April 30, 2012

Kira's First Tooth - Early

This past week, I've felt a little bit out of touch. With family. With friends. With me. And there's nothing like a humility trip to bring me into focus, all the while attempting to pull my foot out of my mouth.

The culmination of events happened on Sunday when Tymon asked me, "Did you know Kira has a tooth coming in?" As in, I put my finger in her mouth and felt it. It's already cut through. And I had no idea. It's not like I nurse her several times a day and would know stuff like that. Oh wait! Yes, I do. How did my baby's first tooth escape me??? Maybe because our children usually get teeth when they are about a year old. Kira's a couple months early. But I'm just making excuses now...

Kira's had a rash on her body/legs. I thought it was something I ate (dairy). Possibly a laundry detergent reaction. But now the scabs look more like chicken pox. A friend at church asked about it. I'm wondering if I should get a titer done at her next well-child visit to see if she's immune to it. What if she had some major childhood illness and I totally didn't know? Luckily, Kira's too young and uncoordinated to scratch an itchy rash.

I thought her fever, diarrhea vomiting and inability to hold her head up Friday night was a result of the lavender oil I put on her. Now I'm wondering about that. What if she has some infectious disease? Or my wish to attend a chicken pox party earlier this month came about unbeknownst to me? If so, this is the sweetest case I've ever seen.

April 23, 2012

My Father's Diet: Whole Grain Hot Cereal

Dad liked to grind his own wheat for hot cereal on Saturday mornings. We ate it. But I wouldn't call it my favorite. It was pretty wheaty tasting. Duh. I have no idea what we expected it to taste like when the only ingredients are water, wheat and some salt.

Mush, Daddy! Mush!
Mush, Daddy! Mush!
Mush, Daddy! Mush!
Mush, Daddy! Mush!

My father always chanted this verse in a sing-song voice when he was making hot cereal. He sung as if we were demanding he give us some right now. Like the "bring us some figgy pudding" line in the We Wish You A Merry Christmas song.We weren't buying in to the hype. But you can't blame a dad for trying. Nor a mom for that matter. I play the same trick on my kids...except my song goes something like this:

Oaty oaty oatmeal
Such a treat!
Oaty oaty oatmeal
Can't be beat!

I'll tell you something else. I haven't told my kids that normal people put sugar or honey in their oatmeal and hot cereal. Ha ha ha. And guess what? They like the taste of grain by itself. They think it's plenty sweet, especially when I add cinnamon and raisins or other fruit. If you're super observant, you'll notice Tymon sneaking off to the pantry to add some brown sugar or honey. Luckily the kids are too busy singing about loving oaty oaty oatmeal to see what's going on behind the scenes.

I've been thinking about grains for years but just recently I decided to put my money where my heart was and reorganized my pantry with organic whole grains. I love these bins and how they've enabled me to easily access grains.
Lock & Lock 50 cup storage containers.
On Friday, I took my grinder to school and taught a class of 3rd graders about whole grains. Wow, they were into it and loved my four whole grain samples (popcorn, barley pancakes, spelt muffins and multi-grain wheat bread). It turns out that Graeden's teacher also bakes her own bread as well as one classmate's mother. We're not alone. Yes!

My lesson was basically talking about the anatomy of grain, the function of the three parts and what vitamins and nutrients they contain. We briefly talked about commercial milling and stripping nutrients out of flour. One student brought up bleaching in combination with, "Bleh. That's like eating laundry detergent!" I love how kids can really condense an argument to it's most basic point. Bleached and white flours are not good for us.

We also talked about enriched grains adding back in a handful of vitamins and then whole grain flours. I found this Montana Wheat and Barley Committee resource excellent:

Bran - About 14% of the kernel weight. The bran is included in whole wheat flour and is also available separately. The bran contains a small amount of protein, large quantities of the three major B vitamins, trace minerals and dietary fiber -- primarily insoluble.

Endosperm - About 83% of the kernel weight and the source of white flour. The endosperm contains the greatest share of protein, carbohydrates and iron, as well as the major B-vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and iron. It is also a source of soluble fiber

Germ - About 2.5% of the kernel weight. The germ is the embryo or sprouting section of the seed, often separated from flour in milling because the fat content (10 percent) limits shelf life. The germ contains minimal quantities of high quality protein and a greater share of B-complex vitamins and trace minerals. Wheat germ can be purchased separately and is included in whole wheat flour.

My purpose with getting the vitamins and minerals out of whole grains is to fight cancer. It surprised me that these 8 and 9 year old kids were concerned about diabetes. I know how much adults talk about childhood diabetes, but I didn't realize how much children overhear. I do believe that kids won't rebel against whole grains as much as we think they will. When given an intellectual choice, they want to do what's right. I challenged them to request that their parents buy whole wheat flour at the store rather than white flour. I hope some will....I'm grateful my parents believed in the power of whole grains. Having seen their example made it a lot easier for me to branch out when I was ready.

Diet Challenge #2
Add one whole grain to your meal plans this week.

