Well Thanks, Murphy. Glad we Had that Health Insurance.

I probably shouldn’t have made the last post I did complaining about health insurance. As it turns out, my daughter ended up having to spend two nights at our local children’s hospital, including Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  I noticed that she had swelling on one side of her neck on a Wednesday night. We all had been ill so I chalked it up to swollen lymph nodes and texted a picture to our neighbor who is a pediatrician (she was sick or she would have looked at her). She said it did look like lymph node swelling and to make an appointment with our pediatrician in the morning.

The next morning, I took her to our pediatrician and she agreed, that it looked like a swollen lymph node but because she’s young she wanted to make sure so she sent us for blood and lab work.  We went, had blood drawn, and waited for the results.  Of course, as a mom, I started worrying about worst case scenarios (lymphoma, leukemia, etc) and it was hard to wait for the results.  The CBC (white blood cell count) came back good, as did the crp (checks for markers of inflammation).  Our doctor said we would give it a week and check it again.  Well, the night before her check up I feared it was getting worse.  The next day our doctor agreed and sent us for an ultrasound on it at the children’s hospital.

We went at ten Friday morning for the appointment.  While we were in the ultrasound I asked a few questions and the way the tech replied made me fear it wasn’t just a swollen lymph node. She said she needed to check with the doctor to see if he needed any additional pictures, left, and was gone awhile.  She came back, took a few more pictures, and was gone for even longer.  When she came back she told me that our pediatrician was on the phone wanting to speak with us.

I honestly couldn’t really tell you what she said except it wasn’t good and we were immediately getting sent to the emergency room to see some specialists. It wasn’t a swollen lymph node. We ended up seeing an ENT (Ear, nose, and throat doctor) and they said they needed to do  a CT scan to see exactly what we were dealing with. They started an IV line, she got sent to the CT scan, and after that we went back to a waiting room. After awhile, we saw the doctor who said they were admitting us and the plan of action was to start IV antibiotics and see if that would help-it was an abscess.

We spent the rest of the night worrying about it, and at 6:30 AM the next morning they decided to do surgery.  She was taken back at 8AM and we were able to see her about 9:45AM. The surgery went well but they wanted us to stay to make sure everything was okay. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning in the hospital until they released us at 2PM.

She’s doing well, and I’m glad it is nothing more serious.  They determined it was staph and she’s on antibiotics for a few more days. I’m not looking forward to any of the bills and have been stressing about it but we will figure it out somehow. I will be sure to update with what happens!

Have you ever had to take your child to the hospital?

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How to Make Water Kefir

A few months ago I started getting interested in probiotics.  Probiotics are good bacteria that are essential to your health.  Probiotics can help balance your gut flora, which in turn can help keep you healthy and even reduce allergies.  A lot of people turn to yogurt for probiotics, but I didn’t want to ingest so much dairy so I knew I had to find a good source of probiotics that didn’t involve dairy.  I looked into commercial probiotics (Bio-kult was the best commercial probiotic I could find) but they are more expensive than I thought I’d like to spend. I did some research and came across something called water kefir.

What is Water Kefir?

Water kefir is a probiotic drink that is made with water kefir grains. To get started, you do have to invest in good quality water kefir grains. I bought mine from the source above.  Water kefir is fermented for a few days, which allows the good bacteria to populate in the sugar water solution.  Water kefir allows you to introduce your gut to different strains of probiotics without consuming dairy.  Water kefir helps keep your gut flora healthy and will help even out any imbalances.  Much of our food today is pasteurized so it’s hard for the body to get the probiotics it needs through food.

How to Make Water Kefir

Water kefir is very easy to make.  You need the following supplies:

-1 Glass quart jar
-A few pint mason jars
-Water kefir grains
-A plastic strainer
-Organic sugar plus unsulphured molasses (or Sucanat)
-A hankie or breathable cotton cloth
-Spring or mineral water

The first step is to sterilize the jar you are using to make your water kefir. After this is done and the jar has cooled, you want to dissolve 1/3 cup of Sucanat or 1/3 cup of organic sugar plus 1 Tablespoon of unsulphured molasses in a pint of mineral or spring water. It’s very important to not use tap water, as the chlorine and flouride will damage your water kefir grains. When the sugar is dissolved into the water, add another pint of water to the solution. Pour your water kefir grains into your sterilized jar and cover them with the sugar solution.  It is very important to not pour the sugar solution onto your water kefir grains until the water is about room temperature.  If you pour hot water on your water kefir grains, you’ll kill them. Your jar should look like this:

You now want to cover it with a hankie or a breathable cotton cloth and store somewhere warm, so the water kefir grains can convert the sugar solution into the water kefir. The water kefir grains basically eat the sugar and turn it into kefir. Water kefir grains love minerals, so it’s important to use good quality water and sugar when making water kefir. I filter my water through my Berkey water filter , and use Sucanat (which is evaporated cane juice and contains the natural minerals not found in refined sugar).

