Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stuff I made in Sep/Oct

Yeah it's a multi-month F(inished) O(bject) post. That means it's more interesting!

  • 3 sleeved bibs
    (would anybody like to see a tutorial for these? I think they're pretty brilliant which is why I snagged the idea, but I will post how to make them if there is interest)
  • wall-hanging remotes & controllers holder 
    we were really tired of cords everywhere and things getting lost in the couch or piled on top of the TV or stolen by the now everything has its own place! Everything fits down in the pockets, I just pulled them up for demonstrative purposes.
  • 2 halloween candy bags
  • 1 turtle costume
  • 1 sackperson costume
  • 1 blue velvet gown (and a necklace/earrings to go with, although that was a 5 min project, consisting of putting some beads on earring wires...yeah, hardly worth mentioning...)
Wolf as a Sackperson--he loved the costume again once the initial frustration of the day had worn off, Bear as a lion, although he doffed the hood immediately after the photo and didn't wear it to the party, Mama in the medieval gown, Eagle as a turtle...and you can kinda see the orange treat bags on the couch behind us.

  • 2 solarveil hats ☺

October is always sew busy. ☺

Thursday, October 28, 2010

That Kid

Recent news reports have been full of stories of gay teens who have committed suicide after being teased or bullied. Celebrities and others have risen to the occasion with the "it gets better" campaign of youtube videos, encouraging kids to not give up, because it life will get better. I think they are trying to do a good thing--encouraging kids to persevere--but everyone is overlooking something crucial. It's not just gay kids who get teased. And it's not just gay kids who commit suicide. In fact, "suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds" [American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry].
I appreciate the effort to reach out to the gay kids, but there are so many kids--so many people--who need acceptance and love. Let's not focus our lenses too tightly.

We all knew somebody who was "that kid." You remember him (or her); the one who was different. Maybe he talked funny or had body odor. Maybe she was fat or really socially awkward. Maybe he was bigger than everybody else his age, or maybe he was clumsy. Maybe she wore weird clothes. Or maybe it was something else.
And because that kid was different, he got harassed. And sometimes somebody told an adult, and sometimes they didn't. And sometimes the kid got more 'normal' with time, and sometimes they didn't. And sometimes the bullies got in trouble, but often they didn't. And the bullies may have varied from year to year, but oftentimes the kid was the same kid who got picked on day after day and week after week and month after month...

And sometimes, that kid is my kid.

A month ago I started talking with Wolf about what he wanted to dress up as for Halloween. Very early on he made up his mind. We talked and planned and I bought the fabric. I consulted with him multiple times to be sure I was making it 'right' by what he wanted. He wanted to be a "sackperson" (the character from the Little Big Planet video game). We settled on burlap as a good, textured fabric. It was a hassle to cut and sew, but I stuck it out and we ended up with a costume that he loved. Hubby and I both thought it was unlike any other costume we'd ever seen, but hey, so is a sackperson! Wolf was happy with it, and that's what mattered. Wednesday was the school halloween party and costume parade. Wednesday morning he was beaming as he put on his costume before catching the bus to school.
Wednesday afternoon when he got home he threw the crumpled costume into a corner and said no way was he going to wear it to the church party on saturday. Understanding that he was frustrated, Hubby suggested just setting it in the costume box rather than throwing it away in the garbage can. "No dad," Wolf said, "you can't save it for Bear, he would get teased too." Wolf had been teased all day long, taunted with chants of "sackboy, sackboy" ("I was a sackperson mom," he explained), and harrassed with old standbyes like a girl repeatedly stepping on his heels so that his shoes kept coming off as he tried to walk in the parade.
These kids are 5th and 6th graders. I know people often try to excuse elementary schoolers by suggesting that they are too young to know any better, or too immature to filter their actions, but that is bull. These kids are 10-12 years old. They are NOT too young. Just as my son is old enough to not punch them in the face when they harass him, so too they are old enough to be nice to him, even if he's the weird kid.
I'll be honest, Wolf does struggle socially. He is one of those kids who kinda lives in his own world, and he's not very good at reading social cues. He's very bright and very social, but he can be awkward. We have been working with him to help him learn better social skills. He doesn't hit the kids who tease him, and he doesn't harass them back either. He sometimes reports to an adult, but much of the time I think he just takes it, and then comes home and melts down.
My son has a strong support system around him. He has parents who love him and go to bat for him. He has a teacher and a counselor at the school who are his friends and who he trusts and feels safe with, and who help him work through things. He has two little brothers who adore him. Even with all that support, he still suffers when he is treated badly. Anyone would. Bullying is always unacceptable.

This youtube video has been going around facebook this week. It's part of the "It Gets Better" campaign which I mentioned before. Granted, they made it with gay kids in mind, but when I watch it I think of all those kids who are "that kid," including my kid, and including me. Everybody needs love and acceptance.

