2

I've taken a weekend away.  Well not really, it's more like a few days during the week but a few days during the week didn't make a very good title.  😉

Life has been hard as of late and I keep reading about Adrenal Fatigue and how important it is for self-care.  One book author (a doctor) actually recommended to one of her patients that she just stop everything and go away for a month and do nothing but rest and relax.  Um?  I can't do that.  But when my husband said a few weeks ago that he planned on going to see his mom for a few days in May my brain went into happy mode and I asked if he could take our youngest along with him.  The older two are quite self-sufficient and this would give me, not a month, but  a few days in which to go away.  So I left on Sunday- not a minute too soon for my adrenal and mental health- and am happily here until Wednesday.

So I have almost 3 days of taking care of myself.  What to do??

My current "Work Space" for my 'weekend away'...but only for work I want to do when I want to do it.... I'll be sad when the three days are over but hopefully well rested!

 

I brought my own food to a hotel with a kitchen (NOT a bad price, I was pleasantly surprised after doing a little searching). Good healthy food I can just throw together and not worry about whether anyone else likes it but me.  Last night's dinner was yummy!

I brought my favorite icon and my bible.

 

 

I brought two devotional books.

 

I brought my latest and favorite book on Adrenal Fatigue (to study the detox and self-care ideas suggested by Dr. Romm).

And I brought my Bullet Journal -  completely blank with lots of supplies to get it started.  Do you use a bullet journal?  I just stumbled on this idea recently and have watched all sorts of YouTube Videos and scanned Pinterest for ideas on how to make mine work.  It will be all my planners, list making and such all wrapped into one notebook.  I LOVE the idea!!!  And I've had a great time getting it started.

This is in the front few pages....a verse from Philippeans 4 and a doodle page to remind me to simplify things...
My first Weekly Planning pages... I'll be doing some adjustments for next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I actually started the bible reading, prayer and devotionals last night as well as got the Bullet Journal started, ate dinner,  took a bubble bath, played a little solitaire for the first time in ages, played around on the internet and went to bed by 9:15.  Then I  slept for over 8 hours! I haven't  done that in            A G E S!!!  Of course, I'm sure the fact I only slept two hours the night before has a lot more to do with that than just getting away...   🙁

I know this get away will not eliminate the Adrenal Fatigue.  But it IS a step to health.  Learning to let myself know when I need to get away and acting on it is a BIG step in my path to self-care.  Also spending more time in quiet devotion and prayer is something I need to increase.

I'm also working on my food plan for the next few months--  there's 40 new foods on my AVOID list now from the ALCAT test results I got back about a week ago or so and about 15 other items  that affect some of the supplements I've been taking so I need to rethink on some of that as well.  I'll be working on detox stuff too which is VERY IMPORTANT to folks with MTHFR as well as Adrenal Fatigue and whatever else ails me (just sent in some hormone type saliva tests today and will be awaiting those results too).

Well-  there's my little catch up post on my time away and what I'm up to.  Time for a little rest now as my body is telling me to do.  In the meantime,

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU NEED A LITTLE R & R?

 

 

2

For today's post, I want to present you with the information in my ABOUT Page.  Why?  Well, though it's my most read page, I'm sure not all of you have had the opportunity to read the updated version I posted last fall.  Second, I want to reintrodue my readers to everything that I desire to include in this blog- so if you've missed a topic that interests you, you'll know what to search for.  And third, I want to ask- as I take time to ponder and plan what I want to write about this upcoming year- what is it that makes you follow the blog?  I've asked this is a previous post, but I wanted to give my viewers another chance to answer that question after reading the ABOUT PAGE Information- in case they missed it! 🙂

About Me

I wear many hats in my life - Orthodox Christian, Wife, Momma, homeschool mother,  reader, friend, taxi driver, cook, maid, WRITER and many more!

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I write this blog for me and FOR YOU!!! It is for me because I LOVE to write and what better way for me to practice my skill than by writing and sharing with others my biggest passions in life. It’s for YOU because I find these things to be beneficial to EVERYONE!

SO….. WHAT WILL YOU READ ABOUT HERE?

Orthodoxy – Orthodox Christianity is my Faith – It’s the oldest Christian faith in the world remaining unchanged since 33AD. If you want to learn more, read about it here. I love to post about my faith as well as semi-weekly posts that are spiritual reflections – good for anyone of any Christian faith.

Homeschooling – I post things about all aspects of homeschooling. Some former posts have covered the Pennsylvania Homeschool law, methodology, the Charlotte Mason method, curriculum, busy bags, living books, and more!

