Category Archives: Health

Adventures in (organic!) kimchi

csa-daikon

Audrey and her pet Daikon radish

On Saturday, my seven-year-old daughter, Audrey, picked a Really Big daikon radish from the fields at Crooked Sky Farms during CSA Member Day.

My husband Martin asked me, doubtingly, “What are you going to do with that?”

I replied, “I’m pretty sure you can make kimchi out of daikon.”

Martin gave me one of those looks and said, “I hope you don’t expect me to eat that.”

I think the grand count is now up to six or seven things I’ve made in our nearly-20 years of marriage that he doesn’t like.  Maybe eight.  I think his presupposition that he won’t like radish kimchi is based solely upon reputation, and report of friends who have gone to South Korea on ministry trips.

I found a recipe, and I’m making it right now — waiting for 30 minutes while the cubed radish “sweats”.

I’m really happy with all the ingredients.  Nearly all of them are organic:  the daikon, of course;  the green onion;  the dried red chile;  the sugar — all from Crooked Sky Farms, save the sugar.  I’ve also used sea salt, fresh garlic, and gluten-free soy sauce, simply because I’m out of fish sauce.

Radish kimchi (kkakdugi) veggies!

Radish kimchi (kkakdugi) veggies!

I just realized that I do not have fresh ginger, so my kimchi will be ginger-less.

And that big daikon only made one quart plus about 1½ cups of kimchi.  I’m only fermenting the quart container.  The end result didn’t seem as “wet” as the recipe suggested, so I ended up pouring all the “radish juice” back into the mixture.  From other fermented items I’ve made, the veggies must all be submerged in the liquid, and it took adding it all back in to bring the liquid to the top of the quart jar.

Anyway.

I had the thought, “I wonder if slightly adventurous cooks in Korea get a hold of, say, tomatoes, and determine that they will make ketchup, that ubiquitous and widely eaten American condiment.”  And their spouses look askance and wonder if they have to eat it.

The author of the recipe suggests that kkakdugi pairs well with a simple bone-broth soup.  Sounds good to me;  I have bone broth in the fridge right now!  I wonder which of my family will eat Korean Ox-Bone Soup accompanied by Kkakdugi…  I’ll try to remember to report back.

On a tangential note, there is a lady in the weekly small group Bible study I attend, and one of her daughters is a health-nut.  Nearly every week, my friend will report to me of the inedible culinary disasters her daughter has created in the name of health.  When I make a dish, I simply cannot make it in the name of health alone;  it must actually TASTE GOOD.  What’s the point of cooking your asparagus in coconut oil if no one enjoys the flavor, and it ends up in the trash?  (Personally, I think coconut oil is over-used.  However, that is a tangent to my tangent.)  I’ve only brought snacks twice in the last number of months, and both times, she asked repeatedly, while eating with gusto, “This is gluten free??  It’s healthy??”  To which I usually reply, “Well, it’s not healthy, as it has way more sugar than anyone should be eating.  But, it’s gluten-free and it’s nearly all organic.”  She just can’t believe that homemade goods can be better-for-you AND tasty.  I believe that they should be tasty.  I don’t believe in eating something solely because it’s good for you;  food should be enjoyed.

Why I hardly ever eat broccoli any more (or, “A Paean to Seasonal Eating”)

Romanesco is the broccoli for math heads. “Romanesco broccoli resembles a cauliflower, but is of a light green colour and the inflorescence (the bud) has an approximate self-similar character, with the branched meristems making a logarithmic spiral. In this sense the broccoli’s shape approximates a natural fractal; each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral.”

I used to eat broccoli a lot.  It was THE go-to veggie for my family.  I’d purchase, at a minimum, enough for two dinners’ worth, and prepared it in innumerable ways, but most often, just steamed.  We hardly ever eat broccoli any more.  I like broccoli.  I just usually can’t bring myself to buy it.

Here’s why:

“…the United States is a net importer of broccoli overall. In 2010, the United States imported 524.5 million pounds of frozen broccoli valued at $243 million. The majority of the frozen broccoli came from Mexico (72%), followed by Guatemala (15%) and Ecuador (8%) (Vegetable and Melon Data, ERS 2011).”

To be clear, if you are eating FROZEN broccoli, it is almost certainly from another country;  producing broccoli florets is labor-intensive, and since labor costs are higher here than in other countries.  If you eat fresh broccoli, there is a better chance that it came from the United States, most likely California.  If you eat organic, fresh broccoli, chances are even GREATER that the broccoli came from the U.S.  But, still…

I live in the desert, here in the Phoenix area.  I know that broccoli is harvested here for a very limited time of the year, usually in March.

And how do I know that?  Because a majority of my family’s veggies are from a local farm, Crooked Sky Farms, in a year ’round CSA.  Before 2013, our veggies came — for 20 weeks out of the year — from a different CSA.  The window for local, fresh, organic broccoli is very small.

So, when I’m shopping in the heat of summer, and that broccoli is looking mighty fine for a stir-fry, I ponder and think, “It’s August.  It’s stinkin’ 120° out there.  I know, Grocery Store Broccoli, that you did not come from any place even remotely close to here.”  And I usually pass on by…  I might cave if it’s from an organic producer in California;  that’s not too very far.  But usually, I just pass, and choose a summer veggie.  Or, I just live off of what the CSA provides.

I purchase very few veggies any more.  Year ’round, I do purchase mushrooms, lettuces (when not from the CSA), celery, and red bell peppers (when the CSA doesn’t provide other bell peppers).

Islander Bell Peppers — we received these purple bell peppers last week.

Sand Piper ivory-colored bell peppers, which were also in last week’s CSA share.

And… I think that’s about it.  Oh!  Potatoes I purchase year ’round, though they are available from the CSA for a good portion of the year.  I also purchase frozen organic sweet corn and frozen organic green beans, both from Costco.  Again, both green beans and corn are available for a time from the CSA.  And, I froze as much corn as I could this year, but we’ve already eaten it all.  :)

That sounds like a lot of purchased veggies.  But, really, it’s not, compared to how many veggies our family eats.

And when I finally have my garden up and going, it will be even fewer, but that’s another story.

I sent this to my CSA members this morning:

Hello, everyone!

 

I just wanted to send out a note of encouragement to each of you. I’ve heard from several who are growing really weary of eating the same things from week to week. Well, it hasn’t been exactly the same thing, but there have been several items — especially okra and cucumbers — that folks seem to be tiring of. I do understand! I intended to turn a batch of lemon cukes into pickles this past week, and with two different sets of houseguests, I didn’t get that done. I also decided to give away a bunch of okra, rather than freeze it. So, I do understand the weariness.

I do, however, want to remind each of you that eating seasonally is much healthier for YOU and for the planet. Studies have shown that produce that is grown seasonally (instead of imported, or grown locally in forced, non-natural environments) to be much higher in nutrient content.

Eating seasonally is a true return to ancestral ways of eating. Our ancestors ate what they could grow in their own environment, according to the season. They would eat a glut of what was fresh, and preserve what wouldn’t keep. We’re simply not accustomed to that. We live in America, which is, in many ways, a tremendously blessed country. Each of us very likely lives less than a mile or two from a supermarket. In that supermarket, we can buy broccoli year ’round. However, broccoli bought in the deserts of Phoenix in October likely grew in Mexico or South America, and traveled thousands of miles to get here. (The U.S. does grow broccoli in California, but we import more than we export. Most of the broccoli eaten in the U.S. comes from Mexico, Guatemala, or Ecuador.)

