health · Leo


On Tuesday afternoon we took Leo to the doctor for a follow-up from last week’s sickness and to also talk about next steps with his breathing issues.  The doctor thinks that Leo does have asthma and recommended a couple steps:

  • We are starting twice-daily inhaled steroids.  These are a much less potent dose, so we shouldn’t see any of the side effects (sleeplessness, ‘roid rage) that we had before.  (If we do she’ll adjust the dosage down some more.)  Thankfully we were also able to get a valved holding chamber inhaler, which means he can breathe in the steroids in 5 or 6 breaths rather than spend 7-10 minutes on the nebulizer every morning and evening.  We’ll do the steroids through the winter months and then meet again with the doctor.  Depending on how Leo’s done (if he’s had flare ups, how many, etc.) we might be able to lay off the steroids for awhile or keep them going.
Leo’s fancy new inhaler – we attach a normal asthma inhaler to the end, puff it into the spacer, and he breathes in the meds through the mask.
  • If Leo has a flare-up we’ll also add in albuterol breathing treatments with the nebulizer.  Basically the steroids keep inflammation in the bronchial tubes down.  Albuterol relaxes the muscles around the bronchial tubes.  If he has a flare-up that albuterol can’t manage, we’ll have to do some oral steroids again.
  • Leo’s case is a little perplexing in that neither Dave or I or either of our families has a history of asthma.  But the doctor said she typically does see kids grow out of this (needing treatments less and less as they get older).  I’m thankful that his asthma is clearly not exercise-induced, as the kid loves to be busy and moving.  And I’m hopeful that his activity will actually be a big strength for him in keeping his lungs strong.
  • I’ve started keeping a breathing log for Leo, chronicling dates we’ve used the nebulizer and any triggers we saw.  Thankfully I blog, so I was able to find ALL the previous times we’d used the nebulizer and what his symptoms were beforehand.  In every other case Leo started off with a cold and then spiraled into wheezing.  This last time he had no cold symptoms but we had cleaned out the garage the day before and there had been a lot of dust.
  • Leo still has some junk in his lungs from this last round, so we’re continuing twice-daily albuterol treatments for a few days as well as adding in the steroids.

The most helpful thing in all of this was our awesome neighbor, Amanda.  She’s a good friend and our boys love to play together.  Her son has asthma as well and does inhaled steroids and nebulizer treatments.  She talked to us on Monday about what they do for their son and things they’ve learned from doctors.  It was hugely helpful for us to have that resource and to be prepared going in about what the doctor would say.  Definitely minimized anxiety and also just added clarity to the situation.

So that’s the update on Leo.  Thankfully the steroid symptoms wore off as soon as he stopped taking them.  Now we’re just trying to work through the time-change adjustment.  Leo’s internal body clock seems stuck in the old time… which means early wake-ups and skipped naps.  He’s definitely prepping us for a newborn!


our new toy

Welcome to the family, nebulizer!


Remember 2 weeks ago when Leo had that super nasty cold that left him wheezing and on breathing treatments?  On Tuesday night it started to creep back in – just with a night of coughing – and by Wednesday evening Leo was back in full-on wheeze mode: miserable, needy, and chest-heaving.  Poor friend.  We started breathing treatments again right away and thank goodness, as Wednesday night was awful.  He was wheezing to rival when he had RSV (maybe worse) and had a fever, too.  Thursday he was still needy and tired, but breathing better, so we kept the treatments up.  We also checked in with the doctor, who gave us a prescription refill and told us to come in if we didn’t continue to see improvement.

In the meantime, we were borrowing our neighbor’s nebulizer machine for treatments.  Their son has allergies and asthma, so they use it as needed but were happy to share it with us.  However, Thursday afternoon his allergies flared up, so they needed the machine back and we decided to just go ahead and get our own machine, especially since we’ve been needing it lately.  A short walk to the medical supply store and ol’ Nebby was home to stay.

On a sidenote, yes, we do plan on asking the nurse or doctor if we should be concerned that Leo’s needed breathing treatments so much recently (RSV in March, cold in May, cold again now) or if it’s not a big deal.  In any case, we’re super grateful for breathing treatments and nebulizers and gracious neighbors and medical supply stores… and for little boys who are starting to get their spunk back!


jojoba oil

About three months ago Dave and I ran out of face moisturizer.  We had been using Desert Essence moisturizer, which we liked well enough.  But when we ran out I didn’t exactly want to buy more, as it still had a bunch of ingredients I couldn’t pronounce.  Instead, I grabbed the extra virgin coconut oil out of the cupboard, scraped out a small amount (about the size of my pinky nail), warmed it in my palms, then rubbed it on my face/neck!  At first I was a little nervous that oil would beget acne.  Instead, my skin felt super soft, smelled great, and (at least in my opinion) had better color.  I told Dave to give it a try and we were sold on oil.

I did a little research for the best face oil and saw that jojoba oil is really good for skin (coconut oil is good, too, but I thought it would be fun to try something new).  We bought a small bottle and added a few drops of lemongrass extract, both for the nice smell and the astringent qualities.  Every morning we squirt 2-3 drops out into our palms and rub on.  It’s wonderfully relaxing rubbing oil on your face!  Spa-like.


The oil was $9 and the extract $14.  The extract isn’t essential – you could do straight oil and be totally fine.  But it will last since you only use a few drops in the bottle of oil.  And the oil lasts a long time, too, as a tiny bit goes a long way (we both us it daily and we haven’t even used a quarter of the bottle yet).  That means the oil feels better, smells better, makes your skin better (in my opinion), and costs less!

