Garrett turns 2!

Garrett turned two on August 15th. This last year has gone by so fast.

Garrett is such an amazing little guy. I’m not sure how one child manages to be such a melded combination of characteristics but somehow he is able to do it. He is my snuggler and a complete mama’s boy. He still finds his way to my hip or in my lap for much of the day. At the same time he is very independent and the phrase we probably hear most often from him is, “Garrett do!” or “Garrett too!”. Mike has taken to calling Garrett, “Garrett too.” Over the last several months and especially the last few weeks Garrett is developing a deep love for his daddy. He wants to do everything daddy does and is starting to miss him when he is gone. For the last six months or so when Garrett wakes up in the morning he will say, “dada?” wanting to know where daddy is. When I respond, “at work” his usual response used to be a somewhat disappointed “ohhhh.” The last week or so he has started saying “missssss. dada missssss” with a very sad face. He is truly sad and distraught when daddy is gone now.

Garrett is also very stubborn, strong willed and frankly, rebellious. For someone who has just barely turned 2 he is amazing at toeing the line. If you draw a line he will run to the edge of it, look you square in the eye and then calmly put his foot over it taunting you to see what you’re going to do about it. He does this not only with Mike and I but with other adults and children. He likes to provoke reactions, usually just for fun. This has caused me, as his mom, a lot of stress. I have learned to loosen up, to enjoy his nature and to give him a bit more wiggle room.


Garrett is a rough and tumble all out boy. He likes guns, dirt, water and sticks. What he wants is “his”, what he looks at is “his” and what anyone else wants is “his”. He is not afraid of taking it by force even from a child (or adult) bigger than he is. He sometimes takes great joy in snatching things from others even if he has no desire for what he has snatched. He reminds me of a little lion cub looking to dominate anything and everything around him. He will push down little babies that are minding their own business, just to know that is able to do it. It is to the point where if we are with a group of children and one of them starts to cry, I usually have to jump up and remind Garrett that we do not hit, push, take…etc

Unfortunately, his sister receives the brunt of Garrett’s attempts at family domination. She will often comment about how she doesn’t like him much but then carefully add that she loves him but that it’s hard being his sister. Thankfully their relationship has taken a turn for the better in the last two weeks or so and they are beginning to have as many positive interactions throughout the day as negative and are starting to really play together. All of my parenting techniques, theories and patience have been worn thin by this little boy. But despite this, I love him with all my heart. His sweet nature is so apparent and he is a loving and giving boy who’s empathy is really starting to blossom. He is beginning to treasure and love his sister and despite his behavior towards her sometimes, he can not stand when she is not with us. He calls her “nana” (his attempt at saying Camden) and is sad whenever she is not with us. He is beginning to worry and cry when she is upset and tries to make her feel better. He also wants to do everything Camden does. He even decided he wanted to ride a horse despite his initial terror over them because Camden loved riding so much.



Garrett has so many quirks it is hard to know where to start. He has developed a hate of “tags” and will not allow one to be in his shirt or on most objects for that matter. Even during his Birthday party he made his dad cut of a “tag” on one of the gift bags. He is a funny blend of liking “boy” and “girl” things. He turns every available object into a gun (including alphabet letters and veggie booty) yet at the same time begs to wear Camden’s dresses, butterfly tattoo’s and prefers to sleep with pink blankets. He even asks for pink nail polish. Of course Camden and I find this hilarious and often oblige him with his requests. He will hate us for this someday, I’m sure.  His favorite color is orange and he takes great joy in any object he finds or owns that is “ownge”.


Garrett loves musical instruments and especially likes the drums and guitar. He likes to color and paint and his favorite food in the world is candy. Meal wise he loves things with a lot of flavor. He enjoys spaghetti (with rice noodles) and beef stew. Development wise he is really in a big growth phase right now. His expressive language has been exploding the last two weeks and he is repeating much of what we say and is learning new words every day. He is learnings his colors and wants to do everything the big kids do. He learned how to peddle a bike yesterday, on his Birthday. He is fully potty trained now, both during the day and night. We have weaned him from nursing at night but he still wakes up anyway. I am hoping he will start truly sleeping through the night within the next 2-3 months. He is still nursing and though I would prefer to be done with our nursing relationship I am waiting until we can get a vitamix to make sure he is getting enough nutrition.

