In addition to learning a great deal about horrible ingredients in our food years ago, my family learned a great deal about conventional medicine vs. natural medicine.  We are no longer supporters of vaccines and other conventional means of preventing or treating illness.  Now that doesn't mean we don't support conventional medicine at all.  It has its place, especially in emergent situations.  But my  point in this post is that there are natural methods to prevent and treat illness that do not contain the harmful chemicals laden in conventional methods -  chemicals that actually harm our immune systems and cause disease.  Therefor, this post is about more natural remedies for treatment of flu that will not harm.*

The first thing,of course, is to remember that food plays an integral role in your health.  If you are eating junk, your body will act like you are eating junk.  If you are eating good quality whole foods, your body will thank you and your chances of getting sick are greatly lessened!  If you do get sick, chances are the illness will be much shorter in duration and less severe.  I, myself, can boast that though I was constantly ill with strep throat and ear infections through most of my childhood and early adulthood, I have not dealt with these illnesses for the past 7 years!  Strep was something I would often contract at least 3-4 times per winter and several times during the rest of the year.  This dramatic change in my immune system is not short of amazing.

But what can you do if you do get the flu?? (And this is possible whether you get the flu vaccine or not...I advise against the vaccine...but that's for another post someday)

  • First and foremost:  REST as much as possible.  I know all too well that sometimes life just doesn't give us this option...but it is the most important thing to do if you can.  Taking one day off work may prevent you from missing an entire week later.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Continue taking extra rest and doing extra things to boost your immune system for at least three days after symptoms fade.
  • Eliminate sugar from your diet.  Sugar wreaks havoc on the immune system! This includes fruit juice too!
  • Eliminate Dairy while you are sick.  Dairy promotes mucous formation.  This is beneficial to avoid, especially, for those children who get a lot of ear infections due to blocked eustachian tubes from congestion.
  • Eliminate caffeine while you are sick.  Stimulants suppress your immune system.
  • Avoid omega 6 vegetable oils which also suppress the immune system. (canola oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil and soybean oils)
  • Vitamin C!  Make sure the vitamin C you select contains a large supply of bioflavanoids.  This indicates the vitamin is coming from natural sources.  Large doses are a must for treatment.  The vitamin C protocol given to me by a naturopath was to take 1-2 grams (1000-2000 mgs).  Follow this with 1000 more after an hour.  Continue this until your bowels have reached intolerance level(meaning loose stools) because only then will you know that you have enough vitamin C in your body to fight the illness.  The following day you are to take two less than what it took you to reach intolerance level.  Continue for as many days as you have symptoms.  For example, if it takes you 5 grams to reach intolerance, then for the next few days you would take 3 grams.  Each person is different and each occasion of illness will be different for the amount needed.
  • Vitamin D3 -  Vitamin D3 is essential for your immune system.  Our family takes this all through the fall and winter months into early spring.  We take extra when experiencing any symptoms of illness.
  • Keep your sinuses clean!  You can do this with a neti pot or you can put some sea salt and baking soda(no more than an 1/8 tsp each) in your hand mixed with a bit of water and sniff through your nostrils.  The neti pot is easier. A Xylitol nasal wash is anti-bacterial and can fight bacteria in the sinus cavities and prevent secondary infections.
  • Take a hot bath for 20-30 minutes with 1-2 cups of Epsom Salt.  This pulls out inflammation and will decrease muscle soreness and joint pain.
  • Drink PLENTY of water!!
  • Tea - Traditional Medicinals makes great teas for boosting your immune system and easing symptoms when ill as does the Yogi Tea brand.  I make my own tea by filling canning jar with lemon slices, ginger pieces and filling the remaining space with raw local honey.  When feeling a cold coming on, I simply take a spoonful or two and put it in a mug of hot water.  YUM!!!  Very soothing and delicious enough to have as a relaxing hot drink on a cold night regardless of absent symptoms! Tea, however, does not take the place of the water!
  • Drink HOMEMADE chicken broth, beef broth, turkey broth, onion soup or miso soup.
  • Eat lightly.  Heavy meals slow your digestion and interferes with the body's ability to fight off illness.
  • Add onion and garlic to your foods!  These are wonderful for the immune system!!
  • Put on clean pajamas every day.
  • Brush your teeth....OFTEN!! It is recommended to do so 5-10 times a day.  Your mouth is where the bacteria like to hang out and this is a good way to get them out of there!  Change your toothbrush as soon as you are better!
  • Change the sheets on your bed when you are better.
  • Keep a window open slightly to allow fresh air in or at least run a ceiling fan to circulate the stale air.
  • Use a Humidifier.
  • Gargle with raw apple cider vinegar.  You can just use vinegar or you can add it to warm salt water.
  • Remember there is a purpose for a fever.  As long as your fever is under 103 degrees, there is no need for alarm or to treat it.  A fever is the body's way of fighting the illness. Even for my child, I do not instantly treat a fever unless it seems to be causing distress (and is under 103).  Sometimes I will give something for fever at night only to ease sleep.  Rest is important too.

Homeopathic Remedies:  (I LOVE homeopathy!!)

  • Oscillococcinum -  We keep Oscillo around the house all the time.  My DH even takes it in his bag to work with him because it works best if you take it at the absolute moment you start experiencing symptoms.  Just follow the instructions on the label.  Try not to have anything in your mouth for 5-10 minutes before or after as that could interfere with the remedy's ability to perform well.  If you miss the first symptoms or don't get a chance to take the Oscillo within a few hours of onset, it most likely will not work as well.
  • Ferrum Phos 6x - This is for feverish flu symptoms that make you feel run down and cranky.  Most likely  you have sniffles and a snore throat.  Follow the instructions on the label.

Other Products for Immunity

  • Echinacea
  • Wellness Formula by Source Natural
  • Holy Basil Capsules
  • Elderberry Syrup
  • Planetary Herbals Three Spice Complex - great for sinus treatment!!
  • Ginsing

Have a few of these products on hand so that you have something when needed and can figure out what works for you.  Remember everyone is different and your body may not respond as well to something that works really well for someone else.

Hopefully this flu season finds you healthy and smiling!!  God Bless!

* I am not claiming to be a health practitioner.  I am not a medical doctor, conventional or naturopathic.  I am simply sharing with you what I have learned from homeopaths, naturopaths and other sources.

