Thursday, September 19, 2013

Everybody Needs a Place to Land

Sometimes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone; sometimes you don't know what you have until you have it. This is especially the case with living life as part of a community. 

We said hello to Poppy a year ago, and the time surrounding her birth is full of joy--of course--but also full of really, seriously, truly difficult times. We pretty much covered everything on the "most stressful" list besides divorce--job loss, moving, start of school for Soren, surgery for me and then hospitalization for Poppy just days after her birth. Then, as if we hadn't had enough: ambulance rides, Children's Hospital, emergency surgery and double arm casts after a birthday party gone wrong. All within a MONTH! Times were tough to say the least and we quickly realized we could not do it alone.

For years, we had slowly drifted away from living life as part of a community. We moved out to the middle of nowhere, on a beautiful piece of property where my children could explore nature and pick veggies from our garden and eat their snacks right from the branches of the trees in our orchard. Karl was building furniture everyday in a shop right across a little creek from our house. In many ways it was a ridiculously idyllic way of life--living off the land and always together as a family. The memories I hold from that time in life are both really beautiful and really dark. It’s what we had always wanted, except that we felt ourselves feeling really, really alone.

The surprising part is that as we were getting more and more isolated, we felt more and more OK on our own. We talked ourselves into believing that we didn't need any one else. No one could understand what we were going through (or so we told ourselves.) We let so many things get in the way of opening ourselves up to real, honest, authentic relationships--our house not looking the way we wanted it to; we were too tired; "those people" weren't "our kind of people"; the kids need their sleep...blah, blah, blah. We kept a long list so as to not ever run out of ways we could close ourselves off from community.

Then all of the sudden, our house looked like we had just moved in; we looked like we just had 3 hospital stays in 2 weeks; I looked like I was recovering from surgery; we couldn't make ourselves a simple meal or care for all of our kids and all of those hang ups went up in smoke.

And that's when we said hello to the end of ourselves and hello to the grace of God through community. It is through the really hard, shit-hitting-the-fan times in life that we truly reach the end of ourselves and have no other option but to let people in. To let God love us through meals made, sorting socks and unpacking boxes, a listening ear and just plain and simple showing up.

Sometimes we can get so accustomed to living life in isolation that we don't know what community looks like anymore. That is where I was before my life somehow became a crazy mess. I felt OK until I wasn't. I was not meant to love life alone, and guess what--none of us are.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our Chickenpox Survival Guide: A Natural and Holistic Approach

Here I am, back from the blogging dead, to write a much requested blog post. Soren started a chickenpox "outbreak" in our little community, so I was the first mama on the chickenpox scene. We knew this day was coming, and we thought we would know when it would come. Instead we woke up one morning to some suspicious spots on the neck and upper back of our 6-year-old. I inspected the little spots like a mama monkey, asking all kinds of questions to no one in particular.

Are these flea bites? No, mosquito bites? WTH? Where could he have gotten them? They're everywhere! WTH??

Staying calm is not always a strong-suit of mine.

We were not expecting chickenpox, but after a short search on Google images it was obvious what we had on our hands. The description of the spots was right on: dew drops on a pink rose petal...sounds so lovely. It's not.

No one has chickenpox anymore. Parents who do not vaccinate their children against it typically have to search out families who are contagious and plan playdates including swapping lollipops and lots of hugging. It's wild. We did not do any of that, and are still unsure of how Soren came in contact with it, but he did and we had to get acquainted with this elusive disease fast. Now that it's all said and done, we are glad to have life-long immunity and some tiny scars to remember it by. Let me be honest though, it wasn't a walk in the park for any of us. All three of my kids eventually got chickenpox and were quarantined during the month of August. Times were tough in the Lundeen house.

Most of the google searches I tried came up with the same old calamine lotion and Aveeno bath remedies, but I knew I wanted to accomplish something more. I started my typical and obsessive research fest (with the help of my sister who had just tackled the shingles virus) and then came up with my plan of action and headed to the health food store. I was going to kick this thing from the inside out...and I did. Soren was back to his normal self in less than a week from when we first saw those little spots on his neck.

If you are gearing up for a lively round of chickenpox in your house, or if you find yourself unexpectedly saying hello to it, here is a list of things to help you in your battle:

1.) Start building up their immune systems now! I made smoothies 3xs a day with 1,500 mg of buffered Vitamin C, 1,000 mg of L-Lysine and 30 drops of Olive Leaf extract. I also added Vitamin D drops and Colloidal Silver occasionally too. I would use frozen fruit (no citrus!), unsweetened coconut milk or water, hemp seeds, and green powder. All of these supplements help to feed their immune systems and/or fight the varicella virus directly. You can start this regimen as soon as you know your child is exposed if you want a head start.

2.) Carefully choose their diet. I avoided any dairy, acidic (think citrus and tomatoes) or spicy foods during the peak of the rash. All of these types of foods can aggravate the gut and cause the skin to react and you don't need any more reaction than you already have. Fill their bellies up with lots of greens and whole, nutrient rich food. If they have the pox in their mouth, a warm brothy type of soup can be really soothing. They might not be very hungry, so get it in however you can. Smoothies were my savior when it came to getting everything in. 

3.) Take LOTS of soothing baths. When we weren't drinking smoothies or taking naps, we were in the bath. I made my own oatmeal baths by grinding up whole oats in the Vitamix, adding baking soda and putting it in a muslin bag (a sock could be used for this too.) I would place 1-2 cups of the oatmeal mixture in the bag and then steep it in the warm--not too warm--bath water. When you squeeze it out it becomes a milk that you can pour over the skin. I also used Bath Tea from Zoe Organics as a soothing, anti-inflammatory treat in between my homemade oatmeal baths. 

4.)  Prevent Secondary Infection. Anika (4-years-old) had the worst case of it, and some of the spots on her face were looking really nasty. I was worried about infection, so I found some Colloidal Silver ointment that also had tea tree oil in it so I knew it would be great for fighting any bacterial infection that could set in. Those nasty spots went away after 2 days of applying 3xs a day and the drying effect seemed to ease the itchiness. 

5.) Try not to lose your mind. You are going to go a little nuts. You're not supposed to go anywhere public when your kids are in the contagious stage (from first sign of spots to when they spots start to crust over) so you'll be cooped up for a while. Play lots of games. Go to a drive-in movie theater if you have one near. Have playdates with already exposed friends. Drink some good wine and watch a movie after the little lepers have gone to bed. Remember that it will be over soon and you are doing the best thing for their immune systems to fight the disease naturally. Oh, and work now on formulating confident and gracious comebacks to the comments from friends and strangers alike on your choice not to vaccinate, 'cause they pull no punches.

Applying these remedies takes work and time and chickenpox is inconvenient to say the least. I was really good about doing all of these things when Soren got them, then I got a little lazy after we breezed through his and poor Ani got hit hard. Poppy, who was not even a year old at the time, seemed to fare just fine although it was heartbreaking to see her covered in those spots. Do the best you can, but the more you do to heal their little bodies from the inside out, the easier it will be for everybody. Peace be with you.

Disclaimer: This is a post written from my own personal experience with and research about the chickenpox virus and is not meant to replace any medical treatment or advice from a health practitioner. Please seek help if you notice any signs of infection or respiratory distress or anything you don't feel comfortable with. Use your instincts and your head. God bless America!