So let's all grow up a little, shall we? Let's be nice to people, no matter whether we agree with them or even if we like them. There is no excuse for being mean. Ever. And as we are nice to people, let us make sure we are teaching our children to be nice too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Gluten Experiment: Part 4

Part 1--going gluten free
Part 2--eating 'normally' after the GF test
Part 3--low (glutenous) carb, focus on whole grains

Part 4--adding enzymes and/or soaking flours
(If you missed my note on this last time, soaking flours helps the grain begin to break down, so that it's easier for the belly to deal with. Digestive enzymes do the same thing only on the inside rather than the outside!)

The first thing I did was switch back to my soaked whole wheat bread recipe. It takes longer to make (it has to soak overnight) and the simple truth is that I got out of the habit of making it because I just always forgot to start it at night and so then when morning came I needed to make bread so I'd do the standard non-soaked recipe. Both are excellent breads, but right now I'm feeling a sense that soaking will help me.
When the first batch of soaked bread came out of the oven I purposely had several pieces (hot with butter mmmmm!) to see if I noticed anything as the result of the carb/wheat binge. I did not. This is an indication to me (again) that I do not need to stick to a strictly gluten-free diet.

I am slowly working on incorporating other soaked recipes into my diet. I made pancakes one day last week and that was easy. I'm working on adapting some other recipes--such as my roll recipe--so that they can be soaked as well. I think the soaking will especially make a difference for my occasional white flour recipes.
In conjunction with soaking more, I am taking an enzyme pill which will hopefully help deal with the unsoaked foods in my life. I don't want to have to swear off everything made by anyone else, and I really don't think I need to. I just need to make sure I take my supplements and eat well at home, and my body will probably tolerate occasional exceptions to policy without completely revolting.

I do also think that candida is a very valid issue for me. Candida is essentially a systemic yeast overgrowth, and it feeds on sugars and yeast. So if I get a flare up of it, then I get crazy intense cravings for sweets and/or yeast breads. It is really hard to knock them off, but once I do it for about 24 hours it starts getting easier, and usually within about 3 days I'm feeling quite normal again. I'm hoping that my new (or renewed) efforts to consume only minimal amounts of white flour/sugar and yeast will help me avoid those flares.

At least at this point, after a month and a half of experimentation on myself, I have reached a few conclusions about how I should eat:
  1. Eat whole grains, soaking them when possible, especially if it's one that has gluten in it
  2. Avoid white/yeasty breads in general. If I do consume them (ie, at a holiday gathering) then be sure to take my enzyme supplements.
  3. Avoid purchased breads/floury things because they are the devil: unsoaked and full of other garbage
  4. Regardless of the type of carb, aim for less rather than more. Fill in with more of other parts of plants (leaves, roots, etc instead of seeds).

10 10s in 2010--update 3

Oct 27 update
(since a number of items appear more than once, I am putting notations by the first occurrence, then making the font on subsequent ones smaller. I'm also shrinking the font on anything that hasn't changed since last time...)

1--Keeping My Home
  1. Create (and then stick to) a housekeeping system more or less epically failing here at this point...I hate being regimented. Mmm, must try harder.
  2. Try out at least one new recipe each month Jan-Troy's Chicken and Speedy Burritos Feb--Spider Spaghetti, Mar--Lebanese spinach puffs and cheeseburger buns, April--black bean/rice veggie burgers and pound cake and trifle, May--spinach stuffed pork loin, June--tarragon cream halibut, July--Salmon burgers and salmon-dill quiche, August-- veggie gingerbread muffins, hot Mexican salad, September--gluten free cookies and stardrop (GF) cookies and Indian-style chicken, October--
  3. Serve balanced meals (with a protein, a vegetable, and a starch/carb) at least most nights usually so far so good
  4. Grind my own wheat flour going great!
  5. Make bread all year It's been a year now and going strong
  6. Build up my food storage--at least 3m worth of all non-perishable items oh man, I gotta post some pictures of our pantry. It's lookin awesome!
  7. Learn about gardening in Alaska--what foods grow well, when/how to plant and harvest, etc so far so good
  8. Have a garden kitchen containers--basil rocked, tomatoes did fine, chives were alright...broccoli was an epic fail. I think my containers were not big enough.
  9. Can/freeze produce in season salmon, smoked salmon, halibut, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, apples, rhubarb, apricots, and black currents (off our own bush!)
  10. Participate in the butchering and/or preservation of a moose that Hubby shoots (that's one of his goals for the year) He didnt' get a moose in spite of much trying, BUT we are buying a half a cow from a local farmer next month. ☺
2--Read Books (ideally including the following specific titles)(* means I've started it, date indicates when finished) I scrapped half the list and instead am putting things I actually did read
  1. 4/10 To Kill A Mockingbird--dang, how had I never read this before? It was excellent! So much better than most other 'coming of age' stories I've read.
  2. A Christmas Carol
  3. 7/10 something by an Alaskan author Tom Bodett rocks. That is all.
  4. a biography or memoir
  5. *Going Rogue by Sarah Palin (mostly for cultural literacy)
  6. 1/10 Icy Sparks--story of a young girl in Appalacia and her life with undiagnosed Tourette's. Unfortunately the way it was written was just really depressing, so even though the idea of the story appealed, I don't recommend the book.
  7. *Fablehaven (I started this...then Wolf stole it from me...I'll get it back when he's done I guess!)
  8. *The Mists of Avalon
  9. 8/10The Passage by Justin Croner (NYT top book) intriguing and fascinating page-turner, set in the near future but with major changes to the land and government. Unfortunately the ending was terribly anti-climactic.
  10. 6/10 The Audacity of Hope by Barak Obama (alternate) This book was so sooo good. Regardless of our agreement/disagreement on any given political platform, this book demonstrates that our president is intelligent, thoughtful, logical, and ethical--he tries really hard to be true to what he perceives and believes, and I have to respect that.