I’m not trying to guilt-trip you out of buying broccoli on your next trip to the grocery store, I promise! And in some ways, I do realize that I’m preaching to the choir; most of us don’t have to be convinced of the benefits of eating locally, seasonally, and organically.

For another perspective:

“Better nutritional content and overall health – Most grocery stores and food chains jazz up their fruits and vegetables to keep them looking attractive and inviting when they’re out of season. This naturally compromises the nutrition level of the food. Non-seasonal foods require bending of nature’s rules in order for them to survive the improper season in which they are brought into the world. Therefore, these foods are often full of pesticides, waxes, preservatives and other chemicals that are used in order to make them look fresher than they are.

By eating freshly harvested produce, you will be rotating your foods, thereby keeping your body from developing intolerances to certain foods and reaping the health benefits of a diet that is diverse and naturally detoxifying. Seasonal foods also have a much higher antioxidant content than non-seasonal foods.

Sustainable and environmental benefits – By eating seasonally, you will also be supporting the local farmers and local markets, which, in turn, works well for the sustainability of the entire economy. Seasonal eating helps the environment by reducing the number of food miles your food has to make before it reaches your table. The more local you eat, the less chances exist that you are consuming food that has been flown in from half way across the world, in effect consuming that much more fuel.”

(From: http://www.naturalnews.com/035575_seasonal_food_diet_health.html#)

And here’s another article: http://life.gaiam.com/article/benefits-eating-what-s-season

And another: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=28

ALSO, when farmers (and gardeners) plant the things that grow best in our rather extreme environment, and they don’t try to FORCE things to grow here that shouldn’t be growing in the desert, that helps to eliminate the need for pesticides and fungicides, etc.

So… if you can find the time, DO pickle those cucumbers — refrigerator pickles are easy and don’t require pressure canning. Okra is easily freezable:  Cut off the stem end and pop them whole into a freezer bag. Similarly, you can freeze summer squash without doing anything special: wash, trim the ends, and dice them. Then, just put them into freezer bags. Store your onions and potatoes in the fridge, and they will last for MONTHS.

I’m still enjoying greens that I froze this past spring, and summer squash from my freezer as well.

Preserving helps you maximize the value of the CSA, as well. I know I feel GREAT when I pull out some dried basil from the cabinet or diced rutabaga from my freezer, long after the season has ended. I feel like I’m being an excellent steward of what has been provided to me!

That said… cooler weather crops will very soon be available! I don’t have an exact timeline, but I did receive this message from the farm:

“Good day Glendale CSA. Thank you so much for participating in supporting your local farmer. Eating seasonal takes that ancestor heart that brings us back to eating the way nature intended. This is the best way to ensure your family is putting chemical free produce in their bodies. Farmer Frank always says “we fight GMO’s with our actions, not just our words.” While your taste buds are craving autumn, sweeten your palate with winter squash like butternut squash, spaghetti squash, baking pumpkins and more. Also look forward to soooo many greens, such as swiss chard, spinach, kale. Lets not forget our root crops. This year we plan to wow you with colored carrots, watermelon radishes and more! Jazz up your plates with Romanesco, graffiti cauliflower (purple), lettuces and rare onions. We are just beginning to scratch the surface. Thank you for your patience and commitment. We delight in serving you with many treasures.”

“Naturally Grown, Naturally Yours”, the Crooked Sky family

Again, NONE of this is said to guilt anyone into doing anything. I also understand about being on a budget, and the continual pull between eating more healthily, and being wise with my family’s resources. That’s actually the main reason I started hosting!! I primarily get paid in veggies. ;) It’s a huge benefit to my large family to be “given” about $40 worth of organic veggies every week. But, before I hosted, I participated in CSAs for several years, in addition to growing my own garden…

I do understand that you have to do what works for your family… I truly do.

And I THANK YOU, all of you, for participating, whether you’ve been with me from the beginning and are absolutely committed, *OR* if this whole CSA thing is new to you — or eating healthy is new to you — and you’re just trying it out. Everyone is on a different point in their journey to health and wellness, and I’m so very, very pleased to assist any of you at any point in your journey.

 

~sigh~

The short version of this very long post is that it is an EFFORT to eat well.  It requires something of you.  Time, money, effort, convenience…  All of those, or a combination.But the result is worth it, I do believe.

 

 

Returning to… well, not “normal”.

The babymoon filled with tortilla chips* and ice cream** is over.

I won’t say that we’ve returned to “normal”, though that is what I was initially thinking…  “Wow!  We’re approaching normal!”  There is no “normal”.  And, upon further reflection, it was like thinking, “Hey, baby!  You’ve upset our family’s routine!  You rascal!  How could you do that??  You’ve DISTURBED things!!”  And, truly, I don’t think that.

But on the other hand, I have been working to re-establish a new flow to our family.

I wrote this to a friend yesterday, who probably instantly regretted asking me how I was doing:

But, just to be real, yesterday SUCKED. It was the worst mothering day in a solid year, if not more. Frankly, Jean cries a lot. That isn’t bad, theoretically. I was telling my kids that Ethan cried a lot, and he turned out just fine. Some babies are just… needier than others, and I am happy to provide that extra comfort, extra soothing, more careful… care. But, OTOH, it means a lot of time in my room with the door shut, nursing (not that I always nurse behind closed doors), soothing, trying to help Jean sleep… and then my children are like Lord of the Flies out there, unattended, giving into sin nature, selfishness, unkindness, sneakiness, bullying… Ugh. I kind of flipped out yesterday. For a valuable 45 min of time when Jean was napping, I sat the five down and we went over Colossians 3:12-17. We talked. I lectured. We prayed. But did things improve? No. I had to spank***. I called Martin. And today hasn’t been much better…. But, I’m trying. Played Bethel YouTube worship videos for four hours straight in the main living area of our home, both to worship and sing, and to just invite the Holy Spirit in our day. And I have nipped everything in the bud, as much as possible.

There would be days like these in the past and I would think that I have totally failed as a mother. The good news is that I feel like it’s a temporary failure from which we all need to recover. I need to pull the reins in on my kids after letting things coast, slide, for too long. And they need to be loving and to obey.

So, see?  There’s no normal.

But, this morning represented a step in the right direction:  For the first time in Jean’s six weeks and two days of life, I made myself a “real” breakfast.  Granted, I absolutely gulped it down, so as to eat it hot, in case Jean awoke.  But, it was:  Three eggs, tomato slices, avocado slices, a cup of raw milk, and coffee.  YUM.  The first week of Jean’s life, I ate like a queen, because my hubby fixed my breakfast, and delivered it to me in bed.  The time since then has been altogether spotty:  A hastily eaten bowl of cereal (and I don’t even eat cereal!), a protein bar, a hastily-eaten pear, occasionally asking one of my boys to fix me eggs…  Or, more likely, me looking at the clock at 11:00 a.m. and thinking, “Crap.  I haven’t eaten anything yet today.”