Garrett continues to have serious allergies to many foods. Though his reactions have greatly reduced in frequency he is continuing to lose foods. He is currently allergic to: wheat, dairy, egg, soy, peanut, nuts, sunflower seed, sesame seed and dogs. Recently he has come up allergic to rice all though we have not removed it from his diet at this point because we are not seeing any reaction from the rice and his diet is all ready so limited. Feeding Garrett is definitely a huge challenge all though I am getting more used to it. What is frustrating is the things he can eat sometimes are quite ridiculous. It makes me mad that he can eat things like french fries, all manner of candy, soda, chips, sugar cereal like Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs but I can not give him an egg or a piece of bread. I have had to let go of my concern for many foods not because I have changed my mind on whether or not they are healthy or good for you but out of necessity and a concern for his quality of life. For example I did not have the money, time or energy to find and edible recipe for a wheat free, egg free, soy free, dairy free, seed free Birthday cake. So instead, I made him a rice crispy treat cake chock full of corn syrup, petroleum based dyes and all manner of artificial flavors. But it was delicious, he loved it and it was simple. I’ve just had to learn to let go, some. He eats way too much candy and french fries for a kid his age or for any kid for that matter but you try telling your child day in and day out, “No. Not for Garrett. That will make you sick.” It’s hard and frustrating. I do my best to get high quality whole foods in him but sometimes it just doesn’t work that way. I am so excited to be saving for a Vitamix blender that I plan on using to increase the amount of vegetables in his diet since he refuses pretty much any vegetable besides corn, carrots and potatoes.

For his Birthday this year we had an Elmo themed party. I’m not quite sure how he has become so fond of Elmo since he has never seen Sesame Street but he recognized Elmo in the dollar store the other day and we had leftover Elmo party supplies from Camden’s 1st Birthday. He was sooooo happy when he woke up from his nap to find an Elmo party. He also has Elmo sheets now that one of Mike’s friends from work gave us and he loves having them. We had a spaghetti dinner for him (one of his favorite meals) and I made him a Rice Crispy cake with Dots and sprinkles on top. We also had ice-cream sundae’s for everyone else. To make the cake I used Spectrum Vegetable shortening which is made of palm oil rather than soy based shortenings. You can not tell a difference in flavor or texture and it is delicious.

Despite how challenging these first two years have been for me I would not trade raising Garrett for anything. He has required me to rise above my fears, selfishness and insecurities in order to be a better mom and a better person. I am a less judgmental and more forgiving person because of him. His love, precious hugs and kisses, laughter and sense of humor bring so much joy and entertainment to our family. His presence in our family has given me greater spiritual strength and faith.

Garrett Michael Reid, we love you with all our hearts.

Are You Feeding Your Children Mercury?

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Thank you Emeth for sharing this article with me.

Original article from HERE.

Study: High-fructose corn syrup contains mercury

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.

HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80% more HFCS than average.

“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies, said in a prepared statement.

In the first study, published in current issue of Environmental Health, researchers found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS.

And in the second study, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a non-profit watchdog group, found that nearly one in three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury. The chemical was found most commonly in HFCS-containing dairy products, dressings and condiments.

But an organization representing the refiners is disputing the results published in Environmental Health.

“This study appears to be based on outdated information of dubious significance,” said Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, in a statement. “Our industry has used mercury-free versions of the two re-agents mentioned in the study, hydrochloric acid and caustic soda, for several years. These mercury-free re-agents perform important functions, including adjusting pH balances.”

However, the IATP told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that four plants in Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio and West Virginia still use “mercury-cell” technology that can lead to contamination.

IATP’s Ben Lilliston also told HealthDay that the Environmental Health findings were based on information gathered by the FDA in 2005.

And the group’s own study, while not peer-reviewed, was based on products “bought off the shelf in the autumn of 2008,” Lilliston added.

The use of mercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS is common. The contamination occurs when mercury cells are used to produce caustic soda.

“The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury. The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients,” Wallinga said in his prepared statement.

A Dye Free Halloween

Since Halloween is fast approaching and I know there are a lot of parents out there who are wanting to avoid food dye and other chemical additives in their children’s candy I wanted to link to a post that I wrote last year entitled Halloween in Crunchville – Dye Free Candy. Within the post I link to many websites that sell dye free candy and other treats.

Today we bought Camden’s Halloween candy from Squirrels Nest (which we adore!). They have a really nice Halloween sampler pack for $13.95. You can find all of their Halloween products HERE but hurry, they go fast! They also sell a sampler pack that is gluten free and casein free.

