Friday, December 31, 2010


I've been meaning to come in and talk about my lack of posts. Things got a little weird and hectic for awhile.
Back in September I developed this weird path of bumps on the back of one thigh. From there they spread... and kept spreading. Turns out they were not bumps but hives. They were everywhere after about two weeks. Two weeks, of crazy, big itchy, all over my body hives. I thought I was going to go crazy.
I didn't want to take anything because I was nursing. I was afraid of the antihistamine family because they can often cause a decrease in milk
supply they say. Also drowsiness and sedation in the baby. Plus, as we all know, I'm a little anti medication.
Two weeks and they aren't going away. I thought, "If they are hives, they'll go away eventually right?" I read online that you can be exposed to an allergen and sometimes it can take a while to get out of your system, so I kept waiting it out.
Every day.... Ugh.
I gave in finally. Went to a walk in clinic down the road and thought they could at least give me an idea on why they were not going away, rather it was normal for them to be there so long and what to do about them.
The walk in clinic was less than helpful. She told me that it really could be anything. She then proceed to 'lecture' me on eating healthy.
I said, with all due respect, I eat pretty healthy. She started listing no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial dyes, etc etc.
Again, I said, with all due respect, I don't even buy that stuff. I shop at the Farmer's Market, the local grocery, the natural food store, etc. ON a rare occasion I'll have a regular soda, or give in to a craving for a bag of Lays or something weird, but it's pretty rare.
So she said, well, then cut out dairy.
haha, I said, my little one here is breastfeeding still and she appears to have a cow's milk sensitivity so for the past 4-6 months, I've really not had any dairy.
We moved onto chemicals in the home next. Bleaches, soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent.
hmm.... once again, I use natural products I said. I use soap nuts and homemade detergent for my laundry. I use cleaners made with vinegar, tea tree oil and lemon juice. Nothing has changed anyway on that.

So she said, well, maybe it's not hives... She gets out a book. Says, okay, it is Pityrissis Rosea.
She says, "it will just run it's course over a few weeks to a few months, there's not much you can do until it does. Try oatmeal baths." And sent me on my way.


I go home and look into this new fun diagnosis only to find none of the symptoms seem to make sense.

I try to find a general doctor at this point as I do not have one. The soonest one can see me as a new patient is months from now. I go ahead and book the appointment thinking, "Well, the hives will be gone by then, but It would probably be good to have a regular doctor anyway."

In the mean time, I find a dermatologist to book an appointment with.

Go in, she looks at it. We discuss the in's and out's of what has been going on.

  • They just kind of popped up one evening
  • They got worse and worse
  • They are never completely gone
  • They do 'spread' or move. Sometimes they are concentrated on say my leg(s), other times my arm(s), back, hips, etc
  • Every morning they are very bad. But they seem to fade by evening.
  • Never had hives or any allergic reaction before (only to coconut, and no hives)
Here's what I've tried:

  • Changed sheets and washed completely
  • Stopped using Laundry detergent, soaps and everything for a few days.
  • Bought all new 100% cotton clothes and sheets and only wore those for a week. (I was the Scrubs Mama for a week! haha)
  • Slept in another room
  • Slept in another room for an entire week (living room floor) only using all new 100% (never been put in the bedroom) cotton sheets and I would pack them up in a big tupperware container in the morning so no 'cat hair' or allergens or anybody was touching them other than me
  • Went on a 'bland diet'. Started with completely no diary of any sort (or soy) no tomatoes, no sugars, no anything that is common allergens such as nuts or berries. Mainly chicken, rice, etc.
I'm sure there were more.
She seemed more fascinated than able to provide an answer for me.
The first visit she listed the 'diagnosis' as "Contact Dermatitis" gave me a prescription for something I can't even remember now (I looked it up and it was not compatible with breastfeeding) and a steroid cream I was to lather my entire body down with every day, twice a day.

I returned with no amount of relief the next week. We pretty much went through the same song and dance again. Her fascinated. Not able to provide answers. "Keep using the Cream", "Sometimes things can take a while to respond". In the timeI worked with her, she came up with everything from bed bugs, to flea bites, to an unknown newly developed allergy.

By the end of the 3rd visit, no answers, and only new questions, I gave up on her.

I contacted an allergist and set up an appointment there. I figured, okay, if this is an allergy, we need to figure out what it is and why and make this go away.

I've had hives every day, all over my body, for almost two months at this point.

The allergist listens to my tale. Laughs at the dermatologist for prescribing the cream. He says, "okay, here's the deal. You've had hives for about five weeks now. Once you get to six weeks, they are considered 'chronic'. You are not at the point yet, but you are close. Chronic hives are rarely ever associated with an allergen."

With this I was a little taken aback. Hives, not associated with an allergen? Well, what else could possibly cause hives? Never heard of such a thing.

He said that doing an allergy test would not give us an answer and would only succeed in giving him money, it was pointless. What we needed to do was order bloodwork.

Hmm, okay. Why?

Once you get to the point of having chronic hives you have about a 60% chance that they are an autoimmune response. Could be another autoimmune type disorder like Lupus for example, or it could be a disease all on it's own in which your body wakes up one morning and decides, 'oh hey, I don't like you skin cells anymore, I'm going to attack you!' This is called Chronic Urticaria.
Or you've got about a 35% chance it's not autoimmune, but we'll never figure out what it is and we just try to treat the symptoms.
Last, you have about a 5% chance that it could be an allergen.

Most uplifting news of the year.
It gets better.

Once you have chronic hives, you'll probably have them for the rest of your life. Even if we figure out what indeed they are, autoimmune themselves, conditions of another disease, whatever, there's not really a good chance they'll ever go away.

Apparently once your body switches that mechanism 'on' you can't really turn it back off. You can only treat the symptoms.

I worked with him on a few different medications. Turns out OTC Claritin actually works the best for me. Nothing gets rid of the hives completely, but the Claritin does make them barely noticeable 'spots and dots'. Like little mosquito bites.

