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!

Friday, December 30, 2011

All Natural All-Purpose Household Cleaner

Combine the following for a hard-working and nice smelling (and completely toxin-free) household cleaner:

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons castile soup
10 drops essential oil of your choice

Read about essential oils online. Some may just provide a nice smell. Others have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, etc. properties.

FYI, for some reason, my castile soap initially clumped together when I added it to the vinegar/water mix, but by morning it was once again dispersed in the mix. This cleanser works well in a spray bottle or other container. Mix well before each use. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Day In The Life

I have felt like writing lately. I go through phases like this. So I'm just gonna gab about life. I feel good this morning. I slept well, despite little man waking up during the night and having a sneeze attack, and was so congested he sounded like a buzz saw. He had conked out on the early side after a small dose of Benedryl after breaking out in hives! Two days ago he told me his skin was itching. His was scratching his torso and his legs. I checked and didn't see anything, then put some diluted lavender essential oil on it. That seemed to do the trick. Yesterday morning I could see a small patch of hives on his cheek. Again, lavender oil did the trick. But later in the day my daughter informed me that he had hives again. They were on his face again, and this time he had them on both sides. One side was pretty significant. This time I put Caladryl on it. He didn't like the feel of it, but tolerated it just the same. By dinner time, he had hives on his chest, belly and back. Ugh! The only thing I could think of that might have touched his skin that we hadn't been using all along was the laundry detergent at my father's house. We stayed there over Thanksgiving break. So we put a shirt on him that had been washed here, but it didn't help. So more lavender, plus a small dose of Benadryl. He seemed to improve right away, but not surprisingly, was ready for bed as soon as we got upstairs. (Not unusual anyway) He slept fine until the sneeze attack early this morning.....Now he's up, and just informed me he's "getting more bee hives!" (He's 4) Sighs.... Oh, and after the sneeze attack hubby informed me that he "has it too" and that it will be a "sick weekend." Just a continuation of the week, really. So... more lavender... Now DD is starting her pre-school anxiety stuff. Her nose is so stuffy she can't breathe. (Not true) Her belly aches. She feels as if she's going to throw up. She does, in fact, go to the bathroom and dry heave a bunch. She is so exhausted she might fall asleep in class. (She slept fine all night) And so on. As we drive to school, she complains from the back seat in this tiny little voice reserved for times like this. I tell her, as I always do, that I can't hear her when she talks in that voice. I try, again, to explain to her what is happening to her. I point out the difference between physical sickness and emotional upset that causes physical sickness. I reminded her, again, that with "transition" anxiety, she feels anxious every school morning, and that once she is at school and in her routine, the anxiety lessens. She reminds me, again, that earlier this week, it didn't lesson, and she felt sick all day. (Sighs) So I pointed out that this was one time, vs about 800 times when it was the case. Anyhow, she shed a few tears on the way in the door, and I was gone. Ugh, I just hate how awful she feels every school morning. =( Wah! So DS and I went home to address his "bee" hives again. A little more lavender seems to be working today. A little diffused eucalyptus should help with his congestion. And now we're watching a movie as I enjoy a cuppa joe. Now.... a few minutes to worry about what the heck to get everyone for Christmas. Bleh. My dear SIL sent me a list for her kids, so that's awesome. And when my brain takes a break, I'm enjoying thinking about the shirt I designed in my dream two mornings ago! I think it would be fun to try to make it a reality. =) But Christmas ideas first! (Work before play!) As always, I'm glad it's Friday, but come Saturday morning, and the inevitable battle between DH and DD over whether we're going out or staying in, I always wonder why. I hope to hear from the Selective Mutism Center today!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Selective Mutism At My House - Seeking Professional Guidance

Yesterday I sent an email to the Selective Mutism Center in Philadelphia, PA, requesting information on getting an in-person, comprehensive evaluation done for our daughter. I have done a lot of reading on their website, and I'm finding even more reasons to be convinced of this diagnosis for her. The site mentioned such behaviors as bladder problems, (my daughter, when anxious, becomes absolutely fixated on needing to use the bathroom) defiance, (if she feels out of control of a situation she becomes defiant and stubborn, especial with DH,) all sorts of physical symptoms such as headaches, belly aches, and so on. Anyhow, it spurs me on.

Today has been a day! My daughter, after being out of school for two days with a genuine stomach bug, put on such a show this morning that she actually convinced me that she was still sick with it. This was after her being much better the second day out of school, and one day back at school. She was completely fine. But the lengths this little girl goes to to prove that she is not is truly heartbreaking to me. I told my husband on the phone that even though this morning's physical symptoms were due to anxiety and not physical illness, they are still there, and they are real! That doesn't mean that staying home from school is justified - just the opposite. But she had me fooled. The job of making the decision in the morning as to whether she's really feeling awful, or just very nervous, is very, very hard! It sucks, to be quite frank. My husband felt that she had manipulated me. Is it manipulation? I'm not entirely convinced of that. Did she want the day off? Yes indeed. Did she play things up to get that? Yes. But was it manipulative? Maybe. But maybe her anxieties are intense enough that she dupes herself, too. In any event, I do hope the center gets back to me soon! 

So the day continued. A long phone conversation with hubby gave me the opportunity to vent, then to feel better about my decision. Even though it was not the right one, darn it, I make the right one most of the time, and this little girl is upping the ante, improving her act, and works awfully darn hard to be convincing. What she has convinced me of is that what we are doing to help her through this is not nearly enough. I am a person who would rather do most anything than resort to medication, and I think medication might be in order for her. Just long enough to allow us to put some other coping mechanisms into place. In the meantime, I have a hard time blaming her for how she behaves, or the lengths she goes to to protect herself from her fears. How can I? 

