Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just a Day

Today I spent lots of time cleaning the girl's room. With three of them in a smallish room, there's not any space for extra junk. Each girl has her own bed, a tall bookshelf and a drawer in the one chest of drawers, and closet space for hanging clothes. There's also some space at the top of the closet for big containers of things they are almost grown out of like dress-up clothes and doll stuff. Now, their shelves contain mostly books, figurines, icons, and CD/Tapes. There's a craft basket, a yarn container, and the beads got sorted and stashed at the top of the closet as well. My kids are definitely growing up!

And I'm so very very grateful that with three girls sharing a fairly small room, they get along very well and don't fight.

I've basically decided that Bethany needs to be on the GAPS diet in order to improve her health, but I need to wait until Wes is completely on board with it. Meanwhile, I've pulled her off grains of all kinds, and am feeding her probiotic/fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut (homemade, of course). Sigh. I get so impatient, and I hate waiting.

I think I'm filled with back-to school fervor and I really want to get all my ducks in a row, the apartment all ship-shape, etc.

I've also decided that I want to get into the habit of gratitude, so at the end of each blog post I will try to list five different things I'm grateful for.

Today I'm grateful for:

Kids that get along with each other.
That no one got bit by the black widow spider Ariana found on our back patio yesterday.
Air conditioning.
My nice comfy green chairs.
Stuff God is teaching me.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Currently Reading...

Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, ADD, ADHA, Dyslexia, Depression, Schizophrenia, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride M.D., MMedSci (neurology), MMedSci (nutrition)

Oh wow. This book is not just describing my daughter, but rather our WHOLE FAMILY.

Please pray for us that God would grant us wisdom as to whether or not to do this diet, and the willingness to stick with it, the finances for the supplements and the juicer and the water filter we will need, and the determination not to make excuses for ourselves.

I love the fact that the author is a doctor who has a clinical practice treating GAPS people, and that she has all those relevant degrees.

I've only read the first part so far, and will soon delve into part 2. Then I'll have to find a way to convince my husband to read at least part one, and then figure out how to implement this diet.

Meanwhile, I have some honey sweetened coconut macaroons baking in the oven. Might as well start giving some of the recipes a whirl before we do the intro diet.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Five For Five Meme

Ok, I lifted this off Mimi's blog. Here goes:

Five for Five Meme

5 things I was doing five years ago:

Being sick and getting diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
Gaining weight
Getting the kids out of bed and off to public school every morning
being president of PTA (was horrible)
feeling sick

5 things on my to do list:

grading some papers leftover from last year
filling out new patient forms for the dentist
folding laundry
taking kids to pool tomorrow

5 things I would do with a million dollars:

donate some to charity and Church
go on a trip to Europe and a trip to Alaska
buy a house
invest for retirement
set up trust funds for the kids

5 places I have lived:
Louisville KY
Lexington Ky
Wilmore KY
Bowling Green KY
Nashville TN
somewhere in the Jura mountains in Switzerland
Basel, Switzerland...OK, that's seven...whatever, I could keep going...Thalvil Switzerland, Munich Germany

5 things I want to be doing in 5 years:

Be the mom of two high school graduates, an eleventh grader and a tenth grader.
knitting and blogging
making life better for other people even if it is in small ways
taking communion regularly in the Orthodox Church
reading great books and going for fabulous walks and cooking fabulous fresh local food and being healthy

(But in ten years from now, I hope hope hope I'm doing something for which I will be getting PAID.)

consider yourself tagged. Let me know in the comments so I can go read it.

Getting Ready for a New School Year

I love the line in You've Got Mail about a bouquet of sharpened pencils. That just perfectly captures how I feel about late summer, and the anticipation of a new school year. When My kids are all grown up, I surely will have to get a job in a school somewhere so that I can continue to participate in this season.

In less than glamorous fashion, however, the reality involved me spending time today getting loads of books off the various shelves of our house and stacking them all on our bed, sorting them into "keep", "use next school year", and "discard" piles. The discard pile was rather huge because we bought lots of curriculum (workbooky type of stuff) that everyone ended up thorougly hating fairly soon after we acquired it. This disappointed Wes to no end, because of the expense of the hated workbooky curriculum that got ditched half way through the year, but I keep telling him that it's part of the process.

Each year we've spent around a thousand dollars on our home school. Last year we spent two thousand, and ended up ditching the materials. Expensive mistake. Live and learn, I guess.

So, it's back to tried and true methods this year, and each year that goes by I gain more confidence. I know I'll get stressed out half way through the school year. I always do. I know it will be hard during the winter months. It always is. I know that life gets crazy busy around Christmas time and it's really hard to focus on school work. I'll come up with a plan.

My stack of books that we already own that we will use is big. I have some big ticket items to buy, though, like a microscope, biology lab kit and high school level math curriculum on CD-Rom. I happen to adore Teaching Textbooks, and I consider them to be worth every penny ($186.95-yowzers!). So we are investing in the future. By the time all four kids use them, the cost will be reduced to a very cheap price...per kid. This year we have to buy two of them: Algebra 1 and 2. We already own Geometry and next year Maia can use that. These investments will start to pay off.