3--Improve Financial Stability
  1. Pay off (at least) one account DONE!! We also rolled all our debt together and lowered our interest rate, so we're paying things off faster now AND we literally cut up the credit cards that we had. That feels so good.
  2. Keep current with tithing (unfortunately some months this has been hard for us, and then catching up on our tight budget is even harder) just have to keep it up...
  3. Live within our means, always considering wants vs needs, and making the modest choice even with the latter.
  4. Use coupons and shop sales at the grocery store I've been good about sales, not so much with coupons
  5. Use our tax returns and PFD's wisely (for food storage/debt, not playing!) so far so good
  6. Build up our food storage
  7. Build up my year's supply (the non food stuff, like toilet paper and toothpaste and laundry soap) to 3-6 months worth
  8. Do not buy any new diaper/etc fabric no sweat
  9. Sew items to sell using the fabric I have obviously
  10. Actively market my etsy shops It has slowed down a lot, but I've been putting my efforts into The Amethyst Network and family things, so I'm ok with that.

4--Be More Present with my Family
  1. Read more books to my kids so far so good, I'm trying to read to Wolf sometimes too, which is kinda fun for us both, even if he's a great reader himself, sometimes the bedtime story with mom is still cool with him (just don't tell his friends!)
  2. Acquire a couple of new children's books in order to do #1 without losing my mind ☺
  3. Cuddle my kids every day ☺often, I'm not sure if I hit every day, but at least most days
  4. Include the kids in the housekeeping schedule (give them assignments)
  5. Stay OFF the internet one day a week (generally Tuesdays) mostly failing at this right now...however I'm spending less time online in the average day, so even if the days off are infrequent, the overall hours are still reduced
  6. Be a good example for the kids by limiting my screen time on other days
  7. Say "just a minute" less often workin on it...doing ok...
  8. Play with my kids, not just work near them so far so good
  9. Have a monthly 'date' with each family member it's been hit and miss the last couple of months, but I'm getting them in this month and plan to finish out the year
  10. Go to bed at the same time as my Hubby usually ☺

  1. Create (sew or knit) at least 6 things per month, for my family or my shop so far so good... I really like doing the "finished objects" post each month to help me see what I've done. Jan FOs, Feb FOs, Mar FOs, Apr FOs, May FOs, Jun FOs, July FOs, Aug FOs, Sep/Oct FOs,
  2. Introduce a new product (or two or three) in my shop(s) this year. Four so far.
  3. Allow myself the thought-outlet of blogging frequently
  4. Finish Wolf's sweater I spoke with him about this, and expressed my concern that I'm knitting so slowly at this point that he's going to outgrow the sweater before I can get it done. Together we made the decision that I will set this sweater aside (make it for Bear when he gets bigger), but that I will make something else for Wolf. We're currently scouting for a cool pattern.
  5. Knit something for myself (I have no idea what yet) HAHAHAHAAAAAAAA! yeah right. Not this year methinks!
  6. Use up existing stash rather than buying new materials
  7. Try out at least one new recipe each month
  8. Learn how to make shampoo/conditioner This I think will slide this year
  9. Make handmade gifts for my family/friends (not necessarily to the exclusion of purchased items). I'm making all the halloween costumes, and several Christmas things...we'd talked at one point about an all-handmade Christmas, but we're not doing that. The items from Hubby and I to the kids will be handmade though!
  10. Help my children make things

6--Focus Inward

  1. Be more active (I'd like to go walking, though in winter in Alaska with two little ones and no where to walk indoors this is a challenge...) I'm a bit hit and miss, but I am getting out often even if not always walking per se...
  2. Work on my poor ignored abdominals...crunches or pilates or something I've been totally slacking off on this ☺
  3. Get outside more often so far so good
  4. Read more fiction (see list above!)
  5. Read my scriptures We're doing better with the family reading, but this probably has to count as a strike cuz I'm not doing well on my own
  6. Pray more (an ongoing challenge for me unfortunately) so far so good
  7. Get the local breastfeeding support group on it's feet.
  8. Sing more so far so good ☺
  9. Take time to be still and quiet I'm doing much better with this
  10. Check in on these goals at least quarterly to monitor my progress