So then I had to decide what to do with her while I took DS to his music class. Do I take her, and give the message that she simply needs to go with me to wherever I need to go today? Or do I keep DS home because DD is "sick"? Or do I ask hubby to come home and stay with her while I take him? In the end, DH came home and stayed with DD. She does not like to stay with him, especially if DS is not here. So it was basically a "natural consequence" of her deciding to stay home today. It also allowed me the 40 minutes of peace that I get while he's in class. She put up an argument that she was going with me!! And she would NOT stay with Papa!! And so forth, but finally the idea sunk in. She finds these situations easier if she's allowed to call me on the phone, which I always allow. She called me a couple of times, but was completely calm throughout my absence. For the remainder of the afternoon I just kept reminding her that she needed to keep quiet since she was home sick. This was almost comical, because she was not sick in the slightest, and did not want to remain on the couch! Again, natural consequence. She asked for all sorts of things, in particular a popsicle, which she has wanted for several days. I told her that it was not a good idea to fill her dodgy, healing belly with garbage, and that she would have to wait until she was feeling better. Well, that put her in a spot! She also asked to play outside, and started to run around the house with her brother. No, no, no! said Mama. Funny. Anyhow, she has already started to make protests about going tomorrow, but this woman is prepared to play it tough! Not that I like to be that way, I truly don't. But that's the position I'm in. Alas! So after returning from a trip to the store with both kids, and another reminder that she shouldn't be running around the house if she's sick, I gently pointed out to her (again) that she was experiencing anxiety this morning, and that once the pressure of school was taken away, she was fine. I asked if she understood that. She replied, "Sort of." Well, that's something.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tea Tree Oil As Antibacterial (etc.)

From http://www.WebMD.com: "Tea tree oil comes from the Australian paperbark tree and has been used traditionally as a folk remedy by Australian aborigines. There are close to 300 varieties of Melaleuca alternifolia (the Latin name for the tea tree), but only one produces the medicinal oil...According to naturopathic and homeopathic doctor Asa Hershoff, DC, of Los Angeles and San Francisco, tea tree oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties..."

For months now, I have been using tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) exclusively to treat any number of skin issues. I use it on myself, my husband, and my children. I have watched tea tree quickly resolve minor infections. It helped to heal a boil that had been present for months and simply would not go away, but became irritated again and again. If the kids get scrapes or booboos that are dirty or have high infection possibilities, I apply tea tree as a preventative measure. And it works. It does not sting, like some EOs can (lavender, for example.) And a little goes a long way. Tea tree can be diluted if desired. Just add a couple of drops of tea tree to sweet almond oil, or any good carrier oil. 

I was told by a holistic practitioner that it is important not to overdo essential oil application. She suggested applying an oil once or twice a day for one or two days, then taking a day or two off for rest, repeating as needed. I have followed that advice with good results.

I buy Tea tree oil from Young Living, whose prices tend to high but their products are all therapeutic grade. You can find it online at a number of places. It is probably available at Whole Food Markets and others. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

There's A Mouse In My House

Yesterday, my 7-year-old walked into the kitchen saying, "Aw, isn't it cuuuttee?" Uh-oh, I thought. What now? In her had was this little guy. Emphasis on little. It was obvious the damn cat had been at it again. He kills and/or maims everything he can get his paws on. Dear daughter found this mouse near her sand pit. I grabbed the first box I could find, and some polyester fiberfill from my sewing room. Instant nest. What now? I went online and did a search on "What to feed a baby rodent." We went out and bought evaporated milk, eggs, and corn syrup. (Weird, right?) We mixed and put some in a eye dropper. This little guy was definitely going to have to get used to eating this way, and we were going to have to get used to having a newborn in the house again! He has a gash on one side, thanks to the #$%^ cat, so I prepared my daughter for the worst. I was pretty sure this guy wouldn't last the afternoon, let alone the night. Regardless, we held him, fed him what he would take, and did our best to clean him up. (The formula gets everywhere) His eyes are not yet opened, but he does have fur. I read that in order to make sure his systems work properly, it is necessary to gently rub the private area, and that without this step, the mouse would surely die. We did it. We offered him food every hour. When awake, the little guy got quite active. He was obviously strong for his age, and not so broken inside that he couldn't move around. We got ready for bed. Around midnight, I woke up, worried. Hubby told me the mouse was squeaking like crazy. I got up and prepared to feed him. (Yes, I'm certain it's a him.) The little guy was absolutely frozen. Shoot! I held him and fed him and he quickly warmed up. I set him back in the box, and went back to bed. Hubby woke me at 4:30 a.m. when he got up, and I got ready to feed him again. He was ice cold! I held him again and fed him. Most feedings he's not eating much, but he did eat quite a bit at one feeding. I was nervous to leave him again, but returned him to his box. I brought him into the bedroom, thinking it might be a bit warmer in there. I returned to bed, but shortly afterwards, he started squeaking. I picked him up and held him in my hand while lying in bed. He calmed down right away. Poor little guy! My daughter woke up at that point, and we both went downstairs. After that feeding and holding session, both mouse and girl went back to sleep. I have since been reading online, and (lightbulb!) read that a heating pad under the box would work wonders. He has one now. Wish I had thought of that last night! Better late than never. I've also read that a stuffed animal gives them comfort. (Really?) And I've read that baby mice can be fed kitten or puppy or HUMAN formula. So today, we will go shopping for a more proper home for him, and more food. I've read that once a baby mouse gets to be a few weeks old, you can skip the night time feedings. (Oy!) Also, when he's ready for solid food, he can have banana baby food! Anyhow, I'll update as he (hopefully!) progresses. Now to go check on him...

