Oct 28, 2009

H1N1 (We Won)

We all came down with a "flu-like illness" a couple of weeks ago. I missed a Sunday of church and had a fever for about four days and a horrible chest cough for a few days after, but I think my biggest anguish was mental. Guys, don't google swine flu. They have all sorts of scary, wonderful statistics that will drive you mad with worry. I seriously wondered to myself if I were to not survive, what my husband would have to do. Which is silly.

Pregnant women are a high-risk group, though, and it's looking like a scary percentage of them (something like 3-6 % is what I've read) end up hospitalized with subsequent pneumonia infections, and some have died. Everything I've read and done, though, has pointed me toward treating yourself right and you won't get horribly awfully ill.

Here's what we did:

Because it was too late for Tamiflu by the time we realized we had it, we treated ourselves with some natural remedies and avoided sugars, dairies, and refined flours, all which increase mucous production/and or lower the immune system's response range. The natural remedies that seemed to help the best were:

1) Garlic/cayenne capsules
2) Emergen-C!!! Seriously, a life-saver. I downed so much of that stuff, I was worried I might give myself kidney stones or something, but it seemed to work soooo well. My whole family guzzled it. You can buy a fam-size pack at Sam's for around 20 bucks, which is much cheaper than you can buy it at the normal grocery or health food store. I'm guessing Costco likely also carries it.
3) Humidifier. Be careful to clean it out well, because it can also harbor and spread bacteria if it's not properly cleaned. I put Young Living brand Theives oil in the humidifier and it really seemed to soothe the cough a bit.
5) Peppermint oil on the chest/neck/throat and Olba's Pastille lozenges, to relieve the awful pain of coughing endlessly when your throat is raw as a pulverized steak.
6) Heating pad and/or socks filled with rice and cinnamon/cloves, heated up in the oven at around 250 for half an hour or so. Put on the chest/throat.
7) Sitting UP in bed. honestly... when I was lying down it felt like the mucous pooled more, and that coughing was much less productive.
8) Onion soup. Fry some sliced onions in some oil or butter ( a LOT of onions, like four or five whole onions) and then stew them in vegetable or chicken broth for about 30 minutes more. I added shredded parmesan cheese sprinkles even though it was dairy and therefore, mucous producing... because then it was like french onion soup at a good restaurant.
8) An over-the-counter expectorant, such as Mucinex. Really helped loosen the gross chest crud and helped with coughing it up (though honestly, it was torture for a bit there... endless coughing.)

For my kids, I kept tabs on their temperatures and administered Tylenol if they went above 103 or so.

The stages of the illness seemed to go as follows:

1) Like the beginning of a nomral, bad cold accompanied by the achiness of fever and an actual fever, and a feeling of weak helplessness like there's no way you can get out of bed, even to put away your dirty socks.

2) The chest cough really starts to set in the next day or day after. Also some nasal congestion, for us. Focus on this symptom, because it is the one that tends to make people go downhill, fast, if not addressed.

3) The fever tends to last for a while! It's amazing. I treated it with peppermint oil, which helped sometimes, and Tylenol, which helped when nothing else did.

4) The cough is still with us. And the hoarseness will continue beyond the time when you feel capable of getting out of bed... so when you go out in public people will look at you like you're typhoid mary. Don't worry about it... most sources say you're not contagious 48 hrs after your fever is gone. But still, I brought hand sanitizer everywhere we went and made my kids wash before we went inside any buildings, just to be good citizens.

So we survived! And the way statistics are looking right now, almost everyone will get this flu within the next couple months... so here's what we learned. Hope others can benefit from it. Biggest piece of advice... try not to freak out. Everything I've read said the symptoms to keep an eye on are struggling for breath, wheezing when breathing... bascially the symptoms of pneumonia. Which is what you watch for with any cold/flu, especially in your small kids. :)

Oct 21, 2009

Yarn Braids...

These took me (combined for both sets) probably about 16 hrs total to do. That's right.

Bella, before and after.

May, before and after. I didn't follow thru and take a pic of her hair in the bath like I'd planned, so I'm cheating and using an old one that shows the texture/length of her hair with no messing.

BUT they will last (if we take care of them...) for around 8 weeks! I'll have to replace a few here and there, but I shouldn't have to comb out hair for 8 weeks.

Why is this a good thing? Because tightly curly hair is damaged every time you have to run a comb through it. Some hair types won't even grow past a certain length because of brushing alone. So a style like Yarn braids where the hair is kept in a naturally detangled state because it is braided through the yarn, is a beneficial break from styling. Our regimen is... no washing so far. We've had them in about a week and a half. I inspect parts/hairline every day and so far, so good... no stinkies, no dirties. I'll probably run some diluted conditioner through their hair/yarn once every week or so from now on, (now that I'm not so sick I'm not even getting my FLOOR clean every day) and use the showerhead attachment to gently rinse through without damaging the braiding. They'll take a while to dry, we might have to sit them outside in the sun for a while for that purpose.

