things I love today

Ten things I love today:

10. Shopping at the Wedge without the children and browsing the Health and Beauty aisles so long that I think dust began to gather on my groceries,

9. my cupboard of homeopathic remedies and essential oils and other little tricks that I have learned to use over the years,

8. Biotics Intenzyme Forte–18 pills per day for clear skin, my magic bullet for conquering my once-stubborn acne,

7. that I am finally learning to stop taking things personally and start laughing about them,

6. The Nourished Kitchen monthly meal plan subscription,

5. my plan to make a double batch of winter stew to eat all weekend so I can relax instead of cook,

4. my plan to make fresh vegetable juice in the morning to make up for my lack of vegetables this week,

3. my children, who are wearing semi-matching superhero outfits today, consisting of underwear, ballerina slippers, belts, and a leotard,

2. my husband, who is my rock,

1. and lastly, the hot epsom salt bath with essential oils, candles lit, and Enya that is waiting for me.  Yes, I am that cheesy.


Today I saw a quote.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of the past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

I saw this quote on the wall at the office of our cranial-sacral therapist, Angel.  I think I will post it on my own wall so I can read it every day.

That I saw this quote at Angel’s office is rather fitting; she is one of the people I am grateful for every day.  I met her three years ago, weeks away from giving birth to Anna.  She helped me with pelvic pain, getting Anna into proper position for the birth, and helped me connect with my baby.  She helped me build my confidence and believed along with me that I would have an easy and uncomplicated birth. She told me before Anna was born that Anna was detail-oriented and cooperative.  Those words stayed with me; I wanted to see if they would hold true.  They have.

Anna has seen Angel every few months since she was 3 days old.  Angel can connect with her in a way nobody else can.  She knows if her ear canals are inflammed and can help heal them; she has helped with latching problems and with teething.  She helped Anna get her coordination back after she had an semi-serious accident; she tells me of natural treatments to use when we are sick.  She fully supports and embraces the way we parent and raise our children, right down to the unschooling, and she is an incredible source of information on these topics.  Angel can read Anna’s emotional and physical states and can help her resolve any tension or conflict, and give me advice on how I can help her at home.  Anna trusts Angel with her whole heart–a trust that was built before they even met.  After a treatment with Angel, Anna is calm and content.

Mia sees Angel regularly, too, and I see her from time to time. We love her as much as Anna does.

She is a gift in our lives and I am grateful.

Ayurveda and my post-Thanksgiving blues

I learned about Ayurveda a while back after my friend Lish introduced me to it.  Ayurveda is an ancient form of medicine that is 5,000 years old.   Originating in India, it is the oldest known health-care system in the world. Learning about Ayurveda has changed how I view myself, my health, other people, and even my cat.

Everything in our environment, every season and every emotion has a quality to it associated with one of the three doshas of Ayurvedic medicine: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.  It is said that these doshas must remain properly balanced in order to maintain health and that imbalance bauses illness.

You can take a dosha self-test here.

“Ayurveda explains that everything in the universe is created using a combination of the five elements: air, space, fire, water, and earth…There are three doshas…: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is composed of air and space. Pitta is composed of fire and water…Kapha is made up of water and earth. We each have all three of the doshas in our physiology, just in different combination, and these doshas show up in our bodies and in our personalities. In most people, one dosha tends to be dominant.”  — Diva Village

I am predominantly Vata.  Vata is dry, airy, quick, short-lived. Some days this seems unfortunate, because Vata is the weakest of the doshas and I could use more strength most days.  I use up my energy quickly and must replenish often.  When I am out of balance I become depressed, irritable, too talkative, can’t sleep, don’t want to see people, can’t tolerate much stimulation of any kind such as touch, noise, and bright light.  The computer, staying up late, family holidays, loud music, intense people, traffic jams, crowded places, kids fighting–all increase vata and can disrupt my balance.  Vata out of balance equals feeling seriously overwhelmed to the point of wanting to run away.

When I am in balance I am at my best.  This means sleeping a lot and not being woken up at night by a screaming toddler.  It means going to bed early, eating at regular times, eating warm and moist foods, keeping a balance between activity and rest, and not socializing too much.  Keeping up with these requirements for a period of time bring out my enthusiasm, creativity, and sense of humor.  When I am in balance, I can see the lighter side of life, I laugh more, and I have new ideas and think life is very interesting rather than overwhelming.

As I sit here it is nearly 1 am and I have insomnia depite feeling horribly tired. Chronic sleep deprivation (screaming toddler), a long stretch without downtime and two days of very noisy family Thanksgiving celebrations have brought me here: I am in serious Vata excess.

And this happens every holiday, every year.  Like clockwork.

Now that this first stretch of annual holiday celebrating is over, I can plan for my recovery.

