Category Archives: The Kids
When I make a dish for the family to eat, it’s always my hope that EVERYONE will like it. Something that all seven people at the dinner table will adore has proven rather elusive, however. I now see this as a good thing, mostly. For instance: I made sauerkraut earlier this week, and it is done fermenting today. My 13-year-old son has been highly anticipating its readiness, and is already preparing his sandwich in his mind. He mentioned that he wishes we had ham, but we don’t. So, he’ll have turkey, mustard, and sauerkraut. Not everyone else is so excited. But, other family members are expectant of different foods. I am roasting six bunches of small beets right now. My three youngest children are REALLY excited about that. I have received beets a number of times these last few months from our CSA and only ONCE have the beets actually made it into a dish. The rest of the time, after I roast the beets, peeling them becomes somewhat of a party, with everyone popping cooled, newly-peeled baby beets into their mouths, just like candy. I can’t say that I’m disappointed that not everyone feels this way about beets. My husband can’t stand them. My older two boys are rather ambivalent. The rest of us ADORE beets.
- Our new home is an older one, and it is an endless project. We knew it needed more insulation, as some of it was missing in wide swaths, some was thin and compacted, and some of it had shrunk away from ceiling joists and the outer walls. When we got our electricity bill for the time spanning from mid-April to mid-May, and the stinkin’ thing was north of $350 (and that is with our air conditioner thermostat set at 80-81°), that was a wake-up call. Last weekend, my husband Martin, after quite a bit of research (wet-blown cellulose? dry-blown fiberglass? fiberglass batts? do-it-yourself? or hire it out??) he decided to do dry-blown fiberglass, which requires a big machine. The blowing machine is rentable from Home Depot, or free with the purchase of enough packages of insulation. It was quite an undertaking. He purchased a head-to-toe coverall, and with goggles, mask, and gloves, ventured up into the attic. Actually, we have two attics, as part of our home is single-level, and part of it has two stories. It was hours of work. Our oldest son, Ethan, stayed at the ladder and fed the tube up into the attic as needed, and relayed hollered messages to our next-oldest son, Grant, who was feeding the batts into the blowing machine and turning it off and on as needed. At Home Depot, they supplied a cardboard measurement stick, telling us how deeply the insulation needed to be to supply a certain R-value. “How deep does it need to be again to reach R-38?” he asked Grant. “Thirteen inches,” Grant replied. “Good. We have about R-100 in most places,” Martin announced with satisfaction.
In the above pic, you can see a bit of the washing machine, with which I have a love-hate relationship. It is an LG, and when it works, it works WONDERFULLY. However, yesterday, we had the LG repairman out for the SEVENTH TIME in less than a year. Seven times. Granted, his visit on Friday was a follow-up from Tuesday’s assessment, and he was installing the parts that he had ordered on Tuesday. And two of the previous visits were — umm… — due to user error, as a quarter coin had slipped into the wash undetected, and had lodged in such a way that it was keeping the drum from agitating. BUT, this washing machine was the most expensive purchase my husband and I had ever made, barring cars and houses, in our 18 years of marriage, and frankly, I didn’t expect the thing to be a lemon. Or, I don’t know if it’s a lemon, exactly, but it just doesn’t seem that such a high-tech and expensive item should continually require repairs. So now, we are considering purchasing an extended warranty. I have kind of a moral objection to extended warranties. My thoughts are, “BUILD IT RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND AN EXTENDED WARRANTY ISN’T NECESSARY!!!” And yes, this is said while shouting. I’m also kind of upset, because, before purchasing this unit, I did a lot of research to find the right product for our lots-o’-laundry family. This washer had glowing reviews and was universally touted as a heavy-duty, GIANT-capacity washer with few problems, certainly less problematic than a front-loader. However, the LG guy has been refreshingly honest with some information that I wish I had access to before I purchased. He has mentioned that, while the unit is power- and water-efficient, it actually runs better on the cycles which use more water (mostly the “Bulky/Bedding” setting). Also, the heating element in the washing machine, which allows the water to heat up super-hot (in the “Sanitary” cycle) especially for whites and cloth diapers, isn’t particularly powerful, and it takes a LONG time to actually heat the water. In the meantime, as I had observed, the washer just slowly spins, waiting and waiting and waiting for the water to heat, automatically adding MORE time to a cycle that is already THREE HOURS long. I guess I’m not the only LG customer who feels rather crabby about this, because just last night, I saw an ad for a new LG washer that heats up super-hot, but has an incredibly short cycle time. Hmph.
- Another thing I had wanted to add to our home is a clothesline. In our last home, the HOA forbade them. Even in the back yard. This house has no HOA and plenty of space. However, my husband wants to do the clothesline “right”, on its own separate poles, sunk in concrete, on the side of the yard, out of sight. But… that has been added to the very long list of to-dos, here in the house, and we have now been here ten months with no clothesline. So, last weekend, I procured four eye bolts and screwed them right into two trees in our back yard, and strung up some perfect nylon rope, handily left in the shed by the previous occupants. Voila! Clothesline. So, for a little more than a week now, I have been hanging up about 95% of our family’s laundry — everything except my husband’s clothes and the bath towels. Our handy new LG dryer (with which we have had no problems) has a great moisture sensor, and the few items from each load that go into the dryer are completed in about 20-25 minutes, instead of the 50-60 minutes each load was previously taking. A friend on Facebook (well, she’s a friend in real life, but she mentioned this on Facebook) said that she finds hanging clothes to be “meditative.” I didn’t quite understand her at the time, but now I do. I bring out a glass of ice water, put my basket of wet clothes on a chair, and actually enjoy the quiet efficiency of hanging clothes. I’m outside (which I love anyway); the sun is shining on me; it’s a gentle form of manual labor; I feel like I’m…. benefiting our family by saving money on power that would otherwise be spent on the electric dryer; it feels satisfying to provide my family with freshly sun-warmed and sanitized laundry; and it just feels RIGHT to be using the plentiful solar energy here in the desert to dry my clothes. Even when the day is hot (though I typically hang the clothes in the morning or evening), I have my ice water, and when I stand between the lines of damp clothes, the breeze cools and refreshes me… It is, indeed, a meditative activity.
