Thank You, Bradley!

This 30 Day Blog Challenge was created by Bradley Will from Learn to Blog.  He wanted to those of us who accepted the challenge to produce our art, to write from the heart.  By writing everyday, we would break through blocks of all kinds, break through our fear, our self imposed limitations.  All of these.  Some of us never even had blogs to begin with, but we started them just for this challenge.  We didn’t have to worry about making our blogs look beautiful or perfect.  We didn’t need pictures or word limits, anything like that.  Just a platform to express our honest, heartfelt messages.  Many people had breakthroughs in different aspects of their lives.  Some had increased views of their blogs.  But more importantly, people began to break through their fear of expressing themselves.  They weren’t afraid to state what they truly felt.  They became their true selves.  As a result, they found this blog challenge to be something that freed them.

So I want to say “Thank you, Bradley!”  This challenge was amazing!  Thank you for opening up our hearts and our voices!  God Bless!

Unblocking Potential with Love

This morning is the last official day of the 30 day blogging challenge, and as you can see,this is like post number 20.  Missed a few!  Anyway, I really wasn’t certain about what I wanted to blog about today.  It gets harder and harder to come up with ideas as you get further along into the challenge.  One of the things that was emphasized in the original set up of this challenge was that we are to share what’s on our hearts, write from this place.  On some days, that was easier than others, and last night, I was wondering just what was still left on my heart that I wanted to say.

I got my answer this morning.  E and I were getting into the car and getting ready to pull out of the driveway, when she commented on the radio playing (my husband had started the car up for us and left the radio on.)  She expressed how she wanted it off, and I agreed with her.  The conversation then snowballed into how the news is always something negative.  I said how even our alarm, which is set to radio, starts off with something bad most mornings.  “145 dead,”  “School shooting”, “train crash,” etc.  I told her that they take the worst situations and blow them up into a “this could happen to you” kind of scenario.  It all coalesces into an entity that causes fear.

That got me thinking to the connection between emotions and healing.  Many of us parents are in this state of worry and fear.  We are bombarded with it everyday, every time our kids have a tantrum, every time they have explosive diarrhea, or they begin headbanging.  We see our kids lagging further and further behind developmentally and we wonder if they will be independent or able to make friends.  Then the “well meaning?” professionals give us dire predictions about our kids’ futures.  I have heard several parents say that their doctors told them that their kids will never be able to talk or function normally.  Most of the time these predictions are wrong.  But that is what we are told.  And then when we are surrounded by families with neurotypical children, we see what we do not or may never have.  It is all too much to bear sometimes.

But then I got to thinking about an experience I had a couple of years ago.  There were a group of us mothers who decided to join a particular homeopathy college as practice clients.  For a minimal fee, the students were able to start treating our children.  As a side benefit, we were able to join a homeopathy facebook group where we all could have support.  It seemed like day after day, child after child was blooming and growing.  And the mothers began to express such hope and joy.  We were seeing things happening with our kids that hadn’t before.  And for the days that we were not seeing gains, we were surrounded with hope and support from the others.

I began to relax and to let go of the reins a little bit (many of us are our kids’ “doctors” as the fees are exhorbitant and the availability of the good healers, few.  So we tend to do it all, which is exhausting.)  I felt the anxiety wash away, and I saw a difference in our relationship.  I could feel a difference  in the energy in my home.  M started to make strides, and when she was around me, she was like a bee to honey.  It was as though we finally came to life.  It was like that for a few months.  And then there was an issue with the homeopathic college that caused a massive exodus of clients.  The whole facebook group was shut down, and those of us who were still with the college were left without support.  At that point, the energy wasn’t there anymore.

It might seem that there was something special to that group or to the particular form of homeopathy that the college practiced.  But the reality is, there wasn’t.  Not really.  It was the loving energy of that group, the focus that we all had on healing.  And also of letting go of control.  We were constantly encouraged to have faith in the healing process, to look at our children with different eyes. To look at them with love, not fear.  When we did that, we exuded a different, loving energy that I think our kids felt and responded to.  It also was healing to many of us moms who were struggling with many health issues ourselves.  The whole family was being treated and given that loving energy from each other and the group online.

I have to admit that since that time, I have not felt the same energy as we did then.  But I have glimpses of it, and I find that when I focus on the positive, when I focus on love and hope, that my perception changes.  And things happen.  When I change my outlook and perception of things, the world changes and things seem to unfold differently.  For example, the view of the world outside when it is winter.  Right now around Chicago, it is very gray, and even though the trees are bare, there is no snow.  So there are no leaves and the sky is drab, but there is still green grass on the ground.  I could look outside and say, “Oh it is so gloomy, and look at how dead the trees look.”  Or I can look down and notice the green grass, notice how we have had lots of rain that will contribute to a wonderful spring when it comes.  The trees are dormant right now, preparing for a few months from now when things sprout and blossom again.  It is the same scenery, but two totally different mindsets.  This perception can actually change the outcome of your day.  Yesterday, I was NOT in the mood to work out.  I was drained and really emotionally depleted.  I had to FORCE myself to go to the gym.  I had not gotten done what I had hoped to during the day, and I just felt so overwhelmed with all of the things that have been on my mind to do, to decide, etc.  But I went to the gym, and I did a workout.  After that, I did some shopping and made myself a decent tasting protein shake.  By the time I got back, my attitude shifted, and I ended up having a decent day.  My circumstances did not change, but I consciously chose to focus on the good, on the things that were healthy.  While I did not tackle all of my problems, I chose to do what I could and put my energy into that.

