I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Metamucil For Lowering Cholesterol

Recently my husband had a physical, which included blood work. He was informed that his lipids are "slightly elevated." He wasn't given medication. He was thrown a bit by this news because he is careful about what he eats and has started exercising pretty regularly. I read about it online, and discovered that a tendency toward high blood cholesterol/lipids is inherited. Though this probably brought hubby some relief, it didn't change the fact, and so he/we are on a mission to change it. The first thing I did, of course, was to look into natural remedies. I turned to the Holistic Moms Network. (for more info. on HMN, see the button/link on my blog) I immediately started to receive responses from people around the country. The one that stuck out to me was a woman who said that taking Metamucil reduced her cholesterol by around 40 points in about 3 months. Wow! I went online and did a little research on this. The information was there and very available. The National Fiber Council has a neat section called "What Fiber Does For You." which includes the statement, Fiber can help lower cholesterol by absorbing fat and cholesterol from food. (Pat Baird, registered dietitian and NFC Vice-chair)" 

I told hubby about this, and bought some right away. Right on the front of the can it reads, "Helps Lower Cholesterol!" Metamucil is known for its other popular use, which is to assist with bowel functioning. But it obviously has a pretty great secondary (or is is primary?) use. So we're using it. We took some last night. The can I got is orange flavor, and I liken it to drinking apricot nectar. It wasn't bad. 

*Note: Although the information on the can recommends taking one heaping tablespoon in at least 8 oz of water THREE times a day, it also recommends starting off using it ONCE per day, and building up to three times a day. It stresses that it is important to add the powder to at LEAST 8 oz of water. The stuff is kinda thick, and can be hard to swallow if not diluted well. 

**Another note: It is (hopefully obviously) most important to eat a diet that is high in vegetables and fruits, low in meats and dairy, and low in fried foods and junk. Exercise is key too. And know your history. If your folks have or had high lipids/cholesterol, you are more likely to develop this issue also. 

Update: Please read my 1/21/11 post on Metamucil and Heartburn

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It's The Little Things

Little changes in the daily routine can make a big difference in how smoothly the daily routine goes. Little changes can make a big difference in my mood, too!


We have had a pretty set evening routine ever since our older child was a baby. Of course we've adjusted that schedule over time, to fit our current needs. But it's always been in place, and it's proven not only to be a necessity, but a comfort. We made a minor adjustment two days ago. See, hubby and I take turns taking breaks every evening. It has been a fantastic thing, and we both look forward to our breaks every day. I take mine (45 min.) shortly after hubby gets home from work. He takes his after dinner, when the kids and I head upstairs to get ready for bed. In recent weeks, getting the kids through what we call their "list" (pjs and teeth, washing face/hands, whatever...) has been a bit challenging. The kids are rambucteous (sp??) before bed, which is fine. But it got to be quite a challenge to get our daughter to change her clothes. And god forbid she help. She just runs! Argh. And then our son has developed this new war against toothbrushing. Double argh! So hubby has been coming up to help. Of course this means that his break is delayed, which is not idea. And dear daughter puts up resistance and refuses to let him to her list with her. "Mama do it!" (she's 5, but likes to talk like a toddler sometimes) Triple argh! Then it dawned on me. In the past, when managing the children on his own, my husband has pointed out that DD is fine with him, as long as he is the only adult available to her. Once I'm in the picture, she starts in with the "No Papa, Mama do it!" stuff. The answer was in the question. ONE of us needs to do the kids list. If we switch off nights, then it reduces my stress a bit, and the kids won't give him as hard a time. So we started this a couple of nights ago, with good success. Every other night I get 10 minutes to breathe before going up to put the kids to bed. Nice! 10 minutes may seem like nothing, but after a long day, I'll sure take it! Anyhow, it's a little change, and it's making a big difference.

Another example is the talk hubby and I had last night. He and I are cut from the same cloth in a lot of ways. One of them is communication. We don't spend a lot of time talking. It's definitely not his nature, and I'm only chatty with chatty people. So we enjoy spending time together, but doing other stuff, like watching movies. So last night we got to talking about DD's issues with anxieties. Fact is, both hubby and I are shy types who become anxious easily. Just talking about that fact with one another and admitting certain scenarios that were especially difficult for each of us was a relief. We obviously need to work together to help our sweet daughter with her anxiety, and recognizing it in ourselves and each other is an important step. So where communication comes easily and often to some, for us it is a little more work, so when it's good, it's really good. =)

That's it for now!

Passwords Are A Pain In The...

