Tuesday Tip: Don’t Let the Flu Bug Bite! January 28, 2014
As I sit writing this, another blast of arctic air is sweeping the country, including the south…and Texas! Schools were closed today, traffic was snarled, and ice and sleet pretty much wreaked havoc with Austin and surrounding areas.
What better thing to blog about today then, than something else that’s sweeping the country: the flu! Ick, right?!
There’s no getting around it though, as this year’s flu season has been one of our country’s worst. Much like the flu pandemic of 2009, the predominant virus this year is H1N1 with 35 states reporting widespread influenza, including many deaths. Coupled with Austin’s intense (way above “high”) level of cedar pollen in the air creating an epidemic of “cedar fever,” sniffling and coughing is everywhere! Cough and sneeze into your elbows people, please!
Every year I get a flu shot, which experts agree is the best way to stay flu free. Ideally, the best time to get one is when they first come out, as they take about two weeks to build up protective antibodies in your system.
What To Do, What To Do…If You Get Sick
So what to do if you get the flu? Do you feed a cold but starve a fever? Do natural herbs really help?
My co-worker Chris recently had a run of the flu in her house and she swears by this recipe to build up your immune system and get you back on your feet should the flu bug bite you: 2 teaspoons of elderberry extract four times a day, 1 teaspoon of raw honey, and 1 packet of EmergenC every three hours. She swears it worked for her and recommends starting it if you get even an inkling that you’re not feeling well.
Thank you Dr. Chris! Now back to feeding a cold and starving a fever. Recent medical science says you should actually feed both a cold and a fever, as your body needs energy and and fuel to fight what ails it. Fever raises your body temperature, which increases metabolism, which results in calories burned, so taking in calories is vital. In addition, fever dehydrates you and makes the mucus in your nose, throat and lungs dry up, which makes coughing difficult and less effective and can also lead to respiratory and sinus infections. Drinking lots of fluids (avoid caffeine and alcohol though, as they enhance dehydration) helps keep the mucus running…right out of your body.
As for all those “magic pills,” here’s a rundown of what might work and why:
So what is that elderberry my friend Chris used? It’s one of many herbal immune stimulants, along with Echinacea, andrographus, and astragalus. Those three are actually considered antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory, while elderberry is high in anthocynanins and antioxidants, which help increase cellular absorption of vitamin C, which in turn protects the surfaces of your nose and mouth so viruses can’t penetrate them as easily. Many say if you load up on these when you’re exposed you may actually reduce the risk of getting sick. Still, some medical studies on taking extra vitamin C and zinc are inconclusive as to their benefits, and some research on Echinacea showed no benefit. Vitamin A, on the other hand, is a true antiviral but you don’t want to ingest it on a daily basis because it can damage the liver in large doses, but for about one week while you’re sick or getting sick, a dose of 10,000 IUs a day may be helpful.
One thing I always take when I’m sick is garlic. My mom told me about it and I swear it works. The popular cooking ingredient is a natural antimicrobial. I chop up a couple of garlic cloves into pill-size pieces and squirt lemon juice on them. Then I swallow them and wait. The garlic seems to literally sweat the bug out of you. One note of caution: you probably don’t want to be around a lot of people after taking the garlic!
Chicken soup doesn’t really have any magic ingredients, but it does have calories and consists of lots of liquid. Any type of similar warm vapor may also help loosen mucus. Hot tea, a hot shower, and even a humidifier can also help.
Over the counter remedies may relieve symptoms and your aches and pains, but they don’t really kill off any viruses or bacteria. Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu do keep those flu bugs from reproducing however, and are most effective if you take them within 48 hours of displaying symptoms.
Sometime store-bought medicines aren’t the only solution. A recent Penn State study found that drinking warm water with two teaspoons of honey calms nighttime coughs in kids just as well as over-the-counter cough medicines do.
Flu, Cold, or Other?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you have allergies, a cold, the flu or something else. Here’s a quick glance chart courtesy “Family Circle” magazine:
How To Keep From Being Bit by the Bug
So those are some ideas on how to treat the flu, but what about avoiding it? The Centers for Disease Control says that, in addition to getting a flue shot, washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways of preventing and spreading colds. Don’t be in a hurry though; all those doorknobs and credit card signing pens you used are chalk-full of germs. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing and drying them. Afterwards, keep your eyes away from your eyes, nose and mouth!
And yes, hand sanitizer is better than nothing, but be sure to rub it into your palms, tops of hands, and in between your fingers…until it’s dry. An ethanol-based formula with an alcohol concentration of at least 60 is recommended.