Mothering Two: A Reality Check

When I was pregnant everyone with more than one child was kind enough to point out to me how “hard” the transition to two children would be. Some of them were even gracious enough to share horror stories with me like I had some magical undoing spell or something that could allow me to go back to having just one kid after I heard how awful it was to deal with two. Even if I had possesed an undoing spell during my pregnancy I certainly would have never even considered using it. Nah, people like me are a little too sure of themselves. I would listen to all these moms relate to how tough it was and think to myself, “I’ll be fine. That won’t be me. I can handle it.”

And to be honest we’ve been trucking along just fine and dandy. Until Monday. On Monday Camden decided to give me a run for my money and offered me a crash course in being the full time mother of two. She was unbelievably whiny all day and so I thought a nap would help. One nap down and I still had an amazingly whiny and weepy 3 1/2 year old on my hands. A lightbulb dimly flickered over my head and I brought my hand to her forehead. My hand was met with a blazing inferno. A fever. Great, she was sick. I took her temperature and it registered in at 102. Since it was a holiday, Mike was home and with his help I was able to balance the two of them fairly well. We moved Camden’s mattress into our room for the night and Mike decided to sleep on the guest bed in the office so he could get some good sleep before work.

Camden fell asleep quickly but awoke a few hours later, crying in misery. I took her temperature again and she was at 104. I decided to give her some dye free motrin so she could get some sleep since she was too uncomfortable to get any rest. Luckily Garrett was still happily sleeping on the big bed. I rocked Cami in my arms and sang her some songs. I laid her down on her mattress and was just about to climb back in bed when she proceeded to throw up all over the bed. Yuck. I tried to pick her up quickly and get her to the bathroom. The second round made it all over the tile by the sinks. The third round, thankfully, made it into the toilet. Camden was thoroughly saturated. I got her into the shower and cleaned her up and thankfully she wanted to stand in the shower for awhile. While she did that I threw all of the contaminated linens into the washing machine and had Mike put the pukey mattress in the garage (speaking of which I just realized it is still in the garage uncleaned, nasty). I then wiped down the bathroom and had Mike bring in the second mattress (we have bunkbeds) into the bedroom. This time he brought the one with the mattress protector. Go figure. What was Mikes comment when he came into the cleaned room? “It smells like pomegranate.” Um, I wish. That would be the smell of regurgitated Motrin and Popsicle.

I finally got her back in bed and said a silent prayer that Garrett had slept through it all because I’m pretty sure as helpful as Mike has been that he wouldn’t take over puke duty for me and he’s not exactly fit for being Garrett’s food source. The rest of that night wasn’t too bad. Camden was able to sleep until about two in the morning when her fever started to spike again and I gave her another dose of ibuprofen since she basically lost the first dose. Normally I try not to medicate for fevers but I knew all of us needed sleep if we were going to survive the next day.

Tuesday was my reality check. On Tuesday, I learned what it felt like to get nothing done and still be constantly busy. It was the day of trying to accomplish something over and over and over and never being able to finish it. The dishes piled up. The laundry was undone. It was the day when I realized at 3 in the afternoon that my teeth were still fuzzy and I set off to brush my teeth a half dozen times but never made it to the bathroom because of x, y, z. One of those days when I realized I was thirsty for the umpteenth time that day and that I never did get that glass of water a few hours ago. More annoying was the realization that I had a full bladder but that I could never find a spare minute to go. The house was a disaster and I was a mess but I had to just keep reminding myself that no one was screaming their heads off so that all in all we were having a good day.

By the end of the night I had a headache and my mind was numb from an all day movie marathon of animated annoyingness. I was hungry, crabby, snappy and exhausted and more than once I felt like breaking into tears.

In other words, I got a nice dose of reality and was made to eat my overly self assured attitude about mothing multiple children and accept like every other mother on this planet that I am not perfect and I will fall short of the mark and most importantly, that it’s OK. And unfortunately, it will happen again and again and again. Enter in humbleness.

Life’s Little Developments

Keeping it Clean:

So somehow I’ve been busy without being all that busy. Not sure how that works but it does. Mostly I’ve been keeping the house A LOT cleaner and it is amazing how good that makes me feel. I’ve been making myself make the bed every day and that small task does wonders for me. I’m normally not so obsessed with a spick-n-span house but these days I don’t feel complete unless it’s clean. Maybe it’s that whole nesting thing getting started? Who knows.

