Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hazards of Good Food!

I'm typing at a snail's pace (ugh) with just my left hand.  Why??  Because of how hazardous the food prep in this new food plan has become!  What with all the veggies to chop a momma can get quite lax about the extreme sharpness of the blade with which she is working and take off a thumbtip in the process.


The worst part is that this is the SECOND time I've done this in the last 8 weeks - same chopper!  My tears (and holy cow did I cry this time - last time not so much even though it was deeper the first time) this time came not for the pain, but for the stupidity of not throwing out that doggone slicer the last time this happened.  That and the realiazation of just how much this injury slows down my work and adds to my sense of overwhelm. It took 4 weeks to heal almost fully from last time and was still pink when I dug into it today.

I DON'T have time for this! 

I have veggies to chop and kids to feed and laundry to fold and numerous others bits of life which require the use of one's right thumb.  Not to mention the additional work that DH has to do to keep us going until I can use the right hand again (took 2 full days last time before I could chop, cut, wash, cook, fold, dress kiddos without opening the wound up).  Poor, dear hubby! (Such a good, good man!)

At least this time the Spirit had the sense to remind me to call my in-laws who live down the road, one of whom is a doctor.  Not that I revelled in the idea of him poking and prodding my fresh wound and torturing me with alcohol (DH says thats what he always used on them growing up!).

You see.....I am a wimp.  Not just a wimp but the kind of wimp that cries at a paper cut and has to look away from needles.  And by the time dear father in-law got here, the thumb was clotted well into the gauze and I was practically biting my lip not to bawl as I peeled it off for him to examine.   And then I got woozy and he had to have me lay on the kitchen floor to clean and bandage it while I shook like a leaf.

Such.a.BABY! Could you have witnessed you would have been ROFL, I'm telling ya!!  :-o

Maybe if I would just listen to God telling me to slow down, I wouldn't have to be stopped in my tracts like this, huh? Like anything else that seems no good at all, there is always something good to come out of it.  I 'll let ya know when I figure it out for this situation - lol!!  Until then, I'll just type with my left hand, very, very slowly.....


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Does THAT Taste??

Wanted to post an update on our progress with the new food plan for this year based upon 'The Gut and Pyschology Syndrome' book (aka GAPS) and similar also to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  I've already posted our reasons for this venture here and here and our basic plan, here.  Many of you have seen frequent (and sometimes strange) posts on Face*Book (green burgers, duck, bone pate, etc.).  Stephanie at Keeper of the Home has also just started this and has done a better job of explaining it all here and here than I.

So far we have been in the Introduction to GAPS, which is a very restricted version on the full GAPS diet aimed at jumpstarting the gut-healing process with extremely digestible and well cooked foods, along with the addition of huge amounts of fats and bone broths.  In this period our diet consists mostly of water/broth cooked meats and veggies with lots of fats in soup form.  Each week we add a new food - slowly.
(Veggie soup w/ leftover roast duck)

We started by adding:
  • lactofermented veggies (real saurkraut, beet kvass, pickles, salsa)
  • avacado (not the best results - we'll try again later)
  • raw egg yolks in soups
  • eggs scrambled in large amounts of fat (we think all the eggs were producing dry skin and itching in Rae & Adam so we'll try adding them again later; I am desparate to be using eggs as they are so nutrtious, cheaper than meat, and great for baking)
  • nuts (soaked first and dried in the oven) - we are definitely overdoing these as they seem to be our only allowable snack right now.  I think they may reacting to these but plan on keeping them in.
  • raw veggies (lettuce, cucumber, carrot, salad so far)

And soon to be added:
  • cooked fruits
  • raw fruits
  • try the eggs again
  • try avocado again
  • ghee (clarified butter)
  • goat yogurt (can't wait!!!!)
  • goat and/or coconut milk kefir (very high in probiotics)
(Stuffed peppers ready for the oven - kids love these!)

So what does our daily menu look like around here, right now? Well, it may seem rather strange or bland to others but we are loving it and eating quite a few new (to us) things!