If you’re travelling, beware! A plane, or any confined space, is the perfect place for germs to linger and spread. In fact, those who take public transportation are six times more likely to suffer respiratory infections than those who don’t! Take with you an immune-boosting supplement like Airborne, drink hot tea and plenty of water, and pack saline spray or nasal swabs to keep those mucus membranes moist. Then, pray!
At home and at work, be sure to use cleaning products labeled “disinfectant,” as they’ve been tested to kill viruses. Cleaning products that are sanitizers kill only bacteria.
Lose weight! Obese people are three times more likely to die from the flu and extra weight may actually make flu shots less effective.
As with anything, don’t just take my word for any of this, as I don’t have “M.D.” after my name. Consult your doctor and in the end, keep in mind that cold and flu viruses need to run their course. The best advice is simple: sleep as much as you can and drink those liquids!
Too Close to Home January 23, 2014
I don’t even know where to start.
The day started off on the wrong foot. My husband’s alarm blared on at 4:30 a.m. and, even though I thought I reset it for my normal 6:30 a.m. wake-up, I either didn’t or slept right through it. I woke up way late, rushed to get ready, and arrived at work harried and tired. That, I soon found out, was only the beginning.
Nothing like getting a text from your daughter away at college saying there’s been a shooting on campus and that she is in lock-down in her lecture hall to wake you up. All students had been told to seek immediate shelter in place. Soon after I get a text from my girlfriends in Oklahoma who also have kids at OU, the first one being “check your kids, shots fired on campus.” I was suddenly totally awake and went to find fellow teacher Janet, whose daughter also goes to OU. While doing so, my Assistant Director Chris tracked me down in the hallway saying Kristen was on her office phone. OMG. Kristen would never call the main office unless it was…an emergency.
I talked to her and she promised they were all safe and secure. She sounded so mature and so hushed-like. I expected her to be a little put off by the whole ordeal because she is always “so busy” with her internship job and school, but instead she was all business. This, made me nervous. This, was serious business.
In the meantime, I had a class of 10 little three-year-olds to take care of. How do you talk about a shooting with your colleagues in front of innocent kids and how do you keep from having a worried look on your face or worse, start crying? Thankfully, my class was getting ready to tour our church for their weekly Worship class and my trusted co-worker Ana took over. In my mind it all seemed crazy, lining them up and walking them out of the class while trying to keep my emotions under control, but Ana quickly had all of them under control as I sent and received texts back and forth to Kristen, Smitty, and my Oklahoma friends. I felt horrible and guilty texting in church, but my daughter was in lockdown! Bless me Father for I have sinned…but please keep my daughter and all of OU safe!
I remember being somewhat comforted by that fact that I was in the church though, and I paused to pray for the situation. I was feeling somewhat in the “everything is going to be okay mode” when I received a text from Kristen saying “cops are coming into the building I’m in, guns drawn.” I showed it to Ana and broke down. Tears literally and uncontrollably began pouring and I had to sit down. I remember Ana giving me a big hug and telling me to leave, that she had the kids. My eyes well up just thinking of the fright that overtook my body.
Hours later it was reported the whole thing was a false alarm. A false alarm that had an entire campus terrified. Some reports suggest those who reported the incident may have actually heard something at a nearby campus construction site. Still, the building in question remained closed and Kristen was never able to make it back to her parked car due to active police barricades. As Ana so prolifically said, isn’t it sad that now whenever someone hears a “bang, bang, bang,” it’s thought to be gunshots? How sad is that?
In the end, I learned a lot during those frantic hours, including:
- OU President David Boren and the entire OU community are well-prepared for an actual emergency. This is very comforting.
- The place that proved my best source of information was Twitter. Yep, not Googling anything, not Facebook, not television, but Twitter. On it I could read the many tweets OU students and administration sent out…constantly.
- I am so grateful for my cell phone, on which I was able to call Kristen, text her, read Facebook posts, Google Oklahoma City TV station websites, and read all those informative tweets. Amazing. Not a television or radio was in sight and yet I was up-to-the-minute caught up on what was taking place.
- OU, a medium-sized university in a small town, is a true family. Everyone from the president to my friends and daughter to current OU football players and those in the NFL sent messages and tweets, many asking for prayers and for everyone’s safety. No one was too important. No one was at all flippant.
- I work with amazing and caring women. I already knew this, but a day like today just reminded me of it. In a moment’s notice, Ana took over, Chris tracked me down, our director Cindy said she’d check the TV for news, and so many others hugged me and stepped up to help in whatever way they could. I am one grateful preschool teacher.
