Winter Supplements

It’s cold and flu season again. With both boys in preschool this year, I expect them to bring home their share of germs this winter. While the occasional cold or tummy bug is rather unavoidable, there are some things you can do to help your body deal with the onslaught of germs that bombard us over the fall and winter seasons. I tend to get a little lax about our supplement taking over the spring and summer, but once the weather turns cold and I start watching my friends dropping like flies from this that and the other cold or flu, I redouble my efforts to get some immune boosting nutrition into myself and my kids. My husband is another story. I tell him why he should take them and make them available, but he is an adult and if he chooses to forgo the Fermented Cod Liver oil, that is his choice. Before I go into what my family takes and why, please remember that I am a mom, not a medical professional. This blog is to be used for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please do your own research and use your own good judgment when making decisions on what supplements to include in your family’s regimen.

Here’s what I try to get into myself and my kids every day during the fall and winter months.

Left to right, back to front they are: Emergen-C, Rainbow Light Chewable Nutri-Stars, Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins, Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil Gummy Fish, Natural Factors Double Strength Acidophilus & Bifidus, Nature’s Bounty Chewable Vitamin C, Honey Pickled Garlic Cloves, Blue Ice Liquid Fermented Cod Liver Oil, Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup, and Food Science Mega Probiotic Chewables.


I use Rainbow Light multivitamins because they are a food based vitamins and much easier to digest and easier for your body to use. Here is some good info on why food based supplements are better than their synthetic counterparts. The boys each get one chewable star. I take 6 of the prenatal vitamins because I am still nursing.

Vitamin C

I drink about 2 packets of Emergen-C a day. The boys each get one chewable vitamin C, unless I suspect a bug coming on, and then I’ll give them two. Both of these products contain synthetic vitamin C, and I am looking for a better natural source. Here is a WebMD article about the many immune boosting benefits of Vitamin C.


The boys each get two chewable probiotics during the winter, again, unless I feel a bug is coming on. Then I might give them 3 or 4. Their chewables contain 2.25 billion organisms/tablet. I take 2 of the Natural Factors, which contain 10 billion organism/pill. If I’m getting sick, I’ll take an extra one. From what I’ve read, it is pretty hard to overdose on probiotics. Your digestive system is a pretty hostile environment before they get to your intestines where they want to set up house keeping, so it’s important to take doses in the billions and hope that about half survive to get to your gut.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

High Vitamin Cod Liver Oil is probably one of the most important items in my arsenal. Almost all cod liver oils have had the naturally occurring vitamins removed and then replaces with synthetic vitamins. From what I understand, Green Pasture’s Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil is the only brand that does not use this process, and retains all of the naturally occurring vitamins with no synthetic additions. The Weston A. Price Foundation has a ton of really good information on why cod liver oil is such an important supplement. We take it more for the vitamins A and D than for the omega 3’s. The vitamins are very concentrated in this product, so only a very small dose is needed. This is good because it’s a little pricy. If you’re looking to achieve a better omega 6:3 ratio, consider actively decreasing the amount of omega 6 you’re taking in, rather than supplementing with extra omega 3. I got the gummy fish for the boys, but wouldn’t you know they’d rather take the liquid stuff from the oral syringe then eat the gummys. So each of the boys gets 1/2 tsp, and I’m eating the gummy fish. Being a nursing mother, I’m taking 3 a day. The link above also has dosing information and sources.


Alas, I can not get my kids to take garlic, even prepared this way. Last winter when I was pregnant and terrified of the swine flu, but even more terrified of the swine flu vaccine, I was taking about 1 clove of crushed garlic in a spoonful of honey daily. It was horrible. I was sensitive to tastes and smells anyway due to pregnancy, and I almost couldn’t get it down. And then I’d have garlic burps for the rest of the day. No fun. I wish I had heard of this preperation then, because it is much more palatable. Garlic is a powerful antiviral, antibiotic, and immune booster. When Owen came down with a very mild case of the flu last year, I attribute it mostly to the garlic I was taking that I didn’t get it at all. This website has a lot of information about the health benefits of garlic, as well as the how and why if you’re interested in that kind of thing. To make honey pickled garlic, peel a bunch of garlic cloves. Place them in a jar. Pour raw local honey over the garlic to cover. Place a lid on the jar. Put in the fridge and ignore for several days. The honey softens the garlic and takes out all the bite. You end up with a delicious mild clove, and the garlic infused honey is also powerfully healing. I take about two cloves a day, and a spoon full of the honey. I’d take extra if I’m fighting off illness.