Oh passwords drive me crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There has got to be a better way. I am an online kid. My entertainment and escape from my world is the couple of minutes I spend online here and there all day long. So it drives me absolutely crazy when I have to sign in and my password isn't accepted, or I can't remember what it is. Argh! I realize what they are for and why they are important, but man, what a pain. In fact, some of my passwords reflect my sentiments about passwords! Bitter, yes, but it really does cause me a few mood points when I have 1.5 minutes to check something, and in all that time all I get is "wrong username/password combination. Snarl.

Friday, May 21, 2010

General Life Update

My dear daughter: While doing a lot better than this time last week, some anxiety still remains. I'm so glad it's Friday! We've put a few things in place at home, which seem to be helping. We're getting up 15 minutes earlier in the morning. What a difference a few minutes makes - for ME! The kids benefit from a more relaxed me, and enjoy a slightly less frenetic pace in the morning. DD and I make a plan every day regarding her school bathroom anxiety. And we're ending nearly every day with a lavender bath.

Cats: The kittens had their first vet visit today, just to make sure they're doing alright. They are both healthy. 2 lbs each! =) They got their first shots and worm medication (precautionary-they tested negative). They're doing great.

Worms: I am hoping to put the wormies in their new, and vastly improved, home today.

Skin: My eczema is well under control using bergamot essential oil. Yeah!

DS's skin: Excellent. Hardly ever needs special attention anymore. Yippee!

Going to ride on Thomas the Tank Engine tomorrow. Can't wait for school to be over!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Green Your Pets

I am the proud new owner of two 8-week old kittens. Now before you say, "What the hell were you thinking??" let me quickly say that they have so far been a joyful addition to our home. They have been here for five days. The kids enjoy them, they enjoy the kids (mostly) and my husband and I have our quiet time with them after the kids go to bed. That being said.....

I am trying to live a more holistic lifestyle. So of course any being who moves in with me is going to feel the effects of that process. And that means the cats. They are using a combination of two eco-friendly cat litters, and eating "natural" and also organic cat foods! Their litter box is made from recycled paper, and is 100% recyclable. Their water (as of today) is filtered. There blankets are washed using soap nuts, and have been dried in the sun. And of course they live in a home which has no harsh, toxic cleaners of any kind.

So. The particulars? Sure!

The cat litters:

I did an online search on "green" and "natural" cat litters, and aside from making my own (a cool idea, but really, who has the time?) these were the top two favorites.

World's Best Cat Litter: The bag reads: Pet and People Safe: Because World's Best Cat Litter is 
made from all-natural ingredients - with no added chemicals - it's 
totally safe for cats (and the whole family.) There are no toxins in 
case it is ingested. And unlike clay litters, there's no silica dust 
for you or your cat to breathe." It goes on: Planet Friendly: WB Cat 
Litter isn't minced, drilled or artificially produced. It's precisely 
milled from renewable whole-kernal corn and 100% biodegradable. And 
because it disperses in water, it's also septic safe and flushable!"

Feline Pine:Feline Pine. The bag reads: Chemical- 
free: Feline Pine Scoop uses the odor-fighting power of 100% natural 
pine instead of harsh chemicals or synthetic perfumes found in other 
litters. When your cat grooms, you can feel assured that he isn't 
ingesting any chemical additives."

Another popular one is called sWheat (made from wheat, obviously) but many complained of the smell when it got wet. I have seen this one at Pet Smart and at the grocery store, so it's easy to find. The others seem to be, also.

The food:

I am waiting to speak with the kittens' new vet on Friday to see what he/she recommends food-wise, but I'm kind of in favor of Newman's Own organic canned cat food. The cats have been eating another kind, and heck, I can't think of the name. I'll add it later. But they ate the one can of Newman's I bought for them to try, so that's what I'll get until I'm told otherwise. I also bought them some dry food called By Nature, which appears to be pretty good. But I'll update on the foods after we've been to the doc. It does appear that there are others like me out there, enough of us that there is a market for healthy, balanced, organic pet food. Awesome. 

The litter box:

I did not buy the litter boxes from this company, but this shows a picture of the kind that we use: Scuse the enormous link here, but I didn't feel like typing it! (copy/paste doesn't work for some reason...)


More later...

Essential Oils For Eczema IN CHILDREN

I recently posted about my success with using bergamot oil for eczema for myself. I have received a few replies from folks who have kids with eczema. I appeal to you with children. Essential oils are great for kids! But not ALL essential oils. In fact there are a number of EOs that are NOT recommended for use on children.