The update is that after purchasing a bunch of stuff for Muzzy the mouse, he passed away. Very sad. We enjoyed knowing him for the short time we got.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Follow-Up To Experiment In Parenting

Yesterday I wrote about changing things at home - adding more responsibility to the children, and encouraging more independence. I want to write a little bit about our first day. First of all, I filled my husband in on the plan, because consistency is key. To his credit, he did follow through with the plan, even while I was away. lol. Anyhow, for each meal we have asked the kids to clean up the table, which tends to be a catch-all during the day. We've then asked them to set the table, and to clear their dishes after the meal. Results? They do it. The first time, it was like a game. Both seemed to enjoy the tasks. After the first time, my oldest said, "We're doing this again?" But did so. The younger one needs much more one-on-one attention with this stuff, but he'll do what he's asked to do. Yesterday I asked my oldest to do a load of laundry. She did. At first she protested a little, but once she started, she actually said, "This is fun!" And this morning, she "reminded" me that today is our son's turn. (We were out all day, so time didn't allow his load to go through too) I have asked both kids to put their pjs in a basket on the stairs when they dress, and they do so. Not a lot to ask, and it takes reminders to myself some of the time, but if we keep it up, it will become part of the flow. It's a good start.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Experiment In Parenting - A Montessori Approach

A couple of minutes ago, the Head of School for my daughter's Montessori school sent around the link to a YouTube video on one person's view of the comparison between traditional education and Montessori education. Whenever I see something like this, I think about how much Montessori education has meant to us as a family. My daughter spent her first year at Montessori last year, and being a child with anxiety issues which effect everything that she does, we were and are stunned by the changes that have occurred over the year. I give most of this credit to her. She has grown so much, and has taken on the challenges the anxiety presents to her with incredible strength and perseverance. But I also credit the school, the Montessori method, and her wonderful teacher. So much so that I have made it my mission to do as much as I can to help the school grow and flourish, so that it is available to her, to us, for as long as possible.

But I also compare the Montessori method of teaching to my parenting style, and vow to make changes. Then life happens, I make much smaller changes than I intend on, and life continues as is.

So today I am going to vow, again, to make some changes at home, that loosely reflect the Montessori method at school. Here are my thoughts.

First of all, I am going to ask the children to take on more of the responsibilities for making the house run smoothly. I started to do a little of this. Such as occasionally asking them to set the table. More frequently, asking them to bring their dishes to the sink. When I am with them at pj time, sometimes, I set the pjs in front of them, and ask them to get themselves changed, rather than doing it for them. I am going to try to be more consistent with this, and have it become part of the routine. I also plan to ask the children to complete one load of laundry every Saturday, from washing through putting them away. This will have the added (sighs) benefit of forcing me to have the dryer empty, and the laundry baskets empty as well!

I have gotten a bit lazy about making the kids, for example, turn the tv off during lunch. I have mixed feelings, and that is obvious because some days I reinforce this rule, and other days, I don't. I find myself feeding my kids sometimes, while they lounge on the couch. Yikes! I am going to try something new: when we are home, I will ask the children to turn off the tv, to set the table, and to help prepare and serve lunch. I don't think it will be a big deal to them. They are pretty easy-going, and I have always found that kids work well with routine.

My daughter works on reading every day, because she is too timid (Selective Mutism) to read out loud at school. I need to figure out how to work the Montessori method into this as well. She hates reading, and it can be a giant struggle getting her to focus. This is a hard one for me to figure out, because Montessori suggests that children should learn at their pace, yet at the same time there is concern that she'll fall behind for her grade level, and that it would be noticeable to her. So I force her to study every day. She'll complain, but then she'll realize she can read something while we're out and about, and she's obviously pleased by that. So .... anyhow, I stick to my guns with that, despite her protests. On the other hand, she loves the workbook work we do, so maybe I should allow her to do just workbook, which does involve some reading. Though that doesn't feel like enough. I don't know. I just want her to be in a place where she feels confident in the classroom, despite her shyness, and that means work at home.

Anyhow, I'll start here, and see how things go.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

*Warning!* Sentry Natural Defense Flea and Tick Treatment is Dangerous For Cats!

On Friday, May 6th, I went to Benson's Pet Center with the sole purpose of purchasing some flea and tick repellent for our two cats. I went to the check-out counter and asked an employee to help me find some natural repellent. I prefer to avoid toxic chemicals whenever possible, for us, and for the cats. She took me right to a display that is in full view of the counter, at the front of a very full store. She pointed out this product: Sentry Natural Defense Natural Flea & Tick Squeeze-On for Cats & Kittens. "That was easy!" I said to the employee, and bought the stuff, for $13.50.

That afternoon, my daughter and I applied the stuff to both cats. I had read every word on the box, and was a little surprised at the recommendation of wearing both gloves and eye protective gear while applying this product, which claimed to be "Safe for USe Around Children and Pets." Hm. Very shortly after applying the stuff, our male cat started to scratch at the application site. Now cats do not like anything applied to their fur or skin, so I noted the reaction, and kept an eye. Now the reason for applying the stuff in the first place was that our daughter had found a fully engorged tick in the house, under a chair where our male cat likes to sleep. Over the next couple of days, the cat continued to scratch at his neck. And on Sunday, we realized he had a tick there. Ok, so I figured the scratching was due to that. The cat went out for a few minutes, then came in, and I went to remove the tick. It had fallen off on its own, outside, thank goodness. (YUK) Monday morning, my daughter held the cat on her lap, and noticed that he was trembling. I looked, and yes, he had developed a tremor in his head. I called the vet, and brought him in, along with the flea/tick treatment I had applied. A short while later, one of the doctors called me to say that she had done some online research on the essential oils in the product, and found that one, in particular, clove oil, had strong suggestions against use on cats. (The product is 7.0% clove oil) She said also that peppermint is not well tolerated by cats. (The product is 10.0% peppermint oil) She told me that these ingredients can cause liver and kidney damage, and recommended blood work to test. I agreed, of course, and thank goodness, the tests came back normal. She told me the cat had been bathed, to remove the product, and that he would be bathed again before I picked him up. She then informed me that she had called the company that makes this "natural" product, Sentry, and filed a claim with them! She said she'd give me the information to do the same, once the cat is healthy again. (Why I had to wait for that I'm not sure) To add insult to injury, the cat had THREE more ticks removed while at the vet. So not only is the stuff toxic, but un-effective! Add to that the vet bill of $151.50. Gads!!

The cat has been home for two days now, and seems to be doing well. I have noticed no more tremors, and he is no longer scratching at the area we applied the product. We have washed the area of the other cat as well as we can, and she seems ok, though she did vomit this morning (Wednesday.) Related? I don't know.

