Coping with Eczema in Children

I never thought of a skin condition as a chronic illness. I always thought a little itching was not that bad, just rub some cream on the rash and it will get better. This was well before I had to watch my child struggle with the affliction of eczema. I realized how serious a skin condition can be the first time I had to put socks on my infant’s hands to keep her from scratching herself until her skin was open, weeping and bloody. For those with eczema, it is more than just really dry skin or a patchy red rash. They can’t just put cream on it and make it better. It is a daily battle to not scratch even though it feels like tiny bugs are crawling all over their body. It is a ritual of lotions, creams, and moisturizers several times a day. For me, as a parent of a child with eczema, all I can do is have hope that tomorrow we will wake up to not have to worry about any of this anymore.

My daughter was diagnosed with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, at her two month check up by her pediatrician. She is my third child, and I knew something was different and that this was more than just the normal dry skin that new born babies sometimes experience. Luckily at this point, she was too young to agitate the condition by scratching. At first the pediatrician told us to use oatmeal baths and moisturizers. Being a work at home mother, I was able to put moisturizers on her several times a day. After two months of moisturizing, there was no change. At four months old she was prescribed a topical non steroid cream. It seemed to help a little and worked for a few months. As she got older the condition did not get better, it worsened spreading all over her body. To make matters worse she would scratch and rub her body until the skin was raw. We would do everything to keep her covered so she could not scratch and make it worse. This included cotton footed pajamas at bed time, socks on her hands, and tights instead of socks for her feet. At age one, my daughter was prescribed a topical steroid cream. This also seemed to help matters for a short period of time. She seemed to do better on it for a few months then the condition would inflame again, and seemed to come back even stronger than it had been before.

By age two, we were just about at our wits end. She was suffering so much and nothing we were doing was helping her at all. The pediatrician then referred us to an allergist and put her on an oral medication for ten days. Those ten days were glorious. Hardly any scratching, and she almost completely healed. The first day off of the oral medication, the eczema was back. We were heartbroken. The allergist ran tests to see if my daughter was allergic to something that may be causing the eczema. He found a few mild allergies and we did the allergy control for 6 months. There was still no change in her condition. After this, we opted to see a dermatologist. The dermatologist diagnosed her case as severe. She told us the best we can do is to manage her condition with proper care and medication until she outgrows the eczema. One important thing we learned from the dermatologist is not to use topical cortisone creams on eczema. In many cases this will only worse the itching.

It has now been a year since we have been to the dermatologist. My daughter’s eczema is not gone, but it is much better. We are managing her condition with a combination of medications, moisturizers, and oatmeal baths. Many people have made suggestions to us on different remedies to try for our daughter, some we have tried, others we have not. Each case of eczema is different and what works for some, may not work for others. Below you will find a list of remedies we have tried, or been told about. Hopefully one of these will help you or someone with eczema in your life.

Oatmeal bath, either store bought or homemade. We currently use a homemade one.

Moisturizing lotions, oils, butters, or jellies, we have tried so many of these that I can not even name them all. What works for us is to find one that doesn’t burn or sting when applied and stick with it until it doesn’t feel good anymore.

Noxzema, use this as a cleanser for the entire body. According to several people I have spoken with regarding this, originally it was not called Noxzema and it cured someone’s eczema. They wrote to the company about the experience and that is how the cleanser got the name Noxzema. (http://www.amusingfacts.com/facts/Detail/noxema.html)

Crisco, yes I do mean the shortening. I know it sounds crazy, but it worked for a while for us. This was suggested by our allergist. It works as a moisturizer similar to petroleum jelly, just thicker.

Prescriptions will of course been to be prescribed by your physician. Here is a list of the different medications my daughter has been prescribed. This list is only meant to inform you of the different treatment options that we have been offered by our doctors. My daughter has been prescribed topical steroids, topical non-steroids, oral steroids, anti-allergy medications, oral anti-itch medications, oral antibiotics, and topical antibiotics. There may be other treatment options out there that could work for you. Consult with your doctor to see if prescriptions are necessary in your case and what combination of medications will work best for you.