7--Focus Outward
  1. Do my visiting teaching every month this has crashed and burned on the "all" and "every" part the last two months, but we keep trying.
  2. Become a Big Sister with Big Brothers/Big's something I've wanted to do for a long time. or not
  3. Build up the local breastfeeding support group.
  4. Fulfill my church calling (I am the coordinator over the Relief Society meetings formerly referred to as "Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment meetings") so far so good--I'm now also the music coordinator for the ward.
  5. "Pay It Forward" whenever I can (in whatever ways I can)
  6. Look specifically for opportunities to PIF/send out good karma yes
  7. Shop locally or handmade whenever possible.
  8. Feed the local missionaries each month
  9. Teach a friend how to do something new going with the henna here..although I've also had some cooking discussions and I did what I could via internet to help a friend with some sewing ☺
  10. Teach my kids how to do new things Wolf is cooking more, Bear plays games, helps me bake, and is very helpful with the baby, and even Eagle likes to put things away into containers/boxes!
  11. BONUS--start a nonprofit organization for miscarriage support and education (ha, who'd have guessed!)

  1. Read a parenting book Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn (review coming sometime...)
  2. Read a marriage/relationship book The Soul of Sex by Thomas Moore (not that it was just about marriage, but the philosophy in the book has definitely fed my marriage in a positive way ☺ )
  3. Read a political book The Audacity of Hope by Barak Obama
  4. Read a nutrition or health book
  5. Read a biography or teachings of a latter day prophet or apostle aww scrappy
  6. Read my scriptures
  7. Learn new knitting techniques Jan--increases, Feb--seaming (shoulders, sides, and setting in sleeves), Jun--picking up stitches
  8. Learn how to make shampoo and/or conditioner
  9. Try out at least one new recipe each month
  10. Seek to find/recognize the sacred in all aspects of life, and the connections between truths ("spiritual" and otherwise) this has been just awesome

  1. Write a series of posts about The Family proclamation HAHAHAAA how about 2011 for this one? I wrote about The Relief Society stuff instead, how's that?
  2. Finish the final post in my "motherhood" series done ☺
  3. Finish the birth-related posts that are sitting in my drafts folder done ☺
  4. Research and write more posts on specific vaccinations
  5. Write reviews of the books I have read but haven't written about yet: Hold On To Your Kids, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Raising Your Spirited Child
  6. Write reviews of books I read this year slow but steady, right?
  7. Post more regularly on my cooking blog so far so good...and yummy...
  8. Post more regularly on my family scrapbook blog (it's private, for keeping extended family updated mostly) so far so good
  9. Fill in gaps by posting older stuff on the family scrapbook blog too so far so good
  10. Leave comments on my friends' blogs
  11. BONUS write a series on the Relief Society proclamation

  1. Celebrate the earth cycle holidays (equinoxes, solstices). so far so good
  2. Finally start our long-planned family tradition of having an authentic medieval meal (ie, big meat, candlelight, no utensils) once a year. It was pretty cool
  3. Establish a new family tradition for Jesus' Birthday This was also pretty cool
  4. Have a family pizza night at least twice a month frequently, and invite someone to join us. We are going at monthly-ish, which is fine. It's fun, but it is a lot of work.
  5. Have a family or couples game night at least once a month strike--STILL haven't been doing this at all.
  6. Go to playgroup and mom's support (breastfeeding) group and RS meetings and thus rejuvenate myself often mom's nights are good too
  7. Visit some major sites of my own state this was quite an adventure, to say the least...
  8. Play music in the home/car, and sing more so far so good
  9. Get outside often and breathe deeply this has been good
  10. Do my best to live deeply and suck the marrow out of life this has been very good
  11. BONUS start a new family tradition of celebrating the countries of our ancestors by having a meal of authentic foods on that country's national holiday (some I've hit and some I've missed...and I'm just being ok with that at this point)
  12. I know I posted somewhere my plan to make cakes for each family member's birthday, but can't find it on this list... I have done it for Hubby & Bear, Wolf...Eagle's will be coming soon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Exciting Events

I just had to share a snapshot from my week...

On wednesday I went to the grocery store with the two younger boys. When we came out, I unloaded all the groceries into the minivan, and then buckled the boys. Eagle really hates being buckled in right now, and arches his back and complains mightily, so I gave him my keys to distract him as I buckled. I have done this many times and it is fairly effective. Then I shut the door and took the shopping cart to the cart-return (which was in the stall directly across from the van).
As I turned around to come back to the van, the horn started blowing. Oh great, Eagle had pushed the "panic" button on the key fob. Oh well, no biggie, I knew it would turn off when I started the car. He probably just was attracted to the button because it's red--that's more interesting than the black buttons I'm sure. So I grabbed the door to hop in...and you guessed it, he had also pressed the "lock" button, and every door on the car was locked. I checked.
I tapped on the window to make sure the kids weren't upset by the horn going--they weren't. Bear said something about the red button (he knows, he's pushed it a few times himself!), and Eagle grinned impishly. I leaned against the window and asked Bear if he could unbuckle himself (to get the keys away from Eagle and let me in). He can't reach the doorlock when he's buckled, so he couldn't just push it for me. He started to tear up and told me he couldn't undo the buckle--he's tried before, and never been able to do it. I was just hoping that maybe somehow he'd gotten miraculously stronger in the week since we last tried!
Meanwhile, Eagle was grinning and giggling and pushing buttons. I knew that pressing "unlock" once only unlocks the driver's door, and that it takes two presses in rapid succession to get the rest of the doors, so I went around to the driver's door. I was hopeful that he would push the button but I wasn't dumb enough to hope that he'd press it twice! He "locked" the doors a few more times, and pressed the "panic" button again too before he finally pressed "unlock."
All in all it was probably about 5 minutes that I stood there rapping on my windows trying to get my 11 month-old to push the right button.
I have concluded to not let him play with my keys anymore...or, at least, to not ever close a door while he is doing so!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My 24