3

 Someone asked me recently if I had children...and if so, how do they handle a restricted diet?

Well, yes.  I do have children.  Three.  

And I guess the answer is different for each of them.

About 7 years ago, when we began our journey towards a more whole foods diet, eliminating artificial additives and preservatives from the Standard American Diet we were then eating and thereby transforming our health (See Our Food Story that I posted on   ), we then had 2 children.  At that time they were 12 and 8.

My children saw the reactions we had to the artificial foods when we added them back into our diet.  They saw themselves.  My daughter's skin turned the brightest red I have ever seen on a person that had NOT just spent an entire day at the beach without sunscreen.  My son itched and itched until he cried.  Both felt ill and uncomfortable.  My daughter's mood was anxious and irritable.  My son was agitated as well - possibly from the itching or another symptom - hard to say.  They saw our reactions.  My husband was nauseous and itchy with a rash.  I was moody to say the least, itchy, anxious and could not sleep most of the night. This of course, only summarizes the reactions we had that week.

My children did not enjoy feeling that way.  They understood,for the most part, why we were never taking part in those artificial ingredients ever again.

Now was it easy to transition?  Certainly not.  But we did what we could to make it fun or at least as easy as we could.  We homeschool...  so that made it easier.  It was easier to say, "Well for health class this year, we are transitioning to a more whole foods diet.  We will be exploring the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables and learning about reading labels, artificial ingredients and what they do to the body/brain and for Home Ec, we will learn to cook more foods with wholesome ingredients from scratch".  I think because we homeschool, this made the transition easier.  But I am certain one does not have to homeschool to get your kids on board to a healthier diet or make them a big part of it.  I hear public school families can have deep conversations and discussions at the dinner-time  as well!!  And I'm sure our way is not the only way to make a transition work!

My daughter loved the recipe and cooking part.  Life in my kitchen, though, did NOT look quite so glamorous as the picture above!  😉

At that time, we found Christina Cooks on television and would watch her show and bought two of her cookbooks.  Now Christina used macrobiotics (an approach to physical and emotional wellness through consuming foods that are balanced energetically      (between yin and yang) and nutritionally. It is typically a well-balanced  diet with high fibre, low-fat, lots of vegetables and grains, vegetable protein, and limited meat, with an emphasis on eating  seasonal organic food)  and was also a vegan.  I was not, and still am not, totally convinced of the macrobiotic vegan approach (though I do believe that macrobiotics play an important rule in health to a degree and think that veganism, if approached correctly, can be healthy for SOME people though perhaps not ideally...) but what attracted us to Christina was the wealth of information and cooking techniques her show offered.  And my daughter loved the cooking techniques and ideas that Christina presented.  So the three of us, my children and I, would watch this show and come up with great ideas for meals and create them!  My daughter preferred making the desserts but did help with other things too.

My son became my instant label reader(as did my husband).  He was instantaneously intrigued by what was in his foods and what he didn't want in his foods!  He would help me read labels of our old favorites in the grocery store and point out the things we couldn't have.  He would also help me compare these items to the items in the 'natural' section of the grocery store or health food store, assisting in finding easy or sometimes not so easy replacements for things like salad dressings, mayonnaise, ketchup, cereals, etc. He would also express his dismay when he found that a past favorite was off-limits, especially if it were because of only one or two unnecessary ingredients!

So that is ,essentially, how we approached incorporating the new foods into our healthy diet plan.  But this doesn't exactly address restricting them from foods they normally ate out or socially, does it?

My son was easier with this.  Oh, he still wanted things laden in white flour and sugar.  But he did want to avoid anything that contained an obvious artificial ingredient that he knew would cause an immediate reaction (other than a little hyperactivity) or was a known carcinogen as we were learning (You'd be amazed at how many food additives are known carcinogens but are still labeled by the FDA as GRAS/Generally Regarded as Safe in our processed food products...but that's another story for another day).  Since most of those things laden in white flour and sugar also contained such ingredients, most were easy to avoid.  But not all.  As I said in the previous food post, life is hard and we're not perfect. So yes, there were (and are) things we give into to make life easier for our kids (and ourselves).  We know that pizza is not healthy... but if we can find a kind that does not have an artificial ingredient that will cause instant chemical changes in our brain and thus cause an allergic type reaction, we will, on occasion, eat it.  The same with a glazed donut or, often, you could find my daughter baking up some yummy concoction in our very own oven.

Over the years we took this decision a little too liberally in my opinion...but that led also led us to learning more which is what has us experimenting with the Paleo/Primal diets which eliminates those processed foods even more.  Actually, if we followed the Paleo diet 100% it would totally eliminate the unhealthy (yes even the organic ones!) processed foods from our diet.  But again, we do not do this 100%... more like 90%.... and we do allow our older son to choose one processed snack a week... because he's a kid... and this transition is hard.  Some (from the Paleo world) may fault me for letting him have the processed food ...  but this is my family and this is the choice I'm making for him (while secretly hoping that in time his cravings for this will lessen) at this time.  My choice could change...next week, next year or possibly never. (Of course he didn't like reading this part when I asked him to read it over and see if I left anything important out of the post!)

When our daughter is away at college, we know that, at least for the most part, she follows what we have taught her.  A family member once said to her that since she was going away she wouldn't have to follow our food rules anymore...  and no, she doesn't... if she wants to go back to having bipolar disorder.  She does not want that.   She knows what can befall her if she strays.  She wants her college education.  She wants her independence.  She wants her health.  She's already been the one to experiment here and there with things in previous years and saw the results...  yes, sometimes natural flavors CAN make you feel awful.... No, that one candy bar was NOT a good idea.  So while she may be ingesting way too much processed grains, she is, I believe, at least staying away from the obviously toxic stuff that her peers are practically inhaling all around her and would cause her horrible consequences.  So she says, 'no thank you', picks up her coffee and plain bagel and away she goes.

My son, still at home, tells me what he wants to take with him on his camping trips, sleep-overs and the like.  Our close friends totally understand what we do and why we do it.  We've had no problems there and they let us know if he'll need his own snacks when he visits or if they have enough available for him.  He doesn't seem to care either way.  I probably worry more about the impact of him being 'different' than he does! That is what he tells me.

