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Dressing for The Weather: Play Outside, Every Day

Now that are fully settled in Maine, I am going to share what has been the toughest part. I know my answer sounds like an old lady, but it has been the weather! Seriously, we arrived in June and experienced many wet/cold summer days. I was very surprised. For some reason, I was expecting moderate 70-80 degrees through at least August. Fall is here now, we are having cool to cold mornings, lovely afternoons and lower evening temperatures. Before we know it winter will be here.

I NEED outside. I start to crumble a bit if I do not get out. Fresh air, sunshine, the breeze– all of it restores and grounds me. I will NOT be able to hibernate for months. I only a Floridian for 6 years, and sometimes the lack of seasons was a bit discombobulating, but we only had days of cooler weather, not seasons. We rarely needed anything more than closed-toed shoes, socks, and a hoodie to stay comfortable.

Luckily, early in my motherhood journey I heard my Scandinavian-born family say “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”. Now that I am prepping our wardrobe for the coming seasons; I thought I would share a little bit about how we will continue our days outside following that Scandinavian wisdom I learned many years ago.

Temperature Regulation

The younger kids are the ones I am focusing on in this post. As adults we have more awareness of what our bodies are doing. We know if we run hot or cold. Younger children are still developing their inner temperature gauge. Remember when you brought your newborn baby home and was told to dress them a layer warmer than you would yourself? This still matters well into younger childhood. They lack the awareness of their temperature and dressing appropriately allows them to play without exerting energy toward temperature regulation.

If you are the type that is hesitant to opt-outside in cooler weather, have no fear. It is pretty easy following a general guideline for layering and staying dry!

Must-Haves:

  • Base Layer: Long-johns, or long underwear. This is the layer that sits next to the skin, so it needs to be breathable, soft, and moisture-wicking. I prefer natural fibers, although there are some higher-quality synthetics that serve this purpose. I like wool, or wool-silk blends. Many people think of wool as itchy or uncomfortable. It is the kind of wool you choose and wool is wonderful because it is naturally antimicrobial, it regulates temperature, is moisture-wicking and super soft next to sensitive skin. One of my favorite brands is Engel, which is a German-made product that is virgin, organic wool and hasn’t been dyed with synthetics. My kids LOVE them. I will link some other brands/shops at the end of this post.
  • Mid Layer: This is your regular, every-day clothing. Pants, long-sleeved tees, short-sleeved tees, dresses, leggings, socks, etc. Again, I prefer soft, comfortable, natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo, hemp, wool, etc. I find my kids have less sensory-type issues when dressed in comfortable, natural fabrics. I still have a memory of being uncomfortable in church and school wearing synthetic tights and I think I have vowed to keep my kids from ever experiencing that level of discomfort, lol.
  • Extra Layer: This is a layer to wear on top of your regular clothing, but is still thin enough to wear under a heavier coat/outerwear. When dressing the younger kids, think about less bulk for less restricted movement. For this layer you’ll need a light coat, vest, sweater, or fleece. Wool is great for not adding bulk, however there are some good quality fleece extra layers on the market. We are looking again for moisture-wicking, breathability so the kids do not sweat and cause them to chill. Other staples are thick wool socks (we want to avoid layering socks), hat that covers ears, mittens, a scarf or something that covers their neck. Hoods are great as are balaclavas made of wool or wool/silk blends.
  • Outer Layer : (rain/wet/mud) The gear necessary for this type of weather are waterproof boots/wellies, rain pants or bibs, a raincoat with a hood, or you can purchase full one-piece rain suits. Oaki, Kite, and Polarn O. Pyret all sell these types of waterproof suits. For hands, wool mittens and waterproof mittens are necessary. Wool mittens keep hands warm, even while damp.
  • (waterproof/snow) Winter weather requires a bit more. For this season, waterproof snow boots, snow bibs, an insulated, waterproof coat with a hood and waterproof mittens will do the trick. There are so many options and price points for winter gear. My personal preferences are Gore-Tex and high-loft down fill.

Layer, layer, layer

Now, I am going to share a general guideline for layering based on temperature. All kids are different, some run warmer than others. My daughter tends to run on the colder side, and my boys are typically a little warmer so I see them shed layers much faster. The key really is to layer and make sure the layers are easy to shed for the littles as they play and move through the day. A good rule of thumb for checking a child’s temperature is to feel their neck first, then their backs and lastly their hands.

Above 60 degrees—- mid/main layer

60-50 degrees—- base + mid or mid+extra

50-40 degrees—- base + mid + extra

40-25 degrees—- base + mid + outer

below 25 degrees—- base + mid + extra + outer

A Note on Costs

It is easy to find great quality, gently used kids gear online or in your town. I recommend higher quality brands but RARELY do I ever buy new or pay full-price. I also work in a gently-used children’s store on the weekends so I have the perk of finding these items. Kids grow so quickly and barely have time to really do damage to their seasonal wear. If you have multiple children, these items can easily be passed down through several children with normal wear and tear.