With the Crooked Sky Farms CSA I host, I feel like we have a good plan for what’s going to happen when the baby comes. The sixth week of the summer season is on Wednesday, June 26, and the baby is due on the 27th. And… the baby could come at any time, really. I’ve been anywhere from 11 days early (twice!) to eight days past my estimated due date. While there have been a number of people offer to help, the most promising person is, ironically, a woman with seven kids. She hosts a raw milk pick-up (where I am a customer), so she is rather familiar with the ordeal of people coming to her house over the course of an afternoon and picking stuff up. Also, she’s a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom whose oldest is 16. Just like me! She said that she would be happy to either come to my home and host the CSA for a day, or to even have it at her house. So, the plan is that, if I have the baby on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, she will have the CSA in her home. If I have the baby Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, I’ll probably just tuck myself upstairs with the baby and she will stay here for the afternoon, with my kids helping her. If I have the baby on a Sunday, it could go either way. That’s at least the plan. Another woman, who participated in the spring CSA season, sent me an e-mail yesterday saying that she would like to help around the time the baby comes, if need be. I was quite touched by her thoughtfulness. She isn’t participating during the summer because she has her own garden which is being very productive right now — no need to pay $20 for organic veggies if you grow an abundance of your own! I sent her a reply sketching out the basic plan, and asked if she’d like to be back-up, or perhaps be the host (as her home is much closer to mine, and would be less of a deviation from the regular plan for the other CSA members). Anyway. It just feels nice to know that things are taken care of, and that people are kindly offering to help out. I feel surrounded by wonderful folks.
- We’re almost done with school. Kind of. Three of my kids will be finished on June 7th, in less than a week! My oldest, who is a sophomore, won’t be done. He got himself behind and will likely be playing catch-up until the end of June. I’m rather displeased with that because, as a homeschooling mom, if he isn’t done, that means that I am not done! But, as he is a sophomore, we can’t just say, “Ah, well. We’ll come back ’round to it in the fall.” There aren’t really any do-overs once you’re in high school. So, he’ll keep working until he’s finished with the year’s curriculum… I will admit that I am very ready for summertime, and I’m very ready to focus on the baby. Two weeks ago, I told my middle boys (8th grade and 6th grade) that they will finish the last three weeks of school primarily on their own. Normally, I do about 60% of their work with them — reading to them, discussing assignments in depth, having conversations about the topics at hand, reviewing their work, etc. But, in order to help me be able to have time to prep for the baby, I was straight-up with them: “Listen, I know and you know that you learn better when we do school together. Having an actual teacher helps you glean so much more out of the material than if you just cover it yourself. However, you will be doing virtually all your remaining work for the year on your own, reading to yourself or reading to each other, because it’s either that or nothing.” That is one of the benefits of homeschooling: You can make it be flexible when you need to. They would learn more if I was more highly involved, so I feel kind of badly. But, three weeks of independent work within a 35-week school year won’t kill ‘em, I guess. It’s better than just stopping school. That sounds like I’m setting the bar rather low. Perhaps I am… But, that’s what is necessary for these last few weeks of school.
I’m 36 weeks pregnant today.
That’s rather a milestone, because Arizona law only “officially” allows home births between 36-42 weeks. So, I’m IN!!
In general, I’m not feeling miserable. Well, I kind of am… And part of me thinks that must be my age (I’ll be 40 next month!), but another part of me well-remembers the last weeks of pregnancy with my first, at age almost-24, and I think that, perhaps, I was even MORE miserable than I am now. So, I can’t blame it on age. Really, I just don’t enjoy pregnancy. My body resists it, and all the more so as the birth approaches.
I do enjoy the birth itself — so satisfying, so joyful! — and I adore having a newborn.
I’m not going to have a water birth.
It’s kind of funny, because with most of the home birth pics I see — like on the ever-encouraging Birth Without Fear — inevitably, they’re of a vernix-coated brand-newborn being pulled straight from the water into the mother’s waiting hands. And I just don’t… want that. I don’t know why, exactly. I just don’t. Every time I’ve had the opportunity to labor in a tub — with all but one of my five previous births — I have gladly done so. And I do envision myself in labor in my swimming pool and in a bathtub here in my home. But, birthing in the water? I just don’t want to. Part of me feels like I should have a birthing pool on hand, just in case. But, I have successfully, joyfully birthed five children while NOT in the water, and I think I’d feel a lot more comfortable doing the same with baby #6. I don’t like the feeling of NOT feeling… grounded while in the water. My midwife and her assistant (who is a friend of mine — a doula training to be a midwife) assures me that, with a rebozo (basically just a long, cotton shawl), they could wrap/loop it around me in such a way that I wouldn’t feel like I was floating away. But that makes me feel even more twitchy — having fabric looped all around my body and two women holding it while I push out a baby. I don’t want that… much touching me. And I’m just not a fan of plastic touching me, either. A rented pool is a blow-up plastic pool with a thin plastic liner. Not a fan of the plastic-to-skin sensation. No, thank you.
Plus, the pool rental is another $100 that I’d rather not spend, and my husband is worried about the second story of our home successfully supporting that much weight — and WET weight, at that — in the corner of our bedroom.
So, a birth pool is out.
