Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday! Thank you so much for stopping by. It's been a bright and mild weekend here in New England, and the brisk air smells like woodsmoke and soft earth ... I think it's safe to say Spring has finally sprung! 💚
How are things where you are these days? I'd love to talk weather, and compare notes ... but first, may I offer you a cup of tea?
As many of you know, I drink tea nearly every day, and as I suspect most tea-lovers would agree, it never tastes (nor feels) quite so good as it does when one is feeling a bit under the weather. I find it to be the very best kind of medicine - much like a hug in a mug. :)
Now, generally speaking, I stick with black teas (and usually decaf) but I do love a nice herbal tea from time to time. The soothing heat and fragrant herbs seem to go straight where I need them. I find all teas both physically and spiritually nourishing, but herb teas really seem just a bit magical, don't you think?
Have an ailment? There's a tea for that:
Can't sleep? Lavender. Tummy upset? Peppermint. Need to relax? Floral. Brain fog? Lemon.
I am definitely no expert in herbs and herbal teas, but I am eager to learn as much as I can. It's a bit of a hobby of mine, though my thumb isn't quite as green as it could be. But with each growing season I get a little more "authentic" as a budding, amateur herbalist, and I try to expand how we incorporate herbs (and other natural alternatives) in our household with each passing year, too.
As for today's tea, though - it's a rather healing one, and perfect for this post. Because honest to Pete, I am in fact nursing a sore throat. It seems a bit early in the year to blame allergies, so instead I'll point the finger at Crackerjack who brought home a lousy cold early last week. Usually I'm fairly immune to most cold viruses - for some happy reason, they skip over me - but this one is gathering steam and has become a bit of a bother. So herbal tea was my choice today (a lovely Buttermint I'm particularly fond of) and for good measure, I threw down a few of my favorite cough drops. (I also snuck a dollop of honey in my brew ... I think half the battle is lifting one's spirits when fighting an illness and I'm the first admit I like things rather sweet!)
Ok, so that's enough about my tea - which as you can see above was taken at my writing desk, with a nice view of the side yard where Bill and the older boys were doing some burning. At the other window, a little further down on this wall, I had situated the younger two, who were not allowed outside until the burning was done (or nearly). I encouraged them to sit here in the window and watch, while I worked on my weekly planning on the other side of the room.
As you can imagine, the leaping flames caused a bit of excitement! Finally, once the pile was nearly done, I brought them outside to sit and watch ... at a distance:
We haven't burned in years, as we try to compost as much as we can instead - but this past winter's tree damage was really above and beyond what we can handle. So burning was the thing to do on this day!
Ok, so now you're all wondering - weren't we here to talk about a book?
Well ... continuing on with our Mitten Strings for God book study, this week we are talking about "Healing," an important (and multi-layered) parenting concept. Because there's taking care of our children's bodies when they are injured or ill ... and then there's taking care of their insides - wounded feelings or weepy moods - when it's needed. These are all opportunities to teach our children how we treat those we love, and show them how much they mean to us.
"When we minister to our children with love and care, we teach them to care for others in return. Through our own loving example, we show the healing way, opening their hearts to the needs of those around them." (p. 102)
Healing our children is so much more than just tending to a knee bump or a head cold - because as we do, we are also comforting and soothing their very spirits. We are showing them how love works. We're reminding them they're not alone in this world. We're proving to them that they matter. And we are telling them we are here for them always - a little blood or boogie isn't going to keep their mamas (or papas) away!
"But sometimes our children are really asking for more from us than a perfunctory response, and that is when we must minister not only to the skinned knee, but to an inner need as well. It does not good to advise a weeping child that the pain will go away on its own. We are mothers, after all, and it is our job to DO something." (p. 100)
And so that's what we do, we mamas ... we figure out just what TO do. Sometimes it's just a brush of the bottom and a kiss on the cheek. "Ok, you're fine - off you go!" But sometimes a little more attention is warranted, and that's when we reach for the heavy artillery: cough syrups, calamine, soothing salves and perhaps best of all, the bandaids ...
What would we ever DO without bandaids??
"To an adult, a Band-Aid may be nothing but a sticky plastic strip; but to a child it is a badge of honor, imbued with magical healing properties. Be grateful, and stock up." (p. 101)
Now you might keep these kinds of medicinal products and first aid accessories on a shelf in your pantry or a bin at the bottom of your linen closet. But what I LOVED best of all about this chapter was the suggestion to make up a special basket to use when tending to our children in their time(s) of need.