I will add some Kapha to my days this week: rest, predictability, routine, quiet, slow.  I will let the phone ring, stay away from the computer, make a big batch of soup, be a homebody.  I will try my darndest not to talk too much or exhaust myself with excessive thoughts.

Things will surely fall into place again…until next time.

a lovely gift idea for the holidays

For the third time I had the honor of photographing a few of Erin’s beautiful soaps. They smell almost good enough to eat.

Here are photos from previous years, and more here–although I am not sure whether these products are still available.

These will be for sale in her Etsy shop this year, along with many more lovely handmade items.

Erin was my midwife’s apprentice for Anna’s birth.  She is also a doula, an herbalist, and creator of natural, handmade bath and beauty products.  She is an amazing person–an independent and creative spirit.

Please visit Erin’s website here.

Is a full-fat diet better for your health?

After spending most of my teenage years and twenties as a vegetarian, I surprise myself a bit when I look at what I eat these days.  I think I would have fallen off my rocker if I’d had a glimpse into the future and see what I eat now.  My fat-phobic self would have likely been rather disgusted.  But that one-upon-a-time version of myself has been put to rest.

My staples are pastured meat, full-fat raw dairy, cream, eggs, butter,  lard, fermented foods, coconut products and fermented cod liver oil (and a few vegetables and fruits here and there–I really could use more) every day.  Every single day of my life for the past few years, this is what I’ve lived on, with variations in the theme as I’ve learned and adapted.

I might have been less disgusted and converted sooner had I known that the diet I follow these days would heal my severe acne, cure my depression, strengthen my weak immune system, smooth those darn flaky heels and remove my need for moisturizer, and best of all, give me nails that are as strong as nails and are bright white and smooth at the tips (nails are a good indicator of overall health, in case you didn’t know).

But I was younger then. And more arrogant and idealistic and cared more about the lives of chickens than my own body.

Teenage arrogance aside, nobody ever told me about this diet.  My parents tried their darndest to uphold the traditional wisdom they knew from their childhoods (which was a good bulk of the diet I follow now)–and we had cod liver oil, liver, rye bread, homemade yogurt and whole milk cheese for as long as they could make us eat it.  But eventually I succumbed.  I gave in to our cultural obsession with unhealthy eating and sold my body to grain and sugar and skim milk. Thanks for trying, mom and dad.  I appreciate your efforts, even if it’s a bit overdue.

“Look back.”

Looking back in time is the solution to all of our food woes.  I mean, like 100 years ago or more.

100 years ago, nobody  ate cold breakfast cereal or commercial skim milkThey didn’t eat Smart Balance or soybean oil or modified corn starch, because it did not exist. They ate real food.  They did not have type II diabetes or heart disease or attention deficit disorder. Most of them produced the food themselves, took it from the earth and ate it. Some of them ate too much white flour and sugar and their teeth rotted out–but learn from those who didn’t. We have something to learn from these people.  We have something to learn from looking back.

A dentist by the name of Weston Price traveled the world and studied remote cultures and their traditional foods.  He compared their health and physical structure to their counterparts who had moved into modern culture and began eating “white man’s food”.  The results were incredible, and the pictures speak for themselves. Take a look (scroll down a bit).  This traditional wisdom is what my diet is based upon; it makes sense to me.  It is what has sustained humankind since the beginning of time.

Ailments I’ve overcome in the past few years through this diet (and other non-drug therapies where applicable):

–Adrenal fatigue (not completely, but still working on it)


–Chronic ringworm infection

–Severe cystic acne on face and back

–Chronic constipation/diarrhea/bloating/digestive pains

–Environmental allergies

–Frequent colds and flu

–Severe depression and mood swings

–Nightmares and other sleep disturbances

–Chronic swollen lymph nodes

–Chronic tonsillitis

–Aches and pains of unexplained origin

–Peeling heels

–Brittle nails

–Dry skin and lips

–Inability to tolerate bright light/sun in my eyes

–Migraine headaches

–Severe PMS and menstrual cramps

–Excess belly fat (there’s still some there, mind you, only less)

–Inability to cook anything that doesn’t come out of a box

This diet is a work in progress.  And there is more to healing than diet; it all comes together when the time is right and when your heart is open. I have been learning and adapting for a long time, making changes as I was ready to make them.  My next step is to incorporate liver into our diets and begin taking butter oil.  I want to get more serious about daily yoga practice and meditation and live my days more mindfully. I want to make my own sourdough bread from home-ground rye.  I’d also like to have an ongoing supply of fermented mayo and fermented vegetables going.  One thing at a time.