Links

Nova Natural— wool baselayers

Patagonia— down filled outerwear, synthetic base layers

LL Bean— down, Gore-tex

Bogs— winter boots and rain boots

Polarn O Pyret— a mix of all winter gear

Kidizen— online source for used children’s clothing

Mercari— another site for used children’s clothing

Patagonia Worn Wear— Patagonia’s resell site

and again your local children’s consignment store, used gear store, or even thrift stores are wonderful resources to outfit your children with all of their seasonal layers!

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5 Easy Immune Boosters for Children

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A couple of posts ago I wrote about the lost art of convalescence. My little kids are going through their developmental time of catching viruses and building their immune systems. At Mira’s 6 month well-check her pediatrician told us to expect about 1 new virus per month and expect fevers of 103 as “normal”. I am a mom who loves home remedies and tries to avoid antibiotics unless we are in a situation where they can not be avoided, so I spend a lot of time learning and trying new things.

As my kids develop their immune systems I have several things I am passionate about and have found great success with. My new favorite thing is cod liver oil. My grandparents always swore by it, I watched my oldest son’s Norwegian family administer it to the kids, and for me, I never quite caught on until reading some incredible information in Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care. This book has several informative chapters on caring for babies and young children through illnesses.

I laugh at myself because I get excited about fat-soluble vitamins and remedies, lol. My five favorites for this season are:

1. Cod liver oil Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K are tremendous for building a healthy immune system. Vitamin A and Vitamin D in adequate doses (so it is truly important to look for a good brand, some commercial brands contain very little Vitamin D) can help to stave off colds, flus, and asthma. Fat-soluble vitamins help with mineral metabolism, cognitive development, intellectual development, and vision. 

When a child runs a fever, the heat and inflammation in the body quickly deplete vitamin A. It is said that a Vitamin A deficiency is why some children have febrile seizures or end up with febrile blindness.

2.Hydration– Staying hydrated is also important, and in the time of a high fever, it is difficult to stay hydrated. Pedialyte and those types of beverages are loaded with crap. I have been mixing up my favorite mineral supplement and having my toddler drink it to stay hydrated. It provides excellent sources of minerals and electrolytes and tastes so yummy. I usually make a glass for myself and just fill his sippy. Babies only need breastmilk or formula.

3. Elderberry Elixir is another super immune booster. I have been interested in elderberry syrups and have researched a lot about elderberry immune-boosting properties. I wasn’t too keen on giving the honey or maple syrups to the little kids and not being able to find where the berries were sourced from was another one of my mind-bogglers, so I was happy to come across this elixir that is farmed in Maine (hubby’s home state), on a biodynamic farm, with a very controlled process.

4. Probiotics— I have blogged and blogged about gut health and probiotics. A healthy gut contains 5-7 pounds of healthy gut bacteria, which secretes vitamins that we absorb, creates anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral substances that fight pathogens and helps us detox and keeps our feel-good chemicals in balance. If our balance gets disrupted then our whole immune system is compromised. A good quality probiotic is vital so that the necessary strains of bacteria survive the digestive tract and juices and can reach the gut to populate and do their job.

5. Outdoor time– Fresh air and sunshine are amazing. 10-30 min per day can work wonders. It supports healthy vitamin d levels. I luckily live in Florida, so our outdoor weather is usually pleasant. However, if you’re in a different climate, appropriate clothing still makes outdoor time possible.

Generally, if it seems like your child is always catching a cold, don’t panic. The advice my pediatrician gave me was that the kids’ immune systems are still developing, and because of that, they are more susceptible to colds and infections. Over time, as long as health is supported with a healthy diet and physical activity their immune systems will catch up and this too shall pass.

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Spring Clean(s)ing

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This week is Spring Break for my son. I live in Florida so the Spring Break celebrations are in full swing, our town is booming! For me, Spring is a time for purging and cleansing. My closet was tackled yesterday, and as I was working on the dreaded closet I remembered that I have been pursuing my diet change for about a month. A cleansing of sorts.

During this month, I have recognized several things about autoimmune diet changes. Lists and suggestions are just that, suggestions. Every body is different, and learning what will heal your body is a matter of trial and error. Within 5 days of the diet switch, Ezra’s labs began trending upward. I will be interested to see how he improves at his next visit. I have been reflecting on the healing of my physical chaos. For my work, we have a FaceBook group where I often post live videos. Occasionally, they will pop up in my feed and I can catch a glimpse or hear my voice from the past, and I can see and hear how off kilter my body truly was.