Books – I love to write and with that is my passion for books! I post about the importance of reading and the books I’m reading – fiction and non-fiction. I attempt to do a formal book review at least once a month but will hopefully be catching up and doing extra reviews on books I’ve read in the past as well.

Whole Foods and Natural Health – My family has completely changed our health status by turning away from the Standard American Diet and changing to a Whole Foods approach using the foods God gave us for consumption and staying away from overly processed food products containing artificial man-made ingredients. In our adventure, I’ve learned about the Paleo Diet and am experimenting with that as well as many natural remedies for health ailments such as the cold and flu and enjoy sharing these with you as well. It may be interesting to note that neither my daughter nor I carry our former diagnoses of bipolar disorder and my husband was able to stop taking medications for high blood pressure and ADHD due to this lifestyle change!

Recipes - Because what’s a blog that talks about food if there’s no recipes?? 😉
Writing – After all, this blog only exists because of my passion for writing. I am an active member of SCBWI and the 12 x 12 group formed by Julie Hedlund. I am very hopeful to become a published children’s author and make millions of dollars -NOT! Lol. I won’t make money at being a children’s author. My goal is to enrich not my pocketbook, but the mind of a child. And I will share with you my journey along with an occasional writing exercise that may help the aspiring writer or homeschooler in their own journey.

LIFE - Really, I write about so much more than just the above major focal points including stress management, marriage, reflections on famous quotes, decluttering, parenting, and MORE because I am sharing my life with you as a WHOLE. A lot of blogs focus on just ONE aspect of the blogger’s life. They are very good blogs but here you will get a much bigger picture of me and my life, not just one piece. You get ME. And I get YOU.

So -  What makes you follow the blog?  What's your favorite topic?  And if you DON'T FOLLOW YET.....

.....FOLLOW ME NOW 🙂 (You can follow here on WordPress, Bloglovin' or on my Facebook page!) and remember to introduce yourself! Tell me YOUR PASSIONS!

 

2

I was glancing through my long list of unread posts in my Bloglovin' feed the other day and stumbled upon one where a sentence caught my eye.  The writer had implied that happiness came from food.  Hmmm.  I have to completely disagree.  I could go on and on about where happiness DOES come from.  And maybe I will in another post. But that's not the part of the point I wish to 'argue' today. I don't believe happiness comes from food....but health does.

Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Some of you may be wondering what happened to all my posts on food, recipes, etc. lately.  Don't worry.  I still eat daily. 😉

Photo By Pixabay
Photo By Pixabay

I also still eat healthy food...mostly paleo.

I just haven't posted much about it lately because, well--- one can only write about so many things and with November being picture book month and PiBoIdMo, my posts did weigh heavy with writing and reading.

Now on with food.

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Health comes from food.  No Doubt.

What you consume on a daily basis absolutely does have a PROFOUND effect on your health.  All of the vegetables, healthy proteins, and healthy fats that you consume absolutely have a positive effect on your body and health -  maintaining healthy body function and prevention of disease.  Adversely,  all the artificial ingredients, excessive amounts of grains, GMOs, and other toxic ingredients in foods, etc. that are ingested can absolutely have a detrimental effect on our overall health.

While I always knew this, it wasn't until about 9 years ago that I came to realize that what I thought was healthy food, really wasn't.  I started writing about this aspect of our lives in a post titled Our Food Story back in October of 2013, but haven't followed up a lot with it - other than a few posts on MSG, artificial colors and our paleo adventures with the Whole 30.  What it all comes down to is, while food is certainly not my religion, over the years  I have slowly realized that what the FDA tells us, what the food pyramid tells us, what school books tell us and what's provided in school lunches and hospital cafeterias across this great nation IS NOT HEALTHY FOOD.

I'm not going to make this a long post about what you should eat.  I'm not going to make this a post about how we can solve disease, even mental health issues with REAL FOOD.  I'm not going to go into details on MSG, artificial colors, preservatives, nitrates, and all the other things added into our food supply. Though I certainly could...

What I am going to say is this:

Health DOES come from food. REAL FOOD.  Anything else you put into your body - be it artificial ingredients,  things people claim is food but isn't, medications containing toxic ingredients, artificial ingredients contained in vaccines, etc. is HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE.

I'm not a medical doctor (see my disclosure page).  But I am a mother who has done a LOT of research into the health of herself and her family.  What I have discovered is NOT what I learned in school or was brought up to believe to be the way to health. What I have learned is there is more to learn.  And it starts with YOU.  YOU must do the research.  YOU must know what you put into your body, what it contains and what it's doing to YOUR health and the health of YOUR CHILDREN.