For other baby-preparations…
Friends have POURED out love and blessing and baby stuff on us. I’ve received:
- A gorgeous crib. (Actually, two of them. I’m going to give one away.)
- The first six months of clothing — really, really nice clothing from a friend whose baby girl was born in August of last year. She works for a mall development company and I’m confident she spends WAY more time shopping at WAY nicer stores than me… Plus, she has two boys and her family was thrilled that she had a baby girl, and of course, everyone gave clothes. And she has passed them all down to me. And we’re going to meet up soon and she’s going to give me a Boppy (which I love), a breast pump, and some other items, too.
- A really nice car seat.
- A bouncy seat.
- Baby toys.
- A play pen.
- Some cloth diapering supplies.
- Some baby linens — like bath towels and blankets.
I already owned a nice, big, rocking, oak bassinet. I purchased it second-hand when Fiala (who is now 4.5 years old) was not yet born, and it has been making the rounds, so to speak, ever since. I’m kicking myself for not having all the mothers who have borrowed it write their baby’s names in pencil with the dates the bassinet was used. I think the count is at seven. Seven babies who have slept in that bassinet between the birth of my four-year-old and this new baby. I think that is such a rich, sweet history. And now, the bassinet has come back to me from the most recent baby (born in November) who had it… Along with the bumper I made for a friend who used it for HER little girl, who will be four in August. It’s still in great shape, still super-cute.
All I have purchased are:
- More cloth diapering stuff.
- A pail liner for said cloth diapers.
- Another wet bag (a friend already gave me one) for cloth diapers on-the-go.
- A diaper bag.
- A Moby wrap.
And with all of that, I have spent less than $200.
For diapers, I have purchased all-in-ones, pocket-diapers, prefolds, diaper covers… I have nearly enough diapers and supplies to last from newborn until potty-training. Craigslist is a GREAT source for cloth diapers. Thankfully, cloth diapering is quite trendy right now. However, countless mothers have spent HUNDREDS of dollars on pricey, new cloth diapers, tried it for a week or two, and freaked out and decided to stop cloth diapering. Then, they offer their nearly-new stash on Craigslist for 10-50% the cost of new. And I come in and scoop everything up, happily. There are also die-hard cloth diapering moms who keep meticulous care of their cloth diaper supplies and have great items to sell — even if they’re older — that have been so well-cared-for that they’re worth buying. I’ve also purchased a number of diapering items from eBay. I’m still bidding on some more infant-sized prefolds… And I still need a few additional items, but I’ll still probably end up spending just under $200.
And that’s even with my pricey diaper bag.
NOTE: I am so NOT trendy. I’m really not. I have zero interest in being a stylish, hot mom who uses her baby as a public indication of her ability to spend loads of money on the best, most expensive brands.
So, on one hand, I’m kind of embarrassed about my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag. This brand, in “touring” style I purchased, retails for around $150. Discontinued fabrics — such as the one I purchased — can be found for $75-105, typically. That just seems so, so, so pricey. Like, ridiculously so.
On the other hand, I absolutely ADORE my new diaper bag. I adore it. I can’t wait until it arrives. I bought it used, for about $40, and I literally cried with joy. Though it is a fraction of the cost of a new bag, it still seems crazy-expensive to me. But, once I saw that diaper bag… I just felt like I had to have it. Me, the immensely practical, pragmatic, penny-pinching mother of almost-six, “had to have” a $40 diaper bag. And I was willing to spend more! Ack!!
I consoled myself that I had been so frugal with my other purchases, and overall, have spent so little for this baby, that the $40 was justifiable. It’s my one baby-splurge.
So… with me now being 36 weeks, and with procuring — in one way or another — almost all of my baby supplies, I’m feeling almost-ready for the baby to come. She could come any day and we’d at least not be in a panic, though everything is not quite ready…
Ah, those artichokes… Who knew they could be such trouble-makers?
My seven-year-old daughter, Audrey, is still recovering.
Actually, it’s not the artichoke’s fault.
Having a wee bit of organic gardening experience under my belt, I can often (not always, but often) discern the difference between beneficial insects and harmful ones. More squeamish minds may disagree, but it always pleases me when I see a beneficial, crawling in the weekly produce I get from Crooked Sky Farms. It just makes me think, “The food is alive! It was just picked!! These bugs are HAPPY here! It’s a GOOD bug!!”
I usually scoop up these little garden treasures on a leaf and have one of my kids go deposit it in my own garden. Lately, I’ve been telling them to put the bug right on one of my dill plants, which are now in bloom and are (hopefully) operating as an aphid trap plant…
However, during a recent family dinner, while Audrey was happily peeling back the petals of her ‘choke, dipping each in mayo, she encountered a ladybug. A dead one. Dead from me cooking it, encased in its previous home. Loud wailing ensued, along with accusations of heart-heartedness, “HOW COULD YOU KILL A LADYBUG?? HOW COULD YOU COOK HIM???”
And of course, being seven, she is just not letting this drop. It has been nearly a week now, and she still isn’t letting me live it down. “Remember the cooked ladybug I found? Mommy, why would you cook a ladybug? Couldn’t you have found him first? I don’t ever want to eat a ladybug. I don’t think I want artichokes anymore. If you make artichokes, will you please make sure that all of the ladybugs are out of their homes? Open up each artichoke and check it first. Please don’t cook anymore ladybugs.” And this patter is still frequently accompanied by tears.
And, yes, this is the same daughter who will no longer eat pork, since we read Charlotte’s Web about a year and a half ago.
In related news, I think the CSA members are getting tired of artichokes; quite a few traded in their allotment of five. As the CSA coordinator and host, I’m the recipient of the cast-offs. Plus, I think the farm shipped extra yesterday. The result?? I have FORTY-SIX artichokes. Forty-six. Plus, they’re all quite small. Not quite babies, but still, quite small. I’ve been looking at my crate of ‘chokes, and decided that I needed a new recipe.
