Monthly Archives: February 2015

Fast, Simple Tuna Melts

Everyone has those nights where they don’t feel like cooking or they simply do not have time to put together an involved meal. One of my favorite meals to make on those nights are fast, simple tuna melts.

The entire preparation and cooking should take 15 minutes or less and you’re left with a tasty, filling meal for 3-4 people.

Tuna Melt - Ingredients


  • 6-8 pieces bread
  • 2 cans light tuna packed in water
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp.  garlic mustard
  • 2 Tbsp.  sweet relish
  • 6-8 slices of cheddar cheese

Tuna Melt

How to:

  1. Mix tuna, mayonnaise, mustard, and relish in a mid-size mixing bowl.
  2. Butter one side of each piece of bread and arrange on a large baking pan butter side down.
  3. Spread the tuna mixture onto each slice of bread.
  4. Top with slice of cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake in 350° F oven for 5-10 min. or until cheese is melted.
  6. Serve with veggies and a tall glass of milk!

Tuna Melt - Meal words

5 Ways Teething is Like Labor

Thus far, as a parent, I have never felt as helpless as when Dragonling started teething. All I could do was stand by and watch with feeble attempts at pain relief thrown in for good measure. I’ve never wanted to take away someone’s pain as much as during that time.

I think this may be how my husband felt when I was in labor and all he could do was be there for support, he couldn’t fix it and he couldn’t speed up the process.

I didn’t expect to be comparing the two situations 7 months down the road, but here I am. Teething and labor are a like in a few ways.

#1 – You don’t know when it’s going to start.

With teething, as with labor, no one knows exactly when it is going to start.  Doctors and other informed persons can give you a general timeline, but even experts cannot give you an exact start time.

This can cause a lot of stress for some people. You know… the type A kind. The ones who like to schedule their life. Completely.

Labor is a little easier to pin down, 9 months is pretty standard, but even then there are exceptions to the norm and, unless, you’re being induced or having a scheduled c-section you don’t know when it’s going to happen.

Teething is not quite so predictable.

According to, most babies get their first tooth when they are between 4 and 7 months old. That’s a pretty big time span. They then go on to say that some babies are late bloomers and could have to wait until after a year old to pop their first tooth. Still others, although quite rare, are born with a tooth!

#2 – You don’t know how long it will last.

For some women, labor is a very short, fast endeavor and for some it can last a few days. Teething is similar in that sometimes the tooth comes in days and sometimes it can take much, much longer.

Dragonling has been teething, off and on, for about 4 months with nothing to show.

This means that for 4 months no one has slept more than 3 hours at a time, we’re all a little (or a lot) crabby, and Momma and Papa are running out of methods for pain management that works. Which brings us to number three.

#3 – Pain management isn’t as easy as it sounds.

When a woman is in labor there are many different options for pain management. Some prefer to go all natural (no drugs), some want to be signed up for an epidural the moment they find out they’re pregnant, and there is a whole spectrum between the two. Even after choosing the type of pain management you want, there is no guarantee it will work.

That’s pretty much how teething works too.

Some parents want all natural pain relief. Some are all for dosing their child with pain medicine so that they are as comfortable as possible. And then there are a whole lot of us trying to find a workable balance between the two.

Since Dragonling started teething so early we only had one medicine option, acetaminophen, which we used sparingly.  Because our medical options were limited I went on a search for other methods we could employ at home. Some of the things we’ve tried include: teething toys, cold/frozen wash cloth, clove oil, teething gel (not Orajel), and teething tablets.

#4 – Everyone’s experience is different.

Try asking a room full of women what labor was like. None of them will give the exact same answer.

Then, try asking a room full of parents what teething was like for their children. Same problem.

Plus, not only will the answers be different they will vary by pregnancy and by child, respectively.

#5 – After it’s over you forget how bad it really was.

It’s pretty much common knowledge that women forget how bad labor was after they have children. (Yay hormones!) I mean, we’d have to forget or the human race would cease to exist, right?

I think the same must be true of teething because otherwise people would only have one child. I can’t completely attest to this point because we’re still in the throes of the worst, but it has to be true. (Please someone tell me it’s true…)


Measles: The Facts

Because I live in a country that had considered the measles virus eliminated since the year 2000 I have zero first-hand experience with the disease. I do know, however, that the disease has made a comeback in recent years because of the influx of people choosing not to vaccinate their children, for a variety of reasons. With all the media coverage and discussion going on about the most recent measles outbreak, I decided to do my own research to find out more about the disease.

The Virus

What is Measles?