After my most recent update post, I got a comment that sounded like many I have gotten before. "You do so much, I don't know how you do it," or "You have kids! How do you find the time to do all this stuff?"
I think this is a very interesting question, and I'll try to answer it.

There are 24 hours in a day. No matter who you are, no matter where you live, we all have the same amount of day at our discretion.

Personally, I am often thinking that I don't do nearly as much as I could. I spend too much time on the computer and I can dink around as well as anyone I know. On the days when I really put my mind to productivity I can do twice as much as on an average day. It is also only fair to inform you that, along with my Productive Days, I also have Lazy Days, wherein my accomplishments for the day are usually limited to making dinner, maybe a load of laundry, reading most of a book, and/or writing three blog posts.

I do NOT "multi-task." For one thing, there is no such thing--it's simply a matter of rapidly going from one task to another and then back again. The human mind CANNOT do multiple things at once [link] [link][link](see, science agrees with me). No, I do not do multiple things at once. I don't really "switchtask" either (going back and forth between two or three things--read the first link). But I do change activities throughout the day. I sort the laundry then put in a load to wash. Then I mix up the bread and set it to rise. Then I change a diaper. Then I move the laundry into the dryer and put in another load. Then I dink around on the computer for a while or read my book. Then I punch down the bread for another rising, and switch out the laundry again. Another diaper, put baby down for a nap, play with my toddler, do a little knitting... Really, there is nothing extraordinary about my days.

Mama always told us that "a change is as good as a rest" and I have certainly always found that to be true in my life. I don't need to take a break from getting things done, I just need to change activities regularly. Having small children facilitates this beautifully, as I am constantly being interrupted to feed someone or wash a bottom or attend to the latest little heartbreak or outbreak of contention.

We all have the same number of hours in a day, and we can only do one thing at a time. As Gandalf said, how much time we have "is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." [link] So how do I "do so much?" I simply try not to spend too many of those hours in waste. It is that simple.
  • I do best when I sleep around 8-9 hours a night, and I usually get at least 8. I got by just fine on 7 hours when I was in college, but I don't anymore. I consider getting enough sleep to be a very worthwhile use of my time.
  • I don't spent much time preening myself--a quick shower is about it (my morning 'put-myself-together' routine takes about 5 minutes if I don't shower, and 10-15 min if I do, and consists of putting on clothes and combing my hair, no makeup, no fancy stuff). For the sake of the math let's add in bathroom trips and so on, and call it about a half hour a day spent on personal hygiene time.
  • I spend a couple of hours a day online--I admit it's often more. I justify it as my "mental health/adult interaction" time, but I could cut it down and still be fine in those regards. I try to have a screen-free day every week or so.
  • I do not work outside the home, I suppose that allows me to do more within my home. But I do work from home sometimes (and besides, the people who have asked me how I "do so much" are often also stay-at-home moms).
  • I usually put a couple of hours a day into preparing meals. Sometimes more, but usually not less. Good food matters, not just for physical health, but the time and effort and slowness of home cooking is healthy on emotional and intellectual levels as well. It requires a level of consciousness about living which I feel is very important.
  • Another hour or so goes into chores--laundry, cleaning rooms, doing dishes, vacuuming, etc etc. Once a week or so I do some deeper cleaning and spend a couple of hours. About once a week I take a couple of hours to go grocery shopping.
  • I spend a couple of hours--even three--doing stuff specifically for my kids. Changing diapers, nursing, settling disputes, shuttling them around, helping with homework, or just playing with them... With a newborn of course it's more, but with a nurse-every-hour newborn I do a lot of nursing at the computer, or with a book in my hand; and often one of the kids helps me with cooking or cleaning, or I guide homework while making dinner, so things overlap. I think 3 hours is a fair estimate.
So of 24 hours in a day
.5--personal care
3--miscellaneous kid stuff
16.5 hours of the day consumed by my normal routine. That leaves me over 7 hours for doing all kinds of other things. Some days that gets sucked up by park trips or grocery shopping. Other days it gets sucked up by the computer. Some days it gets sucked into big projects (such as spring cleaning, or winterizing the house, or a sewing project, or a culinary endeavor, or building a website, or canning...), and other days I spend my time with a good book, or long shower, or with friends.