My bloodwork came back that it was indeed autoimmune. My ANA test was defiantly indicative of some sort of autoimmune disorder. He also said my 'thyroid levels were wonky'

Meanwhile, it came time for that general doctor appointment I had set awhile back thinking that there was indeed no real reason to.... ha!
He looked at my labs from the Allergist and said we needed to do a little bit more, so more bloodwork.
He also said that he disagrees and thinks if we figure out what it causing the hives, we can make them go away.
I went to a Rheumatologist for more bloodwork. We wanted to rule out Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Lyme etc. I really liked him. He was a cool guy and we talked a lot about eating healthy. He is a frequenter of the Farmer's Market as well. We talked about panny pan squash, haha fun things like that.

Bloodwork came back negative on all panels. So no Lupus, or RA or anything which is great! I do, however, need to go back to keep a check on that ANA. Sometimes, he said, a disease can lie dormant and not really show any signs or symptoms. The ANA indicates something, so it is worth keeping an eye on just in case. Plus, once you develop one Auto immune disorder, often times, more than one pops up.

We also ran more tests on my thyroid and the general doctor said, this time, everything seemed fine, but lets do an ultrasound just in case.

Did the ultrasound and it came back with some abnormal findings. The tech said it was slightly enlarged, and overall just not healthy looking. She suspected Graves Disease or Thyroiditis.

So, off to an endocrinologist I go now.

Lets recap a bit:

I have now been given diagnosis' from:
  • pityriasis rosea
  • contact dermatitis
  • flea bites
  • bed bugs
  • milk allergy
  • soap rash
  • lupus
  • graves
  • thyroititis
  • who knows we'll never figure it out
  • dyes and food additives sensitivity
  • chronic autoimmune urticaria
I have been given steroid creams, a medication I couldn't take, one I couldn't afford (I didn't touch on that one. Clarinex was $120 for 30 pills AFTER my insurance. It stayed at the pharmacy), OTC Claritin, Allegra which did nothing, Zantac which did nothing...

I've been to see a walk in clinic doctor, a general practitioner, an allergist, a rheumatologist, and an endocrinologist. Oh, and of course the labs for the bloodwork, and the ultrasound tech too.

Whoo. Why have I been so busy and exhausted?! lol

So, anyway. The Endocinologist (another cool guy I liked, very pro breastfeeding, pro healthy eating etc) looks at all my labs and says, "okay here's the deal. You don't have Graves."

This was such a relief in it's self because being hyper thryroid, is pretty much a deal breaker in a lot of ways when it comes to nursing. Plus, it's a pain. Just in general.

'But you do have an auto immune thyroid disorder called Hashimoto's Disease."

This is kind of good news. In the scheme of what disease to have at least... It's easily treated (not cured of course) with a hormone replacement pill taken daily.
Basically, my body decided it didn't like my thyroid anymore, decided it had to go, and it will slowly attack and kill it until it just ceases to exist. Meanwhile all those extra crazy, attack cells were swirling around and decided, 'Hey! let's attack these mast cells and kill off this skin too!" Which causes the hives.

Hashimoto's in often associated with hives.

There's still some debate on rather the hives will go away. They may once my thyroid is under control. They may just lessen. Or they may just be there.

I have to say though, a few months in, you get kind of used to it. As odd as that is to say. I guess you just learn to deal with it like you would diabetes, or high blood pressure or whatever else.

You do get really sick of the questions and advice though.
"Oh, did you try switching soaps?"
"Did you stop eating____?"
"Have you thought about sleeping in another room?"
"Maybe it's because _____"

People don't understand chronic hives. They do not know it is a disease all on it's own. Like when I first got them, I thought there was a reason, an answer. People do not know and can not accept there is no REASON.

Hashimoto's is not fun either, granted. It's got it's own list of symptoms that are not ideal, especially for someone who's trying to tend to two kids and a house hold!

The questions about possible symptoms were hilarious to someone who just had a baby not long ago:
  • Have you gained or lost a lot of wright recently? Um, yes, I just had a baby. Both.
  • Are you often tired or run down feeling? Um, yes, I just had a baby.
  • Have you experienced hair loss? Um, yes, I just had a baby.
Some of the symptoms associated with Hashimoto's have caused me to feel like I need to just pass out in the middle of the living room floor in the middle of the day. Tiredness at night but sometimes unable to fall asleep. (That one really sucks) Anxiety like woah. I am so thankful though for this one to an extent. Anxiety and depression are very much associated with thyroid disorders and I am very much hoping that maybe my anxiety problems might go away. Wouldn't that be amazing!

Anyway, I've not only felt so tired and so unmotivated that I just haven't been around, but I can't even count the amount of doctors appointments I've had.
It really throws off your schedule to have to balance that many doctors appointments that I have to rearrange things around.

Add in the baby who of course takes up lots of time, the older homeschooled one who has activities and things, the husband, the household, dinners, the Holistic Mom group, the Homeschool Co Op, etc etc and I just haven't had time to update!

(Oh and making all those Christmas presents!) Hope all is well with everyone else.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I wanted to revamp our holidays this year. Certain things have really been bothering me about the holidays (All of them in general really) but Christmas the most. I'm not sure how to pinpoint when it happened, but we have all gotten so crazy about presents! We need the shiniest, newest, most expensive, biggest new things! THINGS! We all want all these things. We are excited about them and obsessed with them for a few months, weeks maybe, maybe days and then, ah, well that was neat....

I've been trying really hard to be a little more simplistic in my life. It is not only an overall spiritual/betterment of my self goal as it is also a betterment of my children and the Earth. It is also very budget friendly, haha, and being a Stay at Home Mom now, budget friendly is a good thing.

For awhile I got very caught up in the consumerist nature of the holidays. I got caught up in buying things. Lots and lots of things. I wanted my kiddo to have everything I could possibly give her. I think we all want that to an extent. Somewhere a long the path I realized I was buying things for her more for me than I was for her. She played with these crazy, musical, noise making, light up toys, sure. But not long enough to justify the price tags. Then they would be forgotten, or broken and she'd move on to something else.

This path has continued for her first 10 years or so of life.

This year, she is old enough that she's starting to learn the value of money. She's starting to learn the value of things. She's old enough to not care quite so much about stuff and care more about others. The little one is young enough she does not know any different, so this year we start new traditions.