How grateful I was to get Kristen’s call that she was back home, in bed, and doing homework. And, although the “all clear” was sounded and campus activities were to continue as normal, Kristen confessed she was not going anywhere near campus. I was okay with her missing class this afternoon. Now if only I could give her a hug.
Football and Fashion: Fantasy Fulfilled! January 20, 2014
I had to laugh at myself yesterday. I watched the NFL playoffs all day (including pre-game shows and post-game interviews) and then later settled in for some “Downton Abbey” DVR watching. I went from playoffs to proper in seconds flat!
Yep, that’s pretty much me in a nutshell. A crazy contradiction of styles and interests. I love football and sports in general, but I also love swanky restaurants and a classic pair of Monolo pumps. Football, food, and fashion. Carla defined.
Maybe that’s why I thought I died and went to heaven when I read about Bloomingdale’s football helmet/fashion designer event. Super Bowl XLVIII will be in New York February 2 (well, it will actually be played in New Jersey, but most fans will celebrate in NYC not Newark) so what better way to combine New York fashion with New York football then designer helmets? I’m dying!
Now before you think this is just a boring football blog, read on! Or at the very least, check out the pretty photos below! I think you’re going to like this one even if you don’t like football.
The venerable Manhattan department store has teamed up with the NFL and the Council of Fashion Designers of America for “Fashion Touchdown,” a unique collection of customized haute couture helmets designed by some of today’s hottest fashion designers. All of which will be auctioned off for charity.
In total, there are 48 real football helmets bearing everything from glitter to flowers to the Empire State Building and all 48 are to die for! Designers include Betsey Johnson, Rachel Zoe, Cynthia Rowley, Blake Mykoskie for Toms, Rag & Bone, Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, John Varvatos, Marchesa, Kenneth Cole, Badgley Mischka, Monique Lhullier, Narciso Rodriquez, Helmut Lang, Clover Canyon, Nicole Miller, Alice + Olivia, Vince Camuto, Tadashi Shoji and many others. Here are just a few of the fun and fashionable creations:
Alice + Olivia Rachel Zoe Clover Canyon Badgley-Mischka
Nicole Miller Narciso Rodriquez Vince Camuto Diane von Furstenberg
What I wouldn’t do to have even one of them sitting right next to Smitty’s and my Buffalo Bills and Oklahoma Sooner helmets in my house! But, bidding is sure to be high considering the helmets are now on display through February 4 in Bloomingdale’s iconic 59th Street window. If anyone would like to bid on one (for me?!) you can do so at Bloomingdales.com/superbowlhelmets. (Here’s a time I could sure use that “click on a link I mention” addition I want to add to my blog!)
It’s all very fun and very pretty, but it’s also all for a good cause, with 100 percent of net profits going to the NFL Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving the health and safety of sports, youth football, and communities nationwide. Monies raised will go to supporting the building of athletic fields and youth fitness zones, youth and high school football teams in need of new equipment or facilities, and much more. Last year the program also provided $1.5 million just to launch “Heads Up Football,” a comprehensive approach to promote a better and safer game.
This excites me on so many levels I can’t even deal. The Super Bowl in one of my favorite cities on earth with my favorite childhood team, the Denver Broncos, playing in it and designer helmets simply a click and fat check away? Dream on, Carla, dream on. Super Bowl tickets, lodging in NYC, flight to JFK, Rachel Zoe designer helmet, and all things New York. Priceless. But, way out of my price range! You can’t penalize a girl for dreaming though, can you?
Biblical Babies January 19, 2014
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43
While perhaps not literally scripture today and actually a little “off” spiritual-wise, today’s blog nonetheless has to do with the bible. In an unusual way.
It may have all started with Apple and recently concluded with North. What am I talking about? Baby names, of course! You know, those things that can often instantly denote the age of someone. Linda and Raymond? Probably in their 50’s. Jessica or Matthew? In their 30’s. Megan and Dylan? In college right now. Dakota and Dakota? High school or even younger and a boy or a girl.
All well and good, but according to BabyNames.net, 2014 will be the year of a return to traditional bible names for newborn babies. Yep, make way for little Caleb, Levi, Luke, Naomi, Shiloh, and Judith to join the ranks of already popular Jacob, Noah and Hannah. I love it!
Maybe moms and dads just like the sound of these bible-based names, but hopefully they’re also considering the meanings behind them. Naomi stands for “being pleasant and congenial,” Levi represents not jeans, but “connected” and Caleb means“to be faithful?”
After years of experimenting with unisex names like Logan and Presley and the filling of classrooms everywhere with surnamed kiddos like Jackson and Wyatt, it’s somewhat refreshing to learn the big book is predicted to be the go to source for names this year. Parents may still do their own thing however, with eccentric spellings also predicted to be in vogue.
