Category Archives: Parenting

Crunchy Mama Talk – Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Crunchy Talk

Mama Natural has done it again! And, she used quite a few of my suggestions for part 2 – watch it now 😀

See the original Mama Natural post here

Crunchy Talk

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Crunchy Talk

It’s funny how when you start getting involved in alternative health, there seems to be a whole new dialect that we learn, even if we are not around a lot of other “crunchy” folks! I laughed when I saw this video, because I think I have said almost all of these things, and more . . . And when we get around each other, I wonder sometimes if regular people even know what we are talking about.


If I could have added to this, there would have been a few more things that they could have said:

1. “Can you hold on a second? I need to pee my baby.” (infant potty training/elimination communication)

2. Raw Milk (in the two words part)

3. Cold sheet treatment

4. “Sure you can have a green avocado kefir smoothie”

5. “We chose not to participate in the barf fest this year” (referring to the chronic overdose of sugary treats which tend to induce flu every holiday)

6. “Are you picking up milk this week?”

7. Cod Liver Oil

8. “have you watched _________________ yet?” (fill in your food/childbirth/breastfeeding related documentary)

9. “I was so devastated, he self weaned when he was only 12 months old!”

10. Essential Oils (added to two words)

11. “Honey, can you stop and pick up some vodka from the liquor store? I’m out of __________.” (Fill in your tincture)

12. Weston A. Price

13. Vaccination waivers (two words)

14. soaked grains (two words)

15. “We don’t have an infant carrier”

16. “Just sneak into the barn at night, pick up a couple of gallons and leave your money in the box.”

17. “We don’t eat cold breakfast cereal”

18. “We would like to skip the fluoride treatments.” (To the dental assistant)

19. lacto-fermentation

20. Grass fed (two words)

21. “Have some more pastured bacon!”

22. Farm Raids (two words)

23. “Check the label for GMO’s/HFCS/MSG/Red Dye #40/etc.”

24. Monsanto

25. “Keep the government out of my food!”

26. quoting CDC stats on raw milk/spinach/herbal supplements

27. Pastured eggs (two words)

28. “Please don’t trim the fat, and can you throw in all of the organ meats and soup bones, please?” (to the butcher)

29. Are you going to ride with the raw milk freedom riders?

30. Namaste!

A visual of the mother chewing up something and putting it in baby’s mouth would have been too funny as well. I could go on and on, so feel free to leave your additions in the comments!

Gum + Kids Doesn’t Have to = Disaster

I had a moment of panic today when my husband came home with my 5 year old in the middle of church with gum all over his clothes AND all over her brand new Christmas dress. Ok, maybe the word panic is a bit strong, but I was mad, because I had told my kids ‘NO MORE GUM!’ after my 7 year old spit out gum at church a few weeks ago and got it all over one of the  upholstered folding chairs in the overflow. I was fortunate at the time – or should I say I was blessed – to be able to get it all off.

This worked for a while, but today while I was home sick, my 13 year old

gave Bee a piece of gum again during the sacrament meeting. The result was gum all over a brand new dress, my husbands pants, and a fairly new white church shirt. The total of which to replace all of these would have been close to $100 dollars. For some people, that isn’t much, but for us that is a lot of money. Sure, I bought those clothes on sale, and I didn’t pay nearly that much, BUT those sales are not going on right now, and not having those clothes available for use would definitely be felt.

So, I went online and looked for ways to get gum off of clothes. Gasoline, Goo Gone, nail polish remover, and lighter fluid were not things I keep on hand, and besides I hesitate to use them on clothes since they are highly toxic and could possibly destroy the clothes anyway. One suggestion was to heat apple cider vinegar and then dip the gum in it and use a toothbrush to brush it off. What the heck! It was worth a shot.

The results were FANTASTIC! I LOVE apple cider vinegar. Now I LOVE it even more!