I would really recommend trying oil instead of regular moisturizer.  You don’t need much, so a small bottle lasts a long time.  And it feels really luxurious.  Best of all, in three months I’ve only noticed improvements in my skin!

health · Leo

y’all gonna make me lose my mind

“y’all” being “infected ears”

It’s been some rough days over here.  There aren’t potatoes in the living room (yet) but there are frayed nerves, dirty jammies, Dora episodes, tired parents, and scattered toys.  There are vials of medicine and dirty and clean medicine droppers every which way.

I used my handy-dandy Sherlock skills to figure out Leo’s not allergic to amoxicillin.  Nope, he’s allergic to ibuprofen.  Yesterday morning Leo’s rash was worse, which was when I realized, “hey, this looks like the rash he had last time he had an ear infection, when we though the rash was caused by his immunizations, but was probably caused by the ding-dang ibuprofen we were giving him.”  So we’re off the ibuprofen, which is perfect because I bought a brand new bottle Sunday and opened it so we would be ready for it during the night.  We have managed to evade the open-sores-horrific-diaper rash that came with last time.  So there’s that at least.

And in the midst of this, Leo’s spouted off his first words: “right there.”  So unbelievably precious.  (Video coming soon?  You betcha.)  Technically “mmm” for “moo” came first (as in “what does a cow say?”) but does “mmm” count as a word?  I’m not sure.

It’s warm out, which means we can take lots of walks, which tends to chill Leo out and help him forget about his aching ears.  Global warming win!  And Leo took a superstar nap yesterday, which gives me hope that things are on the up and up.

Blip in the radar, I know.  But we want peace and happy, nonrashy, nonachey babies back.  Up in here.  Up in here.

health · Leo

natural cold medicine

Leo hasn’t been 100% since he got sick on Saturday night.  During the day he’s pretty much normal, minus a little snot and some hoarseness.  But at night he either sleeps really well or has a terrible time – waking up and staying up.  On Monday night he was up again, miserable and sad.  From his cry we could tell that he probably had a sore throat – he just sounded hoarse.  I made a late night run to CVS to see what I could find.  Happily, they carried Zarbee’s All-Natural Children’s Cough Syrup.

I hadn’t heard of this before but was really pleased when I found it.  It’s basically a honey elixir made with buckwheat, dark honeys, water, Vitamin C, fruit acid, and zinc.  Because Leo is now one, he could have some.  While Dave and I aren’t anti-medicine, we try to find natural remedies and try them first.  So we were really happy to find this medicine and for it to be so easily accessible at CVS!  (That being said, when I have a nasty head cold I grab Mucinex.  I can’t stand having a stuffy nose and Mucinex always takes care of it.  Fast.  It is always most definitely not “natural.”)

Zarbee’s also makes adult cough medicine.  We’ve also used Sambucol when we’ve gotten sick, with really good results.  That is also at CVS and also Walmart.

What do you use when you’re getting sick?  What do you give your kids?



Since Leo was born, I’ve had two cavities.  Prior to my pregnancy, I hadn’t had a cavity since I was about 8.  I asked my dentist what I could do and he said that sometimes during pregnancy the body will rob calcium from the mother to give to the baby.  The first place the calcium is taken in from the teeth.  He suggested I take a calcium supplement and recommended either ground bone meal or calcium lactate.  The ground bone meal kind of freaked me out (it’s literally a bag of powdered bone)

I don’t really love the idea of adding ground bone to smoothies or soup or whatever.  The dentist thought this would be the best vitamin with how the calcium and magnesium is balanced:

But at $36.29, it was a little pricey.  Instead, I picked up a supplement from Walmart.  It might not be as high quality, but I think it will work, especially since I’m trying to add calcium from food as well (kale, spinach, sesame seeds, etc.).

Bonus: it was less than $6!

Here’s hoping that in 6 months when I go back to the dentist I won’t have another cavity!  (At least both of them have been so small I haven’t had to be numbed for the drilling.)

Have you ever had a cavity?  Do you take any supplements?

d.i.y. · health

d.i.y. shampoo

I love a good do-it-yourself project that makes something either 1) cheaper or 2) more natural.  The best is when it does both!

I had recently debated going the no-shampoo route, using apple cider vinegar and baking soda (I had heard about this from a couple different people).  However, I had a couple big reservations:

  • People who go the no-shampoo route say it takes 4-6 weeks for your hair to acclimate.  4-6 weeks of greasy hair?
  • My sister tried it and wasn’t pleased with her results.  We have identical hair.

Instead, I found a recipe for coconut milk shampoo.  I liked this because it still used real soap (natural castile soap) but also had coconut milk and a little oil, so I figured my hair wouldn’t get dried out either.  After I finally used up the last of my old shampoo, I mixed up a batch:

  • 1/4c. coconut milk (not light)
  • 1/3c. liquid castile soap (I bought the unscented because I had planned on adding essential oils.  In the future I’ll buy the lavender.)
  • 1t. olive oil

You have the option of adding essential oils (10-20 drops), which I was planning on doing.  And then I priced out essential oils and saw how expensive they were, so that got tabled.

I poured it into my old shampoo bottle and shook it up.  I make sure to shake the bottle before I use it, to keep it mixed.  I love this shampoo.  My hair feels and smells clean.  It also feels lighter than it did before.  It styles as usual, so far isn’t frizzy (we’ll see as the summer progresses), and looks normal.  My hair has no volume to speak of, so I can’t vouch if it makes hair flat or not.  But I’ll definitely be keeping this recipe and using this as our shampoo from here on out.  Dave also uses it and likes it.

Next week I want to do an update post on all our past d.i.y. projects – if we still do them, how we like them, which we’ve ditched!

What shampoo do you use?