I do not worry about my cholesterol levels.  The lipid hypothesis is flawed, but mainstream media hasn’t taken hold and most people are still in the dark.  Heart disease is caused by chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation has a variety of causes, a few of which are high-glycemic diet, vegetable oils, and trans-fatty acids. This is the reason that people who follow low-fat diets still take Lipitor and their health continues to degenerate–even though they think they are doing the best thing.

In case you may be wondering about weight gain: on a diet like this, maintaining weight is easy (unless you eat gobs of nuts, avocados, grains, sweeteners, and/or olive oil–avoid doing this!) High blood glucose levels and toxins in the body cause obesity.  Eating traditional foods will make you feel full, healthy, calm, satisfied, and best of all, thin.

Essential internet reading for understanding traditional diets:

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects

Weston Price Foundation

Nourishing Our Children

Politically Incorrect Nutrition

Recommended books:

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston Price

Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

2 years, 4 months and still nursing. Here’s the story.

(Disclaimer: My views on breastfeeding go hand-in-hand with my deep respect for parents of adopted children and those who are unable to breastfeed.  In no way do my views seek to undermine how you feed and parent your children; there are many ways of raising babies with love.  At the same time, I am an advocate for babies who have breastfeeding available to them and believe that mothers who are able to breastfeed become informed and empowered enough to do so.)

Anna is a toddler now (and a big toddler).  She is healthy and happy and strong…and strong-willed and energetic and chatty. She is completely wonderful.

Anna still nurses.  And nurses and nurses.  She has never used a bottle and refused a pacifier (we tried, but I am grateful now that we failed).  Yes, it is exhausting at times, and yes, sometimes I need a break–and then I take one.  But nursing my toddler is wonderful, and I highly recommend it.

We’ve have always nursed whenever and wherever we want, discretely but not secretly.  Most people don’t seem to notice, and those who do tend to give a warm smile.  There may have been a few uncomfortable glances here and there, but I haven’t taken them to heart.  I think that may start to change now.  Nursing toddlers in public in America is an unusual sight.

From a worldwide perspective our society ranks incredibly low in breastfeeding initiation, duration of breastfeeding, and social acceptance of breastfeeding.  Because of this, I understand and expect some discomfort when I venture out outside of my safe little world.  At the same time, I know what I am doing is normal.  I know that in order for our society to view breastfeeding (even toddlers and young children) as normal, it has to be seen.  Breastfeeding babies, toddlers and young children is normal.

When we see things over again, we tend become desensitized and accept them.  Although I nurse Anna for the simple sake of nursing her, I know that I am an activist of sorts–I am exposing people to something different and important.  I am changing our society one breastfeeding toddler at a time.

I am happy, grateful and humbled that we still have our nursing relationship.  I have maintained it largely because of instinct.  It feels right and natural to me. It has flowed so easily through Anna’s life stages and kept our lives simple.  My decision to continue nursing has been a logical decision as well; I maintain it to keep us connected, to give her comfort, to keep her immune system strong, and to help her face develop to its best potential.

I come from a long line of breastfeeding women.  To my knowledge, every child in my parents’ families and their ancestors were breastfed.  My sisters and I were exclusively breastfed, and I watched my youngest sister breastfeed on demand until she was well over a year. Given my wonderful exposure and deep sense that breastfeeding was normal, it was never a question how I would feed and nurture my own babies.

I am grateful for how easily breastfeeding came to me and my babies.  I am grateful that I could stay home and nurse my babies all day long. I know many women who have tried and struggled, who have pumped at work, who have suffered bleeding nipples and blisters and thrush. But they have persisted, and all of them succeeded in a way that worked for them. I admire their persistence, and it emphasizes my belief that mothers are amazing and strong.  Motherhood is filled with challenges, victories, and failures–and they all blend together to create a meaningful life.

The following are resources that I wish every mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, friend, doctor, and person would read and learn from–and that have the power to make our society would be a happier and healthier place.  Knowledge is power, and educating oneself is the most powerful form of knowledge that exists.

A Natural Age of Weaning by Katherine Dettwyler, PhD; discusses proven health benefits of breastfeeding, IQ, and a discussion about natural weaning of mammals

An excellent article about the science of attachment.

How breastfeeding impacts facial development in children.  This is absolutely remarkable to me–and I wish all parents were informed about the importance of breastfeeding in a child’s facial development.  In addition, this information discusses bite problems and related issues and how, if left untreated, can create aesthetic and functional problems for children as they grow. Improper facial development is linked to learning problems, sinus and breathing problems, allergies, amongst other common ailments.  If caught early, these problems can be helped.

The diet of breastfeeding mothers is critical in making superior milk, and this is an example of a diet that creates nutrient dense milk to make strong and healthy babies.  It is very different from any diet suggested by American pediatricians and doctors, but based upon hundreds of years of traditional wisdom.

To see what ideal facial and oral structure looks like and how modernized foods impacted our health, beauty, and dental health, look here.