Measles, caused by the measles virus, is a highly contagious infection which attacks the respiratory system . Most of the initial symptoms of measles are similar to that of the flu and include high fever (over 104.0° F), cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. A few days after initial symptoms appear, an infected person may develop small white spots inside the mouth, these are known as Koplik’s spots. Three to five days after the initial onset an infected person will notice a skin rash.
Koplik spots

The rash usually begins around the hairline and on the face as flat red spots. From there it spreads downward to the neck, arms, chest, stomach, back, legs, and feet. The flat red spots may have smaller raised bumps that appear on top as well.
Measles rash

Generally, the onset of the rash is accompanied by a fever spike to over 104.0 ° F.

How is Measles Transmitted?

The measles virus lives in the mucus of the nose and throat of infected persons and so is mainly passed through coughing and sneezing. The virus stays alive for up to two hours on surfaces and in the air where an infected person has coughed or sneezed.  Other people in the area who breath the contaminated air or touch the contaminated surface can become infected. The virus can also be passed through contact with saliva and nasal secretions.

According to the CDC website,

“Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.”

Persons infected with the measles virus can infect other people from four days before until four days after the appearance of the rash.  So a person could be a carrier of the virus without showing any symptoms and still be contagious.

What are the Complications that Come From Measles?

Measles can be very serious for anyone that is infected, however, those younger than five and older than 20 have a higher chance of developing complications from the disease. About 30% of measles cases report complications of some kind, according to the CDC.
Measles Complications by Age Group

Some of the most common complications include ear infection and diarrhea. Ear infections are seen in 1 in 10 children (10% of the infected) with measles and diarrhea is reported in less than 10% of cases. If not treated properly, ear infections can lead to permanent hearing loss.

As with many diseases there are also some serious complications that can arise from measles as well, including pneumonia and encephalitis. Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, is reported in 1 in 20 children (5% of the infected) and is the leading cause of death in this age group. Encephalitis (swelling of the brain) is reported in 1 out of 1,000 children (0.001% of the infected) and can cause convulsions, deafness, and mental retardation.

Measles in pregnant women  can cause premature birth and/or low-birth weight for the baby.

Statistically, in the U.S. one of every 1,000 (0.001%) cases of the measles one or two of the infected will die. As with all the complications death is most likely in children and older adults.

Even after a person has recovered from the measles there is a chance of them developing complications from the disease in the future.  Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) can develop 7 to 10 years after a person has had the measles. SSPE is a rare, but fatal disease affecting the central nervous system. Since the elimination of measles in the U.S. (2000) there have been few reported cases of SSPE, but from 1989 to 1991 between 4 and 11 cases out of every 100,000 were considered to be at risk for developing SSPE. The risk was higher for those contracting measles before the age of two.

 The Vaccine

Measles can be prevented through the use of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine. Through vaccine usage in the U.S. there are more than 99% fever cases of Measles than before the vaccine was introduced, however, measles is still very common in other countries.

Since the virus is highly contagious it can spread very quickly in areas where there are many unvaccinated persons.

According to the CDC website:

“Worldwide, an estimated 20 million people get measles and 146,000 people die from the disease each year—that equals about 440 deaths every day or about 17 deaths every hour.”

In case you’re not a math lover or just don’t want to figure it out, that is a 0.0073% mortality rate. That is over seven times higher than the U.S. mortality rate.

What Can I Do to Protect My Family?

The CDC recommends that all children get two doses of the MMR vaccine, the first between 12 and 15 months old and the second between 4 and 6 years old. The second dose of the vaccine can be given earlier if desired, as long as 28 days has passed since the first vaccine was administered.

A child traveling abroad who is between 6 and 11 months should receive one dose of the vaccine, followed by the two doses recommended above.

Are There Reasons to Not Get the Vaccine?

Turns out, as with nearly every medical practice, there are exceptions to the CDC recommendation. Some people should not get the vaccine or wait until a later time to get the vaccine.

These groups of people include:

  • Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin or any other part of the MMR vaccine.
  • Anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a prior dose of the MMR vaccine.
  • Pregnant women should wait to get the vaccine until after giving birth. (Women should also avoid getting pregnant within 4 weeks of receiving the vaccine.)
  • Someone who is sick at the time the dose is scheduled to be administered may be advised, by their physician, to wait until they are well.
  • Alert the physician if the person getting the vaccine:
    • Has HIV/AIDS, or another disease that affects the immune system
    • Is being treated with drugs that affect the immune system
    • Has any kind of cancer
    • Is being treated for cancer with radiation or drugs
    • Has ever had a low platelet count
    • Has gotten another vaccine within the past 4 weeks
    • Has recently had a transfusion or received other blood products

    Any of these might be a reason to not get the vaccine, or delay vaccination until later. (Taken direct from the CDC website.)

What are the Risks?

As with any medicine, there are some possible side effects of the MMR vaccine. The risk of the MMR vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is very small so getting the vaccine is much safer than getting Measles, Mumps, or Rubella.

The possible mild reactions include a fever (about 17% of those vaccinated), a mild rash (about 5% of those vaccinated), and swelling of the glands in the cheek or neck (about 1.5% of those vaccinated).