Not content with just unique names, parents today are also choosing unique spellings for their offspring. Isaac becomes Izak, Michael becomes Mykal, Cooper becomes Kooper, and Brooklyn becomes BrookeLynn. When I see these types of names I always think of my sister Coral who, after years of being “Cora,” “Carol,” and a host of other misspellings of her beautiful name, chose to name her two sons Michael and Andrew. If her name wasn’t going to be spelled right, she made darn sure her boys’ names would be!
Another baby name trend lurking in 2014 are names from mythology like Tristan, Damon, Thor, Gaia, and even Luna…my maiden name! Oh yes, that’s another 2014 trend: Hispanic names in non-Hispanic families. Here’s to all the Maria Johnsons and Julian Smiths of the world!
And finally, even though we seem to be somewhat weary of the above mentioned celebrity kid names (Apple and North), popular culture is still predicted to reign supreme in nurseries all over America. Look for a lot of kids named Hayley and Camille after characters in “The Originals,” Piper from “Orange is the New Black,” Katrina from “Sleepy Hollow,” “Rayna” from Nashville, and even a return to Abbey thanks to “Downton Abbey’s” popularity. One more name trend lurking: that of of Olympic athletes.
What would I name a baby if I had one this year? I like the idea of using Luna for a girl or maybe even Windsor and I could call her Winnie (I love the Royal Family and Winnie the Pooh!) and a boy would be either Nicholas or Matthew. What about you? What names do you love? What name would you change yours too if you could? Do I hear an “amen” to biblical names?
Good as Gold January 18, 2014
Isn’t that the truth? I believe this every day and last night the thought was reinforced yet again. In a big way.
I had had a very long and busy week and wanted nothing more than to get in my jammies, watch endless episodes of “Downton Abbey” on Neflix, and call it a week. But, I had somewhere I needed to be: a get together with a group of ladies who I’d done bible study with for more than 10 years starting some 20 years ago. Yes, 20 years ago!
We’d long stopped getting together to live by the name we gave ourselves: LIPS: Ladies in Prayer and Service and monthly Saturday breakfasts had become our norm. Being a woman who loves nothing more than sleeping in on Saturday mornings, I rarely made the breakfasts so when an evening gathering of wine and apps was quickly thrown together I knew I was in even though I was exhausted. It was a decision well made.
I just this week wrote about “The Happiness Project” author Gretchen Rubin saying strong relationships are the keys to true happiness and that if given two options, always choose the one that involves others. Suddenly I had to practice what I wrote so off I went to Kelli’s gorgeous home in the hill country.
I had not seen many of the ladies for months but we all quickly caught up and enjoyed a fabulous night of laughter and love. The women, each and every one of them, truly amaze me. When we started our group years back, we had small children, were figuring out our lives, and praying for guidance and understanding. Today, we are strong, accomplished women who are watching our parents age and pass away, stressing over college-age kids, sharing stories of grandkids, downsizing our empty nests, travelling the world, dealing with health issues, and going back to school to get master’s degrees and become respected and award-winning college professors. The babies some of us had while starting our group are now grown and the struggles we now have were all shared and supported. Did I mention I got home past midnight?!
It wasn’t the first night I was out way past by bedtime on a “school night” the past few days. Earlier in the week I was home at midnight, again for my new prayer group. What a wonderful women they are as well and how lucky I am to have them in my life.
How am I so blessed with such great women in my life? What I love so much is that the women in my life believe in me. They respect me. They think I’m funny and they think I’m smart. They also know I’m not perfect and that my life isn’t either. Still, they love me.
Four such fabulous friends are the ones I will take my annual girls trip with next month. We went to college together and nothing compares to our journeys through life and our annual journeys to far away places where we can laugh and be ourselves. It’s always a highlight of my year. This year will be our 11th trip and we are already literally counting down the days. Again, why me? Why so blessed?
As I’ve blogged many times before, friends are gold to me. They make me laugh and they’ve gotten me through some tough times. Kathy, Ana, Jeannie, Deb, Jenelle, Leslie, MB, Kelly, Melissa, Judy, Deb, Cindy, Rosie, Liz, Norah, and all the women mentioned above. They are my rocks and my inspirations.
Smitty and I often talk about moving now that our nest is empty. I’m all for it, but I am not at all for leaving my friends. It may be easy to keep up with friends via Facebook, Skype, and email, but nothing replaces getting together over wine and coffee and sharing lives face-to-face. It happened so gloriously last night and I am looking forward to it happening again. Hopefully with you!
Great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.