To remove gum from clothes, heat the apple cider vinegar, dip the cloth with the gum on it into the hot vinegar, and then brush it gently with a toothbrush. The gum sticks to the toothbrush, which will be ruined afterward, so use an old toothbrush that you are going to toss out anyway.  Also, the gum loosens from the cloth and can be picked off, or you can pick off a bigger piece of gum and dab it on the other gum bits and they will stick to the gum in your hand and leave the fabric unscathed.

So, that is my derailed disaster of the day 🙂 and I hope this story helps someone else avoid the unnecessary cost of replacing gummed up clothing.

Kids in The Kitchen: 10 Tips for Teaching Kids to Cook

My mother never shooed us out of the kitchen. Instead she put us to work! Since I am from a very big family (12 children), in a word, it was chaos, but it was beautiful chaos. I prepared my first full meal when I was only 8 years old. My mother grew up in a family where everything was cooked from cans, so it was very important to her that we know how to cook from scratch. As a teenager she taught herself to cook real food and then took over the family meals. One of the first things that I ever learned how to make was bread, and the first job we had as kids was to knead the dough. I can imagine now that my mother may not have wanted to do all of the kneading herself – she baked bread every Saturday – but at the time it was great fun!

When I was in college, I found out that not everyone’s mothers thought that learning to cook was important – I taught a few roommates how to do some simple things – like read recipes, boil water to make pasta, make dinner rolls, and to bake cookies (a skill that no enterprising – and starving – college girl should be without!) But I appreciate the skills I learned as a child even more as a mom. After meeting people who didn’t even know how to boil water or follow simple instructions on a box of rice-a-roni (which I honestly had never even HEARD of until I was in college), I decided that ALL of my kids would learn to cook because there is nothing sadder than an adult college student struggling on a small budget, who can’t even take care of themselves in this most basic way.

So here it is! My list of ten tips to help you teach your kids how to cook:

  1. Never shoo your children out of the kitchen. Instead, put them to work! Even small children can do something, even if you just give them a small piece of dough to play with. At 3, measure ingredients and let them put the measured ingredients into the mixing bowl. At 4 and 5, you can hand them a vegetable peeler. At 6, let them read the ingredients out of the recipe book and show them how to measure. You can set them up with a knife to chop vegetables (supervised of course) and at 7, let them measure out ingredients for you, or even try a simple recipe all by themselves. At 8, let them prepare a simple meal for the whole family without any help.  Not only have they learned an important skill, but they have realized that they can be an important member of the family, and they have earned confidence!
  2. Provide your children with easy access to healthy recipes that are easy to follow, and that are in a format that is easy to use and can take a beating. You may be interested in my Healthy Kid’s Recipe Cards, which you can find online here
  3. Hold a weekly family night or regular family activities so that you can provide additional opportunities for your children to make snacks or treats to showcase their newly learned skills.
  4. Praise them when it is warranted. Do not overdo it by ignoring faults and flops though – good food is expensive and good instruction that includes correction when needed helps avoid unnecessary waste. I recommend a sandwich style praise and correction model. If the recipe turned out badly, praise them for what they did right (wow, you did this all by yourself?) and then provide gentle instructions (next time, call me in if you need help with measuring the salt.) Then another good thing (It looks like you baked these for just the right amount of time!)Your child will want to know what went wrong so that they can make it better the next time around.
  5. Expect your boys to learn as well as your girls! Boys need these skills just as much as anyone now! You can’t make the mistake of assuming that your son’s wife will know how to cook or you may end up with grand kids who are part of the McD’s generation. Besides, it might be just the thing that will help him catch the girl of his dreams! My husband cooked for me on our first date. Children who learn to cook are less expensive to support through college, and will be healthier as well.
  6. As your children get older, do not hesitate to give them more responsibilities. Alternate the responsibilities for making breakfasts, allow them to pack their own lunches for school, and assign them one night a week to make dinner for the family.
  7. Always verbally thank the one responsible for the meal publicly around the dinner table. Point out the best parts of the meal and say exactly what you like about it. This is not the forum for corrections unless the child acknowledges something himself – like if a cake fell or if there was too much pepper in the gravy.  If they point it out themselves  in this setting, you can down play it for the moment (“yes, but the potatoes are perfect!”) and help them fix it later.
  8. When your child is old enough, help them plan a month of menus and execute a shopping trip. This lets your child learn the logistics of planning a meal from start to finish, including what constitutes a balanced meal, what you have already on hand and which items they will need to buy, and how much those things actually cost.  A child should be able to plan one day’s meals at the age of 7 or 8, a week’s worth of menus at 9 or 10, and a month of menus at 11 or 12.
  9. Don’t hold back on letting your child make a complicated recipe. I made bread on my own for the first time when I was not even 8 years old. You as the parent can trust your instincts about what your child is capable of at what age. Allow your child to challenge herself even if you are not sure if she can do it on her own. I was pleasantly surprised the first time my daughter made apple pie.
  10. Avoid relying on boxed items or pre-made foods for teaching kids how to cook. Children can read and understand recipes and it is a good opportunity for kids to learn about measurements, how ingredients work in a recipe, and many other things that kids can’t learn by making ramen noodles or microwavable boxed macaroni and cheese. Children are capable of much more than we give them credit for, and besides, teaching from scratch allows your child to form good nutritional habits early on, which will allow them to have a healthier lifestyle and a better quality of life.

