Category Archives: Science

The plan of God

I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I think this might be the plan of God.

I have a reset button.

chub-chubWhen one of my teens (I have three, now!) is causing me grief — it does happen, to tears…

When my eight year old is crying that she didn’t get enough chocolate chips, and I’m thinking, “You have WAY more chocolate chips than you had a few minutes ago when you had NONE.  Get a grip!”…

When the the five year old is crying that she didn’t get all her spelling words right, and is inconsolable, even when I tell her that she spells amazingly and is doing better at spelling than any five year old I know…

When the tasks before me for the week seem impossible, and stress is at my doorstep, even on a Monday morning…

When I just can’t seem to learn the things that God has for me to learn, even when the things He wants me to learn are “simple” things like how to be at peace and trust Him…

I go upstairs for a few minutes before Jean’s nap time.  I nurse her and snuggle her chubby self;  she is a very satisfying baby.  I dig my face gently into her chest and belly and she howls with delighted giggles.  Her face lights up and she loves me completely.  The oxytocin is flowing, and peace returns to my heart, however briefly.

I am certain that this is God’s plan.  He has provided a bit of calm in my everyday thunderstorm.  He who created the ends of the universe even provided for a mama’s endocrine system.  Perhaps that sounds weird, but knowing how intricately I’m created, and how even “just” hormones work for my benefit is a balm to my battered emotions and sleep-deprived strength.  I feel cared-for by my almighty God, that He would create such a plan to reset my soul.

And, I’m just happy to be the mother to a chubby 15-month-old named Jean Marjorie Joy.

—————

On a semi-related, please do read this wonderfully-written piece on extended breastfeeding by a mom I knew when she was just a girl.  It is honest and lovely and real.  Even if you think you have zero interest in the topic, you’d be blessed, I think, to read it.

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!!

Can’t we all just get along?

I love NPR.

In one of my favorite YouTube videos ever, Blimey Cow posted the hilarious “You Might Be a Homeschooler If…” video last year that went viral, at least among the homeschool community.

In it is a line that says something like, “You might be a homeschooler if your mom listens to NPR and votes Republican.”

HA!  That’s so me.  The radio in my truck is almost always tuned to 91.5 FM, KJZZ, which has acoustic jazz in the evenings and NPR programming in the daytime.  I appreciate the in-depth reporting and the broader perspective than the snippets of typical radio or TV news provides.

Anyway.

In my Facebook feed this morning was a story I was really pleased and surprised to see from NPR:

Study:  Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs

The story was pretty basic, and referred listeners to their doctor for further help, which is kind of a laugh, as virtually all MD programs in the United States are woefully inadequate on the connection between diet and behavior — or even diet and basic physical health!

However, it makes me pleased that this topic is receiving national press and attention:  What you eat can affect your body and mind.

The link for this story has been shared on a number of different health-and-diet related pages to which I subscribe, on Facebook.

What has been interesting to me — and a bit distressing — is that I have read a fair amount of argument about WHERE to start with dietary changes for children, and WHAT diet is the best.  Everyone has an opinion and many are strident about it and have rude, unkind words for those who don’t agree with their particular beliefs.

I understand that.  I really do.  After seeing the monumental changes that came about in my young son’s behavior and health after being diagnosed with celiac disease more than ten years ago, and seeing the positive effects that have come about in our family’s lives as a result of my ongoing search for ways for us to eat and live more healthily, I UNDERSTAND.

If you see dramatic improvements firsthand, it alters your perspective.  And, in a way, you can’t help but think that EVERYONE should do what you’re doing, because you begin to think that EVERYONE would benefit.  And, you think philanthropic thoughts about it.  You think, “It would be BETTER for everyone.  It would be BETTER for the environment!  It would be BETTER for our nation’s health.  It would be BETTER for our farmers.  It would be BETTER for our economy.”

And, you might even be right!!

But, at a certain point, it becomes divisive.

And repulsive.