Speaking of food…  While I absolutely, 100% agree with the thought that post-partum mothers should not give in to an appearance-centered culture that pressures us, “How are you going to lose that baby weight???”****  I also know that I’m carrying 12 extra pounds from the pregnancy — not much, I know! — and

  1. It’s crazy how much even just 12 pounds can make your clothes NOT fit.  Even tee shirts.
  2. I know that most of that wouldn’t be there had I not daily indulged in food I shouldn’t be eating in the first place:  like the aforementioned tortilla chips, ice cream, and cereal.
  3. I just feel better when I’m trim, when I don’t to have to select clothes that hides one sloshy part or another.*****

So, unless I want to purchase a whole new wardrobe — which WOULD be nice, but

  1. Where would the money come from to do that?
  2. More importantly, where would the TIME come to do that??

I need to lose at least some of that weight.

Hence, the subtraction of the carb-laden foods, and the triumphant reemergence of healthier food…

So worth it...  the tears, the "disruption", the extra weight...  So amazingly worth it.

So worth it… the tears, the “disruption”, the extra weight… So amazingly worth it.

———

*Organic, from Costco.  I love those chips!!

**Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra.  It was a lot easier to resist when I had to purchase it for $5/pint from the grocery store or wait for a coupon.  In the last year, pre-baby, I probably indulged twice.  But, since we discovered that the regular price at Walmart is $2.88/pint, and I got my hubby hooked on that particular flavor, it’s been MUCH harder to resist.  “Babe!” he grins, coming in the door with a bag from Walmart, “I got you some ice cream!”  Hahaha!!

***I probably just lost a good 10% of my readers right there.  “SHE SPANKS???” Um, yes.  On occasion.  I can’t remember the last time I had spanked anyone, prior to Tuesday;  a couple of months, at least.  It’s not my go-to discipline;  it’s my last-resort discipline.

****And if you haven’t read Sarah Bessey’s fabulous post on the Duchess of Cambridge’s post-partum hospital appearance, you should.  Absolutely, you should.

*****And we’re not talking “skinny” here.  I’m at 150 lbs now, and my goal is 140.  Pre-baby, it was 138 lbs.

Tongue-tie update and a couple of other things, including ice cream…

Darling Fiala, a couple of hours post-birth, holding her new baby sister.

Darling Fiala, a couple of hours post-birth, holding her new baby sister.

So, the above pic has nothing to do with this post, really.  I just wanted to publish it.

I saw baby Jean’s nurse practitioner again today, since the pediatrician is visiting his parents in India until next week.  I really like the CNP, Penny.  We did a weight check and a few other things.  Baby Jean had only gained three ounces since last Tuesday, which is just below the normal threshold of 0.5 – 1.0 oz daily at this point in development.  And that is with her nursing for a good hour at a time every 2-3 hours.  Little Jean now weighs 10 lbs 6 oz, still not quite her birth weight.

We confirmed that, yes, she does have a fairly significant tongue tie and a very significant upper-lip tie.  And, since it is affecting both her ability to nurse efficiently and is still causing me pain during nursing, we are going to have at least her tongue clipped.  However, today counted as the “consult”, rather than the actual event.  So, we talked about it pretty extensively, and I watched a (quite informative) 15 minute Power Point about the procedure… And scheduled the frenectomy for Monday.

The plan is to give that a week to heal and to see if it results in a decrease of pain for me and an increase of weight for Jean.  If both of those happen, we’ll leave the lip-tie alone.  But, if one or the other (or both) are still happening, we’ll schedule the upper lip to be done as well.

Personally, I think the lip is more of a problem, since she can’t flange it out.  But, since correcting the tongue tie is less invasive, that’s what the pediatrician wants to start with.  I’m OK with that.

I’m NOT OK with him requiring a Vitamin K injection for infants to receive the frenectomy.  The nurse practitioner is e-mailing the pediatrician to see if we can waive that requirement.  If not, there is a local midwife who is certified in the procedure, and we may pay her the $50 cash (rather than the $30 co-pay) to have it done.  My own midwife suggested that I request a blood test to confirm adequate blood levels of Vitamin K, rather than just giving her an injection.  I think that is a good idea, but that certainly seems like it would take longer… yet one more week…  I’d just as soon have this over and done.

In unrelated news…

About a week ago, I joked on my personal Facebook page about still looking five months pregnant.  I think I caused concern in some, who gently cautioned me about trying to “get my figure back” too quickly.  HONESTLY, this is the LEAST I have ever been concerned about that.  I have been devoted to really taking it easy on myself, physically.  For the first week, I did virtually nothing, and my family waited on me hand and foot.  This last week, I haven’t done much more.  It is now my goal to, every day:

  1. Do some laundry:  Start the load and hang it on the line.
  2. Make dinner:  This is made easier by the fact that I have a number of dinners half- or three quarters-made in the freezer.
  3. Take care of baby Jean Marjorie Joy.

That’s it.

I remember being horrified by my mushy tummy after my firstborn and starting ridiculously early on a sit-up regimen.  I am absolutely NOT doing that.

I have worn a… slimming undergarment a couple of times but that tends to make my ankles swell, as well as just being uncomfortable.  I find myself less motivated by my appearance and more motivated by comfort these days…  However, I tend to feel better when I feel like I look better, even if I don’t actually look better (follow that?).  I guess what I’d prefer is to look effortlessly put-together, but I guess that is not going to happen.  At the age of 40, after having six children, I actually have to put some effort into looking nice.  :)

I have also been alternately horrified and amused by what has been the Lots o’ Carbs Festival at our home these last couple of weeks.  Part of that is because a number of kind friends gave us gift cards to “safe” restaurants (we’re hard to cook for), post-birth, and there are always more carbs in a store-bought meal.  (One friend homemade us an AMAZING dinner — totally gluten-free and dairy-free — including brownies.)  On top of that, not only did I have the pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra that I’d been saving for after the birth, but a dear friend remembered that that ice cream was my favorite and brought by THREE pints.  Those, I shared with my husband, Martin.  And then my hubby bought another pint for me a few days ago…  That one, I ate by myself.  Ice cream begets ice cream.  Once the floodgates are open, it’s hard to say no!!  However, in spite of the fact that I’ve eaten more carbs in the last two weeks than I have in any one span in probably the last 3-4 YEARS, I am still losing weight.  In fact, I’ve lost 23 of the 35 I gained, six of those in the last week, as I’ve been feasting on ice cream.  Only 12 pounds to go.  And obviously, I’m not even trying to lose weight!!

I know I will return to eating more healthily…  But right now, pass me another pint.  :)

Pain, apprehension, and joy

This isn't her birth story... but I love this picture.  Baby Jean is so peaceful, and well-attended.  Pictured are the hands of 4.5 year old daughter, Fiala;  my midwife, Pam; my sister, Robin;  my husband, Martin; and my 7yo daughter, Audrey.

This isn’t her birth story… but I love this picture. Baby Jean is so peaceful, and well-attended. Pictured are the hands of 4.5 year old daughter, Fiala; my midwife, Pam; my sister, Robin; my husband, Martin; and my 7yo daughter, Audrey.  Jean’s chest, by the way, was 15 1/8″.