My younger son is only 3.  He doesn't know anything different.  And he loves practically anything that we put in front of him. Sure, he goes through a day here or there where he says he doesn't like something.  All kids do. That doesn't mean they won't ever eat it.  I  know that it's normal for tastes and moods for certain foods to change.  I shrug it off and a few days later, what do you know, he loves it again.  Being away from home is a little more difficult now.  He sees the treats on the coffee hour table at church and wants cake...or a cookie...or 'that'...  And what does one say to a 3-year-old?  I've been known to say , "No, that's yuck" to him but walk away wondering, 'Hmmm....he sees other people eating this stuff... so what is he thinking?  When will he either not believe me or tell someone else what their eating is yuck?"  I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to handle that one yet.  I believe though, I have seen such discussions held on other blogs I've followed in the past... time to do some research on some ideas for that!

In closing, I would say that for my older kids, being part of the elimination diet at the ages they were and seeing the results for themselves played a key role in how they have adapted to what others would call a restricted diet.  My youngest will have an easier time simply because he doesn't have the cravings established for Doritos, KFC or McDonald's.  I think sometimes, parents don't give their children enough credit... that given enough information and time to adapt... kids can come to the decisions to make these healthy choices for themselves even surrounded by a world still eating the chemicals that are heavily laden in the Standard American Diet.

So what DO you eat??

I am often asked this question.  It's usually right after a brief explanation of what our family can not eat, due to severe allergic reactions...now that we don't eat the ingredients I've mentioned in previous posts ( The Truth About MSG  and Our Food Story), our reactions to these ingredients when accidentally ingested are usually quicker,  more obvious, and sometimes severe like major mood swings but are usually things like rashes, itchiness, hives, vomitting, anxiety, headaches and sleeplessness(though now we are much better at identifying what we can and can not have, accidental ingestion is very rare).

Well, my quick answer has always been....if God made it, no problem, we eat it.  If man messed with it.....nnnnot so much.  But recently, I've realized we were eating more things that man messed with than I realized or at least admitted.

We were still eating organic granola bars, pastas, pizza dough (homemade and organic pre-made brands), cakes, cookies, and more.  Let's face it.  God did not make pizza or pasta trees nor can you find any chocolate chip cookies growing in your garden.  These are not natural foods. So I guess my answer should have been, "Food products that do not have completely artificial ingredients added to them and a lot of minimally processed meals that are made from scratch with lots of vegetables included."  That may have summed it up a little bit closer to the truth.

But now I can say we do, about 90% of the time, eat only what God made for us to consume. The Lord knows what we need and that is what he's given to us.  I've read quite extensively in recent months to further understand how processed foods and foods most people 'think' are normal healthy foods and comparing them to how our ancestors ate and whether the 'nutrition' in these 'normal healthy foods' is really what conventional thought claims it to be or whether some of these 'normal healthy foods' are actually more problematic to our health than good.  I'm finding such foods, namely grains, legumes and (oh how I hate to admit it) dairy to be more problematic than beneficial.

Soooooo, much to my older son's dismay, the members of our household still living at home full time are now transitioning to even less of those foods that man has messed with.  In other words, we eat mostly vegetables, nuts, fruits, eggs, and meat/seafood; the foods that God provides to us as readily available.  Things that don't need much in terms of processing to consume (other than someone to process the cow/deer/chicken, etc.  I'm NOT doing that).

We are actually experimenting with what is termed the Paleo and/or Primal Diet.

Now let me explain the 90% that I wrote above.

Life is hard.  We're not perfect.  And there are foods that, well, we are basically addicted to and going out to friends and families' homes that do NOT eat Paleo and Primal...well that would be hard.  It was hard enough on my extended family members when we were only avoiding artificial ingredients, let alone grains and legumes.  So we do, at least for now, allow ourselves an occasional meal with a SIDE (not main course anymore) of something with pasta or rice and occasionally I'll make a batch of brownies or cookies to put a smile on my son's face.  But now I have much smaller portions....one portion... and that's all. This way we are less likely to have a strong adverse reaction if we are eating somewhere that in order to be polite involves eating such foods.  We still will 100% avoid artifiical ingredients.  Eating that stuff would make us sick and that is just not worth it.

Now there are people who follow the paleo and primal diets that would say we can't call ourselves paleo or primal if we do that.  Oh well.  It is what it is.  This is what we are doing right now.  Some day I'd love for our family to do the Whole 30..... 30 days of essentially following the paleolithic diet a full 100% to see if we notice even more positive health changes than we have doing it our 90% way.  I like perusing over the Whole9 website.  I absolutely LOVED the It Starts With Food book written by the couple that are in charge of that program.  If you have time, I highly recommend reading the book and taking a look at the site.  Good information!  Information you won't see or hear at your doctor's office because, frankly, our dear family physicians and specialists are simply NOT trained in nutrition. There is simply no nutrition taught in medical school.  (My Dh is a physician ---  we have many friends that are physicians --- they are taught medicine - NOT nutrition) So it is up to us to research what is making us sick.  And the answer, my friends, is what we are putting into our bodies and exposing our bodies to in the environment.  The biggest factor, of course, is food.

My kids learned a long time ago what I think is the biggest health for all to learn, the difference between FOOD and food PRODUCTS.  The Standard American Diet is largely comprised of food products, not food.

So......   What do I eat???   I eat real food.

  • Grass-fed Meat & Wild-Caught Seafoods (of course we research to see what's considered safest in the seafoods)
  • Eggs from free-range chickens
  • Vegetables (legumes not included)
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • A small amount of dairy
  • dark chocolate with a bit of sea salt (A girl has to have her chocolate...lol)
  • And yes, occasionally, a small yummy that might contain a small amount of grain, sugar, or larger portion of dairy because I just haven't kicked the habit entirely and don't want to make things hard.

So there it is.  That is what I eat.  Any questions?  🙂

3

Back in April of 2012, when my blog was really new and I hadn't posted much, I did make one post about MSG.  So in a way, I have covered this.  But the world is still consuming this neurotoxin so I feel I would be remiss if I didn't post again.  It probably won't be the last.

Last week, I shared with you Our Food Story. When we made the discoveries about what artificial additives and preservatives were doing to our own health, not to mention the rest of the nation and world, we realized what a large integral part MSG played into it.  MSG, Monosodium Glutamate, is a salt of the amino acid - Glutamic Acid (glutamate).  A salt is the chemical name for a molecule held together by opposite charges.  Basically, one (mono) sodium atom is 'stuck' to the amino acid glutamate.