Literally, repulsive.  It repels me when someone tries to proselytize me to Nourishing Traditions and insists that there IS NO OTHER WAY.  I’ve un-liked certain Facebook pages and un-followed a number of blogs which routinely state that I’m a fool if I’m not eating/doing/making/following their way.

That’s the part that bothers me:  The insistence that one person/method/diet is THE ONLY WAY and that I’m clearly an uneducated rube who is throwing away the health of myself and my family if I eat even one thing outside of that method.

That really bothers me.

I was thinking of it, just a bit ago, along the lines of Christianity.

I go to the Vineyard — Vineyard Church Phoenix, which is a kind-of non-denominational, Holy Spirit-filled, fairly casual, high-involvement church which prioritizes worship (“contemporary” worship with a full band — guitars, drums, et al) and healing ministry.  I really love my church.  I ADORE my church.  I love the “DNA” of my church.  I love my pastor.  I love the people with whom I serve and learn.  I could bore you (or perhaps scare you) with how passionately I enjoy my church.  I wish more people would attend it.  I wish more people would experience the benefit I’ve received by participating in the Vineyard for the last 23 years.

However, I’m aware that my church is not the ONLY way to worship.

I have a dear cousin, an amazing woman — younger than me — who is a Benedictine nun in the Catholic church.  We couldn’t possibly be on more divergent Christian paths, but there is a kinship, a core identity, we share.   Everything I hear from her — her comments, our rare conversations, stories I read about her, makes my spirit soar.

But, again, how we practice our Christianity is extremely different.  In fact, if we sat down and compared fact sheets regarding our respective Christian practices, I’m sure we’d find much over which we disagree.

I have observed, in my advanced years 😉 , that one’s practice of Christianity, what speaks to one’s own heart, will vary greatly depending on history, personal preference, personal priorities, personal convictions, personality, and more.

I mean… I WANT more people to join my church and share my experiences;  I want others to benefit like I have.

But on the other hand, I cannot say, “My church is the only way to worship.”

There is more than one viable, healthy way to practice Christianity.

There is also more than one way to eat healthily!  There is more than one way to live healthily!

I don’t necessarily have to be a card-carrying member of the gluten-free, GFCF, Feingold, Nourishing Traditions, WAPF, Paleo, GAPS, organic, WHATEVER to be healthy.

And, honestly, it really turns me off when anyone — who is not Jesus Christ Himself — says, “My way or the highway.”

But… on the other hand…

I do believe that there are basic truths.  I do believe in the God of the Bible.  I do believe that there are basic tenets, basic laws established by God that exist.  There is truth.  Not all roads are equal.  It does matter what one thinks and believes and how one lives one’s life.  I don’t believe that everything is relative.

So… it sometimes feels like a hard balance to find:  Having beliefs with conviction which express themselves in practice, in daily living, and knowing in my heart that it is WORTH the effort and WORTH telling others about.  Yet, not being the guy on the corner with a megaphone screaming, “Follow my way or DIE!!”

And not thinking ugly thoughts about those dogmatic folks on the corner with their megaphones…

Ugh.

Words of “wisdom” on homeschooling an autistic child

Grant and me on a recent, early-morning hike. He’s my best hiker, always willing to go further, faster, higher.

Some days, I almost forget — ALMOST — that I have an autistic child.  My son Grant will be 13 in August, and was diagnosed more than nine years ago with Nonverbal Learning Disorder, which many consider to be on the autistic spectrum.  It is very akin to Asperger Syndrome, but with fewer of Aspies’ fixations, and with added fine and gross motor skill problems.  (An EXCELLENT article, differentiating between NLD, ADHD, and Bipolar Disorder, concentrating on NLD can be found here — it’s a PDF.)

From the bottom of my heart, even though we have ongoing difficulties with Grant (see below), I believe he is so, so, so, so, so, so, so much better than he could be, as a 13-year-old*, and the biggest reasons for that are:

  1. The presence of God in Grant’s life, and
  2. We homeschool.

A reader just asked me a question on an old post.  I don’t know if anyone really tracks comments via the sidebar on the right, so I thought I’d turn it into a full-on post.  I’ll quote her first, then quote my response.  What I replied is kind of sloppy;  not as carefully-written as if it were a “real” post… But I thought it merited its own blog entry.