Bee’s Door Knobs

Bee had her hair done up this morning in what she is calling “door knobs.”Bee's Door Knobs

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I think every mother has a nightmare of having her child get a tooth knocked out. I had this lovely opportunity today – Bee was running down the cement steps to our back yard, tripped and fell and came back up minus a front tooth! Much of the edge was taken off on this for me, since the tooth has already been dead for a couple of years, as the result of getting headbutted (accidentally) by her older brother Zee when he was her age.

Unfortunately, since it is Saturday, our dentist is not open,

and she will have to wait . . . but I really doubt there is anything that they can do anyway. If the tooth had been alive, I think they can fix it, but with a dead tooth? I’m not so sure. But for now, the tooth is in a Ziploc bag with some ice in the refrigerator.  Just in case . . .

After cleaning up the blood and giving her a piece of ice to suck on, her take on the whole thing? When asked if she wanted the tooth fairy to bring her money,  she said “No way, I want candy!”

Using Herbs to Combat Food Borne Illness

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Mom's Home Herbal

With all of the fuss around raw milk lately it may be difficult for many people to distinguish fact from fiction, especially if you are just starting out with all natural foods and have not grown up with raw milk like some people have. The truth is that it IS possible to get sick from raw milk. It is also possible to get sick from sushi, eggs (cooked or raw), raw spinach, lunch meat, rare meat, pasteurized milk,  deli cheese, fresh tomatoes, and the list goes on. The question really should be “is there anything out there that IS truly safe to eat, and what can I do about it if I or one of my children get food poisoning?”

For those of us who prefer not to foist our personal responsibility for our food choices off onto health professionals, taking care of the stomach complaints caused by food borne illness is really very simple. The good news is that there are several ways to naturally fight food borne illness, and if caught early, natural remedies can stop a stomach bug in a fraction of the time that antibiotics can. I have had food poisoning from eggs and the remedy that worked for me was simply a mixture of black walnut and olive leaf tinctures, one full dropper of each in a small glass of orange juice; all combined was less than the $30 copay that I would have paid had I gone to the doctor. Both of these herbs have strong parasite killing properties, and I have found them to be effective for stomach flu as well. I gave some to my neighbor once as she was getting ready to walk out her door to take her daughter to the emergency room, and less than an hour later, her toddler was running around as if she had never been sick.