So, I stacked books and sorted and culled and organized, and made a list of what we still need to buy. I'm excited. I like the beginning of the school year, and I like the fact that my kids are old enough to learn independently. I also like pencils and pens, papers, printer ink and new erasers.

I also love the fall, crisp leaves, walks in the park in the cooler weather, all things bookish, tea related and warm. Getting ready for back-to-school makes me think fall is just around the corner, when in reality it's still more than two full months away. It never truly cools down until October around here.

But at least this year I don't have to MOVE!!!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A One-Eighty from a Liver-Hater

It's Fight Back Friday over at Food Renegade. Here's my contribution:

One of the yummy things that we've started eating in the past couple of months is organ meats. So far we have been able to find two types of organ meats that some of our family enjoys: Grass fed beef liver, and Scrapple.

The grass fed beef liver was a surprise to me. I'd read how very nutritious it is, and when I saw on my farmer's price list, how very cheap the liver was, I ordered a couple of packets. I made my first batch with fear and trepidation, childhood memories of bitter, gall tasting liver haunting me.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Grass-fed liver is good! Mild, and almost sweet-tasting.

Here's how I cook it:

Rinse thawed liver well. Cut into strips. Dredge in salt and pepper seasoned unbleached flour. Pan-fry in skillet using lard.

I like to serve this with rice, and a nice crisp salad. Gravy seems a bit too nineteenth century for us, although once the liver is cooked, the pan is begging for me to make gravy out of the rest of the flour. I could see if we were doing hard labor, I'd be very interested in adding those extra calories to the meal. But we aren't, so I don't. Liver is a once-a-week staple now. The two youngest kids don't like it, as I did not like liver, either, when I was their age. Maybe someday they will be blogging about their own liver one-eighty.

The other delicious organ meat discovery we have made is scrapple. I found a packet of scrapple at Whole Foods, and the label looked pretty good, no ugly ingredients, humanely treated pigs, etc. Of course there's a level of trust necessary that the company (I don't currently have a package of scrapple to say what brand it was) is truly using the nice farming practices that they claim, but I decided to try the scrapple.

I was pleased. Scrapple makes a great breakfast meat, and we fried it up for a Saturday morning breakfast addition. At first I tried cooking it in slices (I did not add any more oil or fat to the pan, it has plenty of that on it's own), but the slices fell apart, and so I did a scrapple scramble instead. Scrapple tastes a little bit like bologna.

And here's a nice quote from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, page 299:

"Almost all traditional cultures prize organ meats for their ability to build reserves of strength and vitality. Organ meats are extremely rich in fat-soluble vitamins A and D, as well as essential fatty acids, important very-long-chain superunsaturated fatty acids and the whole gamut of macro and trace minerals."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

She without arm, he without leg - ballet - Hand in Hand

Dance anyways!

What If? My thoughts on our health care crisis

When I think about the health care situation in this country, I always think of the people no one thinks about very much, the ones who fall through the cracks of consciousness. I think, first, of the mentally ill.

Mentally ill people are really despised in our society. They are not easy to live with and often their lives, and the lives of their families holds a level of stress and chaos that is simply unfathomable for those not affected. Mentally ill people often have trouble organizing their lives, trouble with personal hygiene and sometimes proplems with substance abuse. Chaos, stress and poverty are the offspring of mental illness. (I'm not saying that mental illness is the sole source of chaos, stress and poverty, but often when when mental illness is present, poverty follows).

The reason I think so much about the fate of the mentally ill is because my daughter is mentally ill. Will she get better? Is there a cure? Some enzymes, the right vitamins, a special diet? I ask myself these questions constantly, and much of my reading time is devoted to finding and answer.

As a mother, often my first reaction is to want to "fix it." And I'm not different when it comes to my daughter's mental illness. I want to fix it, and I often feel like it's my job to do so, my responsibility. Like, if I could find the right diet, and find the energy to help her implement it, then all would be OK.

But so far I"ve not done anything long enough or perfectly enough to really tell a difference. I do know that she was doing WAY better on the SCD diet than she currently is on the enzymes she's taking. Back to the SCD diet, or the very similar GAPS diet, soon.

But I digress. The health care system.

With a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, and an inability to do much school work we are fairly certain that in about three year's time, our daughter will be able, with our help, to apply for disability and get it. That will mean medicaid. And what kind of medical care will she get as a poor person, a mentally ill person, who is on medicaid because of her mental illness?

On the one hand, we want to be there forever to support her and provide a home for her. Is that what she wants? Too soon to know. But on the other hand, we are aware that she won't always qualify to be a dependant, and her status will have to change, in how we relate to her and what kind of health coverage she gets.

My brother-in-law's post about "poor man's insurance" is certainly chilling. Because the people in our society who probably need the BEST medical care, are consigned by our current system, to getting the very worst medical care.

There is a reason why many doctors don't take medicare patients and that is that the government does not provide enough reimbursement for the doctors to recoup their costs. At best they are breaking even on the medicare patients. Doctors, too, have to make a living, pay their malpractice insurance bills, staff, keep the lights on, etc.

So what is the solution? I don't know.