The other thing that I have been paying attention to is the mindset of can’t or won’t.  I have been thinking these fearful thoughts about what will happen with my daughter if I don’t choose the right therapies or do all of what she needs.  The reality about this is, I CAN’T control that.  I can do what I think I can accomplish, and then I have to leave the rest up to God.  He is the only one who is in control.  This is very connected to what we learned in that homeopathic clinic, the release of control.  That is a huge struggle for most of us.  We want to control everyone and everything, and if we can’t, we are afraid of the outcome.  If we allow love and the release of control, things can happen.  Maybe even miracles.  Of course, there are no guarantees of the latter, but it is a far better life to live in joy, peace and love than it is to live in fear and control.

I encourage you to watch where you focus your thoughts and energies.  Join me in looking at your child with hopeful and loving eyes.  Truly BE with them and accept them for where they are at.  But hold hope for things to come, blossoming to occur.  The loving energy you have for your child might be the one thing that unblocks their potential.

Red Flags and “Knowing”

magnifying glassOne of the big things that struck me when my eldest daughter was little was that I started to “know” that something was up.  When she was very little, she appeared to just have Down Syndrome.  As she got older, I noticed differences between her and the other children with Down Syndrome.  I would read what other children on the T21 forums were doing, and I thought to myself, “why isn’t mine doing that too?”  The usual answer is that each child is different and would develop at their own pace.  While this is true for typical children or children with “just” Down Syndrome, with a child who has Autism, this isn’t necessarily the case.  I mean, yes, there will be some development.  However some won’t happen without help.  But how do you know if your child is just developing slowly or if your child has something else going on.  This is largely due to instinct.  However, you can also get some clues by looking for red flags.

A lot of the red flags are things that doctors just chalk up to normal issues in childhood.  They don’t tend to look at the big picture.  One of the big things I have taken away from being in the “alternative” Autism and Down Syndrome communities (yes, there are sort of two factions, but I’ll leave that for another day) as well as from my training as an NTC is that everything is connected.  Your sinusitis and your constipation and possibly your depression are all related.  But if you go to the doctor, he will just see sinusitis, constipation, and depression and treat you as such.  He might give you a fiber recommendation or miralax, maybe an antibiotic or an allergist referral for your sinuses, and then a referral to a psychiatrist for your depression.  However in the “alternative” community, we know that these things are all connected.  So what does this have to do with the red flags?

Red flags are symptoms that point to a larger issue.  A series of them can give clues as to what is going on overall.  If your child has developmental delays plus perhaps alternating diarrhea and constipation along with food sensitivities, these are all clues to the underlying issues.  These underlying issues can be the CAUSE of your child’s delays.  That is something that allopathic medicine has not really caught onto yet.  This is why children who change to certain dietary protocols and who eliminate certain foods suddenly do better behaviorally or cognitively.  Our guts are connected to our brains, and what happens in one area can affect the other.  If you want to understand how this happens, a great explanation is in the book Gut and Psychology Syndrome.  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride goes into detail regarding the mechanisms behind this.  Suffice it to say, taking a good look at your child (behaviorally, physically, emotionally) will help you figure out if there is more to what is going on.

How does this look?  My daughter, had constipation, she was very limited in what she would eat, and it was all dairy and gluten.  She was in a fog, and she didn’t seem to care what was going on around her.  She would tantrum if we didn’t let her watch Barney, and wouldn’t want to go anywhere, especially if there was loud noise.  She also wouldn’t play.  Her gut distends 2 1/2 inches by the end of the night and looks very pregnant.  She has very dry skin, lots of keratosis pilaris on her arms, and she has thick cradle cap still at the age of 11.  It went away for a while, but now it is back.   She also has tics that increase when she is sick.  Unfortunately, when the developmental pediatrician saw her, she just chalked all of her delays up to those of Down Syndrome.  But I know that these are all signs pointing to a poor immune system.  And that immune system causes inflammation.  And most likely that inflammation is in her brain.  But the skin problems, the gut distension, the tics, those things are signs telling me that something is wrong.  But our doctors never put those things together and considered that the physical was affecting the mental.  However the Autism physicians and homeopaths we’ve met with HAVE noticed, and they have helped her to start to improve.  However we have a long way to go yet.

If you would like more information on Red Flags, go to the Thinking Moms Revolution and read more.  I believe there are quite a few red flag posts.  In the meantime, if you notice that your child with the same diagnosis as others is behaving very differently, take note of everything that’s going on with him or her.  Write it all down, take note of all of the behaviors, mood swings, when they happen, all of the physical symptoms that they have (bowels, skin, hair texture, breath smell, posture, muscle tone, etc.)  See if they have food preferences that are predictable, sensory sensitivity to light, sound, touch, smells, tastes.  Are they having issues navigating their physical surroundings?  All of these things and so much more can give you clues to what is going on.  Your child might not have an official dual diagnosis like mine does.  But if your child is presenting with several symptoms, and there are behavioral or cognitive issues as well, listen to those clues and heed them.  Your pediatrician might just chalk everything up to “well that’s just CP” or “that’s just toddler diarrhea.”  He also might say that certain issues are just part of the territory of your child’s diagnosis.  Listen to your gut.  If your gut says it’s not, then it isn’t.   You know.  You’re the expert on your child.  Get the treatment you need for him/her.  Don’t be afraid to leave a practice if they won’t or can’t help.   Feel free also to check into other modalities.  It might seem frightening to do so if you never have, but integrative practices, naturopaths, homeopaths, accupuncturists and craniosacral therapists can all help in different ways.  Research and then listen to your gut.  Some treatments may not work, some may.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  But you will be well on your way to helping your child be the healthiest and happiest they can be.  The sky’s the limit!