After almost 11 years, eczema is still a daily struggle for my daughter and for our family. I hope by writing this article someone else will be more informed and have better tools to deal with this condition.

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Simple Dinner Recipes

Are you always in a pinch at dinner time? Do you constantly find yourself grabbing convenience foods out of the freezer? Is a take-out menu more familiar than your own pantry? If you said yes to any of the above, then maybe it is time for you to find some simple dinner ideas to make meal time easier and less stressful.

We all know it is more expensive to eat out all the time! But, do you realize how pricey it is to purchase convenience foods? Those frozen, ready-made meals that are found at the grocery store are busting many grocery budgets too! Dinner can be simple even without those freezer meals. Of course, I have nights when I order take-out, or grab from my freezer. However, a while back I made a choice. Each week I strive to make more home cooked meals than convenience foods or take-out food. For my family this is not an easy feat! As the mother of three children, it can be very hard to put together a meal that every one wants to eat. To be honest, that alone could drive any cook mad! All the cookbooks in the world can’t help with that problem! I have found that experimenting on my own with ingredients that I know my family enjoys can turn into something wonderfully delicious!

Here are a few ideas from my kitchen. These are all quick meals, and tips for ways to grab from the freezer and still have home cooked food! These of course are just a few of my families favorites.

Tacos are one of the easiest meals to make. You can use whatever meat your family prefers: ground beef, chicken, or turkey. It is so simple to brown the meat, season it and throw the toppings out for everyone to dig in! Did I also mention it is delicious? Well, it is! another bonus for tacos, it is the perfect meal for each person to make just how they want. If you have a picky eater around they can make their own choices as to what goes on their taco. Hard shell, soft shell, cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa, sauce, sour cream, beans, so many choices you just can’t go wrong! I even found a simpler way to make tacos. “Is that even possible?” you say. Yes it is! You don’t even have to stand at the stove cooking this! It is a crock pot version that is absolutely delicious! Just throw thawed meat, a can of refried beans, a cup of salsa or a can of tomatoes and diced chiles, one packet of taco seasoning, and about half a cup of water all into a crock pot. Let it cook all day long. Once you are about ready to eat fill your taco shells with this meat mixture. It will knock your socks off with the flavor! You can even use this meat mixture in any of your favorite Mexican food casseroles. Plus I have a family of five, and we always have taco meat leftover. I throw the leftovers into a freezer safe container and then I toss it into my freezer. What a great home cooked meal in my freezer that is ready whenever I need it!

Next time you think about stopping at your local sandwich shop, keep right on driving and make sandwiches at home instead. We always have lunch meat and bread at our house so this is a really easy one for me. We love throwing together our favorite sandwiches and making a salad or our favorite canned soup. For variety you can grill the sandwiches, toast the bread, or heat the lunch meat. BLTs are one of our favorite sandwich night choices, You could even make sloppy Joe’s instead of flat meat sandwiches. Plus if you aren’t in the mood for typical white bread, just grab some specialty breads at the store when they go on sale, throw them in the freezer so they are there fresh and ready whenever you have sandwich night! I love grabbing deli loafs and burger buns and even white and wheat breads when they are one sale. I have a steady supply in my freezer of breads for just about any occasion. This makes sandwich night a great simple meal and you didn’t even have to stand in line at the sandwich shop and watch someone else make your food.

Casseroles are another wonderful way to make dinner simple. Most casseroles can be thrown together the night before hand. Then you leave them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them. Once you get home from your busy day, put your dinner into the oven and let it cook while you wind down. You don’t have to worry about chopping any ingredients, or cooking anything. Just put it into the oven and wait. Not to mention, many casseroles can be frozen. So why not double up your recipe the next time you make a casserole. Then your family can eat one right then for dinner, and have an extra to put into the freezer for dinner on another night! We eat lots of casseroles at my house. It is an easy way to slip vegetables in on my picky eater and also a comforting food for the adults too.