Another aspect of our current system that is not working is that we are effectively limited by our health insurance on what doctors can and cannot be seen. This means that often the best, or perhaps a doctor who might have developed an alternative approach to treating a particular disease, would be impossible for any but the very rich to see. I've run across, more than once, that the very best treatment facilities are often the ones who do not take insurance at all. As is the way of the world: The rich have access to the best medicine, and the poor have to suffer along with what is, in my view, basically the medical equivalent to fast food: cookie cutter, mass produced medicine that only asks a very limited number of questions, treats symptoms with the money-making products of big pharm, and which does not look at underlying causes or treat a person holistically (and by that, I'm not even touching non-physical issues, but rather does not even treat the human body in whole manner, but rather subdivides it into separate specialities).

Our medical system is as sick as our food-production system. I feel like we are so very very limited, and when I think of my daughter's future I see so few possibilities.

Meanwhile, we do the best we can.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Persprective on the Health Care Reform Issue

I'm going to be weighing in with my own thoughts on this subject next. Meanwhile, I want to share this article written by my brother-in-law, Kevin. Interstingly enough, what he wrote could also be used to point a finger at the meat producing/processing systems in this country. I guarantee you that Kevin, and my sister, and their kids are now eating family farm raised beef, or no beef at all:

This coming week will be one year since we almost lost our daughter, Milla, to E. Coli.

June 26th 2008 I purchased ground beef from Kroger. July 10th 2008 we found out that there was a beef recall because of E. Coli on the beef I bought. Of course we had already eaten this beef.

July 12th 2008, Milla woke up sick, fever of 103 and above, and diarrhea. After a couple hours and a half dozen diaper changes we called the pediatrician’s office. I talked to a nurse and told her what the symptoms were. I also told her about the recalled beef. She told me it wasn’t E. Coli but a virus going around.

July 13th 2008, more of the same.

July 14th 2008, more of the same and Milla stops eating and drinking. We called the pediatricians office to make an appointment. I talked to another nurse. I told her all of the symptoms, how long it had been going on and I told her about the beef with E. Coli. Once again I was told it was not E. Coli and just a virus. No appointment made.

July 15th 2008, Milla is really sick. Diarrhea and throwing up. I called the pediatrician’s office again. I told this nurse the exact same thing, including about the E. Coli. She told me the same thing as the other two nurses. I told her I wanted Milla to be seen by a pediatrician today. She said “If you really want to.”
We saw a familiar Pediatrician. Told her everything and yes about the beef. She said no it’s not E. Coli. It’s a virus going around. She did not do even one test and sent us home.

This same pediatrician saw Milla the year before for a fever and a runny nose. She ordered every test there possibly could be. I know this to be true because I have Milla’s medical records. There are three pages of tests from that visit.
(side note: The company I worked for went out of business in January ‘08. Along with losing my job, I lost my health insurance on the family. After a few months of looking for a job without luck, Rebecca and I decided to get Milla a medical card through the state)
Lesson learned. As long as you have medical insurance and not a state medical card you will get decent medical care, and the physician will treat and look at you like a human being.

July 16th 2008, Milla is really sick. She hasn’t had anything to eat or drink in two days. I called again and told the nurse the same things. Got an appointment. Different pediatrician. We told him everything…the same thing. Once again, not E. Coli, but a virus. I asked him when we should start getting concerned about Milla not eating. He said in a condescending tone, “Last Thursday. Come on, do you feel like eating when you sick?” Then he gave Milla a lollipop. She held it to her nose and smelled it. He said, “Oh she’s fine. If she hadn’t done that I’d be worried. So she’s not that dehydrated. She’s fine. Just give her fluids.” We said, “She’s not eating or drinking and when she has tried to drink she has thrown it up.”
“Well, if she throws it up, wait two hours and try again.” he says as he’s walking out of the room.
Visit done…no tests…but at least Milla got a lollipop she wasn’t going to eat.

July 17th 2008, Milla can’t move. She’s not sleeping well. She can’t walk, she is so weak. We called back to the pediatrician’s office. I tell her (the nurse) everything we’ve been going through…and the E. Coli. I told her I wanted a straight answer about when we should be getting concerned about Milla not eating. Because everyone has told us not to be concerned because she just doesn’t feel well. She told me if Milla didn’t eat breakfast in the morning to call back.

That morning didn’t happen like that. We took Milla to the ER at St. Joseph East that evening. Where Dr. Anderson took us seriously and listened. He started the tests. He came back and told us Milla was severely dehydrated and she had kidney failure as a result of HUS (Hemolytic-uremic syndrome), a strand of E. Coli. He transferred Milla to UK Hospital. Milla went right to PICU (pediatric intensive care unit). Within minutes of Rebecca and I arriving at the hospital a DR. comes out to talk to us. We were informed that Milla would not have lived through the night. Her kidneys were not the only organs failing. Her liver, spleen and pancreas were all starting to shut down. She went into surgery the next morning to have a catheter put in for kidney dialysis. She wasn’t conscious for several days. When she woke up they had to strap her arms down so she wouldn’t yank the IV’s out of her. Seeing my 19 month old daughter lying there with all of this happening…I was angry. How could this happen? Letting a baby suffer because her parents had the damn poor man’s insurance.