This year, I made over 50 presents.
This year, I shopped used. I have been stalking thrift stores and used book stores, video game stores, etc etc for months finding the right stuff with meaning for the right people.
This year, I bought local. I supported local vendors, crafters and shops.
This year, I bought for family. I didn't buy for everyone. I didn't go out of my price range simply to tell someone I care with presents. I extended an invitation to dinner and quality time to family and friends instead. Togetherness means more.
This year, I bought products that will last for my little one. I bought lots of natural wooden gifts that she can continue to play with and love for years to come.
This year, I said no to plastic toys that are overpriced and made in sweat shops. The ones that cause over stimulation. I have a few. But a few only.
This year, my kids, husband, family, got books. Everyone appreciated them too!
This year, my tree was not overflowing with presents and boxes and bags. I got things that were really wanted and desired and not too much.
This year, I asked family to do the same. I asked that if anyone had extra money to spend, or wanted to do lots of shopping, if they could please give to the kids savings accounts or donate in their names to a charity instead.
This year, we supported the local Women and Children's shelter, the homeless shelter, the food banks and other local charities and organizations.
This year, I really appreciated what I got.
This year, we vowed to take the holiday back to their roots.
This year is the start of so much to come!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Stepping Away From Supermarkets

Local Farmers Market gives Knoxville residents a healthier choice

We’ve all heard that old adage, “You are what you eat.” It has been spouted at us by mothers, aunts and everyone else that ever thought they knew better than us since we were young enough to get away with turning up out nose and rolling our eyes. As children these words would bounce right off of us with little to no meaning what-so-ever as we crammed another cookie in our mouth and made ourselves another Fluffer Nutter sandwich. (Aren’t they just the best?!) But now we’ve grown up; well a little at least and it has come to our attention that we just can’t do that anymore. Maybe we came to that revelation after yet another all night binge, hung over and weak we realized, “Ugh I really need some REAL food.” Or maybe it was after we were a little broke for a week and survived on HoHo’s and ramen noodles. I’ve been there.

For me this revelation came a little slowly. It was like puzzle pieces falling into place. Maybe you are on the cusp of this revelation as well. My first puzzle piece was finding that I just didn’t have as much energy as I once did. Another puzzle piece was finding out that Tennessee was the second fattest state in that nation. I’ve also been in on the media food hype; the movies (Food Inc, Super Size Me, Fast Food Nation, etc) My tipping point though was one day standing inside my local chain grocery when I could not find what to make for dinner. I wanted something simple and somewhat healthy. I thought a bagged salad might be nice, until I remembered the recent E. Coli outbreak. E. Coli, salmonella in the eggs, this is getting crazy! At that moment I vowed to change the way I look at food.

Enter into the Farmer’s Market in Market Square. I had heard about the Farmer’s Market for a long time. I have to admit, it was years before I finally made my way there. Once I did it was like beams of sunshine raining down from the Heavens saying, “WELCOME! Come and enjoy the bounty!” Okay, maybe I’m stretching it a little but it was pretty obvious I should have been there years before. I can’t even begin to list the numerous amounts of wonderful vendors that can be found there. I now try to go a minimum of twice a month; which is easy because it is every Saturday and every Wednesday. My goal I set for myself was to shop first at the Farmer’s Market, then our local Co Op Grocery, next Earth Fare and last a major chain. I rarely end up at a local chain grocery.

Why have I made this goal? First, I’m a paranoid kind of person and buying local is safer. For one, I can talk to the farmers that grew the food I plan on consuming. I can ask questions about their pesticide policy, the way they keep the cows or chickens. If it is a premade jar of salsa or freshly baked loaf of bread, I can see the person that made it and ask them how it was made. You can not do that anywhere else. It is also so much fresher than what you are used to buying at a chain grocery. You’d be amazed you really can taste the difference. On an honest note, another big reason is because it’s cheaper. I know you think I’m crazy. I promise you, if you change the way you eat a bit you can cut your food intake money down by a huge percentage. Buying a few crookneck squash to dice up and pan fry with your next meal is going to be much cheaper than buying a package of frozen whatever. Not only cheaper, but of course much better.

I have a few favorite vendors. I must admit that Ms. Cock-A-Doodles has a Basil Artichoke Chicken salad that I am literally addicted to. I could eat it daily. As a matter of fact, I do eat it daily. Up until that moment, about Tuesday or Wednesday when I run out. Then I anxiously await the next Saturday I will go and cross my fingers that they will be there with more. They have an assortment of wonderful chicken salads that I have no idea what sort of magical secret they know that I don’t but this is not an ordinary chicken salad. I don’t even like chicken salad and I can’t get enough of this.

Another local vendor I typically buy from is Strange Honey Farm. I have started using honey as a natural sweetener and this honey is a great local find. They offer a few different variations and great prices. They also offer Bee Pollen, and don’t worry if you don’t have any idea why they would sell Bee Pollen or what to do with it; they are also full of information and very helpful.

Colvin Family Farm is another favorite of mine. Their produce is always very good quality, great tasting and fresh. I actually discovered them at Earth Fare and signed up to receive their monthly emails. They were part of the reason I decided to check out the local Farmer’s Market because the emails were full of so much tempting food! They always have wonderful prices and I really like that it is a whole family operation. There are normally several people at the booth and they are all very friendly and knowledgeable about their goods.

Speaking of family operations, I’d also like to give a shout out to Cruze Dairy farms. I started trying to buy local milk after reading a rather disturbing report about the amount of puss and blood found in traditional store bought milk. (Go ahead and Google that for fun, guys) They not only offer milk but also buttermilk, ice cream and beef products. I love the family atmosphere of this booth as well. It just always seems very fun and makes me want to run away to start a dairy farm.

When I’m craving a wonderfully sweet snack or a deliciously carb filled delight I head over to Cheesecakes by Rick. I can’t even describe the wonderfulness that is a cheesecake made by Rick. It is beyond words and descriptions. One can only cut out so much sugar after all. Rick also makes wonderful breads. I rarely leave the market without at least one sort of bread freshly baked to bring home. There’s enough variety at this booth to keep anyone happy.

Jessica from Organicisms Farm from Blount County is probably one of my favorite vendors. I discovered this booth when passing by and seeing what I thought were bean sprouts. I had been planning on making a stir fry so I stopped only to see that they were not indeed bean sprouts but Sunflower and Radish Sprouts. I had another one of those moments we were talking about before. A light popping on over my head and a ‘Doh!’ type moment when I thought, “Wait, you can just eat any kind of sprout!?!” So in my ignorance Jessica explained to me all about the wonder of sprouts. I left with a new found knowledge and new found culinary delight. I adore sprouts far beyond typical bean sprouts. Amazing, I know! She also has amazingly wonder pepper jellies and a personality that begs for you to at least stop and say hi.