Now before I go on, I will again say, I do not claim to be a scientist nor am I a doctor of any kind.  What I am is a self-educated individual and a mother seeking to understand what was making her family display mental illnesses and other health ailments in order to become and stay healthy  which we have most certainly done for quite some time now.  What I am sharing here is what I have learned through hours upon hours of research and the use of many scientifically backed resources as well as our own experience.  All of this information, other than our own personal experience, can be found in other legitimate sources.  I will, today, and on other occasions, list the sources or even give links to places you can make your way to in order to verify and further your own research.

Okay.... back to MSG (yuck!).  MSG is a neurotoxin.  A neurotoxin is a substance that inhibits proper function of neurons.  Sometimes the damage to the neurons actually inhibits the neuron from functioning at all.  Other times, the toxin attacks the signalling capability of neurons and sometimes tells the neurons to send false signals. Neurotoxins are also capable of destroying the neurons completely; in other words, killing them.

"According to some MSG opponents the glutamate added to foods is "bad" and the natural glutamate in our bodies is "good".  MSG sellers argue that MSG is exactly like the glutamate in the human body, therefore it must always be
"good".  It is not so simple.  There are contaminants in processed MSG.  An analogy that can be used is that there are right-handed amino acids and left-handed ones.  They are like mirror images of each other.   Processed MSG contains not only the kind of amino acids the body is used to handling, but
mirror image ones too.  This may cause problems because it is like putting the wrong glove on your hand.  It's not quite the same.  We don't exactly know what problems this may cause.  On the other hand (so to speak) the fact that
glutamate the body is used to handling is also in MSG may present a problem because an excess of naturally occurring glutamate is well known by neuroscientists to be a problem in many disease states.  Natural glutamate can
cause problems we already know about.  The reason food processors "free" glutamate from its bound form, is that it acts as a neurotransmitter in its free
form.  The food industry's claim that free glutamate is as harmless as bound glutamate is disingenuous at
best.  If it was exactly the same, they wouldn't need to hydrolyse vegetable protein (split the amino acids apart). "  ~  MSGTruth.Org

Have you heard about 'Chinese Restaurant Syndrome?'  This term is associated with the high incidence of people experiencing headaches or a collection of other symptoms after just consuming Chinese food.  Chinese food is not the only source of this neurotoxin, of course, but this term was made popular in the late 1960's and was coined after Robert Ho Man Kwok wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine reporting to them the strange syndrome he repeatedly experienced within 20 minutes to an hour of eating at Chinese restaurants.  While I've heard that some high quality Chinese restaurants may refrain from using MSG, the majority still use this 'flavor enhancer' in the majority of their dishes. While this term is popular, it is this writer's opinion that the term should now be 'American Restaurant Syndrome' since a vast majority of restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, in America use MSG or an excitotoxin of equal damaging results (i.e. aspartame).  Or perhaps it could be called "Processed Food Syndrome" since, yes, a lot of the processed foods in a box or can sitting on your pantry shelf or in your freezer probably contain these ingredients.

Wait!  Don't check your pantry and freezer yet!  Because MSG and aspartame are not the only things to look for!  MSG actually comes by many many names.  Even those soup cans that claim to have no MSG in them can actually contain glutamates!  There are several websites that list the hidden ingredient names of MSG and offer tons of information.  Here are a few:

truthinlabeling.org

MSGTruth.org

MSGmyth.com

Our household members carry a list of the ingredients we absolutely MUST avoid at all times.  We carry this into restaurants with us (not that there are many we can go to) and have the waiter present it to the chef.  Most restaurants that have a chef who cooks from scratch can come up with some sort of dish that will not contain those ingredients.  The ingredients on our list that are specific to MSG are the following:

  • MSG (also known as Monosodium Glutamate, Monopotassium Glutamate, Glutamate, Calcium Glutamate, Monoammonim Glutamate, Natrium Glutamate)
  • artificial flavors
  • yeast extract (this is extract, not simply yeast)
  • bouillon and/or boullion cubes
  • broth (from a premade mix or box or can)
  • spices (if the label just lists 'spices' as a generic term and does not specifically list the name of an herb, it is most likely MSG. )
  • Seasonings( again, listed as a generic term, this indicates a high potential of being MSG or a mixture that contains MSG)
  • Anything 'hydrolyzed'
  • Calcium casinate
  • Sodium casinate
  • Textured Protein
  • Vestin
  • Ajinomot
  • Whey Protein
  • Soy Protein
  • Anything labled  ____ protein...  if it's not the substance alone (peas, not pea protein) than the processing has created free glutamates, thus MSG
  • Disodium 5 guanylate
  • Disodium 5 inosinate
  • Disodium 5 rib nucleotides
  • Soy Sauce (the only soy sauce we can safely have is raw namo shoyu --  btw, it's delicious!)

There are other possibilities as well such as natural flavors and gelatin and anything ultra pasteurized to name a few.  PLEASE, check out the sites I listed and learn more about this terrible ingredient in food products!

MSG causes a lot of problems! A LOT.  Some of the problems people have and THINK it's just normal to have such conditions include:  headaches (including migraines!), bloating, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, frequent urination, flushed skin, swelling and a whole host of others!  And these are just the mild symptoms!  More serious effects include (but are not limited to) depression, mood swings, rage reactions, panic attacks, anxiety, attention deficit disorders,tremors, seizures, chest pain, extreme rises and drops in blood pressure, insomnia, and asthma.  And obviously, in our own family, we discovered it to be the root cause of bipolar disorder(in combination with other neurotoxins and artificial ingredients).   MSG is NOT something to mess with and yet millions of people ingest this toxin within food products they consume at restaurants and in their homes each and every day, often several times a day!

My family never knowingly consumes this toxin.  We carry our list everywhere and most family and friends are aware of our needs so we seldom have an issue.  In the rare case we do accidentally ingest MSG, we know it!  Usually within an hour, sometimes longer (allergens can actually take up to 3 days or more for some individuals to notice a visible sign) we suffer from some sort of allergic type reaction.  We each have various reactions including itching, hive-like swelling, intense anxiety, red skin, rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, mood reactions, etc.  These immediate severe reactions are because now our bodies are healthy enough to recognize the toxins for what they were.  Our bodies are no longer conditioned to accept the toxins.