The vet informed me that no flea and tick remedies are 100% effective, but she did recommend Front Line, which is applied in the same way that the Sentry stuff is apparently. She said that you weigh the pros and cons when using anything like this. I have yet to use anything else on the cats, and have yet to see another tick.... sighs.... but the cats are now only allowed to occupy one room in the house, which is closed off to the rest of the house. And they can go out.

I have to say that I am so disappointed in this company. I use essential oils in my home and on myself and my family, and like any medication, they must be tested and used with caution. It is so very irresponsible of this company to misuse them in this way. It's dangerous for the cats, makes all-natural products seem unsafe and dangerous, and in that way, promotes the use of toxic chemicals. When used appropriately (with lots of thorough research) natural products are far safer than the chemicals we assume are safe because they are widely marketed.

Additional Information:

The ingredients listed for the Sentry Natural Defense flea and tick product:

Active Ingredients:
peppermint oil 10.00%
clove oil 7.00%
lemon grass oil 3.0%

Other Ingredients:
canola oil, vanillin, citric acid 80.00%

A couple of websites with information about essential oils and cats:

essential oil safety and cats

essential oil and cats: a potentially toxic mix - the website includes a list of some essential oils that are known to be toxic to cats. The first on the list is peppermint oil.

do essential oils kill cats? - this website claims that it is not the essential oils that are harmful to cats, but the additives. It claims that therapeutic grade e.o.s can be used. Hm... not sure if I agree with this! It is well documented that several e.o.s are dangerous for cats - in any form! Here's a quote from this site: "Like their other senses, cats have an acute sense of smell. They are usually not too keen on being treated with essential oils – so it can take some ingenuity to sneak up on them and apply any oils." What?! Why would anyone do that? It devastates me that this kind of suggestion is out there. Cats have far better instincts in general as to what is good for them and what is not than humans do. We might do well to pay more attention to what they do! 

There is lots and lots of information on the internet about all this. Do a quick search online on clove oil and cats. It's pretty clear. While clove oil is great as an insecticide, it is also pretty good way to get rid of your cats! The cats cannot metabolize the oils, they become toxic, and the cats suffer from liver failure. Essential oils and cats DO NOT MIX! Lesson learned. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011


On Monday, March 28th, my children and I were in a terrible car accident. While returning home from posting a notice at the vet's about our missing cat, we were rear-ended while stopped to turn into our road. This car pushed us into oncoming traffic, and we were hit again by a man traveling the other way. It was horrible, surreal, shocking, and a thousand other things. Although there are a few little things I remember, my entire focus was on my children. I recall saying, "We're ok, we're ok, we're ok" over and over again. Hoping, praying, that it was true. Both children cried right away (the pediatrician later asked this.) They didn't scream, as I recall. But cried, yes. Not me. I was in Mama-mode the entire time. Make the children ok as soon as possible. So I talked at them and went right to them. I don't remember at all if I put the car in gear, or turned it off.... I must have at least put it in park. My only recollection is that the air bag deployed, and that it seemed smaller than I thought it would be. I don't remember if it hit me. I don't remember if I hit anything. My glasses flew off my face. I got out of the car and opened the rear driver's side door to get the children out of the car. I held my son and put my arm around my daughter, and walked us across the street to the grass. I thought I was heading toward our road, but I was heading toward the opposite road. During the accident, my car had been turned completely around, so we ended up facing the opposite direction. Without glasses and being so stunned, it took me several minutes to realize this. I remember realizing the corner didn't look like our street, and trying to find the street sign. My son stopped crying shortly after getting out of the car. My daughter continued to cry for several minutes. Strangers came up to offer their help. I particularly remember two people, who stayed near us for the duration. A tall, thin man, who offered his car, his coat, his scarf, and a blanket that belongs to his infant child. We took all but the car, my daughter being uncomfortable with that idea. A woman, older than me, with light colored hair. I actually told this woman my name, and she mine, but the information is gone. Several other people offered us the warmth of their car. Only my daughter was wearing her coat.  Eventually, after a police officer offered his car, my son asked to sit in it. My daughter stood outside the door for a few minutes, then indicated that she'd like to get in, too. I tried to light-heartedly show the kids the emergency vehicles as they arrived, and the inside of the police car. My son noticed my driver's license and car documents in a clip on the inside of the police car and said, "Is that your picture on the roof?" Surreal. Two neighbors showed their faces and offered their help. The police officer offered to get things from the car, and the only thing I could think to request was my glasses. (Cell phone? Coats? Didn't even cross my rattled mind) Before getting into the police car, I asked the tall man if I could use his cell phone, and I called my husband and asked him to come get the kids. My daughter was getting upset by the sight of the car. A first responder did his best to check us for physical complaints. I turned down a hospital visit. I thought getting home was best for the children. Hubby arrived, and shortly thereafter we were given a print-out of the information of all of the driver's, and were ok to go home.

My car saved our lives. And kept us from serious injury. My daughter had a small scratch on her cheek. My son had a mark on his neck where his seat belt did its job. I developed a bruise on my left knee.

But we didn't walk away unscarred. I physically quaked for about three days. I am still reliving the accident at least once a day, typically at night as I try to rest. My daughter is having dreams about the accident. She had one this morning. My son keeps asking about the car. And as time goes on, I process. As the total shock starts to wear off, my feelings start to come through. How utterly lucky we were to come away physically unscathed. Several people commented about this fact. Including the police officer on the scene. Which car were you in? THAT one? That's a good car!! Then the total unrailing of our lives. Initally, my husband having to leave work suddenly to come help us. Saying goodbye to my car as the remains were hauled onto a flatbed truck and taken away. Comforting my traumatized children and reassuring them that right now it was ok for Papa to drive on the grass in order to keep out of the way of the cars that had to be rerouted around the scene. Telling the police officer that there was nothing in the car he could get for me, because my mind was a total blank. Home. Headache. Fear. Exhaustion. I don't know what we did for the remainder of the day. I really don't know. We all fell into bed exhausted.