The freshest salsa I have ever tasted comes from Sherrie’s Garden Style who has been in business for over ten years. The difference in this jar of salsa and the one you find in Food City is dramatic. It’s like a whole different genre of food. It is amazing. There are so many varieties that no matter what type of tastes you have from Pineapple Mango to a traditional Spicy salsa, you’ll find something. They also offer an amazing pasta sauce and Chow Chow. I’d never had Chow Chow before, but I’m sure now I will not be able to really enjoy any other.

I can’t mention each vendor by name although I wish I could. The most I can say is for you to go yourself. I’ve only touched on a small percentage of the local vendors and I only mentioned food. There’s such a collection of food, wares and talent at the Farmer’s Market that no matter which day you do go you are bound to have a great experience. There is always an assortment of entertainment from street magicians to guitar players. On one Saturday I found a duo singing and playing an accordion while on stilts!

The holiday season is coming up and there are many vendors there with wonderful gift items. From homemade soaps, candles, lotions, tie dyes, baby clothes to gourmet dog treats there is something for everyone.

To summarize, maybe we really are what we eat. Maybe we need to look a little more into what we are putting into our systems and body. Some of my friends would say I’m turning into one of those new age hippie dippy types. I don’t think I mind. I’m proud to say I’ve been shopping locally for months now. I’ve had more energy and felt better than I have in a long time. I’ve not been in a Wal-Mart for years and I know my money is going to support local people I can see and talk to. I know there are no chemicals being put into my food to keep it fresh because I buy it fresh. Maybe it’s time we as Tennesseans stand up and say we are going to make a change for the better. We are going to look at the way we eat and the way we shop and make it better. What better way to start than by taking a visit to the locals Farmer’s Market.

Knoxville’s Local Farmer’s Market is in Market Square on Wednesday from 11am to 2pm and Saturday from 9am to 2pm until the last weekend in November.

This article was written for Blank Magazine

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Take a Deep Breath

Have I mentioned that I suffer from a severe anxiety and panic disorder?I also have PTSD and touches of a few other fun things. This is the main reason why I am not working. It comes and goes in waves sometimes. About six weeks postpartum is got terrible.

So, sometimes the little things are a big, big deal to me. Since the birth of Rebel I have developed intrusive thoughts to go along with my Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It's this spinning web of thoughts that I can not control. For example, I might see the baby skip a breath and for the rest of the night I won't be able to sleep because I'm too busy worrying.
"What if she quits breathing?"
"What's wrong with her?"
"What if something is very wrong and that little breath was a symptom?"
"Maybe she has a heart problem."
"Maybe she has ashma"
"What if she gets cancer or something?"
And on and on it goes

I've been able to control it for the most part with a somewhat specialized diet, meditation and breathing techniques and natural remedies. Before I started trying to conceive I was taking an anti depressant daily, plus an anti anxiety every 8 hours so I was pretty medicated.

I only explain all of this because sometimes the little things that 'normal' people can do is sometimes a big deal to me. I can't always do things that I want because of my disorder.

When things are kind of weird and stressful around the house, of course, it flairs up more. That's kind of where we have been lately. Lot's of crappy news and hard times have been going on around here and I feel like I am simply struggling to breathe (literally) sometimes.

Well, right now, life it good. I've got my cloth diapers in the wash. I have a cuddly, sleeping baby on my chest. My big girl is relaxing on the couch with us playing the Sims on her laptop.

Today we ventured out to the Farmer's Market. It's a big undertaking for me and normally something I'd never do without my safety net, ie husband, to take me and keep me sane and healthy. My Mother in Law did come with us but she's not really 'prepped' into how to handle me if I have an attack so I was still a little nervous.

It turned out to be just fine and lots of fun. I am also so proud of myself when I make it to do 'normal' people things. I was walking around downtown, maneuvering the streets and finding my way back to the parking garage where I left my car and I said, "I feel like a brave woman" right now. And I did.

I bought some nice yummy local produce. Some local honey that I had ran out of. The kiddo got a hotdog and got to watch a magic show. It was a great day.

Sometimes I have to remember to just take a deep breath. Just breathe. We have to try to handle what we can as it comes to us. I know there is a lot to planning for the future. Every step we make does imprint on what's to come, BUT some days I have to learn to just let it go and enjoy the tiny little bits of daily life as they come.

Today, I took a deep breath
I walked around the local market (While Babywearing! heehee)
I took another deep breath
Then I appreciated the time spent with my big girl
I watched the enjoyment on her face as she watched the magician
I took another deep breath
Came home and nursed my youngest
I held her and cuddled her as she fell asleep
My breathing slowed
And I was able to just relax and take the day for just today

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eating Organic

I am proud to say that I have successful eaten 90% of my meals for the past two weeks as home made, organic healthy meals.
I will admit that we have ordered out twice, and I think I stopped to grab a bite to eat twice when I didn't plan my schedule out well enough.

BUT all my grocery shopping has been done at either Earth Fare, the Fresh Market or Three Rivers are local co op market for at least the past 3-4 weeks.

I have been debating on making the switch for awhile. I made excuses, Number one being the cost. After some debate I decided that if there was one thing I wanted to spend money on, it was good food.

So that helped to spur my decision to start making products and going more waste free. By not buying paper plates, paper towels, laundry detergents, cleaners etc I can budget in good, decent food for not much more extra monthly expense.

I've also found that buying fresh veggies really is cheaper in the long run that the frozen I typically bought anyway. My one main hang up there was it not being as 'convenient'. I solved this problem by peeling, chopping and prepping veggies for the week ahead of time. Then tossing them in either the freezer or crisper.

In the past few months it seems as if most of the meat I was buying at the 'normal' grocery stores were not quality. I would pull it out of the freezer to find odd colored meats, meat that had gone bad or freezer burn quickly. I tried packaging and storing them myself and still had problems. I also only buy hormone and antibiotic free meats anyway and so even at the 'normal' grocery it can be costly. Switching to meats from the Fresh Market or Earth Fare really made sense. I can also buy in proportions I need. I can ask for 3 chicken breasts and a one pound roast instead of trying to figure up how much to get from the prepacked stuff.