New Camera:

A few weeks ago I was able to get a new camera!! I can not tell you how excited I was about this. It is such a great camera. I bought a used Canon XT from my friends husband for a great price who wanted to exchange his camera for the same camera but for one that was only black instead of black and silver. Apparently camera snobs find this important. Maybe someday I will be cool enough to be able to be that picky. I was able to afford the camera by selling our Kodak one on Craigslist and selling a few things on eBay. I’m so happy to have a camera that will take non-blurry pictures and has a faster shutter speed so I won’t miss all those great shots. I still need to learn to use this thing though. My friends husband also gave me a photo editing software called Bibble that is on the professional level but I have NO IDEA how to use it. Need to learn that as well. I would post pictures but our computer is not cooperating. See below.

Dumb, Ancient Computer:

The upgrade of our camera has very poignantly highlighted the need for a new computer. Our computer is about 8 years old. This dinosaur bohemeth runs more slowly than I am able to waddle these days. And now EVERY time I try to upload a picture to the blog it FREEZES my computer. Grrr. It makes me so mad. I have been attempting to write this blog post for a few days now but kept getting frustrated and giving up because I hate not posting pictures with the blog. So, um imagine things I guess. Until further notice I don’t think there will be any pictures posted. Must get this fixed before baby arrives. On a funny note my friend Emeth joked with her husband that she was going to give his computer to me since I needed one and he believed her. He gave her a deer in the headlights, shocked look and paced a little but didn’t say anything. Yes, she definitely wears the pants in their family and no, I would never let her actually do that. But very funny.

A Close Call & First Lies:

So I had a midwife appointment on Monday in Hermiston, Oregon which is about a half hour drive from here. During the appointment Camden was playing outside with one of the midwifes sons (it was his 8th Birthday) and they were playing with a new baby goat that they just got. Innocent enough, right? They’re outside so I don’t worry about anything and just relax and chat and enjoy my appointment. As we are leaving and I am buckling Camden into her carseat she asks me an odd question.

“Mommy?”

“Yes?”

“Do cupcakes have nuts in them?”

What a weird question. “Well, sometimes. Sometimes even though the cupcake doesn’t have nuts they are made in a kitchen that has nuts so you can’t eat them…” As I’m saying this my voice trails off because I notice a light yellow crust all around her lips. “Camden, what is on your face? Were you playing with the Dandelions?” It really looked like she’d been rubbing dandelions on her lips. Then before she could answer the “duh” light went off. “Did you eat a cupcake?”

“No.”

“Then what is on your face?”

“I don’t know. Nothing.”

“There is yellow all around your mouth. Is that yellow frosting? Did you eat a cupcake?”

“No.”

“Then what is on your face?”

“I don’t know.”

She’s totally lying. My heart is a little heavy and worried and I’m really ticked at myself. “Camden, it is more important to tell the truth to mommy. You will be in more trouble if you don’t tell me the truth. It’s very important that we’re honest with each other. What did you eat?”

She sighs. “I ate a cupcake.”

I then proceeded to lecture her for about 10 minutes about why it is so important that she NEVER eat food unless her dad or I give it to her or unless we say it is OK. We talked about what would have happened if there were nuts in the cupcake (she is severely allergic to them) and how we’d have to go to the hospital, etc, etc. On an annoying note the cupcake was also bright yellow otherwise known as containing food dye. I am happy to report that I did not notice ANY behavioral side effects afterwards (she has a dye sensitivity) which is promising. She is mostly sensitive to red but I was happy to see that she tolerated the yellow cupcake. Doesn’t mean I want dyed concoctions in our house but it is nice to know she may be able to have them on occasion. Mike was really, really mad at me. I’m only somewhat mad at me. Really, there is only so much you can watch your child. They were outside playing and there was no food outside. The little boy had snuck inside during our appointment and snuck cupcakes for them. I just need to drill it into her head that she can’t eat food from other people since realistically I can not always know what she is doing.

So that was her second “lie” if you want to call it that. Not sure what constitutes an active lie by a child and at what age they are capable of lying. But it used to be that if you asked her a question no matter if she was going to get in trouble, she’d be honest. For example if Camden was standing next to a small crying child looking suspicious I could ask “Camden, what happened?” and she’d say “I pushed her” or “I took her toy.” Looks like those days are gone.