But we all have the same 24 hours in a day. I don't think my productivity is anything remarkable. And now I'm really curious--if you don't have the time to "do so much," then what are you doing with your 24? (If you blog about this, leave me your link please! I really do want to know!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Gluten Experiment: Part 3

Part 1--going gluten free
Part 2--eating 'normally' after the GF test

Part 3--low (glutenous) carb with a whole grain focus
So far so good. I made a batch of homemade rolls (one of my favorite things) and snacked on them quite a bit one day, and found that I felt quite unfilled and also had that lethergy and malaise, and that was what made me realize that a problem with candida (yeast/sugar) may be a more likely culprit for me than a problem with gluten.
As I work on cutting back it gets easier. The first couple of days that I avoided white flour I was craving sugar like crazy--we didn't have any cookies or anything in the house, but I realized after the fact that I went through most of a jug of fruit juice in one day. Whoops!! As I stick to it though, I am finding that I don't crave those white breads/rolls as much as I used to. I make whole wheat bread and I seem to do fine with a little of that. I didn't notice any ill effects after having a meal with pasta in it. But I'm trying to take it very easy on white/processed flours.

There is one last step, which I am slowly starting into, and that involves soaking my grains and/or taking digestive enzymes. Soaking flours helps the grain begin to break down, so that it's easier for the belly to deal with. Digestive enzymes do the same thing only on the inside rather than the outside!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Gluten Experiment: Part 2

So, part 1 was going gluten-free. I basically hated that. I will readily admit that it would take a LOT of awfulness in a non-GF life to get me to stick to being GF.

Part 2 was to return to normal eating.
That's actually not quite accurate, because I returned to genuinely normal eating for about a week, but then spent 10 days traveling, and that included some fast food and lots of meals prepared by other people so not only was it not GF, it wasn't even really 'normal' for me. But I digress. Lots of people told me that they didn't notice much when they went off gluten, but they did notice negative changes when they went back on it. Thus part 2.

On my first day eating gluten again I noticed mostly just excitement and not having to stop and read every label (or look it up on I'm not sure that I ate terribly 'normally' that day because I was just sortof excited about eating whatever struck my fancy. I didn't notice anything in particular physically.
On the second day I had a handful of pretzels and noticed afterward that I felt bloated. I tried to pretend that I didn't.
On the fifth day we made BLTs (which I love) with store-bought bread (which I don't love, but we had a loaf in the house because Hubby had gotten it for making french toast and we were trying to finish things off before leaving on our trip). Again I got the bloaty feeling afterward, and I had only eaten the one sandwich.
I did not notice bloating at any other times. I didn't notice any real changes to my intestinal regularity (except that the backed-upedness lasted a few more days...but it had started during part 1, so I didn't think that counted as a 'new symptom).

Within a week of eating whatever I wanted, I did notice that if I had a carb-heavy meal (especially one that was white-flour centric), I felt somewhat lethargic and unwell. Not sick really, just sub-par. So I didn't even give it a full two weeks of eating whatever I wanted. I launched straight into part 3, which was to not sweat it about which carbs I had per se, but to aim for fewer rather than more of them (and to try to stick to whole grains--that was hard until I got home but is fairly easy now).

(stay tuned, part 3 is coming tomorrow!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Update, update!

I've been pouring a lot of my time these last two weeks into getting The Amethyst Network's website up and going (and all the behind-the-scenes stuff). So I have not blogged much, but I wanted to do one of those newsy update posts.

Halloween is a comin, and I am sewing costumes. Last year (at 37 weeks pregnant) I didn't do much. Wolf went as Hubby. As in, he dressed up in his church clothes and tie, I stippled a little beard on his chin, and he wore daddy's work ID badge. It was terribly cute (Hubby says that this year maybe he'll go as Wolf!) However, this year mommy is back in gear and ready to sew! Bear has opted to wear a costume out of the box, but I'm sewing for Wolf and Eagle...and if I get all my chores done I may even get to make a pretty gown for myself. (I did buy the pattern and fabric--thank you sales and coupons!--now it's just a matter of whether I have the time to make it.)

I'm reading "The Mists of Avalon" and it is very cool. Also a bit of a heavy book to hold one-handed while nursing a baby. I begin to see the appeal in Hubby's desire for a kindle. 8.5 oz has a certain appeal after this book which I'm sure weighs several pounds!

Wolf struggled a lot with the first few weeks of french horn. It seems that the elementary band teacher does a lot of talking but not much showing, and at a month in he only knew how to play one note (because the kid one chair over showed it to him). Thankfully we have a delightful friend who happens to be a music teacher at the high school, and she came over and gave him a little lesson so now he can play four notes. She says she is willing to continue teaching these little lessons, especially if we pay her in food (we have her over for dinner around once a week, as she is a single lady and I like feeding people). It was so nice to see the one-day turnaround from "Can I quit band? I hate it" to "Music is my favorite, can I go practice again?"

