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Mister Linky

October 15, 2009

A Trip to the ER

Thank you so much for all your sweet comments, your prayers and your patience with me as I recover and get back to normal! It has meant so much to come on to my blog and read through each of your comments. :)

I promised to fill in more of the gaps of what's been going on so here goes...

Last Wednesday (a little over a week ago), I came down with a throat infection. It was pretty severe and painful right from the start, included some fever and chills, and I was a bit miserable in general. I started doing everything I could do to boost up my body to get rid of it, including eating oodles of raw garlic and taking Oil of Oregano (for their antibacterial and antiviral properties), lots of fresh vitamin C, herbal teas to boost my immune system, lots of fluids and as much rest as I could manage. The fever and chills went away after about 2 days, but the sore throat remained as bad as ever.

Over the course of the week, my throat remained extremely raw, sore and began to get swollen. Eating, drinking, swallowing and sleeping became very difficult. I started to rotate using Tylenol and Ibuprofen to take the edge off of the constant pain, so that I could attempt to sleep and consume enough fluids and calories to make enough milk for my baby. By Sunday, things were quite bad and I decided on Monday morning to see a doctor. He took a quick look and informed me that it was viral, not bacterial, and that there was nothing to do besides rest and get lots of fluids. He commented that my lymph nodes were a bit swollen but that it was fairly normal, and then he sent me on my way.

Thinking I must be overreacting, I tried to continue on with the things that I was doing to boost my immune system and just wait this virus out. But it was getting harder and harder to get fluids and food into me, as I was starting to lose my ability to open my mouth very wide to take bites, and each swallow as I ate or drank was agonizing. I knew that I wasn't producing enough milk for Johanna, who was acting hungry and fussy. The Tylenol began to not even take the edge off of the pain enough for me to sleep at night.

Early Wednesday morning, after tossing and turning from about 12:00-3:00 am as I tried in vain to sleep through the pain, I decided to call the local nurse hotline. I could barely speak on the phone because my mouth sounded like it was full of marbles. She suggested that I either go to the ER immediately or see a doctor first thing in the morning. Since I couldn't sleep anyways, and was feeling desperate, I opted for the ER. I woke Ry up, told him my plans, packed up Johanna, and went to the hospital.

After about 2 hours, I finally saw a doctor. He spoke with me and took a look at my throat, and told me that he knew exactly what the problem was and that he would have me feeling significantly better within several hours. I was so relieved I could have cried! He said that I had a peritonsillar abscess, which is a fancy way of saying that my throat infection (which was an acute case of tonsillitus) had created a secondary infection on my right tonsil, which had filled a pocket of flesh inside my mouth with infected fluid. It was no wonder I could hardly swallow and only with excrutiating pain- it was very raw and inflammed and nearly the size of a golf ball!

The kind doctor (who had once had a peritonsillar abscess himself, so he was very sympathetic!) informed me that I would need to immediately be put on IV antibiotics, as well as anti-inflammatories to bring down the swelling and reduce the pain. I asked whether the antibiotics were truly, 100% necessary. I am opposed to taking them unless it is truly a necessity for my well-being, not just a way to feel more comfortable or get better a little sooner. Antibiotics are very harmful to the beneficial bacteria in the body and are not something to be taken lightly as it can take months and even years to rebuild the body and replace the bacteria and digestive balance that they destroy! He said that unfortunatley they really were necessary since my infection was so severe, so I consented to receive them.

Before receiving the IV, I made the quick decision (something that I had already been contemplating because I knew this was a possible outcome of my situation) that I would not be nursing Johanna as long as the antibiotics and other medications were in my body. Putting antibiotics into her immature system would destroy all of the good bacteria and immunity builders that she had been receiving through my colustrum and these early weeks of breastfeeding. I am not willing to compromise the foundation for good health that has been being established. So I gave her one last feed, as much as she would take, and then received my IV.

I called my husband and asked him whether he could arrange for his sister to meet me at the hospital in a few hours in order to breastfeed Johanna, as she also has a young baby who is still nursing and she lives near the hospital. He said that he would, and also arranged for our brother-in-law to drive him to the hospital to be with me, and for his sister to watch the older children who had been sleeping up until this point.