Her first “lie” was last weekend. I was on the computer working on her scrapbook and Mike was showering and she was supposed to be watching a movie. Mike came out into the living room and I hear him getting mad at her. He comes into the office and told me she was out there painting her fingernail. Big no, no. He goes to wipe off her thumb and notices her whole other hand is painted. “Did you paint those?” he asks. “No,” she says. “Then who painted them?” “Mommy did,” she says. They both come into the office and he asks if I painted them. Nope, I didn’t. She is sent to her room. Once she is in her room we both laugh. She did a really, really good job painting her nails but she knew she wasn’t allowed to do paint by herself and she was painting them on the couch. But it was also the first time she lied to us. After she came out of her room we talked about honesty. Sigh, this is only going to get more complicated. I can tell.

30 Weeks:

At my last appointment the hearbeat ranged from 132-146 bpm. I was measuring 33 weeks and the baby was head down in the posterior position. I will be 31 weeks on Friday.

Busier:

So I started this blog post earlier in the week and now I am busier because we are having a garage sale at our house on Friday and Saturday. Some other families are combining their stuff with ours so we’ll have enough stuff. I was going to put this off for a few more weeks but it is only going to get hotter and I am only going to get bigger so I am scrambling to get it done. Originally I was hoping that the money we made could go towards something fun like a new computer but like always it looks like the extra money will go towards bills. We are hoping the garage sale traffic will spur some interest in our house. I am going to have flyers ready. Cross your fingers for us.

I am also taking care of my friends little girl because she has been put on bedrest for the next week. She is not due until July 16th but is having a ton of contractions. They are wanting to try and hold off birth until at least next Wed when she will be 37 weeks that way she can have her baby at home, as planned. Otherwise she’ll need to deliver at a local hospital.

Weird Things I’m Looking Forward To:

So I’m really excited to mother a newborn again. It still hasn’t sunk in that there will be a new little person in our lives but I’m slowly starting to wrap my mind around it. Some of the things I am really looking forward to (yes I’m weird) are:

-Cloth Diapering: I didn’t start cloth diapering Camden until she was 13 months old but I am really looking forward to using cloth with a newborn. I received some very cute fitted’s from Nanipoo Diapers today and they are absolutely adorable. I’d post a pic if I could but they are just too cute. I also received some diaper covers today. We also have an assortment of pockets, prefolds and a few AIO’s. I’ll have to post pictures later. It is a wide variety of boy and girl prints since we don’t know what we’re having. I’ll just have to sell the ones we don’t wind up needing.

– EC: We will be practicing Elimination Communication with this baby. I’ve all ready had a little practice with this on a baby I used to watch and it is really amazing plus all the mothers that I hang out with on a regular basis practice this with their children so I’m totally over the “weirdness” factor. I think it’s awesome when a small baby can tell you when they have to go potty, and then do. I was amazed that it actually worked with he baby I used to watch who was only 2 months old.

-Happy Hangup: When I first became pregnant I found an awesome deal on a used Happy Hangup that I found on craigslist and was able to sell some stuff to get it. It hangs from the ceiling and is an infant hammock bed. I need to get Mike to install the ceiling hook and I just can’t wait to see our little bub sleep in it for the first time.

-Parenting Minus the Nervousness: I don’t consider myself a very nervous type person but I am looking forward to parenting this newborn without the all the second guessing. I loved parenting Camden as a newborn and am really looking forward to doing it again.

-Baby Wearing: I wore Camden when she was a baby too but I only had a Baby Bjorn and that thing was super uncomfortable. I am looking forward to using a wrap with this baby and a sling as well. I am loving knowing that I will be able to carry baby around and get everything else done that needs to be done.

-Birth: Yes, I really am looking forward to birth. Which seems fairly odd since I had quite a long, knock down drag out first experience. For those who don’t know I labored for over 56 hours with Camden. Not ideal, to say the least. There are many factors that contributed to that and I feel that this time things will go much different. We are having this baby at home and my friends are planning on attending the birth which will make this a really different and fun experience. I am really looking forward to it. Mike is thrilled with this idea because it takes the pressure off him. I thought he wouldn’t like the idea but he loves it. And I love the idea of being surrounded by women who have all given birth naturally and who are all funny and upbeat. I think we will all have a lot of fun and what a wonderful atmosphere for a baby to be born into.

The Great Debate: The Fever

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There is nothing like a high fever to send a parent into panic mode. They call it Fever Phobia and it is real. This phobia is often fueled by myths and misinformation in regards to fever and it’s relation to seizures and brain damage. Common cultural beliefs and practices as well as pharmaceutical advertising also plays a role in how Americans view fever.