I plan meals around leftovers on occasion as well. When we had a lot of leftover chicken, I made chicken noodle soup. When we had a lot of leftover mashed potatoes, I used them in a Sheperd's Pie.

We made a yummy lemon tiramisu and had a lot of leftover ingredients such as the limoncello alchol and cream so I found another recipe that used those ingredients and also fresh blueberries that were on sale at the co op.

I try to buy things in season and on sale when I can. I freeze or put away what I don't need now.

My only 'indulgence' has been the organic healthier versions of things like Mac N Cheese. Lunch time quick fixes. I will often times cook up a box of Kraft Mac N Cheese and some hot dogs and serve it as a quick lunch. So instead I bought some Annie's Pastas (The Peace Pasta is num!) and some turkey dogs.

I started making my own bread.

I also try to make a list and stick to it. It's hard sometimes to walk past the desserts and premade isles without stopping. I do stray from the list when I find good deals and things on sale. I think that's still not recommended though. Oh well. haha

I try to make up meal plans. It's all about looking at the over all whole and trying to find ways to make changes here and there.

I think there's lots of ways to continue to eat healthy but not break the bank. I am still finding ways.

Do you have any tips on eating well but not spending too much?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

So, Here is the 6th Grade

I am mostly laying this out because I need to have it written it. I thought while I was already typing it up, however, I would share our layout for this coming school year.

Daily Schedule:

Full School Days are going to be Monday-Tuesday, Thursday

Wednesday we are doing a co op

Friday will be a half day for quizzes, reviews, and catching up or anything we didn't get through. If we have no quizzes or catching up we will use it as a 'free day' or unschool based, real world learning.

Monday: Class from 10:30-3:10
Tuesday: Class from 10:30-3:10

Wednesday: Co-OP from 9:30-3:10, Gymnastics 4:30-5:30
Thursday: Class from 10:30-3:10

Friday: Half Day, Morning, 10:00-12:00 catch up, quizzes or reviews, 12:00-3:00 Errands, Real Life Learning

Daily Full Day Schedule is Planned to be:

Language Arts/Writing 40 mins 10:30-11:00

Science 45mins 11:00-11:45

Break 15 mins 11:45-12:00

Math 45 mins 12:00-12:45

Lunch 30 mins 12:45-1:15

Spelling 20 mins 1:15-1:35

Social Studies 30 mins 1:35-2:05

Break 15 mins 2:05-2:20

Special class 30 mins 2:20-3:10
Also: Nightly Reading time of Half Hour a day

Total Weekly Hours: 240 (Plus Co-Op, 480, Then Half Day on Occasions)

Special Class Schedule is

Monday-Art/Art History

Tuesday- Health

Thursday- Hybrid Course- Home Ec and Environmental Awareness

Then for socialization:

Wednesday we have co-op.

The Co-op Classes

9:30-11:00 Earth And Space
11:00-11:50 Roots and Shoots
11:50-12:40 Lunch/Recess
12:40-1:30 Writer’s Workshop

1:30-2:20 Taekwondo

2:20-3:10 Medieval History Projects

Also, we have Gymnastics On Wednesday

The Co-Op also organizes hikes, camping trips, meetings, etc.
We also have the Holistic Moms Network meetings are twice a month as well where she will have kids to talk to/play with.

Class Descriptions and Overall Focus:

Earth & Science: (Co-Op) Lapbooking and experiments add hands-on fun and visual appeal to the study of our planet Earth. Students will be covering: the physical features of Earth, lithosphere, earthquakes, mountains, volcano, tsunamis, rocks, fossils, minerals, soil, erosion, caves, glaciers, rivers, lakes, coastlines, deserts, and more. Tectonic plates and the Pangaea Theory will also be discussed. Students will creating their own rock collections and learning to identify different rocks and minerals, as well as comparing within rock types (for example plutonic vs. volcanic igneous rocks).

The second half of the year will primarily be a study of the solar system with a unique and creative scientific approac

Roots and Shoots: (Co-Op) Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute's environmental and humanitarian program for youth (preschool to university). Their mission is to foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place for animals, the environment and the human community.

"Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds of thousands of roots & shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. We CAN change the world." — Dr. Jane Goodall

Writer's Workshop: (Co-Op) Implementing Brave Writer for a language rich lifestyle!

Join us as we implement different aspects of Brave Writer lifestyle for interactive creative writing that incorporates all the senses, hones the power of observation, and explores the use of various literary elements.

We will also be working in regular logic exercises that will encourage strong observational skills and show the importance of careful and specific descriptive language and word choices.

Taekwondo: Students will improve their mental and physical well-being through the art of Taekwondo, the world's most widely practiced martial art. Along with physical techniques, students will learn the tenets of Taekwondo as well as aspects of Korean culture and language. Through in-class accomplishment and advancement, students will develop a greater sense of self-respect and self-discipline, resulting in a healthier mind and body.

Medieval History Projects: This class will offer a comprehensive look at approximately 1000 years of medieval history. Resource and readings suggestions are given for at-home work so that the students can understand and follow the topics and projects presented in class. The course has been created especially for TEE students and uses aspects of Pandia Press's History Odyssey I and II, along with many other art history, science, and hands-on-history projects resources. Because background knowledge learning can be done at home, the students get to enjoy class time for interactive history such as: learning about and listening to Gregorian chants, role playing games to illustrate the Black Plague and how Feudalism worked, creating textile banners inspired by notable works such as the "Bayeux Tapestry" and "The Lady and the Unicorn", and much more!

The students will also create a lapbook as a creative visual log of many highlights of their studies. Topics we plan on covering include: the fall of Rome, rise of the church, Jewish diaspora, Byzantine Empire, the Vikings, the Middle Ages in Europe, Americas, and non-western cultures, Marco Polo, chivalry, the Crusades, the Black Plague, the Magna Carta, Feudalism, medieval arts, science, and literature. Some literature suggestions include: Beowulf, A Door in the Wall, Macbeth, The Trumpeter of Krakow, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, Robin Hood, The Canterbury Tales.