I usually prepare artichokes by the fairly standard method of cutting off the top 1/2″, steaming cut-side-down in salted water to which I’ve added lemon slices and garlic cloves…. Then dipping the leaves (petals, actually) in mayo (homemade is best, of course, but I usually purchase mayo from Trader Joe’s — all natural, in a glass jar).
I decided to Google “cooking small artichokes” and one of the first options that popped up was this:
Immediately, it made me reconsider the bounty, and that so many artichokes aren’t a bad thing at all…
The recipe, Sautéed Baby Artichokes, calls for Herbes de Provence — of which I have none. I will cook these tonight, and use minced fresh basil instead, and subbing pecorino romano for the called-for parmesan cheese.
In the meantime… I’m trying to give away 20 of the artichokes on Facebook, but the only takers so far are from out of state.
I am 31 weeks pregnant. I had two and a half glorious months, post-morning-sickness, where I felt AMAZING. Now, my large belly has caught up with me, and I am feeling rather crabby and swollen and it’s hard to breathe, and I generally feel uncomfortable. I’m also getting exhausted in a way… well, prior to my diagnosis with Celiac Disease, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome*. I remember how it felt in the evening, anticipating even ONE outing the following day, and having to fight despondency, because I knew that ONE outing would wipe me out, entirely. That is where I’m at, now.
Until the last few weeks, the worst I could say was that the mass of varicose veins on the back of my right leg was giving me pain. All things considered, being a 39-year-old pregnant woman, I figured that was quite good. I got my stinkin’ expensive “pregnancy support garment” — which is very much like a girdle, or a compression garment. On one hand, it’s a blessing: It allows me to walk around without feeling like my leg is going to fall off; it minimizes the pain and pressure, as well, from vaginal varicosities. However… it is 80% nylon and 20% spandex which, apparently, my skin doesn’t appreciate. If I wear it for too long, I get hives. But if I’m NOT wearing it, I can literally be on my feet for maybe 5-10 minutes at a time.
I went to Illinois this past weekend. I went to my maternal grandmother’s memorial service and visited my paternal grandmother, who is very ill. I traveled with my sister (who lives in the Phoenix area, as well) and my brother (who drove down from Utah to travel with us). It was, all things considered, a wonderful trip, in spite of the sad catalyst for the journey. I could write for a very long time on my thoughts and the events of the four days, but I likely can’t: My experience is so intertwined with others’, for whom I deeply care. Telling my tale would necessitate telling theirs, as well, and I don’t know if they would appreciate me broadcasting their story; it’s not mine to tell.
Still, in spite of late nights, days spent going hither and thither on necessary business, spending my days in the endless company of others (which generally drains me, as an introvert) — whom I needed to see and wanted to see and LOVED to see, cramming a couple of weeks of events into those four days, in spite of unending exhaustion of both body and mind, an aching leg, and the aforementioned hives, it was an exceptionally worthwhile journey.
I love Illinois. The above picture was taken from the back steps of my aunt’s home. I took it, steaming coffee in hand. The sun was shining, it was about 7 a.m., and the temperature was 35°. The view is a corner of a field, which will likely have corn growing in it within a month or so, and a little pond beyond that. In the timber behind the pond is the remain of an old road, likely last used in the early 1800s. It had rained torrentially in Illinois, the day before our arrival, so the ground was saturated and impassably muddy in many places, and I didn’t own the boots which would allow me to go down that lovely road-path.
My husband, though, is considering having our family return to Illinois for our family’s summer trip this year — which would be our first time as a whole family — and I will most certainly meander down that road…
It shouldn’t be odd that, with the absence of The Mom, there are many things, upon my return, that have needed my attention. Life does go on, even when I’m not here at home. Laundry continues to pile up. Children still need attention in their schooling. The dog’s medicine runs out.
Today was much busier than I would have preferred, even if I weren’t pregnant. So far, I have:
- Gone to a grocery store — needed especially for milk and meat for the week. (In related news, I got three gallons of organic milk for $4.99. This was accomplished due to the fact that Shamrock Farms organic milk was 50% off this week, with the final price of $2.49 for a 3-quart container. Two containers were near their “best by” date, and were marked $2.50 off. In other words, FREE. I figured that even if they went bad before we finished drinking them, no harm done; they’re free. I got two other containers, as well. Four containers, three gallons total, $4.99 spent.)
- Done two large loads of laundry — it’s still not folded, yet.
- Overseen school with my three older children. I will admit my first grader, Audrey, did pretty much nothing today, other than some self-directed art and Lego-building.
- I fertilized my mini-garden with fish emulsion and epsom salts — something that should be done every two weeks, but of which I was very overdue.
- I called LG for my washing machine — again. It keeps having issues. I’ve needed to call them for a couple of weeks now, but kept putting it off.
- I ordered Algebra 2 on Teaching Textbooks.
- I had an overdue, hour-long conversation with another homeschooling mom, helping her (I hope) with some issues she’s having with one of her children.
- I went to Trader Joe’s for more groceries.
- I returned some overdue library DVDs. Yes, even with a smart phone, I kept forgetting to renew our family’s DVDs while I was away, resulting in $7 in new fines.
- I went to the pool supply store and got chlorine tabs and shock. Our poor pool… It really needs a new pump. It is under warranty until July, but a repairman has already been out once, and he said that there’s really nothing he can do, under our warranty, until the pump breaks. If it breaks entirely before July, the $400+ cost of replacement will be covered. If it only limps along inefficiently, as it has been doing, we’re out of luck. I must admit that I am tempted to sabotage the pump to “help” it completely break. My husband, though, man of absolute integrity that he is, wouldn’t hear of such a thing. But, it’s in the 90s now, and our pool-cum-pond is unusable.