Tomorrow, baby Jean Marjorie Joy will be two weeks old.  I am somewhat anxious about tomorrow;  she has a follow-up visit with a pediatrician to do a weight-check and assess the possible need for clipping a tongue-tie and upper lip-tie.

It has been almost three years since my children have been to a pediatrician.  Longer, in fact…  We were in the care of a family doctor, a DO, but after we stopped vaxing, she dropped us.  I was not eager to re-establish care with a medical doctor.  I’m still a bit apprehensive about it…  But, the particular pediatrician comes highly recommended by my midwife — which means a lot to me.  As long as the parent is educated about vaccination choices, they do not give any guff about not vaccinating;  if they were concerned about me declining Vitamin K or Hep B, it wasn’t apparent.  They didn’t blink an eye about my baby being born at home.  Or that she is my sixth child;  the woman who did the initial assessment had five children, in fact.

Giving it some thought just now, I just realized that how I feel about pediatricians is the same way I feel about hospital birth, and why I chose to birth at home:  I know my rights as a patient in a hospital.  I’m well-educated as to the pitfalls of birthing the standard American way.  I know what I want for my birth.  I am confident in my ability to birth.  While I truly try to be kind to those caring for me in a hospital, I am not afraid to put my foot down and refuse a certain kind of treatment, or sign AMA waivers, or what have you.  But, with this birth, I didn’t want to do that.  I didn’t want to be put in a position (perhaps literally!) where I had to endlessly justify my decisions and where I had to advocate for myself.  I just wanted to relax and birth a baby in peace, without having to weather confrontation.

I felt the same about finding a new pediatrician, especially after the DO dropped us.

So, last week, going into baby Jean’s “72 hour” first check-up, which was really at one week, I was quite apprehensive about how the staff would treat my baby and me, especially since the actual doctor, the one recommended to me, was on vacation, and I’d be seeing the nurse practitioner.

However, it was an altogether successful visit.  The only thing that made it difficult was that I was in physical pain…

I had some concerns (Lordy, this post is filled with apprehension and concerns!) about birthing a baby at 40, and the recovery from that.  I am happy to say that the actual recovery has been amazing.  Now thirteen days postpartum, I actually feel about 95% recovered.  I think much of that is due to careful following of my midwife’s instructions — which has a heavy emphasis on chilling out — and the tender care of my husband, who took a week off of work, and served and fed me better than I would have for myself.

Despite baby Jean’s enormous size — 10 lb, 7 oz;  22″ long, 14.5″ head — and the fact that she had a nuchal hand (she was born with her hand next to her face… and since the midwife couldn’t push the hand back down, she pulled it out, so that baby was born arm-first), I sustained only a superficial 1st degree tear.

I have, however, had weird and painful OTHER things happen since her birth.  First, I had to go to the emergency room when Jean was only three days.  I have varicose veins — which I knew about — and one on the back of my leg had become puffy, red, hot to touch, and very painful.  My midwife was concerned that, even though she couldn’t feel a thrombosis, that there might be a clot deeper in the tissue of my leg.  After a phone call to her consulting physician, they both felt like I should go in, immediately, to the ER for an ultrasound of my leg.  That was stressful.  I think the most difficult part was actually bringing my baby to the germ-filled emergency room.  My husband Martin came with me, and even though it was about 110° out, we decided that it was better to use the outside as a “waiting room”.  The staff at the hospital was all unfailingly accommodating of me having a brand-new infant, and found us a private room almost immediately.  Everyone was kind and attentive, and fairly rushed us through.  We were in and out in just about two hours, and the better news was that a) no clot was found, and b) Jean doesn’t seem to have suffered any ill effects from our trip.  The tentative diagnosis was “phlebitis” — irritated veins.  Sitting for three days in bed is great for recovery from birth, but the staying stationary is less than helpful for varicose veins.  In any case, the phlebitis, or whatever it was, seems to have resolved itself.

Then… from about day 2 until day 7, we were treating what we thought was a clogged milk duct.  The protocol for that is soaking in hot water, using a heating pad, massage, and nursing on the clogged side as much as possible, using a variety of odd nursing positions, all to help clear out the clog and to ensure that it doesn’t turn into mastitis:  a breast infection.  Well, nothing seemed to help.  I cannot describe the pain.  It was, I do believe, the worst in my life, and I include birth in that list.

On Tuesday early morning, a week ago, I was massaging my “clogged duct” and to my absolute horror, saw the side of my nipple gape open.  Hidden at the base of the nipple in the wrinkly and folded skin, what had presented as a clogged duct was actually my nipple, detaching.  It was entirely sliced through, from about 6:30 – 11:00, a good 3/8 of my nipple, completely cut through.  It looked like someone had actually sliced it.  Someone had, in fact:  my darling newborn, with her powerful but inefficient, tongue- and lip-tied suck.

My salvation was a Medela nipple shield.  I am old-fashioned.  There just seems to be something wrong with putting a piece of silicone between baby and mama.  Historically, I haven’t been a fan of nipple shields.  However, it was about my only hope for nursing on that side…  With literal shaking and tears from fear of pain, I put it on and attached little Jean Marjorie.  Not only did she latch on with no difficulty, but the pain was reduced a good 97%.  The pain was still present, but completely tolerable.

So, for five days, I nursed using the shield.  It was an annoyance but a blessing.

This morning, she nursed successfully without the shield, and there was virtually no pain and no further damage.

I can tell that she is still not latching on quite correctly.  Also, she nurses for a good hour at a time, yet doesn’t seem to ever fully empty the milk from my breasts.  She is perpetually hungry.  She is wetting an adequate number of diapers;  I don’t think her life is in danger from malnutrition.  However, for all that I am spending 1/3 to 1/2 of my time nursing my baby, I don’t think she is gaining any weight, and may, in fact, be losing weight.  We’ll find out tomorrow.

So… we may end up having to get her frenulum clipped.  Her upper lip is tied, as well.

Theoretically, I don’t mind spending so much time nursing my baby.  It is a precious, precious time.  But logistically, at some point, I need to be more available to my family, and my baby would benefit from being able to adequately get the milk she needs in a much shorter amount of time.  She is spending so much time nursing that I don’t think she’s getting quite enough sleep.  Her need for sleep and her need for mama’s milk are in conflict with each other…  I can tell she is both exhausted and hungry.  Poor sweetie.

So, while I don’t relish the thought of anything getting clipped on her — for all everyone’s assurances that it barely hurts and that she’ll heal very quickly with no disruption of nursing — it does seem that it would be best for both her and me to get the procedure(s) done.

Other worries that were a waste of time:

  • Homebirth itself.  It was, despite some challenges in the birth itself, absolutely perfect.  My husband is a new convert to the benefits of homebirth.  Better late than never.  :)
  • Too many people in the room.  We had my midwife, the midwife’s assistant (who is nearly a licensed midwife herself), a student midwife, and a friend who was acting as doula… No one was intrusive, everyone cared for me magnificently, everyone had their place.
  • The children.  My husband was more concerned about this than I was.  Our boys just kind of checked on me periodically, and the girls were present for most of the birth — exiting on their own when things got too intense — and it was just right.
  • Our family adapting to #8 in the home.  This has been so smooth.  So very smooth.  My husband is abundantly smitten with baby Jean.  The girls are wonderfully gentle and attentive big sisters.  The boys slightly less so, but no less loving, and what they lack for in personal attentiveness, they make up for in their general service to our family and to me and baby in particular:  they are definitely picking up the slack.

