today's dose of humility.

i never saw it coming today.
just when you think your kids are finally old enough
to observe social decorum and not humiliate you
into a puddle on the floor - - don't.

we're at the allergist's office, getting jonah's weekly shots.
it's crowded.
the dr.s are helping do the shots.
two of them paused between patients to have a casual conversation with me. 
of course there had to be half a dozen nurses
in the crowded shot area, as well. and at least five patients.

a well- accessorized woman walks past on her way out when suddenly jonah exclaims,
"i know what she has! she has a SNATCH! my sister has one, too! jovie loves hers! she got a pink one!! right, mumma??"

funny how the heat of extreme shame and humiliation can be felt so differently at different times. this time it felt like it was starting behind my eyeballs and creeping down from my scalp simultaneously. i felt my ears glowing. but the backs of my legs felt afire, too. interesting, right?

all conversation came to a screeching halt. all eyes turned to my very loud son, and then scathed their way over to me. i could see the dr.s' eyes start to search the room frantically, for a way out, any way out. a nurse's mouth hung open. a patient clutched her young child to her ample bosom in horror. another nurse dropped the basket of stickers, seemingly in slow motion.

oblivious, he continued in his quest for confirmation and validation,
 "right, mumma? you know? jovie has a SNATCH like that, but her SNATCH is not so big - she can't put anything in it
 but her epi-pen..."

i saw my hand starting out toward his mouth seemingly of its own accord, disembodied from me, as if even my own limbs would dissociate themselves from this abominable public shame. hand clawed into a clamp to press over his mouth. 
possibly hard enough to dislodge teeth.

"that's not called a SNATCH, silly," jovie interjected imperiously, visibly pleased to be correcting her older brother, 
"it's a CLUTCH! and mine isn't pink, it's ROSE."

snatch, clutch, anyone could make that mistake!
 it happens to other people too, i'm sure. 
i'll be hiding in bed for the rest of my life if anyone needs me.

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

i have used elderberry syrup for years (in conjunction with plenty of vitamin d in the form of cod liver oil for optimal immune function) for my entire family to stave off the bugs during the darker, colder months. recently i discovered that my favorite brand has more additives and ingredients than i think are beneficial or health-promoting. therefore, i've decided to throw my hat into the ring with all the mamas who make their own. 

i chose to add echinacea for extra immune-boosting support, ginger for sensitive tummies and cinnamon to help regulate all the sugar from the honey (which is necessary as a preservative). having multiple food and seasonal allergy children, i only use raw local honey for the added allergy benefits. i divide it with manuka honey for the amazing anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties - i'm convinced we've already avoided the strep throat that is rampant in the public schools all 5 of our kids attend right now.

 if comparing our rate of illness to classmates isn't convincing enough, in our house the only one who avoids taking elderberry syrup preventively during the entire school year is my husband. and guess who is the only one that gets sick every winter? he's got a nasty cough and sore throat right now, in fact -while the rest of us have successfully fought it off for a couple of weeks by taking elderberry preventively AND at every symptom! hubby is taking it multiple times daily now and still able to go to work and eat regular meals, so i know it helps lessen the severity and duration of illnesses when taken after the onset of a bug, but our goal is complete avoidance!

here's how we do it:
starting on the first night of school, we begin taking 2 TBLspn before bedtime, along with the appropriate dose per child of cod liver oil and probiotics. once we lose the summer sun, we need all the vitamin d, good gut health and immune support we can get here in the dark-dayed middle west. if anyone complains of tickly ears, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, headache or queasy belly, they get 2 TBLsp every 3-4 hours, sometimes more if the symptoms come back more often. i've done this even with my toddlers and never had anyone feel sick or suffer any side effects from "too much elderberry". we also make popsicles, fruit smoothies and even coconut milk ice cream out of it for sore throats and turn it into a natural soda with sparkling mineral water if anyone is vomiting. for our family of 7, we double the recipe below and it usually lasts us a couple of weeks, with enough extra to share a bottle or two with friends.

we also reuse tiny extract or essential oil bottles and send small amounts to school with the kids for any extra immune boosting needed during the school day when illness is trying to invade us at home or is present in the classroom. whether they feel symptoms or not, i encourage them to drink the tiny bottle with their lunches at school. 

4 C distilled/spring water
2 C dried elderberries**
1 1/2 organic broken cinnamon sticks
2 TBLsp pure dried cranberries * 
2 TBLsp pure or blended dried/powdered echinacea*
2 Tblsp dried/grated ginger root

( *these ingredients can be found in a pure form in better quality (single ingredient) herbal teas, as well - and you can use the contents of the tea bag in this recipe.) 

(** families local to the royal oak, michigan area can order 'frontier' brand elderberries through Nutri-Foods health store on main street in royal oak and save yourself the cost of shipping incurred when ordering online).





10 oz - 1.5 C manuka or local raw honey, adjusted to taste. 