Phone calls. My version of the accident to my insurance company, and to the one of the man who hit us from the front. Four days later, a letter from the insurance company of the woman who hit us. I had to call them. A woman, telling me that there was a limit on what they would pay! But a strong suggestion to replace the car seats, and charge the insurance company. Excellent. The front-hitter's company sent letter, too. They want a form filled out, and a drawing done. They also took a recorded statement over the phone. Hope you're ok, sorry that happened, we'll take care of things, etc. But please rate us a 10 in the survey. (Holy...)

At the suggestion of several friends (over Facebook, where is everyone?) I took the kids and myself to our doctors and had us checked out. As I knew, we were all physically fine, but now there is a record that we followed through with this.

I badly needed someone to talk things through with during the first couple of days. But that wasn't do-able because I was using borrowed time from hubby as it was to get the kids and me checked out, to be one the phone for long periods, to get us from here to there. So I talked to him, one night, in tears. But because of that 10 minutes of being able to shake at him and express my upset, I was able to sleep. I am feeling better every day. On top of the stress, the second night, my son was up at 3:30 a.m. He didn't express upset, but was wide awake, for the duration of the morning. So I was exhausted upon exhausted upon tired upon shaken etc and so forth. And then, during that same night, the cat, who had been gone for 7 days, appeared at the back door. Causing me to break out in tears, not knowing what emotion to allow to surface first. And then hearing my daughter say, the next day, that the accident was the cat's fault, because we were coming home from the vet when it happened.

But it's Saturday, and I'm feeling a lot closer to normal now.

So today's job is to help my daughter process all of this. To help her to understand why she is dreaming about the accident. To understand that it's ok to feel nervous about it all, even though the fault was not ours. How I shook while getting in the car for two days. For a couple of days, when we'd get into hubby's car, she would ask me not to "break Papa's car" and I would remind her that we did nothing wrong. And she would say, "I forgot." Yesterday, she asked me if I was awake enough to take her to school. I don't take offense. I understand.

Originally, I set out to write about the stages of trauma, which I looked up this morning in order to better help my daughter, primarily, but all of us, to get through all of this. And I ended up moving myself along the stages. Hm. It all makes me feel so tired.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Eucalyptus Globulus Essential Oil For Cold/Chest Congestion

I have a cold that has been going on for more than a week. It went through all the basic phases, and I was well on the way to recovery when some stressful events prevented the good rest and sleep required to nip the sucker in the bud. So it's lingering. And it's in my chest. I figured that in order to give my body the extra boost it needs to get on top of this thing, I'd look into essential oils for chest congestion. As I have read before for colds, I found that eucalyptus is recommended for chest congestion. I read that HERE.
I bought some recently, to use with the kids when they get sick. As suggested, I put 3 drops of eucalyptus globulus essential oil in a bowl, and poured some boiling water over it. I breathed in the steam for about two minutes (five minutes was recommended, but I have a 3-year-old) I am waiting to see how effective this is. I will do this again tonight, and will diffuse some in our bedroom before we go to sleep. It is supposed to loosen things up, but also help zap the bug that's causing it to begin with. I'll come back with my results.

Ok, it has been maybe 45 minutes, and my cough is much reduced. I can feel the eucalyptus in my chest. I have since looked up several more articles on chest congestion, and the majority of those recommended eucalyptus oil, among others. Peppermint e.o. is also frequently suggested. I have learned that the idea of steam inhalation with eucalyptus is that the steam helps to open the chest allowing the e.o.s to get in there and kill the virus/bacteria. So at this point I can say that the treatment is giving me some relief. Time will tell if it will actually help to end this cold/bug.

My sinuses started to bother me about 3.5 hours after my first eucalyptus treatment, so I just did another one. I felt pretty good for that amount of time, though. Not without a cough at all, but a less persistent and productive one. The trial continues...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Dangers of Lysol and Other "Cleaning" Products

AKA The Dirt on Clean!

So often, since becoming a mom, I've heard people comment that after an illness sweeps through their home, they "Lysoled" or "Bleached" everywhere. And my reaction (in my head only until now) is to wonder if, by cleaning with these products, are we doing more harm than good. Yes, bleach will kill a cold germ, and Lysol will make the house smell as if it's been cleaned. But at what price? I was curious, so I started to do a little research. Here is some info. I found on my first search, first article:

This website claims:


  • Keep Lysol spray out of the reach of children and do not expose your children or pets to the spray. Do not spray on or near food because of the risk of ethanol poisoning."
    Yuk. Sounds discouraging. What else? 


    • Shingleberrysigns.com
      "Ethanol is the primary ingredient in Lysol spray and is highly flammable, especially under pressure. Prolonged inhalation in a closed environment will create headaches, cough, fatigue and drowsiness. Skin exposure might result in severe redness and burning. Lysol spray uses denatured ethanol, which can cause ethanol poisoning when ingested."

    Ok, so what's good about it?

    From the same website:

    "It is (also) recommended as a disinfectant for classroom use rather than bleach because Lysol (which is a phenol) will not damage clothing. When used on non-porous surfaces, Lysol will kill most bacteria including: staph MRSA and strep; E.coli; salmonella; and campylobacter."

    So it's a balance, right? You risk something to get something. Let's look at bleach.

    From this website:
    "...household bleach, without having been mixed with other products, can cause pulmonary edema, vomiting or coma if ingested."
    Delightful. What else?
    "The dangers of bleach are significant to your health and the health of your family. Accidents have happened where one person adds toilet bowl cleaner and another, following behind, will inadvertently add bleach. The noxious gasses have been found to cause fatal injuries."

    So the question is, why would anyone have these things in their homes? Especially with kids and pets around? Because we think we are doing more good than harm, right? We've been conditioned to believe we need these things to keep ourselves and our families safe from illness. 

    So what are the alternatives? Well, let's see what an internet search on "safe household cleaners" results in.

    My first search landed me on the website of the Shaklee company, one I have come across before. While I am having some trouble finding a source of what exactly is in there cleaning products, I came across an interesting bit on what makes other chemical household cleaners dangerous. Read that HERE

    And they claim: "...we were the first company in the world to obtain Climate Neutral™ certification and totally offset our CO2 emissions, resulting in a net zero impact on the environment."