After a few days, check your water kefir to see how it tastes. I pour a little into a glass and make sure not to contaminate the water kefir container. You’ll want it to not taste sweet because that means that the sugar has not all been converted yet. Sometimes you’ll find a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) that forms on the top of your water kefir. It will look like scum almost and you’ll want to make sure you don’t pour it in your jars. It’s not harmful, it’s just better left to help work on the next batch of water kefir.

If at any point you see mold or it smells funny, dump it out. It’s not worth getting sick over! When your water kefir tastes like all the sugar has been eaten by the water kefir grains, it’s time to bottle it for a second fermentation. I like to do a second fermentation so that I can add some flavors and get more carbonation. Sterilize the mason jars you’ll be using, and set them aside. When they are cool, you can pour 1/3 cup of organic juice in them and fill them 3/4 of the way up with the water kefir. Be careful not to let your water kefir grains go into the jars. This is where the plastic strainer comes in handy!

Another method is to use unsulphured dried fruit. Organic raisins, mango pieces, lemons, figs, or prunes are all good fruits to add to your water kefir. I just place a small piece of the dried fruit into the jars and then pour the water kefir in the jars. I’ve found that when you fill the jars 3/4 of the way full you have more fermentation than if you fill the jars. I like our water kefir bubbly and carbonated so it’s like drinking natural soda. If you don’t want the carbonation, you can fill your jars more.

Return the jars to a warm place and allow them to sit and ferment for another couple days. Be sure to check on them so they don’t get too carbonated. You don’t want your water kefir exploding! After about two-three days I remove my jars, test one of them, and then refrigerate them if they are to my liking. When the water kefir is in a warmer place, it tends to be ready faster.

After I bottle the water kefir for the second fermentation, I start another batch so I can have more kefir in a few more days! It’s an awesome cycle.

Learning how to make water kefir is very easy once you give it a shot. You’ll benefit from the probiotics, and it’s a wonderful natural soda alternative. Give it a try! It’s so much fun.

Have you heard of water kefir? Have you ever wondered how to make water kefir?

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Home Remedies for Dandruff

Dandruff is annoying if you suffer from it.  Using specialty dandruff shampoos is neither good for your health or your wallet.  Some of the ingredients in conventional dandruff shampoos include: coal tar, sodium lauryl sulfate, ketokonazole (anti fungal), Zinc Pyrithione (anti fungal), not to mention all the other surfectants and synthetic fragrances that are added. While I do think sometimes dandruff shampoos are necessary, for the most part you can treat your dandruff with home remedies for dandruff. Why expose your body to additional toxins if you don’t have to, and also save money at the same time? Here are some of the dandruff remedies I’ve successfully used in the past.

Tea Tree Oil . Tea tree oil is a natural anti fungal and anti bacterial. To use the tea tree oil as a home remedy for dandruff, simply add four to five drops to your normal shampoo. Be sure to massage well into your scalp and allow the tea tree oil/shampoo mixture to sit and penetrate your scalp for three to five minutes. While you are waiting for the amount of time to pass, gently use your finger tips to rub your scalp. This will help loosen any flaky scalp and allow the tea tree oil to do a better job. After the time is up, rinse your hair well with warm water.

Apple Cider Vinegar. Believe it or not, apple cider vinegar is a great home remedy for dandruff. The acidity of the vinegar helps remove some of the flakiness of the dandruff, and helps heal the scalp. Vinegar also helps condition the hair cuticle by balancing the ph and seals it to prevent flyaways. Mix one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with about a cup of warm water while you’re in the shower. Pour on your scalp and allow it to sit for about three minutes. Be sure to rinse well afterward. Using the apple cider vinegar rinse after the tea tree oil treatment is great. The smell of the vinegar will dissipate soon after, I promise!

Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is a natural anti-fungal, anti bacterial, anti parasitic, and anti viral. Whatever you’ve got on your scalp-fungus, bacterial infection, etc, will be reduced by applying coconut oil to your scalp. Here’s the easiest treatment: before you go to bed use one to two teaspoons of coconut oil and rub into your scalp. The coconut oil is solid as it’s in the container, but melts at 76 degrees. Take a half teaspoon at a time and allow the oil to melt in your hands and then apply directly to the scalp.  Be sure to sleep with a towel on your pillow so you don’t get oil all over it.  You can also wrap your hair in plastic wrap.  An added bonus of using the coconut oil: your hair will be so soft and conditioned!  Be sure to shampoo out well in the morning.  A few drops of tea tree oil can be added to help fight the fungus.

These are some of the easiest home remedies for dandruff that don’t really cost much at all.

Do you use home remedies for dandruff?

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