Black Elderberry Syrup

Black Elderberry Syrup is the last of my “Big Guns”. I actually only pull this out if someone is sick, or getting sick. Then everyone in the family gets a daily dose until the danger is over. Yes, even Brad. He’ll take it if I bring the spoon to him. Black Elderberries are unusually rich in flavanoids which act as powerful antioxidents and immune boosters. This website has more information than you could possibly hope for about the health benefits of the Black Elderberry.

That’s our winter supplement regimen. It’s not as bad as it looks. The boys love their chewable vitamins, and they don’t get those until they’ve taken their CLO. In addition to immune boosting supplements, it’s important to eat well, drink water, get plenty of sleep, avoid stress, and get out side as often as possible. We do all of these things with varying degrees of success, but we try. What do you do to keep your family healthy through the cold and flu season?

Inniswood Gardens

Columbus has a wonderful Metro Park system. And Inniswood Gardens is one of my favorites. So when Owen was asking last week if we could go, I was more than happy to say yes! Inniswoods is a botanical gardens. There are no playgrounds, but still plenty for kids to do and see.

The boys ran ahead with Daddy,

while Aria and I came along at our own pace.

The first stop is always the water tower. There is a button on the back side that turns on the water for a couple of minutes. The boys play in the water and use plastic slats to direct the flow.

Another favorite is the tree house. It’s insanely cute, and the boys have a great time climbing up in it and running across the rope bridge behind it.Notice the biggest kid is having as much fun as the little ones.

This beautiful garden has a Native American creation story etched into the stone pathway. You follow the numbers around the garden and read the story as you go. It’s a beautiful story of how the wife of the Chief of the Skypeople fell through a hole in the sky to the water below, and the water creatures had to swim to the bottom of the ocean to bring up earth for her to stand on. The earth was placed on a turtles back so the woman could have a place to stand, and that became the whole world.

The gardens change with the seasons, so there is always something new to see. Today there were mums all over, and they were the most brilliant colors.

This is the knot hedge in the herb garden.

And there is lots of open space for rolling down hills.

And tons of interesting water features.

As a family, we love spending time with nature, and with each other.

Some Gratuitous Baby Pictures

Just because she’s so cute!!!

Aria Elizabeth’s Birth Story

Aria’s Birth Story: A lesson in relinquishing control

With Connor’s birth being so fast and furious, I was incredibly paranoid the whole last month of not recognizing labor in time and the midwife missing it entirely. I also had a lot of intuitive feelings which I did recognize as most likely wishful thinking about the baby arriving a little early (Owen was a week late, and Connor came on his due date). With Christmas fast approaching, the earlier this baby was born the more likely I’d feel up for attending family functions and Christmas activities.

I’d been contracting off and on for weeks, and had had my midwife and doula on high alert two or three times already. On Sunday evening, Dec 13th, I started having contractions again, about 10 minutes apart, for a couple of hours. Kathy, my midwife, told me to drink a glass of Gatorade, take a bath, and call her back if things changed at all. Well the bath calmed things down and I went to bed. I woke up at about 12:30 am with contractions 5 minutes apart, and pretty darn serious. I woke up Brad and had him make up the bed. I called Kathy, but she wasn’t convinced this was the real thing yet, and felt I was probably still doing some preparatory work. With Connor’s 3.5 hour birth seared in my memory, and Kathy living an hour away, I finally called her back at 2:00 and asked her to come. I also called Kim, my doula, who had woken up about 20 minutes earlier thinking about me and was waiting for my call. It was a beautiful night for the middle of December, and we walked around the apartment complex for a while, and sat on the birth ball for a while. When Kathy arrived she checked me and I was at a 3, but not very effaced and still firm. She still thought it might be early, but I was pretty convinced this was it. By 7:00am I was very tired, having gotten no sleep all night, and alternating sitting on the birth ball and walking around the apartment complex. Kathy suggested I try to lay down and if I was able to sleep at all, they would sneak out, and I should call them back if things started to pick up again. Disappointed, but very tired, I went to bed. I slept off and on for about two hours, when contractions started picking up again in intensity and frequency and I really couldn’t sleep. I got up around 9:00 and sat on the birth ball, reading online and timing contractions. By noon, I was again convinced that this was it, and called my birth team again.