  • Pork sausages (from the farm) or homemade turkey sausage patties
  • Bone broth leftover from dinner with whatever veggies are left in it (sometimes we add more)
  • Jefferson and I and dh have 3 eggs fried in lard or coconut oil since we seem to handle them well enough
  • Probiotics

Morning snack (1 of these):
  • bone pate sometimes with carrot sticks for dipping
  • almond butter with carrot sticks
  • handful of soaked and dehydrated nuts or seeds
  • soft boiled egg (for myself)
  • cup/bowl of leftover broth
  • leftover sausages (although it is very, very rare that any are leftover as the kids eat like horses right now)
  • no fruit yet - not enough gut healing has ocurred yet to try these
  • beef jerky (no sugar or additives - got mine from the Leola Amish Market and proceeded to try to burn an eyeball out when I somehow got some of the black pepper in it!)
  • either chicken or beef bone broth in large pot (haven't braved the fishy broth yet)
  • tons of whatever veggies I have (turnips, cauliflower, brocolli, onion, carrot, spinach, squash, green beans, etc.) chopped into the pot
  • some type of meat (sausages, meatballs, beef roast cubed, chicken, duck, ground meat) cooked in pot before veggies go in
  • sometimes butternut or acorn squash mashed with coconut oil, smidge of honey, spices
  • dose of lactofermented veggie juice
  • salad with carrots, cucumber, soaked sunflower seeds, EV olive oil, raw apple cidar vinegar, Herbamare
  • roast chicken/duck/beef roast (onion, celery, sea salt, spices)
  • veggies (turnips, onions, shrooms are my fave) roasted in seasalt and lard
  • squash (if we didn't have it for lunch)
  • dose of lactofermented veggie juice
  • dose of cod liver oil
  • probiotics
(Duck bone broth - beautifully gelatinous!)
We are just now starting to step away from the soup, soup, soup stage to roasting and pancooking meats and sauteeing veggies.  But every meal still must have a cup of bone broth and lactofermented veggies as well as a ton of fat.  I spoon globs of it (tallow, lard, coconut oil but no butter yet) into every bowl/cup of broth for the kids and am trying out things like "fudge" made from coconut oil, honey, vanilla, and almond butter.  The kids love the 'zingy' salad and the 'zingy' fermented veggies and only struggle with disliking zucchini and mushrooms so far.  And although our guts aren't ready for such things every day, we can still have a GAPS friendly treat for special occasions, such as Reagan's birthday (almond brittle, date rolls, coconut macaroons, coconut cupcakes).
(Roast duck, roasted veggies in lard, butternut squash 'pancakes' - my favorite meal so far!)
After about 8 weeks, the results are not so easy to quantify.  The obvious is that the kids' (R, A, and L)eczema cleared up right away and all the poo (sorry but that's what we watch these days!) in the house except for Lincoln's is normal (this is the first time for this for Adam - ever!).  But another observation is that Adam has not caught a single virus since we started!  This is the child who has caught every bug that's come around since he was 11 months old!  He hasn't missed any school (nor complained about his sausage snacks in the face of Gold*fish) due to illness either.  His speech therapist has noticed a major jump in his speech progress as well as his social progress improvement at preschool.  Lincoln also seemed to burst forth with speech growth although he is still struggling with constipation (possibly due to leftover issue from his bouts with antibiotics).  I felt great for the first 3 weeks but now find myself to be tired and am wondering what's causing that.  I lost my last bit of baby weight (9lbs) and leveled out.  All the kids are full and satisfied with each meal and I often get a "thumbs up" from Adam (so stinkin' cute when he does that - usually comes with the words "totally awesome!").  Allergy season is starting up and in all of the nice days we've spent outside, we've only had to give Adam allergy eyedrops once.  Last year he was living on steroids just to keep his eyes from puffing closed! Of course, I'm hoping that this improvement will continue and get him through the worst of the pollen season yet to come.
(Happy kiddos reading, reading, reading!)
We still have a way to go, especially with Adam.  I am hoping to see their behaviors even out a little more as they adjust to the higher doses of probiotics ("die-off" of 'bad' bacteria can cause quite some yucky bouts of tantrums!).  I am more than ready to start adding some more foods in - especially those eggs!  The meat budget is killing me and I can't really use dairy, or eggs, or beans even to set it off.  I don't have enough room in both fridges for veggies to stretch 2 weeks and my farm runs have to be frequent also so my errands are increased around here.  Add that to the running and financial burden we are feeling from having Jefferson in away school and it's not so easy to make work. Can you say, "Holy pricey grass-fed beef, Batman!"  Where's my 99cent box O' macNcheese when I need it - lol!
I am glad however, that the kids and dh love the foods, that we live in Lancaster - a wonderful farmland full of good foods (and whole food eatin' peeps), that we are all feeling better from eating better, and that we aren't spending so much on eating out or snacks.  I feel great, even if tired, when I place a good hearty meal in front of the fam that I know is working to heal them instead of harming them.  I am thankful that we all enjoy the taste and are full with each meal.  There is no more stress from hearing a child tell me their tummy hurts after I feed them something processed!
I'll tell ya - it tastes great around here!!  God's leading has been fruitful (as usual)! Recipes and more photos to follow soon....