A Few of My Favorite Resources

When I first had my daughter M, I was given a few resources for Down Syndrome.  They were mostly the Non-profit association and Parent Forum type.  I was approached by a support person from the National Association of Down Syndrome (NADS) in the hospital after M was born.  They let me know about Early Intervention and all of the therapies I’d need, so I utilized all of the ones I was given.  I also joined a T21 parent support forum, and that was very helpful and comforting sharing with all of the other parents with a child with DS.  I heard about some multivitamins for Down Syndrome from my sister-in-law, and I read about some of the parents on the forum using these supplements.  There was a lot of brouhaha on the forums about using these vitamins.   I listened to the arguments for and against and decided to try them.  That, and some fish oil as those were highly recommended by the parents anyway.  Honestly, I did not find any changes from the multivitamin, but I did see a little more vocalization from the fish oil.  For some reason, though, I stopped giving it to her.

I did not do anything supplement-wise for years.  Not until I started seeing symptoms in my daughter that fit the description of Autism and I decided to try some of the things that worked for Autistic children.  M regained her eye contact with Vitamin D, and the fog lifted from the high potency multivitamin and the gluten, casein, and soy free diet.  One of the amazing things that also occurred with the change in diet is the IgA antibody levels changing.  We had stool testing done which revealed that her IgA antibody levels wer extremely low.  After a couple of years on the diet, I had the testing redone and her levels were well within normal.  She also was finally able to get sick and mount immune responses after the change in diet.  All of these things were normalized again.

Having experienced what I have, and after having seen listened to other parents, I know that much can be done for our children.  Some resources are better than others, and there are plenty of ABA, Early Intervention, speech, ot, pt resources out there to choose from.  This blog post will give some of my favorite resources that are not so mainstream.  So without further ado, here are some of my favorites.

down syndrome 1

Down Syndrome:
Yes, something can be done to improve the lives of those with Down Syndrome.  There are multivitamins to balance biochemistry, specific nutrients to alleviate inflammation and help with plaques in the brain.  I have a couple of sites here for biochemistry information, and I also recommend some Facebook groups.
Just and FYI, though, I am not recommending or supporting any one protocol.  This is just information for you to use and to discuss with your physician.  I am in no way a doctor, don’t play one on t.v. and wouldn’t want to be one if someone paid me.  Blood!  Yuck!

Down Syndrome Options
Down Syndrome: A Day to Day Guide
Super Down Syndrome
Changing Minds Foundation
Riverbend Down Syndrome Association
Down Syndrome and TNI Support Group
Down Syndrome: What You CAN Do (written by a young girl in her twenties along with her mother.)
The Biochemistry of Down Syndrome

Facebook Pages:
Down Syndrome Baby Steps
Down Syndrome Holistic Mommies and Daddies
Nutrichem Down Syndrome Discussion

Autism:
Talk About Curing Autism
Generation Rescue
Thinking Moms Revolution   (this one has blog articles discussing resources as well as life lessons.  It also discusses challenges and political issues we families with Autistic children face on a daily basis.
Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism
Dietary Resources for Autism:
Gut and Psychology Syndrome
Specific Carbohydrate Diet
Body Ecology Diet

Autism One is a wonderful online resource for both Autism and Down Syndrome.  If you go through the site, you will come across videos for both issues discussing so many treatment options, biochemistry information, just about everything you’d want to know about Autism.  There is also now information about Down Syndrome since anywhere from 5-33% of the Down Syndrome population is also dually diagnosed with Autism.  In May every year, the weekend before Memorial Day, there is an Autism One Conference in Chicago for five days.  It is a huge resource, and the conference is always dirt cheap.  It’s truly a blessing for anyone who goes.  Thursday is usually the Down Syndrome track day, and Wednesdays are the culinary days.  Go to http://www.autismone.org for details for the next conference.

Then there is the issue of funding.  The Talk About Curing Autism site lists ways to get therapies covered by insurance.  But then a lot of things don’t, which is why grants are something to look into.  I am one of many coauthors of a book called Evolution of a Revolution: From Hope to Healingevolution of a revolution book coverPurchases of this book go towards the TEAM TMR grant for families with children with Autism and related health issues.  If you’re not sure if you qualify, go ahead and apply anyway.  It is not an organization made up of unaffected philanthropists.  TEAM TMR and the Thinking Moms Revolution are just made up of moms (and one dad) who “get it!”

I hope this helps you.  In the meantime, I hope to get a separate blog up and running with an exhaustive list of resources.  This list is just a scratch on the surface.  There is so much more out there.  Things like Homeopathy, Energy Work, Nutritional Therapy, MAPS doctors, and the list goes on.  The first stop for Autism that I recommend is to go to TACA.  That will guide your next moves, get you in touch with other parents and get the ball rolling.  You won’t believe how much there is out there for your child.

A Day In Our Life

I thought perhaps today could be a walk through of my day, not that my day is amazing and action packed.  However it seems to me that viewing another’s boring, regular day might be a nice antidote to the constant feed of amazing Highlight reels that show up daily on Facebook.  The life of any parent is not glamorous, but add the interesting challenges of special needs, and it can get even less so!  So sit back and enjoy watching another parent’s life.