Milla was on dialysis for 8 days and was recovering nicely. She was finally moved from picu to a regular room at 10 days. August 1st we got to take her home.

Milla is doing great. The only way you know she was ever sick are from the scars on her belly, from the surgery and the scar on her neck, where she had an IV put in.

I would like to thank everyone who helped us through last summer.

Also, thanks to Dr. Anderson at St. Joseph East
Thanks to UK hospital, Dr. Bernard and Dr. Chisti and all the nurses in picu, Ashley, Tara and many more. Thank you!

For more information on E. Coli http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/stec_gi.html
For more information on HUS http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000510.htm

Support Obama on the Healthcare OVERHAUL!

Switching to Real Milk

A few months ago, I made the big switch to Real Milk a.k.a. raw milk. After knowing about the benefits of raw milk for a while, and after knowing some friends in Lexington who had gone this route, I finally found a trustworthy source that was accessible to both my budget and my shopping routine.

As a bonus, my quest for raw milk from grass fed cows has also given us access to grass fed beef, liver, pastured eggs, cream and butter. Down home locally grown goodness.

At first, some of the kids were suspicious about the taste and the differences in how it looked, the fact that cream was floating to the top, etc.

And face it, raw milk just tasted different than pasturized milk. Not worse, but definitely different. I think it tastes better, and so do lots of people.

I would like to share with you the strategies I used to get my family used to the differences in raw milk. As I've blogged before, I have the world's most picky eater in the person of my son, and I am happy to report that he'll even drink it straight up now. A side bonus is, I no longer worry so much about his nutritonal status. At least he's getting this.

At the beginning of our transition, I kept right on buying breakfast cereal even though I was aware of how bad it is for people to eat, and the kids started putting their raw milk on things like Honey Bunches of Oats. Baby steps. But at least they were getting the milk that way.

I also would make lots of chocolate milk at first, using agave nectar, vanilla, a pinch of salt and a spoon full of cocoa powder to make a chocolate syrup. Perhaps too much sugar, but at least they were getting the milk that way. (And the agave nectar was low glycemic). More baby steps.

I took the time to have numerous conversations with the kids about the food industry, the benefits of raw milk, grass fed, butter, all that stuff. Education helps.

And, I simply stopped buying the other stuff.

It's been a couple of months. According to my plan, we've graduated away from the chocolate milk and breakfast cereal phase of things and now it's just accepted around here as normal. Our breakfasts are much healthier too, and stick to our ribs much longer.

Bethany, who cannot tolerate commercially processed milk can drink raw milk just fine.

I feel like I'm constantly getting healthier and healthier, after spending the last two decades headed in the opposite direction while following all the "rules". Now, I'm happy to be a food renegade.

(I'm offering this post up as part of the Fight Back Fridays blog carnival.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rudimentary Soap Carving

I have some fond memories of childhood soap carving attempts. Failed childhood soap carving attempts, but fun nonetheless.

Today, I was chipping soap shavings off a large block of old fashioned lye laundry soap that I'd bought from a local farmer, so I could melt those shavings into a gel by adding water. And before I knew it, I'd been inspired to get a smaller knife and have fun creating shavings.

So I did.

Here is the result:

A wildcat head. Or perhaps he's a dog. The photos look like a dog. I sort of looked at what my soap block was already looking like, and just went with it.

I think one difference is I'd never carved anything but commercial soap before, and it has something in it to make it much harder, more brittle. This stuff was much easier to work with.

And now I also have a nice jar of laundry gel sitting atop my dryer.

Giveaway at Food Renegade

www.foodrenegade.com is having a blog giveaway. I don't want you to win. I want to win. But still, now you know, so you can go over there and enter.

Plans for a "nice quiet day"

Done so far:
-Coffee with my friend R. (God has really really blessed me with some wonderful friends here!)
-cooled tea poured into Kombucha "tanks"
-milk heated up (oops I overheated it!) and cooling to make cheese later
-soaked beans rinsed and into crock pot
-laundry started

Still To Do:
-Do lots of laundry, fold and put away
-Stretching video and a weight lifting workout...although I think I'll stretch after doing the weights.
-Make fromage blanc
-get a batch of lactofermented cabbage sauerkraut started (will then be ready by Saturday) with some of the whey from the cheesemaking which is why I decided to make cheese in the first place.
-meeting tonight
-take kids to library
-call and place my farm foods order
-clean bathrooms
-continue reading Harry Potter: Half Blood Prince
-continue watching all the Harry Potter movies with the kids this week (with one eyeball while I work on the most boring crochet project ever), in anticipation of seeing the new movie out this weekend.
-play phone tag with public school personell about kids aspie evaluations.
-think about/read about swine flu vaccine issues (which I would not even bother about except that the kids may be needing it to go into the public schools for their evaluations this fall. I have to decide whether to get vaccine, or delay the evals...IF it's an issue, which I don't know if it will be.

So, WHY am I sitting here on the computer when I should be doing all this stuff? Oh yes, waiting for the milk to cool which I overheated because I was busy lookiing up a recipe...on the computer.

tip of the day: To get crinkle skirts to dry faster than air drying, I twist them up and put them into a nylon knee high stocking and the run them through the dryer. then I re-twist with the damp side out and do it again.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This and That

For some reason last night my body just would. not. go. to. sleep. I lay there for what seemed like forever. Well past one, before things finally decided to shut down. No idea why. I'd not even had any caffeine. Go figure.