Reading/Language Arts: We are going to cover a few traditional books and tales. Oliver Twist, The Secret Garden, The Yearling and The Diary of Anne Frank will all be independent reading that we will discuss throughout the year.
In the Language Arts based lessons we will cover Types of narration, concepts of speech, sentence structure and proper use of punctuation.
We are going to cover famous speeches such from people such as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. During this we will cover how to properly write a speech and how to make outlines for papers.
Next we will cover Intro to Mythology. In which we will cover a few classic love stories. “Apollo and Daphne”, “Romeo and Juliet”, Echo and Narcissus” will be a few we will cover.
We will also cover basics of poetry and study a large collection of poems. How to analyze poetry, types of poetry and critical reading skills.

Science: In Science we are going to focus on Life Sciences. The classification of living things, ecosystems, microbes, will be covered. We will then discuss Climate and Weather which we will tie into Environmental issues and our elective course by discussing types of energy and how to change our habits. We will also cover electricity, sound, and light. We will not fully cover but touch on astronomy which will tie into her Earth and Science class and from there cover a bit of space and space travel.

Mathematics: Review of basic math skills. Continuation of multiplication, division and more complex mathematics. Exponents, Operation of Powers, Integers. Also, adding to knowledge of decimals, fractions and mixed numbers. We will begin on basic geometry skills such as angles, construction and identification of figures. Expand on Algebra skills and cover in more depth a metric units and measurements.

Spelling: One list of words a week. Child will also learn dictionary skills by being responsible for looking up each word and writing definition. She will also need to use it in a sentence. There will be a weekly quiz.

Social Studies: We will cover the basics of map skills. A bit of world geography. Our main focus will be on ancient cultures and world civilization. (The Roman Empire, Greece, Egypt) We will also cover milestones in human achievement world trade and basics of local community.

Hybrid Course: Home Economics and Environmental Concerns: In this class we are going to look at basic home products, decide what is wasteful, what can be recycled, what can be made at home and what we do not even need. First semesters focus will be on sewing. We will make cloth napkins, towels etc. Meanwhile studying the effect all the disposable products has on landfills.
Second semester we will cover and make homemade cleaning products while discussing the effect chemicals have on the Earth. Third semester we will cover herbal medications, what they are, what to take for what and the proper use, and disposal or medications. We will discuss what to put in our bodies and what is healthy and what is not. Last, we will allow the student flexibility and encourage deductive reasoning and understanding to look around and come up with other products used in the home that could be made or is not needed. The student will then have the opportunity to piece together knowledge learned in other subjects to research how to make a product of their choosing, and then make it, and present a ‘speech’.

Health: Focus will, of course, be on the Human Body. But in order to tie into other classes we are going to focus mostly on what to put into our bodies. We will cover food and growth, the importance of exercise, the food pyramid, effects of drugs and alcohol but take a deeper look into it all as well. We will look into why healthy produce is better for you. What’s so bad about processed foods. Why buying organic is nice and a better option. The effects of chemicals in our foods and how to create healthy diets.

Art Appreciation: We will first cover American Realists Painters, move onto Impressionism then Abstractionism and finish up with Nonrepresentational Art. Famous artists we will cover will be Tanner, Homer, Rodin, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, Munch, Mondrian, Hopper, Wyeth and Wright.

So, this is our goal! More to come as we go, of course.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Our Hybrid Home Ec/Environmental Concerns Class

With all the fun projects I've found and want to undertake I've decided to turn it into a learning experience for Lil. We had already planned on doing a Home Ec sort of class and an Environmental Issues class.
It works out really well because the co op she is in is doing a class called "Roots & Shoots"
"Roots & Shoots is the Jane Goodall Institute's environmental and humanitarian program for youth (preschool to university). Their mission is to foster respect and compassion for all living things, to promote understanding of all cultures and beliefs and to inspire each individual to take action to make the world a better place for animals, the environment and the human community"
So it will tie in nicely with that.
We can tie in several different things as we go along.

I think our plan is going to be this:

First 9 Weeks:
We will concentrate on Waste in the typical house. Paper Plates, Paper Towels, disposable everything and make our own cloth products. Here we will make our own kitchen towels, napkins, maybe even tissues, and even bathroom cloth.
I think we'll discuss a bit about "Mama Cloth" or reusable menstrual solutions and maybe try making some as well. That will fit into her 'Health" class anyway. She's not quite ready for that product, but she will be soon. ;-)

Second 9 Weeks:
I think we will concentrate on the harsh chemicals in most cleaners. So from there we might try to do a few "Safe" experiments, depending on what I feel comfortable with. I am saving all the 'yucky' chemicals I have right now to show her where and how to properly dispose of them. And we will freecycle some too.
We will make our own products. (I'm actually hoping to have some before this, but we'll make more)
We will make laundry detergent, softner, household cleaning products, soaps, shampoos, etc etc

Third 9 Weeks:
We will concentrate on herbal remedies. This one should be rather fun because from there we have some excellent people that can give us great advice and help us stock our natural medicine cabinet.
We will get rid of all our products we don't need anymore. Go through the medicine cabinet which I'm quite sure needs a good purge and dispose of the expired and everything else properly.

Fourth 9 Weeks:
We will concentrate on whatever misc products we want to from there! I'm going to challenge her to look around and products she uses or we use at home and see if there is a home made alternative. I will give her specifics and start her out with lotions, powders and candles. Then we will go from there.

So, in honor of our new class, I will share a few of the 'recipes" I have gathered recently.

Laundry Detergent:

1 Bar Soap; (Ivory, Fels Naptha, Zote, Castile)

1/2 Cup Washing Soda

1/2 Cup Borax

Opt. Essential Oil of your choice

Grate soap into large sauce pan (or shave with knife).
Add 6 Cups water, heat and stir till soap melts.
Add Soda and Borax and dissolve.
Pour 4 Cups Hot Water into 2 Gallon Bucket, add soap mixture and stir.

Add 1 Gallon + 6 Cups water and stir. Let sit 24 hours. It will then start to gel up a bit which is what you want.

Laundry Softener:
Too Easy on this one, Not even a 'recipe'.

Just add 1/4 cup white vinegar. If you want you can try a few drops Essential Oils of your preferred scent.