From reader Canadian Mom:

I am in Canada and stopped hs’ling my son after 3 months of grade 1, before that Kindergarten. I found a sweet country school to place him in with just over 100 students and he is just finishing grade 2. He has NLD, ADHD and DCD (developmental coordination disorder). I love him dearly but he is a handful, he’s not diagnosed with but I think he is ODD. He fights me and resists me on nearly everything. It’s very challenging, I’ve had to do a lot of personal growth just to handle him.

I did put him on med’s and his teacher thinks he is doing great at school in reading and related subjects, however math is his great weakness. In grade 4 they do the PsychEd tests so I am thinking of keeping him in until that test is done and we have a really clear picture of what we are dealing with. Ideally I would hs and if I have the guts to eventually I will take him out to hs again but I’m kind of waiting for him to “hit the wall”. He gets a lot of support at school and seems to enjoy it. However, because of his DCD he stays away from sports so is alienated from other boys at recess and lunch and plays with another girl who has some learning disabilities. I would love to know more about your methods for hs’ling your NLD boy. I want to hs my boy but am afraid of all the resistance I get and it effecting our learning outcomes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thx

My really long response:

CM ~ I’m not sure I have any amazing words of wisdom. I will confess that with my five children, aged 3 – 15 (my NLD boy is almost 13), he is my most challenging on just about every issue. Things are so much more peaceful, and everything — I mean EVERYTHING — goes so much more smoothly when he is not here. So, I’m not saying, “It’s SO EASY to homeschool your NLD child!!” I do maintain, though, that it is most often better for the child. This past school year, I came VERY close to putting my son in a special, advanced program, like a school-within-a-school, very hands-on, very science-oriented, low teacher-to-student ratio. I gathered all the info, talked with admin at the school, and they were VERY supportive of me sending in our app. In fact, when we didn’t, they called often to ask why we hadn’t. But, my husband said, “We’re not going to throw him to the wolves.” Meaning, for all his brilliance, and for all the difficulty he causes at home, and all the literal heartbreak and distress I go through…. he’s still so vulnerable. I finally had to agree with my husband’s statement. It would be throwing him to the wolves. Socially, he’s just not adapted to a school atmosphere. I could see the huge likelihood of us sifting through issues with children, teachers, admin, just the “system” of school, and coming up bloodied in every way. Know what I mean? For all that it would be a huge relief for me NOT to have to homeschool him (and I’m being really honest here), I just couldn’t, for his emotional and physical health, do it.

Grant isn’t diagnosed with ODD, but I’m sure I could obtain such a dx. His operational outlook is, “I’m right, you’re wrong,” and it doesn’t matter who the other person is — parent, pastor, friend’s parent, policeman, whomever. He — deep in his heart — thinks that he is the most brilliant, best person in the whole world, and that his outlook is the only one right, and the only one valid. He’s certain that his ideas trump mine, and has no value, respect, or even acknowledgement of authority.

He’s not dx’ed with DCD, but he was in OT for YEARS due to fine and gross motor skill problems, and he is very uncoordinated. We’re more likely to call it PDD, here in the States, although I think that name was changed recently… But, same thing: He can’t do team anything. He’s eager and willing, but a liability to teams.