Well, here's hoping I get better sleep tonight.

The baked oatmeal was a success. So is the menu plan. My kids LOVE knowing what's coming. I like not having to figure stuff out, too.

Tonight I tried a new pasta cooking technique: I got the water started boiling, added the noodles, covered it and turned off the heat. And then I went to vespers. An hour later I came back and drained the still warm and nicely fluffy pasta (twas a wee bit softer than I'd normally cook it, but very very edible) and we ate dinner. I'd done the sauce up in advance, too. So, in addition to baking stuff in the oven while I'm at vespers, now I have another vespers-friendly menu item. Yay.

The Waterfront Park is just lovely. The kids and I explored there this afternoon. Got a little overheated, so ended up at the spray park, and I let the kids get wet, even though they were in street clothes instead of swim suits. Bethany can get overheated easily as a side effect of her meds, so I have to pay attention to details like that.

Down by the water, we watched some birds, the usual ducks and a water bird that I was unfamiliar with. It looked gullish but different. Can't really describe it. We also watched a huge barge go by and enjoyed throwing stones into the Ohio River. Some poor ducks kept thinking we were tossing them bread chunks, so finally I put a stop to the rock throwing, as it was causing confusion and consternation for the duck population. Maia lamented at the garbage in the water, which was indeed sad.

I'm still not bored with exploring Louisville yet. There are lots of fun places to go here in this town.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Well I Finally Did It!

I made a menu plan for this week.

One of the challenges (I know I've mentioned this before...blah blah blah) is my son, Eric, who has some sensory integration issues for which we've never been able to afford therapy. One way, the main way actually, that this manifests for him is called, apparently, Sensory Eating Disorder. I've also heard it called resistant eating.

At any rate, I'm very concerned that it not degenerate into Anorexia at any point. I must keep him eating. And so, part of planning a menu is planning meals that the whole family will love, and which, with as few modifications as possible, I can feed him.

So, here's what I came up with for this week:

Monday Lunch: Egg salad sandwiches/or on salad with fresh veggies. Eric: Scrambled egg and apple slices.

Monday Dinner: Meatloaf, potatoes, and green beans. Eric: meat patty (reserved from before adding meat to meat loaf ingredients) and oven baked fries. (and halleluja, we had a peaceful dinner with everyone engaging in pleasant conversation as opposed to sulking, yelling and the like).

Tuesday Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal
Tuesday Lunch: Hotdogs, salad, leftover meatloaf, apple slices
Tuesday Dinner: Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, Eric: glass of raw milk for protein with his noodles and parmesan.

Wednesday Breakfast: Waffles or toast
Lunch: PBJs, apples, carrot, celery, glass of milk
Dinner: Rice with veg stir fry, Eric: Fries with ketchup, glass of milk

Thursday: French toast
Lunch: Hotdog, leftovers, baked potatoes and cheese
Dinner: Beef Pizza with salad, cherry cobbler

Friday: Grits or oatmeal
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, fruit
Dinner: Baked fish, fish sticks for Eric and Ariana, milk, apple slices

Saturday: Waffles,
Lunch: Liver and salad
Dinner: Burgers

Sunday: Fasting for breakfast
Leftover liver and scrambled eggs for lunch
Dinner: Baked chicken with vegetables

-breads and baked goods made with soaked grains or store bought sprouted grain bread/buns
-Hot dogs are nitrite free, organic
-fries are organic, along with everything else
-eggs are pastured
-meat is grass fed
-milk is raw

I'm DONE feeling maternal guilt over Eric's eating problems. I really am trying to do the best I can to feed him nutritiously, and also to get him to eat. I'm seriously considering what to do because I'd like to make him some chicken nuggets, but I can't really afford a big bag of chicken breasts of the type I'd like to get. I might just get store chicken and make nuggets, and call it a compromise, less that perfect thing because the boy's got to eat something. And I don't want him to get totally sick of healthy options on a potentially too-limited diet. At least with this plan, he's not living on breakfast cereal.

I also think that having a plan posted on the fridge will help my reluctant eater to know in advance what is coming, so he can mentally prepare himself for the task of eating it.

Friday, July 10, 2009


-slept too late to go to Matins.
-breakfast, made sandwiches for Wes.
-Did some reading on the net. Blogging perhaps, can't remember.
-Got myself ready and went and picked up milk etc. from the farmer. Enjoyed seeing and crossing the Ohio River. I love rivers.
-Lunch: Smoothies.
-Put pen to paper and made some workout plans. Finally found the missing dumbbells I'd been missing in the coat closet. Funny how things get put in odd boxes and stashed variously when one moves. Did a wee bit of lifting today, but will go hard at it starting either tomorrow or Monday.
-Ran out to try and buy a swimsuit for Maia. Every summer this happens. One of my kids will need a swimsuit in July and let me tell ya: Those things are HARD to find in July. It's already all a bunch of school uniforms and school supplies filling up the stores now. Every. Stinkin'. Year. Someone wears out their handmedown swimsuit. I think I just need to buy them all new suits at the beginnig of every season and be done with it. No luck on the swim suit, yet. Tomorrow I'll try the mall.
-organized my closet. Setting aside a bunch of skirts that make me feel frumpy. If I don't miss them in a few months, they are going away.
-Took Eric to a play date. Fun enough. But my blood sugar crashed because I hadn't eaten enough. That's taken care of now, but whooo!
-Dinner was potatoes and cabbage 'n' onions. Boring Friday food.
-In my kitchen: crockpot with chicken stock going. Will put in jars tomorrow. Kombucha ready to bottle. Must go do.
-Hopes and dreams: Been reading sewing blogs and want to sew something soon, but don't know what.
-Looking forward to: Curling up on the couch with Wes and watching a movie tonight, going to the farmer's market tomorrow, and sleep.