While I was waiting for Ryan to arrive, the doctor came back to see how I was doing. The IV had helped to reduce the shooting pain (as the pain had been radiating up my jaw and into my ear), but it really hadn't reduced the pain in my throat. He said that we needed to do a simple procedure to drain the abscess. Honestly, I was really scared of it, especially without Ryan there, but there was no choice and I felt God's peace and comfort in the situation. Fortunately, Johanna slept as they transferred me to a private bed and prepared for the procedure. Basically, they first injected a needle with freezing medication (similar to what the dentist uses) straight into the abscess (ow, ow, ow, ow, OW!). Next, he inserted an emtpy, sterile needle into the abscess and drew out as much of the infected fluid as he could until I couldn't handle it anymore. I couldn't believe how much he got out, and I couldn't believe how immediatley I felt 100 times better and I could actually swallow. Wow. Mercifully, Johanna slept through the whole thing, beside my bed in her carseat.

Ryan showed up about 30 minutes later, with a cold smoothie in hand for me (sweet man that he is). We had to wait for me to finish receiving some fluids through my IV (they were also giving me several bags of saline solution since I was somewhat dehydrated from lack of fluids.) After that, I was free to go. They kept the IV in my arm and covered it up with gauze, because I am still receiving my antibiotics through my IV every 12 hours at the hospital. I had never heard of this before, but it is a more agressive approach to really severe infections, and in a day or two they will switch me over to an oral antibiotic to finish things up.

So where are things at now?

I am feeling much, much better. I am pretty tired, but that's mostly because I didn't really sleep for one night, so I am still catching up a bit. Other than that, my throat is still a little raw and sore, so I am only supposed to eat cool, soft foods, but it is getting better. I think that all those natural things I did to help with the virus actually did get rid of it, because once the abscess was gone I realized that my sore throat wasn't really there anymore (but rather it was the abscess that I had been feeling the last few days when I thought it was still the virus). I am sleeping well now, even with the IV in my arm, and in a few more days I think I should feel back to normal.

As for Johanna, she has been off of my breastmilk since that last feed before my IV. Since then she has been nursed by my SIL, given milk by a friend, and last night we got her started on formula. This is not my ideal. At all. I've always wondered what I would do in this kind of a situation and when it actually happened, I knew in a heartbeat that I would rather give my daughter inferior milk for a week or so, than to wreak havoc on her little system through the use of unnecessary antibiotics that she would receive through my milk.

In the meantime, I have several darling friends who are pumping for Johanna, providing her with up to 3 feeds a day of breastmilk, and I am going to try and see if I can get a little bit more. For the other feeds, we are using an organic cow's-milk based formula. It had the cleanest ingredient list I could find in a pinch, and included two ingredients (lactose and coconut oil) that the Weston Price Foundation specifies as being extremely important in their FAQ page on formulas. I am using their enriched formula recipe, by adding lightly cooked organic egg yolk as well as cod liver oil to the formula, and my own addition of Udo's brand of infant/toddler powdered bacterial cultures, which includes bifidobacterium infantis, an extremely important culture found in breastmilk.

I really wanted to do the raw milk homemade formula recipe (all of these recipes are also found in Nourishing Traditions), but on such short notice I could not pull together all of the necessary ingredients and sufficient quantities of raw milk to make it happen, and so we went with the stopgap method of using the enriched formula recipe. It is not a perfect option, but I feel at peace about it, especially as she is receiving some breastmilk every day in addition to the formula and it's a very temporary situation.

I am also pumping (and dumping) in order to maintain my milk supply for when the antibiotics are finished. I am also taking advantage of this short nursing break to do a mild cleanse, to help clean my body out a bit of any toxins that have built up. Since I am usually in the cycle of pregnancy-breastfeeding-pregnancy-breastfeeding, I thought that this was a perfect opportunity to do a little "housecleaning". :)

Right now, life is busy! My days are full, with hospital visits for IV therapy every morning and evening, having to prepare formula and wash and fill bottles, feeding Johanna by bottle (for some reason, it's taking her about twice as long to drink the same amount of milk), pumping to maintain my own milk supply, picking up donated breastmilk, and just trying to keep my head above water with simple meals, basic laundry and the children's needs. Phew! I will be so relieved when this is over in a week or so and life can get back to normal (whatever that is!).