Best wishes to a healthier you. This is the third in a nutrition series.
Part Two: Lifestyle Change

April 22, 2012

A Man's Toy

There is a little bit of pressure living in our neighborhood to have a nice yard. We've never received a nasty-gram from the homeowner's association to take care of our weed infestation. But we could have. Our neighbors must either like us or feel sorry for us to not turn us in. A few times a year I go out and weed a little bit. Just so they know it's on my mind.

We haven't paid for any bark, mulch or soil (expensive dirt) in 3 years...and our neighbors do every year. I was talking to the guys working on the neighbors' yards and got a couple estimates on what it would cost to clean up our yard. We actually called one of the guy's to set up a time to come, but he didn't call back in a timely manner...and my self-inflicted pressure to get rid of our weeds got the best of me. I called the topsoil place and had them bring in a truckload (15 cubic yards) of garden mulch.

It's been sitting in our cul-de-sac for a week. Eek. Tymon worked all day yesterday moving it to various parts of the yard. Poor guy. His arms are like jelly. The pile is considerably smaller...but I'm sure it'll take him another several hours to move it to where it needs to go in the back yard ... and then we have to spread it. The front flower beds are almost done, though. And that's a relief. I get an allergy shot tomorrow and won't be able to work in the yard for a while.

We got a new toy for Tymon to mow the yard. He thought clearing the cul-de-sac was more important than mowing the lawn so I decided that I'd do it. What's funny is that it's a manual transmission and I jerk it around just like when I was learning to drive at 15. Yikes!

I took one circle around the back yard before he came to tell me something. He forgot what that was and wanted to try out the mower. Yeah. He wouldn't let me back on. He loved it that much. Sweet. The two hour job took 15 minutes and Elliott got a ride. I think our boys are going to love this tool in a few years.

April 16, 2012

My Father's Diet: Lifestyle Change

Little did we realize that the crazy Thanksgiving dinner would be just the beginning. Have you ever heard of Dr. Udo Erasmus? Me neither...until my father came home and went through the fridge and threw out all of the margarine. Udo asserts in his book Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill that contrary to the media reports not all fat is bad. Some of it is good. In fact, our bodies need fat to rebuild cell walls. Unfortunately, bad fats are the most common fats in our diet. Some of them used to be good fats that were processed and lost their nutritional value. Others were chemically extracted, which makes a cheap fat that would have a long shelf life. Udo's main idea revolves around eating the good fats and leaving the bad fats behind.

Not only did my father throw out all of the margarine in the house, but he also got rid of my mom's Imo (imitation sour cream) and shortening. It is important to understand that for my frugal father whose childhood began with food rationing during World War II, this act was a big deal. He was literally throwing away good food. However, the good in this good food only refers to its shelf life.

As a child, I used to like to hear about my dad being a boy, too. In the early 1940's, my grandmother would take him shopping and put him in the cart with the groceries. To keep his hands busy she would buy oleo margarine (butter was rationed). At that time it was against the law to sell it in a form that looked like butter, so it came in a plastic pouch with a bit of yellow food dye in it. My father would squish that coloring around until the oleo turned a uniform yellow color. Young Bridget thought it would be cool to squish around margarine. Mother of six Bridget thinks it's wild that there was ever a time when it was illegal for food companies to pass off their imitations as the real deal.

I used to think it would be more expensive to buy real foods than their imitation counterparts. But this isn't really the case. A shift in product usage also occurs. If you make half as many batches of cookies because butter is twice as expensive than margarine, then your food budget doesn't increase. However, considering all of the chocolate chips that you aren't buying, you're actually saving money when you buy butter over margarine. I haven't purchased margarine or shortening in twenty years and no canola, corn, soybean oils in ten. Though I spend more on good fats than I used to, I also spend less on food since I'm also making a lot of meals from scratch.

If you think about it, corn isn't oily. So where does corn oil come from? It can be 100% expeller pressed...but that costs a lot and has a very little yield. So to make it economically viable, they refine it by chemically extract the oil out of it (extraction done with hexane, a significant constituent of gasoline - bleh). Then they remove the phospholipids (nutrients), bleach it, winterize it (sounds like what we do to our pipes each year) and finally deodorizing it. I don't know about you, but that sounds like any health benefit that corn oil did have is long gone by the time the refiners are done with it.

Canola and soybean oils are derived from chemical extraction (hexane), as well. There is something fundamentally wrong with creating oil for human consumption in a laboratory. If a cooking oil has to be chemically extracted and refined to become palatable, it seems like a toxin in disguise.

So what do I use to cook with? I started out using just olive oil and butter. Just last year, I added coconut oil to that mix. My father also uses bacon fat. I don't really eat bacon very often, but have used it, too.

Whenever I make a diet change, it's small and doable and it's pretty permanent. Think lifestyle change. I'm never even tempted to buy a cheap oil anymore. I am way more concerned with health than saving a few dollars on chemically extracted vegetable oils. That said, I don't stress about eating the oils in restaurants, at potlucks or at a friend's house. I'm more concerned with the fats I put into my diet on a daily basis at home. That way my body is healthy enough to combat the minimal garbage I consume when out and about.