"And so I created the "hurt basket," a treasure chest of magical lotions, potions, and healing aids." (p. 101)
We keep our medicinal supplies in a few different places. There is a small assortment of vitamins, cough drops and pain relievers at the very top of the kitchen pantry, but the bulk of our supply is kept in our bathroom cabinet:
Aka the subject of a future "Full Disclosure Friday" because like most of the storage zones in our household, it's woefully underused and despairingly disorganized. So while we're at it, here's another storage area that I have yet (in five years living here) figured out best how to use:
(This one is located just outside of the bathroom, inside the master bedroom. Truly, we have so much storage space in this house there is really no excuse for clutter - but I have been TERRIBLE about taking advantage of it!)
Alas, I digress (as I'm wont to do) ...
So here is what I set up some time ago, our own "boo-boo basket" ...
This lovely basket was hand-painted by Bill's grandmother many years ago ...
It was just the right size and shape to hold a nice selection of supplies, and still fit inside my cabinet.
I chose items that would soothe and comfort - no yucky medicine or stinging sprays here!
A closer peek:
- Three Sisters Herbals Magic Salve - My cousin's wife gave this to us when we were expecting Little Bear and I am now on my third jar. It is wonderful for little skin rashes and soothing chapped lips.
- California Baby Calendula Cream - Another must for irritated skin, or to aid in healing.
- DeLaCruz Arnica Salve - A newer purchase, I've read arnica is good for soothing bumps and bruises.
- Rose of Sharon Cocoa Butter - A dear friend of mine (my best friend in grammar school) makes this cream. It has a lovely, light (natural) fragrance and is wonderful for massage.
- Better Life Citrus Mint Lotion - I like this for dry winter skin and whenever spirits need a little lifting. (Mint is such a mood booster!)
- Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel - (in green travel tube) For soothing sunburn.
- After Bite Stick - For itchy bug bites!
- Mario Badescu Face Spray (Aloe, Chamomile, and Lavender) - I also have the rosewater version. Very soothing and refreshing. A great after-sun spray!
- Dr. Teal's "Soothe & Sleep" Lavender Foaming Bath - I use this for calming anxious or cranky kids (and adults!). Wonderful foot or hand soak.
- Hand in Hand Sea Salt Body Lotion - This has a pleasing, minty smell and is nice for hand massage
- Badger Balm - sweet herbal relief for congested chests
- Pa's handkerchief - The smoothest cotton, imbued with family love. It belonged to my grandfather, embroidered by my grandmother. Dipped in cool water and applied to a hot or tear-streaked face, it's just magic.
- "Boo-Boo Spray" - a homemade mix of water, witch hazel and essential oil.
- Two lip balms: Nivea Milk & Honey for dry, cracked lips and Dr. Bonner's Organic Peppermint for soothing an upset tummy. (Not to eat of course, but it does relieve nausea!)
- And last but certainly not least ... Band-Aids! Paw Patrol, natch.
I think the very ritual of bringing out a basket filled with "mama's special potions" - all pleasant-smelling and kind to tender skin - is healing in and of itself. It won't always be so easy to comfort our children, but such special treatment will not go unnoticed. This kind of care goes deep, and lingers long ...
"The day will come, of course, when our small ministrations are no longer enough to ease our children's pains, but until then, we can stock their emotional larders with a bounty of love and tenderness, precious stores for the future." (p. 103)
Sometimes all our hurt or ailing child needs is a hug, and sometimes he or she needs an actual prescription ... but for those in-between those times, there is a place for gentle, whole-body healing.
(And here's an idea - how about setting up something like this, just for ourselves? Maybe a mommy-care basket? Now that's a topic for a future post!)
Before I go, here's a quick list of the books I'm using to learn more about herbs and homemade herbal products. It's easy nowadays to find natural and herbal products in the stores, but I really love growing and making my own!
I have a large binder in which I've been taking copious notes, and by now I know more about herbs than I should for someone with so pale a green thumb! But I am getting there, slowly ... this year I hope to grow a nicely-sized herb garden and continue to expand my hands-on learning while keeping up with my "studies." If you are an herb grower (or crafter, or enthusiast) I'd love to hear from you! I would love advice and especially would love to hear how you USE the herbs you grow and how you keep your herbs ALIVE over the winter! (If possible.)
Well my friends, I am going to wrap up now, but as always, I thank you for stopping by and reading. I would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter (and topic) if you have a moment to drop a note. Please remember - all are welcome to join this book study! And we are only about halfway through ... many more topics to talk about and more opportunities to support each other in our mothering!
I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I will see you all here again very soon!