United Breaks Guitars

This guy made a music video for youtube because United Airlines wouldn't pay for his broken guitar, which they broke. Squeaky wheel, and all that.


The Interloper at the Farmer's Market

A few weeks ago, I had to make a run into a major chain store to buy some paper products. While I was there, I looked around and really noticed something that I'd seen before, all the time, but had never paid attention to.

I think it was the contrast that struck me.

You see, for a very long time...like forever, my food budget felt tied to shopping at the major chain store. I felt like I had no choice. But now, somehow, without increasing my food budget, I'm shopping in a radically different way and not spending more money.

There's been a shift. But I digress from the point I'm going to make which I've not gotten to yet.

The contrast that really struck me, was that ALL the people who were shopping for food at this major chain store looked really really unhealthy. The fat ones (most of them were obesee) were very obese. The thin ones had that coffee-and-cigarrettes too-thin emaciated look with bad hair. Poor skin tone. The whole package. Everyone looked tired.

That's when I decided: I'm not buying food here anymore. I have other options.

You see, when I go down to the farmer's market, when I observe the other families who are getting their raw grass fed "pet food" milk from the farmer, and when I look around at the folks who frequent whole foods there's just a different look about people. People are healthier. Better skin, better hair. Less obesity. (Now, just the fact that I'm shopping there means that there surely is some obesity-mine...in fact, I rather feel like an interloper at the farmer's market).

And although I could easily attribute it to socioeconomic differences, I think really it's nutritional. Because like I said: My food budget's the same.

I'm glad it's a free country, and I'm glad that even though I feel like an interloper, really I'm not. I'm just a shopper like everyone else.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


-Spent morning making a huge batch of freezer waffles and reading snatches of Nourishing Traditions while waiting for the timer on the waffles to beep.

-Talked to my Dad on the phone about fibromyalgia.

-Took daughter to pharmacy (she didn't strickly speaking have to come with me but she did) to pick up her new prescription. It only cost 33 cents!

-Made some phone call inquiries about some psychiatrists. Dead ends, all.

-Took kids to the library and found ourselves there in time to see a special program by the Raptor Rescue Society. Saw some gorgeous birds: Two types of hawks, a couple of adorable little owls and a turkey vulture.

-Did my Whole Foods shopping.

-Cooked liver and rice and veggies for supper. I love liver (used to hate it when I was a kid). Can't seem to get enough of it. Resolved to have it at least once a week. Wish Eric and Ariana would eat it.

-Went to choir practice only to find out had been cancelled. Free time! Alone! Hit the thrift store instead.

-Thirst store finds: Copy of Bridget Jones: the edge of reason, VHS movies to enjoy: An Ideal Husband (Wes loves Oscar Wilde), Two Weeks Notice and Someone Like You. Very cute coral linen jacket and a crinkle skirt that happens to match 98% of what I own.

-Resolved to go through my wardrobe soon and get rid of the frump.

-Wore a pedometer today: step count 7862...way too low. Must exercise regularly.


Psychiatrist Woes

I don't like my daughter's psychiatrist, and I'm just about to the point-after six months of putting up- of finding a different doctor.

But sometimes a known annoyance is better than the unknown. How do I know I'm going to find a good replacement? Another reason I've been staying around is because the therapist is so nice and wonderful. But the doctor herself: I'd give her a D.

Does not listen to us. Does not discuss meds and side effects...basically she just throws one prescription after another at us. She's slow on the uptake when Bethany is not doing so well (stems from not being a good listener). No discussion about how things are interacting, or what side effects of these various meds might be. Me: "Bethany is dizzy all the time." "So, she's drowsy, you say." (while her back is turned and she's scribbling on a tablet) "No, she's dizzy. And non functional."

And although this is not her fault per se, it also drives me crazy that the current state of psychiatric medicine and the understanding of root causes (there is none) is rather medieval compared to other fields of medicine. I have these huge questions in my mind and there just aren't any answers.

It's like every one just wants to make the voices go away, regardless of what might be causing them. Almost makes me want to run off to medical school with a specialty in psychiatric research or somesuch.

Instead, God chose to make me a caregiver. And this is not a job that will magically go away in three years when my dd turns eighteen.