I cosleep with my 7 year old, have done so ever since she was born as she would not take to any of the sleeping arrangements we set up for her.  The cosleeping swing and bassinet were only ever used briefly as the rest of the night, E needed to sleep ON me in order to get any sleep.  So I share my nights with a somewhat clingy but adorable, tossing and turning little girl.  We get up together in the morning and wake up dad, and the three of us get cracking while we let M sleep in a little bit.

I make three breakfasts.  Why, you ask?  Because my dear husband doesn’t eat breakfast, M eats puree and E won’t eat the eggs that I make for myself as I need the protein for breakfasts (see, we’re still a work in progress right now too….trying to figure out how to make meals we can and will all eat.  Believe it or not, E’s pickiness is reducing.)  I make something for E that’s fast on school days, grind up the meat and veggies plus broth for M, and then I set up their lunches if I haven’t done so the night before.  Lunch is puree again for M plus meat, veggies, avocado, or chunked squash for her snack.  She is on beginning stages of GAPS intro diet.  School is working on feeding her solid food, so they love it when I load her up.  For E, I’ll put some of the previous night’s dinner, some apple and sunflower seed butter, or some nitrate free turkey in her lunchbox along with a raw veggie and maybe dried fruit.

I get both of the girls fed, then make sure E gets dressed and ready to go.  Meanwhile, hubby gets M up and changed out of her pullups, and then I give her the morning digestive enzymes and thyroid medication.  I take E to school and then come back and assist hubby with getting M dressed and out the door.  He takes her to school, and then I get my actual breakfast.  I might catch up on email and Facebook, and then when I am a good girl, I start work on a blog post.  After that, I might go to the gym.  On other days, I have a lot more, like taking M to speech therapy, then dropping her off to school, possibly meet a friend for coffee, and then go to various appointments.  Now that both girls are in school, I actually have several hours to get things done.  For ten years, I was non stop caregiving with maybe two hours in the day to take care of things last year.  This year, I feel almost lazy.  It is a welcome change, though.  But now the challenge is to not waste the time I have.  But I digress……….

When the girls come home, I go through their bags, check for homework and then get afterschool snacks.  The kids only have twenty minutes to eat their lunches, and E is a slow eater, so by the time she gets home, she could almost gnaw off her own arm!  It ends up that she eats so much that sometimes if I don’t catch her, she won’t be hungry for dinner.  Sigh!  It’s a challenge.  Anyway, when they get home, that is when M is in full swing.  It is constant attention from filling her bottle (we are finally transitioning to straw cup.  Yay!) with water over and over again, to pushing the buttons on the cd player to get the songs she wants (she loves Barney….that and Koo Koo Kangaroo….over and over and over and over and over….)  Oh yes, and the occasional grab of the crotch and an impish laugh which means she pooped in her underwear.  She finds that to be hilarious!  She also has me throw stuffed animals almost constantly.  If I don’t do that, she starts bugging me to eat, because this girl LOVES food!

Once the push is on for sustenance, I head to the kitchen and start making sure I have enough for dinner.  I make about two pounds of veggies and a pound of meat a day for just M!  Some people with Down Syndrome and also I have heard, Autism, don’t seem to have that feeling of satiety.  I can only suspect that is what goes on with her.  she will eat until I pull the food away.  I try to be cognizant of possible growth spurts and the like, so I allow a little more than maybe others would.  But she eats like a teenage boy or two.  No wonder our grocery bill is high!  Now if I can use some of what I make for her to make food for me and E (because again, hubby doesn’t eat dinner at home), I will.  Otherwise, that is another dish I make at the same time.  So sometimes I have about 4 pots going at the same time.  Plus I have a cat who demands dinner at the same time.  It seems everyone is at me to feed them:)  While I cook, sometimes M will come into the kitchen and try to toss the stuffed animals around.  It can be interesting, but it is kind of fun sometimes.  She is adorable!

After dinner, I wash and clean up the food.  If I didn’t have veggies or meat ready for the next day, I will cook some up (told you, I am in the kitchen a LOT!)  If I have time, I will make lunch for the next day.  Hubby comes home, and sometimes I will hide in the kitchen with my kindle for a bit of reading or watching business videos.  He’ll play with the girls, and then I’ll get some playing in as well if I can.  I try to play when M and E first come home, but it just depends upon the day.  Anyway, then I make sure E’s homework has been done, and if M wants more water, we switch to the straw cup.  M loves to show off her cup drinking!  We start winding down for the night, brush and floss teeth (as well as mine) and get all of the toys put away.  Hubby gets M changed into overnights and her pajamas, and I make sure we all have done what we need to before bed.  Hubby gets M to bed and I get E a book and off to bed as well.  It is then lights out for me and E as I am exhausted by the end of the day.  Then we are up at around 7 the next day.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

I am hoping that I can get M into some ABA therapy in order to help her with lots of skills that not only I and the school are working on, but also some new skills.  I had other therapies I tried to implement, like MNRI, but it was hard to implement along with GAPS.  Maybe one day i will be able to integrate that back into our lives again as I think it will be very important in the long run.  But right now, I just can’t do it.  Too much going on at this point.  And that’s the unfortunate thing about reality.  We can’t do it all.

 

How Is Your Mindset?

If you read yesterday’s (or rather a couple of day’s ago) post, you saw that I have not been very motivated.  Honestly, it’s been a slump in all areas of life.  I have been seeing this huge mountain of things that I want to do and plan to do, and it has all just kind of overwhelmed me.  I have been binge watching shows and just kind of retreated into inactivity.  The only plus side is that I actually got a couple of workouts in last week, but I had to modify the last one as nausea got me…..did a little too much.