Meatloaf seems to strike fear in the heart of many cooks and eaters. It is an easy meal to make, but it is also easy to not make properly. My husband is a big fan of meatloaf, I was not. When I was first cooking for my family I did not want to make meatloaf. Finally one day I started searching for different types of meatloaf recipes. I found tons of recipes that are not your typical meatloaf. Lots of these recipes are crock pot meatloaves, Italian meatloaves, Mexican meatloaves, turkey loaf, chicken loaf, you name the style there is probably a meatloaf out there to fit! I was floored. I always thought meatloaf was boring, but not anymore. My family happens to love the Mexican version that I found. Experiment and find one that your family enjoys. Once you know which one the family likes, make a few and throw them in the freezer. It is so easy to pull one out and throw it into the oven. While the already cooked meatloaf is re-heating in the oven you can open up some canned vegetables or whatever side you like best get it good and ready. This is one meal I do not think I have seen in a family size portion at the local market, but man it tastes so good right out of my freezer! The crock pot versions we tried were good too, but I couldn’t seem to get mine to hold together as well when cooked in the crock pot. Just search in your favorite cook book or on your favorite recipe site and find the meatloaf that sounds the best to you and give it a whirl. I know that you will be pleasantly surprised, I know I was!

Seafood is becoming more and more popular these days. I love to grab a few bags of frozen seafood whenever it goes onto sale at my grocery store. My favorites are frozen tilapia and frozen shrimp. When I buy the frozen shrimp I get the raw shrimp with about 31-40 shrimps in each bag. You simply take this out and cook with it. The shrimp simply gets thrown into a pot of boiling water, cook for 5-10 minutes and they are done. You can add them to a pasta dish with some sauce and it is an instant meal! The tilapia or any other fish can be quickly sauteed in your favorite seasoning and paired with some rice or steamed vegetables and you have a quick and simple meal that is also healthy and fairly figure friendly too!

These are only a few of my tips, but I hope you find them helpful in making your evenings more simple. I know it is such a great feeling being able to sit down and enjoy a meal together with my family. Whether I slaved all day, or only 10 minutes on the meal. Sitting down with my family talking about our days and enjoying dinner is one of my favorite pastimes. Hopefully these hints will help it be one of your favorites times too!

Bear Creek Soup Mix

Soup is such a wonderful meal. It is warm and it always hits the spot! I find that it is the perfect quick meal. Even though there are tons of delicious canned soups on the market these days, lots of times I am not in the mood for a canned soup. I want to feel like I have made something on my own, but who has the time to slave in the kitchen all day long to make a delicious soup?

Recently while perusing the aisles at my local grocery store, I found myself browsing the soup shelves. I scanned each shelf looking for some soup that I had not tried yet. Then something caught my eye, a pouch. What type of soup comes in a pouch? A soup mix comes in a pouch! I picked up the pouch and read the instructions. It seemed simple enough and since it only cost $4.19 I figured it was worth the risk. I only purchased one variety at first, Cheddar Broccoli. A few weeks went by and I never made the soup, then the night came. I was not in the mood to cook, but I didn’t want take out either. I stood in the pantry staring at all of the food wondering what to throw together. Then I saw the pouch again. I knew it was time to try out the soup. I grabbed the pouch and headed back to my kitchen. The directions on the package said to bring 8 cups of water to a boil. That was easy enough! I filled my pot with water and waited for it to boil. Once the water came to a boil, I whisked in the soup mix just as the directions say. I reduced the heat and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes. It says on the package for variety you can add bacon, ham, broccoli or corn. I decided to be adventurous! I added some fresh broccoli that I had in the fridge. I cut it up into bite size pieces and threw it into the pot of simmering soup. Then I decided I wanted to add some meat to my soup. I had some ground chicken waiting to be cooked, so I browned it quickly in a skillet and added it to the soup as well. I let the soup continue to cook on low until we were all ready to eat.

