If you’re anything like us as a parents, when you see a really cute outfit or jacket (and by cute, we mean something that has ears or the like on it), you can’t resist buying it for your littles.
So we bought Pickles a faux sherpa fox jacket last year. It has ears and was super soft…. noticed I said WAS soft – lol. Over the course of the winter it started becoming a little matted from wear, which can be expected. Big mistake was letting him wear it in the fall while raking leaves because when he decided to throw leaves over himself, said jacket was no longer soft nor clean… ugh. So into the washer it went and even though we didn’t run it into the dryer, it still came out looking like a cat with mange. We still let him wear it (because it’s his favorite jacket) despite our better judgement, but it came to a point where we decided something needed to be done (without spending money on dry cleaning it or something like that).
I figured there HAS to be some way to revive this poorly looking faux sherpa jacket! I grabbed an old toothbrush and figured that may do the trick… nope. Hmmm… next I grabbed a hairbrush (you know, one of those with the little nubs on the end of the bristles)… um, definitely no – it only tangled into the coat with no movement. Oh, a fuzz buster! That surely would do the trick… uh no, not really. And then I remembered, I had this old hairbrush that was like boar bristles style. Sure enough that helped loosen the faux sherpa enough that I could then get the other hairbrush with the nubs to work too. So it was the combo of them both that really did the trick. In the picture, the sleeve on the left is the “After,” and the sleeve on the right is the “Before.”
So tada! Eureka! You can revive a faux sherpa jacket! Fair warning though, it does take some time and patience to endure brushing an entire jacket. Happy brushing!!
In the world of ‘scary things’ for your kids, nothing elicits quite a response like going to the dentist. It can be quite a nerve wracking experience for your child despite your best intentions to lower the anxiety levels. The good news, though, is that you can do some things ahead of time to help prepare them and set expectations as well as educate yourself so you make the best decisions possible for your child.
Prepare Financially and Mentally
As that parent trying to make the best decisions possible for your child, you are going to have to pull from both financial and mental reserves at some capacity.
Financially you may be buying books, changing your diet to help stop tooth decay, buying holistic products to try to help prevent further cavities or reverse the cavities in your child’s mouth. You may also be scheduling consults with multiple dentists, getting x-rays, getting consults from holistic dentists or joining classes online to learn more about caring for your child’s teeth.
It can be expensive, so prepare to explore options and decide what fits your budget and time constraints, but recognize you may have to stretch your wallet a bit to get everything you need to feel confident about the decisions your making and the pediatric dentist you have selected. The year we had Pickles dental work done we maxxed out our Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and got the dental work and some of the dental products covered that way.
Mentally you will need to prepare yourself for your inner guilt trip. As you read and learn you will inevitably find out that there are things you are doing that have unintentionally contributed to your child’s teeth decay. Maybe it was the gummy snacks they ate regularly or that a lip tie caused breast milk to pool in their mouth during naps which caused decay. You will have to learn to fight that inner chatter, recognize you are doing what you can now and that you can do better going forward. First things first, however, you need to deal with the situation you are currently in.
You will also need to mentally prepare yourself for information overload. Recognize your limitations. Allow yourself to browse books and information, look at specific information related to your specific circumstance, and to not know everything there is to know. Separate information out into ‘information I need to know now’ and ‘information I am interested in looking at in the future.’ Allow yourself to focus.
There is a lot of information waiting to be consumed. Focus on expanding your understanding of dentistry to holistic dental care. Learn about PH levels, Xylitol, Tongue and Lip ties, myofunctional mouth guards, filling options, ozone treatments, silver diamine fluoride, diet changes etc. There is much more to dental work than tradition silver or white fillings or getting teeth pulled and root canaled. See the end of this blog for resources.
Find a ‘Good’ Pediatric Dental Practice
We have gone to three different practices and have driven various distances to ensure we find the right fit. A ‘good’ pediatric dental practice will:
Answer their phone
Spend time with you on the phone to answer any and all your questions
Be compassionate and will not shame you of belittle you
Have a variety of ways to make your child comfortable (some have themed rooms, give the kids sunglasses to wear, have TV’s on the ceilings with cartoons, allow your child’s favorite stuffed animal, have therapy dogs visiting the rooms, and/or have balloons or a toy chest at the end for the kid to pick out a toy)
Have a variety of options for your child’s dental work (for example, there are SMART fillings, temporary filling, traditional silver fillings, white fillings and ceramic fillings – each having their own pros/cons)
Focus on minimally invasive dental work
Once you have found ‘good’ pediatric dental practices, schedule consults in tandem and meet the practices. Do they give you a sense of confidence? Do you trust them? Or are you questioning what they say? Unsure they are suggesting the right course of action? Get as much information as you can from the practices, ask all your questions, and trust your gut intuition as a parent. Get second and third opinions to validate information that you are trusting. Check in with other parents who have had similar work done for the children and get validation that way as well.