Then yesterday, I actually listened to the first video in a series by Todd Herman.  He talks about achieving goals in 90 days, how this is the timeframe that allows that motivation to stay alive and move us.  But the first thing he discusses is what I have been having serious issues with, along with some spiritual baggage, and the two have been holding me down.  He says people have either the OW brain or the WOW brain.  It is a mindset when faced with challenges before us.  I am officially an OW brain when it comes to quite a few areas in my life.  It is a mindset of comparison, of looking at how far we have to go to achieve what we want.  It is judgmental and negative, and when we focus on challenges and setbacks this way, it pulls us into inertial.  Boy, when I listened to that video, I knew that this is what has been happening to me.  I need to learn to switch to a WOW mindset.

The WOW mindset looks at how far you have come, you compare backwards.  It takes setbacks and makes them something to learn from and to grow.  The challenge, the journey is a motivation unto itself.  Each forward gain makes you motivated to do more and go further.  It is more forgiving and not so judgmental.  It does not compare with others.

So while each of the mindsets starts off with goals and progress, how one looks at the current state when you get to a certain point will determine whether you move forward and keep progressing or whether or not you move back in despair.  I have been moving back and not appreciating the goals I HAVE made and letting those feed me.  I think this is an area that I have to really pay attention to as it can make or break me in so many areas of my life.

Of course, this is not the only area.  Frankly, I bite off more than I can chew, and I have many areas in life that I need to attend to.  I  want to work on so many things at once (multitasking, another area that this video delves into), but it isn’t a good idea to do so as it will make me spin my wheels.  This and some spiritual baggage that I need to talk to God about, these are the things that must be put into the forefront.  Something has to change so that this blog, my business, my daughter’s healing, and my faith can blossom and thrive.

I encourage you to take a listen.  I mean granted, this is also going to be a plug for a product, but I am finding a lot of worthwhile gems.  Have a listen and see what mindset you’ve been living in!

Traditional Food Cheats

I have been doing traditional foods for a while now with my kids.  What that means is that we are eating in ways that people had been eating prior to the advent of processed foods.  There are TONS of recipes for things like bone broth/meat stock, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha, and others like rendering lard.   Of course, in a pinch, you can find these things online or in the store.  However my family goes through a lot of these things quickly, and it can get expensive.   But at the same time, making traditional food can be time consuming.  So I have begun to find shortcuts to making some of these things so that I don’t have to spend my entire day in the kitchen.  I will share how I make lard, kombucha and bone broth.

The one thing I make a lot is broth.  It is full of minerals and nutrients that our bodies require, plus the gelatin in broth is wonderful for healing the gut lining.  I am sure that the way I make it isn’t perfect, but it works for us.  You’ll need some bones with meat on them, cartilaginous ones, marrow bones, knuckle bones, neck bones, oxtail or split calves heels.  Alternatively, you can do several whole chicken carcasses from roasting a chicken along with a couple of chicken feet if you can get them.

Just cover the bones in a stock pot or crock pot (we do the crock pot) with clean filtered water and add a splash of apple cider vinegar.  You can add veggie scraps like carrots, celery, garlic, onion if you wish to make it more flavorful.  If you are just using it as a base for a soup that will have herbs added, you can do without.  Set it to simmer, and after about an hour, just scrape the funk off the top of the broth.  Let it go at least 2 and a half to three hours.  I let my broth go overnight (in the crock pot, not on the stove.  No fires allowed!)  to extract as many minerals as I can.  Some people say you can reuse the bones a couple of times if the bones are not chicken.  Chicken bones break down more quickly.  In any case, when your broth is done, strain it through a strainer with cheesecloth into jars.  You can even freeze the broth into cubes if you just want to add small amounts to your cooking.  Cool and refrigerate or freeze.

Now if you want to hear a very lazy way to do this, you can cook a whole chicken in the crock pot.  Put the bird in the pot and fill with filtered water about halfway up the chicken.  Add that splash of apple cider vinegar (like 1/4 cup) and season your bird how you like.  I roast it on low overnight, and in the morning, I turn it off.  Let it cool down a little and then take the bird and bones out and strain the broth.  It gels really well for me this way and it tastes delicious.  This is my favorite way to do it.  Get a pastured bird, cook it, and you have plenty of meat and broth.  I will freeze that carcass and do this enough times to get a few carcasses to make broth.  Of couse, you can mix together different types of bones, I just prefer the chicken broth.

Lard is my next easy task.  You can buy it at Fatworks, but it can be expensive, however it is very clean and pastured, which is how you want all of your fats to be (fat is where toxic pesticides and other chemicals reside.) Lard is amazing!  It is a monounsaturated fat like olive oil.  It’s more amenable to slightly higher temperatures, and you can bake with it.  Lard contains Vitamin D which is great for your immune system.   If you can get access to pork leaf fat from a farmer/farm-co op, you can render your own.  It comes in a sealed pack and is like a long intestine-shaped rope of fat.  You open it up and cut off any skin or meat that you find (though I have to say that I have skipped this step myself unless it is really obvious.)  Chop up the fat into chunks (some say 1/2″ cubes, but again, I have just done larger chunks to save time) and put into a deeper heavier bottomed pot.  Put in about 1/2 a cup of filtered water and turn to low flame.  You can also do this in the crock pot on low temperature.  I then occasionally stir it as the non fat portions sink to the bottom.  I have read that when all of those solids are on the bottom, that it is ready.  However I have personally drained out the fat that melted and continued to let the other solids melt down more as it seems to yield more fat that I thought.  That may or may not be correct, but it has never been harmful.  You can eat the solids, but I don’t.  Strain through cheesecloth into jars and let cool.  It will look yellowish while warm, but it will turn milky white.  If it smells a little piggy, that’s still okay to use.  You might want to use that for more savory dishes instead of baking with it.  The last time I did it, I was able to get about 40 ounces of lard for $8.  That is a steep decrease in price from when you purchase it online.  And it is stupid easy,especially how I make it.