So. With that bleak picture, why do I homeschool? I still think it is his best chance to learn from someone who truly loves him and is FOR him. I can let him study ahead in some areas, and supplement him in areas where he lags. I can provide the structure and discipline he needs. I can help bring out his BEST and weed the garden of his heart to help his character develop, something that schools don’t really do; they just want kids to be functional within a classroom setting. I want him to be much better than “functional”. I want him to flourish. AND, while I will say that we still very often struggle with his lack of respect and his preschool-like behavior, we have had LOADS of break-throughs this past year, and he’s doing better in many areas in which I had previously nearly despaired. He is *healthy*, emotionally. He has lots of friends. Most of them are younger than him, but still, lots of friends. He truly loves God. He is eager and willing in so many areas, and is so often an encouragement to me. He TRIES in many areas. For instance, he’ll often ask me, “How are you doing Mom?” with a rub on my shoulder, and a soft face, and cocked head. Now, he’s asking that because I’ve taught him that people like others to care for them, and he needs to take time to be attentive to others. I can see him mentally go down the check list: Ask Mom how she’s doing; give her a soft smile; rub her shoulder; look into her eyes. Check, check, check. IOW, it doesn’t come naturally to him. But, in many ways, that makes it MORE valuable, because the things we’ve taught him — often repeating it THOUSANDS of times, to no effect — are finally bearing fruit. I can actually look at his future, and see some hope and if we can keep his shoulders pointed in the right direction, he’s not going to self-destruct; he’s going to be a tremendous asset to his future family, to his community, to the Body of Christ, and to the world in general.

Please don’t wait for your child to “hit the wall”. It’s so much easier (not that it’s easy) to practice “preventative medicine” than to rehab hearts and behaviors.

—————

*Nonverbal Learning Disorder has the highest rate of suicide of all learning disorders, and it spikes radically higher in the teen and young adult years.  I can’t find numbers on it right now, but I’ve read that the rate is as high as 60%.  By the grace of God, and with the wisdom He has given to my husband and me, and through love and understanding, that WILL NOT be my child.

Easy fruit fly trap (plus thoughts on poisons and alarmism)

I’m eating my lunch as I type this, sopping up the last of my homemade caesar dressing with some raw broccoli.  Mmmm…

Yesterday, I was (semi-unwillingly) in a Walmart, picking up some 9-volt batteries for my hubby.  And some Larabars for him.  For the record, Walmart Neighborhood Market carries TWO flavors of Larabars.  Two.  I’m not surprised.  They are only $1.15, though.

On my way out, I passed a clearance rack, and saw a fruit fly trap.  It caught my eye because, well, we have fruit flies.  This is due to poor compost management (my fault) + gloriously beautiful weather (God’s fault) + children who are prone to leave doors open in fine weather.  Ugh.  I’ve been swatting those suckers for a couple of weeks now.  So, I stopped in my tracks, and picked up the trap.  It was $5.48.  For one trap.  On clearance.  I’m a tighter wad than that.

Now, the trap was a fake plastic apple with a small plastic container of red liquid.  I turned the package over to see what the ingredients are.  The active ingredient?  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.  Chances are high that you have the poison (truly!) in your shampoo as a main ingredient.  The second ingredient?  Acetic acid.  This is the acid in vinegar.

A couple of days ago, I read a truly alarmist post about the dangers of Simple Green.  Now, perhaps I took offense, since I have some in my home.  I use a concoction of mostly white vinegar to clean nearly everything in our home, but sometimes, one just needs a degreaser.  It does appear that Simple Green is not quite as “natural” as I had previously thought, so perhaps that bears some consideration.  HOWEVER, the article (not on the Livestrong link in the sentence previous) went on for quite a while on the dangers of butoxyethanol, an alcohol found in Simple Green.  It quoted extensively from the Material Data Safety Sheet for the alcohol, highlighting its more alarming properties.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Simple Green is The Best Ever and you should go out and buy a gallon.  There are better cleaning alternatives.  Here’s what bothered me, though.  ALMOST EVERYTHING, in pure form, is dangerous if taken into our bodies.  Even water.  You can overdose from water.  Or salt.  OR ACETIC ACID!!  In fact, according to their respective MSDSsssses (or however one should spell that), acetic acid is MORE DANGEROUS than butoxyethanol!!  And why is this so ironic??  Because on the post about how dangerous Simple Green is, virtually everyone chimed in to say that they cleaned with vinegar.  You know, that liquid that is nearly entirely water and acetic acid?!??

DUH!!!

The reason that neither Simple Green nor vinegar are harmful is because of the concentrations of the chemicals within.  Simple Green contains less than 4% butoxyethanol.  Vinegar is diluted, as a standard, to 5% acetic acid.