And please, DON'T ASSUME that what is reported on the front of a cereal box, the ad in a magazine, or even the evening news is accurate.  Do the research, but keep in mind who is providing the information.  Are they making money by keeping you in the dark and providing you with twisted information (i.e. the drug industry and the sugar industry?)?  Then is this really where you should be getting your information from?

Take the time to investigate.  Take the time to find quality food sources.  Take the time to prepare your own food within your own home on your stove top. Your health depends on what you are consuming on a daily basis and what you are allowing your body to be exposed to.

So what's really the point(s) of my post? Let me sum it all up:

Happiness Does NOT come from food.

Health DOES come from food.

Do the research.

Know what you are putting into your body.

Your health depends on it.

And while true happiness isn't contained in health alone, it certainly does help a lot.

Just sayin'....

 

 

4

So while I'm on my quest for imperfect progress, I'm still on my quest for stress management which really coincides well.  I know when I'm stressed, I become unglued more often.

The first chapter I completed in my book on Stress Management was titled Goal Setting and Time Management. I figured it would give the basic time management strategies one usually hears:

  • Make a daily to-do list
  • Block out media distractions
  • Get up earlier
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Be reasonable and don't over plan your day.

You know, basic stuff. The stuff everyone knows we should do but don't always do it.But the chapter really actually spent a lot of time on goal setting which is pretty important.  So I made some goals.

First, I had to come up with a list of my ultimate priorities.  They do not consist of the only things I find important in life but they are the most important. While the first 3 are in numerical order, the others could be interchanged. These are the things that I simply could not accept having to live without:

  1. God
  2. My marriage
  3. Mothering my children
  4. Health & Safety
  5. Homeschooling
  6. Writing
  7. Friends & Family
  8.  Comfortable, nice clean home
  9. Financial Security
  10. Fun & Relaxation (Yes, some would be surprised this made the list as it's the one that is overlooked most often - but it really is a priority for me)

Once I determined what my priorities were (that part did not take long), I needed to develop short-term, medium-term and long-term goals....starting with long-term.

LONG TERM GOALS:

  1. Develop a union and closeness with God - keeping Him ever-present in my mind and heart, allowing Him to control ALL - Choosing to always be on His side.  In Orthodox language - staying on the path of Theosis and climbing the ladder of divine ascent.
  2. Have a strong lasting loving relationship with my husband that will strengthen one another that can serve as a model to others.
  3. To have my children always know - without a shadow of a doubt- that I loved them and to be a Christian model to them and someone they can depend on for strength.
  4. To feed myself and my family, REAL food as provided by God and provide a safe healthy environment to maintain all of our health.
  5. To educate my children to the best of my ability throughout their elementary, middle and high school years and prepare them for life, especially by way of heart and soul.
  6. To write and publish several children's books and have a blog of several thousand followers (blushing a little here....wondering if I sound vain??).
  7. To engage in pleasant activities and communicate well and often with friends and family and also help them in whatever ways I can.
  8. To maintain an orderly clean and , yes, stress-free environment in our cozy well-maintained home (finding this current cozy little house in the woods is a great start to this goal!).
  9. To live within our means and not only have a security net but also be able to help others in need.
  10. To enjoy life and remember to have fun and RELAX!  (this is actually the hardest one for me---  but I think my Stress Reduction and path of imperfect progress I have myself on will help achieve this goal!  But I may need a LOT of encouragement here- so please feel free to comment on these posts and offer words of wisdom and encouragement and your own tales of imperfect progress!

From there, I did establish some 'medium term goals' that I hope to accomplish within the next 1-5 years as well as short-term goals that I hope to accomplish within the next few weeks up to one year.

Obviously for my first goal - forcing myself to get up at 5:30 each morning for my quiet devotional time and reading Unglued and working on my imperfect progress will help me to do that.  I must remember that my goal is not to be perfect and I must forgive myself when I fall.  That's the hardest part I think.  I have this deep inner voice that ridicules myself when I mess up.  It's actually NOT nearly as bad as it used to be... but I must focus more on remembering that God will forgive me - but I must forgive myself also.

I also set goals that were specific to the Unglued Participant's Guide to describe what I would like my 'new normal' to be:

1.  I do not yell or raise my voice when frustrated, angry or confused.

2.  I make it through my days without regretting how I've spoken to someone.

3.  I find ways to acknowledge what I'm feeling without doing either of the above and without stuffing those emotions down to boil over later.