As for Kombucha, I have to say that I learned how to both grow my own kombucha “mother” (scoby) and brew it at this site.  In fact, I am going to grow new ones as my scobies have gotten pretty old.  So I will be referring back to this site myself this weekend.  I will leave that link up for those who do not wish to purchase their scobies.  It was easy, take it from me, the lady who can’t make sauerkraut, which is also a ferment, to save her life!  But I will tell you how I reduce time to make kombucha.

Once you have your mother, set it aside.  Put a pot of about four cups of water (though it doesn’t matter really how much) on the stove.  Get that sucker to boiling and then turn it off.  Pour in 1 1/4 cup of organic sugar (regular is probably made from sugar beets, which are genetically modified….yuck!) and stir with a METAL spoon.   Get six bags of black tea (get a nice quality one that is organic if you can, though I have done conventional Lipton) and steep them in that water.  Go about your business for the day, and then come back to check it later.  If it is room temperature, go ahead and put that tea into a gallon jar and fill most of the way up with filtered water and stir.   (Leave room for your starter/original flavored kombucha that I will mention.) Put your scoby into the jar along with the starter that it was stored in.   If you don’t have any, you can buy a bottle of regular Kombucha (not flavored…get original flavor) and add that into the gallon jar.  Cover with a kitchen towel and store in a darker place.  If it’s hotter in the room, it will brew faster.  It can take anywhere from 10-21 days to brew depending upon if you want it sweeter or more vinegary.  You can dip a straw into the brew for a sample, place your finger on the top of the straw, and then take it out to taste from the bottom end of the straw.  That way you can get it how you like it.  Kombucha mothers grow “babies” ( they look like pancakes), which you can use to make more kombucha.  Store in a container in the fridge with enough brew to cover it and feed it.

I hope that these little cheats have been helpful to you.  They have made traditional eating much simpler for our family….and my kiddo loves her kombucha.  Lots of probiotics in that one!  And eggs in lard are divine!  Give it a try and see what you think!

Not Feeling It Today

Yup!  I admit it.  Today is a day where I did nothing but binge watch the first season of Once Upon a Time.  I also have to admit that I have done it once another time this last week.  It’s been forEVER since I’ve sat and watched anything that has not been either health or business related.  I have to admit it felt good.

I checked back to see how many days I have missed for this 30 day challenge, thinking it was three.  I now know that it’s been five.  Yikes!  Five.  I fully intend upon catching up either by doubling up posts in a day or by extending the challenge for myself.  However I will do it, it will be done.  But I am feeling quite guilty.  Honestly, thinking of topics has been a little difficult, and I am balking at doing the blog posts where I have to research.  It might be burnout from the 9 months and years of studying or it could be insecurity.

The reason I say insecurity is because while for years, I have been passionate about holistic health and nutrition, I find that lately I have felt like I want to back away from it a little bit.  One reason is that I see so many others who know sooooo much more than I do, and I ask myself “What in God’s creation makes me think that I have anything to offer?!”  I am sitting here struggling to remember the basic facts from my certification and others are just running rings around me.  I did something like this back when I was about to graduate from university.

I was an Anthropology major and had previously attended a two year college working my way through as a full time student and full time worker.  It took four years to get my associates degree because I had to work at the same time.  The deal with Dad was that I pay for the first two years and he’d pay for the last two.  So I did my part of the deal and finally got to university.   At the end of the sixth year when I was nearing getting my Bachelors, my advisor told me that I had more credits that I had to fill before I could graduate.  I thought I had finished, and here I was being told that I had more to do.  Thankfully one intensive Japanese class filled the requirements, so I was able to graduate.  But then I got another blow.  The advisor told me that because I did not do senior thesis or any other special programs throughout the summers or the years that I would have to go back to school six months to a year as a non-degree candidate in order to be able to enter Grad school.  I was devastated.  Here I was thinking that working (and yes, I was still working during my last two years so I could pay some bills) through school was of some value.  But it wasn’t according to my advisor.  I don’t know if it was because of this or a culmination of things including homesickness, but I felt like I couldn’t hold a candle to the other Anthro majors.  I felt like I was a fraud and that I wasn’t worthy.  So I graduated and left school.

Here I am facing this again.  Is it burnout, insecurity, or is it a combination of things?  All I know is, I have to figure this out so that if I do go on to open up a business, I do it for the right reasons, with the right heart and with the confidence to do big things.  Maybe this blog will help me find out.

But He Won’t Eat That

This is the one thing that I think most of us are terrified of….that our kids won’t eat the foods we provide.  It was certainly one of my biggest concerns when I changed M’s diet.  Interestingly enough, over time I have found that M gave me less trouble than did my youngest.   I am still working on E to accept more vegetables than she does.  It is a process, and we have not yet arrived, though we have made progress.