Grrrr….

So, really, the people who are campaigning against Simple Green may wanna do a little more homework first, before getting caught up in the frenzied tide.

Just sayin’.

Most things are at their best in moderation.  🙂  Some things warrant some passion and to jump in with both feet and start swinging punches.  However, before you do that, you may want to ensure your passion is well-placed.

Anyway.

Back to the fruitflies.

Mine looks like this, but I used a small plastic funnel. It works.

I figured I could take a small jar (a half-pint glass canning jelly jar), mix some apple cider vinegar and some sodium lauryl sulfate-containing dishwashing detergent (yes, even Seventh Generation has it!) in the bottom of the jar, take a funnel and turn it upside down in the jar, and wait for the fruit flies to be attracted to the smell of vinegar, wander into the funnel, and drown/be poisoned in the mixture within.

Voila!

This morning, there were eight dead fruit flies in my trap.

Turns out I’m not as original as I had thought, though.  Seems like everyone and his brother have blogged a tutorial on this, and I’m behind the times.  I guess if I would have had the foresight to Google this, I could have had my problems solved weeks ago.

Oh, well.

 

Perfect love…

I had a thought yesterday that had me trippin’!

I absolutely adore it when I make a discovery or read something where science supports the Bible.  Add that to the science of birthing, and it nearly had me hyperventilating with excitement.  (I know, I get excited about weird things.)

Let’s see if I can explain my logic:

I was thinking about how, during the time when a woman is in labor with a baby, it’s really beneficial to completely banish fear, to have a 100% fear-free birth.  This is because fear releases adrenaline and noradrenaline (or epinephrine and norepinephrine), which triggers the “fight or flight” response.  These “fight or flight” hormones are also the polar opposite, endocrinely speaking, of oxytocin;  adrenaline pretty much negates the action of oxytocin:   adrenaline will “inhibit oxytocin production, therefore slowing or inhibiting labor“.  Oxytocin is a beneficial hormone released during labor that empowers contractions, enables breastfeeding, helps the mother to feel loved and to feel love towards her baby, and strengthens mother-child bonds.  Anything a mother can do to feel at ease, to feel protected, to feel loved and well-cared-for while birthing enables her to birth in such a way where her body is not fighting against the mechanisms of the birthing process, and enables her to feel better, all around.  In other words, it becomes a reciprocal process:  A mother feels loved and safe, so oxytocin is released.  That oxytocin, in return, enables the mother to feel even more at ease and calm.  “The baby also has been producing increasing amounts of oxytocin during labor;  so, in the minutes after birth, both mother and baby are bathed in an ecstatic cocktail of hormones.

Healthy birth, the way God created it, is a fear-free experience.

In other words, “perfect love casts out fear.”

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  I John 4:18 (NKJV)

Drawing by Cindy O. Used with her permission.

Something really pretty (a jewelry giveaway!) and something really NOT (ammonia-treated beef)

  • A fellow homeschooling mom, much craftier than I, has a contest going until 10/22/10, a giveaway of two separate gift certificates — one for $25 and one for $10.  You can enter in a wide variety of ways.  She doesn’t require a purchase, but I went onto her Etsy shop (she has a second one, here), and I liked *EVERY SINGLE THING*.  I recently sold some curriculum, and used some of the PayPal balance to purchase three things.  I could easily have bought about fifty things, but I restrained myself.
  • On a totally different note, as I was researching the use of ammonia (for in my home), I read the Wikipedia entry on it.  Color me SHOCKED when I read a blurb about large fast-food chains using ammonia to disinfect beef for its burgers.  The meat (or should I say, “meat”)  is obtained using a process that liquefies the fat in fatty trimmings and then centrifuges it out.  The fine sludge that remains is then treated with ammonia to kill e-coli and other pathogens.  Now, it appears that only a portion of each patty from McDonald’s and