There are essentially two schools of thought in regards to the treatment of fever. Get rid of it and Let it be. The “Get rid of it” school of thought tends to operate on the basis of either a. they believe the fever to be dangerous or b. to avoid suffering or of course c. both. The “Let it be” school of thought argues that fever is your body’s natural way of coping with infection and to inhibit that process may prolong or exacerbate the infection your body is attempting to fight.

I grew up in the “Get Rid of It” category and have recently subscribed to the “Let it Be” category all though it is sometimes easier in theory than in practice. I will explain my shift and the reasons why I changed my perception and also link to some information but first I must preface by saying I am not a doctor, have never and will never be one. I don’t practice medicine. I practice motherhood. I am not an expert and I don’t give expert advice. I share my motherhood opinions and experiences and mine are not somehow elevated above yours, I only share them for those who are interested. If you need a doctor, see a doctor.

I don’t remember my parents ever being panicked about fever but I’m sure like most American mothers that my own mother worried over our fevers. I do remember taking fever reducers, like most children. As an adult it was an automatic reaction for me. Got a fever? Take some tylenol. I preferred ibuprofen, much faster. Then off to work you go, can’t have any sick time after all. Working in a call center for 5 years, I can not tell you how many people showed up looking like death. Americans are very interesting people in that regard. We tend to have no sacredness in terms of our body and it’s fragility’s (or it’s awesome abilities). If it can’t manage on its own then by golly there’s got to be something I can take that will get me going. We take fever reducers for fevers, cold pills for colds, sleeping pills for sleeping, anti-anxiety meds for anxiety, etc, etc. In America we treat the symptoms.

A fever is not a problem, it is a symptom. It is a symptom that your body is fighting off an infection. Fever is the body’s natural response to any infection. Infections can thrive at our normal body temperature but as the temperature rises it makes it very difficult for the infection to thrive and thus gives the immune system the ability (and time) to fight off the infection (usually taking 3-5 days, also the duration of most fevers).

When we reduce a fever we are eliminating our bodies natural defense mechanism and make it harder on our immune system to fight off the infection. It can actually make the illness last much longer than it would have, had the fever been left to do its job. This is sometimes why parents who have been giving their children Tylenol for a few days believe their children to be better (after all they are running around and eating like normal) and so they send them off to school or preschool only to have the child return home that afternoon, after the medication has worn off and the fever has been given enough time to rise again, just as sick (or sicker) than they were before. That is because fever reducers never take away the illness and they don’t make it go away faster either, they simply mask it. They trick your body into believing it is better.

This itself (the tricking of the body) can extend the illness. Take a moment and think about it. When you have a fever you generally feel awful. You don’t want to eat. You don’t want to walk around. The only thing you want to do is lay down and rest. It is your bodies way of telling you to slow down. It allows your body to conserve it’s energy into healing and not to be distracted with physical exertion or even digestion. Our bodies are intelligent. They were designed that way. When we circumvent that design it can have negative effects. People tend to run themselves ragged on fever reducers because they are cutting off their bodies messenger system and they do activities they never would have considered because they feel better, when in fact they are still just as sick (if not more) as before.

To see the effect in action you need only to watch your own child. In small children the change seems much more dramatic. My husband and I had to giggle after we gave our daughter a dose of ibuprofen. She had been a very sad looking thing with a high fever of 103. She was only content to lay on the couch and watch cartoons and sip water and apple juice. She wasn’t very interested in holding conversations and snapped at us when she did. Within 10 minutes of her ibuprofen she began chatting. At 20 minutes she sat up and was giggling and being silly and making jokes. At 30 minutes she was up off the couch and looking for a game to play. At 45 minutes she was literally running circles and trying to play chase with us. We had to beg her to sit down and not run and countless reminders that she was still sick fell on deaf ears. I’m sick? I feel fine. Let’s party!

Most parents once presented with the information that a fever is actually a good thing intuitively trust this knowledge. It makes sense, it is logical. What most people struggle with is the concept of comfort and the opposite of that, suffering.

No one (certainly not anyone reading this blog) wants to see their child suffer or to be in discomfort. We spend each and every day helping our children to avoid such situations. So when it comes to the idea of leaving a fever to act on it’s own, resulting in suffering, it can be very counter-intuitive. Part of this is simply our protective nature as a parent and even the common denominator of being a human and having empathy. However, I believe a large part of this is cultural and generational. We live in a world/culture/society that constantly sends us the message that we must never be upset, in pain, or to do without. If we are without we should have what we desire immediately. There is no such thing as waiting. We are told to live for the here and now. We must always have answers and if we don’t have the answers someone else must have the answer and they must share it with us. If it can be thought of, it can be done. If you can’t do it now we will find someone who can.