    That's nice. But I still can't find the ingredients of their products. Think I'll send them a message. In the meantime, some hold music....doododooddoododooodtumdedeeelalateedaaa....

    Well, I did hear back from Shaklee, and they sent me a pdf of every product and every ingredient. Hm. That's a company who has nothing to hide! Rather impressive. I haven't yet figured out how to share some of that info. here, but when I do, I will. I guess the bottom line is that if you can use something safe to do the same job as something unsafe...... USE IT. And there is nothing wrong with the old stand-bys, too. Vinegar, baking soda... hot water! I also use castile soap, which I like a lot. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Health Eating - Baked Chick Peas

Yesterday, while munching on chick peas from a can, I did a quick search on chick peas. I came across a recipe for baked chick peas. So I made a batch. I'm not sure what I think about them. I like that they're crunchy, but I have not seasoned them to my preference yet. But I'll keep trying to see if I can. Here's how to do it:

Rinse a can of chick peas, and coat them lightly in olive oil. Season however you like. Sugar and cinnamon, garlic, or any spice combo you'd like to try.

Preheat your oven to 400*. Spread the chick peas on a cookie sheet, and bake for about 40 minutes. Given them a stir every 10 minutes or so.

The first batch I made came out crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. I used a glass pan, a little more olive oil than it took to coat, and left them in the pan to cool. The second batch came out crunchy. I used a metal cookie sheet (see photo,) olive oil just to coat, and I transferred the chick peas to a bowl right out of the oven. Though many use garlic powder, I tried cinnamon and (weird) salt the first time, and preferred that to the garlic powder and salt. I'm still playing with it, and will post with any winning combinations.

This website says this (and more) about the health benefits of chickpeas:

"Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) 
provide an excellent source of 
molybdenum.  They are a very 
good source of folic acid, fiber, 
and manganese.  They are also a 
good source of protein, as well 
as minerals such as iron, copper, 
zinc, and magnesium"

*They also discuss potentially harmful issues for those with gout and/or kidney stones.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Candida Diet vs. GAPS diet

I have made the decision to switch from the anti-candida diet to the GAPS (Guts and Psychology Syndrome) diet.

I have been following the anti-candida diet for about 1.5 months to date, and have noticed the following changes in myself: My constant sinus issues disappeared. That happened pretty much right away. My bloated belly issues also disappeared right away. My "cycle" changed a little, in that it starts, stops for a couple of days, then starts again. (related? I don't know) I get cold. Every day, while at home, I get cold. If not my entire self, my hands. Very strange. This may have to do with drinking coffee somehow. I dunno. Another thing is that my appetite for coffee has increased (I though with the removal of sweeteners it might decrease...) I am sure this has do to with appetite suppression. The only other change that I am acutely aware of is that I'm hungry all the time. Part of that is I'm simply not good at feeding myself well. I am not a cook, so I tend to grab what's easy, such as nuts and sunflower seeds, and occasionally eat something more filling, such as a salad or an egg. I have been lucky to have wonderful, filling dinners a la hubby. But I'm hungry all the time. I also went through a brief period where I felt quite anxious, and one night I had a glass of wine. The result was that the anxiety in my body went away, and the anxiety in my mind lessened. So I started to have a glass every night. Not lots of wine, just enough to bring that sense of calm. I also have continued to drink coffee every morning since beginning the diet, only removing the sweetener. I continue to add half and half or creamer. Coffee, coffee lighteners, and alcohol are taboo on the anti-candida diet, so I haven't been strict. But other than these things, I have followed the diet very closely, having no additional sugars, no carbs from wheat (I have eaten rice, which is ok), no dairy other than feta cheese, and so on.

Yesterday after re-reading (for the millionth time) the anti-candida "ok" and "not ok" food lists, I decided to check back on the GAPS diet to see if that would make sense for me at this point. If the additional things I'm eating aren't upsetting my system, and if it allows some foods that will help me to feel full and expand my diet a bit, I'm all for it. So.....

In the next few weeks I will be adding back to my diet: fruit! cheese! and other wonderful things. I will be paying close attention to my sinuses (dairy??) and my belly, of course.

It's funny how freeing the GAPS diet seems from this perspective. When I tried the GAPS diet in the past (last summer) it was too restrictive, and I couldn't stick with it! The anti-candida diet is much more restrictive and I've managed to stick with that ok. (other than my vices....) So I'm excited and looking forward to the changes. Here's hoping the changes are all good!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Metamucil Can Cause Heartburn

I have been using Metamucil, about every other day or so, for months. Hubby and I started taking one glass of powder in water in the evening after he received some blood work indicating his lipid count was slightly high. Metamucil can help reduce cholesterol. (See my post Metamucil For Lowering Cholesterol)

For about a week, I have been getting heart burn nightly. I have had a few dietary changes over the last few weeks (see my posts on the Anti-Candida Diet) including a giant increase in my consumption of nuts and seeds, and lemon juice. I also take fish oil capsules, and have been told by one person that fish oil caused them to get heart burn. So basically, my thoughts were everywhere but on the Metamusil. By process of elimination, I got there. So this morning I decided to do a little internet searching just to eliminate the possibility. Bingo, I've found my source.

Here are a couple of places where others have indicated having the same issue:


And here

Neither of these gives any explanation as to why this occurs in some people, but shows that others have experienced the same effects I am. I'll try to find something a little more scientific...

I have to add that after doing a bunch of reading, there are other side effects as well. Before taking Metamucil, do a little research. If you have a pre-existing condition for which you are taking Metamucil, or other fiber supplement, read what others with a similar condition have experienced. Some with ulcerative colitis or other conditions have had difficulty tolerating Metamucil. For some, it is a wonderful, side-effect-free experience with many bonuses. For others, not so much.

UPDATE: Since writing this, I have decided to try experimenting with flavorless Metamucil to see if made a difference in how well my belly tolerated it. I bought this:
I wanted to give it a few days to see if that made a difference. I have now taken this kind (description below) three times, in the evening.