    Beef Products Inc.'s ammonia-treated beef

    Burger King uses the low-quality ammonia-treated beef, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.  I can honestly say that it has been…  I think… two years since I’ve had any beef from either of those two places, but suffice it to say that — IF YOU HAVE TO pH TEST THE LEVEL OF YOUR MEAT TO MAKE SURE IT’S NOT DANGEROUSLY ALKALINE FROM HAVING IT TREATED WITH AMMONIA, then it’s not really anything I want to eat.  Ever again.  EVER.  Sounds too crazy to be true, right?  Too gross??  Sadly, no.  Do read the whole October 2009 New York Times exposé — it’s really interesting.  The focus of the article was primarily on the SAFETY of the meat, and all I could think about was, “THEY’RE TREATING FOOD WITH AMMONIA AND DISCUSSING THE SAFETY AND THE ODOR!!!  THIS IS NOT RIGHT!!!!!!”  Lordy.  Maybe this is one reason why Americans are having such trouble with food pH that is too high, too alkaline…  That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms, I guess.  😦

    • By the way, on the rare occasions when I have a burger, I really like In-N-Out.  I visited their website, and sent in an e-mail, asking about ammonia in their beef.  They replied, asking me to call their toll-free number, which I did.  Turns out, they do all of their butchering in-house (they have one butcherhouse which is the lone supplier of their meat), and they do not use ammonia in their beef.
    • Beef Products, Inc., the primary producer of this ammonia-treated beef also is a MAJOR supplier for public school cafeteria lunches.  (Add that to the ever-growing list of reasons why I’m happy we homeschool.)

Interesting things: My own mini blog carnival.

Too many compelling blogs, too little time….

Here is a mini-roundup of bloggy thoughts I’ve found interesting in the last few days.

Hey, also, if you have a blog, or know of a blog that you think might interest me, leave a comment with a link!  (I’m always looking for interesting blogs, even as I sigh about there not being enough time to read them.)

  1. Joy writes an amusing post, a retrospective on her eighth wedding anniversary, of all the anniversary camping trips she and her husband have taken.  She also posts other thoughts, both beautiful and heart-wrenching on the ups and downs of their eight years together…  I’m trying to figure out if I find these posts particularly compelling because I know (knew?) Joy in real life…  They’re worth a read, even if you don’t know Joy.  🙂
  2. Really compelling thoughts by Amy Romano at Science & Sensibility, regarding the nature and value of research (stemming from thoughts on the connection between endometriosis and c-sections).  As always on that blog, the ideas presented are quite learned and heady, and I’m always hesitant to comment.  I couldn’t resist this time, though.
  3. A thought-provoking post from Luke Holzmann questioning that specialization automatically equals better science.  He relates it, sort of, to education.  I think my comments, collectively, are longer than his original post.  Thank you, Luke, for your tolerance of my verbosity.
  4. I WAS JUST THINKING ABOUT THIS!  And along comes a blog post, on my reader, as if reading my thoughts.  From Pacific NW Birder, a discussion on changes in common and scientific names of creatures, notably the Rock Dove, Columba livia, whose name has recently been changed to Rock Pigeon.
  5. A “report”, via blog, by my neighbor, friend, and fellow homeschooler, Jeanne on the cranberry.  Entitled Pearls of Crimson, it’s a compact treatise on the cranberry’s history as well as some current scientific findings.
  6. A post, entitled Why I Don’t Watch Glee, by my friend Nicole, on not being a trend-follower.  I could relate with so much of what she said!
  7. Beautiful story by Daja of champagne and cigars on the banks of the Seine with a homeless man… echoes of Matthew 25:37-40 (truly!).

I found my yogurt!!

Well, Chris, this won’t count for one of those meaty posts where you walk away thinking deep thoughts…

But I keep forgetting to share that I found my ideal yogurt:

In a post a week ago, I mentioned that I needed to find a healthier yogurt that was around 20 carbs each, not artificially sweetened, and that wouldn’t break the bank.  Voila!!  As if made especially for me, in waltzes Cascade Fresh.  All-natural, labeled gluten-free, fruit-juice sweetened, and 100% cultured.