I have read before, that in most cases what we call the stomach flu is actually caused by eating contaminated food. If this is true, then people actually get sick from food a lot more often than they realize. One of the great things about herbs is that often there is more than one way to kill a flu. I recently put the question out to the fans of my raw milk page on facebook. Even though none of these people had ever been sick from raw milk, they have encountered food borne illness from fast food or other packaged factory foods. Here are some of the remedies they have successfully used:

  • Grapefruit Seed Extract as a nutri-biotic with lots of Vitamin D3 and garlic to boost the immune system
  • Oregano oil (best taken in capsules)
  • Colloidal silver or nano silver – 2 to 3 Tbsp every 15 minutes until stomach upset is gone
  • Activated Charcoal capsules
  • Fresh garlic with cayenne
  • Where there is diarrhea also take slippery elm capsules

Any of these remedies should be followed by probiotics, like kefir or yogurt, to restore the intestinal flora and for fastest results, should be taken at the fist sign of stomach upset. It is common for these strains of bacteria to be highly resistant to antibiotics, and if food poisoning symptoms are ignored and you wait until they get really bad as many people do, they can become very serious, even leading to kidney failure or other long lasting health problems, especially in small children, people with compromised immune systems, or with the elderly.

With the food industry and its track record, it is best to be prepared because chances are someone in your family will end up sick with a food borne illness, no matter what you eat.

Make your Own Herbal First Aid Kit

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Mom's Home Herbal

It irritates me when people want to run to the doctor for every little cough, sneeze, sniffle or fever. I know I shouldn’t be impatient, since I was in that place once. I remember taking my oldest daughter, who is now 15, to the doctor for ear infections, fevers, and sometimes just plain fussiness. I remember the fear and insecurity that came with that, not being able to get a hold of a doctor over the weekend and my poor little baby suffering the whole time while she waited for me to take her to a doctor.

It’s like night and day – once helpless, dependent, and full of worries and fears; now empowered and confident. It is such a comforting feeling to know that for most family illnesses and health emergencies, I have the tools and know-how to take care of them myself! No waiting on a doctor over the weekend or dealing with a screaming child for an hour or more in an emergency room or doctors office waiting room full of sick people. If you have not yet educated yourself on simple herbal remedies for basic family health care, I strongly encourage you to do so – it is one of the best things I have ever done!

To make a family herbal first aid kit, the first thing that you will want to do is take inventory of your family’s health. Are you in basically good health, or do you catch every bug that goes around? What are your most common illnesses? Do you have an extremely clumsy kid? (Zee is very clumsy, and I have gotten calls from the school twice this year about bruises, one of which DCFS sent a social worker to investigate my husband and me at our home!) There are a few things that every family with small children should be prepared for – here is a basic list of some of the most common things that people go to the doctor for that can easily be treated at home:

  • ear infections
  • colds
  • stomach flu
  • pink eye
  • parasites
  • headlice
  • staph infections
  • yeast infections
  • warts
  • strep throat
  • chicken pox

And a few basics, usually treated with over the counter medicines:

  • indigestion
  • diarrhea
  • bug bites
  • sunburn
  • cuts
  • scrapes
  • bruises

All of these can be treated at home naturally without commercially prepared medicines, and would all but completely remove any need for a doctors visit, with the exception of real medical emergencies like broken bones or other traumatic injuries.

The ideal would be to have a small travel size kit with just the basics for the car, and a larger one that is kept in a safe place at home in a container like a large fishing tackle box with plenty of room for ace bandages, and supplies like a capsulator and a mortar and pestle, etc.

The following is a fairly comprehensive list of things that would be good to keep on hand and their uses (chose the items that are most relevant to your family. You can also add other items that you feel your family needs – if you feel the list is missing something important, please leave a comment!): read more »

To Doctor or Not to Doctor? That is the Question

Does putting a stitch in your own child’s scalp make you a bad parent? The other day while my kids were roughhousing in the front room, Bee fell and split her head open on the sharp corner of the wall. I cleaned it up, and thought I might put a butterfly on it, but after I cut away a chunk of hair, it was still bleeding too much for anything to stick, not to mention that I would have had to shave her head in that spot, which I KNOW she would not have put up with . . . so I got out a needle and thread and put a stitch in it to hold it shut. And then, she happily ran into the bathroom to take a bath.

