2

Who doesn't love books?

Okay, I realize there are a few but those are just crazy people....lol... actually, I believe  those people were just  never given the right books!  My true passion for books started with this one:

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I read lots of books before that...true...but my need to devour a book began with Nancy Drew.  I polished this one off in two days and I was only in 2nd grade!  I later devoured many more and I plan to devour quite a few this year.  I thought I'd share my plan for books with you for 2014....   I touched upon it in my New Year's Resolution post...  but since then I've made a list and updated my photo for the blog with the books I'm currently reading or plan to read in the upcoming year.  They are not ALL on the shelf yet, obviously...  I haven't yet purchased all of the Newberry Medal books yet and I hope that I will add more as the year goes on.  But here is what's on the shelf so far:

NEWBERRY MEDAL BOOKS: 

  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman*
  • Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz*
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  • Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
  • Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson
  • Carry On Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
  • ?  still deciding....
  • ?  still deciding
* They are not in the picture because I haven't purchased them yet!

HOMESCHOOL SOURCES:

  • Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Englemann - I've read the parts I need to 'read' but we are still using it for the exercises so I don't count it as totally completed yet!
  • Exploring America by Ray Notgrass -  Reading Book #2 with my son for school
  • Laying Down The Rails - Sonya ShaferThe Early Years - Shafer & Smith
  • All Day Charlotte Mason Seminar  &  The Books and Things Seminar - DVDs and workbooks presented by Simply Charlotte Mason
  • When Children Love to Learn by Elaine Cooper

THE WRITING CRAFT:

  • Writing Picture Books: A Hands on Guide From Story to Creation by Ann Whitford Paul
  • 2014 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market
  • A Family of Readers - The Book Lover's Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature
  • Honey For A Child's Heart - The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life  (this one easily falls into the Homeschooling category as well as A Family of Readers)

ORTHODOXY:

  • The Orthodox Study Bible - yes, I've already read it 🙂  But the bible is a daily must no matter how many times one has read it,
  • The Faith by Clark Carlton
  • Inner River: A Pilgrimage to the Hart of Christian Spirituality by Kyriacos C. Markides
  • The Open Door by Frederica Mathewes-Green
  • 2014 Daily Lives, Miracles and Wisdom of the Saints (Fasting Calendar by The Orthodox Calendar Company)

FOOD/NATURAL HEALTH:

  • The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
  • The Coconut Miracle by Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D.
  • It Starts With Food by Dallas & Mellissa Hartwig - I've read this before but I have a feeling I'll be reading it again...it was that good and packed with great information.
  • ??  More to be Determined!

OTHER FICTION:

  • Dr. Sleep by Stephen King  ***  I couldn't let this one go by, no matter how many other books I'm reading!  It's the sequel to The SHINING....my first Stephen King book that I ever read!
  • Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff - a Newberry Honor Book
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson  -  sadly it's not in the picture because it doesn't come out until January 7th.... but I should be getting it delivered that day!!
  • Glimpse - the debut novel by Kendra  Leighton... apparently based on the epic poem, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes... this book is due out in August.
  • The Red Badge of Courage (my son is reading this one this year and I never have)
  • The Pearl by John Steinbeck (Another my son is reading)
  • The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway (And another)
  • The Tempest by William Shakespeare (My son's first Shakespeare - wish us luck!)
  • Others, if time, To Be Determined.....

PICTURE BOOKS:

  • No current list made.... I'm sure there will be tons....  at the very minimum we go to the library every 2-3 weeks and get at least 12-15 books..... that should involve a lot of reading!

What's on Your bookshelf to read?

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.

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!

🙂