Thank you for your continued prayers for a quick and full recovery and also for Johanna to be able to handle this change in the milk that she is receiving and that we would be able to re-establish breastfeeding quickly and easily when this is all over. I will post on my blog as I am able to and hopefully will soon be back to my regular posting schedule!

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October 14, 2009

Quick Update

Me again :)

Thank you all so much for your prayers! I know that God was using them this morning, as I was able to get into the ER with a relatively short wait time, and the doctor who was on call knew just what was wrong with me and exactly how to treat it (I'm not sure that every doctor would have known so precisely what to do with my situation. I will fill in the gaps later, but suffice it to say that I felt God's presence very much throughout the ordeal.

I am feeling MUCH better from the procedure that the doctor did. I am, unfortunately, on antibiotics and have to go to the hospital every 12 hours to receive them through IV because the infection was so severe. I truly feel on the mend, though, just as soon as I have a really good, looooong nap!

I'll be back in a day or so... thanks everyone!

With love,

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Please Pray

Hi Everybody,

This is Ryan, Stephanie's husband.  I usually wouldn't hijack Stephanie's blog, but Steph has just left for the emergency room at our local hospital.  She's extremely sick and things only seem to be getting worse.  In the Langford family, going to the hospital is usually a last resort (although we're not afraid to consult doctors when necessary), so my wife woke me up at 3:30 this morning to say that she needed to go the emergency room I knew that it was serious.  Her neck is quite swollen and she is in a lot of pain, which has progressively gotten worse over the last week and a half. 

I would covet your prayers for Stephanie's quick recovery.  He has always been faithful, good and kind to us and and I know that he will continually be.  I'm reminded again that He has already met our greatest need - salvation from the wrath of God which we wholly deserved - and am encouraged at the many ways (and especially in our salvation) that we have already seen "the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus." 

So...we are grateful for what he has already done for us, and ask that you pray with us that Stephanie recovers quickly!

In Christ,


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October 13, 2009

Keeping the Home Fires Burning While Mama's Sick

Candles in fireplace

Image by alibree

It's been a rough week. This mama has not been feeling her best, that's for sure! Last Wednesday I found myself the unwitting victim to a nasty throat virus that still hasn't realized he's no longer welcome around here.

Life has been moving at a sloooow pace around here. I didn't even have a blog post prepared to put up this morning, and for the first time in a long time, it just really didn't matter as much as sleep did.

(Note: This post has been edited to protect you from the blog author's whinyness. She needs to remind herself more often that no matter how sick she feels, she is doing far better than she deserves. :)

There's no such thing as a sick day for moms, so just how is a busy and in-demand mama and wife supposed to keep the family fed, clothed and the house from falling apart when times like this hit?

1) Take the time that you need to take care of yourself.

I know, this isn't always possible. I could have used much more rest, more naps, more baths, more time to just sit, curled up in a warm blanket, doing nothing. But, when the time was available to do the things I needed for myself, I chose not to feel guilty about taking care of me.

Now, I am not usually one of those moms that advocates trying to find a whole lot of "me" time, but rather I love to encourage moms to wholeheartedly serve their families and seek God to meet their needs. When you're sick, though, you truly can't take care of anyone else until you get yourself back on the mend. So if you desperately need a nap, find a way to do it while some or all of the children take their own naps, quiet times or even watch an appropriate movie. Our Little House on the Prairie videos have seen a little more use this past week, and honestly, that's ok! Make your primary focus to get yourself better, and do the best that you can to care for your family's basic needs.

2) Keep food s.i.m.p.l.e.

Following #1, this only makes sense. And by simple, I mean simple! I confess... my children ate popcorn and a fruit smoothie for lunch today. The other night, dinner consisted of peanut butter on sprouted grain toast, with slices of apple. One of the first nights I was sick, my husband brought home buns and made us sandwiches with a bit of lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. And I am ok with this! When you are sick, it's perfectly alright to spend a week or two offering food in survival mode. No one will die. You can get back to fermented veggies, homemade sourdough breads and roasted chickens next week, but for now, yogurt with granola makes a very acceptable dinnertime offering! For more on this, see this post about feeding your family through morning sickness.

