Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bumps, Bruises and Bugs!

Recipe for home made insect repellent using essential oils:  1/4 cup of water, 10 drops of lemon eucalyptus, 5 drops cedar, 5 drops lavender, and 5 drops of geranium. Combine in a small spritzer bottle and shake well before applying. Be careful to avoid sensitive areas around the eyes, nose and mouth.

It's summer! The weather is warmer and my boys are outside almost everyday. I can't believe the amount of scratches, scrapes and bruises on their little knees and elbows. They are tough little boys who fall down and get back up after a few tears and "all better" kisses from Mom. It's time to stock up on protective creams, balms, bandages and to know first aid interventions and remedies for the injured. I am in constant pursuit of products that aren't filled with chemicals in an effort to heal and mend. Of course, time, rest and proper cleansing will heal a wound quickly, but it is especially important to be watchful and aware of how, when, and where an injury occurs. Staying knowledgable on street safety, water safety, sun safety, stings, bites, and allergies are all part of staying healthy and enjoying summer fun.  Here is a an easy to read website supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, with helpful information on safety prevention.

A couple weeks ago during bath time we found a tick on my younger boy. It was on for a while and had already dug its head into his soft baby skin. It was a tough fight, but I was able to get it off with a little muscle from my husband and some clownish laughs from big brother. Tick checks are so important, Lyme disease is carried by deer ticks, so identifying one and recognizing symptoms of tick borne infections is helpful in preventing the extension of the disease. Here is a link with all information and resources.

Unfortunately, it seems a solution with at least 20% of DEET is what repels insects and ticks from the body and clothing. Weigh the risks and benefits of such chemicals and apply with caution around eyes, nose, mouth and other sensitive areas. Protect skin with long sleeves, pants and socks when possible and stay away from heavily wooded or bushy areas, high grass and stagnant water by staying on marked trails and paths when hiking or riding in the woods.  I have made a water based spritzer filled with oil of lemon eucalyptus, cedar, lavender and geranium to spritz on their arms and legs to help deter the insects, its not as foolproof as DEET products but remains a gentler option, see above recipe.  Frequently observe for ticks and other bug bites in hidden spots, such as hair, scalp, behind or in the ear, under the arms, in the belly button and behind knees.

When we all get dressed in the morning, I try to apply a waterproof sunscreen on myself and my boys, just so there is an initial layer of protection. When we are directly out in the sun or on the beach, I try to promote some shade options using umbrellas, secure sun hats, and long sleeve rash guards for swimming during peak sun exposure times. Find a sunscreen with minimal ingredients for UVA and UVB protection, and use your judgment on extra ingredients listed in many sunscreen lotions, like parabens, oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Here is a list of sunscreens from Consumer Reports and an interesting article from CNN Health.

CNN Health/Sunscreen

With these mindful tips, get out and get into nature!

We have a family membership to the Mass Audubon Society, there are many sanctuaries and conservation land in the state of Massachusetts to explore and experience. Camps, educational programs and seasonal outdoor almanacs connect you and your family to the rhythms of nature, moon phases and local wildlife happenings.  My boys have had many adventures hiking along the paths and quietly observing the simple but vital sounds of summer bugs, croaking toads, jumping fish and nesting birds. I usually carry a small backpack filled with water, snacks, sunscreen, anti-bug balm, and my first aid kit.  If you hike often, cellular reception may not always be available, learn how to use a compass and carry a whistle for other options.  Everyone has specialized needs and it is important to create a first aid kit that is just right for you and your family. 

Last spring, we were walking in the early evening and witnessed an owl waking up and offering us a stunning view of its wing expansion as it flew from tree to tree. We use our "eagle" eyes and "bat" ears to integrate a multi sensory expedition, becoming aware of the world around us and how we are all connected.

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