Prepare Your Child
Once you have a pediatric dentist identified and have confirmed and validated the work that needs to be done, you can start preparing your child at home for the dental work. This can be done through:
Use the opportunity to engage in imaginative play. Sit on the floor and let your child lay into your legs while they open their mouths and you use different types of toothbrushes to poke around, brush their teeth, floss, count their teeth, etc. Do this multiple times daily. At the end pretend to pick out a toy and make sure they know they did a good job!
Pickles can get anxious quickly if he does not like something and he tends to want to resolve it immediately. For example, with the Bliss Energetics Super Remineralizing Ozonated Tooth Putty I mentioned above he would beg for us to get it out of his teeth and he would use his tongue to try to get it out – or he would ask for water or something to eat to get rid of the taste. One things we found that was helpful was practicing breathing exercises.
Breathing exercises were already familiar to Pickles. We had introduced him to the idea during his temper tantrum stage when we would read Little Monkey Calms Down. Basically, whenever he is getting anxious we repeat the word “breathe” a few times softly and try to count in between breathes so he takes those nice deep breathes and can focus his attention there.
Doing these breathing exercises in preparation for dental work can be helpful because it gives you a tool you can use at home and at the dentist office; something familiar.
As noted above Pickles get anxious about anything he does not like. We knew going into our dental appointment with him that would have nitrous over his nose and numbness and pressure in his mouth (since they were putting a cap on one tooth and doing an extraction). Ahead of the dental appointment we would gently push on his teeth and the roof of his mouth to get him familiar with some of what was to come. We also bought Orajel NonMedicated Cooling Teething Gel to put on his teeth, gums, tongue and lips so that he could taste something weird and have a weird sensation of cooling in his mouth. He hated it initially, but we used the opportunity to practice playing dentist and his breathing exercises.
Within 10 minutes the cooling sensation would be gone and he would exclaim, “It’s gone! How it do that?! It just go away!” We would use the opportunity to remind him whatever he is feeling at the dental office will be like that – temporary.
As a parent you have a lot of knowledge now about what is going on and what to expect. You do not need to share all this information with your child. In fact, you should avoid oversharing. You want to be sure neither of you are obsessing about the dental work that is going to be done. Instead, focus on expectations. Constantly remind your child that:
The dental work is necessary
The dentist is going to help them
You will be there with them
They can bring their favorite stuffed animal, wear sunglasses at the appointment, watch their favorite show during the work, and/or get to pick a toy out at the end – whatever it is that your pediatric dental office does
The weird taste and feelings will be temporary
The process will be quick
You can do breathing exercises during the appointment if they are anxious
They will feel better when it’s all done
They can eat their favorite foods again (cashews and chips for Pickles!)
Any other positive things you can share – like for us we got Pickles a stuffed toy for after his procedure, so he knows there is a gift waiting for him when he’s finished. And we the dentist let us keep the tooth because Pickles likes gross things and wanted money from the tooth fairy
We also made sure to set expectations with Pickles that he cannot kick or move his head around during the procedure because he’s anxious – otherwise, he will need to come back to do it all over again.
Remember to just keep it positive, despite how anxious or guilty you may feel – your child needs you to exhibit confidence. It is OK to be sympathetic, but make sure that does not become pity for them. Keep it upbeat – “I’m so excited for you! You are going to feel so much better!,” “You are going to do such a great job!”, “Your tooth is getting a crown, like a king!”, “Your tooth is going to be silver like a robot! Are you going to call your nana with that tooth?!”
Preparations for Day-Of and Post-Treatment
Prior to the day of treatment, reach out for support. Ask your friends and family for prayers. We took Pickles to the monastery for a special blessing and had all the monastic communities and our friends and family praying for him.
We also went ahead and bought a special toy for when he got through treatment. He loves Curious George so we found him a Curious George stuffy and that became an incentive to do well (though we had to give it to him during the procedure as what we dubbed an “extraction distraction”).