3) Drop those expectations.

Most of you probably didn't know it, but yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving. It's not quite as big of a deal as it's American counterpart, but it's still a much celebrated holiday, usually with a turkey and all the trimmings. I gave up all hope of making a fancy meal for my family. We sat around the table (no tablecloth, no candles), eating a lasagna that was one of the last meals from my frozen after-baby stash. We prayed together and thanked God for our blessings, which we still felt in abundance despite the lack of holiday foods and decor.

Two weekends ago I cleaned out my garden (except for squash, tomatoes, greens and carrots) and planted annual rye grass to grow over the winter. This weekend, the weather got too cold and my squash and tomatoes had to be brought inside. Do I have any intentions of getting out there right away to pull up the old plants, till it a bit and get that rye seed in the ground quickly? Nope. In a couple weeks, I'll clear out the plants, and mulch it over with some dead leaves and call it done. No big deal.

Those who know me well know that this is a difficult area for me. I don't like not accomplishing things that I had planned to do. I don't like missing out on things. Sometimes, though, it's just not reality. I think it is both good and humbling for us to realize that we are weak, and not capable of doing all that we plan to do!

4) Do what's easy.

Doing a full, deep-clean of the house? Not so easy right now. Sitting in front of the fire folding laundry while my kids play nearby? Much easier!

I've been trying to fill my days with smaller, simpler tasks that I can accomplish, even if it's not what I had originally wanted to do or doesn't fulfill all that I think needs to be done. A few examples that come to mind of slower-paced activities:

  • catching up on emails (or online work, if you're a blogger or have a business)
  • reading books you've been wanting to read
  • sorting through family photos
  • doing mending, knitting or crocheting
  • ordering online (start Christmas shopping!)
  • write Thank Cards you've been needing to write
  • and anything else that's low key!

5) Break tasks down.

One of the techniques that I use to get stuff done when I'm just really exhausted is to choose one chore or activitiy that really needs to be done (forgetting the other 13 things I need to do), and do that one things, then allow myself to sit and rest for a period of time. If it's too big of a task, I can break it up into smaller tasks, like vaccum the living room only, then rest. Then vacuum the hallway, then rest.

A technique that I learned a couple years ago from Crystal is to set a timer to do chores like these. Give yourself 5 minutes to work as hard as you can, cleaning or doing laundry or starting dinner, and as soon as that timer beeps, you're done. You can use the timer to set times for resting as well. This is so helpful when you're feeling tired and overwhelmed, because these small tasks or 5 minute segments are relatively easy to handle, but when you do this several times over the course of a day, even a sickie can do a few things to keep the home running more smoothly.

6) Plan to depend.

I can't tell you the number of times this past week I've cried out to the Lord for strength to go on, to care for my family, to endure pain, to grant me rest. He always meets our needs, even if it's not in our time frame or in the way that we are hoping. His grace is sufficient in our weakness.

I have also found my family so willing to help out when I let my needs be known. Abbie loves to get her own snacks or some for her brother, as well as to help clean up when she knows I need her help (she keeps suggesting paper plates so I don't have to do the dishes!). She is also wonderful at entertaining the baby for a short period of time. Ryan has been amazing to let me sleep in a couple of mornings, to put the kids to bed by himself some nights, to help out in the kitchen or pick up something simple from the store, etc. When I communicate what I need to him, he is more than happy to try to find a way to meet that need for me.

And now, this tired mama is going to sign off and get a simple dinner started for the clan. :)

How do you keep things going when you're under the weather?

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October 12, 2009

Preserving Summer's Bounty: Canning Pears


Ripe (very, very ripe) pears waiting to be peeled and cut. I bought a 25 lb box of Bartlett pears several weeks ago and was surprised to come home from a couple days away to discover just how ripe my pears were (since they had still been green the week before)!