Bug Repellent:

Mix Equal Parts Witch Hazel and Distilled Water in a spray bottle.
Add in one drop each of citronella and peppermint essential oil per each ounce fluid ounce.


3 oz Honey

4 oz finely ground almonds

2 oz Apple Cider Vinegar
2 oz Distilled Water
6 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Mix all in a bottle and shake well. Use and then when skin is still slightly damp, apply a bit of coconut oil, cosmetic grade sweet almond oil or oil of your choice

All Purpose Cleaning Spray:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup white vinegar

20 drops essential oil of your choice

Mix all in spray bottle

Disinfectant Spray:
16 oz spray bottle, fill half way with water

add in 2 tbs castile soap

30 drops Tea Tree oil

Shake well, fill the rest of the way up with water.

Homemade Toothpaste:

2 tbs Coconut Oil

3 tbs baking soda

20-25 drops peppermint or spearmint oil

Put all ingredients in plastic type bag, mush, cut off a corner and go! Or mix together well and store in a small jar.

Baby Bath Milk
1 cup
powdered milk
¼ cup corn starch
¼ cup finely ground oats
2-3 drops lavender, rose, or chamomile essential oils

Mix ingredients together and put in a shaker style bottle. To use, sprinkle a small amount in warm bath water.

That's all for now, but we'll add some more as we go along.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Oh the Impulsive Ones

I'm one of those people that dive head first into things without really thinking it through. I don't always even have reasons for doing things before I do it. Sometimes I come up with reasons why after, *laughs* I'm one of those people.
I have a box and collections of things I was "Going to Do". Craft projects that never get finished. I changed my major in college THREE times, then I never finished.
I became a vegetarian one day when I was 12, why, no idea. Just occurred to me I wanted to do it to try it out. That one lasted 10 years. Then it occurred to me I wanted to eat Bar-B-Que.
I used to get in my car and drive places and see where I ended up. I'd take road trips to nowhere.

It's one of those traits you either have to love or hate about me. I'm impulsive and I just do things.

This causes people to not always take me overtly seriously, obviously. When I come up with my 'brilliant' ideas I get a lot of head nods and "that's nice", without a lot of real support. People know some things stick but more things probably really don't.

So, having laid that all out on the table I've come to realize a few things lately.
After talking to a friend who was looking for help with tooth pain, it occurred to me that I have not taken any medication since finding out I was pregnant. Rebel is 6 months old now. So it has been over a year. (I HAVE been on the mini pill, so not 100% true) I was a little too paranoid while pregnant. After losing a baby I just didn't want to take any chances so I starting learning how to either just 'deal with it' or finding a natural remedy for it.

It's been six months and I am still cloth diapering. No idea why people think it's so hard or they quit actually. So I don't think I'll quit that one anytime soon.

Still breastfeeding, but that one doesn't surprise me as I breastfed Lil for over two years.

I'm still sewing. Still having a blast sewing! I don't see giving this one up either.
Maybe I found a craft I can really get into finally.

There's more, but, it's really helped my overall confidence in myself and my decisions to think and reflect on some of these things.

I was growing concerned that some decisions I've made might be more things I'm just going to give up... But I don't think I will. I think I'm going to see this "Crunchy Mom" thing through. ;-)

Maybe once you find something that really feels right it's not hard to keep it up.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Sorry, I've been busy busy busy! Lot's of in general "life" stuff going on. Some good some *eye roll* worthy.
Sweet Little Baby Rebel has also decided she doesn't like to sleep anymore. I think part of it is that she is teething. Part of it is that she's just too darn afraid she is going to miss something, haha. So, she fights naps and fights going to sleep at night. Now she's also started waking up oh, about once an hour at night too. Ugh. I keep trying to remind myself I'm going to miss this stuff one day soon. ;-)

Sooo, what have I been so busy with that I haven't been able to check in? Why, I have finally decided to go ahead and take the plunge and start home schooling. I'm very excited about it. Problem is school starts, oh what next month, and I'm just deciding to do it.

It seems like it's spur of the moment and last minute and an 'on a whim' decision to most I'm sure. In all honesty though it's something I've thought about for years. Mainly since about two years ago. My very bright, talented and gifted student suddenly had grades low enough to drop her out of the TAG (talented and gifted program) and other activities and started bringing home not bad, but not honor roll worthy grades. As time went on, the grades got lower and lower. I got more and more unhappy with the way it was being handled and by the time she was going to start 6th grade I was very unhappy with the public school system in general.

She scores very high on her placement tests and end of year testing. I know she knows the material. I know that she is smart. Not just in that, "She's my kid so I brag about her way". Really, the kid is smart. She's just not motivated by the way she is being taught. Its much more fun to talk to her friends and socialize and get into trouble than it is to pay attention. But why doesn't anyone care? Why is it that by the end of 5th grade she had almost all "F's" on her progress report and no one bothered to let me know or call me or try to figure out the problem?

I went in for a parent teacher conference and found the problem. Well, she'd only turned in 2-3 assignments in each subject for the entire period! I understand accountability and responsibility, but as a teacher, wouldn't you take it upon yourself to figure out what's going on? I was not a happy camper. This should have been brought to my attention and something should have been done about it. Then the teacher goes on and on about how smart she is and how she's one of her brightest students so this is just silly. Yeah, I'd have to agree that this is just silly.

So here we are. I have an unchallenged, unmotivated 11 year old going into the 6th grade. What to do from there?

Oh wait, lets add some more 'icing' onto that cake... The school she is zoned to go to is fairly notorious around here for not being a good school. Lots of juvenile delinquents and children that end up in the legal system come from there as I've been told. I don't want that to be the crowd my impressionable middle schooler is around. So I planned to drive her back and fourth every day to a school not in our district. Well, with her less than stellar grades, we couldn't...

Looked into private schools, as I had been for the past few years and in the back of my mind I kept thinking, "home school!" just never really felt that I could do it at first.

Now here we are. We are enrolled in an umbrella school. We've got books, we are working on a curriculum and here we go!

So, that's what I'm doing and that's what's keeping me busy in between the baby and the housework and the shopping and the cooking and the in general running of a house. I've also been trying to get the garage and basement cleaned out so we can move my MIL in for other reasons... Busy busy bee! haha

Back with updates on how things are going later!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


here is a contest going on to win one of my favorite baby carriers, a Boba Organic 2G Baby Carrier. (See Boba here: And see contest here:
Which reminded me that I wanted to blog about babywearing.