Metamucil, Clear and Natural, Clear-Mixing Powder. Flavor-free and taste-free, this one is made from 100% inulin, natural vegetable fiber. This kind calls for one TEAspoon per 8+ ounces of water. (The orange flavor kind calls for one TABLEspoon per 8+ ounces of water.

I have had no heartburn at all with this product. It is quite different from the orange flavored kind. It stirs clear in the water, and you cannot tell it's in there when you drink it. Very different from the orange kind, which is very obvious in the water (despite the flavor) as it is very thick. The longer it sits in the water, the thicker it becomes. If you don't stir as you drink, you can end up with a sludge at the bottom of the glass. It's a very different experience, and so far, a better one for me. For those with physical reactions to the other kind, it's definitely worth a try. And who needs the flavor, really. And who needs the sugar?? I'm glad to have found an alternative. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Candida Diet - Maintenance Phase

I have been on the anti-candid diet since Christmas eve. And I have to say it has not been a hard diet for me to stick with. I like it! How strange. To be fair, I still drink coffee every morning (against the rules) and I take metamusil in water about every other night or so, which is flavored and sweet. (Definitely against the rules) Other than these two transgressions, I have been very good about sticking to the "ok foods" list. I never did experience the belly upset I got on the GAPS diet, and my bloated belly has discontinued. Occasionally I get an edgy belly, and I have yet to figure out what is causing it, but it's still early on in the process. I have discovered that replacing meals like breakfast with nuts and seeds is not the best idea. =) My belly doesn't like that. Ok, ok. I've got to be better about creating good breakfasts for myself. That has always been true. It's my toughest meal. But I have also been experiencing this:

Heartburn. For about 4-5 nights in a row, I was getting indigestion. Heart burn. Very unusual for me. I wasn't sure what it could be. Someone told me once that fish oil caused them to get heartburn, but I've been taking fish oil, 2-3 times a day, for months and months. I wondered if it could be the lemon juice I use as salad dressing. Just by fate, I did not have salad for the last two nights. And I have not had heartburn for the last two nights. And I have taken the fish oil both evenings. Hm. Could it be that simple? Could it be that I'm greatly reducing the amount of nuts and seeds I'm consuming during the day. I will experiment and see what it could be. But because it went on for so many days in a row, and always in the evening/night time, I'm pretty sure it's something I'm eating every day. So it's a process of elimination. I will post back!

My favorite foods on this diet? Guacamole, salads with lots of veggies, lemon juice salad dressing.

*Next day* Just popping in to say that tonight I had my fish oil, Metamusil, and salad with lemon juice dressing. I had some nuts/seeds, but way fewer than I had been eating. And tonight I have no indigestion. At least not yet. Hm. I'm a bit surprised. I kinda thought it would turn out to be the lemon juice. But it's looking more like the nuts/seeds. Maybe I'll do some research on that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


After dinner tonight, my daughter went seeking nibbles in the fridge, and found a bag of parsley. Much to my husband's and my surprise, she nibbled some. Then ate the rest f the stalk. Then she ate several more stalks. Then she asked to have some in her lunchbox for school tomorrow! My husband stated that "No one eats parsley!" I chimed in that I actually love the taste of parsley, and used to eat it right out of the garden. He wondered about it's health benefits. Just for fun, I looked it up. !

From the website Natural Health Techniques:

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), the world's most popular culinary herb is also known as “rock celery” and belongs to the Umbelliferae family of plants. Parsley is one of the world's seven most potent disease-fighting spices which also include Ginger, Oregano, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Sage, and Red chili peppers. (emphasis min) 

The website then lists a whole bunch of ways parsley helps the body maintain and regain normal functioning. Surprising. Here are just a few:

· Anemia: Builds up the blood because it is high in iron.  The high vitamin C content assists the absorption of iron.
· Antioxidant: Increases the anti-oxidant capacity of the blood.
· Bactericidal (kills bacteria) 
  • Bad breath
  • Baldness: Believe it or not, men even scrubbed parsley onto their scalps to cure baldness—which doesn’t work.
  • Blood purifier
  • Blood vessel rejuvenation: Maintains elasticity of blood vessels, and helps to repair bruises.
  • Diarrhea is greatly helped by drinking parsley tea.
  • Digestion: Parsley is an excellent digestion restorative remedy. It improves the digestion of proteins and fats therefore promoting intestinal absorption, liver assimilation and storage. Because of its high enzyme content, parsley benefits digestive activity and elimination.
  • Dissolves cholesterol within the veins

    Wow. Who knew? =)


This morning, I made quinoa. What is it, you ask. I will tell you. But first, it's important that you pronounce it correctly. It is NOT qwin-oh-uh. =) It is pronounced keen-wah. Cool, what?

So. What is it? Check this out:

The Wise Geek website says this and more...

"Though not technically a grain, quinoa can substitute for nearly any grain in cooking. Actually the seed of a leafy plant, quinoa’s relatives include spinach, beets and Swiss chard. Due to its delicate taste and rich amounts of protein, iron, potassium and other vitamins and minerals, it is quite popular. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and is easily digested."

It is interesting, there is no doubt. And if you're not a grainy-type, it will be an experience for you. It was for me. First of all, quinoa looks odd. It is shaped like little round things with tails. Yeah, tails! Kind of bug-like. Ew. Then it's got this crunch to it. It's odd. But it is not strong flavored. So if you can get past it's odd shape and crunch, you're in. For me, the more that's added to it, the better. On the package I buy, there is a recipe for Scarlett Quinoa Salad that has all kinds of stuff in it, including beets, that was actually really tasty. Even my 6-year old picky as can be daughter ate it, and really liked it. Yeah!