Mind you, she did kick and scream during the stitching process, but only after my 12-year-old shouted “What are you doing? Are you sewing up her head?!” After which the first stitch that I was just getting ready to tie off was yanked out because that is when she started the kicking. And the screaming. Good grief! So I had to start all over again.

The most screaming was done by the kids who were not actually being stitched up. My 15-year-old daughter yelled at me and then stomped off to her room and refused to speak to me until the next morning. I think her exact words were “If she needs stitches, why aren’t you taking her to the emergency room?! I’m never touching that needle again! (I used one of her beading needles, because they are really sharp)

Ok, her question may seem logical to most people, but in my defense, a trip to the emergency room would have meant trying to keep all that bleeding at bay in the van on the way to the doctor’s office. Then holding her still and keeping the bleeding at bay while waiting in the waiting room for an hour so that a doctor could then come and put a couple of stitches in her head. I had the tools, I had the know how, and best of all, I did it all in less than 5 minutes right in my own living room. Without the extended drama. I mean we had some drama, but it was really more of a mini matinee and not a 5 act play.

I know that scalps are not like the most sensitive part of the body. I remember in my old punk rock days seeing punks with mohawks bopping around with safety pins in their scalps in the mosh pit. Granted they were probably drunk when they put them there, but considering the fact that Bee didn’t even know her scalp was being pierced until my son shouted it out for the whole world to hear, I don’t think it hurt her much. Maybe next time I’ll use orajel first – I think I still have some left from the good ol’ teething days . . .

Practicing Insanity ~ One Mom’s Perspective

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Quest for a Better Life

There are so many things that kids (and adults) like that are not exactly good for you. So, if you didn’t start out using healthy cooking habits, and then something happens that makes you realize that you have to change your eating habits, how do you do it? Food is such a fundamental part of life that any big changes are really hard to stick with, especially if your kids (or husband) are picky eaters!

The problem is that we have been so inundated with information from the media and what I call the ‘pop heath’ culture of America that it can be very confusing to try to eat healthy. For example, why is it that when you cut all of the salt and fat, and follow that elaborately crafted food pyramid, that all you want to do is go find something that is chock full of fat? The next thing you know, you find yourself coming out of the drive through with a super-sized double bacon cheeseburger and a giant chocolate malt with a huge pile of greasy fries, or sitting in the middle of a pile of chocolate wrappers, holding an empty giant-sized bag from Costco, thinking “Did I really eat all of those?” So the next day, you go on a rampage to get rid of all the junk food in your cupboards, and you replace them with all of those ‘healthy’ no fat, no sugar junk foods that you can find at your local heath food store. And then you find that you still manage to eat a whole bag all at once, and you feel all bloated and after a week you have gained at least 5 pounds. So you decide that you are really going to start being ‘good’ and you apply the stringent self discipline of a monk. After forgoing fat for a while, you may find that you itch all the time, and you start finding more of your hair in the brush, shower drain, laundry;  and your energy levels drop and you can’t seem to get enough sleep. You are yelling at your husband, your kids, your dog, AND inanimate objects, you’re having fits of road rage, and pulling even more of your hair out.

So then you try the no/low carb diet, and replace your ‘artery hardening’ butter with a margarine spread, start drinking low-fat skim milk instead of diet soda, and you lose the weight you gained eating diet snacks, but you find that you are having insatiable cravings for sugar.

The next step is to go to the doctor, because there really must be something seriously wrong with you. . . after all, the healthy diet just isn’t working and you are pretty sure they work for everyone else, because you saw the before and after pictures in Woman’s Day. He takes one look at your lab results and says, “You’re fine. Just get more exercise and lose some weight,” in a very condescending tone, (how hard can it really be?) and he looks at you like you are some kind of deranged hypochondriac wasting the time he could be spending with ‘real’ patients. You look at him and you are pretty sure he has never had a weight problem, or any other kind of real health problem in his life, so how can he possibly understand yours? And geez, they guy just gave you a breast exam, so you go home and ball your eyes out, and when your husband asks what the doctor said, you wail, “He said I was fine!”