First, let me explain what babywearing ever is.

Babywearing is the act of using a carrier to keep your baby with you and close to you. It does not have to be all the time, 24 hours a day, (Yet some pretty much do) it can be as simple as using a carrier instead of a stroller when you go out. There are many many benefits to babywearing.

  • Babies that are frequently worn in a carrier, cry less. You have to imagine, baby was inside your body for nine months. They fell asleep listening to your heartbeat and breathing. They were used to your body heat. Some people say even your smell. Obviously, being snug against your body is going to be very comforting.
  • Its been shown that babies that have failure to thrive or premature babies benefit greatly from babywearing because being against your chest helps to teach them the body's proper rhythm.
  • It is good for baby's mental development. Babies spend more time in a state called, "quiet alert' which is the perfect state for learning. The senses of the the baby are being stimulated while carried. The baby can see the world from your point of view as well as you! They see your face, see what you are interacting with, looking at etc.
  • Baby's emotional development is better when they are carried as well. They develop a sense of security quickly when they are carried close.
  • It creates a stronger bond and sense of attachment. Babies frequently carried develop a stronger bond and sense of attachment to their caregivers but it also helps Mom with things like PPD.
  • Want to get something done but baby wants you near? Walla! Hands free while still keeping baby close and happy.
  • Those clunky awkward steering strollers are not needed while babywearing. You are free to walk around a store without trying to steer the stroller and keep it from bumping into racks and displays.

There's many many more. But that should give you the overall. ;-)

So, why else do I not like strollers?
First the big issue I have is not with the stroller itself but it really starts with those baby 'carrier' carseats that attach to the strollers. They are bulky, impossible to comfortably "Carry" and they are unsafe. Furthermore, even seen a mom trying to lug that thing around and bump it into at least three different things before she even makes it to the store to sit it in the cart? ha, Yeah, I have.

Why car seat carriers are dangerous:
  • Babies are not at the proper angle while the car seat is out of the base that is installed in the car putting them in a position that can cause positional asphyxiation. See this article: (
  • Using the car seat carrier in a shopping cart is dangerous.
  • Placing it in those baskets can result in it slipping off if not clicked on properly. (I've also seen people do it in shopping carts that obviously were not even meant for them at all. Even though I don't think any are really properly designed for it)
  • Many babies have fallen out altogether because the caregiver unstraps them. (Which you just shouldn't do period)
  • It can cause the cart to get top heavy and topple right over. I know this seems far fetched but I have seen this in person!
  • The use of a carrier car seat for extended periods hinders infant mobility control.
  • It also can cause 'flat spots' in the skull
  • New studies are showing that the straps on infant seats actually keep the chest from fully expanding to the point that a deep breath can be taken.
  • Any many more as noted in the other links in this post
Strollers are a side argument. I don't like the stroller because it is so impersonal. I don't want my baby strapped into a big bulky device where I can not even see her. I can not interact with her. She can not interact with me or see what is going on. (She sees knees and the bottom of displays, racks, whatever) The child can not learn about their world this way. Where are you when you would use a stroller? Out and about obviously and that is where your child has new things to look at and learn about! Why take that away from them? None the less, they are so bulky and such a pain!
Okay, so we've established we don't want to use the infant carrier to take baby to the grocery, right? So, then now what? The stroller? Okay, great, it's safe. Maybe pretty comfortable. But now what? Can you push the stroller and shopping cart? hmm, no. Maybe you could bring someone with you? Pack the groceries around the baby? haha
Perfect answer would be babywearing! (On a side bonus, if baby gets fussy while out shopping, you can nurse pretty discreetly in most carriers as well!)

So there's my arguments for babywearing.

Now, what options do you have to choose?
There's a lot of different kinds of proper, safe baby carriers. We have several. Don't mind the pictures but I'll tell you about what we have. (So far, haha)

This is our Moby wrap. (
We were even nursing in that picture. This falls into a "Stretchy Wrap" category. These types of carriers are great for the newborn stage. After about 15-20 pounds the material can sag and start to give a little too much which can cause the baby to slip out. So no using past a few months. (Moby advertises up to 30-40 pounds I think... but it is unsafe, don't do it!)

Here we are using our Woven Wrap:
This is a Storchenwiege in Anna.
A woven wrap is made of a very sturdy woven material and can be used, well, pretty much forever. I've seen people carrying around 5-6 year olds in a woven. They can be used for front carries like I am doing in the picture, or hip carries, and even back carries. (Which I am just not brave enough for yet, I want her where I can see her still!)
Even my older daughter loves the woven:
And they are so comfy. It distributes the weight evenly so your back or shoulders do not get sore. By far my favorite type of carrier.

We have two structured carriers:
A Beco:
Which I love Love Love!
And an Ellaroo Mei Hip: (Well actually I just sold this one)
*This is a BAD babywearing picture though. Hip carrying should not be done until baby has better head control. I was using it for the picture.

I adore structured carriers for just a quick "pop in". However, there are many many bad structured carriers out there. The Bjorn is the most widely seen and bought but it is bad bad bad! A good carrier is going to scoop baby's bottom and have a very wide base so the baby is 'seated' versus 'dangling' by the crotch. My normal rule is that if it advertises a front forward facing carry (Where baby is faced out toward the world) it is probably a bad carrier. That position is terrible for baby's spine and hips.

We also have a few ring slings which I have been sewing myself. (After lots of research on how to do it properly)



These are the best for just keeping in your car for when you have to just 'run in' somewhere real quick. They are great for those quick trips. Though they can be used for longer periods if made and worn correctly they should be very comfortable. I just prefer my woven wraps for longer trips. On a plus, they are the easiest to nurse in.

Well, more to come on this later. But here are some other wonderful resources on Babywearing:

Structured Carriers I Like:

Stretchy Wraps:

Woven Wraps:

Ring Slings
Sleeping Baby Productions
Sweet Pea
Sakura Bloom

This article is so amazing at explaining why certain types of carriers are better than others and why wearing baby in an upright position is so important, amongst other things.

Second is who I would refer to as the Goddess of Babywearing: there's nothing I could say that isn't already covered in those two places