doula, I think it is especially so when that doula shares the same (or at least similar) faith as the mother.  The work of pregnancy and the powerfully intense moments of birth are life changing.  They affect every part of us and sharing those beliefs with those supporting us and feeling free to draw upon that faith during those times is important for body and soul.  To help women find that like-minded support, Melody at Blossoming Joy offers a growing list of Catholic doulas that may be close to you.  Check it out if you are looking for a doula or if you are a Catholic doula and would like to place your profile on the list free of charge.

Have you used a doula or have questions?  Share in the comments!


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Cake for Our Lady's Nativity


Schools began today around these parts and along with that so did our little homeschool study center. So this morning was spent there trying to keep the little two happy while the older three went to their few classes.  John Paul and Michael are both taking two classes and David three.  We were even able to get there in time for Mass for the feast day!  Five kids at Mass all on my own like a boss.  Except not.  The older three were fine but I spent the forty five minutes trying not to pass out from Moby wrapped heat exhaustion while doing the Mass wrangle with The Luke.  Oh my goodness.  So hot this week.  It's been hitting ninety and the humidity has been out of control.  It's been sticky nursing, steamy baby holding, sweating while sleeping, everyone's a little grumpier type of weather.  But I'll be hankerin' for a taste of this come January so I'm trying to not be too cranky about it all.

The heat didn't stop us from turning the oven on and making a birthday cake for Our Lady.  Because we be super Catholic crazy and the recipe looked delicious and the boys were volunteering to help with it.  In hindsight not sure why I didn't just pick a lemon blueberry ice cream cake.  Or an otherwise birthday-ey Mary-esque dessert.  But I guess I got sucked into the delicious and beautiful pics of this one and we have about seven million blueberries in our freezer and I got into my characteristic MUST DO THIS NOW zone that I do.    

So I did what I do and in honor of the Nativity of the BVM, I present:
(with leftover cream cheese frosting I rescued from the freezer)

Blue and gold are traditionally associated with Mary so I figured a lemon blueberry something would be right up her alley.  We used it to celebrate last night at a family picnic as we said goodbye to summer and Grandma's pool til next year.  

Someone want to come clean out my oven??  No?  Not appealing??





I tried to get a picture of a slice after it was cut and dropped my phone right smack into it.  Which made me laugh because I totally deserved it for trying to be one of those fancy food picture taking people. 
The cake was good.  Was hoping it would come out a little fluffier, though.  (And I really promise we didn't over mix it.  I'll blame John Paul.  He measured out the flour.)  Next time I might increase the lemon and blueberries for a bit more flavor.  

Happy birthday, Mary.  
I'm pretty darn glad you were born.  Cuz, you know, salvation and all.
Please help us give our own little fiats to the Father in whatever it is He asks us to do - as humble or grandiose it may be.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Family Prayer - How We {currently} Make It Happen



I hesitate a bit to write on family prayer.
  
I worry just a little that it will be read that I think what we do others might think they should be doing, too.  But I remember not too long ago as a fresh faced (and overwhelmed and exhausted) mom of just one little baby wanting to know everything I could about how other Catholic moms were doing things.  I felt a bit lost.  I remembered some things from growing up but I felt like we needed to figure out things for us, with a different family situation and dynamic.  We've kind of lost that collective memory, haven't we?  Many of us didn't have family prayer growing up at all.  Many of us were raised in broken homes.  Many of us had their spiritual life stay within the confines of their Catholic school or religious education program.  Many of us just feel as adults and parents that we're kind of making stuff up as we go and that we somehow missed out on that natural passing on of faith traditions.  When we begin having children, especially, we begin to feel that void.   

As that young mom, I wanted to peer into the windows and see just how others I knew were doing things.  I wanted to get ideas and know that this was possible and just see how it all worked in real life.  Already feeling the tug to homeschool, I specifically wanted to see those Catholic homeschooling moms I knew who had years of experience under their belts and just seemed to know what they were doing.  While I don't think I can claim that yet (and those other moms would've probably said the same thing at the time!), I do want to share what we do both for my own benefit in future years but maybe also for that young mom in a similar boat who just wants to know what others do so that they can shape and form their own family prayer life consistent with their family culture.

And so I share.  Here's currently what we do:

MY Prayer Time
What works best for me (and consequently for my family) is if I get up far earlier than the rest of the family.  I hesitate to say need but I really really do better when I have an hour or two to wake up and have quiet and my own personal prayer and devotion time before I'm "on" for the rest of the day.  I'm just reclaiming that time now after the late pregnancy/newborn stage that throws this time off a bit.  There was a good chunk of time before Ben's pregnancy when I was waking up at 5:30 just to get that time in before the littles would start waking.  It's not that I don't need or want sleep but this time is even more precious to me than that.  Which is saying a lot.  I can go without a little sleep.  I can't go without that time of quiet with Him and that time with my own thoughts.   So within that time I try to do Morning Prayer from the Divine Office, have some sort of spiritual reading or Scripture, and just sit even for a few moments in silence and conversation with God.  And that's probably my best time for writing or at least starting to write…which explains why the posts have been few and far between these last few months.
  