- I went to pick up more fluconazole for our dog, Tally, who is still recovering from Valley Fever.
- I stopped by a used furniture store and bought a small chest of drawers for the new baby ($25 — it needs to be either painted or lightly sanded and revarnished — I haven’t decided which, yet). I also bought a very solid, medium-sized bookcase for $35. It has a blond finish, and appears to be from the 60s. It is almost cool. Tomorrow, I will clear out the beleaguered particle board book case which is currently holding most of our school books for this year. It keeps collapsing.
- I still need to shower.
- I need to make dinner — which will be the Crockpot refried beans I made last night, reheating a roasted Costco rotisserie chicken, and likely some roasted beets from the CSA I host each Wednesday. Easy peasy.
- I need to pick out the worship set list for tonight’s small group. It is definitely one of those nights where, if I didn’t have to go to small group, I probably wouldn’t. Frankly, I’d rather put up my feet, watch baseball, and read my current book** during the commercials. When I’m actually there at group, I always enjoy it. Always. But, right now, I am tired, and wish I wasn’t compelled to attend by my responsibilities there…
So, that’s it! That has been my day. Too busy for me. Still not over. But, life could be worse, eh? All things considered, life is still good — many things have happened in the last week that are stellar, and on which I cannot comment.
If you’re still reading, thank you. Since it has been nearly three weeks since I posted, I felt that this post was overdue, as well… Not my best work, but it will have to do for now.
Blessings to all my readers, those whom I know personally, and those whose acquaintance I’ve only made through this blog… I’ve been feeling particularly thankful for you, lately.
*Virtually all CFS symptoms disappeared when I went onto a gluten-free diet. I do believe that the underlying cause of my chronic fatigue was celiac disease itself.
**In spite of middling reviews (which I have not read — only noticing it has only about 3.5 stars on Amazon), I am still very much enjoying it. Well, I just peeked at some reviews. It appears that those who love Anne Perry’s mysteries, set in 1800s England, are most disappointed. Perhaps that explains why I like the book: I don’t care for Anne Perry. (I did read her four-book series which was set in WWI, but once the series was completed, decided that any more of Perry would be a waste of my time.)
It’s not quite two p.m. as I type this, but today has been one of the sorts of days that I hope for, but rarely occur. To me, a “good day” is one in which I get things done in the home, outside, with the kids’ school, and that something pleasant happens for me, too. It has a nice pace: Filled, but not frenetic. I hate busy, deadline-driven days. I hate days where I feel like I’m doing stuff all the livelong day but nothing gets accomplished. I hate days in which there is an abundance of strife amongst the children. Today has been good, full of the things I like, and with little to none of the things I don’t. So, I thought I’d document it, if for no other reason, than to encourage myself.
- Let the day begin! The day started just as I prefer: On the back patio, with a cool breeze blowing, coffee mug in hand, reading the Bible. I have an odd (?) affinity for Old Testament prophets, and was reading from Zechariah. Then, my four-year-old, Fiala, came outdoors, sleepy-headed, and crawled up into my lap. It was just right. What started as a bright and breezy morning has turned into an all-out windy, dusty day, but that’s OK. It’s keeping the temps down to the high 70s, which is fine with me.
- Gardening. I am out of large and medium pots, now! In what I semi-affectionately call my “fake garden”, I now have 10 medium or large pots filled with plants and seeds, in addition to my two, 2′ x 4′ planting boxes. Today, after creating a mix of native “soil” (clay, really), compost (from a bag; my homemade stuff isn’t ready yet), and vermiculite in a wheelbarrow, I transferred two large heirloom tomato starts into my last two medium pots. I planted cilantro seed around one and cumin seed around the other. I also transferred three small tomato starts (not ready to plant outside) into larger containers. In related news… I thought that with such a small garden, that there was NO WAY I’d forget what I had planted. Wrong. I have three different kinds of squash (I think) plus a few cantaloupe plants and a couple of cucumber plants, and they all look identical. I have no remembrance about what is planted, exactly, and where. Around each larger plant, I also planted smaller things like chard, scallions, various herbs, and flowers. Some things are pretty easy to tell: Chard, for one. Scallions, too, are pretty apparent. But the various herbs and flowers??? I have no idea. AFTER I had planted cilantro seed around one tomato plant today, I noticed that some seedlings in another pot were getting real leaves. “That looks like cilantro!” I thought, “Or is it parsley??” I sampled it. Cilantro. From now on, I am making markers for each pot.
Yard work. I am happily transforming our back yard. Our home, into which we moved in July 2012, needs some serious work to the back yard. The front, too. But, the back is where the living and the gardening takes place. We have plans to seriously overhaul the back yard, but one bad thing about this being a larger property (almost 1/2 acre) is that the bigger the yard, the more it costs to re-do. We need a pool fence, a completely redone drip irrigation and sprinkler system. We need more trees. We need to install my REAL garden (which, blessedly, my husband does consider a high priority!!). We need to re-do at least some of the landscaping so that grass is not growing right next to the swimming pool. The cool-decking needs redone. We need gutters. The whole yard needs to be Roto-tilled, as the clay soil is VERY compacted. The list goes on. But for now, we’re doing small things. For instance, every Monday, I’ve been moving a sprinkler around the yard. I let it soak a spot for an hour, then move the sprinkler. It has very much greened-up the yard. Regrettably, a good half of what’s growing is weeds. But, when the collection of grass and weeds are mown, as my 15yo son did on Saturday, the yard is looking quite nicely. There are a number of bare dirt patches, still, though. I decided today to start aerating them, to see if that will encourage the grass to spread. Today, I only did a maybe 5′ x 20′ section with an aerator we already had. It’s just a four-prong step-on device.