I sprang into action by peeling and cutting, then putting the slices into a bowl of cool water with lemon juice added in to help keep them from browning too much. Peeling and cutting over-ripe pears can be a bit challenging. As I went on, I discovered that it was easiest to peel them whole (holding them very gently), and then core and slice them after. This seemed to prevent them from bruising or smooshing (a very technical term, indeed) as I did it.


After sanitizing the jars in my dishwasher, I heat them up on a cookie tray in the oven. I usually turn the oven to around 200 F and let them stay there for a good 10 minutes (or until I suddenly remember them!). The point of this is to further sanitize and to have the jars warm enough so that they don't crack when being put into the hot water in the canner. 

I canned my pears in a light syrup. I used a scant 1 cup of sugar (a raw sugar like Rapdura or Sucanat is best) for every 1 litre (quart) of filtered water. I bring the water and sugar to a boil (stirring in the beginning to make sure the sugar dissolves completely). You could also use honey, and would only need about 1/2-3/4 of a cup to achieve the same sweetness of a light syrup.

After filling the clean, hot jars with pear slices, I filled them up with the hot syrup leaving a 1/2 inch of headroom.

Next, I wiped off the jar mouths with a clean cloth, and put sanitized jar lids on top, then screwed on the metal screw tops tightly. To sanitize your lids, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Once it has boiled, turn the water off and add the lids to the hot water (not while it's still at a rolling boil, as this can ruin the lid's sealing ability). Let them sit in the hot water for a couple of minutes before removing to put on top of the prepared jars.

In the boiling water bath, pears require:

Pints- 20 minutes

Quarts- 25 minutes

Make sure that you begin timing only once the water in the canner is at a rolling boil (it sometimes requires a few minutes with the lid back on after you have added all of the jars inside), and that there is at least 1 to 2 inches of water above the top of each jar to ensure sufficient pressure to seal the jar lids.


Once the timer has gone off, I carefully remove the hot jars using canning tongs and I set them on several folded kitchen towels on the counter (to protect the counter from the heat). Listen during the next 30 minutes for a "pop" sound, indicating that the jars have sealed. If you're unsure (and I often miss hearing them seal), go over afterwords and lightly tap on the center of the lid. If it doesn't move, then it's already sealed. If it moves up and down or you can feel it push down when you first tap it, then it wasn't sealed properly. You can re-process these jars in the boiling-water bath once more (do the full 20 or 25 minutes again), and it's a good idea to take the lid and screw top off and re-tighten them before doing so.

After the jars are completely cooled off, I remove the screw bands to use on other canning projects. This also gives me the chance to see whether there are any without a completed seal. I stick these jars in the fridge and we will use them up within a week or two. The rest I store in my pantry or some other cool, dark place, and they are thoroughly enjoyed throughout the rest of the year!

That's it! These pears are perfect for adding to a pancake or waffle breakfast, to add to yogurt, or to just put in a bowl and eat plain. My kids and husband adore them!

I also dehydrated some pear slices this year, as well as turning quite a few of them into fruit leather. They're such a versatile fruit!

What do you like to do with pears when they are ripe and in abundance? Any other questions on the canning process?

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October 09, 2009

Upcoming: The Annual Organic Gardening Carnival!


It's time again for the Annual Organic Gardening Carnival!

About this time last year, I realized just how helpful it might to be able to purposefully reflect on the past gardening season, write down our observations and lessons learned and then share them with one another. For more about the vision of the carnival, see what I wrote last year (and just ignore the dates because they're slightly different this year).

I would love to make the carnival much bigger than last year, with more people sharing about their gardening experience! Whether you garden on 1/2 an acre with your 8 children or in boxes on your apartment patio with your toddler, anything you have to contribute would be valuable. We all have unique experiences and skills, and each perspective adds something valuable!

And please, don't be intimidated by the fact that it's called the "organic" gardening carnival. I know that many of you are in the process of learning to garden more organically and naturally, and most of us don't do it perfectly by any means. I just want to avoid things like tips on which commercial insecticide to use, for example, and focus instead on the more natural ways that we can tend to our gardens and deal with the issues that arise (bugs, mildew, blight, challenging weather, fertilizing, etc.).