Everyone came back. Kim had gone straight to work from my house that morning, so she had had no sleep at all, and Kathy had an hour drive home and about an hour and a half of sleep before heading back my way. After only 2ish hours of sleep myself, I was still tired, but wanted so badly to meet this baby. At about 2:30, Kathy checked me again, and I was still at a 3. 14 hours after calling her the first time, I had made zero progress. I was devastated. Kathy asked if I was able to let go of the idea of having this baby today. I nodded, and sniffled, and wiped some tears from my face. Kathy and Kim both said to go ahead and cry. It’s been hard work, and sometimes letting go and having a good cry can help things along. So I cried. Brad held me while I sobbed. I was embarrassed for having called everyone too early, and for not knowing real labor from prodromal even though it was my third baby and second natural birth. I was exhausted from the previous 14 hours of work that led to no progress, and I was so very disappointed that I was not moments away from holding my daughter like I thought I should be. When I ran out of tears, Kathy told Brad and I to have a nice dinner out just the two of us, and to get a good night’s sleep. Baby would come when she was ready, and not a moment sooner. I sniffed and nodded and blew my nose, and my birth team went home…again. I took a nap. When my neighbor got home from work that evening we asked her to watch the boys so we could get out of the house. I had my heart set on Spagio’s lobster bisque and brie pizza. When we got to the restaurant, we discovered that Spagio’s is closed on Mondays. I knew this. I had run into this very problem before. But of course it never crossed my mind on the way there, and my heart sank as we approached the darkened entrance. I stood there in front of the locked doors trying very hard not to cry again, and thinking desperately of another restaurant that sounded remotely appetizing. Brad suggested steak. It didn’t sound as good as lobster bisque, but it sounded better than going home and making macaroni and cheese, so we went to Texas Roadhouse and had a filet and mashed potatoes. It was very good, and we had a nice time, even though it wasn’t the bisque I was longing for. I continued having pretty intense contractions throughout the evening, but they were much farther apart then they had been. When we got home I went to bed while Brad got the boys from the neighbors and did their bedtime routine. I slept better that night then I had in 3 months.

I woke the next morning at about 6:00, again with contractions too intense to sleep through and close enough together to make me thing that this could be the real deal. I timed contractions for about an hour. I was pretty sure this was it, but still dubious due to my previous history of crying “wolf”, so I took myself up to the bathroom for a self check. I could tell at once that my cervix was much softer, easier to reach, and there had definitely been progress. I called my birth team out again, for the third time in less than two days. Kim arrived, followed shortly by Mandy, Kathy’s new apprentice. I put my birth music on the computer, and sat on the birth ball. Brad was a wonderful support, rubbing my back and bringing me drinks. When Kathy arrived, I could tell she was still slightly skeptical, as I was chatting easily between contractions, and focused but very relaxed during them. But she is a dear, and didn’t say anything about it, just unpacked her gear and listened to the baby with the Doppler and let me go on about my business. The contractions were getting longer and stronger, but remaining about 5 minutes apart. I’m not really sure on the frequency, I had given up timing them quite a while ago. At around 10:00, I started feeling a little pushy at the peak of some of the stronger contractions, and I mentioned this to Kathy. She checked me again, and I was at 9 cm, so we went upstairs to the bedroom where Brad had double made the bed with a layer of plastic between the nice sheets and the old ones. Someone had brought up the birth ball, so after a few contractions leaning against the dresser I felt like I had been making better progress sitting. I sat back down on the birth ball, but that first contraction resulted in a major hip cramp, so I nixed that idea. I spent the next few contractions trying to find a position that was comfortable. I tried leaning on the bed. I tried squatting holding onto the bed – that hurt a lot. I tried kneeling on the bed with my upper body supported on a stack of pillows but felt like I couldn’t really relax my legs and bottom that way. I ended up with Brad sitting against the headboard, and me sitting between his legs and leaning back against him. I could relax my body and let the contractions work, and I had really wanted to be in a position where I could catch the baby myself, and this would work well for that.