Hubby makes a positively sinful smoked salmon dip. With salmon he caught and smoked himself. I never liked smoked salmon, but I do like this dip. Mmmmm.

Eagle is 11 months old. He walks and runs as though he thinks he's big, and he says three words. One is "dada" and the other two are not. If I figure out what the other two are, I will try to remember to let you know. ☺

I canned apple pie filling and applesauce and chicken broth this week (yay for bringing home my steam canner and pressure canner from Utah with us!!)

I continue to seek personal calmness though letting go of things, releasing judgment, and generally not allowing myself to get uptight or worry over things. I'm spending more time touching the earth (the actual dirt), and sitting in the sunshine. I'm spending more time with books and less with screens. I'm cooking and knitting and generally enjoying the present.

We are making plans for Samhain and the other holidays of the darker half of the year. I find I am always ready for the new seasons as they come, even here where the cold and dark ones are very cold and dark. Fall is in the air (it's below freezing every morning when we get up) and I can't smell the snow yet but I know it is close.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Amethyst Network

It is official, the website is up and running.
And I am tired, but very very pleased.
Please, take a look! (click the image)

♥ to my fellow founders Kimberlee, Molly, Jena, and Michelle. I could not have done this alone.
♥ to the several etsians who have agreed to donate portions of their sales to TAN.
♥ to my awesome brother for designing this logo
♥ to anyone who has 'liked' us on facebook or followed us on twitter.
♥ to each of the doulas and mothers (aka peer doulas) who has signed up to join the network.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Being Aware; It's Not All Pink

I was a guest author over at LDS WAVE today.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a fact widely acknowledged in the media and everybody seems to get on board with everything from all-night cancer walks to facebook status games. My grandmother is one of those “1 in 8 women” who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, as are dear family friends, and I have joined those all-night walks and regularly remind my blog-readers to do their self breast exams.

However, October after October, I notice that the flood of awareness is decidedly (and almost exclusively) pink. It seems that we either overlook or are unaware of the many other “Awareness Months” going on in October.

Yes, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. However 1 in 4 women will experience
a miscarriage or infant loss, and 1 in 3 will be a victim of domestic violence...

click here to read the rest

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NOT just "like a heavy period"

I have heard lots of people say that "a miscarriage is basically just like a heavy period."

That is simply not true. Don't say it. Don't think it. Don't be fooled by it.

A miscarriage that occurs in the first few weeks of pregnancy may have the physical characteristics of a menstrual period: several days of cramping and bleeding. It might even seem like a 'normal' period to some women. A woman who didn't know that she was pregnant might even mistake a miscarriage for a period. All the same, if the woman knew she was pregnant, then even these early and physically easy miscarriages may carry an emotional toll that a regular menstrual period does not.
Some mothers really do have a miscarriage that is just like a period. For whatever reason, they do not grieve, or do not grieve very much. If you are one of those mothers you should not feel guilty about it, nor feel that your miscarriage was any less than someone elses. However this experience seems to happen in the minority of cases.
I miscarried this baby at 5 weeks gestation, and physically the process was like a textbook menstrual period. It was not the same as my normal periods which was one of the reasons I knew it was a miscarriage, but to another woman it could have been completely normal. However, if you read what I wrote at the time, it is obvious that my emotional state was not "just like a period" at all. I was grieving.

Somewhere between 6-10 weeks another change occurs. It varies from woman to woman and even from pregnancy to pregnancy, but somewhere in there the baby gets large enough that the physical process of miscarriage stops being like a period, and starts being more like labor. The uterus must contract and the cervix must open in order to expel the baby and placenta and other "products of conception."
When I experienced my first miscarriage I was 14 1/2 weeks along. I labored on and off for almost a full day, but had no idea what was going on. I thought I had intestinal gas, but hindsight tells me that it was actually labor contractions. I knew that a full-term stillborn baby would require labor and delivery, but I had never guessed that a baby only 4 inches long might also require labor.
It is my understanding (and my experience) that the labor of miscarriage is often shorter than a full-term labor would be, because a smaller baby can be delivered with less cervical dilation and pushing. Some women feel that it is something like the "first half" of labor. Others feel that it is very comparable to laboring with a full-term child.

This is one of those big unspoken secrets: many miscarriages are not like a heavy period, they are the labor and birthing of a baby.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"The Soul of Sex" by Thomas Moore

"The Soul of Sex: culturing life as an act of love"
by Thomas Moore was such an interesting book, and with such an interesting thesis. I stumbled across it at the library and read the inside flap and had to bring it home.