I think it might be time to find a NAMI support group or something. At least there, people might be able to recommend who the good doctors are, as opposed to the bad ones. At least at a NAMI group, there would be people who understand, people who are in the same boat and folks who know all the resources in this community that we could be taking advantage of.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My own little "Real Food Wednesday"

This week I made the ranch dressing described by Cheeseslave. Of course I had to also make a cherry pie/cobbler type thingy after I read her wax eloquent about pie crust. Mmmmm, blogging hero worship. I only had regular lard, but that is at least an improvement over partially hydrogenated lard, or even worse, Crisco!

Wednesday, is also the day I order my real milk, eggs, and such from my farmer. Milk, butter, liver and beef (all grass fed, of course) at prices that are either lower or comparable to grocery store prices. Win, win, win on so many counts! Doing my part to be supporting the agrarian lifestyle, one farm family at a time, baybee! That always makes me feel really good. And the food's good too.

What was for dinner? Well, I made a fabulous veggie bake:

2 zucchini, sliced (local)
2 egg plants, peeled and sliced (also local)
garlic nibs in generous quantities, cut up (yet again, local)
organic italian pasta sauce
coconut oil (not so local) on the bottom of the pan and drizzled over the top.

Bake all in a 9x13 pan. I served this with pasta. I know. Pasta is not the "perfect real food", but then again, neither am I perfect.

I had some homemade chicken broth at lunch (a salad with some of that homemade ranch dressing) because I'm sick with a cold. May have another mug of that before bed.

Ok, enough with blogging about food.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fighting Depression

I got really really depressed this past weekend. I don't rightly know what was going on, just that I was extremely low. And I felt sick-sort of, and I pushed myself too hard and got too much done, and felt very depressed the entire time.

I'm still feeling the aftereffects, and feel not undepressed, but rather that somehow I've shoved it out to the edges of my existence, so I can carry on.

Today I remembered a really nice Akathist called Jesus Light for those in Darkness This is a lovely, lovely prayer for anyone fighting depression. The prayer was composed by Archpriest Lawrence Farley.

Here's the beginning. Click on the link to read/pray the whole thing. It's wonderful:

Kontakion 1 (Tone 7)

Out of the depths of darkness and despair I cry to You, O Lord, You that hung upon the
Cross in darkness. From the pit of pain and confusion, I lift up this prayer, and with all
my heart I sing aloud to You: Jesus, light to those in darkness, glory to You!

Ikos 1 (see Ps. 77)

In the day of my trouble, I seek You, O Lord, and in the night my hand is stretched out
without wearying. My eyes find no rest from weeping, and I am so troubled that I cannot
speak. Yet as my spirit ponders in the night, I raise this song to You:
JESUS, rescuer of the abandoned!
JESUS, hope of those in despair!
JESUS, guiding star to the lost!
JESUS, joyful return of the exile!
JESUS, unforeseen victory!
JESUS, eternal triumph!
JESUS, radiant dawn after endless night!
JESUS, everlasting light of the Kingdom!
JESUS, wipe away my tears!
JESUS, calm the panic of my heart!
JESUS, exultation of those hemmed in by fear!
JESUS, joy of those crushed by sorrow!
JESUS, light to those in darkness, glory to You!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Ice Cream Cake


Raw grass-fed cream, raw grass-fed milk, raw pastured eggs and real vanilla and low glycemic agave nectar went into the ice cream.

Overnight whey/water-soaked whole wheat flour, pastured eggs, coconut oil and low glycemic palm sugar (along with the usual other ingredients like cocoa and baking soda) in the cake.

Grass-fed raw butter, cocoa poweder, salt and xylitol for the frosting.

My only regret was that the cocoa powder wasn't organic. It was "at least it's not Nestle" Hershey's.

OK, so if I were more of a purist with my sweeteners, I probably would have used maple syrup or honey to sweeten this stuff, but then I couldn't have had any. Pffffft.

There are six of us in our family and so half the cake was six slices. I need to triple wrap the rest in wax paper and foil in the freezer and bring it out on a special occasion before the Dormitian fast next month.

What else did I do today? Well, I skipped church and took it really really easy this morning, in order to get over the "sickishness" that is probably just my fibromyalgia rearing its stankin' ugly head because I've been so busy lately. I don't feel to guilty since I was at liturgy yesterday morning instead.

This afternoon, I made the cake frosting, homemade olive oil mayonaise, homemade ranch dressing, washed a head of lettuce, and cut up a gajillion celery and carrot sticks for the fridge. Easy snacking now. I refuse to pay for organic "baby carrots" when I can cut up organic carrots all by myself and save several dollars in so doing.

In the oven for supper: Chicken and rice. I soaked the rice overnight in whey/water, then drained it, and am baking the rice, and cut up chicken (and some salt) with a quart of chicken stock that I had waiting for me in the freezer.

A good rhythm.

I also got my day planner organized, and my household binder cleaned out today. I need address pages, and I have a neat to-do list for tomorrow. I hate to-do lists. They mean that I have to do stuff.