Anyway… now that I’m no longer in continual pain and that there is hope on the horizon, I’m much… happier.  Not that having a baby is all about my personal happiness.  But, with the difficulty of the birth (difficult for me, that is), I felt more relief than joy at her birth.  Then, when the nursing issues started on the second day, the leg vein issues on the third day, etc., I feel like I’ve been somewhat on edge and not able to fully participate in the JOY of a newborn.  There have been moments I relish, and my heart is absolutely filled with love and ZERO regrets;  I can’t imagine life without Jean Marjorie Joy.  But, I’m looking forward to the coming weeks even more.

THIS, only moments after birth.  So perfect.

THIS, only moments after birth. So perfect.

 

Update on my pregnant, celiac, low-ish carb, almost-Paleo “diet”

I hate to call any food endeavor on which I embark a “diet”.

But, I guess how I’ve been eating for the last 3+ weeks qualifies, since I’m counting carbs.

It took me a bit, but I figured out that I need at least 80 net carbs daily to NOT lose weight.  My goal is NOT to lose weight;  it’s to maintain or to gain weight more slowly.   By 21 weeks, I had gained 22 lbs.  Once my morning sickness was over (bless God) I was packing on two pounds a week, all while eating GOOD FOOD.  Now, I’m eating MORE good food, but fewer carbs.

Here’s my history:

  • I have veinous problems.  I have varicose veins including up into my lower abdomen.  More weight gain is even harder on weak veins.  And my particular kind of veins increase my risk (moderately) of hemorrhaging during birth.  Not good.
  • I also want to limit the stress on my heart during pregnancy by limiting weight gain.  (I have Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, which is fairly benign, but worrying symptoms ramp up during pregnancy.)
  • I have a history of macrosomic babies.  My smallest was 8 lbs 13 oz.  My largest?  10 lbs even.  Large babies increase one’s risk of hemorrhage.
  • This is my 6th baby.  For every baby >5, a mother’s risk for hemorrhage increases quite dramatically.
  • I am planning a home birth and want to maximize my chances for success — to actually BIRTH in our home, not have to transfer due to blood loss.
  • I did a similar diet under an OB for my last birth — I gained zero weight from weeks 28 onward — and the baby was STILL 8 lbs 13 oz.
  • I have never had gestational diabetes but for baby #5, my oral glucose test (the nasty syrup) was “borderline-borderline” for GD, and I figured that a lower carb, no-sugar, high-protein diet wouldn’t hurt anything.  It didn’t.  :)
  • In pregnancies #1-4, I gained 37-50 lbs each, ALL WHILE EATING A HEALTHY, WHOLE-FOODS DIET.  My first OB told me that, for some women, their bodies go into “starvation mode” and operate with extreme efficiency, grabbing onto everything it possibly can and storing it as fat.  He was pretty certain that that is what my body does.  I did a food diary for him for a month (as I recall — it was 16 years ago!) and he was impressed with my diet.  The only thing he recommended was taking out fruit.  I didn’t, which is why I probably gained those 50 lbs.
  • With pregnancy #5, on the lower-carb diet, I gained a total of 17 lbs, produced that 8 lb 13 oz baby, and recovery was immeasurably smoother for me, post-pregnancy.  It was fairly easy to lose that extra 10 lbs, as opposed to being faced with a whopping 40 lbs to lose.  I didn’t even have to try to lose those 10 lbs.  They just melted off with a return to my regular metabolism, plus nursing.

For this pregnancy, in a couple of weeks, my midwife — who does offer the syrup-based oral glucose test, which I declined — is going to test how my body handles a “normal”/high amount of carbs via a large meal.  I’ll go into her office at 7:30 a.m., and we’ll do a blood draw and test my blood-sugar levels.  (She’s also going to re-test a couple of other things that were abnormal in an earlier blood test.)  Then, I’ll go home and eat a “regular” breakfast — not one that contains 100 grams of glucose like the oral glucose test though it will be higher in carbs than I would normally eat for breakfast;  I’ll probably eat eggs and a homemade muffin or two and shoot for 50 g carbs or so.  Then, she’ll re-test my blood at 10:30.

We’re testing mostly out of curiosity.  No matter what the results are, I’ll still maintain my current diet.

So, what am I doing in this “current diet”?

I am:

  • Eating about 75-100 grams of protein daily, which is very similar to the Brewer/Blue Ribbon Baby Diet.  (However, I’m not tracking my protein consumption down to the gram.)  I eat 3-4 eggs every breakfast.  I eat meat at lunch and dinner.  My snacks tend to be high-protein, as well — nut-based or plain yogurt.
  • Limiting myself to about 80 grams non-fiber carbs daily.  (I have discovered that with fewer than 80g, I lose weight, which is not the goal.)
  • Eating an additional 30+ grams of dietary fiber carbs daily.
  • Eating at least NINE servings of veggies daily.
  • NOT tracking fat consumption.  At all.  In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that this is a high-fat diet.
  • Sticking to foods that are MOSTLY Paleo:  veggies and meats.  However, I do eat some dairy and some legumes, which most people eating a strict Paleo diet, don’t.  Many Paleo adherents don’t eat any nightshades, either:  tomatoes, potatoes, etc.  I eat virtually no potatoes, but I often eat tomatoes.  I’m not avoiding nightshades.  (In a Paleo diet, the goal is to train your body to burn FAT for energy, and for it to NOT rely on sugar-carbs for energy.  That is how one can eat a high-fat diet and not gain weight.  A Paleo diet is also healthy, long-term, for one’s pancreas as it profoundly limits blood-sugar.)
  • NOT counting calories.
  • Keeping my sugar-intake extremely limited.  This is all sugars, including honey and naturally-occurring sugars in fruit.
  • Drinking 80-100 ounces of water daily.  This is in ADDITION to other liquids I may drink.  I actually shoot for a gallon of water daily (128 ounces) but rarely hit that goal.
  • Taking supplements in addition to the foods I eat:  6400 IU vitamin D, 1000 mg cod liver oil, 1200 mg calcium, 600 mg magnesium, 250 mg Horse Chestnut extract, a multivitamin, and 500 mg vitamin C.  Some of them are chewables, which accounts for the 3g carbs for my vitamins if you view my sample daily diet PDF.  If I take an extra vitamin C chewable, that adds another 2g carbs.

Plain, whole milk yogurt with blueberries: My frequent sub for ice cream at the end of the day.