Just a little interesting piece of info: typical African hair only needs to be washed about once a week, because the oils don't stay like they do with caucasian hair. Black hair does not get oily from lack of washing... in fact I"m hard pressed to put enough oils IN their hair on a daily basis! As opposed to someone like me... if I go two days without shampooing, my hair is like a limp grease mop. Sure you wanted that visual.

The OTHER reason I did these yarn braids is because Halloween is coming up and ALL My girls of course want to be princesses, and May in particular is going to want some fancy updo. So now we have something to work with!!

The girls LOOOOVE being able to wear "siklemajjaja" (that's how it's pronounced, not sure how it's spelled... it means ponytail holders.) They think that having their hair up in a ponytail is the most gorgeous thing ever. It's so cute to see them prance around and play with their long ponytails. I love it.

Oct 17, 2009

Amazing Grace--Renee Fleming

Gorgeous song, Gorgeous fiddling, Gorgeous soprano. How much better does it get?

I Love This

I Love Opera, Love Placido, and love this song, and love broadway in general... anyway, I bet there aren't a WHOLE lot of people who find this sort of bizarre crossover as amazing as I do, but I love it. So I posted it. So there.

Ya might wanna watch it with your eyes closed. The visual isn't quite as appealing, I must admit... in my head I picture Natalie Wood from the movie and so seeing this 50-something Italian Opera Diva singing it's not quite such a good comparison. Anyway, Lovely lovely singing.

Oct 14, 2009

Effort and Aftermath

Skywalker and I have spent years planning on these events that have lately changed our family so drastically. And as all the fallout begins to clear away and the stress and emotional work begins to lessen somewhat, I am left with a clear vision of my five, gorgeous, smart, loving,absolutely hilarious kids. I look at my family and feel really blessed.

I was just diagnosed with Giardia. It's tough, being pregnant and also having giardia. I'm also stressing internally at the thought of Swine Flu, which is currently hitting all around like the proverbial trucks that everyone describe swine flu to feel like. I feel like our kids are healthy enough, and I am normally healthy enough, and Skywalker's got a system like an ox... normally I don't worry at all about any illnesses that breeze through our way. But I'm pretty sure that half my kids have the giardia. I worry about swine flu, on top of giardia. I worry about the giardia meds... which I still havent' taken yet becuase of all the info I've read about how the meds are not so good during pregnancy. I've said some prayers and am trying to figure out what to do. I've talked the matter over extensively with my mother, who is a natural health enthusiast but also a professional nurse with extensive experience with hospitals, dr offices, medications, and raising a large family and dealing with Hairy illnesses. I keep coming back to the thought that the meds might be necessary in this case for me, especially... PG + Giardia + Swine flu might not be so good. Maybe I should clear up the Giardia as soon as possible so that I just have the PG + Swine flu factors when it hits.

Also there's the thing with the kids... I should have them all tested, but the test is kind of a messy process and difficult. And I'm just putting it off.. my kids seem to be keeping food down and staying hydrated, and the illness is supposed to pass of its own accord in a few weeks in most healthy people.

Anyway, advice is something I have an abundance of... decision making is more tricky.

In the meantime, I look at my gorgeous family and know every single kid is worth all this trouble. Not to mention all of them together.

Oct 8, 2009

Update on US


They're doing even better now! MayMay loves to play and be away from mom a lot, but she comes back for hugs sometimes. Bellarina is learning that "no means no", and is learning about not taking toys from others. She's learning about sharing, too. THey're both doing great, loving each other and everyone else in the family, the kids love playing and get really crazy!!! And love each OTHER and it's obvious and so cool and amazing. They clean up their room and the toys they scatter across the living room really quickly with four of them to motivate each other. We're getting into a routine for EVERYTHING... the car, meals, the whole day, actually.

Right now i'm doing kindergarten/preschool type stuff with Jaws, Bella and May and they're doing great. Bella I think gets bored, but I can't do much more for her right now until she acquires enough English... which she is doing, fast! We do counting games and letter games and they're tracing letters and numbers and watching "Letter Factory" to learn the short sounds. They're learning so fast! I'd say MayMay and Jaws are at about the same level. It isn't much of a surprise; Jaws is advanced for her age because she's been around Loli and Loli's schooling. And May was in an orphanage for 9 months... they say you can count on any amount of time spent in an orphanage to cause some delays. So she's working at about the same level as Ruth, but they're both learning letters, learning counting, and learning to write.