The smell coming from my kitchen was phenomenal. My husband and I couldn’t wait to eat! We each got a bowl and filled it up with 2 big ladles full of soup. This was some of the best soup I have had in a long time. I was amazed! How could this powdered soup mix be so delicious? I still have no clue how it works, but it really is wonderful. I have since bought 2 more varieties of this soup mix. In our pantry right now I have three mixes, Cheddar Broccoli, Creamy Potato, and Minestrone. We have already made the minestrone once and it was also delicious. The only thing I added to it was a few handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables. I can’t wait to try these again and add other things to it, or maybe even not add anything and have it as an appetizer instead of my full meal.

Bear Creek soup has been around for a while, but I am so glad that I finally picked it up off the shelf and gave it a try. It makes a ton of soup for the family or even some for a couple with leftovers for days! Next time you are at the grocery store, you should definitely give Bear Creek Soup Mix a try!

Book Review: Rachael Ray’s 365 No Repeats Cookbook

Rachael Ray has become more than a cooking show host. She has become a talk show star. She has a day time talk show, plus several shows on the Food Network. She has never gotten away from what she does best though, 30 minute meals. She has many cook books on the market focusing on meals that can be made in 30 minutes or less. The 365: No Repeats cook book was my most recent addition to my library of cookbooks. I received it as a Christmas gift on Christmas 2005. I was so excited about this book. I spent the evening flipping through the book and trying to decide which recipes I would try first.

The book is laid out in a very different fashion than any of my other cook books. All of my other cookbooks are separated by recipe type. This book only has dinner recipes so it is not separated by type or even by ingredient. The recipes are all numbered one through three hundred sixty-five. The book says “start here or jump around.” This book is an entire year’s worth of brand new recipes for you to try out. There are check boxes on each recipe that say “Try this later” and “It’s a Keeper” this way you will know which ones you and your family love and which ones you want to come back to another day. Many of the recipes in this book have ingredients that you would normally have in your home, others have ingredients that may require a special trip to the store. However, all of the meals can be ready in 30 minutes or less. At least they are when Rachel Ray cooks them!

I personally have made several recipes out of this book. A few of my families favorites are the Honey Nut Chicken Sticks, Cider Vinegar Chicken & smashed Potatoes, BBQ Chicken Sloppy Pan Pizza, and Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Patties with Pan Gravy. These 4 recipes are the favorites that we have tried so far, however this is only the beginning with this book. The variety of cuisines is so wonderfully refreshing. It is so easy to get bored with the same dinners every week, this book gives you new and different ideas and helps to broaden your mind when it comes to cooking meals for your family.

One of my favorite things about this book is how you can take one master recipe and change a few things to make it a completely different meal. There are several master recipes in this book that are followed by a totally different meal using many of the same ingredients. Here are a few examples. Chicken Francese can easily become Flounder Francese or Chicken Mamacello. A Warm Lemon Chicken Sandwich recipe is quickly transformed into a Grilled Flank Steak Sandwich recipe. Once again, this is only a few examples of the hundreds of recipes available to you in this book.

This book truly has something for everyone! Inside you will find vegetarian meals, seafood, red meat, white meat, salads, sides, and even soups. The cuisines vary from all over the world too. All in one week you can travel to Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Mexico, Thailand, and the good old United States never once leaving your own kitchen. This one cook book has certainly changed the way that my family eats dinner and opened our eyes to a whole new world of food, literally!

I definitely recommend this book to any one who enjoys cooking for their family. Even if you are new to cooking this would be a good book for you since many of the recipes are so easily put together. If you are even remotely thinking of getting a new cook book, race out to the store and pick this one up. You definitely won’t regret it!