- Homeschooling. In spite of the above, I still got school done with my four school-age children. Actually, I’m sitting at the dining room table with my son Ethan (who is a sophomore) while he works on science reading and questions… I read in several subjects to my 11 and 13-year-old sons, and gave them instructions for further self-directed work. For my first-grader, Audrey, well… I should have done more with her. I only had her do her workbook items (phonics and math) and then let her play with her new Play-Doh contraption all morning. That’s fine motor skills and creativity, right?? (It was her birthday on Saturday… Can’t believe she is seven!!)
- Laundry. I also washed, dried, and folded a giant double-load of laundry, and loaded the machine with a new load to start tonight, after the electricity rates go back down for the evening…
- Food, etc. I noticed that some red oak leaf lettuce, obtained from the CSA on Wednesday, was looking decidedly water-logged this morning. So, I sorted through that, as well as some CSA spinach, and started a small salad for my lunch, and a large salad for our family’s dinner tonight. And I used up the rest of the Red Russian Kale I had on hand, too, though that went on top my eggs this morning. It feels good to use something completely. I also harvested ten small-to-medium-sized Red Rhubarb Chard leaves this morning to add to the salads. It was the first chard harvest of this spring… I love my organic CSA veggies, but there is nothing better than plucking something from the back garden, which you’ve grown from seed, and nurtured into maturity.
Birds! I finally positively identified a hummingbird that has been flitting around our back yard for the last couple of weeks. It’s an Anna’s Hummingbird. I got to get quite close. “Male, medium-small, short beak, red gorget, throat, and head, green back, wingtips not quite as long as the tail… Think it’s an Anna’s.” Then, I went back inside and checked my Sibley guide. It was an Anna’s. Those are fairly uncommon here — I usually see Black-Chinned or Costa’s hummers. It wasn’t quite as satisfying as ID’ing a new-to-me species, but still very nice.
- Pain. The ONE bad thing about this pregnancy — I am now 28 weeks — is that I have a mass of varicose veins running up the back of my right leg, from my knee area up into my rear. It sucks. It is often incredibly painful. I am WAITING AND WAITING on a stupid, expensive, girdle-looking “pregnancy support garment” that I purchased about two weeks ago. I hope it works miracles. I do take Horse Chestnut Seed extract for leg vein support and pain, as well as cod liver oil to thin my blood. That worked brilliantly until about six weeks ago… Some days are better than others, and today, even though I’ve been on my feet for much of the day, has been good.
- The one bad thing about today: Last week, we took my truck — I call it The Land Barge — in to get fixed, as the RPMs were revving with little corresponding power to the engine. The shop found a cracked gasket somewhere that was letting air into the system. Problem fixed. Except that it wasn’t. On my way to the zoo on Friday (a 25 mile trip), the truck started to lose power and we had to pray it into the zoo parking lot. My husband came to our rescue and traded out vehicles. (Originally, all five children were going to go to the zoo with me, but my husband said that Ethan, our 15yo, needed to stay home and work on school. I wasn’t quite in agreement, but did go along with it. Well, if Ethan HAD been with us, we wouldn’t all have fit into my hubby’s small commuter car! As it was, myself and the four kids fit snugly but fine…) The truck completely broke when my hubby was driving it, and he had to get AAA to tow it back to the shop, which is closed on the weekend. (I don’t mind single-owner, small businesses that close on the weekend and give themselves and their employees a break.) Today, we heard from the shop that they had to take it out for a spin for a good 20 minutes to get the truck to repeat the problem, as no codes were showing up on the computer diagnostic system they use. The good news, I guess, is that the truck DID lose power and they DID determine the source. The bad news is that we need an entire new transmission for the truck. That’s an expensive fix! One good thing, though, about being 39 and gaining the perspective of years, is that I have seen provide for us NO MATTER WHAT, and I wasn’t worried. No, I don’t know where the money will come from — we’ve been saving money for a tax bill and the midwife — but that’s OK. God still provides, He still takes care of us, and I found myself saying, “At least it broke down now, not on some big, long summer trip.”
- Now, I’m blogging, which I’ve been working at, off-and-on (mostly “on”) for the last hour and 20 minutes… I’m always happy when time allows for that.
- Next, I will sort through Sunday’s coupons and plan my four-store grocery trip, which will be this evening, after my husband comes home from work with the car, instead of this afternoon…
No matter what happens the rest of the day (it is now 4:00), I can look back and say, “Today was a good day.”
I have a one-ish track mind. I tend to bunch my thoughts, my efforts together in one spot… Right now, even though I’m 26 weeks pregnant, and one might think I have, “BABY BABY BABY,” going through my mind, it’s not.
Actually, that’s somewhat of a good thing.
Historically, I start nesting somewhere around five weeks pregnant and it’s all I can do to remain focused and engaged with the rest of my life, responsibilities included, for the whole pregnancy. I tend to spend eight solid months with a nearly compulsive bent toward thinking, dreaming, planning, preparing, for my new baby. I put a huge amount of emotional investment and TIME into it. On one hand, that doesn’t seem like a bad thing. But, when I have other children who need mothering and schooling; when I have a home that needs cleaning and maintenance; when I have a husband who shouldn’t have to fight for my attention; when I have responsibilities at church that need me to NOT be thinking, “I sssooooo don’t want to be doing this;” when I have friends who merit attention, my hyper-nesting isn’t that great of a thing.
So, for me, the fact that this is on the back burner of my mind: I’m going to be adding an 8th member to our family in three months or so… is rather a blessing. I’m not struggling like I usually do with wanting to drop everything and become a hermit in my home and feeling VERY CRABBY that there are other parts of my life that are calling.