We may believe that we don’t fall prey to these notions but they are very ingrained. To activate this cultural/societal tendency simply mention to a general audience that you do not medicate a fever or cold, or suggest that you are planning on a natural birth. Suddenly you are masochistic, a sadist, or if it is in relation to your child you are negligent and cruel. It is very hard for people to conceive of pain and suffering as a matter of life. A matter of experience. A matter of fact. To go into this topic in depth could result in a novel and I’m sure they all ready exist. It isn’t my point. My point is that inevitably all humans will suffer and that not all suffering is bad. Not all suffering is cruel. In some ways to suffer is to know you are human.

Can it be taken too far? Yes, of course. Are there times a fever should be medicated. Yes, I believe so. In my own short lived “Let it be” experience I medicate a fever if my child is overly miserable and natural attempts (a lukewarm bath, less clothing, more clothing, a cool washcloth, a back rub, snuggling, etc) doesn’t help. I also medicate a fever if my child is unable to get any sleep. Sleep is very important when you’re ill. My own child will not sleep on her own when she is ill and both my husband and I are perfectly comfortable in allowing her to sleep with us when she needs it. In her most recent illness on night 4 we chose to medicate her fever because it had been wearing on her for 4 days and she had a rough time sleeping on the 4th night. The medication allowed her to get the deep sleep that her body needed.

Being a parent is about making judgement calls. Use your own judgement. Reduce a fever if you feel your child needs the comfort, however don’t reduce a fever just for the sake of reducing a fever unless your child has other underlying medical reasons that require it.

Most of the time a fever, in and of itself, is harmless. There are always exceptions. You need to know the signs to look for and be willing to contact medical help (the ER, your doctor, etc) when necessary.

A fever in a very young infant is always a cause for concern. A child who displays the following symptoms warrants a call to the doctor. The following (text in italics) is copied from Dr. Sears website. Treatment measures refer to giving the child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin).

  • High fevers of 104 (40 Celcius) or higher that don’t come down to 101 or 102 (38.3 to 38.9 Celcius) with the treatment measures below.
  • Lethargy – this means more than your child just isn’t acting right or laying quietly in your arms. Lethargy actually refers to your child being limp, lifeless, unresponsive, or won’t make eye contact.
  • Irritability – this means more than just fussiness. A truly irritable child will cry for hours with minimal verbal interaction, and is almost impossible to console.
  • Meningitis – symptoms are high fever, stiff neck or pain in the back of the neck, vomiting, headache, bright light hurts the eyes. Before paging your doctor, you should also look up any other symptoms your child has, such as cough, vomiting, rash, etc and read those guidelines to determine your best course of action.
  • It is also important to know that if you give your child fever reducers and they are still acting seriously ill then it is important for you to contact your doctor. For example, no amount of fever reducer (trust me, I’ve had it) will get a person with pneumonia to feel better. However, a minor illness with a high fever, can be almost completely alleviated (symptom wise) with a fever reducer. It isn’t necessarily how high the fever is that you should be concerned about but with the child’s behavior when the fever is reduced. If you can’t reduce the fever (and you are trying) you need to seek medical help.

    And lastly, all though admittedly the risk is probably very small, there is the possibility that these common medications are not as safe for our children (or ourselves) as we now view them to be. For example, in 2007 cold medicine was recalled for children ages 2 and under because of possible life threatening side effects. It is the reality of the situation that we sometimes don’t learn about very dangerous side effects from various drugs, both prescription and non-prescription, until after the fact. In my own situation, I sometimes wonder if my daughter’s exposure to numerous doses of infant tylenol while her immune system was still very immature has anything to do with the dye sensitivity that she now displays. It obviously can not be the only factor since millions of children consume the red dyed tylenol and not all of those children experience sensitivities to dye. But it has made me wonder if there is any connection at all. For those concerned, both Tylenol and Motrin offer dye free versions of their fever reducers. All though you may have to call a few stores to find it.

    All in all, I am choosing to adopt the “Let it Be” attitude when it comes to fever. I don’t refuse fever reducing medications without exception but I do greatly consider the pro’s and con’s before choosing to circumvent the bodies natural coping mechanism. Like many other positions that I hold when it comes to medicine it is that modern medicine is a tremendous blessing when used with judgement and discernment and can sometimes be nothing short of a miracle but not all things modern in medicine equates to good medicine.