Crock Pot Breakfast Wrap Up

I just want to say how much fun it was waking up to breakfast already made each morning. However, four nights in a row of cooking again after dinner really tired me out! I do plan to make crock pot breakfasts again, but I will limit it to once a week or possibly every other week, or once a month even. Depending on how my kids did on their standardized tests … I may do the whole week again on testing weeks. But I’m not certain on that just yet.

Here’s a wrap up of the menu from the week of crock pot breakfasts,

Tuesday – Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole
Wednesday – Crock Pot Cinnamon French Toast
Thursday – Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler
Friday – Crock Pot Breakfast Potatoes

The only recipe that was not liked by my entire family was Tuesday morning’s breakfast casserole. However, with some tweaking I think I could fix it to make it liked by all of us. I have asked everyone in the family and the votes turned out to be almost unanimous.

Grace – Cinnamon French Toast
Cameron – Cinnamon French Toast
Melody – Cinnamon French Toast
Larry – Cinnamon French Toast
Me – Breakfast Cobbler

The Cinnamon French Toast came in a VERY close second for me though. Larry said he can’t make a good vote because he didn’t get any of the Breakfast Cobbler.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about this week, was having a theme to blog about for several days in a row. I am still contemplating on what my next theme will be. If you have any suggestions on topics that you may want to hear about, please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Crock Pot Breakfast: Day 4

The Crock Pot Cobbler was a BIG hit! It was super delicious and I wish I had more of it ready so I could eat it again tomorrow. Definitely try that recipe!!!!!

Tonight we made Crock Pot Breakfast Potatoes. Here is the recipe.

Crockpot Breakfast Potatoes Recipe

What You Need
• 4 potatoes, sliced
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 4 ounces American or cheddar cheese, grated
• 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
• 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

What To Do
1. Prepare inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Layer potatoes, butter, onion, bacon, cheese in crockpot. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ending with a layer of cheese.

3. Cover crockpot and cook on low, 8-10 hours.

My hubby is incredibly excited about this one. He loves bacon and he loves potatoes. I’m pretty sure that this one will be his favorite of the whole week. We shall see what the verdict is tomorrow though! Thanks to http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-potatoes.shtml for this recipe.

tune in to tomorrow night’s post for everyone’s opinions of their favorite recipe for the week.

Rio Samba Rose

Larry and I did a lot of gardening this past weekend. Most of what we planted was vegetables, however, we planted a few herbs and a gorgeous Rio Samba Rose. The rose was heavily budded up when we planted it so we knew it wouldn’t be long before it began to bloom. Tuesday night, I took this picture. It is so gorgeous, I can’t wait to take more pictures as it opens up fully and as the other buds open up as well.

rio samba

I couldn’t help but share this pic. I will post more about our gardening journey soon. 🙂

Crock Pot Breakfast: Day 3

Yesterday’s recipe for Crock Pot Cinnamon French Toast was a HUGE success! It was delicious and got rave reviews from my entire family. All 3 kids loved it, and the hubby and I loved it too! We will definitely be making this one again sometime soon.

Tonight I will be putting together a Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler. We are pretty pumped about this one. The kids are thrilled because cobbler sounds like dessert to them and they think dessert for breakfast sounds like a wonderful idea. Ha ha! The flavors in this dish sound so comforting and delicious to me and it also has lots of healthy stay with you food in it and that makes me happy! After they eat this breakfast, I know their beautiful brains won’t starting wandering off during the big test thinking about food because they are hungry.

Here is the recipe:

Crock Pot Breakfast Cobbler

What You Need
• 4 medium apples, peeled and sliced
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 2 cups Granola cereal

What To Do
1. Prepare inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Add apples to crockpot.

3. Mix in remaining ingredients.

4. Cover; set crockpot to low and cook overnight, 7-9 hours. (Note: Cooks in 2-3 hours on high.)

Serving suggestion: Serve with milk.