I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone.
I, for one, though, am very happy to feel ENGAGED with the world at 26 weeks pregnant*.
- We’re still doing school (though I am REALLY looking forward to our Easter Break next week).
- My home is quite tidy (most of it).
- I’m still leading worship in a weekly small group (though I joked that I might need to obtain a dobro sometime in the near future to accommodate my expanding belly).
- I’m still leading worship twice a month for SuperChurch (the 6-12 year-olds’ Sunday morning service).
- I’m still singing with the “big church” worship team two or three Sundays a month (I keep telling myself that I probably look ridiculous dancing… Oh, well.).
- I’m still hosting the weekly CSA at my home, and even just decided that I’m going to do at least another 12 weeks, shortly after the current season ends on May 1 (even though I’ll have to find an alternate location for while I’m in labor…).
- If anything, I feel MORE connected to both my husband and our five children during this pregnancy. I also feel more peaceful. This is probably my happiest pregnancy ever.
Knowing my history, I wasn’t sure, three months ago or so, that I should do the CSA. I often start well, but don’t finish strong. I get all fired up for one project or another, then start to lose steam… I was more than a bit concerned that this would be a similar endeavor, and then, when I lost focus and dropped the project, not only would I pay for it, but so would the 25 or so other people who were counting on me, and their families…
Also… and this is hard to communicate; I can’t grasp the right descriptive words… But, I was uncertain if the CSA was where God wanted me to invest my time. I long to be fruitful. I want the things I do to have lasting impact. I want my time to be well-spent. I want my involvement with others to have more than just a tinge of “ministry”. I mean… not that I’m trying to make this The Christian CSA with a prayer corner, worship music in the background, and Bible verses plastered all over my fridge — not that at all. But, I wanted this to be worthwhile in every sphere, and I wasn’t certain if hosting the CSA was a good choice in how to spend my time — time which often feels spread too thinly as it is.
So, I prayed about it. “Is this where you want me, God? Is this OK?”
I got no discernible response. I’m not saying God didn’t speak, but if He did, I missed it. I didn’t even feel vaguely “led” one way or another.
I asked my husband — who is well-acquainted with my tendency to rush into projects hard and fast and then feel overwhelmed — what he thought. Honestly, I was a little surprised that he seemed to think favorably about the whole thing.
It didn’t seem like God was telling me, “No,” although a nice, clear, resounding, “YES!” would have made me feel much more confident.
So, I went with my husband’s approval.
I guess I had previously felt that I was hosting the CSA for my own personal benefit. I mean, from the bottom of my heart, I truly want to equip others to eat better. But, I was kind of compelled more by the fact that I would get roughly $40 worth of local, fresh, organic produce for FREE each week, plus earn $1 per person, per week for what seemed like very little time.
I was wrong on nearly all accounts.
In the six weeks the CSA has been operational:
- A couple of weeks, I’ve gotten much less than $40 worth. The remaining time I’ve received FAR more. We’re rolling in veggies, which pleases me to no end.
- I anticipated making around $40/week, thinking we’d have that many participants. However, we started with only 16, and are now up to 24. So, I am not making even enough money to pay the midwife each month, which was my thought going into it.
- It takes much more time than I realized it would. Not only do I devote time “on the ground” from 2:00 – 5:30 every Wednesday, but there is a lot of communication and planning involved, too. I probably spend an additional 3-3½ hours weekly, often more. Seven hours total every week may not seem like a lot to you, but in my world, subtracting seven hours from other things that I could be doing?? That’s huge. That’s a big commitment.
Much more significant, though, is how I have been absolutely surprised by the positive feedback I’ve received from so many of the participants.
I was thinking recently about how, when I started blogging more than seven years ago, I was just compelled to write. It was 100% for my own benefit. I saw blogging as an online version of journaling: simply documenting the time and thoughts as they passed. I wasn’t trying to gather an admiring crowd. I wasn’t trying to change the world. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone or even benefit them. I just wanted to write.
Similarly, with the CSA: I just wanted some veggies. Some free, organic veggies.
But with both endeavors, I have been very taken aback by the genuine thanks, the more-than-occasional encouraging note, the thoughtful gestures that have come my way… I never thought — not once — that hosting a produce-pickup was going to make a difference in anyone’s life; I entered into it as rather an indulgence in something of significant interest to me. But, similar to how I am now compelled to continue blogging by the random e-mails that will start off, “Thank you for your post on ______________ . I was in tears because of my situation of __________. I stumbled upon your post, and it was just what I needed, and here’s how it affected me: ______________. It was just what I needed and I can’t tell you how thankful I am.” — I am now compelled to continue the CSA due to letters like this (shared with permission):
You’re a good friend Karen – even if “long distance”. I don’t think I would have stepped into organic thinking without your help and encouragement. The rest of my extended family think I’m nuts…a super picky eater or whatever. But I have strong convictions to take care of the body God blessed me with and it brings joy to my heart hearing my kids happily talk about healthy vegetables during mealtimes! It’s sad. I never knew any fresh vegetables except iceberg lettuce when I was a kid…nothing but canned and always over cooked. Surprisingly I took after my grandma it seems in how I feel about my health and she lived to be 70 even after smoking for 20 years of her life! She found Jesus, quit smoking & drinking cold turkey and lived a life of joy I still remember this day. I guess I’m sharing just to show my appreciation for you Karen. You have made a difference in my life too. I Love you friend.
That made me cry. It also made me think that maybe why God was so silent was because He knew that I was just looking for Him to say, “Yes, it’s OK with me that you have this interest, and yes, it’s OK with me that you invest your time here.” I was just looking for permission. But He was setting me up.