    *Natural comforting methods NOT to use with a fever. The following comfort/treatment methods have been passed down and are NOT recommended to be used:

    -A cold bath or a very hot bath. Use lukewarm water.

    -Using rubbing alcohol on the skin

    -Over bundling or underdressing. As a general rule of thumb keep the child comfortable. If the child is cold give the child a blanket. If hot, dress lightly. Do not make the child to shiver or to purposefully sweat.

    -Forcing the child to eat against his/her will. Refusing the child food against his/her will. (If you’re worried about what he/she can tolerate try bland toast or crackers first). For sensitive tummies consider the B.R.A.T. diet (bananas, rice, applesauce & toast).

    **Natural ways to comfort your child during a fever:

    -Plenty of rest and lots of fluids

    -Lots of attention and affection, cuddling, back-rubs, singing etc.

    -A lukewarm bath

    -A cool washcloth on the head

    -Quiet activities such as reading to your child, doing a puzzle, watching a movie/television, drawing, etc

    -Homeopathic remedies (I’ll let you research these on your own)

    -Soft music

    -If nursing, allow your child to nurse on demand. This may be more often than normal during an illness. Many babies/toddlers nurse a lot for comfort when ill.

    -Anything else that brings your child comfort and creates a calm environment

    LINKS REGARDING FEVER:

    * Dr Reynolds: Myths & Facts about Fever

    * Dr Jay Gordon: Dealing With Fever

    * Dr Bob Sears: Fever

    * Dr Jeffrey Snedecker: Childhood Fever – Friend or Foe?

    * Think Like A Doctor: Is Tylenol A Good Thing?

    The Natural Dye Alternative

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    I have to admit that being a mother to a child who is sensitive to food dye had its moments of disappointment. I grew up in a home where we were blessed to eat homemade dinners almost every night. That didn’t mean, however, that our home didn’t contain the staples of Top Ramen, Kraft Mac&Cheese, processed cheese slices and Cambell’s soup concentrate. My mom did a good job feeding us considering that I don’t think we ever questioned the quality of the ingredients in mainstream marketed food products. We used to take dye and add it to food for fun. Like blue pancakes or green mac&cheese. In fact, I used to do the same fun things for little kids I used to babysit not having any idea that dye mattered. It just never occured to me.

    That changed with my daughter. We discovered artificial food dye just wasn’t going to be allowed in our home for the mental health and sanity of us all. It turns out we are not the only ones affected by this chemical sensitivity and even the Lancet came out with a November 2007 study (random, double-blind and placebo controlled) that links hyperactivity to artificial chemicals and preservatives. We have had to be more creative in the types of sweets and treats we allow our daughter to have. This past Halloween was interesting in that I found all dye-free candy to give to her to replace the Halloween candy she got from Church during our Trunk-or-Treat.

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    I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I discovered natural food coloring prior to Camden’s third birthday. She wanted pink and purple cupcakes and I was pondering on how to make them. Lo and behold, I came across India Tree’s natural food dye. I purchased my set on Amazon.com.

    India Tree’s food dye is vegetable based and contains no corn syrup or synthetic dyes. The pitfalls are that you will be hard pressed to get any primary looking colors out of this dye. At the most magenta is about as close as you will get to “red”. It is also pretty pricey.

    However, for people like me this is just a wonderful alternative. It was wonderful to make my little girl fun homemade cupcakes for her Birthday and to make traditional frosted sugar cookies for Christmas or to dye easter eggs for Easter. We are pretty devastated right now because we can’t find our India Tree dye, we lost it sometime over Christmas so we’ll keep looking for it. Wish us luck! Here are Camden’s Birthday Cupcakes.

    India Tree also carries a variety of natural dyed decorating sugars. However, they are not the only company offering synthetic free alternatives. The following companies also offer natural dyes.

    Nature’s Flavors – They also give directions on how to use their dyes for Easter Egg coloring.

    Seelect – Colors are sold separately.

    If you don’t have the money to purchase any of these products there are also helpful sites that offer foodsource alternatives for getting the color you need. Here is one site.

    Also, we found sprinkles that are colored with natural dye as well and we love them! We’ve also used chocolate candy coated sunflower seeds (purchased at Trader Joe’s)t o use as sprinkles on ice-cream.

    Let’s Do Sprinklez

    Please let me know if you know of any other natural food dye brands and I will post them.