Staying Healthy During the School Year While Giving Back

Staying Healthy During the School Year While Giving Back

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #40Pounds #CollectiveBias

We have been lucky to parent two very healthy and strong boys. Our oldest recently started kindergarten, until now we’ve been lucky enough to avoid any public school situations. We’ve heard all about the hit you take (health-wise) once school starts. Not only for the kids, but parents as well. Once these little guys come home with a virus it gets passed around to the entire family and in our case can take weeks to shake it off once it’s made its rounds.

Essentially Erika

It’s officially cold / flu season now. The holidays are filled with over-indulging, eating sweets we normally avoid all year through, and late night celebrating with friends and family. This is a recipe for your body breaking down and getting sick. We are fortunate to have easy-access to over the counter remedies that can fit as part of a healthy diet with added immune support. Our Get Well basket is kept on a shelf in our kitchen next to our vitamins. I keep the following items in the Get Well basket:

  • Emergen-C® (I was able to try this for the first time when I returned from my cruise this summer and it worked wonders)
  • Probiotics
  • Soft Tissues


I interchange and add to this basket throughout the year as needed, but it helps to keep the essentials on-deck. 

Emergen-C® is packed with B vitamins, antioxidants† , electrolytes plus more vitamin C than 10 oranges^. With over 20 flavors, you have plenty of delicious varieties to choose from.” † Zinc and Manganese ^Based on the nutrient database value for a large, raw orange

Unfortunately there are many countries where necessities such as clean water are not easily accessible to entire communities. Children have to miss school in order to take the long hike and fetch clean water for their families every day. This sad fact is the reason Emergen-C has partnered with Charity Water for the Emergen-C Charity Water 40lbs Challenge.

Join the challenge by uploading a photo of yourself on Instagram holding something weighing at least 40lbs and using the hashtag #40Pounds. For every #40Pounds, don’t forget to tag @EmergenC as well. For every Challenge picture uploaded to Instagram, Emergen-C® will donate $5 to charity: water to help fund projects that bring clean, accessible water to communities in Ethiopia.

This is the season of gratitude. I am grateful for the health of my family and the ability to provide the necessities in life. Head on over to my Instagram and see what I held for the #40Pounds Challenge!

Essentially Erika

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

You can find Emergen-C in the health and wellness aisle at your local Walmart retailer.


Essentially yours,


Battling Endometriosis Naturally

Battling Endometriosis Naturally

I’ve always been pretty vocal about my battle with Endometriosis. I struggled with it for five years, only aware of it for two of those five years. Before that I assumed I was just going through really tough menstrual cycles. I was tortured monthly by this condition that had now taken over my life. I spent three out of the four weeks of the month in pain, constant pain.

Finally a diagnosis after three long years of each month getting progressively worse and a laparoscopy that took five hours instead of two. My doctor coined me the “Queen of Endo.” At only 26 years old I was a Stage 4 (Stage 6 being cause for a hysterectomy). I had developed so many “clusters” my right ovary was no longer functioning, it was plastered to the side of my uterine wall by the large amount of endometrial clusters that formed over three years.

If you’ve never heard of Endometriosis, count yourself lucky. Those that have received this diagnosis know all too well the constant and slow torture it can impose on your life. Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus (endometrial implant). Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region.

In Endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. When Endometriosis involves the ovaries, cysts called clusters may form. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal tissue that binds organs together.

This can cause severe pain before, during, and after your menstrual cycle. In my quest to get better (pre-laparoscopy), my options were limited. I’ve had doctors prescribe me a recurring prescription for pain killers, an anti-inflammatory, the works. I couldn’t live a life on medication, so I did some research and found some ways that can greatly increase my chances of staying endometriosis-free!


Organic Only

Switching from chemical-ridden pads / tampons to 100% Organic cotton is necessary. What is found in  the average sanitary napkin is disturbing and should not be placed anywhere near your lady parts. The effects can be damaging and lead to further complications.



There is much to be said for what you put into your mouth as well as on your skin. There are certain foods that can increase pain and discomfort while battling endometriosis during your menstrual cycle i.e., caffeine, chocolate (WHY????). Cutting back on all of these can help to keep your body and hormones balanced enough so it doesn’t come back.



I have always been very vocal about the healing properties in aromatherapy, I am a full-fledged believer. It’s worked miracles in other areas of my life and this is no different. The compounds in some of these all natural oils that are distilled or cold-pressed, have also promoted hormonal balance so that I can stay cluster-free. I use a mixture of Clary Sage and Geranium oil during certain times of the month to promote a full cleansing of my uterus. I also add some Red Raspberry Leaf Tea for added comfort.

This is the method that has worked for me. I have been endometriosis-free since having my two boys and I will do everything possible to stay that way.


Essentially yours,


Hand, Foot and O-M-G Disease!

There are certain illnesses you never hear anything about until you have children. Some are not so bad. Others? Absolutely frightening! Recovering Germophobe that I am, Hand Foot & Mouth Disease was one of them. Sores? Blisters? (cue the Psycho shower scene music)

With it’s undetermined incubation period being approximately 3-6 days, this virus is highly contagious and often lies dormant for many days without any symptoms at all. The perfect recipe for causing a down right pandemic (at least in my germophobic eyes).

Well, this week my two boys met their match. Not much can knock the wind out of their sails, but this sure did. They suffered with high fevers, massive headaches, extremely sore throats, tummy aches, intense itching and burning of feet and palms and of course those lovely red sores on their feet, hands and bottom.