Pushing this baby out was very different than when Connor was born. With Connor I spent the 5 minute ride to the hospital trying desperately *not* to push, and he was born anyway, with almost no conscious effort on my part. Pushing this baby out was hard work, and crowning was painful. Upon checking her notes Kim said I was only pushing for about 8 minutes, but it felt like a lot longer. Brad was really helpful while I was pushing. He rubbed my arms and stroked my hair between contractions, and during contractions he held me tight and was very grounding, giving me something to anchor against as I pushed. My water broke only a couple of minutes before the baby was born with a huge pop and a gush. As I felt the baby’s head move down, I was able to reach down and feel her crowning, and once I pushed the head out the rest of her body followed easily and I caught her and lifted her to my tummy.

She wasn’t crying, but she was squirming and cooing and Kathy assured me that she was fine, just rub her back and talk to her. The placenta delivered shortly after. Within about 10 minutes Aria was making smacking and sucking noises, so I put her to my breast and she latched right on.

Brad cut the cord. Kathy, Kim and Mandy went downstairs then to inspect the placenta and let Brad and I have some alone time with the newest member of our family. Aria was absolutely perfect. At 6 lbs 11 oz she was the smallest of my three babies, and every tiny bit of her was exquisitely beautiful. After a few wonderful hours, Mandy drew an herbal bath for me and the baby, and then they did the newborn exam, cleaned up all the birth supplies, started a load of laundry, tucked me and the baby into a nice clean bed, and left us to revel in the bliss of a tiny new life.

Everything about Arias birth was so peaceful and perfect. After Connor’s rocket like entrance into the world, I had some pretty definite ideas about how this birth should go, but it wasn’t until I let go of my preconceptions and let the baby take over that things began to get underway. Aria Elizabeth Martin was born at 10:34 am on Tuesday, December 15th. 6lbs 11oz, and 20 inches long, and I am madly in love with her.

Dawn and Direction

It has long been a philosophy of mine to never have too many concrete plans, because nothing ever goes the way you plan it anyway. On the other hand, I feel you should always have some direction to your life, because without a direction, you can’t get anywhere. This is something that comes to the front of my mind as I’m sure it does for many as the new year turns over. I hate resolutions. Everyone brakes them by the time February is over anyway, so they seem rather pointless to me. I like the idea of setting goals, but I’ve always thought it was a cop-out to wait until Jan. 1 to set a new goal. Just start already! So I bring to you my New Years Direction. A combination of goals and wishes for my life and my family.

1) Live more mindfully.
To me, living mindfully means giving your actions purpose, and not just functioning on autopilot. It means making conscious decisions about what I do with my time, what I bring into my home, what I put into my body, the attitude I take with my children.

2) Eat more locally.
I don’t begin to pretend that we’ll give up buying bananas this year. It’s one of the only things resembling a plant that my three year old will eat. But I do want to make a point to shop locally when possible: farmers markets, local craftsmen, local family owned shops. This decreases the amount of transportation needed to get things from where they were made/grown to me, since they were made right here. I’d also like to try to purchase locally in bulk to put up for the winter, to decrease my reliance on foreign and Californian produce in the colder months.

3) Maintain a successful container garden.
Last summer the two tomato plants I started in pots by my front door died a tragic and untimely death due to lack of water or caring on my part. I don’t have visions of a huge vegetable garden in my small apartment landscaping, but I would like to coax a few plants to maturity and eat something that I grew.