As parents, the whole idea of nourishing our kids gives us great amounts of stress.  We are so worried when it comes to feeding them.  We beg, cajole, and plead with them to eat one more bite of broccoli, to have some meat, to not eat five plates of buttered noodles.  It terrifies us, and we end up doing lots of maladaptive things to get them to eat what we want them to eat or to just get them to eat, period.  Bribing, forcing them to eat everything on their plates, threats of no dessert, all of these things do not end up teaching our kids to eat.  They DO calm us, though, but usually they don’t work as techniques for too long.  I was one of those who had to finish their plates before leaving the dinner table, and I can tell you that this technique did not make me enjoy my broccoli one tiny bit!

I have come across quite a few resources for feeding picky kids, and I will link those in this blog post.  However I can give you a few tips for introducing and teaching your kids to eat healthfully.

Bring the kids into the “kitchen” with you, whether it is to cook the food, grow the vegetables in your own garden, or go to the grocery store or farmer’s market.  let them see where the food comes from and get familiar with the foods.  If they help you cook, they are getting introduced to the many types of foods available and become accustomed to them.  Have them choose which vegetables and fruits they want when they go to the store.  If you are at an ethnic mart and you see something that you have never even heard of, go ahead and buy it to take home and try.   We have done that here, and it can be a culinary adventure!  Just make sure you use it, because I don’t know how many times I have taken something home only to not use it and have to throw it out.

One very helpful thing I learned was to make sure that your child is hungry.  If your child is constantly snacking, they will not be very hungry.  I don’t know about you, but if you are not hungry foods don’t look that appealing.  But when you are starving, you could almost literally hunt down your own food!  The crappiest cook’s food might smell absolutely scrumptious.  So make sure to leave enough time between meals and snacks, and one recommendation in one of the books that I read suggested that your child eat in certain eating zones.  So while they are not hard and fast times, they are ranges of time within which your child can eat.  So breakfast can be between 7 and 8:30, snack from 9:30-11:00 and lunch from 12-1:30 for example.  That way, if your child skips a meal because they don’t like what you served, they can eat the next meal at a slightly earlier time in the next eating zone.  You are able to adjust so that while they have missed a snack that they didn’t like, you are not making them wait until the later eating time.  In our example, they can eat at 12 instead of 1 or 1:30.  This kind of reinforces that you are sticking to your guns but at the same time, you are not forcing them to be too uncomfortable for too long.  Its’ a win-win for you both.

When you do sit down to a meal, make it a pleasant affair.  Don’t critique your child’s eating, either good or bad.  If your child eats a bite of meat and he hates meat, don’t make a big deal out of it.  I know you’ll want to shout it from the rooftops, but don’t.  Eating is just something we do, and we don’t want to create an atmosphere of control around eating.  So just be casual and keep all anxiety away from the dinner table.  Make eating a non issue.  Offer a nibble of everything, or just place the food on the table and let everyone serve themselves.  The other recommendation is to not make food a reward or punishment for behavior.  We have probably all said that you can’t get dessert unless you eat your veggies, but it is not really a good idea to do that.

Having said that, there are special circumstances where some kids need an ABA approach which involves positive reinforcement such as a preferred item coupled with a non preferred item.  This can help some children learn to eat the new foods, especially in a situation where the child MUST change their diets drastically for health reasons.  Another technique is to slowly introduce a food to the child by having it incrementally enter the child’s surroundings.  So it might just be on the table in front of the child for a while.  Then the child might accept the food on their plate and so on until the child finally puts it into his or her mouth.  Yet another technique to help a child learn to eat certain foods is called Food Chaining.  That involves looking at what a child likes about certain foods and bridging those traits with things the child doesn’t.  For example, if your child only eats chicken nuggets and breaded foods but won’t eat fish, you could try to make a breaded fish stick.  If the child only likes potato chips, you can try making sweet potato chips or go for dehydrated apple to get her to eat the apple.

If your child is having severe feeding issues, of course you will want to get your child evaluated by a speech pathologist, occupational therapist or a feeding clinic in order to find out the best course of treatment for your child.  Otherwise, if the situation is not this severe, there are good resources for you.  Some books that I’ve read have been very helpful

Picky Eating Solutions by Betsy Hicks
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
War and Peas by Jo Cormack
Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natsha Campbell-McBride

Here are a couple of other links to blogs I enjoy which deal with sensory issues and picky eating.  The first link is for the GAPS diet, but she explains some of the issues behind picky eating.  So even if your child does not do GAPS, you can see some of what she did to get her child to eat and what physiological issues were preventing her child from eating well.  Another blog is Wellness Mama, and she has some ideas for what worked for her children.

I hope these have been helpful for you.  Just hang in there, Mom, and know that we cannot control everything.  We can only guide our kids.  Just do your best, say some prayers, and try to stay calm.  If this is any consolation, I was extremely picky, but once I got older, I realized that I was the only one eating that way and now I eat it all.  And they will too….one day.

Fat Is Your Child’s Friend

I was listening to something the other day which had to do with children’s nutrition.  It was the description of a healthy meal, and in the description, the recommendation was of low fat milk.  That got me to thinking about my child’s school’s lunches and how they offer reduced fat cheese and reduced fat milk and chocolate milk.  And THAT got me to thinking about how many meals and snacks a day they recommend.  Three meals and two or three snacks.  That is a LOT of food.  After being Paleo for a few years, I realize how different it is with my youngest and I.  We eat when we are hungry, but when it is the weekend and we can eat what and how much we want, we can go for two meals and a snack.  When I began lifting weights, I had to eat more than that to make sure that I had enough food for rebuilding muscle, but honestly, I wasn’t “hangry,” just was ready to eat.  It wasn’t that way when I was eating lots of breads and lower fat foods.