I sent an e-mail of thanks back to my friend and asked her if I could put her story on my blog. She didn’t immediately respond and I got nervous. But, when her reply came, the tears flowed anew.
I would be honored to be a story in your blog – Please feel free to write whatever you wish! Amazing…Our Lord God never fails to love and “push” us into His most blessed plan if just choose to submit! Love you, your thoughts & prayers are never wasted.
I’m an ISTJ on the Myers-Briggs scale… If you click on that link, at least 95% of it is me, to a T.
- They have a strongly-felt internal sense of duty, which lends them a serious air and the motivation to follow through on tasks.
- They place great importance on honesty and integrity. They are “good citizens” who can be depended on to do the right thing for their families and communities. While they generally take things very seriously, they also usually have an offbeat sense of humor and can be a lot of fun – especially at family or work-related gatherings.
- The ISTJ will work for long periods of time and put tremendous amounts of energy into doing any task which they see as important to fulfilling a goal. However, they will resist putting energy into things which don’t make sense to them, or for which they can’t see a practical application.
- Once the ISTJ supports a cause or idea, he or she will stop at no lengths to ensure that they are doing their duty of giving support where support is needed.
- Traditional and family-minded, they will put forth great amounts of effort at making their homes and families running smoothly. They are responsible parents, taking their parenting roles seriously. They are usually good and generous providers to their families.
- They are very hard workers, who do not allow obstacles to get in the way of performing their duties. They do not usually give themselves enough credit for their achievements, seeing their accomplishments simply as the natural fulfillment of their obligations.
It has actually been quite a while since I reviewed what I’m “supposed” to be like as an Introverted Sensing Thinking Judger. But, re-reading that descriptive page makes me appreciate God more: He who made me knows who I am. He knows what I need. He knows what brings me joy. He knows what will surprise me. He knows how to stretch me without breaking me. And He knows just the right time to bring encouragement to me…
*It recently came to my attention that I never stated what this child will be: SHE IS A GIRL. My husband was 100% right. Not only was I pregnant, but the baby is a girl.
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.
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.
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:
- ONE DROP ONLY of pure oregano oil
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- One dropperful of 250 ppm colloidal silver (or, colloidal silver at LEAST 100 ppm)
- 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!
- 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
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.
Into a wire mesh tea ball, place:
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)
- Place tea ball in a very large mug and pour boiling water over the top. Let steep 10-15 minutes, then stir well.
- 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.
- Put 1/4 cup of the brewed tea in a smaller mug and let child sip slowly for 10-20 minutes.
- If cough hasn’t stopped, repeat with 1/4 cup doses.
- 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.
- 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.
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!!
Mothering has always had the fabulous* effect of delivering humility regularly to my doorstep.
“When I’m a mother I will never…”
“When I’m a mother, I will always…”
“My kids would never do…”
(Note to self: Use fewer definitives. Always.)
- Even if you pat yourself on the back for your Mad Laundry Skillz…
- Even if those MLSses include regular use of bleach…
- Even if you find an excellent price on some high-quality washcloths…
- If said washcloths are going to live their days in a bathroom primarily used by boys…
- THEN DON’T BUY WHITE WASHCLOTHS.
If you fail to heed this lesson, you will end up with a half-dozen thick, soft, dun-colored washcloths, whose lack of white brilliance will regularly taunt you.
*can you hear the sarcasm through your screen?
When I was a child, my mother — an only slightly-recovered hippie — was a health nut. At least I thought she was a health nut. I spent my childhood thinking, “When I have kids, I will let them drink Kool Aid and put Twinkies in their lunch boxes!” I was tired of peanut butter and honey on whole wheat bread, sliced apples, and plain potato chips in my school lunch. I envied other kids’ white bread and jelly, sweetened applesauce cups, and the lovely, perfectly-formed, hermetically-sealed chocolate cupcakes with a swirl of white icing adorning the top. I was certain she was skewed in her perspectives and couldn’t wait until I could make my own decisions about what I ate.
Given my own experiences, I have been quite surprised about my own children’s apparent buy-in to my own health nuttiness, which has MORE than raised any bar my mom ever set.
Here are a few things from just this past week:
I tend to worry that when my children see commercials for junk food on TV, they’ll be swayed. It turns out that concern is misplaced, at least with my six-year-old, Audrey. Upon seeing a McDonald’s commercial the other day, she remarked, “The box for a Happy Meal is more nutritious than the food inside!!” This made me laugh! And, NO, I have never said anything like that. As far as I know, this is her own analysis.
- My 15-year-old, Ethan, went home with a friend after church on Sunday. Upon his return, he reported to me, “Guess where we went for lunch after church? Taco Bell. Jacob became very exasperated with me because I didn’t understand the menu and he had to explain the whole thing to me.” We couldn’t remember the last time Ethan had been to Taco Bell, which in his own mind, ironically enough, is even an even more nefarious food-offender than McDonald’s. “I had a Burrito Supreme. It wasn’t very good. It was about 30% water.” Well, at least it hydrated him…
- I published this tidbit on my Facebook page; forgive the repeat, if you’ve heard it already. My four-year-old, Fiala, ran a fever for about 48 hours. No other symptoms. I saved a (gluten-free) cake pop from a little friend’s Saturday birthday party. I took Audrey, but Fiala missed out, though the mother of the birthday girl sent us home laden with a goodie bag. Fi keeps asking to have the cake pop, which she calls a “lolly cake”. At the best of times, her body has a hard time handling sugar, so I told her she has to wait until well after her fever is gone. “Why do you have a fever?” I asked her. “Because my germ-fighters are working HARD!!” she said. “And what makes germ-fighters weak?” I asked. “Sugar!!!” she replied with no hesitation at all. I was proud of her for remembering all my indoctrination, even if she still wants the cake pop.