Wednesday, February 24, 2016

All Natural Medicine Cabinet

Assalamu Alaikum!

I've been slowly accumulating more natural and healthy alternatives to the standard OTC medicines out there, so I want to share some of my favorite items below. As always, these remedies don't take the place of proper sleep, rest, nutrition, and exercise! It is difficult to tell when a homeopathic medicine is working b/c it is not filled with lots of sugar or alcohol or things that have immediate and dramatic effects, but I have felt the difference and seen it in my children.

Elderberry Syrup
When everyone around you is getting sick and you just want to bolster your child's immune system, try Elderberry syrup. You can try it for adults, too:

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Boiron Cold or Flu Calm
When the first symptoms of a cold or flu appear, pop a few of these tablets (follow specific instructions). Boiron offers homeopathic remedies for both cold and flu. I found mine at Trader Joe's.
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Garlic Drops
If your young child has a runny nose and they are pre-disposed to getting ear infections, try garlic drops. When my eldest daughter was still a young toddler she got multiple ear infection and suffered from the antibiotics b/c the bacteria were developing resistance. Then a friend told me about garlic drops, and since I started using them we have never had any ear infections!!! Alhamdulellah. If a young toddler or baby has a runny nose, I simple give one or two drops, two or three times a day, to help prevent an infection from developing in their under-developed ear canals. This has been one of the BEST natural items in my medicine cabinet!! You an also make your own in a pinch, following these instructions:
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Nose Frida
When the little ones have tons of mucus and congestion, I bust out my nose frida. A good friend introduced this one to me as well, but I was skeptical at first. I was concerned that I'd be ingesting some of that stuff, but I was assured that no such thing would happen. Instead, I had the satisfaction of watching all that wretched material exit the little nostrils of my uncomfortable children, this leaving them less at risk to developing a nasty sinus infection up there. Before I used it, I would spray some saline nose spray in each nostril first. You can't use the nose frida too often b/c the membranes of the nose are quiet delicate and you don't want to agitate it too much.

If you have a cold or flu, try Umcka. It will help your body heal faster, not just mask the symptoms. Dr. Christiane Northrup of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom mentioned it in one of her books as a wonderful natural remedy. Its safe for pregnant and nursing mothers, which makes it wonderful to have on hand!

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And now for essential oils.

Coughs & Congestion
When someone is stuffed up or has a cough, I mix 2-3 drops of eucalyptus essential oil with about a tablespoon of carrier oil, such as jojoba or coconut, and rub it on the chest and the soles of feet. (Never use essential oil undiluted! Never leave them within reach of children. Never ingest them unless you have consulted a professional, they are powerful and can cause damage internally!)

When my children have a virus, I mix 2-3 drops of four thieves essential oil (also known as on-guard) with a tablespoon of carrier oil, and rub it on the soles of the feet, or pit a few drops on a tissue so they can just inhale it. This mix has cloves, lemon, rosemary, eucalyptus, and cinnamon in it.

When my children have a fever, I use lavender essential oil, or peppermint, in the same way described above (mixing with a carrier oil), and apply it to their feet and the base of their spine. A few drops of lavender oil on their pillow  helps them sleep at night, especially if they aren't feeling well and are restless.

A diffuser might be excellent for using some of these! I don't have one so I just put a few drops of the desired oil straight into my inexpensive cool mist humidifier.

Additional items to keep on hand, especially if you have young ones:

Toddlers are bruise magnets! The sharp corner of the wall or the pointy edge of the table--those are what I notice first when I enter a new space. The are the first things my kids' heads are likely to contact as they start running around. Keep this little homeopathic tube on hand to treat bruises and achy muscles, it helps them heal faster and deal a bit with the pain!
Boiron® Arnicare® Pain Relief Gel - 2.6 oz
Activated Charcoal
This natural detoxifier is important to keep on hand as a first aid for poison control! It absorbs whatever toxin your child may have ingested. I suggest buying a bag of loose charcoal, and not the capsule, so you don't have to mess around with the capsule (I know my kids would not swallow such a capsule). In case of emergency, mix a bit with water and squirt it into your child's mouth using those little medicine syringes that come with fever reducer meds. It is DEFINITELY messy if you decide to go with the loose, powder form instead of the capsule, but that is just my own personal preference. (The bonus is that you can use it for other health and beauty fixes).

I hope these items help you as much as they have helped me! :)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Favorite Books

I have a confession: I LOVE children's books!!! Specifically, I love looking at the pictures of children's books. I borrow as many as I can from the library for my own pleasure. Here are some favorites, both to own in the house for the good messages, and to just enjoy the pictures or story.

To Teach Behavior

Potty by Leslie Patricelli
I've looked through several potty books for kids and really liked this one:

Leslie's drawings and words are very, very simple, which is awesome b/c you don't need a lot of complicated explanations!

No No Yes Yes by Lesli Patricelli
More very simple instructions on acceptable behavior, and unacceptable behavior! For example: dumping a bowl of food on your head? No No! Eating nicely from said bowl? Yes yes. I found mine at Marshall's for like $3 and its been worth it!

For the Joy of the Pictures

Mossy by Jan Brett
I LOVE moss so it was important to check out this book, and the illustrations do NOT disappoint!! Its the story of a little Eastern Box Turtle who starts growing a wild garden on her back. This wild display attracts the attention of both a handsome young turtle, and an aspiring museum owner! I loved looking at all the different moss types illustrated so carefully.