The possible moderate reactions include seizures caused by fever (about 0.0003% of those vaccinated), temporary joint pain and stiffness (up to about 25% with higher chances in teen and adult women), and temporary low platelet count which could lead to a bleeding disorder (about 0.00003% of those vaccinated).

There is also a very small chance of a sever allergic reaction in less than 1 out of a million doses(less than 0.000001%).

According to the CDC website, several other severe problems have been reported after a child gets MMR vaccine, including:

  • Deafness
  • Long-term seizures, coma, or lowered consciousness
  • Permanent brain damage

However, these are so rare that it is hard to tell whether they are caused by the vaccine.

Does the Measles Vaccine Cause Autism?

No. Because science. (As Papa Dragon would put it.)

But seriously, there is no scientific evidence to support the theory that vaccines cause autism. Here is a link to a great pdf resource citing numerous independent studies that show there is no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.


CDC – Pinkbook: Measles Chapter – Epidemiology of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Vaccines: VPD-VAC/Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated?

MMR Vaccine Does Not Cause Autism

Measles | Home | Rubeola | CDC

My Life is #MadeWithLove

So many things in my life have been #MadeWithLove it’s hard for me to even begin to talk about those that are most important to me. There are the objects that I have that were #MadeWithLove, of course, but there are also personal connections, family, and memories that were #MadeWithLove.

My kitchen is a mess

Growing up I was surrounded by people who took pride in creating things that were #MadeWithLove. My grandmother, my mother, and my aunts spent hours sewing and crafting things for gifts, craft fairs, and just for fun. They instilled in me the love of making things with my own hands and showing others the fun that can be had in creating things!

As I think back on all the things I have that were #MadeWithLove a few things stand out in my memory.

  • A doll cradle, #MadeWithLove by my grandfather filled with doll bedding #MadeWithLove by my grandmother. Definitely a favorite toy as a child and a wonderful keepsake that I can pass on to my children.
  • An afghan, #MadeWithLove by another grandmother for my childhood bedroom. It was various shades of pink with matching pillow. I loved it then and I still do. It was on my bed for years! Even now I it’s safely packed away for when I might be able to use it in my daughter’s room.

 iPhone 106

  • A quilt, #MadeWithLove by my mother. It was was assembled by my mother and then hand quilted by an older woman she knew. It also spent many years in my childhood bedroom and is now carefully stored for future use.

iPhone 104

Those are just a few of the things I have been given that were #MadeWithLove, but that’s really just the beginning of my life #MadeWithLove.

Love is the defining ingredient

I have a wonderful family that has been #MadeWithLove.

I was blessed with a large extended family with strong ties. My mother’s parents have been married 66 years, had eight children, and now have 24 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.  My father’s parents would have been married 57 years last September, had six children, and now have 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. All #MadeWithLove, giving me a wonderful example of unconditional love and acceptance.

Photo by Quattlebaum Photography

Photo by Quattlebaum Photography

My  husband and I have been married a little over a year. Our first child was born in July making us a family of three, #MadeWithLove. I thought I knew the definition of love when I married my husband, but our daughter has deepened the love I feel for my whole family.

The minute you were born IMG_0151

Since our daughter was born I have come to understand so much, but I have so much left to learn. One of the most important lessons so far is that I’m not perfect. I don’t have all the answers and I’m never going to, and that’s okay, because every minute of every day the things I do for my child are #MadeWithLove and that is what’s important.

I am a mother

 Along with the things they’ve given me and the unconditional love and acceptance they’ve modeled, my family instilled in me a love and deep appreciation for all things handmade. I greatly enjoy being able to give gifts to others that have been #MadeWithLove, because I feel it is easier to put meaning in something handmade than in something store bought .  I would love to be able to make all my gifts, but life is busy and time is short. Inevitably I do my best to find store bought items that are #MadeWithLove.


gDiapers is a company that truly understands that motherhood is #MadeWithLove.  They makes wonderful diapers that provide a balance between disposables and cloth.

In honor of their #MadeWithLove campaign, gDiapers is hosting a unique gift chain on Instagram. If you would like to take part in this gift chain, head over their Instagram post and join in the fun!

Along with the Instagram gift chain, there will also be an upcoming Twitter chat (date and time TBD) about how motherhood is #MadeWithLove. During the conversation there will be a chance for participants to win awesome prizes from gDiapers! (Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog, enter your email in the sidebar, so you don’t miss out on any of the details.)

Read more about  the #MadeWithLove campaign over on The American Mama, her post ‘Do Your Kids Think You Are an Imperfect Mother?’ is a great look into the little-talked about side of motherhood. It’s so easy to look at your actions as a mother and get discouraged because it’s impossible to do everything right.

Embrace the imperfect parts of your life, thrive on them. They are what make your life #MadeWithLove.

made with love pic