After receiving those messages, I referred to the book Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood. She has a few recommendations, which include soothing oat baths, a calamine lotion mix, a vegetable oil bath, an anxiety relieving bath and an oil mix. Bergamot is part of the oil mix, but it is a small part. I am happy to share more information on any of the above. For single essential oils, she recommends the following:

Camomile German (which I have used with good results)

*Please note. Lavender essential oil has been linked to hormone disruption in boys. (I don't have the link handy, but a Google search would bring it up) It is an issue with daily use (from shampoo, etc.) I use it occasionally in the bath, and I'm not overly concerned about it. But do your homework just so you know the facts. Basically the two boys with the symptoms had enlarged breasts due to chronic exposure, and in both cases the condition resolved itself with the removal of the oil.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Selective Mutism

My daughter is having a tough time at school at the moment. Mostly at school. I wrote about it recently: Peace in Patterns?

This morning I received an email from my daughter's kindergarten teacher:

Just wanted to let you know how much (Dear Daughter) has been in my thoughts this week.  I know she is going through a lot of anxiety and you must be too!  If you want to talk, let me know.

Also, I am attaching a website for you to look at.  I am not an expert, but I think that many of (DD's) behaviors fit the profile of selective mutism.  I thought you might want to look at it.  I am always an advocate for too much information rather than not enough. 

(Signed DD's teacher)

She included this link.

I was floored. Not only did this "diagnosis" basically describe my daughter to a T, but it also described ME! Well! I'm floored. I immediately told dear hubby about it, and sent him the link. Basically, in a nutshell, it describes a child who, in certain situations, becomes so anxious, he/she literally cannot speak. The fear of the situation is all consuming. That's us. That's US! I dealt with that fear all the way through school, including college. And now it's affecting her, too. Wow.

I encourage anyone interested to go to the link above. It's a lot to read, but it's fascinating. And being one who is totally intensely shy in certain situations, I especially appreciated the emphasized point that in treatment, the child is not to be forced to speak! The emphasis is on making the child feel comfortable and understood. It emphasized that parents and teachers should support the child in every situation, and praise him/her for what he/she is able to do, when the timing is right. 

Yes, the treatment suggestions include therapy and maybe medicine, which I'm not crazy about, but I understand that it could be helpful in some ways. 

Regardless, I am excited to know more about this "diagnosis" and to know what we can do to help DD manage her anxiety. If I can learn how to manage mine at the same time, double bonus. But I have created a mostly low-stress environment around myself, so my need is not acute. 

But she's got years and years of scary school/other situations to face, so if we can make that less awful, well, let's do it. 


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bergamot Essential Oil For Eczema

I have searched online (Google) several times looking for natural remedies for eczema. I have had eczema my entire life (41 - gasp - years) and I have had to resort to steroid creams time and time again. It hadn't occurred to me until fairly recently that there might be other options. So I researched. Time and time again I found reference to Bergamot essential oil. I bought some.

In order to keep my skin from become so itchy it was impossible not to scratch, especially during the night, that I was using my prescription steroid cream every night before bed. I never used a lot, but I applied it every day, without exception. If I forgot it when traveling, I was in a panic.

About six weeks ago (a guess, but it's something like that) I decided to give Bergamot essential oil a trial run. Being fairly new to essential oils, I am always cautious about using them without a carrier (mild, blending) oil. I mixed several drops of Bergamot oil in with an ounce or two of sweet almond oil. (Sweet almond oil is very mild. It is often recommended for use on children.) I began to apply the mix to all of my patchy areas. (I have many...sighs....) I have not used ANY steroid since. Not once! People who suffer with chronic eczema know how amazing this can be. About a week (maybe a bit more) ago I stopped using the blend, as I thought it might be making me sneeze. I did continue to use sweet almond oil as lotion. About a week after discontinuing the Bergamot, my skin informed me that it was unhappy. Afraid of what that could result in, I started using the Bergamot oil blend again. My skin immediately calmed down, and has started to heal. Mind you, I've never, ever been eczema-free, and I don't imagine I ever will be. But I have been six weeks without a prescription cream, and I am overjoyed. Of course, I always use my other cautions and am careful about what I handle, and I put oil on after washing my hands, and so forth. But wow. =)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Worms Done Right! A Worm Composting Update

So here I am, the proud owner of a worm bin, with active worms working away inside. I was excited about the bin, and wrote about it right away. I included pictures, and a step-by-step outline of how we put the bin together.

And then I heard from Liz. What I had proudly put together was basically the worst environment for my poor worms! Let me tell you about Liz!