We also knew we had to find a babysitter for Bacon, because he would turn that dental office upside down in 10 minutes tops if he were on the loose. And we both felt we needed to be there for Pickles so that he had mutual support and some muscle in case we needed to gently restrain him if he was going to kick or squirm and risk danger to himself or others.
When the dental work is done, your child will be on a liquid and soft food diet for a couple of days minimum. Make this exciting by taking your child to the grocery store and letting them pick out their favorite soft foods. Pickles picked out his favorite flavored almond milk yogurts, Jello, chocolate pudding, Go-Go squeezes (which we will use a spoon with because he cannot use suction while recovering), Enjoy Life soft cookies, oatmeal (or as he calls it “oaty-meal”), juice, etc.
Since he will need meals as well we prepared by making a big batch of lentil sweet potato soup the day before. Though it is a bit chunky, we knew we can blend it in the Nutribullet and we did.
For pain relief we picked up a couple homeopathic pain relief treatments from Hylands (Hyland’s 4 Kids Oral Pain Relief – Daytime and Hyland’s 4 Kids Oral Pain Relief – Nighttime) but ultimately decided to also pickup Children’s Tylenol, though we did not want to use it. We decided to give him the Tylenol on the way home so once the numbness wore off Pickles would not be in pain immediately. We wanted him to be comfortable for the first day or two before we switched over fully to the homeopathic treatment (which we gave concurrently with the Tylenol treatment).
Post-Treatment you and your child are going to be flooded with feelings. You are going to be feeling a mix of relief, sadness, guilt, joy, and pride (in your child). Your child is going to be crying and upset most likely. They will need lots of love and positive support along with reminders that what they feel is weird and may feel different, but it is only temporary. By the time we were checking out from the dentist practice we were already getting some laughs making fun of the gauze hanging out his mouth, telling him it reminded us of Bacon trying to eat baby wipes at home.
At home, be lax about rules – let them sit in front of the television and binge watch their favorite shows, spoon feed them as needed, let them nap and sleep with you on the couch or in your bed. Give them lots of love and snuggles! Before long, they will be feeling great and you will be wondering why you were so anxious to begin with!
As you read through the blog posts here on Pickles and Bacon you will find a that there are many traditions we adhere to in our household. These traditions act as an anchor throughout the year, designating the seasons and pulling us through the year more intentionally. These traditions mark the year for us as a family.
Marking the year is simply recognizing the daily, weekly and monthly observances related to feast days and celebrations within the Catholic Church, birthdays and anniversaries within the family, and seasonal cultural celebrations. As we do this we are drawn to look forward in anticipation to the traditions that have sustained us throughout our lives and develop fond memories of times spent together, whether it be in a dimly lit chapel with incense swirling and monastic chant or in our living room unwrapping presents from under the tree to Christmas melodies.
As a family we have even created a Shutterfly photo book outlining the traditions our particular family adheres to, with pictures from past observances to capture the memories of those times. The photo book is used as a compendium to our family calendar to help us remember and sustain the traditions that have been engraved in our hearts.
To learn more about the traditions that sustain us, search the site for the tag “traditions.”
Like all parents, we want our kids to be happy and healthy. We want to do whatever we can to help boost their immune systems and give them the nutrition they need. While diet is a major factor for immune health and nutrition we also choose to boost them with a morning vitamin routine that is mixed into a dairy free yogurt.
Our standard mix of vitamins for our toddler “Pickles” has been a mix of raw probiotic (1/2 TSP – 3/4 TSP), a multivitamin (2 TSP) and vitamin C (1 TSP). We supplement that with vitamin D3 and vitamin A when we want to give an extra boost (i.e. they were at a play group that week, or visiting someone who had a cold). We mix this all up with the dairy free yogurt into a reusable squeeze pouch (think “Go-Go Squeezes” you can get from the store).
For infants, like “Bacon”, we usually just do D3 drops initially, but gradually incorporate the other vitamins as his age reaches the recommended ages on the bottles.
When it comes to purchasing vitamins we have had good luck with using Vitacost. They are about the same price if not cheaper than Amazon and they have good quality brands like Childlife and Garden of Life. They also run a lot of sales and send coupons for free shipping and 15% off regularly. When you create an account with them they remember what you previously ordered and give you the option to quickly reorder. I love that.
With supplementing the kids’ diet with these vitamins we have not had a great deal of illness in the house. “Pickles” has been a sick with fever maybe three times? “Bacon” has been sick once. They get your typical allergies with seasonal changes but overall have had great health!