How to get ready for the carnival:

1) Take some time to reflect on what you did this year, what went well (and what didn't go so well), what you tried, what you learned, what you'd do differently next time, which varieties of plants and seeds you used (and what you thought of them), etc.

2) Put together a blog post detailing your thoughts on this past year of gardening. For some ideas, you can check out my post from last year (and please know that mine was particularly long, and yours doesn't need to be nearly so detailed or lengthy!).

3) Be ready to get your post up on Wednesday, October 21, and then come by and leave me a comment with your post url to join in!

(And just to let you know, last year's carnival unfortunately know longer shows the links of participating bloggers, due to Mr. Linky issues. For the simple reason that Mr. Linky does have issues like this, and also because I would rather give your sites a genuine link that is recognized by google, I will be posting up each entry manually.)

That's it! I'm really looking forward to it! Are you with me?

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October 08, 2009

Herbs for the Fussy Baby


Johanna at about 1 month old, during the worst of her colic and baby acne

Colic and fussiness in young babies just isn't fun for anyone. Not for the baby. Certainly not for the parents. It can be downright exhausting, and it's difficult to see your baby in such pain and discomfort and to feel that you can't do anything about it.

There are a lot of products out on the market for colic in babies. Unfortunately, most of them use substances that only treat the symptoms, such as sodium bicarbonate which is used in antacid relief (like Tums or Rolaids), or gas suppressing medications such as Simethicone which are used in over-the-counter remedies like Ovol (basically a child's version of Maalox or Mylanta), not to mention the alcohol that is so often used in commercial infant Gripe Water.

Personally, I chose to go with herbal remedies that I felt would support and improve my baby girl's digestion, which was where her fussiness seemed to be originating. She was also dealing with a lot of baby acne, which I noticed was very related to her digestion. When she had a less fussy day and less stomach pain, the acne decreased, and on her worst days, the acne flared up badly.

By using herbs that promote better digestion we have seen a remarkable difference in our sweet girl. In the course of a week of me taking a herbal tea that I put together we saw her colic decrease immensely, to the point where she would happily sit in an infant seat for up to 20 minutes at a time (whereas before she constantly needed to be held, bounced, patted, rocked, etc.). We've also seen her acne completely clear up. The change has really been amazing!

How Should Herbs Be Used With Babies?

I am still bit torn on whether to try giving something to baby directly, such as small amounts of diluted herbal tea. My basic concern is that a newborn or young baby's digestive system is just so incredibly sensitive and immature (hence the reason that they are fussy and colicky to begin with!), and the risk of introducing something to them that their systems cannot handle or may react to is very real.

In my experience with Johanna, I did try giving her some very small amounts of weak tea. I tried both a yarrow tea and a fennel tea. With the yarrow, I didn't specifically notice any difference, though I might not have tried it for long enough to really see it. With the fennel, I definitely did notice a difference. It was the first breakthrough we had in bringing some level of calm to our distraught baby.


**Fennel seeds**

However, I continued to feel a little bit unsettled about giving it to her, even though I know that many practitioners (such as midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, even doctors) would consider it safe. I'm not convinced that it isn't either, and I will be the first to admit that it can be very effective.

After my experience these past couple of weeks, however, my personal preference is taking stronger herbal teas myself. This way the soothing and digestion-easing properties of the herbs can be present in my milk, but have gone through the filter of my body first, rather than going into hers directly. I have found this to be equally as effective in helping my little girl, if not more effective, than giving her the herbal teas orally.

That said, if you would like to try giving them to your baby as a weak tea, here are some guidelines:

Simple vs. Combination

In my recent studies, I've learned that herbs are used both as "simples", meaning on their own, and also in combination with other herbs (and most herbs can be used in either way). When giving herbs to any infant or young child, it is always best to introduce each herb first as a simple, before giving it in combination. As with new foods, it is always possible (though not highly likely) that a baby could react to what they are being given, and if this happens you would want to know exactly what they reacted to in order to avoid giving it to them again. Once you know that baby does not react to several simple herbs, it would be fine to try them in combination.