Diet Challenge #1

Step One: Toss any chemically extracted fats in your home. This includes margarine, corn, canola, and soybean oil as well as any others that have been refined. Don't think about what you might be "wasting". Think about the healing powers of better fats.

Step Two: Keep anything natural such as butter or lard (animal products) and olive or coconut oil. Then buy healthy oils that have been minimally processed. That means it should be expeller pressed  (raw materials are squeezed under high pressure in a single step)

Best wishes for a healthier you! This is the second in a nutrition series. Click here for the first part My Father's Diet: Building Awareness.

April 13, 2012

Picnic Dinner

We enjoyed a picnic dinner at the park this evening. We've got to take advantage of the weather when it's nice out. 

 Kira's got such a sweet smile...but didn't quite know what to make of the swing. She didn't cry, but was very startled when it started moving.

The boys loved the tree. It had so many branches.

 Jett started calling for me...don't judge because I took a photo. He only dropped 3 feet.

Tymon and I saw the Hunger Games after our picnic. Wow. That was intense. And the swiftness of the camera and zooming in and out of focus made me sick a little. It also stirred up in me my freedom loving and rebellious spirit. Those people need to stand up for themselves. I'm sure this feeling would have been stronger had I read the book. But I haven't. I started reading it and fell asleep after two pages. That happened twice. So I didn't pick it up again. I'm glad there was a movie made.  Now I know what the hype's been about.

April 11, 2012

My Father's Diet: Building Awareness

My Father's Diet kicks off a nutrition series and highlights the beginnings of my journey to feed myself and my family better.

Growing up, my father never seemed particularly fashionable, but when it came to diet fads, he was the king. He would try a diet for a few weeks, lose several pounds, plateau on weight loss and quit. Then a new diet would take it's place. I never really participated in a diet by choice. However, as a kid, I ate whatever my mom made for dinner (all my purchasing power went to penny and nickle candy) so each fad did affect me somewhat.

The only diet I know by name is Atkins. This meat and dairy medley mixed with lots of fat was one of my dad's favorites. He'd do it every year for a month at a time. I don't know if it was meeting his weight loss goal or my complaints about his bad breath that got him to quit. Maybe my insistence that fruits, vegetables and grains are divinely appointed for the use of man is what finally changed his mind. I don't know. What I do know is that as the weight crept back, the fastest way to take it off again was Atkins.

There were others, too. My favorite diet to hate was the one that restricted which foods you could eat in combination with others. You had to drink water an hour before meals...so you didn't dilute digestive juices at meal times. Fruits should be eaten a half hour before other foods because you can digest them faster than other foods and you don't want to mix those things. Vegetables should be separate from meat.  Gravy was not allowed. It brings a tear to my eye remembering naked mashed potatoes. But whatever. I'm over it.

We could handle the restrictions on regular days. But shouldn't we draw the line at Thanksgiving? No one should be on a diet when we have a huge family get-together. No matter how much my siblings and I begged them not to, that year, the parents declined our invitation to attend the Great Family Feast.

Instead of going to my cousin's, my mother prepared us a simple meal at home...toasted French bread and cheese fondue. Just the six of us. We drank water an hour before the main meal. And set the timer to make sure it was exactly an hour.

After dinner we went bowling. Yes, you read that right. Bowling. On Thanksgiving. Who does that? We could have spent a fantastic day playing with our cousins and forging family bonds. But instead we were all by ourselves rolling gutter balls and getting excited at our high scores of 65 and 70. Don't get me wrong. It was fun. Just a little unconventional.

Sometime after we got home my brothers (aged 10 and 15) went missing. I'm not sure what was more terrible ... thinking that they had been kidnapped ... or my mother calling her sister and finding out that my brothers were there. I'm sure my older brother was hoping he wouldn't be pulled over driving without a license. It was only two miles to my cousin's house. And then they could get dinner. He was afraid of being caught by the wrong people. Parents can be lots more frightening than police. Ha ha ha.

Stay tuned for My Father's Diet: Lifestyle Change, the next installment in this nutrition series.

April 8, 2012

He Is Risen

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)

Yesterday, the treasure our family and friends were interested in happened to be candy and prizes...and in each other's company. We did an Easter egg hunt in the woods behind our house. The sun was shining and the woods were dry. Leaves crackled under our feet. It was so much fun to be out there poking around in stumps and behind rocks looking for eggs. My favorite mental image is of Jocelyn picking up a stick so she could poke at an egg balanced on a tree limb. She knocked it down and then excitedly put it in her bag. 

I've been wondering about why we do egg hunts at Easter time. Sure they symbolize re-birth and each new life is a treasure. But how does Christ and the Resurrection fit in? Wikipedia shares some interesting tidbits...like Easter eggs were dyed red to symbolize the death of Christ. I wonder if we hide eggs to symbolize that we, too, must find Christ...sometimes the search is easy. Sometimes it's a little more difficult to grasp gospel truths.

The resurrection is one truth I cling to. It's the real treasure. Some are excited to have a perfected body at the resurrection. I don't really care about that. I'm more looking forward to hugging my little boy. It's been a long time. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to live beyond the grave. God is good.

If you haven't seen it yet, watch this Easter video, "He Is Risen".

Design by April Showers