Liz, or as her website describes her, the "Texas Worm Chic" is a worm composting expert. She is passionate about worm composting, and about teaching others what she has learned along the way. After receiving her kind message on my blog, I sought out her website. Called WormBinComposting.com, it is a treasure trove for those interested in worm composting! She covers every aspect, from setting your bin up to harvesting the fabulous soil. As I told her, I so wish I had found her website before I set up my bin. I had gotten my information from the internet, and had searched on Google. What I came up with was step-by-step instructions for setting up a less than perfect worm home. How bad I felt! I quickly devoured everything on her website, which is very thorough. Liz has a question and answer section on her website (how cool is that) which I quickly put to use. I wanted to know if I should redo my bin. She receives lots of questions from folks, and manages to respond very quickly. She also has a yahoo group, and communicates with members by email loop. That way anyone in the group can share information, and everyone benefits from the information that Liz shares. I love it. But it gets better!

After chatting with Liz through her website and through email, she suggested I check out her online worm composting class. While curious, I wondered how a class would be helpful when her website seemed so complete. I checked it out, and it was totally worth it. She takes you step by step through the process of setting up a worm bin, caring for it, feeding the worms, and harvesting, and everything in-between. And she does it with brief video clips of herself doing the work! For someone like me who is more of a visual learner, this type of "class" is very helpful. Once the class is paid for, you can watch the videos again and again, as often as you need to. I love that, because I'm one of those who needs to watch something a thousand times to get it just right, no matter how simple. (I'm a little distractable...yeeks.) Anyhow, I can't wait to start again, and get it right. =)

Liz was kind enough to offer to answer any questions anyone might have about worm composting, right here on my blog! How cool is that? So bring it on!

I suggest to anyone interested in worm composting that you check out her website, and go take her online class. The class costs $5.00. Here is the link:


By the way, you can also order worms from Liz. She's got enough to go around!!

If I sound like an advertisement for the Texas Worm Chic, I am. I am truly happy to have found her (well, that She found ME) and I am hopeful that I can bring some business her way as way of thanks. =) And worms are fun. Really!

Peace In Patterns?

My daughter, who is 5 1/2, experiences a higher degree of anxiety in certain situations than other kids her age. While this is true in her every day life, her anxiety peaks at certain times, or in certain situations. She is currently experiencing a peak.

The source of her anxiety, on the surface, is that she is afraid to use the bathroom at school. This has been true since she started pre-k, last year. She has refused to go all this time. Amazingly, only twice during the last two school years, she has had accidents. Twice! That's pretty incredible, considering she is at school this year for six hours at a time. I couldn't do it, that is for sure! That being said, she has not been particularly stressed about all of this. She simply made her mind up that she wasn't going to go while at school, and she hasn't. So last week, seemingly out of the blue, she decided to start thinking about it. Recently she has made some other changes at school as well. She used the water fountain during the school day, and she considered eating a treat during various birthday celebrations at school. Big changes for her.

Anyhow, I said that the source of her anxiety on the surface is the issue of the bathroom. Having experienced her surge in anxiety last year at just about this time, I think that the true source of the anxiety is the impending end of the school year, the change in routine that summer vacation brings, and the knowledge that she will be attending a different school next year.

But she's five, she can't recognize that, so she's projecting her fears on something much more tangible. This year it's the bathroom. Last year it was an obsessive fear of swallowing inappropriate things.

I realized the pattern sort of accidentally. Last year as DD faced her fears and dealt with a surge in anxiety that lasted for weeks, I considered seeking help from a professional. I got as far as asking a friend of mine, who is a child psychiatrist, to recommend someone to us. She sent me an email with the names of a few of her peers. I never contacted them, but appreciated having the resources. Just the other day, I went through the same thought process, and wondered if I still had the email from my friend. I did. While rereading it, I noticed the date on it, and I realized that the seeming random anxiety surge may not really be so random. It brought relief, in a way. If she got through it last year, which, of course she did, then chances are she will get through it this time, too. And perhaps reminding her of last year's situation will help to ease her mind a bit, as well. Maybe it will help her to see the source of her anxiety more clearly. At least for me, defining the nature of the beast makes it much easier to battle.

That being said, it's still really tough to know what to do while in the thick of it. DD becomes so upset at times that she cries and cries, and I just want to take her in my arms and never let go. Then there are times when she has talked about the current focal point to the point of utter madness, and I become so frustrated that I get angry. I'm not proud of that, but how many times in a day can one person listen to "I think I need to go again" ? It was hell leaving her at school this morning, crying. I knew that she needed to face today, as she had spent the entire weekend agonizing about it, and if we avoided it, it would just turn into tomorrow, or the next day, or the next..... Sometimes the only way is through. But it's no fun knowing that and trying to tell someone you love, someone who breaks your heart into bits with every tear, that that's the case. It sucks!