A pet peeve of mine, lately, is fake yogurt.  Read the ingredients of your yogurt.  If it says something like, “milk, cultured milk, gelatin, corn starch…” that means that PART of your yogurt is actually yogurt — the cultured part —  and the other part is simply thickened regular milk.

Very briefly, yogurt cultures “eat” lactose (milk sugar), which produces lactic acid.  Lactic acid both gives the yogurt its tart taste, and causes the milk protein (casein) to coagulate, thereby thickening.  So, if you have true yogurt, there is decreased sugar and no need for thickening agents.  For the sake of full disclosure, many of Cascade Fresh’s flavors have fruit on the bottom, and THAT is thickened with tapioca.

Much the same process as when cheese is made, since the culturing bacteria eat the lactose a reduced-sugar state results, and, correspondingly, fewer carbs.  But, when a company takes uncultured milk and adds corn starch to thicken it — presumably so that it won’t be so tart — and throws loads of sugar into it to make it palatable (to American tastes), not only do you get the carbs from the added sugar, you get carbs from the lactose and corn starch which shouldn’t be there in the first place!*

Hrmph.

I find this offensive both to my Eat Real Food standards, and to my current diet, which needs fewer carbs.

So, like I said, Cascade Fresh is made-to-order.  Well, not really, but it fits all my needs.  At a local natural grocery store (Sprouts), the regular price is $0.79 per 6 ounce container.  When I went shopping last week, though, they were on sale for $0.59 each, which is about the normal price for a Yoplait.**  Each container has about 20-23 carbs.  And, as mentioned, entirely fruit juice-sweetened, natural colors and flavors…. Perfect.

I prefer whole milk yogurt, and I see on their website that the company does produce a few flavors…  but I didn’t see any at my store.  I’ll have to keep an eye out for them.  🙂

——————-

*In a similar fashion, Yoplait Greek yogurt is not actually Greek yogurt.  From what I can discern by interpreting its ingredients, it is their normal yogurt, thickened up even more, and to which additional — gritty — milk protein powder has been added.  Fake!

**No coupons for Cascade Fresh, though!  😦  Bummer.  With sale + coupons, I can regularly purchase Yoplaits for 3/$1.00 or so.

Bread that is kicking my rear, mothering genes, sandals, and your questions

  • 32 loaves of bread in a 2.5 week span will, apparently, cause your Sunbeam Mixmaster to irreparably break.  Anyone have a KitchenAid they wanna sell cheap?  In related news, if you have a KitchenAid on Craigslist in Phoenix, and you’ve sold your mixer, please delete your ad, because nonfunctional ads have caused my hopes to be raised and dashed a number of times in the last few days.
  • 32 loaves of bread that never quite work out the way they’re supposed to will, also, eventually lead to a sense of Baking Inadequacy and discouragement.  😦  I’m knocked down, but I’m not knocked out.  Not yet, anyway.
  • 32 loaves of bread in a 2.5 week span will also help you pack on a few pounds.
  • I read this with interest:  Can a Bad Mother Help Her Nature? in the Times of London.  When Ethan, my oldest, was born, I often felt like there was some sort of mothering gene that was supposed to kick in that, in me, wasn’t.  It may be that I wasn’t far off.  According to the article, and my own experience, a solid community of support is critical for the development of mothers to whom mothering doesn’t really come all that naturally.  (Makes your posts, Daja, about post-partum care come to mind — your post which I cannot find.  If you send me a link, I’ll post it here, if you don’t mind. Find all of Daja’s relevant, beautiful, and important posts about post-partum care here — especially read her “Time to Heal” series.)
  • Stride Rite Lollipop

    I’d also really like to find a pair of NARROW little girl’s sandals, white, real leather, that DON’T cost $30+.  I’m still looking.  If you have any tips, send ’em my way.  My fave so far:

  • I had something else I wanted to say, but now I can’t remember.  I’ll have to save it for another day, I suppose.  However, I also thought that if anyone has any questions of any sort for which you think I may have an answer, I’d love to give it a shot.  Any topic!
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