I hope that someone out there will benefit from reading this.  I hope you will take it upon yourself to do more research and experiment.  I challenge you to go just two weeks without ingesting ANY of the above ingredients.  Then, try it.  See what happens.  Have several things containing the above ingredients within just a few hours.  Note any changes you see.  For some of you, it won't take much.  Others react but not as strongly.  Some people may need to avoid it for longer period of time to truly see the results, but I wager most will not.

I hope that sharing what I've learned in my research and experience will guide you all into learning the real truth about MSG.  God Bless!

Other sources you may wish to use:

  • Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills by Russell Blaylock, M.D.
  • The CrazyMakers- How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children by Carol Simontacchi
  • Battling the MSG Myth by Debby Anglessey

13

Yesterday, I touched upon this subject when I wrote about maintaining our health as part of why we homeschool.  About 8 years ago, I read the book Is This Your Child? by Doris Rapp M.D..   Reading that book began a journey I am thrilled to be on and can only hope that in sharing our story, it may lead someone else to begin that same incredible journey in leaving some sort of illness behind in the dust.

Dr. Rapp only briefly spoke of the dangers of MSG and other neurotoxins in her book, but following her protocol for an elimination diet led us to much research into MSG and other neurotoxins as well as other artificial ingredients in our Standard American Diet (SAD).

When my son began demonstrating the typical signs of ADHD, I felt I had the qualifications to parent and educate my child without medical intervention.  Not only was I a former special education teacher (retired early  - very early), but I also was aware because of previous research, that the wrong medication could ignite a gene for Bipolar Disorder should he happen to be carrying that gene, inherited through me, as my daughter had and I had from my biological mother.  My daughter's gene was already ignited and traveling full speed ahead (part of that personal part of our decision to homeschool - see previous post).  I did not want this for my son.  Of course, I didn't want it for my daughter or myself either but I thought perhaps I could do something to 'save' my son while I could not, or so I thought, do anything for my daughter and I.  Little did I know -  I could do something for us all!

Reading on natural methods of treating ADHD and my knowledge of how food dyes and sugar can affect this disorder led me to Dr. Rapp's book.  I insisted the entire family, husband included, do the elimination diet together out of empathy for my son.  I simply could not expect him to do it alone.

What we discovered upon adding things, one day at a time, back into our diet was alarming!  Honestly, all I had expected to find was that sugar and red food dye would most likely increase his hyperactivity and inattentiveness to mundane (school) activities.  We never even got around to trying red food dye!

In reality, Dr. Rapp's elimination diet is short.  I know now that most elimination diets actually suggest a longer period of elimination to adequately determine an 'allergens' effect. With Dr. Rapp's elimination diet, foods listed were only avoided in totality for one week and then slowly, one day at a time,  added back:  milk, wheat, sugar, egg, cocoa, food coloring, corn, preservatives, citrus and peanut butter.

Without boring you with all the details, our biggest reactions were with sugar (especially my son), food coloring and preservatives.   Note I said "our" reactions!  While we never anticipated it, we all (I, my husband, son and daughter) all exhibited major reactions including rashes, red skin, hives, nausea, vomiting, headaches and major mood disturbances - just to name the most obvious ones!

This discovery led to intense research on my part - on the internet, in books and by talking to LOTS of people!  One person in particular that I feel helped us the most at that time was a homeschool mom I met at my children's homeschool soccer practice.  Becky actually came to my house and helped me clean out my cupboards and refrigerator!  She told me all kinds of things about artificial ingredients and helped me figure out healthier substitutes and suggested some further sources of reference.  I am so incredibly grateful to Becky!

Through the years, we have learned more and more and continue to learn more.  My son and husband still tend to be a bit distractable (though NOT as much as before) as we did not eliminate sugar from our diet as well as we have eliminated the artificial ingredients.  However, my daughter and I have not had any (That's right.  ANY) symptoms of our previous Bipolar/Anxiety Disorders in over 7 years.  We do not take ANY medications and have no reason to do so.  Simply avoiding the additives that our FDA says is completely safe and allows to be added to processed food products has eliminated these diseases and other health problems from our family members!

Currently, our family (other than my daughter as she is away attending college)is further dabbling with the Paleo diet and researching the effects of grains, legumes and sugar on our bodies.

I hope that in writing on this blog about our food choices (among other topics) to further share things I have learned about health and food related issues will help others to learn the same.  I hope you will benefit.

In the meantime, if you wish to learn more about MSG and it's many hidden names (Yes, it's even in products that say "No MSG" on the label!), Truthinlabeling.com is a wonderful source for these hidden names and other information.

I end by saying THANK YOU to Dr. Rapp, thank you to Becky, thank you to all the sources that have brought me to the understanding, knowledge, and HEALTH that I have today.  I will continue writing about all of our adventure and what we have learned and provide these sources to others. And thank you to my husband for supporting my research and being open-minded enough to know that conventional medicine does NOT have all the answers and for wanting the best health for our family right along with me.  I am very grateful to you all.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ADDENDUM:  Today, January 31, 2014 - this post is linked onto FIGHT BACK FRIDAYS on Food Renegade.com  🙂  

2

Our story is a personal story.  Why anyone chooses to homeschool always is.  There could be a single or mixture of reasons given:  religion, health, curriculum choice, academic failure in the public schools, and school violence just to name a few I hear the most often.  But each  makes a decision that is personal to them.

We pulled my daughter out of the public schools in her 5th grade year. (We kept our son in public school for the rest of that year, despite his yearning to be home with us to try to meet our daughter's needs at that time.  The following year, we were glad to keep him home with us as well.) She desperately wanted to be homeschooled at that time for various reasons.  It was a decision that changed our family....  little did I know at that time how much it would and that I would be truly grateful for God leading us to do that.

Our family is closer.  We talk often. Not just at meal times, though our family dinner hour is always sacred, but here and there throughout the day.  It's an advantage most families don't have. And we spend lots of quality time together - time we simply wouldn't have if we had to obey the public school schedule and our children were whisked away by a bus early in the morning and not brought home until late afternoon with their backpacks full of homework for their evenings.