I think we’ve taken a really wrong turn, here.  Our bodies need fats, yet here we are eating all of these low fat foods.  Our kids are eating these foods, yet they are getting bigger and sicker, have more emotional and developmental issues and are just not as healthy as past generations were.  They are not providing our kids with the fats their bodies require.

Fats are not just something that need to be avoided in order to lose weight.  They provide many functions to the human body.  Some of these are the following:

They are building blocks for cell membranes as well as hormones.
They function as protection for the organs
They are needed for absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.Fats are required for the use of proteins.
They provide a source of energy and are the preferred source of energy for the heart.
Fats slow the absorption of food for energy regulation.
Fats make food taste good and provide satiety.
Fight inflammation

Our bodies need different kinds of fats: saturates, monounsaturates and polyunsaturates.  Even though foods tend to fall into main categories, a food can be made up of many types of fat.  These are the Classifications of fats:

Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are non-essential, meaning the body can make them from carbohydrates.  They are highly stable and don’t easily go rancid and are solid or semi-solid at room temperature.  Saturated fats are found in animal fats, coconut oil and palm oil.  They can be cooked at higher heat.

Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturates
are also non-essential because the body can make them from saturated fats.  They are relatively stable, and they don’t go rancid  easily.  However unlike saturated fats, the are liquid at room temperature. Monounsaturates are found in olive oil and avocados, but they are also in some nuts as well.  You can cook with these at lower temperatures, but they are best unheated.  There has been some back and forth on olive oil in terms of cooking.  Here is one take on it.

Polyunsaturated Fats
Polyunsaturates are essential fatty acids.  We have to get them from our diet.  The two that are most often discussed are Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) and Alpha-Linoleic Acid (Omega 3).  They are very unstable and go rancid easily.  They are liquid at room temperature and you should NEVER heat them.  These are found in flax, nuts and seeds (like chia and hemp,) and fish.  You also find Omega 3’s in pastured meats and eggs because the animals grazed on grasses.

There are several problems with reduced to no fat foods.  One is that we need them.  They are key building blocks for the cell membrane.  Healthy cell membranes let nutrients in and toxic waste materials out.  They are flexible and not stiff.  Meanwhile, fats help us absorb and utilize fat soluble vitamins  A, D, E, and K.   These are crucial for health.  For example, Vitamin D is very important for proper immune function and for bone health.  Many hormones are built from fats, and hormones are involved in virtually every system of the body involved in homeostasis.

Fats help to slow the absorption of food so we don’t get blood sugar spikes.  You know one when you see one……every time your child has a sweet treat and you have to scrape them off the ceiling (and then later drag them off the couch), that’s the spike.  Without fats, your child will also be hungrier more often as carbohydrates are burned very quickly.  Meanwhile, with the removal of fats from processed foods and even yogurts and milk, the manufacturer adds sugar to the foods in order to make them more palatable.  As a result, you add more sugar to your child’s diet creating more blood sugar imbalances.  A diet full of sugar contributes to childhood obesity in a very profound way, starting with these blood sugar imbalances which affect insulin production and so on.  Ultimately, the adrenals end up getting affected which influences all of the other hormones.  It’s a terrible cascade towards disease (more on that in another post.)

Of course, putting fat in your child’s diet will not solve all of the health issues in the world, but you can see how important it is for their health.  The fats you should add to your child’s diet might shock you.  Are you ready?  For cooking and baking, use pastured duck fat, butter, ghee, pastured lard, even coconut oil.  Use olive oil (can use in low heat), sesame oil, avocado oil, some nut oils (for cold purposes only and in moderation) and cold expeller pressed walnut, hemp and flax oils.  You can do ground flax, fresh wildcaught fish from around Iceland,South Pacific (think New Zealand) and Southern Atlantic (for fish not contaminated by Fukushima radiation.)  Try to aim for 1:1 (and some say 1:4) ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6.  The Omega 3’s are the flax, walnut, hemp, and wildcaught fish as well as the pastured eggs and meat I mentioned before.  The Omega 6’s are in the nut and seed oils.  Again, foods are a mixture of different kinds of fat classifications, but they are generally a majority of one type or other.

The last thing i would like to mention for now is that you must avoid the following fats in your child’s diet:  Hydrogenated fats, partially-hydrogenated fats, highly processed vegetable oils (think soybean, cottonseed and canola….yes canola is a no-no), and fried fats.  These are trans fats at the end of the day because of the hydration process and trans fats don’t occur for the most part except in the lab (there are a few trans fats in nature, but they are very rare).  These fats take the place of healthy fats in the body , including the cell membrane.  Think of it like this.  Imagine The Three Stooges impersonating guards (Yes, I just dated myself!)  They are wearing the uniform and standing in the same place as the real guards, but as you know, the Stooges are completely incompetent and don’t do anything a guard should do.  That’s what happens when the trans fats take the place of the real fats in the cell membrane.  They are completely incapable of properly functioning like healthy fats and cause disturbances in the body that set you up for disease.

I hope this was helpful, but I would like to set you up with The Paleo Mom’s link to get you more information on fats.  She is a scientist and a mom and knows her stuff.  It is a really fascinating topic and there is so much to learn about the topic.  If you enjoy reading, then check out  Know Your Fats by Mary Enig.  She is THE authority on fats.

Until tomorrow, my friends.  Enjoy some grass fed butter on your veggies!