Anxiety has always been my “diagnosis”. Toward the middle of my pregnancy it was out of control and postpartum I went through many swings. Since removing many foods from my diet, I am learning that foods are often the trigger to my anxiety. For years I searched for answers to the anxiety and panic. I would often feel very jumpy, agitated, racing heart/thoughts, shallow breath, and many other uncomfortable feelings. Until I removed offending foods from my diet, I would have never realized the effect they had on my body. Now, I am very aware of the dis-integration that can occur from eating  certain foods.

Previously, I would awaken jumpy and anxious each morning and sometimes it would take until lunch to calm my inner environment. Now, I am recognizing that the way I interact with certain foods is what causes this feeling. One of my biggest culprits are tree nuts, or nut flours. Especially almond flour. I have made a few treats with these ingredients or I will snack on nuts in the evening before bed. When I do this, I wake up the next morning with the same shakiness.  When these items are eliminated, I wake up with a clear mind and balanced body.

Sugar substitutes, even natural ones also cause this response. My body almost immediately has a fight-or- flight reaction. My muscles will tense in my head, neck and shoulders and often I will have a dull headache. When I eat the foods made with alternative sugars, I  do not feel satiated and will almost immediately go into the mindless eating. All of this occurs just from the taste of sweet, regardless of where the sweetness is sourced from. My body and mind are now having to work together. I am working to make food choices that will feed the good bacteria in my gut so that I can rid the bad. Often, food cravings are linked to the “bad guys” in the gut asking for more “food” to keep them going. Having an awareness that this is whats going on physiologically makes the changes/choices easier. I’m not saying it IS easy. As I run around town doing my errands, driving through Starbucks or Chick-Fil-A are sometimes my biggest fantasies.

When I am having those meltdown moments and am contemplating giving up all my work for convenience or a moment of pleasure, all I have to remember is how I felt for most of last year. A quick mental inventory of the panic/anxiety, shakiness, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain will often clear the cobwebs and remind me of why I chose this path. I know it is probably a weird comparison, however thinking of my nice clean closet, rid of all the clutter and accumulation of the year (s) was my thought this morning. When you have an environment that is tidy, it is easier to notice when something is misplaced and impeding the flow of the space.

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Tweenie-bopper

 

Untitled design-10My oldest son, Keenan was the first love of my life. As soon as I found out I was pregnant with him, my journey into a healthier lifestyle began to emerge. I started looking for alternatives to chemical laden cleaning products, began to think about what I ate, learned to cook, and started yoga by myself in my living room. He was my catalyst to change my own paradigm. I wanted to provide a lifestyle much different from the one I was given as a child.

My mom was a special case, by the time I was 14 years old she had checked completely out of motherhood and I had to grow up pretty quickly. At that point, I relied a lot on vending machines at school and my grandparents’ bologna sandwiches. The next year, I got my first job in an arcade and started grocery shopping for myself. My diet at that time consisted of yogurt, cheese cubes, Granny Smith apples, Twinkies, Healthy Choice frozen pizza bread, and often fast food on the weekends. I also had free rein with the candy at the arcade. My dietary choices were pretty lifeless.

The independence and desire to be different from my family started my journey toward many levels of healing and wellness. For my son, I am seeing his independence emerge– and he is the challenge point in our new dietary changes. He had a similar birth experience as his younger brother, however he rebounded quickly without any major outward symptoms. However, he exhibits minor signs of food sensitivity with near constant eczema and some digestive issues, so having him on board would be ideal. At this point in his life, status in middle school is gained in the lunch room. The “cool” kids get to microwave their macaroni and cheese in the “Eagle’s Nest” hangout, they bring Starbucks each morning, and my son’s newest obsession is to buy a box of Girl Scout cookies from a friend to share. Although, much to my surprise he did buy the gluten- free version.

Peer pressure is real. Keenan typically does a good job leading and rising above much of what he hears, although there are some moments. Food and technology are our current battles. The meltdown of this past weekend was because of a habit change. We are eating all of our meals at home, and a usual habit would be to go out to a restaurant. Keenan was craving a restaurant and had to vocalize how we were ruining his life by going lectin- free–oh, the drama ;). Ezra will eat whatever we place in front of him, and Keenan was that way when he was one.

The only thing I know to do as a parent is give boundaries, be flexible when it is appropriate, and leading by example. Hopefully, witnessing his brother’s health changes will speak to him. At least on a subconscious level. I have been playing around with recipes, adapting a few things like chicken nuggets or chocolate chip cookies to fit in our parameters so he does not feel completely deprived. I also occasionally use the changes to educate him further on why we make these choices– maybe I’ll steer him to research the poultry or wheat industry for one of his next projects. Mom tactics at their best!