4) Find a workable system for recycling.
My apartment community does not recycle. The truck does not pick up for us at all, so if I want to recycle I need to load it into the car and drop it off myself. The nearest place to drop off recyclables is behind the grocery store that I shop at weekly. This is about as convenient as it gets, which is nice. However, my kitchen is so small, I have yet to figure a place to store the recycling until drop off time that does not really cramp the flow of the kitchen. My other obstacle is remembering to put the recycling in the car before I leave for the grocery. Oh yeah, and to bring my cloth bags too.

5) Move my body.
Weather making time for yoga in the morning, taking the kids for a walk, or running with them in the park instead of sitting on my blanket, I want to try to find more ways to move my body while doing things we’re already doing.

A new year feels like a new dawn. A new chance. A time to reflect on the previous year, and make choices about the coming year. Watching the new year come in mindfully is like being up early and watching the sun come up. At first everything is dark and hazy, only a hint or a promise of what is yet to come. Before you see the sun, the sky lightens, and things around you begin to take shape. As the sun peaks over the horizon the world is illuminated and all possibilities are bright and crisp. You only have to look around, and decide what you want to do.


The house is clean, the bags are packed, and 5:00 is going to come early tomorrow. We’re headed to Cancun, Mexico for a week’s relaxation and adventure with my family. I’ll be back after the new year. So enjoy your down time between Christmas and New Years, and have a wonderful week.

Menu Planning 12/21/2008

Menu planning is one of the areas of homemaking that I really struggle to keep up with, but it makes such a difference when I take the time to do it. Menu planning serves so many purposes. It saves a lot of money by utilizing what you already have on hand and reducing the amount of waste. It saves time spent trying to decide what to have for dinner and being prepared with things that need done ahead of time. It saves frustration of not having advanced steps ready (ever forget to soak the beans or pull the chicken out of the freezer to defrost?) and it makes scratch cooking so much easier.

I always plan my weeks meals around what I already have in the pantry. First I check the upstairs freezer for any leftovers that need used up. Right now I have pork roast, chicken breast, turkey, and pinto beans in the freezer already cooked and just needing thawed and thrown into a recipe. If there is nothing suitable in the kitchen freezer, I check the downstairs freezer. It has whole chickens, one turkey, a few potroast cuts of beef, a little ground beef, and several packages of boneless skinless chicken breasts. I also plan for leftovers to be rolled into other meals. If I roast a chicken at the begining of the week, I plan at least two other meals that week that use cooked chicken such as soup or cassarole. AllRecipes and RecipeZaar are great websites for finding recipes to use what you already have in the house. Durring my weekly grocery shop, I shop to stock the pantry and freezer, not for specific meals. If there are a few ingredients or spices that I need for something specific I’ll go ahead and pick those up, but I don’t buy a whole meals worth of ingredients in the week that I make that meal. This saves a lot of money because I try to plan meals that use spices I typically have on hand, or just buy small amounts of spices/ingredients if it’s something i don’t use often. Also, say I was planning a chicken meal that needs boneless, skinless chicken breasts. These are usually $4.50/lb making them a fairly expensive (to our family anyway) cut of meat. But several weeks ago they were on sale for $1.88/lb, and I got 6 packages. So now I already have chicken in the freezer and don’t need to pay full price. So I plan all of my shopping trips around what’s on sale, and I plan my menus around what’s in the freezer.

This weeks menu:
I have pork roast, cooked diced chicken breast, and pinto beans in the freezer that I pulled into the fridge to defrost.

Sunday: Pork roast with gravy, sweet potatoes, peas
Monday: Crockpot pork and beans, popcorn cauliflower, applesauce
Tuesday: Chicken noodle soup, bread, kale
Wednesday: Christmas Eve dinner with family
Thursday: Christmas Day dinner with family
Friday: BBQ chicke pizza
Saturday: we leave on vacation. Cancun here we come!!