Whew.... that's a lot of goal setting!  Now on with my day and hopefully make some progress!  Are you with me?

 

 

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I don't think it's a secret that added sugar is bad for you.  But I do wonder if people realize HOW bad it is for them. It's not just about tooth decay.

The sugar you buy in the bag at the grocery store is made up of two simple sugars: Fructose and Glucose.  Sugar is found in plants, including fruit BUT there IS a BIG difference between naturally occurring sucrose and the sucrose found in your bag of granulated sugar.

Fruit offers us nutrition - much NEEDED nutrition and should not be avoided, though it should be eaten in reasonable amounts and always as part of a well balanced diet with other nutrients. Granulated sugar goes through a refining process which refines the 'food substance' for 'food products' but gives us empty calories, offering us no nutritional value whatsoever.  In the meantime, this form of sugar becomes addictive and robs us of our energy and our health.

However, the biggest reason sugar is so dangerous is that it is actually considered 'food' by many and ingested in such ridiculous massive quantities.  Secondly, it is truly addictive and habit forming.

Did you know??

  • Sugar suppresses the immune system.
  • Sugar takes energy away from the body.
  • Sugar raises your blood sugar level.
  • Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
  • Sugar contributes to obesity.
  • Sugar contributes to diabetes.
  • Sugar can be a contributing cause to cancer.
  • Sugar increases signs of aging and does so prematurely.
  • Sugar can contribute to weakness in eyesight.
  • Sugar can lead to the formation of kidney stones.
  • Sugar alters the balance of 'good' and 'bad' bacteria in our intestinal system.
  • Sugar can affect learning and concentration in children and adults.
  • Sugar upsets mineral relationships in the body and can interfere with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Sugar causes heart disease. (What? Never heard of this one?  Check out the talk by Dr. Robert H. Lustig, a UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology titled "Sugar:  The Bitter Truth)
  • Sugar promotes inflammation.
  • I could go on and on and on and on......

...but my point isn't to list all of the horrible things sugar can do.  (You can certainly check out a much more extensive list created by Nancy Appleton Ph.D. here.) My point is that it does do horrible things, more than what we were told when we  were little and pouring extra sugar on our Rice Krispies (four grams of extra sugar in each teaspoon I heaped on...and I heaped quite a few teaspoons) and that we really should avoid it and no, we should NOT substitute it with neurotoxic substitutes (more on this next month).

Besides not necessarily knowing how bad sugar really is, I think a lot of people really don't realize how much sugar they are consuming.

How much sugar is in that??

  • There are 4 grams in a teaspoon of granulated sugar.
  • There's about 39 grams in a 12 oz. can of cola and 65 grams in a 20 oz. bottle.
  • There's 17 grams in a 16 oz. Café Latte.
  • There are 13 grams in a cup of milk.
  • There's 12 grams in just two Fig Newton cookies.
  • There's 18 grams in just ONE Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookie.
  • There's 19 grams in a 1/2 cup of jello.
  • There's about 21 grams in a 1/2 cup serving of Ben and Jerry's icecream....and really, who only eats a half cup?
  • There's 27 grams in a container of strawberry Yoplait yogurt.
  • There are 4 grams in a bowl of Rice Krispies...unless of course, you add more....
  • There's about 6 grams in an average piece of pizza.

Okay...so there is sugar in a lot of things.  From small amounts to very large amounts.

How do you get the sugar out??

Well obviously not by adding more to your Rice Krispies like I did as a child.

If I have been or am addicted to anything, it's sugar.  I understand the desire...the want...the 'oh my I've got to have that'...

but seriously - it's NOT GOOD.

It NEEDS stopped.

The only way to stop it....is to ...well..stop.

You need to eradicate it from your diet.  You need to stop adding sweeteners (and PLEASE do NOT substitute it with evil substitutes).

My recommendation?  The Whole 30.  You can see my many posts on our adventures with a Whole 30 here, and here, and others....  or you can just jump over to the Whole30 website to see what it's all about.  Honestly, I don't think I could have cut sugar to such a low amount in my diet without the whole30.  I have not completely eliminated it - that's a choice I've made.  But I no longer CRAVE it like I once did.  I no longer think I NEED it.  I can enjoy foods and beverages without the added sugar that I once would have turned up my nose in disgust without it.  I actually enjoy some foods even more than I use to because I appreciate their natural sweetness.

*You might also want to check out this book:  Get The Sugar Out - 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet

However you decide to do it, you need to do whatever you can to greatly reduce the amount of sugar you and your family are ingesting each and every day.  Best wishes nd let me know how you're doing!