Here is a sample of what I eat, daily (click for PDF).  A few notes:

  • Yes, I drink coffee.  Two mugs of half-caff.  I put organic half & half in it, along with stevia.
  • I do use a kitchen scale for many foods.
  • I use this website:  Self NutritionData to calculate the content of most of my foods.
  • I usually don’t include ingredients in my daily tally, but on the opposite page of my spiral notebook, I do some serious figuring to many recipes in order to figure out the carb and fiber grams per serving.  Yes, this does require some math.  No, I don’t mind.
  • Some things I have to estimate.  For instance, we go out to eat about twice a month.  I made a rough estimate of 60 grams carbs plus 10 grams fiber for a recent (splurge!) lunch at a Mexican restaurant.  This was for beans, corn tortillas, and some tortilla chips that went along with my shredded beef tacos.  But…  some restaurants — chains, especially — publish their nutrition data online.  For instance, I ate a Double-Double Protein Style Animal Style (with “wheat allergy” noted) at In ‘N’ Out Burger.  No fries.  I drank water.  That felt like a splurge, but I found out online that it as only 8g carbs plus 3g fiber.
  • My go-to snacks:
    • Organic celery sticks with sunflower butter (I get sunflower butter from Trader Joe’s.  Yes, it has a small amount of sugar in it).
    • A half, large avocado
    • A handful (two ounces) of raw almonds
    • There are a few gluten-free, low-sugar, high-fiber snack or protein bars — like ProMax LS or ThinkThin Or Kit’s Raw Organic — and I do buy a few of these to eat in a pinch.  But, I tend to shy from packaged snacks.
    • At the end of the day, especially if I need more carbs, I will sit down with a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries or — if my carb count has been REALLY low for the day — 1/2 cup of g.f. granola.  It’s odd to consider, but if you truly stick with virtually all veggies, nuts, and meat during the  day, by the end of the day, you will have to eat a relatively carb-heavy snack or meal to KEEP yourself from losing weight.
    • I will admit that, once this month, I splurged at Yogurtini.  I eat frozen yogurt about once a month from the store.  Yogurtini’s no-sugar-added flavors do NOT contain aspartame (they are sweetened with maltodextrin, sucralose, or other “non-sugar” sweeteners) but they DO contain artificial colors.  This is not a choice that anyone should make on a regular basis, but I’m just keepin’ it real and honest here and admitting to my yogurt consumption.  One five ounce serving (including a scoop of fresh blueberries) ran me about 22 g carbs and 7 g fiber.

 

Do you make your own babyfood?

I do.

Here’s part of a message I wrote to a friend, who has an 11 month-old with NO teeth, and is trying to figure out some non-milk ways to add protein to his diet.

For little ones, this sounds a little crazy, but I like serving beans. Of course, too much beans will make anyone gassy… But a small amount is a great source of protein. Garbanzo beans are the least gassy of all beans and have a very mild flavor that is appealing to most babies.

If you can find them, old-fashioned metal ice cube trays that feature a little loosening bar/contraption work even better.

Also, you can use a blender or mini food processor to mash up beans and even meat. It’s really easy, actually, to make your own baby food. Put some cooked brown rice, some cooked beef (stewed works well), some cooked garbanzo beans, and some spinach — raw or cooked — into the blender (or some other healthy combination you think he’ll like — cooked squash, chicken, oatmeal is another idea, or plain yogurt*, blueberries, and oatmeal) and blend to process. Put it in an ice cube tray, and when frozen, pop out and put the cubes in a Ziploc. Then you’ll have quick little portions. I’ve even saved store-bought babyfood jars, and in the a.m., put 2-3 cubes in the jar in the a.m., and by lunch time, they’re thawed and ready to eat.

When I make babyfood, I will often just set aside an unseasoned portion of whatever I’m making for the family either to grind up for baby’s dinner that night OR I’ll save brown rice one night, beef the next, squash the next, etc. and then when I have small bowls in the fridge of a good babyfood combo, I will put them in the blender and make the babyfood.

I do that, though, because I’m cheap + healthy. Gerber and Beechnut typically have so many crappy additives, especially in the stage 2 & 3 meals, but the organic baby food is SUPER expensive. And once you get in the habit, it literally is about five minutes extra of your time to make and freeze babyfood cubes.

For babies younger than 11 months, it’s even simpler, as you should only use one food at a time — steamed carrots, baked squash, etc.  When your baby is around 7-8 months, they can usually tolerate a simple combination of two foods at a time.  The older they grow, the better able they are, typically, to digest more complex food.

Making your own babyfood is more trendy than when I started to do it, nearly  15 years ago.  Responding to consumers, the are now a number of babyfood cookbooks, “kits”, and other supplies… Although I love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets, I find most of that stuff to be kind of a waste of money.  Just take plain versions of what YOU eat — provided that you eat healthy, whole foods — and prepare it as babyfood.  Voila!  No cookbook needed.  And if you have a blender or a mini-prep food processor and some ice cube trays, you don’t need any special gadgets.

————————

*And, yes, I know I just said “non-milk” and there was a reference to yogurt in there.  It appears that her little one MIGHT have a sensitivity to milk — but milk sensitivities can be tricky.  Is it just lactose?  Lactose is milk sugar.  In honest, fully cultured yogurt, there is virtually no lactose;  the yogurt cultures “eat” the milk sugar, and the resulting fully cultured yogurt has no lactose.  Same with hard, aged cheeses — like cheddar.  The process eliminates lactose.  But, if a child has a sensitivity to casein or whey or another milk protein, you’re up a creek, and even yogurt won’t help;  you have to quit all milk products altogether.

 

Simple No-Cough Tea (herbal tisane, actually…) and other natural cough remedies.

The bad news is that I was up with my four-year-old in the middle of the night.  We tried a number of things to stop her incessant cough, ending in the tea.  I didn’t start with tea because she doesn’t really like it, and there were a couple other things I could try first.  They didn’t work this time, but the good news is that the tea did.

My husband had a childhood full of asthma and tends to somewhat panic when our children cough, as he immediately correlates coughing with, “MY CHILD CAN’T BREATHE AND SOMETHING MUST BE DONE NOW.”  I appreciate his sympathy, and frankly, his urgency regarding coughing has kicked my rear end into gear a number of times when I would be content to just let my kids cough it out.

For everyone’s benefit, I now try to identify coughs better:

  • Is this asthma and my child really can’t breathe?
  • Is this a “wet” cough because my child is on the recovery-end of an illness and s/he is coughing up mucus (which is a good thing)?
  • Or are they just coughing incessantly and it’s disrupting their sleep, spreading germs, and not having any productive effect?

Fi’s was the third.  She miserable, unable to sleep, had been coughing for several hours to the point where her stomach muscles were aching from coughing so badly.  And weakened stomach muscles often = puking in our home, and I determined that for her peace, to keep food in her stomach, and to reduce the chance of the cough spreading to the other six in our family, we needed to address the cough.

First, we tried an oregano oil breathing treatment.  “My” oregano oil breathing treatment works AMAZING WONDERS on my 11 year-old son’s asthma.  It is also fabulous for deep-down lung pain and infection.  Fiala’s cough seemed more upper-respiratory, so I didn’t have much hope that it would work for her, but I thought I’d try.

Oregano Oil Breathing Treatment

This requires a nebulizer, typically used for albuterol breathing treatments.

Into the medicine receptacle of the nebulizer, place:

  1. Turn the nebulizer on and breathe deeply.  Inhale and hold for a few seconds.  Repeat for 3-10 deep breaths.  This DOES put a little tickle at the back of one’s throat, and breathing oregano oil is kind of a learned skill.  However, if my young children can do it, you can, too!
  2. Alternately, you can put 2-3 drops into a large mug, fill it with boiling water, and breathe the steam deeply for as long as possible.