We recently acquired two large jars full of pennies, nickels and dimes from the kids’ grandparents. They knew how much “Pickles” loves coins and knew both boys had piggy banks at home that were waiting to be fed.
We decided to use this opportunity to incorporate chores back into “Pickles” schedules. He’s four and he likes to help but we often get caught up in the flurry of getting stuff done and forget to incorporate him. We also wanted him to start understanding, at some level, that a penny is less than a nickel and a dime is more than a penny, etc. So, we built out a simple chore chart and shared the plan with him. He’d earn either a penny, a nickel or a dime for different tasks:
Typically, for most of the chores he is simply helping us in the process. He isn’t old enough to go get the mail himself yet, nor is he strong enough to push a full trash barrel to the curb or lift a trash bag from the kitchen trash bin – but he can come with me to get the mail, or gather all the trash from the other trash bins in the house and dump them into the kitchen trash bin and get me a new trash bag. Depending on the level of his involvement in the chore we assigned a value.
This experience has been good thus far. He is wanting to help more to earn coins that he can put into his piggy bank and we are remembering to slow down a bit and include him in chores. Sometimes for fun we will pay him in all pennies just to see how big his eyes are about how many coins he has and we’ll regularly give “Bacon” some coins too for his piggy bank just because he’s too cute when he comes over looking for coins.
We look forward to the day when he has enough where we can roll the coins with him and bring him to the bank to cash them in, then he can decide what he wants to spend his money on!
It’s 2022, yet still no flying cars. Who would have thought?
This year we are hoping to focus much of our time, effort, and money on hygge and health. We are excited about this focus because we feel it’s something we need in our lives to help combat our chronic stress. You see, much chronic stress has developed for us over the years because we have feverishly and compulsively reacted to the demands of each thought. This had led to packed schedules and an overactive focus on ‘getting stuff done’ to return to a place of peace in our lives. The problem with this approach, however, is that the more we get done the more there is to do. Thoughts are never ending.
Reflecting back on our lives over the past decade and a half we have always felt the need to have space to process, to think, to be. We have lost this in recent time and since our thoughts are never ending, and we cannot create more time, the best thing we can do is create space. In creating space, we want to create space that is cozy, relaxing, intimate. There is a word for this type of experience, it’s called hygge (pronounced hoo-ga).
Naturally, we did what any crazy person who is trying to learn to relax does – we grabbed books from the library and researched hygge a bit. We then crafted a list (see below) of both indoor and outdoor activities we could look to when we have space created and want to break out of constant churn of to-do’s and settle into something like reading a book out loud to the children while drinking a hot beverage or lowering the lights, putting the fireplace on, and building a blanket fort. This list would serve to function not as a to-do list but as an ‘at-a-glance’ worksheet to help us think differently since our brains are so stuck in automatic thought patterns that focus on action.
In order to build space into our routine, we deflected some of the items on our schedule that normally take up that space, let go of the guilt that accompanied by not doing those things, and adopted a mindset of flexibility (i.e. it’s late, but let’s let the kids be up another 30 minutes and not feel so much pressure about bedtime since we’re doing this thing as a family right now).
With regards to health, I have decided to alter my diet this year and adopt the diet the family has, which is gluten free, dairy free, and egg free. I have also decided to eliminate beer, go off coffee, cut back significantly on eating out (think greasy, non-quality food) and late-night snacking, and to focus more strategically on eating a diet that could assist my autoimmune disorder. I went through the cabinets, got rid of the food that did not align and began aligning the shopping list with my new go-to’s which includes items like fermented foods and drinks, chicken breast, bone broths, paleo granolas, tuna, salad, and yogurt.
The transition to adopt the GF, DF, EF diet wasn’t as hard as I’d assumed. I mostly ate that way at dinner because it was a family meal, I just had to adapt my breakfast and lunch staples and what I snacked on. Cutting the beer was emotionally difficult because I enjoyed it, but I didn’t always feel the best after drinking it anyways – I typically felt lethargic and tired. Learning to ‘want’ fermented foods has been more difficult, but with time I know these things will help my gut health and help me feel my best.