So if you're looking for something different to add to your diet, whether you're restricted by gluten, or yeast, or dairy or many allergenic foods, or just looking to change your food choices up a bit, give it a try! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Candida Diet - Middle of Week 3

Here I am in the middle of my third week on this "diet" and I'm..... really liking it? Yes, I really am! That doesn't mean that I don't want what others are eating once in a while, but as a general rule, I am completely satisfied with what I am eating, and am very, very proud of myself for doing it! I do still have my coffee in the morning, but I went from 2 mugs of coffee with creamer and sugar or honey every morning to one mug of coffee (half-caff., as before) with a little bit of rice milk (or half and half or creamer if I'm out) with no sweetener. When I first cut back on amount, I immediately made myself a cup of tea to follow the mug of coffee so that I wouldn't "miss" the second cup, but after two days of that I realized I really didn't miss that second cup. I drank it because it was there. And now it's not...and that's ok. Yay, me. And hubby is not complaining about having to cook around my restrictions. He is making fantastic meals, as usual, that are ok for me to eat. Lucky, lucky me!!

I have had only one episode of funny belly since the first few days of the diet, and that was yesterday. A little bloating, just a little. I don't know what caused it. I can't think of anything from my diet that would have done it.... I dunno. Could be anything. But I think that's a good record anyhow. I have been getting a little indigestion, but that could be the fish oil. I dunno. I cleared that up today with peppermint oil. (LOVE peppermint oil)

So my plan is to wait until I've completed three weeks on the diet (this Friday) and will then reintroduce a food to see how it goes. (Much to my husband's joy - lol) I think the first will be potatoes.

Symptoms cleared? Well, my belly bloating, for the most part. My sinus pressure issues have pretty much gone away completely, thought I have sneezing and runny nose in the house, most likely due to the cats/dust. I'm still fuzzy headed, alas. I feel a little less down, but I think that's due to getting out of the house for a few minutes every day in the sunshine. Anyhow, progress. =)

Bonuses: I like what I'm eating, for the most part. LOVE my salads with lemon juice. I can't see going back to vinegar. I much prefer the lemon juice dressings. Another bonus, my kids eat better because I am buying healthy stuff. That makes me very happy. =)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Health Benefits of Nuts and Seeds

On the candida diet, I am not supposed to eat many of the "filler" foods I typically eat in large quantities. These include pasta, wheat crackers and bread, cheese, and so forth. And I am a person who grazes all day, and I eat a lot. I like to feel full! One of the hardest parts of going on any kind of diet is feeling satisfied after eating. It is probably the reason why so many fail to stick to a diet. It is essential to be surrounded by "ok" foods that make you feel full. For me, those "ok" foods include eggs, avocados, and seeds and nuts. Everything else is veggies and rice and such, which is great, just not filling. So on my kitchen counter is a collection of nuts and seeds and rice cakes. And I munch on them alllll day long. Granted, I have likely increased my fat intake quite a bit, but things will even out in the end. I just have to get used to eating differently. And so far, I have been satisfied, and that is the reason I am able to continue with the diet.

But a fun motivator is to look up the benefits of the foods I'm consuming a lot at the moment. So here goes. The benefits of eating seeds and nuts are....

According to this website:

"Researchers found that people who eat nuts regularly have lower risks of heart disease. In 1996, the Iowa Women's Healthy Study found that women who ate nuts >4 times a week were 40% less likely to die of heart disease."


"Nuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, phytonutrients andantioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium.  Nuts are also high in plant sterols and fat - but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 - the good fats) which have all been shown to lower LDL cholesterol."

This website states the following:

"The amino acid arginine is also present in nuts which, as stated in this month's lead article on impotence, can help overcome erectile dysfunction. Arginine has also been found to boost immunity and lower elevated blood pressure levels. In addition, certain nuts like pecans, walnuts and almonds contain tryptophan - another amino acid that stimulates the production of the 'feel good' hormone serotonin in your brain, which can help ward off depression and promote a more relaxed state. "

From the same website:

"Another must are Brazil nuts. A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois in the US suggests that Brazil nuts may play a vital role in preventing breast cancer. According to the scientists who carried out the study, this benefit is probably a result of the high amounts of selenium they contain. 

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralise harmful free radicals that can attack healthy cells and increase the risk of serious conditions like heart disease and cancer - including breast cancer as already mentioned, and lung, bowel and prostate cancer. "

Good stuff. Now for the seeds!

This website discusses the benefits of pumpkin seeds: 

Prostate Protection
They promote overall prostate health and alleviate the difficult urination associated with an enlarged prostate.
Improved Bladder Function
In some studies, pumpkin seed extracts improved bladder function in animals.
Depression Treatment
They contain L-tryptophan, a compound naturally effective against depression.
Prevention of Osteoporosis
Because they are high in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis. Low intake of zinc is linked to higher rates of osteoporosis.
Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Pumpkin seeds effectively reduce inflammation without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.
Prevention of Kidney Stones
They prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation, according to studies.
Treatment of Parasites
They are used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites. Studies also show them to be effective against acute schistosomiasis, a parasite contracted from snails.
Great Source of Magnesium
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 92% of your daily value of magnesium, a mineral in which most Americans are deficient.
Lower Cholesterol
Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.
Cancer Prevention
The same phytosterols that lower cholesterol also protect against many cancers.
This website discusses the benefits of Flaxseed:

"(HealthCastle.com) Its high content of alpha linolenic acids has made the ancient flax seed become our modern miracle food. Alpha linolenic acid (ALA) is a type of plant-derivedomega 3 fatty acid, similar to those found in fish such as salmon. Benefits of flax seed as shown in many studies include lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the Bad cholesterol) levels. Other benefits show that flax seed may also help lower blood triglyceride and blood pressure. It may also keep platelets from becoming sticky therefore reducing the risk of a heart attack.
flax seed health benefits

Other Benefits of Flax seed

Aside from alpha linolenic acid, flax seed is rich in lignan. Lignan is a type phytoestrogen (antioxidant) and also provides fiber. Researches reveal that lignan in flax seed shows a lot of promise in fighting disease -- including a possible role in cancer prevention especiallybreast cancer. It is thought that lignan metabolites can bind to estrogen receptors, hence inhibiting the onset of estrogen-stimulated breast cancer."

Both of these are going on my shopping list along with Brazil nuts!!