Get the sugar out.  Your body will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

This is not representative of my religion.

I was sitting recently, amongst some friends who were talking about parenting, food, and other topics, when one casually said, “I just don’t get how some people make their food choices like a religion.” Some nodded along and the conversation drifted to other topics while I sat there… taking that in, wondering…. “Who and what did she mean by that?” She had followed up this statement with a quick add-on about time and other things, but I wondered if there was more behind her words? My paranoid self said (to me only of course), “Hey…are you talking about me?? Is that what you think?” While my defensive self (again, only to me) said, “Hey…do you know why I do what I do?? And by the way, Orthodoxy does mean more to me than my food…” So I’ve thought about this for a while. And I want to answer it….though I may be way off base by what this friend meant, but it’s something I wonder about. Are people judging me because what they see is this obsessed woman who spends an awful lot of her time in the kitchen, reading labels, and worrying about what her family will eat when they go away for the day, let alone for several days in an unfamiliar environment?

Food is not my religion. But it does play a really large part in my life as it is a (but not the only) top priority.

You see, without the food choices I make for our family, our family would be entirely different from what it is today. My cupboards would be overloaded with pharmaceutical drugs instead of organic nuts and other foods. I’d be lucky if I had enough stamina to make a pre-made laden with chemicals frozen dinner let alone make a well-balanced meal from scratch. My daughter would probably not be in college and may have had to spend time in a psychiatric unit by now.  I may not still be married. My son would probably be driving his high school teacher and principal crazy as we would probably not be homeschooling. And my youngest…well who knows, he may not even be here.

It is the food that some may think is my ‘religion’ that has saved us from what could only have otherwise been lives full of anxiety, depression, chaos, upheaval and nightmares of every sort. I will not go into the details here…I am not ready. You can certainly read  my earlier post that hints at the ordeals of our past life without Real Food and what we learned and how it changed us:

Our Food Story

In short, Real Food has brought us health. We no longer carry labels of mood orders not otherwise specified, bipolar-disorder, anxiety, depression, ADHD, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome, and the countless other labels added on and taken away here and there throughout several years of dysfunction.

That doesn’t mean we are perfect people. We still have stressful days, weeks, etc. but we can deal with them with clear heads and make rational decisions and think through the problems that arise and feel healthy while doing so. We can rise to the challenge of life without always feeling we will succumb to each one leading to great consequences. Occasionally we get colds and viruses too but they do occur much less frequently and we suffer by far less than we use to. And after doing the Whole30, I don’t even have the inclination to hide away with a bar of chocolate anymore! 🙂

This is closer...

But the food is not my religion. ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY  is. Worshipping God as taught by the Church as taught by the apostles…. That is my religion. But the very food that is one of my biggest priorities, right after God, my husband and children, the food that has saved my family from sure destruction comes from the Eternal, Unchanging, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, all-good, all-righteous, all-sufficient God that I pray fervently to and worship with all my being. It is He that makes our health possible through His creation.

I only ask that you try to see there is a difference and not judge me because it may APPEAR to you that I take it more seriously than God Himself.  I don't.  I spend time in prayer as well as time in the kitchen.  And I also know that eating the food we do will not extend our life beyond what God intends.  But I do believe that God gives us choices.  We have a choice to eat the food He has provided - giving us all the nourishment we need - or the food products and chemicals man has tampered with - giving us disease and poor health.  While food is not my religion, I am choosing the side of God in my choices. That is a determination I have made for myself and my family and want to share.

I will not judge you  -  so please don't judge me.  (I judge the food industry…it’s true…but not you) I hope (and pray) that you find the truth about the food industry and that you find the time and ability to cook from scratch for the betterment of the health of your own family…but do I judge you? No.. I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. I know it’s not easy.   I will not judge you. But I WILL encourage you. I WILL share what I know when I think it might help. I WILL give pointers when I think it might be possible that you’ll listen. That’s not judging…it’s sharing… its me feeling awful that I might know something that could help you and others and  feeling HORRIBLY guilty if I kept it to myself. But it’s up to you to do something about it…up to you whether you want to look more deeply into what I share with you and here, on this blog. You are my friend…I will not judge… but I will try to educate…it’s what I feel led to do. But it’s not a religion. Okay?

Other Relevant Posts: (in case you haven't read these yet 🙂 )

The Truth About MSG

Children And A Restricted Diet

Epigenetics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

How can I possibly blog about food and how it affects your health if I don't touch on that hot topic....  organic vs. non-organic  ?  So here's my two cents:

If you can afford it, organic is the way to go.