We have flexible schedules.  While my years of teaching in the public schools have lent their dent on me in still trying to maintain a bit of a 'typical school day schedule for academics', my kids don't have to get up in the morning until the public school kids have already been on the bus allowing them more sleeping time and they are typically finished with their work before these kids get back on the bus!   And if we are sick.  or want to go somewhere?  We just don't have school. (Yes, we DO fill the 180 days required by law, but we do it according to OUR schedule, not someone else's.) And if we want to take a full week off for PASCHA?  We do!  We can attend more church services, more field trips that are of interest to us (not another entity) and visit family a little more leisurely.   Now this flexibility IS harder in the higher grades with more inflexible choices we make such as volleyball, piano lessons, gym classes with the local homeschool co-op, online classes, etc. but it still remains more flexible than the public schools schedule.

Flexible Curriculum/Classes: Naturally we teach reading, writing and math but we are not held to the rigidity of particular curriculums or particular classes for particular years.  If my child would rather study zoology in 8th grade rather than general science, he can.  If he wants to take Russian rather than the typical French or Spanish, he can.  If he wants to do two histories in one year, he can.  If he wants to take an online class or even an online college course or a college course at a local university, he could!

We teach our children according to OUR beliefs. We teach them God is first, ALWAYS.  We are human, of course, and sometimes fail in demonstrating this.  I have. in the past, missed attending a feast day at church or other event because we are behind in academics.  But in this too, we are teaching God forgives.  But we must always, ALWAYS strive to do better.  This year I blocked out the feast days first on the calendar when I planned school days. So we teach them our faith.  We teach them the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church.  And we teach them to love and forgive.

We maintain our HEALTH. My family has completely eradicated illnesses that conventional medicine claims there is not a cure for through eliminating MSG, other neurotoxins, and artificial additives and preservatives from our diet.  Because of homeschooling, my children were an integral part of our conversion from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a more whole foods approach and eliminating dangerous toxins from our daily consumption in food products and other sources.  They enjoyed finding new recipes and trying new foods.  They learned to read labels and make determinations on what to consume and realized the detriment these food products had been causing us.  Because of homeschooling, my children were able to delve deeply into our learning process and do not need to be fed nonsensical information in a public school health class.  Nor do they need to fight school policies on school cafeteria food that is full of the very toxins we avoid.  (More on our food habits and our food choices in posts to come!)

These are the highlights of why we homeschool.  I wrote this, I have realized, as though I'm still homeschooling both my older children.  It's a hard habit to break.  My daughter is actually not at home this year because she is attending college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. (Yes, homeschoolers CAN go to college - this in answer to an actual question my husband received recently from a well-educated man.)  Currently, it is only my older son that is being homeschooled.  Of course, while he's only 3 1/2, my youngest is also being educated...but in a much more relaxed, fun approach and not really 'school'.  We are enjoying just exploring his world and teaching the concepts that come up as they come up.  He actually has learned a few words already!  Nothing like GOOD BOOKS to captivate a child and give the desire to find out what those letters on the page are doing!

My older son is in 9th grade... his first year of 'high school' and keeping track of credits.  It's a challenging year but he's keeping up well and still active in Scouts and got a doe while hunting the other day (while public school kids were confined in a brick building).

So again, these are the highlights.  I'm looking forward to sharing more about what we do and what we have learned.  There's so much to tell!  🙂

So once again, I am faced with trying to make life easier.
Easier said than done, yes?

I have had deep resentment issues for years in regards to my ability to find time to write. I need to make it a priority. I need to make myself a priority. Easier said than done.

I have at least, forced myself in the last 6 weeks or so to exercise. This is an incredible feat for me. I do not exercise. At least I didn't. I started at a simple 8 minutes a day goal, 4-5x a week. I felt like it would kill me for sure! I'm up to about 20 minutes a day about 4x a week with one 30 minute day thrown in there. I use a stationary bike and a treadmill. I hate the bike. I like the treadmill. I also use a few weights here and there for my arms. I'd like to keep up with it. We'll see. Easier said than done.

BUT... I am motivated. For the first time in.... well, seriously, I think it is the first time! I think avoiding processed foods and cutting waaayyyyyyyy back on sugar has helped tremendously because for the first time ever I think I have the energy required to feel motivated. And I would love to be 'in shape'. And getting this 44 year old body that has never truly exercised in shape is , well, er..... easier said than done. So whether I keep up with this Paleo style life is yet to be seen but I do believe I feel good enough to resist the temptation to go back to as much processed foods as we did. And of course, we've stayed away from the truly artificial stuff for almost 8 years now.

Anyway, back to the original topic at hand. Writing.
A friend of mine, a writer friend, said just pick a time of day to just do it. Easier said than done. She seemed to think I could just choose nap time... lol. That time is exercise time and history time - I now read my son's history lesson outloud as a way for me to refresh my own knowledge of American History and to help him lessen the time it's been taking him to get his lessons done. So I'm not sure that will work. But I'm determined to figure something out. Maybe it just can't be every day. I can accept that. But I must set this as a priority. I must figure it out!!

Easier said than done, I know.

3

It has been forever since I have written here. So this may be long, seeing as a certain little man is not here to interrupt, nor are the other men in my life, nor my daughter.... I have taken advantage of my husband and son being away at a conference to ask our dear sweet neighbor to take my little one for several hours today so that I could have some 'me' time. And what I miss the most about 'me' time is being able to just read or write uninterrupted. I catch a little reading time here and there, so at this moment I'm going to make a cup of tea and WRITE. It's not enough time to start any fiction writing.... but I can at least start catching up here.

So..... Where to begin??

HOMESCHOOL

My daughter is not here this year. She is at IUP doing incredibly well. I am really proud of her. She seems to be adjusting well and enjoying college life for the most part. I am happy with that she still texts and calls home sometimes though sometimes I feel horribly guilty for not being able to talk to her the way I'd like when she calls because, unfortunately, life goes on here at home....

My son has started his 9th grade year, his first year of high school here at home. He is having a hard time adjusting to all the reading required and balancing that between scouts, hunting, and all the things he likes to do (distractions) through the day but still doing very well. We've made some adjustments. I will be reading his history lessons to him for awhile and verbally doing the questions with him to help save time in the day and my husband downloaded his biology onto his Audible account ( I got the account for my husband for his birthday and he LOVES it.... has been 'reading' a lot!) so that he can listen to it as he reads, enabling him to go faster. He's a good reader as far as comprehension goes, but is a bit slow. So hopefully, these two adaptations will help shorten his school days.