Thanks to http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-cobbler.shtml for this recipe. I will post a review of this recipe tomorrow night. Last night’s recipe was kid tested, mom approved, and dad approved too!

Crock Pot Breakfast Day 2

eatwell

In yesterday’s blog post on the Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole, I promised to let you all know my kids’ opinions on the casserole. All 5 of us ate the casserole for breakfast this morning. However, only 3 out of the 5 of us liked the casserole. My older 2 kids both said the casserole tasted good, however, they didn’t like the texture of it. I think that next time I will let the bread dry out a bit before I put the casserole together. Maybe that will help with the texture issue?

Tonight I am putting together Slow Cooker Cinnamon French Toast for tomorrow morning’s Brain Food Breakfast. Here’s the recipe:

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

Ingredients:
2 16oz. loaves cinnamon swirl bread, sliced into 1/4’s and left to dry over night (or for a few hours)
1 dozen eggs
4 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Directions:
Spray the crock with non-stick spray! Place all the bread in the slow cooker.
Mix all of the remaining ingredients together and pour it over the bread.

Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Admire the smell while it cooks! The last 1/2 hour or so, remove the lid to let the moisture absorb some. Dust with powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream and/or drizzle with syrup when serving!

Thanks to http://newbaltimore.patch.com/blog_posts/slow-cooker-cinnamon-french-toast-casserole for this recipe.

I plan to cut this recipe in half because I’m only serving the 5 of us. I can’t wait to taste it because it sounds delicious!

By the way, today was a wonderful day. The kids all feel like their first day of testing went very well. Work went well, and I had a nice break in the middle of the day. My hubby took me out for lunch! We just went to a fast food place so it wasn’t anything fancy. However, getting to spend even 30 minutes with him in the middle of the day makes a bad day better, and makes a good day great. I know, we are a mushy couple and that annoys a lot of people. We love it though. We feel so happy that we have a connection and relationship where we can show affection and enjoy each others company all of the time.

Yesterday’s tip was to enjoy the small things. Today, I am telling you not to be afraid to show love and affection to the one that you love.

Crockpot Breakfasts Day 1

brainfood
This week my kids have standardized tests. My hubby, Larry, and I wanted to make sure the kids had a good hearty breakfast before their big tests each day. However, I am not at all a morning person and my husband leaves long before we get up. That meant we had to find another way to get them that good brain food breakfast. I turned to my favorite appliance that I believe every busy mom should have, my crock pot!

crockpot

I searched on Bing for Crock pot Breakfast Recipes and found a multitude of ideas and suggestions. I let the kids pick which recipes they wanted us to try. We decided to start with a Crock pot Breakfast Casserole. Larry and I just finished putting the casserole together in the crock pot. I will tell you guys how it tasted in tomorrow’s blog with tomorrow’s recipe.

Here’s the recipe.

Crock pot Breakfast Casserole

What You Need
• 6 eggs, eggs
• 10 slices of bread
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
• 1/2 pound sausage
• Salt and pepper
• Yellow mustard (optional)

What To Do
1. In a skillet, brown the sausage and crumble. Drain fat.

2. Spread mustard on one side of bread and cut bread in quarters (or just cut plain break into quarters if you’re skipping the mustard).

3. Beat eggs and milk together, along with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Spray nonstick cooking spray on inside of crock pot. Layer bread, cheese and sausage inside crock pot.

5. Pour milk/egg over top. Cover. Cook on low 8-12 hours.

Thanks to the web site http://www.allcrockpotrecipes.com/breakfast/crockpot-breakfast-casserole.shtml for this recipe. I can’t wait to hear what the kids think about this breakfast. I really feel like it’s the small things like this that leave an impression with my kids. Sure they remember the big stuff, but I love it when they come to me and say “Hey mom remember that time … ” and they are 80% of the time talking about one of the small moments that we have shared together as a family.

Take time for the small moments. You will cherish them forever.

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