It is important to remember how much smaller an infant's body is than ours. At 7 weeks old, my 10 lb baby is a mere 1/13 of my body weight, and as a 7 lb newborn she was even that much smaller. Anything you give an infant needs to be in a much weaker, diluted form than what you would take yourself. In The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, she recommends giving any child under 1 year a dose that is one twentieth (1/20) of what would be a full adult dose. With something like fennel tea, if I were to make myself a tea I would probably use 1 Tbsp of fennel seas to 8 oz. of hot water. To make it for an infant (for example only- not all herbs use the same dose), I might use only 1 tsp. per  8 oz. to make a weaker brew, and then only give a 1/2 an ounce to 1 ounce at a time.

When the nursing mom is taking the herb instead, she simply needs to stick to what would be a reasonable amount of any herb (ensuring that the herb is safe for baby, of course). With the tea that I am currently drinking for post-partum health, I consume about 3-4 cups of full strength tea (1 Tbsp to 8 oz. water) throughout the course of the day. Usually 1-2 cups before noon, and another 2 cups in the evening. With this amount, we have seen nothing but excellent results in Johanna (and myself) and not a speck of a negative reaction.

Do Your Research

As I am only beginning my personal study in herbology, I would not dare tell you exactly which herbs you ought to take and in which dosage. I am learning from many different sources and am continually looking for new information and using things cautiously as I proceed.

One excellent resource that I have just come across in my studies is on (a fantastic resource for breastfeeding moms in general). Here you will find an alphabetized list of herbs and remedies, and whether they are safe for the nursing mother, as well as some dosage suggestions and possible uses. I would suggest that in your own research it is best to be more on the cautious side than to quickly accept ideas and suggestions from any old source. It's always better to be safe than sorry.


Our sweet girl with her skin cleared up, and feeling so much happier!

Specific Herbs That are Helpful for the Fussy Baby

  • Fennel seed
  • Dill seed
  • Catnip
  • Chamomile
  • Caraway
  • Anise or Aniseed (not to be confused with Star Anise, which should not be given to babies)

As well, for more information on herbs that may be harmful for baby or for nursing mothers, here is more info on the topic from kellymom.

As with most natural remedies, what works for one person doesn't always work for someone else, and vice versa. Sometimes it's necessary to try a few different things before you find what works for you. Though they can be very effective in some situations, herbs may not always solve a baby's fussiness or digestive struggles. Many babies simply need more time to grow and mature and their issues will work themselves out with time. So hang in there, mama! You are doing an incredible job nurturing and caring for your little one and remember that this too shall pass! :)

Have you successfully used herbs to help a fussy or colicky baby? Tell us about your experience, or any other tips you have for helping a fussy baby!

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October 07, 2009

A Small Favor to Ask

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I know this has absolutely nothing to do with my regular blog topics, but it sure is relevant for our family right now, so indulge me if you will! As many of you know, my husband has recently finished working at his job in order to launch a new music school (you can see the in-progress website for Resound School of Music). One of the things that he is currently working on is a bit of further market research and this leads me to ask a favor of those of you with children.

Would you consider taking 1-2 minutes (literally, it's 10 questions, most of which are multiple choice) to fill out a very simple online survey? Since many of you have school-aged children and I know there are also a lot of homeschoolers out there, you fit well into what would be our target market (that is, if you actually lived where we live which I know that most of you don't).

Just to let you know, in a few short weeks I will be celebrating my 2nd Blogiversary! My husband and I have been working hard on getting many exciting things ready for that week and among those things are several giveaways. One of those giveaways might just be a really amazing (and somewhat expensive) but oh-so-useful kitchen appliance... and if you fill out the survey, you might just earn yourself an extra entry for that giveaway. I'm just saying... I think you'd be happy that you filled out the survey. :)

Take the survey now.

Thank you! My husband thanks you, too!

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October 06, 2009

Delicious Homemade Baked French Fries


Whenever I make these baked french fries, we just can't get enough of them! They really are good!

If you're wondering why it looks like some of my french fries have turned an interesting shade of blue, it's because they are made with blue potatoes. They're called Russian Blue, and I grew them myself this summer. The deeper color signifies the presence of antioxidants, so these potatoes are actually very nutritious (but taste just like regular potatoes), and hey, they're just fun to eat! This summer I grew orange and pink tomatoes, purple cauliflower and beans, yellow cucumbers and blue potatoes-- I feel just a little bit like Sam I Am. Yes, I could and I would eat greens eggs and ham.