Morning Offering
We pray the Morning Offering together before the boys are allowed to dig into breakfast.  We pray a traditional offering, add in our own special flair at the end, and then go right into the prayer before meals.

Heavenly Father, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we offer You all the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world - for our Holy Father and His intentions, for all the souls in Purgatory, for all those who will die today, and for all of our priests.  We pray for all those suffering throughout the world - the hungry and homeless, the people in war, danger, nursing homes, prisons, hospitals, and orphanages and for all who need our prayers in any way today.  We pray for all unborn babies especially…  We pray that we can grow today in holiness, gratitude, obedience (insert any virtue we may be struggling with…) and for Papa, his work, and his clients.
Bless us, oh Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, 
through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Blessings
Before Brian leaves for work he likes to use the holy water to make a cross on each person's forehead…almost always necessarily reminded by one of the littles.

The Angelus
Before the boys eat their lunch around noon we pray the Angelus together.
(During the Easter season this is changed to the Regina Caeli.)
Then we again go right into the meal blessing.  This time we do it in Latin because it's cool and it's a good opportunity to practice/learn their Latin in real life context.
We add in a little prayer to bless Papa and his work at the end.

Dinner
We don't do anything fancy at dinner except pray the meal blessing again.  For all of these meals, the rule is you don't begin eating until we've prayed together.  (Tying prayer into meal time is really helpful in establishing a prayer rhythm.  Also, getting to eat is a good natural motivator ;)  During Advent this is also when we do our Advent prayers and light our wreath.

Family Rosary
This has been sporadic throughout the years but over this past summer we've recommitted to praying a family Rosary before bed.  There were seasons where we just did a decade and years in the beginning where didn't do it at all.  But with recent current events and the climate of the country and everything going on, we've felt increasingly convicted that our family needs to be praying more and praying hard for so many suffering and against so much evil happening.  So before the three middles go up to bed, we pray in the front room together.  Sometimes Oftentimes it looks like a hot mess but I remind myself that we are trying and that God sees our hearts and intentions and to just keep on keeping on for our own good and the grace it can bring to us and the world.  If we are out somewhere in the evening we try our best to pray in the car on the way home so we can put littles right to bed.

The boys take turns with decades and I'm so happy that we've recently begun singing the Salve Regina at the end.  I've always wanted to learn it and do that as a family at night and the boys have really taken to it.

(During Lent we replace the Rosary with the Stations of the Cross on Fridays.)

Intentions   
At the end of Rosary we add the St. Michael prayer and we each get a chance to voice any special intentions for the day.  (We used to also add in something they were grateful for from the day but at that point the attention (and, ahem, parental patience) is wearing down.)   They tend to pray for the same intentions which is fine because they're good ones.  We've started making sure that we specifically pray for an end to abortion and the conversion of all abortionists. 

Bedtime
When the boys are getting tucked into bed upstairs they pray the Guardian Angel prayer and do our family litany, i.e. asking the intercession of all our family patron saints.  This includes the first/middle/Confirmation name saints, our little Joseph Mary, a few other saints special to us, and if we know it, the feast day saint.  It's getting kind of long :)  I don't know where I learned this but we add the  lines "From simplest stain, o keep me free; And in death's sorrow near me be" to the end of the Guardian Angel prayer.  Then forehead blessings with holy water and g'nite.

Prayer as Husband and Wife
We'd like to improve in this area a bit.  But our goal is to pray well together before we go to bed.  I love the times we are able to pray spontaneously together.  It is beautiful and there is so much fruit that comes from it.  That said, we often put it off until we are already in bed and by that point our eyes are closing and we're practically unconscious before we can mumble out an Our Father together.  Perhaps the thing to work on next...

Another thing I've toyed with is to add an afternoon devotion such as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00 or quiet Scripture or devotional reading.  That time of day is usually a hard one, though.  Often they are already busily playing or working on something and I don't want to interrupt...mooostly for my own benefit.  And that's the time of day when I'm feeling drowsy and sluggish so I just don't muster the energy to make it happen.  Something to pray and think about, I suppose.  We also have never done the prayer after meals that some do.  But it is a beautiful idea and one that maybe will happen in the future.

So, for now, that is our little family's prayer routine.  Every family will (and should!) look different depending on schedules, schooling, special devotions, job situations, personal devotion of the parents, etc. but every family has the opportunity to avail themselves of that grace somehow and be a conduit of grace for the rest of the world.  What a beautiful gift that is.  What a necessary lifeline that is in our world today.  The pressure on my heart in the last few months has been increasing that we families need to be praying for our world and for our own souls.  While we may never on earth know the fruit of it here, there will be eternal and beautiful blessings if we do.