Eventually you figure out that all of these popular health fads that you read about in Prevention or Woman’s Health don’t ever offer any real lasting diets that can offer you permanent solutions and that your doctor can’t and/or won’t do a single thing for you. They rarely know anything about nutrition other than what is in the food pyramid, and you already know everything about that because you learned about it every year throughout your entire public school career, starting with preschool, and then again in college health class.

So, do you give up? Or do you practice insanity by trying to do the same thing over and over and expect different results? Of course we all practice insanity . . . what else can we do?

There comes a point where we either accept that there is nothing we can do about it, and we endure our poor health (even though the doctor says we are perfectly fine) and we live life dragging our bodies from one day to the next, and we start taking medications for this that and the other because the doctor advised it, OR we do something different.

So, if there is nothing else that can be done, what can you do? WHAT IF THEY ARE ALL WRONG?

This is the question that you ask right before you experience paradigm shift.

You suddenly realize that all those diets you have read about that have nifty menus like 1 scrambled egg white, a half a piece of toast with a quarter teaspoon of buttery flavored canola spread, and 1/2 of a grapefruit for breakfast, with all of these new unfamiliar recipes, DO NOT WORK! (at least not for most people.) And they especially don’t work if you have a husband and kids. Unless you want to fix six meals a day instead of three.

Almost EVERYTHING that I thought I knew about healthy lifestyle was wrong, and I’ll tell you why. It is because all of the pop health propaganda is influenced either by big pharmaceutical companies or the food industry. These corporations only care about one thing, and that is NOT your health.

“So, what are you? Some kind of anti-capitalist conspiracy theorist now?” you may ask.

My answer to that is no, but that’s a whole other blog entry. Just think about this for a minute — and use some common sense. Big Pharma does not make any money if you are healthy, they only make money if you are sick. Food companies do not make money on natural, healthy foods, because they can’t sell them fast enough to prevent spoilage from cutting into their profits.

So, what can you do? Do you have to make drastic changes like becoming a raw vegan? My answer to that is also NO. In fact I don’t recommend that at all.

So what do I recommend? Well, take a seat because this is where it starts sounding really crazy. If you have just gotten off the merry go round, this is really going to twist your Twinkie. Stop eating margarine and  ‘heart healthy’ processed vegetable oils. Replace those with cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, organic coconut oil, butter, lard, and beef fat from healthy animals. Replace your white sandwich bread with organic stone ground whole wheat bread (watch for the fake brown bread with caramel coloring.)  Cut out processed foods, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, pasteurized milk products, and refined sugars. Stop buying cold breakfast cereal and start reading labels.

Now before you say “I thought that there weren’t going to be any drastic changes,” take a deep breath and read on.

One universal truth that our parents have taught us is that we are what we eat, and if you are going to be healthy, we need to eat healthy foods. Your grocery list will still look about the same as it did before, but you will change out your ingredients for higher quality ones. You MUST read labels. You have to switch from processed flour to whole grain flour. Buy another brand of peanut butter that doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils. Switch to whole grain pasta, buy fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned ones. Buy fresh organic food whenever possible. Find out where your local farmers markets are – these are the best places to buy organic produce. Find a local dairy that sells fresh unprocessed raw milk.

“RAW MILK?! are you CRAZY?” You might say this, but remember that we have been lied to by the food industry. We have been taught to be afraid of wholesome natural foods. Be smart about it, sure. I mean don’t buy from a farm you have not visited in person and seen for yourself the condition and state of health that the cows are in. Ask the farmer what he feeds his animals. And, if you can’t handle the idea of raw dairy products, forgo dairy altogether. (Look for a future post to explain the benefits of raw milk and how to choose a good raw dairy.)

The best part about this is that for the most part, you can use your old recipes! You can have your comfort food, and maybe you won’t get skinny like Angelina Jolie, but you will start feeling better. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Upcoming Posts: Why Would Anyone Drink Raw Milk? and 5 Easy Changes for a Healthier Life