My smallest is too young for official school. He's only 3 1/2 but is incredibly smart. I have been investigating the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling for him. We spend LOTS of time reading. He knows his alphabet (has known it since before age 2) and a lot of sounds and about 7 'sight' words. He can count to over 50, including one to one correspondance, and has an incredible imagination. (I just wish it would turn off at 7 when bedtime arrives!)
I'm having fun with him.... just wish I had more time in the day to give him more attention.

FOOD

Food is a big part of our lives. Really, it's not about food but about HEALTH.
We gave up artificial ingredients a long time ago.... things like MSG (total poison), artificial dyes, flavors, preservatives, etc. We moved closer to more whole foods and more natural ingredients. Though the more I studied the more I realized that even a lot of those things we were trying to convince ourselves were natural, just weren't. So lately, my husband and I (and kids much to their dismay) have been getting further and further away from those processed, so called 'natural' food items...even the organic ones and coming closer and closer to real food... truly what God created. Most of what we eat falls under the Paleo diet plan, which isn't really a diet but a way of life. Some call it Primal. Whatever one calls it, it gets one away from the grains that causes inflamation leading to so much horrible disease (probably if you are reading this and suffer from anything thats not 100% health, grains play a really big factor in that whether you realize it or not). I admit, I started looking into it because of my hairdresser. (strange that I've even started seeing a hairdresser that I actually talk to.... still a bit of an introvert here) But she and I started talking about her lifestyle and I thought...hmmm... wonder if this would work for my DH to lose weight? So I started reading..... and reading... and wow, read some more. So the first books she recommended was The Paleo Diet by Robb Wolf and the Omni Diet by Tana Amen. I don't know if I'd recommend Robb Wolfs book to anyone.... he came off as rather super sarcastic and I'm not sure that if I wasn't really really super interested by the things I heard and read about Paleo eating that I would have kept up with it. I wasn't really offended by Mr. Wolf's writing, but could imagine that others might be.... Anyway, the book was very informative if you could get past his higher than mighty attitude. I really liked the Omini Diet book. It was very informative as well. But then I stumbled upon IT STARTS WITH FOOD by the creaters of the Whole9 website, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.
WOW. Great book. I'm sure to read it again and again. It's a wonderful book and program that has truly cured many many many people from all sorts of illnesses, including diabetes, bipolar and immune disorders and so many others. And I want to do the Whole30 program... just not yet. It may drive my son bonkers. Anyway, the food plan addresses the importance of really good animal protein, stressing to strive towards as organic as possible and understanding that some people can't so explaining what to eat if one can't get the best quality meat sources. The Whole30 program also addresses what to do if you are vegan though they state outright that they don't feel one can achieve total health if vegan. But they were not cocky about it at all. So we are eating a lot of meat, lots and lots of veggies, a little fruit and avoiding grains and most legumes. We are not there 100%. I still have quite a few perogies out there in the freezer and I am not willing, at least at this point, to make life any more difficult for friends and family that like to feed us. We already have to ask these people to cook without artificial stuff that actually causes us allergic reactions now... I can't further complicate and say, Oh, by the way, we won't eat your bread, your rice, your lasagne, your...... yeah, you get it, right? So we are eating it a little here and there... a couple times a month in smaller quanitities, to make sure if we can, that we can tolerate small portions without getting sick. At least that's the plan.

The results? Well, we've done this for about 6 weeks. My DH has lost, last checked, about 16 pounds or more 🙂 and is feeling a lot better! I've lost about 6.... I don't really care if I lose... I just don't want to gain anymore. But I feel really good. I have energy! I have started exercising again and actually have the energy to do it. I'm sleeping better. I feel less achy. There's no swelling in places I was starting to feel some, like my fingers, etc. I could go on but this is pretty long already. I'll save it for another day when I update this again... hopefully it will be a LOT sooner!!!

By the way.... this is not another LOW CARB DIET!!!!! I can't stand when people count calories, carbs, fat, etc. It's not about that!!! It's about eating good quality food that gives the body nutrients and doesn't cause inflamation or other problems. We don't count carbs. We don't care what vegetables we eat or stay away from fruit. While we try not to make white potatoes a staple anymore and know that berries are the better fruit, we will not say no to those things or worry about counting the carbs if we do. We eat a large variety of vegetables! I tried parsnipst the other day....mashed... we prefer mashed cauliflower...but hey, they weren't bad.

Anyway, enough about that for now... other than if this continues working, and I highly suspect it will, I have no idea what to do about fasting and Great Lent!!!!

FAITH

In Eastern Orthodoxy, we fast from animal products for the entire duration of LENT. This means most of our protein comes from legumes! Which is one major thing we avoid now.... hmmmmm..... well, we are not there yet. The Fast is not supposed to center so much on the food as growing spirtiually so maybe our Spiritual Father will give us some guidance if we sit and talk with him. Though my spiritual father is different than my husband's who is our parish priest.... but we'll probably just talk to him. We can use seafood.... but I know that a varied animal protein diet is important.... but I can't drive myself crazy about that yet. For now, we use fish and seafoods on Wed and Friday which are days we always fast all year.

I'm doing better spiritually. I had a really really hard time with it spiritually after the miscarriage last year. It's been a year. It's been a really long year. It's been such a very very incredibly long year. Full of struggles in so many ways. But things are better. I can at least pray now with my heart in it. I'm not where I was before that... or maybe I'm stronger in some areas and weaker in others? I don't know... but it's a day to day challenge but I guess that's what it is supposed to be.

Miscellaneous

Well, what else is new? My DH thinks I'm paranoid. (Wait? Is that new? lol) There was a murder that took place about ten miles from our home a few weeks ago. This brought back lots of old feelings of 'paranoia' or nervousness about being home alone (without husband), locking doors, safety, etc. that I know stem from an experience I had as a young college student in my home one summer. Without going into details, let's just suffice it to say that I think waking up with a strange man in your room once is enough to call this extreme caution and not paranoia. Okay, maybe the first week of the murder was paranoia.... but I have moved back into a much calmer sense of mind now and I would just call it cautious. They may have the lady in custody now...not for murder though (yet) for something else... but it wasn't really ever about just thinking that particular lady was going to come and kill me too.... it was about awareness. It was "oh, yeah, just because we live in this beautiful low crime area does NOT mean it can't happen and yes, we really should lock all the doors and windows at night and we should take precautions". My DH thinks locking the dog door at night is overdoing it. (though he thinks we need a handgun... which I have considered but can't get past the saftey issues regarding the little guy). So yes, I lock the dog door. Sue me.