I'd love to have you share in the comments the family prayer that works with your family.  Let's encourage each other and help each other become who we as families were meant to be.


"The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the domestic Church can be achieved only with God's unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humbly and trustingly petitioned in prayer."  
Familiaris Consortio, 59



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Five Favorite Antibiotic Alternatives


I'm not anti-medicine.  At all.  But I do think it's overused and I much prefer to try to heal things with the least amount of intervention possible.  When it comes to antibiotics, I of course DO think they are a great tool to use when they are necessary and I wouldn't hesitate to use them if the situation was severe enough.  That said, I'm very very grateful that none of my children have ever been at that point and the last time I took them was eleven years ago (two oral doses in labor.  Wish I hadn't.).  We have gotten over everything from Strep throat to UTIs to ear infections to a MRSA skin infection (yes, the real MRSA) without using them.  

We now know that the overuse of antibiotics is causing real issues in our health as a society and like with so many other things, we've got the 20/20 hindsight going on.  We didn't realize the effects  (also here) until long after they became the go-to for almost any small infection.  Doctors are now much more hesitant to give antibiotics for simple ear infections and the like because their use is often unneeded and creates more complications than it heals.  The growth of "superbugs" and antibiotic resistant strains of illnesses is a big concern as well as individual immune systems not getting the "workout" they need and being weakened by their overuse.  

All that said, here's what we do instead.  And obviously, this is not me playing doctor or telling you that you shouldn't use them if the case warrants it.  I'm just some lady on the internet sharing what's worked for us that maybe could work for you ;)

1.

Silver is a natural germ killer and we've had great success using it for throat issues and a couple UTIs.  In fact, our washing machine has a silver option where it will add colloidal silver to the water to disinfect things.  Colloidal silver is silver particles suspended in water.  Just a few tiny doses when sick seems to have a great effect though I readily admit this is just our experience and pretty much all you'll find pertaining to its efficacy is personal testimony.  But we like it and it's worked for us so there's that.  We're also careful not to use it regularly since it can build up in your system. 

2.
Many people say that local honey is helpful for their seasonal allergies but it also has antibiotic properties.  We use it on sores and skin blemishes (I'm still using it to wash my face!) but we also use it for throat or respiratory issues.  The best place I've found it is at local farmer's markets (much cheaper and local) but in the winter I've bought it at the store and you can find it at Amazon too.  Here's hoping our beehives will be producing it for us soon!

3.


I am not at all an expert on homeopathy but I have friends and Facebook groups who know things.  So I ask them when we're in need of something particular and then I buy just the one and try it.  I have used cantharsis along with the silver to successfully treat UTIs.  Frankincense, tea tree, geranium, basil, lavender, and eucalyptus are just a tiny few of the many many oils that can be used to treat infections such as MRSA, Staph, ear and and have valid scientific study backing them up .

4.
Breastmilk


Breastmilk works as an antimicrobial/antibacterial agent.  Used at the site of an infection or orally it can produce amazing results and can even fight off antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  I've been blessed to never have had a baby with an ear infection but I know mothers and professionals that swear by a few drops in the ear every few hours.  I used breast milk on the compress to help treat a MRSA infection on my son's abdomen as a toddler.  It can help with some types of eye infections (we've done that one, too).  If I'm able (and I remember) I try to have the littler ones have some when they're sick and fighting something to help boost their immune system.  It's so weird and crunchy but when your little person is suffering and you can treat it without heading to the doctor or putting them on something that may have other negative effects, you do what you gotta do. (And maaaybe evade the answer when they take a sip and quizzically ask whether this is the "normal" milk...)

5.
Time

Sometimes it's just a waiting it out game.  Plain old time and letting a strong immune system do its thing is often enough to kick something that many doctors would give you a prescription for.  I love that our new doctor told us that his kids have never been on antibiotics and that he much prefers to have the body naturally fight things off.  Obviously, it's always a benefit/risk analysis but letting the body work the immune system and develop natural antibodies seems the preferable choice for us.  It's hard and sometimes more uncomfortable but my gut says it's worth it.  There have been many times where I'm just about to go in or call the doctor when things take a turn for the better and the boys or I are able to heal by just giving it time.  


(And an honorable mention is awarded to garlic.  While I don't often use it myself (I just never think of it), it does also work well in fighting infections including some types of Strep.)

And again, this little post is no substitute for medical advice.  Just what we do.  I don't idolize alternative medicines or therapies but I am willing to give them a shot if the need arises.

What say you?  Have I gone off the crunchy deep end?  Or have you had success as well with forgoing antibiotics in lieu of something else?

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