(taste clarifies and "brightens" after refrigeration overnight. enjoy in good health!)

that still, small voice

today 'lou's soul-searching discussions for this morning's soak & seal turned theological. 

he asked me, 
"mumma, do you b/l in god?"

i replied, 
"honey, i just don't know for sure. i don't like to tell a fib and say i do just b/c everyone else does - but i also know i don't know everything and i could be wrong if i decide he doesn't i just keep an open mind and learn from everyone else who might know more than me about it. it's hard for me to understand a god who loves us but never comes to see us or talk to us."

he considered carefully before replying, ducking his head and blowing bubbles in his bucket soak in consternation.
"well, he's a spirit, so maybe he comes but we can't see him with our normal-human eyes. i bet superman could see him. or maybe he looks like a normal person and we don't know its him. and he DOES talk to us - our heartbeep is him talking- can't you ever hear it?"

by now i had him sitting on the half-wall, applying his lotion from scalp to toe. i felt my mouth curl into a smile at his interpretation of "heartbeat" and what his great ellen had once told him about hearing god speak in her heart. i tried clumsily to explain the symbolic meaning of hearing god in your heart, but he waved me off impatiently.
"your boobies must be too big to hear yours, listen to mine!"

and he thrust out his scrawny baby chest at me.

i laid my ear obligingly over his rack of ribs and listened contentedly to 

tha-thump, tha-thump 
rhythm of his toddler-sized heart.

i smiled benevolently at him and told him what i heard. just a
tha-thump, tha-thump,
no words, unfortunately.

at which report he smiled just as benevolently back at me and advised,
"your ears must not work so good either. that's not saying
"tha -thump, tha- thump",
it says
"love- ya, love-ya"
- i hear it every night when i lay down to go to sleep and everything is quiet."


orange julius/cream cooler and shamrock shakes for the rest of us!

Here is an allergy-friendly and healthier option to some popular shakes.
My allergy kids have actually never had traditional shakes and they went absolutely wild over these. I made them every night for a week and put one in his lunch daily and my tiny failure to thrive guy gained 2 lbs in 2 weeks!! They even tasted better than the "real" thing to hubby and I and other friends who've had the fast-food versions. i originally tried some of the alternative recipes being shared amongst food allergy friends and healthy eaters on FB and this recipe is how i ended up tweaking and modifying them. i shared my recipes on my FB page, as well - and got many rave reviews, so i've decided it's worthy to be on my food allergy blog. enjoy!

Shamrock Shake/
Chocolate Chip Mint Shake

1 can/ 13.66 oz whole coconut milk 
(we prefer thai kitchen brand)
13.66 oz other alternative milk (hemp, rice, soy, or almond if allergies permit)
(i use the empty coconut milk can to measure and dispense the 2nd milk)
4 Tbs raw, (preferably local!) honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint extract (can sub approx 10 whole mint leaves if preferred)
(can increase carefully for stronger flavor - a little goes a long way!)
1 avocado (can sub 1 1/2 bananas if preferred)
1 small handful kale/spinach/dark green leafy (for color)
2 cups ice
1/3 C chocolate chips (optional - we like 'enjoy life' brand)

blend and enjoy! you can make this thicker by adding more avocado, if desired. 

Orange Cream Cooler/
Orange Julius

1 can/ 13.66 oz whole coconut milk 
(we prefer thai kitchen brand)
13.66 oz other alternative milk (hemp, rice, soy, or almond if allergies permit)
(i use the empty coconut milk can to measure and dispense the 2nd milk)
4 Tbs raw, (preferably local!) honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract 
(can sub approx 1/2 C fresh orange or orange juice if preferred - adding about 1 tsp of grated orange peel really boosts the orange flavor, too!)
1 avocado (can sub 1 1/2 bananas if preferred)
1 small handful kale/spinach/dark green leafy 
(optional - it's going to be a very pale green anyway b/c of the avocado, so omitting it won't take away the green; leaving a dark green leafy in would only be for nutritional purposes -it doesn't affect the taste at all).
2 cups ice

blend and enjoy! you can make this thicker by adding more avocado, if desired. i haven't tried new flavors yet because we are still so excited to have some familiar old favorites again, but i am sure you could switch out the fruit or extract and make a strawberry/pomegranate/elderberry/blueberry/whatever- you- like- one, too! 

sweet weanling

i gave in this morning. 

an hour before the alarm was due to go off, i slinked from my bed and stole 'lou from his, tiptoeing with his sleeping form like a thief in the night. 

i mashed him up against me, head tucked under my chin, his legs curled up and tucked into my belly with a toehold secured at the tops of my thighs. 

i stroked his back, i squeezed his palm-sized babycakes, i snuffled his sunshine-and puppy-dog hair.

i curled his mini-palm over my lips and put a secret kiss there to get him through his day, my mouth fitting perfectly into his little hand.

i watched him sigh, silken lashes fluttering against his porcelain cheek. he dreamt of nursing, lips puckered in a kissy-pout, working his dream-milk out in a rhythmic suckle that matched the beating of my heart - slow and languid; utterly content.

i nibbled his little banana chip ear and whispered,
"what are you dreaming about?"
without so much as fluttering his lashes, he whispered back huskily, 

as if they were one and the same.

just as i was drifting off, he pulled me back with his lispy little sleep-whisper: 

"you can just steal me today, tomorrow i have to be big again."

my last sweet weanling, how can 5 1/2 years of nursing suddenly feel like the blink of an eye when it's done?