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Baby Book Entry for Lincoln

I could not resist blogging about our youngest, fattest toddler - Lincoln (aka "FatFat", "LumpLump", Lumpy Bear", "LubLub").  His baby book is in a sorry state (as is usually the case for babies who arrive anywhere after second place!) and I don't want to forget just how amazing he is at this age - 28 months!

He has always been mammoth a big boy and unlike Adam, kept his health and muscle and fat as he grew into toddlerhood.  He met his milestones and his silly, playful personality blossomed.  He loved to copy his older siblings and try to keep up with everything that they do.

But at 27months, we weren't really paying attention to his motor skills and the extent of his vocabulary was "Mahmoo", "Dahdoo", "car", and "star."  With the speech and motor and auditory processing delays we've seen in Adam (4) and the auditory and sensory processing delays in Reagan (7), I guess we just didn't think twice about fretting over where Lincoln would fall in his development.  We just expected to meet whateever needs he may have, as the Lord led us - just as with the others.

Just last month, however, we were surprised to see a huge jump in his development - namely his speech but also in other areas.  In just a few days of time he moved from starting with 1-word communication to using 3 words in a sentence!  We were shocked that he could sing many of the words to his favorite nursery rhymes.  He could ask for "want more nuts" or "need a coat" or "read a book."  He sings "Jesus Loves Me" with us already! All from nothing!  Obviously he had been quietly soaking up all the world's input around him.

We also noticed that he is able to do fine motor activities such as gripping crayons (something that Adam has only recently started doing) and playing with big brother's tiny Le*go sets.  He started using his sign language at the same time the words started coming out (we'd tried signs for the last 12 months since he wasn't talking, but to no avail!!). He doesn't fall down all the time or sit funny or turn his legs funny but runs as fast as he can after his siblings and piles on top of them.  He can climb in and out of crib on his own (again Adam could not so this surprised us) and turn door knobs to open them.  He will not be left behind and insists on doing everything that he can  by himself - zipping, feeding himself, putting on his shoes, page turning, playdough, coloring.  His independent nature amazes us - he is the most determined of the four for sure!

We've also noticed that he knows his colors and most of his shapes.  He seems to be learning them from the things that Adam works on (at home and at perschool) and from the tons of books that he insists on being read to him (thankfully Reagan loves to read to him too)!  Tonight as I was being silly with him at bedtime, I noticed that he could copy any face that I made at him - sad, mad, puckered lips, silly half opened mouth.  This seemed strange that he could actually do this!  Is this what 2yo's  are supposed to be able to do??  I don't recall these details from my others (certainly not Adam) since I don't write enough of it down nor can remember far enough back.  I would like to think that our new food plan helped to jumpstart this progress (Ms. Speech Therapist has seen a huge improvement in Adam as well), but I don't know - only that his speech showed up the week after we started the diet. Hmmmm...

Anyway, I just had to get these things down....before they slip away and out of my memory and into the chaos and noise and busyness of life.  The unique personality and development of our fourth little blessing just thrills me and reminds me of God's obvious work in our family!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wordless (Brainless) Wednesday

Will someone please tell me what made me think that THIS huge bowl of chopped veggies would fit into THAT small pot which is already filled with soup and meatballs???  Uhhh. No.  Go find me the huge stockpot please....


Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Tough Parts of Homeschooling...

No one could have prepared me for how difficult it is to teach your children while also managing the rest of life in the house. But the juggling of cooking, reading, training, teaching, cleaning, organizing, researching, etc. isn't what I'm finding to be the toughest part of teaching my children.