Side Note: NEVER Google this virus and look at the images tab, just DON’T.

Now, I like to think that when I was in my twenties I was mature and compassionate. Not like the cruel twenty something pharmacist I encountered at my local drug store who told my son he should stop crying because; “crying isn’t allowed in here.” Knowing full-well what he was battling, she still turned to her colleague and said (openly) “I just hate the sound of a crying baby.” I can only hope that one day when she is knee deep in Calamine lotion and hauling two screaming kids to the store because she ran out of supplies mid day, that someone will be kind enough to just show her where the darn Elderberry is. Either that, or she be blessed with the fertility of  Michelle Duggar so that she can understand that crying is not a nuisance, it’s communication. (couldn’t help myself)

On that note, with so many of the home remedies swirling around the internet I decided to add one more. I’m sharing what did work for us during our time of need fighting the effects of this ugly virus who takes no prisoners. Since there is a good chance this is being read by some poor mother desperate to relieve her child at 3am, I’m going to get right to it.

Elderberry Syrup:

Since this is in fact a virus, the more you can do to strengthen the immune system the faster it will move through. I’ve always kept this on hand so it was easy to break out at the onset of symptoms.

In an effort to support their immune system I also diffused the following essential oils recipe:
2 drops Rosemary
2 drops Clove
2 drops Eucalyptus
2 drops Cinnamon
2 drops Wild Orange
Topically I would apply the “Anti-Viral Blend” throughout the day, it consists of the following oils:
15 drops of Oregano
12 drops of Melaleuca
12 drops of Lemon
10 drops of Peppermint
Again, the stronger the immune system, the faster this virus can go on about its business.
Unfortunately once the itching starts, there isn’t much you can do. Buckle in it’s going to be a loooooong night. Few things are tougher than watching your child, or any child for that matter, suffer. This recipe for a homemade oatmeal bath is helps soothe some of the itching / burning for a little while. I would use this on my boys throughout the day, and once more just before bed to give them a better chance at falling into a deep sleep. It’s pretty tough to fall asleep when you feel like your hands and feet are on fire.
Homemade Oatmeal Bath Recipe
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp of Baking Soda
2 Tbsp of Old Fashioned Oatmeal
(blended down to powder form, you can use either your blender, food processor or coffee grinder)
2-3 drops Lavender Oil
2-3 drops Frankincense Oil
I would mix this together as a paste and massage on the itchy areas, then mix in the bath water and let them sit submerged in the water for about fifteen minutes.
This would provide comfort for a short period of time, usually long enough for them to take a nap or fall asleep at night.
Cold Compress:
When all else fails and itching is at it’s peak, the only relief at times would come with an old fashioned cold compress. We keep a few “Boo Boo Buddies” in the freezer at all times, so it was easy to give to them as needed. Plus it helps that they can hold it themselves and use Elmo to make their boo boo better. Not at night though, in the middle of the night Elmo may fly across the room in a fit of itchy rage, you’ve been warned.
Popsicles can also help with the sore throat during this time. My boys didn’t experience the difficulty swallowing and never lost their appetite (they rarely do), but some homemade smoothie popsicles are great for an irritated throat. It’s important to keep them hydrated throughout all of this, appetite loss is common, but hydration is key to staying healthy and fighting this off.
Once the red spots make their long awaited appearance, its time for damage control. Each child experiences this virus differently. Some are riddled with blisters all over hands, feet, mouth and buttocks. Others may only have slight red spots on their feet and hands. To speed the healing of these uncomfortable spots, I used Purify Oil. My boys never developed blisters, just red patches. I’m not sure if it’s because I applied this oil immediately, or if that’s just how they experienced this virus. They did get some rash-like bumps on their buttocks, coincidentally the only area I wasn’t treating with Purify Oil. Once I applied the bumps were flat in 24 hours, and gone in 48 hours.
Occasionally, for night time relief we would have to use a dosage of Children’s Benadryl and Motrin recommended by our pediatrician. I’m all for taking the natural route as much as possible, although I do respect the opinion of my pediatrician. In order for them to get a good amount of rest to fight the HFMD battle the next day, these remedies helped us.
I’m lucky to be a part of such a wonderful community at Sunflower Creative Arts, support was key in knowing we weren’t alone in our struggle. If you know anyone who is battling this virus, support comes in many different ways. You can offer to drop off some food at their front door, pick up some supplies while your at the grocery store or even some words of encouragement in their time of restless need.
Of course the best prevention is caution, if you’ve read my post on “Germ Sharing” then you already know how I feel about this situation. With such a varied incubation period, Hand Foot & Mouth Disease can go undetected for up to 6 days without any symptoms. It can be contagious for up to 6 days beyond the onset of any symptoms. The bacteria itself can only live on a surface for about 24-48 hours, but can remain in saliva and bodily fluids for 3-6 weeks. If you hear of anyone being exposed to this virus it’s best to keep away from other children. As I said before not all children experience this virus the same way, and some can still be carriers without any symptoms at all. Better to err on the side of caution and stay away from very public places such as; parks, schools, parties, etc..
Hope this helps any moms in need, it sure worked for us!

But remember, the best medicine when battling Hand Foot and Mouth disease is Love. If there is a positive spin on this experience, it’s all the cuddles and down time we had together. I thoroughly enjoyed being couch potatoes and snuggling all day.

Have you ever dealt with HFMD before? If so, what worked for you?

Essentially Yours,
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