Let's see... what else? I'm trying to keep up with my gratitude journal. My goal is to write two things in there each day. I don't always get to it but I am keeping up with it much better than I was. Recent entried have included : My Godmother, Nutrients of abundance in the foods God has created for us, A smile on the face of a friend that's been down, A friend who calls me cautious rather than paranoid and A sunny October morning! Writing in my gratitude journal is one of my 5 goals I set to create better healthy habits. Gratitude is a wonderful habit!

Well for someone that hasn't written anything at all for months (aside from in the gratitdue journal) I'd say I did pretty well here. Now if only I can keep it going! I need to pick at least one evening a week to try and do that. I just always hate saying no to my older son who always wants to play a game or watch something with me. Who else has a 14 year old that wants to spend quality time with their parent(s)??? Not many, I'm sure.... so it's hard to say no. But once a week shouldn't be awful...

Well, wish me luck with that!
Have a wonderful blessed day and go start a gratitude journal if you haven't already!

🙂

2

Ever have one of those days, out of the blue, that just sneak up on you and you feel....well, blah....and do not have a single ounce of motivation to do even the most trivial things? Yeah? Well, this is one of those days for me.

Just feeling apathetic and wanting to do nothing that is really productive and yet feelling totally guilty that I"m not and overwhelmed because I know it just means I'll fall further behind... oh bother.

I'm just focusing on the little guy today... he seems to be under the weather with this cough he has....it seems to be monopolizing his days. He's able to sleep, thank goodness. But it does really give him a challenge come bedtime to do so. He just coughs and coughs and coughs....but finally , once sleep comes, it stays....until morning when the cough strikes again. Mid day doesn't seem so bad but the poor guy is not happy. Trying to get the liquids in him as they seem easier to do than solids, cough wise. He loves honey so he's getting spoonfuls of that (helps hide the echinachea taste as I put a few drops in of that). He's getting the vitamin C as well. I've tried a homeopathic cough syrup but I'm not sure that's really helping this time. Since I'm not a homeopath it's obviously hard to judge whether certain things will work or not.... My homeopath is out of the office today at a conference so..... we'll wait...maybe we'll hear from her soon (fingers crossed).

Yesterday I made sushi again. Or shall I say Sushi slop? I don't know what happened to my rice. I made sushi yesterday to make up for the sushi slop I made the day before for my daughter's birthday. While it seemed a little better it just wasn't right and I can't for the life of me figure it out. I've made sushi before. Same rice. Same recipe. I'm not sure what is different...other than the obvious ending result of slop. The taste is fine....but....really not all that desireable with the consistency of the rice. 🙁

I should be planning the menu and making a grocery list... It's one of those days where it's hard to think though. This overcast sky isn't helping. I should also be planning next week's school schedule for my son. I'm not real motivated for that either. I am somewhat motivated to go over there and grab a few cookies that I made last night. Yes, I think I can manage that one..... and then.... well...maybe I'll try the menu thing. Ugh. Or maybe I'll just get out the ingredeients for tonight's dinner.... Tonight is Quinoa and Spinach Soup. Oh, and I should get the bread dough out of the fridge if I want warm bread with that, shouldn't I?

Ah yes, it really is time to stop procrastinating. But I did get this post done...lol...that's an accompllishment, right? Oh, somebody tell me that it is!

First, though they may not all follow me here...I wish to say a word of thanks to my friends who continue to pray for me...my family and I have been through a very rough month or two and are trying desperatly to regain a sense of peace.
This weekend was very beneficial for many reasons. My husband and I (and small toddler) took my 17 year old daughter to IUP to tour the campus. It seems to be her first choice and she, at this point, wants to major in Criminology. IUP has a great program for that but also has many other wonderful programs should she decide to change her mind at any point. She already knows some people there and they seem to be willing to work well with her dietary needs.
IUP is also where my husband and I met. So this was a great way for he and I to reconnect on many levels. The campus has changed so much but there was also so much that was the same and brought back so many wonderful memories...and memories that were sad but we could laugh at now. We sat on the same bench he broke up with me on....(the first time) and he asked for forgivenss! Our dorms have been torn down but the apartment building I lived in for two years was still there. We even met up with some very dear friends and that time spent with them did us both a world of good. There presence in our lives is very meaningful and I hope we strive to make visits occur more often! My husband and I did have some alone time (well, alone if you count a toddler) to discuss a lot of things we haven't had a chance to and that was very important.

I've contacted a professional homeopath as well. I am going to try homeopathy to treat the depression as well as some anxiety and sleep issues I've been having. Though this weekend was wonderful and I'm feeling a bit lifted from it, I still feel the depression lurking and know it's probably going to return, so I put in a call to make an appointment this morning. Hopefully she'll be able to get me in within a week or so. I've used homeopathy previously with our Naturopathic physician...but due to reasons I posted earlier on, I still can't bring myself to go see him. So he has referred me to a professional homeopath. She is further away (an hour and a half) but is willing to do phone visits occasionally after the first meeting. It will be expensive to get started but I'm certain it will be worth it.

I started reading a book about praying too. Well, It's called 'When God doesn't answer your prayers'. It's not by an orthodox author, but I listened to an interview with him on Ancient Faith Radio and he does have a rather Orthodox viewpoint on many things and quotes a lot of the Church Fathers in the book...so far (the Introduction and part of the first chapter) make a lot of sense to me..so I think this may help. I have not lost my faith... and I truly still believe that the Orthodox Faith is indeed the TRUE Faith... I just have a lot of questions about God's will, tradgedies, and prayer. So I am struggling, but find comfort in being a member of His church and having so many that are lifting me up in prayer.

Of course, I'm still taking the extra supplements and am trying to get into an exercise routine. And I'm trying to get back to our better eating habits. We still eat better, I think, than the average American with all the preservatives and artificial stuff we totally avoid, but I haven't been doing well in preparing the green smoothies, fresh juice and salads with our meals, etc.

Well, it's 12:30 and I've just gotten my morning routine finished...the same morning routine that I usually have done by 8:30...so needless to say I am anxious about all there is left to do today. My little one is napping and I wish I could do the same but I'm going to try to manage getting something done...if only I can figure out what I should do first...what's most important and what I can manage.... wish me luck!