So far, I've found that getting them through their own frustration or learning blocks is so.very.hard

For example, when I sit to teach Reagan how to add 2-digit numbers for the fourth time and she starts crying the instant that she can't throw me an answer - this is when I struggle.  I think right away of how a 'professional' educator would know what to do - how to make her see the numbers more clearly.  I think of how if I could just keep my tone of voice more even it wouldn't trigger her emotions.  I think of how I shouldn't be, but truly am, irritated that another lesson is brought to a crawl by tears.  I wonder at how she got to thinking in the first place that my expectation is so sky high!  So many times, I've told her (as I see her tensing up or heading toward frustration) that school is about repetition, practice, learning by doing - and not about right answers....

And yet we sit.  Me staring out the opposite window and biting my lip and praying.  She crying and rubbing her eyes. Both of us waiting until her brain is functional again ("Crying shuts your brain down Rae. It just doesn't work right when you get upset") so we can salvage the lesson.  In the background, I hear a timer for something cooking/burning and/or the younger ones either screaming at each other or screaming in play or screaming about a boo-boo.  The phone rings and I hope that the message tells me that's it's not a pressing call of any sort so that it doesn't add to my mind's diversion.  I can not seem to help but feel the pressure of time, since there are so many other things as well as other little people that need my attention.

I am thankful that I am her mother.  That I know her heart and mind well.  That I don't have to believe the lies my enemy tells me about my own teaching ability.  I am thankful that this is not every day every lesson at Heritage Academy. I am thankful that I know her heart will be softer when she is finished crying.  I am thankful that I don't have to meet anyone's else's goal for her - only that of her own growth rate. I am thankful that I can tell when she's ready.

And as I sit and think on all that I'm thankful for, it seems but a moment when I feel tug on my sleeve and we hug and we start again with "I don't expect perfection, Reagan, only that you try and that you accept it when I correct you.  You don't need to cry - that makes lessons no fun.  Let's try again, okay?"

I am not always patient - definitely not.  But I know that Someone is trying to make me so with the tough parts of homeschooling...

[Monica over at Shine Again understands the tough parts as well - she practically wrote the words from my head in her latest post so I had to share it.]

Friday, March 5, 2010

Summer Reading Goal

I'll start by saying that I like to set high expectations. In my opinion, how can one hope to achieve much if the bar is set too low?  Now, I don't mean that lofty goals must all be met - certainly not.  That would make life unbearably stressful (like for we type A's!!).

I have pounded myself with guilt struggled with feeling like Jefferson (and even Reagan) has not had enough read-aloud time this year and would really like to improve on that, especially as the weather improves (while it was warm, we were getting 1/2 hour in after school on the swings and loving it!). This requires the 'lofty' goal that I stop treating the afternoon time like it's 'mine' and give it back to the kids instead (uhhmm - this will require more coffee people - more coffee!!)! With that said, here is my reading goal for Jefferson and Reagan from now through the end of summer. [Those in orange are to be read by Jefferson or Reagan]

Swift Rivers (Cornelia Meigs)
Robert Fulton - Boy Craftsman (Marguerite Henry)
George Washington Our First Leader (Augusta Stevenson)
Carry On Mr. Bowditch (Jean Lee Latham)
Meet Thomas Jefferson (Marvin Barrett)
Johnny Tremain (Esther Forbes)
Sarah, Plain and Tall (Patricia MacLachlan)
Justin Morgan Had a Horse (Marguerite Henry)
C. S. Lewis - Master Storyteller (YWAM Janet &Geoff Benge)
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain (Alice Dalgliesh)
The Sugar Creek Gang #14-24 (Paul Hutchens)
Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie)

I Wonder (Christian Light Reading to Learn Series #1)
Helping Hands (Christian Light Reading to Learn Series #2.1)
Happy Hearts (Christian Light Reading to Learn Series #2.2)
Great Truths for Little Children (Grace & Truth Books)
Prudence and the Millers (Mildred A Martin)
Christian Liberty Nature Reader - Book 1 (Florence Bass) - perfect for warm weather nature observation!
Jason & the Golden Fleece
A Children's Treasury of Mythology (Barnes & Noble)
Little House on the Prairie series (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
Amy Carmichael - Rescuer of Precious Gems (YWAM Janet &Geoff Benge)

What do you think??  If I read 3 straight hours per day per child, we should be able to get through this is no time, right?  (hehehehahahasnorthehehe - minus toddlers, cooking, and life in general!)