But most of us can't afford to buy everything organic whether we know it's better for us or not.  And if you fall into that category, how do you make the decisions on what to buy organically and what you can pass over for the less expensive conventional product?

Let's start with the produce you do NOT NEED to buy organic. The following is a list of produce which contains smaller amounts of pesticides than others.  While most of the lists online for this will include corn, I will NOT.  I never buy corn from the store that is not organic as I know that the majority of corn in the United States, if not organic, is genetically modified (GMO).  With that said, here is the list of foods most people consider to be less problematic when it comes to pesticides:

  • Avocado - The thick skin on an avocado prevents pesticides from making its way into the yummy flesh inside!
  • Pineapple - Again, the skin on the outside is thick and we don't eat the skin so what's inside is fine.  Beware, however, I just recently read a post that some GMO pineapples are making their way into the U.S. from Costa Rica... it's a particular type.. Rose....and yes, Monsonto is behind it.
  • Mango - Again, this is a tough skin that you don't eat, so it's another one that is relatively safe to buy non-organic as the skin prevents pesticides from making their way into the part we eat.
  • Asparagus - Apparently, asparagus doesn't attract as many insects and so fewer pesticides are used on this vegetable.
  • Kiwi- Here is another fruit that is protected by its outer skin.
  • Cabbage - This plant is not heavily sprayed, so just removing a few outer leaves will help you avoid having to buy organic.
  • Eggplant - Most people don't eat the skin...if you do, then you might want to consider organic.  It's on the 'clean' list...but is at the lower end.
  • Cantaloupe, Watermelon, etc.  -  Melons, again, have that hard rind that people don't eat (unless you are pickling watermelon rinds) .  Cantaloupe from Mexico, is heavily sprayed..so you may want to avoid those particular melons.
  • Sweet Potato- sweet potatoes have fewer pesticides than white potatoes.
  • Onions - Onions are not heavily attacked by pests and therefore, are not heavily sprayed.
  • Citrus - Citrus fruits have that heavy skin to protect the inner fruit.
  • Sweet Peas - frozen (shells removed)

The Environmental Working Group puts out the Dirty Dozen list annually.

There are variations each year though it doesn't vary much.  But because new pesticides are brought in, old ones taken out or reduced, etc. changes always occur in the farming industry so the EWG updates the list yearly.  Here is the current list of the Dirty Dozen you should ALWAYS buy organic if at all possible:

  • Apples (Apples rank highest...if nothing else, buy organic apples!)
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • This year they added a few 'plus' items to the list:  Kale/Collard Greens  and  Summer Squash(zucchini)

EWG states on their website:  The genetically modified crops likely to be found in produce aisles of American supermarkets are zucchini, Hawaiian papaya and some varieties of sweet corn. Most Hawaiian papaya is a GMO. Only a small fraction of zucchini and sweet corn are GMO. Since U.S. law does not require labeling of GMO produce, EWG advises people who want to avoid it to purchase the organically -grown versions of these items.

For further reading about EWG and their lists, here is a link to the site:  Environmental Working Group

And here is a link to the results of all 48 fruits and vegetables tested:  All 48 - this list is in rank of highest pesticide results to lowest.  APPLES are the highest.

For the most part, I stick to buying organic for items on the dirty dozen... sometimes I'll buy cucumbers that are not organic if I plan on taking the peels off...but I usually leave those on as they are full of vitamins!  For other items, I do my price comparison.  If buying organic is only a few cents more, I'll buy the organic.  If it's a really high price, I have to decide... how far down the list is the item - is it closer to the dirty dozen or close to or in the clean 15 list? The closer to the dirty dozen (i.e. domestic blueberries, lettuce & snap peas) I'll probably suck up the price and buy the organic.  This is true, especially if it's something we eat often like lettuce. We have salads several times a week, sometimes every day-  so that's something we put into our bodies constantly...so it's better to be organic.

As a side note, I have actually found that in our adventures with the Paleo Diet, I am spending LESS money on food...something which surprised me.  I thought it would be more.  I guess it's just the amount I'm saving on processed snacks!  So that leaves me feeling better about spending a bit more on organic produce.

Remember to visit your local farmer's markets if price is a problem for you.  I'm amazed sometimes at how low-cost some of those vegetables can be if you buy locally.  Two years ago I got organic cucumbers for 50 cents a piece from a local organic farmer!!  I think the price went up a bit this year but was still under the cost of a conventional cuke at the grocery store!!