Molly and the Magic Wishbone by Barbara McClintock
Barbara McClintock's tiny details and gentle kitty cat characters were so charming. I am not crazy about all the reference to magic in children's books, but I was willing to overlook it for the adorable cat family's children. You can also check out her other books, including Dahlia.

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To Teach Islam

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan
I was so excited when my mom borrowed this book from her library for my girls! I ended up buying Princess Buttercup her own copy, and we recently had it signed by the author! It takes us through a Muslim girl exploring her Islamic heritage, from her mom's blue hijab to the golden domes of the local masjid,

Aminah and Aisha's Eid Gifts by Fawzia Gillani-Williams
This is a very touching story about a Muslim family who think of other's needs during the exciting time of Eid. I really appreciated the message and thought it made a wonderful story. It was well-written, which doesn't always happen when we are looking at Muslim books for children, unfortunately. However, I am hoping there will be a whole new era of great Muslim children's books! You can find this on Amazon.

My Little Golden Book About God by Jane Werner Watson
(Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin)
This next one is one of my all-time favorites!!! I use the word "Allah" where it says God, and it honestly sounds like it was written by a Muslim. It provides a great spiritual overview of our relationship to Allah, the Creator, who is still loving and near. Eloise Wilkin's very innocent illustrations really make this book. To me, it captures the purity of children, and the beauty and innocence of their little hearts. I also love this book b/c I very vividly remember reading it as a child. Or rather, I don't remember reading it at all, but I remember the pictures!

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Parenting Update

Over the last year, I've made so many desperate calls to friends and family wiser than I in regards to better parenting techniques! I've done it in moments of sheer desperation, when I felt like a total pushover or failure, because I didn't know how to manage my child.

But guess what?

Right now, sitting on my couch at the end of the day, I feel like I have suddenly seen a big change in both my children AND myself! And that is something to acknowledge, celebrate, and share!!

I'm not saying I'm a perfect parent (is there such a thing?), or that I have the most well-behaved children. But I do see an improvement from before, and I want to share what I feel contributed to these improvements.

1.) Say what you mean, mean what you say.
So many times we try to threaten our kids into doing what we want. But we use a false threat, like saying that if they don't get dressed they'll stay home alone, or skip dinner, or something else we are not actually planning on doing!! So stop using false threats! If you say it, DO IT. And if you don't plan on acting on it, DON'T SAY IT. Kids are so smart and they really pick up on it!

2.) No more "1-2-3"
It was becoming second nature for me and Faramir to start counting "1-2-3" when we told our kids to do something. "I want you using the bathroom RIGHT NOW!...ONE...........twoooooooo......." It got to the point where I was almost always counting. But basically, what I was saying was, here is a brief window of time where its OK to ignore my request. So we no longer do the "1-2-3." Instead, I make a request, and I immediately expect them to follow through. I'm not building in any dissent into my request!

3.) Choices & consequences
One really nice thing that has worked is presenting the request with options. I say, "you can either do X by yourself, or I can help you do it. Which do you choose?" Sometimes, my kid will immediately ask for my help. And sometimes, knowing that I am on her tail, she will immediately say that she will do it by herself! It has been incredibly helpful!

4.) Articulate some family rules.
After 100 times of slapping my own forehead when I saw my kids doing something ridiculously mean or unsafe, I decided to draw up a family rule chart. I kept it short and simple, with only 5 rules and pictures to accompany them. Anytime I see my child doing something "bad", I point to the rules and remind her: "what you are doing is bad/ dangerous/ mean/ selfish/ dirty/ etc. In our family, we have a rule to always do X." The pictures are very helpful for my oldest. The youngest has to learn through trial and error, but she is also picking up!

5.) Be consistent.
I guess I was too lazy or lackadaisical with my time-outs before. I couldn't do it to a cute little 2 year old. Or, I would use a public and well-lit part of the house, so it wasn't a big deal. Now, when my oldest is doing something particularly dangerous or disrespectful, I will warn her ONCE that if she continues, there will be specific consequences, like time out alone in the basement. She hates it so it is a perfect opportunity to provide a deterrence! My youngest is too little to be sent to the basement, but I DO give her timeouts and warnings so that it is fair for both children. And if I say I am going to give a timeout, I act on it for sure!

These are basic parenting steps I've read here and there, but its amazing how hard it can be to follow through if you are in an unhealthy groove. By the same token, they are simple changes to make and I really appreciate how helpful they have been in communicating values to the kids!!!

Also, I try to be gentle, clear, loving, and explain things to my kids (duh! I know most of us do! :p). By that, I mean that I try to stay away from SHAMING little ones when they have done something bad, unless it was on purpose and very destructive or dangerous. You might remember my potty-training rage with Princess Buttercup earlier. It was challenging, and there are still some incidents. But overall, she has improved SO MUCH when I calmly choose to take care of the mess instead of getting angry with her!!! She feels proud of herself for her accomplishments, as she should. And so do I! But I also feel proud of myself for keeping an even temper (most of the time). And when I back off, it gives her a chance to express her own regret and take responsibility! She'll apologize for something she has done, and even make suggestions for improvements, like helping to clean up, or promising that next time she will use the toilet.

I feel so thankful for the little changes I see in my parenting and how my children respond, and so thankful for the sources of inspiration, whether a trusted friend or a new book. Here's to more peace in our homes and more treasured moments with our children!


What are some of your best discoveries about parenting techniques?