The problem is that there are just too many books! But it can't hurt to set the bar high!  :-D


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Letter to My Children

To my four little ones,
I have no talent for words, nor ability to spin a tune for you.  I don't offer any magnificent or wondrous manner of charm or humor. I simply want you to know about my love for you. How deep it runs.
A wide, wide river could not hold the love I feel for you each. But it is yet a minute drop next to the love of Christ.  Your Maker.

You are valuable beyond what you could imagine, for you have been carefully thought out. Planned with a purpose in this life. Brought to fruition in these adorable little people that you are.  That He would see fit to lend you to me for a time, short though it is, is uncomprehensible.  I don't deserve.

But therein lies His love. Always shown in ways unfathomable to us. There is none worthy of such love. And yet....

An imperfect and weak momma that I am - given care of such gifts.  Given stewardship and told to build His legacy here.  With you each

But I fail (...My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness). You know it, even with your young hearts.  That the flesh is not fully sanctified.  That I can't be what you need.  For if so, what then of the work of the cross? Useless if your momma was perfect for you!  And so I remind you that my love, deep, deep and so very strong, is but a twinkle in the light of His for you each. Is not what you need in this life.

I hope (desire, pray, long, aspire to my very depth) always to point you to God's Truth. His salvation. But you must do the walking.  Listen to me, my dears. You must do the walking.  He will take you - arms open wide, for your wages have been paid as well as mine.  You were made for Him - not for me (thankful to share, to have this wisp of time with you, sweet ones from my womb).  He asks only that you believe.  Not that you become perfect. Not that life is easy. Not that no one ever offends you. Not that you work to deserve (we could never....).

Accept his Grace, given to the making of sun-blinding brightness. White! (No longer rags....).

This.  This is my love for you.  That you would see our Lord in my walk (in my path - purposed by Him).  The part that runs side by side with yours each, if for but a whisper of a moment.

I delight in you each!  My heart is burdened with this wide, deep love for you - such an exalted goal (above all worldly things!).  I pray for you (In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness;for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;...)  For your path.  That it may lead to His truth and salvation.  That we may each be all united in such a glorious presence, as we have never even imagined! His.

Love, grace and peace,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

...the mouths of babes!

Lincoln has baffled us by choosing to speak, after 28 months of nothing but our names, star, and moon.  Here are some of my favorites from his grinning little face:

"Rockabye baby in the tree top, when the wind blows the cradle will rock" (I kid you not - from no words to this! He loves songs!)

"Kraut" (he loves saurkraut)
"Beet Kuh Vahs" (he loves beet kvass too)
"Baff" (bath)
"JayJay ant RaeRae" (J and R's names)
"Moo meat pleasssse" (More meat please)
"Read uh book?" (My fave!)
"Dom nose?"  (Dominoes)
Adam (4yo): "They're gonna make a baby!  They're gonna make a baby!"
(He loves the making of the baby 'robot' put together by parts from box in the movie "Robots")

But here's the MacDaddy of the week that I must journal for her sake when she calls me about her mischievous children:
Reagan was caught in the nursery of the church we visited last weekend, stealing mini animal crackers.  These are NOT allowed on our food plan and she also taught Adam how to steal in the process.  She was reprimanded and seemed to take her punishment rather well.  When we returned home, she quickly ran for the bathroom and insisted that she didn't need any help with her long dress.  She was impatient with how long it was taking me to wash my hands and leave so I was thusly clued into some form of deceit.  Her usual m.o. is to try oi hide an 'accident' so I asked to see her underwear (which she was trying to hide from me as she sat).
And low and behold - what do I find?  Not wet underwear but a large handful of mini-animal crackersIN her underwear!!!  Stashed away from the church nursery since she didn't have any pockets (and clearly we are starving her in our disallowing of such tempting treats).  I literally had to duck my head out of the door so she wouldn't see  me choke down a laugh as I called dh to come witness the scene.

Have mercy - I don't know if I will survive this child!  Goodness gracious and deary me oh my!
For more Tiny Talk Tuesday visit Mary over at Not Before 7!