In any event, perhaps as this "episode" passes, we can learn more about how she works, how anxiety works, and how we can help to make the next "episode" less intense. And perhaps it is time to allow someone else to advise us on the process. I'm sad for her. And I'm so, so proud of her! I know, and I keep reminding hubby too, that she is dealing with all of this because she is growing. She is facing things she has been afraid to face in the past. And she is afraid now! But she is facing it. And for that I swell with pride.

Monday, May 3, 2010


B.S. confuses and offends me. It comes in many forms. Much of the time it's expected, but sometimes not. It is when it is unexpected that it sticks in my head, and I find the need to process it to death. If I can't make sense of something, it will bug me for time unending. A waste of time and brain power? Yeah, maybe. But it is what it is, and this stuff bugs me. Current b.s:

+I have a mother's helper who cleans my house and runs errands for me as needed. She and I have developed a "go with the flow" relationship. If she needs to change a day, no big deal, if I need something, she's pretty flexible. She has gotten into a routine with us, in a sense. When she cleans, she stays for 3 hours, and will get done whatever she can in that time. If something is not completed in that time, it's left undone. She has gotten rather casual about changing days/times. As a general rule I don't care. I truly don't.  But it has started to feel a little like she's taking advantage. When she grocery shops, she's gone for about 1.5 hours. I don't watch the clock. I just know that this is about how long it takes her, give or take a few minutes. When I first hired her, she quoted me a pay rate for shopping, and one for cleaning. One day that she shopped, for 1.5 hours, I rounded up and paid her a couple of bucks more. It then became an expectation that she would get that amount. Again, I really didn't and don't care. I am very grateful that she is willing to shop for me, and works pretty hard to get what I ask for. So yesterday she came to get the shopping list. She left, and I focused on other things. After an hour or so, I got on my bike. I was cruising through a nearby neighborhood, and was heading around a cul-de-sac. I noticed a car that looked like hers. I glanced and thought that the person looked like her, but dismissed it....sort of. I continued a loop around the neighborhood, and ran into the car again. (Not literally) This time I was pretty certain it was her. My head started to process. I decided that I would only care if she was dishonest about being there. I watched as she turned down my road, then followed a minute or two later. I arrived home, and walked in. She asked me if I had been running. "Biking," I said. "That was you?" she said before she could catch herself. "That was me," I said. "Did you see me?" she asked. "I did." End of conversation. She quickly informed me that hubby had paid her, said a couple other unrelated things, and dashed out the door. Ummmmm......

+I have been attending the Natural Health Improvement Center. I was eagerly following the program designed for me, until the multitude of supplements they had me on started making me physically sick. I informed them of this. I was taken off of them, then restarted on them again. I got sick again, and the recommendation for me was to stay off them a day or two and start them again. No discussion or explanation as to why this was a good idea. I did not restart the stuff a third time. I emailed the Center to say that I planned to stay off the stuff for at least the weekend or longer til I thought it all through. Not only was there no discussion about this, there was no response at all. Not good enough! I want to discontinue the program. I paid for several appts. in advance and am guessing they are not going to be keen on refunding my money.

+My daughter is extremely timid. She was recently involved in a program at school which involved meeting with adults to discuss poetry and exchange poems. She did not feel comfortable writing poems. She did attend every meeting and group. At the end of the weeks long program, there was a presentation, and she stood up with her class. She came home that day with an anthology. A really neat collection of letters and poems that the students and adults had shared with each other. I did not expect one written by or for my daughter, and there was none. On the very last page, there was a group photo of the Kindergarten class. It took me a minute, but I finally found my daughter in the picture, sitting under a table. (Comfort zone!) Beneath the photo was a list of every kids name, EXCEPT hers. There was the name of a child who wasn't in the picture. But not my daughter's. Huh? I emailed the head of school to ask why she wasn't mentioned. She wrote back immediately (to her credit) and apologized. Her excuses? 1) She didn't see her in the photo (so??) 2) She had counted the correct number of kids in the photo because she had accidentally counted an adult in the photo. 3) And I'm quoting here! Additionally,(DD) was not yet participating in the poem presentation when the program was printed a few days before. Had I known that she would decided to stand up with the group, I would have included her name there as well." Uh.....had she not participated, in her capacity, in every single part of the program from the start??

These are the top 3 b.s. contenders for the moment.