Loli is my wonder kid, when it comes to schooling. Every morning she does two math pages by herself, and then she does two pages of handwriting practice by herself, and then she writes out her spelling words, by herself, then she takes her chapter book, goes in Mom's quiet room, reads a chapter. Then she writes a short paragraph-essay on the chapter she read, which I correct for spelling and find spelling words from for the next week.

Then the real fun begins. She has chosen an animal to learn about each week. This week it's horses. So she gets one of the horse books we checked out of the library, reads it, and then writes down information for her "Key words" in her science journal (right now those are predators, prey, habitat, adaptive trait, Moms & Babies.) When she's gone through all the week's books, she writes a paragraph about the animal, how it is a (in this case, Mammal) and includes all of the things she learned about her key words.

For geography/history, we listen to Story of the World by susan wise bauer. This year we're doing ancient times, and while we listen we put together wooden geography puzzles. Right now we're focusing on the World puzzle, with the continents, oceans as the puzzle pieces. Loli has almost gotten to the point where she can put it together without help. It's been really fun. A lot less stress than I ever thought possible... my kid is a bright little thing, and I'm not bragging, it's just the truth.

Later in the year I'm planning on focusing on plants (springtime is a good time for that, don't you think?) And next year we'll be doing more of a physical science focus, to balance out the knowledge. This year we're pretty biologically focused. But I look forward to talking to Loli about weather patterns and physical geography, scientific experiments, measuring mass, volume, temperature and length, and doing loooots of science projects to learn about the physical world around us.

So that's us right now! Fall, bring it on! Cold weather, you don't scare us; we've got a closet full of pink and purple coats and mittens and scarves and hats and we are all looking forward to introducing our cute African daughters to snow for the first time!!!!

Oct 6, 2009

Blog traffic wierdness...

It is so weird when you look at your hit counter and see which posts are the most popular. It's completely nonsensical to me.

For a long time my number one hit has been my Vegan Broccoli-Cheese Soup recipe. Following closely behind, is my post on Fun and Interesting Facts about Ethiopia. Next up is search term like Funny Stories About Fear or Extremely Funny Stories, which leads everyone to the link I put on those search terms.

Another hit I get frequently comes from search terms like Pornography and LDS and Pornography, When to Go to the Bishop or pornography, What Happens When You Go to the Bishop or Spouse Pornography Problem, or what to do when kids find pornography. I'm very very glad to see these searches coming in, because it was with this very hope (gleaning traffic from those seeking guidance about their pornography problems, or their loved ones' problems) that I put that series together.

Lately there's been a new one. Who knows why, but I have gotten at least 20 hits in the last two days for the search term, SNL Making Fun of Obama, and that of course leads to the link I embedded there.

A few others that get regular hits have been my post about Whether Or Not I'm a Feminist, and my post entitled Naked Barbie Doll. I'm not exactly sure why someone would type that search term into a search engine.

Blogging is kind of a funny thing.

(BTW you see what I have shamelessly done? I direct-labeled all my most popular blog posts so as to raise the level of traffic! Hahahaha!!! [evil blogress laugh].)

Oct 2, 2009

Shared Heroes

Sometimes I think that B. Obama and I have a lot of similar feelings about the world. One of the moments that has really made me feel that way, was when he was asked who he would choose to have dinner with if he could choose anyone in the world, dead or alive. President Obama said he would choose Mahatma Ghandi.

I think I might have chosen Jesus Christ first. But someday hopefully I'll see him again anyway, right? Mahatma Ghandi would be the next name to roll off my tongue.

And here's why.

I'm so glad we have the opportunity to celebrate Ghandi's life and work today.

Oct 1, 2009

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Even though I'm a health-conscious mom, trying not to feed my kids too many MSG-laden products or nutritionally blank products or starchy carbs all at once; even though I try to make getting as many veggies down tiny throats my focus a lot of the time, I sometimes need that easy-cheesy, cheap, filling, always-a-winner recipe. Usually these kinds of things involve meat, as I've learnt to my ultimate despair. So I've had to improvise and come up with stuff on my own.

Shepherd's pie is a fond childhood favorite. I loooved it on a cold winter afternoon after a long, hard day of school. And so I've figured out a way to approximate it, veggie style.

Nosurfgirl's Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie.

2 cans string or cut green beans
1 can cream-of-mushroom soup
2 tsp vegetarian bullion powder, chicken or beef style; or powdered onion soup mix

Mix these three ingredients together. Spread on the bottom of a casserole dish.

1 pckg flavored mashed potatoes, cooked.

Spread this on top. It will be thin; if you want a thicker layer use 2 pckgs flavored mashed potatoes instead of 1.

sprinkle with:

paprika to taste

1/4-1/2 cup french fried onions (depending on your liking).

Bake at 375-ish for 45 minutes or so, or until ingredients are warmed through and potatoes on top start to get kinda goldeny.

Honestly... good, Mormony, Midwesterny, 50's houeswifey deliciousness :)