A day at the goat farm

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Today we went on a wonderful homeschool field trip to Poplar Hill goat farm. It was a true learning experience that was so much fun and basically unforgettable.

We’ve been drinking Poplar Hill goat milk for years, so when I learned that the farm offers tours to the public, it only made sense to make a homeschool field trip out of it.

For $60, we had a personalized tour that lasted over 2 hours. We bottle-fed newborn goats (the girls’ favorite) and toddler goats, fed adult goats hay and grain, and gave fresh water to the “man goats”.  We saw newborn goats that were born today, observed a machine milking, and tried our hand at hand-milking a very cooperative mama goat.

When we were done with the tour, we bought fresh goat milk, goat cheese, and goat milk soap to bring back home.

As an added bonus, we played with a farm cat and rabbits, too. We petted and fed goat milk to the friendliest farm dogs we’ve ever met.

For our suburbanite family, it was a magical day! “The best field trip EVER!”

Stillness, sleep, and homeschooling

Almost two weeks of homeschool are under our belts.  Mia, Anna and I are happy and content with how it has gone so far.

Mia says her favorite aspects of homeschooling so far have been the freedom, nature walks, and the sleep (she has slept roughly 12 hours per night, sometimes waking up at noon).  Anna says her favorite things have been time with mommy, outside time, and her fairy project that we’re working on this week.

We start each day with reading poetry from The Waldorf Book of Poetry. Sometimes I read it, sometimes the girls read it, and sometimes we create artwork in response to it. We light a candle when we start our work and keep it going until we’re done.  At least, this is what I’ve been trying to do.  We’ll see how many candles we go through.

Anna will work through Jacob Streit’s book, And There Was Light, learning the creation story in the Old Testament and creating art in response to it.  I read one chapter to her at a time. This story is an important part of the Waldorf curriculum in the 9th year.  It is a beautiful story. I am hoping to get through it by the time Anna turns ten in March.

Mia is enjoying her English curriculum from Oak Meadow, and I am enjoying it along with her! Today she read a poem, The Buddha’s Last Instruction, by Mary Oliver in her book, House of Light.  The poem is beautiful and so is the curriculum.   The curriculum encourages deep thinking and creative expression.  I am very happy with it.

My favorite aspect about our new homeschooling experience is stillness.  We have long periods of silence.  It is peaceful and restorative.  This is something I don’t know if we’ve ever experienced in a school setting.

My least favorite aspect of this new adventure is that I am working two days per week and one additional afternoon per week.  I would like to be home 5 days a week homeschooling and taking care of the home.  I love it so very much.  And, I also do love my work with clients outside of the home.  Life balance is key, now more than ever.

Anna rides a bike!

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Alan took Anna out the other night and ended up teaching her how to ride a bike.  She learned immediately.  She’s been using a balance bike for a while, so she had the balance thing down already.  Seeing her riding on the sidewalk on a tiny bike with her tiny legs going so fast was one of the CUTEST things I have ever seen.  LOVE.

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Anna was just so happy and proud, along with the rest of us.  She wanted to call “everybody” to share her exciting news, and that is just what she did.  She also decided that we would celebrate by going out for ice cream, or more specifically: “chocolate ice cream, ice cream cone, vanilla ice cream.”

I should note that this sweet little bike was custom painted and designed by Alan.  I can’t remember how it looked originally, but it looks pretty cute now.

Here is the video of the momentous occasion.

Homeschool vs. public school after 5 days

We are five days into public school after nine years of homeschooling. It has been a huge change, and I think it will be a while before I am fully adjusted.

This is what I love about public school so far:

1. It is free

2. It is a 6-hour break for me to not worry about one child and be able to focus on my other child

3. Mia’s teacher is extremely organized, structured, and creative.  She’s fun and a great role model for Mia.

4. Mia goes outside every day and gets play with other kids her age in fresh air with exercise. Every day.

5. She gets exposed to a variety of topics each day and broadens her horizons.

6. She is learning how to do things more quickly, such as change into snow-gear and pack a backpack at the end of the day.

7. She doesn’t have to fight with a three-year-old for 6 hours a day.

8. It has placed structure and routine into our lives, and I have thrived on it, for the most part.  It has made me more productive and organized, and my meals more intentional and interesting.

What I loved about homeschool:

1. The freedom to make our own schedule or not have one at all.

2.  That Mia could play guitar, sing, draw, read and write for hours each day–in her pajamas and with messy hair.  I also very much love that this is what she did for most of her life before she went to school.

3. Lots of downtime with Mia, lots of time for conversation, and lots of shared experiences that gave us a strong and wonderful bond that I hope, with my whole heart, will last forever.

4. The lack of homework

5. The quickness and ease of learning something new, without having to wait around or follow procedures to do so.

6. The lack of negative peer influence/ constant presence of positive influence

7. The extra sleep for everyone

8. The space to act on inspiration and learn/do anything that pleases us

9. The ability/space for Mia to learn at her level and at her pace

10. The opportunity for natural learning/ learning from true life events not created in a classroom (such as planning, shopping, and making a meal for dinner).

11.  That without ever having a spelling test prior to this week, Mia was able to develop the ability to spell years beyond her grade level, all on her own, simply by reading, writing, and developing in a natural way.

As of today, my conclusion is that homeschooling is awesome–and public school is awesome.  They each have their own great qualities, and one can’t replicate the other.  A little is lost and a little is won. They are two very different options, and I think I am pretty lucky that I’ve had the opportunity to experience both.

I do think we will go back to homeschooling someday, perhaps years down the road.  But for now, and except for the homework, I love having my kid in school.

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.

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)

–Hypoglycemia

–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