Here is an excerpt from the flap:
In our age of science and psychology it's tempting to think of human sexuality in terms of biology and interpersonal relationships. But this new book...regards sex as an experience of the soul and emphasizes the themes of fantasy, desire, meaning, and morality. In [this book] Moore turns especially to religion, mythology, literature, rites, stories, and visual imagery [like classic art] that see sex in some of the most profound mysteries of life. He finds spirituality inherent in sex and at the same time explores the many ways in which spiritual values can sometimes wound our sexuality. He recommends chastity and celibacy for everyone--as aspects of sexuality and not only as literal lifestyles--and presents them as a means of developing a sensuous spirituality.
The Soul of Sex also establishes the principle that one can't have a fully satisfying sex life in a world that is asexual and antierotic. Thomas Moore recommends many ways in which society could tone down its moralism and create a public life that is erotic, one that affirms desire and pleasure. He sees widespread attention to sex in the media as a symptom of our failure to find a positive place for sex in the culture, and he spells out an Epicurean way of life in which the simple, deep pleasures of good food, friends, family, home, and intimacy with nature provide and appropriate erotic base for a fulfilling sex life.
The author is conservative catholic and was even a monk for a while. It's been interesting for me to read about sexuality from a distinctly moral perspective (although he does make the specification that 'moral' is not the same as 'moralistic' other words, having morals isn't the same as being all hoity-toity about stuff). So much of what is out there now is from a more 'natural man' point of view, and this is definitely not. He is very pro-marriage and pro-fidelity, and also pro-spirituality. As he says "If there is any substance in the common sentiment that sex is sacred, it would seem appropriate to explore that sacredness in religious terms."
This book also isn't erotica, or a 'how to' in any sense. Like I said, it's philosophy.
He talks a lot about archtypes--Aphrodite of course, but also Artemis (the virgin), Eros, and even Christ. I certainly never thought I'd read something about Jesus as sexual (he doesn't say sexually active, merely pro-sexuality), but it's entirely respectful and the author makes some very thought provoking points.
He talks about sexual symbols such as the phallus (which is more than just a penis, it's a symbol of honor, power, vitality, humor, playfulness, etc) and also the vagina (which he suggests is a symbolic harbor, a source of stability, calmness, and safety).
It's really fascinating to look at sex and sexuality from a more encompassing perspective--as symbols of larger (sacred) things. Or as a rite that reminds us of the sacred.

The book is full of highly quotable things, so rather than try to talk about the book any more I will just let it speak for itself...
In modern life sex is one of the few numinous areas we have left, numinosity being the aura of awe and mystery usually associated with religious feeling. We have destroyed the mystery of the planets and stars with our telescopes and roving machines. We have diminished the numinosity of nature through our countless studies and exploitation. But fortunately we have not yet reduced the power of sex to stir deep desire and to compel contemplation.

If we understand marriage only as a literal living arrangement, then it entails a literal giving up of the solitary life. But as an initiation of the soul, marriage takes us deeper into ourselves... We can imagine marriage as something we do for ourselves. Marriage is not a surrender to another person but to another condition of life, one that can be deeply rewarding. (208)

In our symptoms lie the seeds of our revitalization. If we want to know how to gain new life and fresh sensibility, all we have to do is look closely and appreciatively at our problems. We have to be careful not to leap into compensation--championing the opposite of what our symptoms embody. Rampant pornography, for instance, suggests that we might consider the value of sexual imagery. Rampant divorce suggests that our idea of marriage might need some space. Rape suggests that we have not yet learned to use the power of love. Excessive sex in the media suggestions that we have not built an erotically rich society. (235)
Modern society's combined moralism against and obsession with sex indicates that we have not yet discovered the deeper meaning of sexuality. We think of it in purely personal terms, in contrast with many cultures that treat sex as a sacred cosmic force. We try to keep sex hidden, apparently thinking that what we cant' see won't hurt us. But like all powerful elements in the soul, sex needs to be manifested. Otherwise we suffer not only from the sudden return of the repressed--sex breaking through our repression in negative and uncontrollable ways--but also from a diminishment of life and vitality. Sex gives life color and vivacity. When we hide it out of fear, our personal lives and our social lie become flat. (276-7)

And finally, an idea that was on my mind a great deal this last week as I drove up and down the billboard-lined, 8 (soon to be 12)-lane scar of pavement that is I-15 in Utah (and thought about the pretty little tree-lined, winding, 2-lane road that I live off of here in Alaska)
It seems clear to me that the plague of sexual images that fill the internet and line our city streets, and the so-called gratuitous sex that spices most grown-up movies are exaggerated, autonomous, and noisome because we don't understand the importance of a sexy road or an appealing building or a sensuous workplace. The principle at play is simple: whatever we don't have the imagination to weave into our human lives beautifully and intimately will haunt us in the form of autonomous temptation and shadow values. There seems to be no middle ground. Either we build a beautiful road or the ugly version will soon begin to destroy the culture we are striving so hard to make. As always, our choices are basic: either Eros or Thanatos, sex or death. (248)
If we'll loosen up and let a little more 'sexy' into our world, and embrace the sexuality within us as the holy and powerful thing that it is, then we won't have so much negative sexuality bursting through the seams of repression. And we'll all be happier besides.

Monday, October 4, 2010

To Eat or To Sleep? That is a hard question...

I got this little video a couple of weeks ago...Eagle loves his food, but he loves his sleep too... (Daddy was listening to NPR in the background, that's the loud voices)

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