We’re also focusing throughout the year on making our own fermented foods, crackers, breads, etc. because it’s cheaper and healthier. We even tried making our own yogurt, but that didn’t turn out so hot. In addition to changing diet and making more of our own foods, we also are added more supplements into our routine – taking cell salts, apple cider vinegar, probiotics, and upping the kids’ daily vitamins. I even decided to get a manual treadmill for the basement (which was cheaper than my gym membership and gave me greater flexibility). In a truly hygge-esque moment that treadmill box has now become a fort for the kids and takes up 1/8th of our bedroom!
We’re excited for 2022. We know we won’t accomplish all this overnight and it’ll be a year long pursuit of making small changes regularly but having the focus on hygge and health helps to keep us focused as we make decisions each day.
We hope your year is full of anticipation and promise!
“It takes a village to raise a child,” right? We’ve all heard the African proverb, whether relating it directly to raising a child or otherwise. However, in today’s culture we scarcely find a consistent villager let alone a whole village!
This proved to be the case for us when after college we moved out of state leaving behind the initial community we had forged in our first years as a young married couple. After a few hops between states as we sought to find a place to take root, we once again began that work of building out our community.
The loss of community can be quite devastating. The relationships you relied on can significantly change in the blink of an eye. To have community, true community, is to not only have digital connections but to also have geographically close friends whom you can rely on. It’s about having mutual connections to support each other as you navigate life, raise children, and to give each other the much needed reprieve in often busy, chaotic, and stressful lives.
In our experience the foundation of community has been through shared mutual interests. When seeking to build community we have followed the steps below to guide us:
If you know something is on the horizon that will change your community life, such as you’re planning to make a move, first consider the impact. Consider whether the change will improve your community life overall or if it will it be detrimental. If its going to be detrimental, is the change necessary? If it is, then plan ahead and get engaged, for example, with local groups or individuals who have shared interests. Social media helps a great deal here because you can begin connecting with other communities ahead of time to get a sense of what opportunities exist for “plugging in.”
Fortunately, for us, our last move we had a couple of connections in the area already through mutual shared interests. When moving that was immensely helpful because they helped organize people to assist with unloading our moving truck, they brought us food when we arrived, and they actively checked in on us early on while we were settling in. We quickly became friends with these individuals through this experience and have since only strengthened those bonds.
Get out and get involved with the local community by volunteering or joining local shared interest groups, whether it’s a gardening club, an exercise club, a hiking group, or a local church. For us, we are Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) Catholics, so when getting involved in the community we looked for TLM parishes and were able to connect with families of similar age groups. Because of the array of TLM communities and traditional monasteries in our area we were able to connect not only with the chapel we attend weekly, but also with other TLM communities and monastic communities. This has helped us find our “place” in the community and gave us a diverse resource pool to access, including sourcing us when we recently sought a “Mothers’ Helper” to assist us around the house during the week.
Beyond getting involved with already existing local shared interest groups, think about what interests you have and what you could offer others. The interests may overlap with existing groups or events and from there you can share an invite with that audience. Or your interest may be a niche interest. If so, that gives you the opportunity to offer something new to the community. When thinking about where to post flyers about your event, think about places where you are most comfortable and where you think you’d connect well with others in that community.
If you were able to connect with other families in the area through getting involved (the previous step) you could then also host events for those individuals/families to gather together. Offer up your home for a girls’ night or guys’ night, crafting, seasonal holiday events, or play dates. Outside the home offer up outings for fall cleanups, going to the park, playground, museum or brewery. Cast a wide net and don’t be discouraged if everyone cannot make it.
In the past I have hosted a monthly hiking group and as a family we have hosted book clubs, girls’ nights, countless playdates, and celebrations for anything – including annual Halloween movie-a-thons and a “Pie Friendsgiving” event for our friends where we all brought pie to share the week prior to Thanksgiving. Any event can bring you together with community if you find a way to celebrate it!
Next Steps to Consider
List out all your interests, even the most benign mundane crazy niche interests. Get them written down.
Think about the local volunteer opportunities, groups, or events that correspond to your interest. You can check social media or any number of local meetups, coffee shops, parishes, etc for information on local groups as well.
Consider if you would like to host events or groups related to your interests. If so, consider:
Which interests you want to pursue first. If you have various interests, prioritize them and start small with one or two as your focus
Decide what the format or agenda of the event or group would be
Decide where the group would meet
Decide on your target audience (young families? fathers? mothers? Catholics?)
Offer enticements (cocktails, coffee, tea, an activity)
Decide on a cadence for meeting
Promote your new event or group online, with your social network, at coffee shops or libraries, or at your parish!