Take care, my friends.

I love love.

Today I am grateful for the simple gift of having love in my heart.

Having children has taught me a lot of things, but most importantly it has taught me the meaning of unconditional love.  I love them.  And I love them no matter what.  I will always love them, no matter what.  I will never abandon them, physically nor emotionally.  I love their daddy, although it has taken me many years to choose to give him unconditional love.  Loving unconditionally makes a person vulnerable.  I am okay with being vulnerable now.

I am working on healing my wounded inner child by giving that inner child my unconditional love–the same love I have for my own children.  I got some exercises from my therapist, Ivonne, who is a gift in my life.  I love her.  The exercises are working wonders and I have been doing them every day and moving past some old emotional traumas.  Finally, I am starting to feel a little lighter.

I love my midwife, Jeanne (scroll down on the link to see her).  She has cancer.  I brought her a chicken pot pie yesterday, and it made me really happy.  It made her happy, too. I loved seeing her, giving her a big hug, having her in my heart forever.  I am very sad that she going to suffer and go through chemo.  I want her to do the Gerson therapy instead, but I am not sure whether I should tell her about it or not.  I want to respect her boundaries.  So I am listening to my intuition and waiting to get a sense for whether I should send her the DVD  about Gerson therapy, The Beautiful Truth, or not…

I love my friends.  You are what make my life feel whole. Before I had you, I was lonely.

I love the sunshine today, and I love that my 6-year-old can play out in it all day long with her friend, Adam, who is 4.  I love that they like playing together, even though they are two years apart and different genders.  I love that Mia doesn’t care about things like that.  I love how she likes to play and have fun and be a real kid.

I love that Anna is a little stinker.  I love the words she is learning to say and I love when she likes to run around naked.  I love her chunky little body and I want to bite her.

The end.

my friend rusty, a flattened-out staple

I haven’t had a tetanus shot since I was 15.  That would be roughly 17 years ago.

Two nights ago, I went out to put something in the mailbox and stepped on a rusty little thing sticking straight up out of my front porch.  At first, my imagination told me that someone planted it there for me to step on and give me tetanus–to teach me a lesson about keeping up on my shots.

Then I got it together and realized it was  a flattened-out staple from a UPS package; that’s just the spot where the packages get placed.  Maybe the UPS guy wanted to give me a taste of my own medicine.

I am terrified of shots.  I don’t take them and I don’t give them to my kids.  I don’t trust the people who administer them.  It feels wrong and goes against everything my gut tells me to do.

(Ok, I have actually read everything I can find about vaccinations and my decision is based on this, too, and not just paranoid delusions.  Ironically, tetanus is the one shot I do believe is important and really *have* been meaning to get one…)

So when I stepped on a rusty metal object, you can imagine how my mind started racing.  And questioning.  And freaking out.  Not just about tetanus, but the devastation about possibly having no choice but to have a stranger inject my body with a mysterious serum.

While I panicked and squeezed out as much blood as my foot would allow, Alan casually went to the computer and started shopping for crashed motorcycles. I was furious. Shouldn’t he be panicking right alongside his tetanus-stricken bride?

He calmly reminded me that he has stepped on three rusty nails in recent years, is also behind on his tetanus shots, and is still alive and kicking. Ok, I thought. I suppose it’s possible I might survive.

The next morning,we all went to Northwest Family Physicians in Crystal and saw a nurse practitioner.

Rather than empathizing with my pain (I could hardly step on my foot), I got the old “walking BAREFOOT outside, were we?”

and “WHY haven’t you kept up-to-date with your shots?”

and the kicker, “are your CHILDREN up to date with their shots?”

…as if she has never heard of a barefoot walking, behind-on-her-tetanus-shots, doesn’t-vaccinate-her-children kind of mom.

She wasn’t much help, so I went home and called a family friend who is a wonderful and nonjudgmental doctor (whom I suppose I could have called right away instead of seeing Nurse High-Horse).

Turns out, having had three tetanus shots in my life, even though I am behind, I probably still have some antibody protection–at least enough to protect from such a small wound.  I was so low-risk for tetanus that I was not even a candidate for the antitoxin injection–the tetanus cure that you get if you are thrown from a four-wheeler and scraped over the ground for 30 yards.

And getting the shot now would have no effect on the potential tetanus in my foot.  So I didn’t get the shot, and I didn’t take the antibiotics.

I kept the wound clean with hydrogen peroxide and treated it to a warm Epsom salt soak with essential oils of Thyme, Eucalyptus, and Lavender.  I took some Arnica and rubbed the soles of my feet with Myrtle oil and went to bed.

My foot is ten times better today, with no signs of infection or tetanus.

Thank goodness.

Now if I could only muster the courage to get that tetanus shot…