And I learned three things about myself: 1. Even with legal sweeteners, I still want to eat compulsively when the food is very sweet. 2. I've been depressed and isolating myself this weekend. Even from my family. I find myself driving them away so skillfully it's almost scary: whether it's hiding in my room, watching a sappy movie on the hallmark channel that drives everyone else to the back of the house (last night), or being constantly critical...and the thing I've learned is that self-isolation is a factor in eating disorders of whatever stripe. And that's all I'm gonna say about that. 3. I STINK at this whole "resting" thing.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Letting Go

I realize I'm a control freak who has a really really hard time letting go of certain areas. And I yell and bluster, sigh and complain and make life miserable for others around me (my family), when I don't get my way. God have mercy on me, a sinner.

I woke up at 4:15 this morning with migraine symptoms. I put on an eye mask and went back to weird-dream sleep. When I got up I took an excedrine migraine, and pushed through my day. until. I. could. not. continue.

I went to liturgy, ate brunch, baked a cake, made homemade ice cream, went to the store for a new ice cream freezer...blah blah blah. busy day.

I should have paid attention to what my body was telling me and gotten some rest. I did lay down for a wee bit, too little, too late.

So after vespers (yes, I even ignored my body to that extent and went to evening vespers, shame on me!) I finally asked for help and the rest of everyone made supper. Not quite the way I would have made...

and what really frosts me about myeslf, is that I STILL couldn't keep my critical comments to myself.

I really really need to make other people on my family cook more often.

Food Blogs

Sometimes I wish I had a food blog. Lately this blog has almost been a food blog, but not quite. I don't know if I'll ever get there, but part of me really wishes I could be one of that chic club of organic locovores who are amazing, who cook, who write well about it, and who are food renegades.

I'm talking about www.foodrenegade.com, www.cheeseslave.com and www.organicthrifty.com, among others.

But I'm too new at this. And I'm fat.

And being fat, I feel like I'm totally and utterly disqualified to talk in a reasonable way about healthy food and actually get an audience to listen to what I say, even if I'm saying the exact same things as all these appropriately-weighted writers who are saying the same things.

Who wants to read a food blog about being healthy that's written by a fat person? Nobody, that's who. Because obviously whatever I'm doing has not been being done long enough to make a difference...or at least not a difference that counts in the way of our sick society's one-and-only measure of health: Body weight.

This makes me infinitely sad. I hate being fat. I hate Eating disorder/disordered eating, thinking about it, obsessive thoughts about it, all of it. Hate, hate, hate this aspect of me. Working on it, getting help for it, but you know: Some things I can do and some things are out of my control. I can (and do) exercise. I can watch what and how much I eat (which I also do), but I can't MAKE my body get thinner. And so far, all the controlled portions, healthy oils and whatnot are doing such slow good that no one can tell. Not even me. At least not on the scale. Well, maybe three pounds.

But my skin and hair...they sure look great.

Nourishing Traditions style Ice Cream Cake

Nourishing Traditions type of cooking...takes time and energy, let me tell you! And advance planning. But it also gives me such a sense of health and well-being that it's worth it. (Skin and hair look better too. The other day several people said they thought I was in my 20's, egads!)

The project: An ice cream cake.

Yesterday: got out my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and looked up the devil's food cake recipe. What changes do I need to make to it?

1. use whole grain soaked flour. Ok, so last night, I measured out the flour, but made it whole wheat instead of white flour, and then got some whey (off the yogurt, I probably had half a cup or more, and added enough water to it to make it the amount of water that the recipe called for. Mix those together with the flour, cover, let sit on the counter over night.

2. Today I added the other ingredients, using palm sugar (low glycemic) in place of regular sugar, pastured eggs and coconut oil instead of canola or vegetable oil. I mixed them very well so that all would be blended. Handy Kitchen Aid!

Baked the cake in two round pans.

OK, on to the ice cream:

Had just bought real cream and milk from my handy dandy farmer S., so decided to double the "3 cups of cream" ice cream recipe to six. It was more like four cups of cream and two cups of milk. That works, too. Real vanilla (all I had, about 4.5 tsp.), a cup of agave nectar (I know, honey is more NT correct, but my metabolism really needs something lower glycemic, so we compromise), six pastured egg yolks (thank you again, farmer S.!)

All into the ice cream maker, plug it in, only to learn that the motor had decided to die sometime between last time we used it and now. Perhaps moving across state damaged it somehow. Perhaps the ice cream maker is crap made in China.

So, I had to put all in the fridge and run out and buy another ice cream maker. Grrrr. Whatever happened to the kid-powered crank ones? I bet I could order one through Lehman's Catalog.
An hour and fifteen later, I'm finally home, only to learn that I just can't grab the metal container form my old machine and stick it into the new one, or throw the new motor on top of my old bucket because the whole stankin ' thing's been redesigned by the Chinese crapmakers. Oh well. And besides, I unwittingly bought a bigger size. I am now capable of quadrupling the recipe should I so desire, in the future and making loads of icecream all at one time. Maybe we'll have a party someday, and do just that.

Soon enough the ice cream is churning. Not long after that, it was done, and now it is ripening in the freezer.

I cut one of the layers of cake in two and will make the ice cream cake like a giant oreo cookie.

Now I'm hunting for a way to make NT style frosting. Butter and cocoa would be nice, since I have lots of that on hand. How do I sweeten it? I don't want to use powdered sugar, that's for sure. I'll figure something out and post pictures when it's all done.

Enough of this. My kitchen is trashed and I ought to go clean it up. Sigh.