Baked French Fries


  • Potatoes
  • Coconut Oil (unrefined or virgin is best)
  • Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Scrub and slice potatoes. Coat slices well in coconut oil (I find it easiest to do this by putting them in a plastic bowl with a lid, adding the oil, and then shaking them for a minute or two). Add a bit of extra coconut oil to the cookie sheet as well.

Spread slices out on oiled cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Bake for 20 minutes, then flip. Bake another 20 minutes and flip again. Then bake for 10-20 minutes until finished, depending how crisp you like them.

A very yummy (and still healthy) addition to any late summer or early autumn meal!

Any other french fry lovers out there? And just out of curiosity, what do you think of the whole blue potato idea?

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October 05, 2009

Play it Again: Good in the Kitchen

I was doing some meal planning the other night, and for some reason, this post popped into my head. It was a really good reminder for me that as I serve my family in the kitchen, I need to keep being intentional to bless my husband with what I make. Hope this post serves as a loving reminder for you, too! :) 

Originally Published October 2008

Freshly baked by robyn 

Image by robyn michelle-lee photography

I haven't been all that happy with the food I've been preparing lately. Not because it isn't healthy, or frugal, or because it takes too much work, or anything like that. Not even because it doesn't taste good to me (because it does).

I made a realization, though. Over the last year or so, I have slowly shifted away from making many of the simple, basic, North American style meals that my husband loves. In favor of that, I have moved towards more ethnic meals, more beans and legumes, more experimenting, and less sticking with what we know and love.

This past month, I started really noticing that my husband hasn't been as keen on my cooking. In fact, neither have my kids. It's harder to make use of the leftovers in the fridge, so I end up eating most of them myself. I miss the rave reviews, and the hugs and kisses when my husband comes home from work and sees what's waiting for him.

The GirlTalkers are exploring the Proverbs 31 woman right now, and the past two weeks they've been focusing on this verse:

She does him GOOD, and not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:12

It's been revealing and convicting for me, in many regards. The one that really hit me yesterday was that making all the healthy and interesting dishes in the world is just a complete waste if it isn't doing good to the most important man in my life!

So there's a shift taking place. Last night while my husband was out at an event, I spent a lot of time writing out a list of meals that I think would serve him better, meals that he would be excited to eat once again. They don't sound quite as healthy, but in actuality they can all be made with nourishing ingredients, and have generous helpings of salad and veggies added to their sides (and my hubby loves veggies, so that's not a problem at all). 

My new meal plans will include a lot more dishes like: taco salad, fajitas, roast beef, homemade pizza, lasagna, quesadillas, beef stew, grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup, meatballs, turkey stromboli, salmon or chicken kebabs, cheesy beef and rice, spaghetti with tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, butter chicken, burritos, and I'm sure you get the point.

Sure, I'll still make the odd lentil or butternut squash soup, or cold rice and bean salad, or the like. Mostly, though, I will be refocusing my efforts on making these comfort foods that he really loves, with high quality ingredients and nourishing methods, along with a really good variety of veggies alongside them. I already examined my budget to see how I could make this work, and it's tight (not that it wasn't before), it requires more discipline and intentionality, but I think it will be alright. (And a huge thanks to Laura, whose meal plans, recipes and Getting Real with Food series were such an invaluable help to me last night!)

Best of all, I told my husband what I was thinking, and read him the list of meals I had put together. He smiled, and the relief was so evident, not just in his face, but his whole body relaxed. He said he would love it if I made meals like that all the time. I could instantly see that this change was truly doing my husband good.

It's okay to want to challenge our families a bit, and make new and interesting and nutritious dishes. But our priority is still to serve our husbands (and our children, though I do believe their tastes need to be guided by us for the most part). If what we're making just isn't doing it for him, then something needs to change.

I want to truly "do him GOOD", and that includes what I do in my kitchen.

Does the food that you're serving bless your husband? Are you trying to make healthy changes that he is resisting? How have you learned to balance improving your diet with making food that he still loves?

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