Oregano oil is an amazing product that is virucidal, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal.  It is also anti-parasitic.  I’m uncertain WHY it works on asthma, and there is less research on oregano oil’s effectiveness on asthma (unlike various funguses, bacteria, and viruses, which has been studied and proven effective numerous times).

Colloidal silver has effectiveness against a variety of viruses, bacteria, and funguses, as well.

Secondly, we tried:

Simplest Cough Remedy

  • Honey

Available in many health food stores for about $9, or online for $7-8.

Studies have shown that up to 10 ml (two tsp) of honey is as effective as dextromethorphan for relieving the coughs of colds in children with upper respiratory tract infections.

My daughter Fiala, in particular, is super-suceptible to yeast/candida overgrowth, so I limit her sugar intake, including honey.  And even though honey is good for just about anyone for a wide variety of reasons, I’m still leery of sugar, even natural sugars.  So, I would never give a whole 2 tsp to anyone.

Our favorite “medicinal” honey is from Y.S. Organic Bee Farms and is called Super-Enriched Honey.  It is raw and unpasteurized and contains pollen, propolis, and royal jelly.  It is really thick and has an unusual taste.  I find it pleasant, but if you’re expecting a honey-taste found akin to that found in the McDonald’s honey packet, you’ll probably be startled.

I simply scoop up a small spoonful of honey and let the child slowly lick it.  Consequently, when anyone coughs even a tiny bit in our home, they tend to come running with a certain proclamation of, “I need a honey spoon!”

When neither the herbal breathing treatment nor honey was doing any good, I brewed up a batch of my no-cough tea.

No-Cough Tea

Into a wire mesh tea ball, place:

  • Fennel seed — and, YES, I’m thrilled if your medicine cabinet and your spice rack are one and the same.

    2 tsp loose chamomile flowers

  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1/8 tsp licorice root powder
  • optional:  1/2 tsp dried peppermint leaves
  • optional:  1 tsp dried mullein flower (verbascum thapsis)
  1. Place tea ball in a very large mug and pour boiling water over the top.  Let steep 10-15 minutes, then stir well.
  2. Sweeten with honey (especially if you didn’t use a “honey spoon” to stop the cough) or stevia, or simply don’t sweeten at all, as the licorice root lends a sweet taste.
  3. Put 1/4 cup of the brewed tea in a smaller mug and let child sip slowly for 10-20 minutes.
  4. If cough hasn’t stopped, repeat with 1/4 cup doses.
  5. This may take up to ONE HOUR for effectiveness — in other words, 3-6 doses of 1/4 cup each over the course of an hour, until coughs subside.
  6. Extremely effective for stopping coughs for 3-4 hours.  So, repeat throughout the day as necessary, trying to re-dose before your child returns to violent coughing.

(For readers local to the Phoenix area, all of the tea ingredients can be found at Sprouts.  All of the herbs — except the mullein — can be found in the bulk spice area.  Mullein flower can be found, packaged, hanging close to the “regular” tea and herb area, God’s Garden Pharmacy brand.)

What the ingredients are and why they work:

  • Chamomile (matricaria recutita) flowers have antianxiety, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-spasmodic properties, mainly due to chamomile’s natural phytonutrient, chamazulene.  The “anti-inflammatory” and “anti-spasmodic” characteristics especially important for calming coughs.
  • Beautiful, fragrant thyme.

    Thyme (thymus vulgaris) is a strong antiseptic.  Its natural phytonutrient, thymol, is actually the active ingredient in classic Listerine.  Thymol is also an active ingredient in most naturally-based antiseptic cleaners.  For coughs, thyme is effective not only in destroying germs, but it is a powerful anti-spasmodic and has bronchial-clearing properties.  (Thyme oil is extremely strong and should be used with caution.  However, using a pinch of the dried herb itself is safe for just about everyone, pregnant women and small children included.)  Thyme does have somewhat of an unpleasant “green/herbal” taste in tea;  however, do not omit it!!

  • Fennel, in general, is truly a miracle plant.  It is by far one of the most nutritious and helpful plants one can consume — from bulb to stem to feathery top to seed.  I personally cannot understand why it is not at the top of “Superfood” lists!  Fennel, as well as being anti-spasmodic, is also a pain-reducer, fever-reducer, and has antimicrobial activity.  It soothes upset stomachs and speeds healing of muscle strains (including muscles sore from incessant coughing!).  Fennel’s “magic” properties are largely due to the phytonutrients creosol (also found in chaparral and creosote) and alpha-pinene.  (Again, use the whole herb — fennel seed, not fennel oil, which is extremely strong and dangerous, if used incorrectly.)
  • If you have ever had Throat Coat tea by Traditional Medicinals, licorice root is the main ingredient, followed by mullein.  Licorice is extensively used, world-wide, as a remedy for an astounding number of ailments, from lupus, to cancer, to diabetes, to chronic fatigue syndrome, to HIV/AIDS and more.  Its effectiveness is primarily from the naturally-occurring phytonutrient glycyrrhizinic acid which, among other properties, acts as an incredibly effective immune stimulant.  For our purposes here, licorice root relieves the dry, tickly feeling associated with hacking coughs — as well as shortens the healing time needed to recover from illness.
  • Peppermint has properties helpful to those with coughs and colds — however, the flavor rather clashes with the flavors found both in thyme, fennel, and licorice root.  Peppermint contains the phytonutrient menthol, long known for relieving coughs and other respiratory disorders.  An alternate tea, especially if your child enjoys the mint flavor, would be simply chamomile and peppermint.
  • Mullein (verbascum thapsus) has soothing, emollient effects via its plentiful, naturally-occurring mucilages.  It also reduces inflammation via natural tannins.  Mullein promotes expectoration, meaning it loosens phlegm in the respiratory tract, causing coughs to be more effective.

I dearly hope that some readers find this useful.  If you do, post a comment and let me know!!

From this past week…

After a flurry of almost daily blog posts, this last week, I’ve ground nearly to a halt.

This week…

  • A friend's pic of this week's produce, in her kitchen. And you can't even see everything!! LOVELY. YUMMY!

    A friend’s pic of this week’s CSA produce, in her kitchen. And you can’t even see everything!! LOVELY. YUMMY!