Happy Shopping!  Remember - You ARE what you eat!  🙂 Your body will thank you.

7

It has occurred to me that a lot of people don't eat real food. In fact, they eat a lot of fake stuff.

 Those are sort of bold statements, I know.  I know a lot of people will argue with me.  I don't mean to offend. Really I don't.  But I've done a lot of reading on this subject and experimenting and this is my conclusion.  I'd like my readers to take a few minutes and think about this. 
DO you eat FOOD?  Or...do you eat food PRODUCTS?
REAL Food
Processed Foods
Well, first---- what exactly IS food?
The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary lists the following definitions for Food:
1
a:  material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy; also:  such food together with supplementary substances (as minerals, vitamins, and condiments)

b:  inorganic substances absorbed by plants in gaseous form or in water solution
2
:  nutriment in solid form
3
:  something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies <food for thought>
Wikepedia writes this:

Food is any substance[1] consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.

Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture. Today, most of the food energy consumed by the world population is supplied by the food industry.

Whoa!  What??? supplied by the food industry???  INDUSTRY??  Somehow I don't think they are talking about Old MacDonald down the road with his grass-fed cows, organic lettuce and apples....  While farmers fall under the primary sector for industry, note they are comparing industry of today to the gathering methods and agriculture of yesterday. This is where the problem lies.

Real food should nourish your body WITHOUT causing health problems.  Just as the definitions above state, food should sustain and  has the ability to repair the body.  Doritos don't heal your body.  Neither do Twinkies. Real food should come from Old MacDonald's farm, not the big industry that processes his produce and puts it into a Campbell's soup can laden with preservatives and additives and MSG that I've talked about in my post The Truth About MSG. Real food doesn't come with an ingredient label.

Douglas and Melissa Hartwig talk about what food is and what your standards for real food should be in their book It Starts With Food.  The standards we should have for real food, according to Melissa and Doug, are that foods we eat should promote a healthy psychological response (obviously MSG does not do that), a healthy hormonal response (dairy products pumped full of antibiotics and hormones will not do that), support a healthy gut, and support immune function and minimize inflammation.

You will not meet these food standards if you are consuming processed foods each day.  You will not reach optimal health. You are bound for health problems.  You will not feel the best  you can feel.

Now don't get me wrong.  It's not that you won't find ANY ingredient labels in my kitchen.  I'm not perfect.  I am human and I do like the occasional fast treat.  But my labels are minimal compared to the other foods in my kitchen. The majority of my grocery cart is filled with produce and grass-fed or organic meats and wild caught fish.   I'm encouraging you, for the nourishment and health of your body, to lower the amount of processed foods that come with ingredient labels into your home.  And, if you do bring those items into your home, read the ingredients, ponder over them... minimize the ones you buy with artificial ingredients and minimize how many of them you bring into your home and consume each day.  You don't have to do it overnight (though your body would later thank you)...but try to improve.

Challenge yourself. 

Buy a couple more vegetables this week.  Buy a couple less processed snacks and grab a bag of organic apples or a bag of nuts instead. Start your day out with some free-range chicken eggs and sautéed vegetables instead of a bowl of processed cereal. Make your own soup instead of opening a can.  What are you going to do to strive to eat more read food instead of more food products??

 Be well  🙂

2

My toddler, after reading a story about Thanksgiving, was asked, "What do we eat for Thanksgiving?".  He responded, "Turkey, strawberries, perogies, squash and pumpkin".  Okay, so he didn't exactly understand the whole concept of what the pilgrims ate but he got a lot!  🙂

Hopefully, we adults get a lot more out of the concept of Thanksgiving than my toddler.  Hopefully we know it's not really about the food and learn a lesson that doesn't require Snoopy making popcorn and toast and Marcie telling Charlie Brown the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

But if you're not sure, or if you are and just want a moment to reflect, here is an Orthodox prayer for Thanksgiving given to us by St. Basil the Great:

                                 We bless Thee, O most high God and Lord of mercy, Who art ever doing numberless great and inscrutable things for us––glorious and wonderful; Who grantest to us sleep for rest from our infirmities, and repose from the burdens of or much toiling flesh.  We thank Thee that Thou hast not destroyed us with our sins, but hast loved us forever; and though we are sunk in despair, Thou hast raised us up to glorify thy power.  Therefore, we implore Thine incomparable goodness: enlighten the eyes of our understanding and raise up our mind from the heavy sleep of indolence; open our mouth and fill it with Thy praise, that we may be able––without distraction––to sing and confess Thee, Who are God glorified in all and by all, the eternal Father, with Thine Only-begotten Son, and thine All-Holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

I pray that you are with family today or at least someone who is like family to you.

I pray that you have a roof over your head and a source of warmth.

I pray that you do have food that will sustain your health.

I pray that you have love.

I pray that you have the ability to rest when you are weary.

I pray that you have good health.

I pray that you have someone who can make you smile even when the world seems dark and cold.

I pray that you have Faith, strong and true.

I pray that God blesses you this day and each and every day of your life and that you have the eyes to behold it with gratitude.

I pray that you have peace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

  

5

          In response to a recent question and one that I actually get quite often, I've decided to post today about the subjects required to be taught according to the Pennsylvania Homeschool Law.

           Each year, the home education program must provide at least 180 days of instruction(this is 900 hours at the elementary hours if the parent chooses to keep track of  hours rather than days or 990 hours at the secondary level). At the elementary level, the student must have English (reading/literature, spelling and writing), math, science, geography, history of the United States and Pennsylvania, civics, safety education (including fire prevention), health, physical education, music and art. At the secondary level, the student must have English (grammar, composition, literature and speech), science, geography, social studies(American history, Pennsylvania history, world history, civics), mathematics (including algebra and geometry), art, music, physical education, health and safety education(again to include fire safety).

          That's a long list of subjects.  But know that not all of these subjects need to be taught every year.  Each subject only needs to be covered at some point during the elementary or secondary level as specified.  The majority of homeschoolers cover English, history (American, world, ancient, etc., usually one per year), science and math as well as art and/or music, and some form of physical education and fire education during the course of a year.  Health is usually thrown in with science at some point.

       However,  it doesn't have to be done this way.  The law really allows for flexibility.  For example, if the idea of teaching both science and history in one year seems daunting, it's okay to teach one at a time every other year so as to cover more material and have the time to do more intensive projects.  Geography can be taught as one individual subject or can be included in with history each year. Pennsylvania history, contrary to popular misconception, does not have to be covered every year (nor do the other subjects other than fire safety).  It can be added in small amounts yearly or as a single subject during half or all of a single year.

          Art and music also do not need to be taught each year. A lot of homeschoolers do teach them, in some manner, each year.  Art can be included easily by way of drawing illustrations or making art projects for the other subjects. Some homeschoolers take art lessons and some study famous artists from the history time periods they are covering that year.  Music is often covered in the way of instrument lessons or voice lessons.  Some cover this by studying composers of the history period they are currently studying.  Again, they do not have to be covered each year so some homeschoolers may pick just one year to do a more intensive study of one of these subjects.

          Physical education also does not need to be covered each year...but I urge you to do so for the health and well-being of your child.  It does not have to be any type of specific sport, though many opt to participate in homeschool co-op sports or participate in a sport offered by the local district as it is in the law that homeschool students are allowed to take part in these extracurricular activities/sports.  A daily walk or bike ride could also cover this requirement and gets your child out in the outdoors and good exposure to the sun offering its' natural vitamin D supply!  A list of such activities in the portfolio or a few photographs of your child participating in one or all of these is enough to demonstrate that this requirement is being filled.

          Fire education does need to be represented in your portfolio each and every year.  It can be covered in a field trip to the fire station with your local homeschool co-op or you may draw out a fire escape plan with your child and discuss a meeting place outside your home in the even of a fire.[ ***PLEASE have a meeting place established!!  If you don't have one yet, do it NOW.  You can never predict when there will be a fire.]   There are lots of online resources as well.

           In regards to high school classes, some Pennsylvania homeschoolers seem to think that speeches must be done each year due to regulations set by the diploma agencies.  Please note that getting a diploma through an agency is NOT required and not at all necessary.  Parent-issued diplomas are equally legal and this is what the majority of homeschoolers across America use.  So while speech is listed as a requirement for the high school level, it is not a yearly requirement.  Research papers are not a yearly requirement by the state either.

          This is a summary of this part of the law.  I'm sure I have not answered every question you may have regarding the teaching of these subjects.  Feel free to comment below with any additional questions you have and I'll do my best to provide an answer.  I also always recommend to other homeschoolers that they become a member of HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association).  HSLDA provides not only legal counsel but a wealth of information regarding the law, curriculum and so much more on their website.  They have answered a considerable number of questions for me over the years and I can always rely on the website for an abundance of resources.

I'm sure my readers would also love to read in comments below what other creative ways you've used to apply these subjects!

Have a blessed day!