    …has been consumed by the CSA — the farm share I’m coordinating for Crooked Sky Farms.  It is wonderful, and I’m glad I’m participating.  I’m certainly not regretting agreeing to be the coordinator — largely because I got two HUGE crates of produce out of it.  Literally:  Nine heads of Romanesco; four bags of baby lettuces; four huge (probably 2 lb each) bunches of carrots;  two bunches of Swiss chard;  about four lbs of red potatoes; 13 tangelos; three bunches of baby Hakurei turnips; and four bunches of “grilling” onions (onions with small white bulbs and very large but tender green tops).  Part of this was my share, and part of it was — I think — people just not taking all eight of the bunches of produce allotted to them… Or something.  I think the farm threw in some extra produce, just in case.  And all those leftovers were even with me finding buyers for the produce that should have gone to two people who didn’t show!  Anyway, that’s a good probably 40 lbs of fresh, organic, local produce, all for me — for my family.  Ah-MAY-zing.  Some of it we’ve eaten, some is in the fridge, and some is now in the freezer.  However, it has been a lot of work, especially when one person canceled beforehand, and then the aforementioned two people didn’t show…  I was supposed to have a minimum of 20 paying customers in order for the farm to deliver to me.  I ended up with 16.  Ack!  But my contact at the farm has been very gracious and they haven’t dropped us or anything.  But I am being encouraged to try to drum up more business.  I’M TRYING!!  I really am.  Since Wednesday, I actually found two more full-time members (one is an airman from Luke AFB who calls me “ma’am”), and then another guy who wants to sign up for only the 2nd half, and two or three more week-to-week people, and at least a couple more potential CSA members…  Plus the eggs.  So many people wanted eggs, and I’ve found two people within a mile and a half who have eggs that I’m selling.  Again, that’s GOOD, but it’s more work.  More bookkeeping.  More keeping track of this and that…

  • And the seed giveaway.  That took a lot of time, just regulating!!  Especially on the second day, I had a lot of comments…  I was trying to respond to everyone who asked questions, send e-mails to folks who hadn’t followed the instructions…  Um, I gave that up after a while.  But, the seed giveaway was fun!!
  • My heart has been worrying me.  I have Wolfe Parkinson White syndrome, where there is an extra nerve connecting the left (I think) atrium and ventricle, which produces a wonky feedback loop.  It is benign — though I just can’t help but thinking it CAN’T be good, long-term, for one’s heart to beat wrong — and normally, I have 5-10 episodes (weird/hard/thumpy heart beat, heart stops for a few seconds, or it races for 10 seconds or so, etc.) while my heart resets itself.  But, while I’m pregnant, it happens… I don’t know… 30?  50? times a day, sometimes for multiple minutes on end, especially when I’m just sitting down (after standing) or just lying down.  At my midwife’s insistence, I saw my cardiologist (whom I really love — he’s my favorite doctor for anything, ever), and I wore a 24 hour Holter monitor a few weeks ago.  I finally got the results this week.  And they essentially said, “Why, yes, you are having quite a few PACs, but it’s OK.  See you again in April.”  And that made me feel a lot better.
  • My pregnancy is going well.  I am now 21 weeks along.  All-day “morning” sickness finally ended about three weeks ago, to my great relief.  I’ve gained 20 lbs already, which is not good… That’s more than I gained with my whole pregnancy with Fiala.  In what is a recurring theme in any weight gain I typically incur, I do eat good food — not junk;  I just eat too much of it.  Even if my midwife doesn’t suggest it, I think I’m going to do a counted-reduced-carb diet — herder-gatherer Paleo — which is almost how I eat anyway… just that from weeks 28 – 40 (or whenever), I’ll be extremely careful.  After about week 28, nothing new develops in the baby;  she will simply put on weight and whatever is already there matures.  So, it’s less critical that a mother gain weight.  In case it sounds worrisome that I’m planning on “dieting” while pregnant, I did this with my last pregnancy (Fiala):  I gained a total of 17 lbs and she STILL came out at 8 lbs 13 oz.  I would have felt badly if she was scrawny…  But she wasn’t.  And I became a bigger believer than ever in eating high-protein and low-carb in the last trimester.  With my first two pregnancies, I gained nearly 50 lbs, so I know that, left unchecked, that’s probably where I’d end up.  I just feel better and recover faster when I’m not toting an extra 20-30 lbs, postpartum.

CHEAP, natural cleaners for your home

There are a lot of resources (including recipes) on the internet for all sorts of natural cleaners.  I still get asked frequently, though, about what I use.

So, here’s what I do.

First, gather your ingredients:

  • Baking soda.  I buy baking soda at Costco in 13.5 lb bags, about $6.50 per bag.

    On sale right now at Vitacost for $4.53.

  • White (distilled) vinegar.  I also buy this at Costco.  It comes in a 1.33 gallon size, about $3.75.
  • Essential oil.  I buy this at Sprouts — there are a lot of online resources for essential oil, too.  Depending on the oil, it will run you $4-15 per 0.5 oz dropper jar.  I typically buy tangerine or lavender, both because I like the scent and because they’re one of the less-expensive varieties.  Various essential oils are supposed to accomplish various things (for example, lavender has disinfectant properties and is calming), but I just buy them for the scent.
  • A natural, phosphate-free dishwashing liquid.  I like the kind from Trader Joe’s, but you can find it just about anywhere.  Method, Meyer’s Clean Day, Seventh Generation, even Clorox Green Works is fine.  Just not Dawn or Palmolive or the like;  they contain chemical detergents and dyes and scents that aren’t good for you or for the environment and just don’t work when you’re using it as an ingredient to make a household cleaner.

Now, make your cleaners:

  • For my Everything Cleaner:  Fill a 32 oz squirt bottle about 60% full of white vinegar.  Add about 20 drops of essential oil.  Add about 1 tsp dishwashing liquid.  Top bottle with filtered water.  Shake gently.  This cleaner literally works on everything non-porous:  toilets, counter tops, windows, mirrors, stainless steel, whatever.  And, it’s non-toxic, so use it without fear in the kitchen.  The vinegar is a disinfectant, so if that’s important to you, let the cleaner sit on the surface for a while before wiping down.  If you notice streaking on windows, mirrors, and stainless steel, you’re using too much dish soap.
  • For things that need scrubbing:  Baking soda.  That’s it.  If you want to get fancy, fill a bowl with baking soda and add 10-20 drops of essential oil.  Store in a shaker jar.  Use this to clean out tubs, sinks, cook tops, ovens, etc.  This also works as a stink-remover on carpet and furniture.  Sprinkle, let sit for a while, then vacuum off.
  • For floors:  A squirt of dish soap in a bucket of hot water.  For floors that are NOT a natural stone, add a cup of white vinegar.  You don’t need a fancy, expensive floor cleaner.
  • For laundry:  For about two years, I made my own laundry soap;  I don’t any more.  I now buy Costco’s Kirkland brand “environmentally friendly” laundry detergent.  It is scented (much to my surprise when I first purchased it).  To the bottom of each tub of laundry, I add 1/2 cup of baking soda.  I fill the fabric softener compartment with white vinegar.  The white vinegar is especially effective if you live in an area that has hard water, and/or if your family suffers from eczema and you need all soap residue removed from clothing.  If your washing machine does not have an extra rinse/fabric softener cycle, when your clothes are washed, run an additional rinse cycle, adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar.  I use regular ol’ unscented bleach on my whites.  I do not use fabric softener in the dryer.  Don’t need it.  Our clothes aren’t as highly scented as if I were using Tide and Downy, but they are CLEAN and what I’m doing is better for our skin and our environment, not to mention cheaper.

Where I do use purchased cleaners:

  • Murphy’s Oil Soap.  I still use this on wood surfaces like kitchen cabinets.
  • Method Wood For Good Furniture Polish.  I like the scent, I like the shine.  It works well.
  • Lysol toilet bowl cleaner.  You can use bleach or even baking soda, but the Cling variety of toilet bowl cleaner is still my old standby.
  • Dishwasher detergent.  I typically buy Palmolive Eco+.

There are folks who make their own dish soap, their own dishwashing detergent, their own laundry detergent…  I have experimented with all of those.  But from a cost + effort + effectiveness, at least for now, these are the things I have found to be the best choice for our family.

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