Friday, April 07, 2017

And so we Tweak!

So we are two weeks in on the full GAPS diet and here are the things going for us:

I have kept things SIMPLE...breakfast has only a couple of options, lunch is ala carte, and dinner is a soup or easy dish like chili.

We are still alive.

I'm able to eat milk based products without stomach pain, though I think there still needs to be more healing as I'm not 100%...no pain, but I do get a lot of rumbling sometimes.

We are still alive....like all of us!

I've noticed that Jed's face looks slimmer.  We are NOT trying to get him to loose weight, as in cut back on calories, or such, but he is doing better with foods since he can't slather everything with ketchup.  He had a love of sour cream, and would eat it like yogurt!  So that's out too. But no differences in his speech or other health issues yet.

Did I say we are still alive?  Yeah, that's a good thing.

The things that are not going well for us:

The kids are hating gaps.  Merida has been sick with a horrid tummy bug, visibly lost weight, and for her we are allowing non gaps foods because she's having a hard time eating anything.

I knew we would feel hungry all the time, but I was hoping it wouldn't be as bad as doing gaps intro....and maybe it's not, but by golly my kids are eating ALL. THE. TIME!  Did I say all the time?  And did I say my kids are hating gaps?  Yeah....

With a truck that needed fixing our grocery budget was cut back, and I was hoping we would make it on the food we had....not exactly.  We have two days till shopping day and I made them up some gluten free pasta (not on gaps). It's not that we don't have food....but I'm pretty good with keeping things simple, and toughing it out when it comes to food...and I'm getting sick and tired of eating chicken and vegetables.  I try to think of other people who don't have food and be thankful...I really do...

Actually the eating of the food isn't too big of a problem for me, it's all the cooking.  Lots, and lots of cooking...lots.  Did I say lots?  Do you see a theme here?  Yeah, me too.

Here is a rough estimate of some of the amounts of food we have gone through...in just under two weeks....

8 pounds of aged cheese
4 full chickens, and just cooked up two more today, they are about 1/4 done.
12 pounds of beef
8 pounds of strawberries
at least 12 bunches of bananas
3 or 4 pounds of blueberries (we buy the bags at BJ;s, so they are bulk style)
3 or 4 pounds of raspberries...see above
1/2 a bag of frozen mangos....same bag size
3 or more pounds of carrots
4 jars of natural style peanut butter
about 3 or 4 quarts of kefir (my kefir is just starting to get up and running)
2 gallons of yogurt
maybe 4 or 5 pounds of broccoli
a bunch of other frozen veggies that we throw in soups or roast
eggs...LOTS of eggs...crazy lots of eggs (maybe 8 dozen or more...no joke)

I think that is most of it....the bulk of it.  Man, writing that out it doesn't seem like a whole lot...

So I am not sure what we will do going forward.  My sister found an amazing probiotic that I feel can really help us out.  I was going to pair that with GAPS, but the probiotics are crazy expensive...and I don't see how we can make that work with our food budget.  I know that the first 2 to 4 weeks...maybe it was longer?  you feel hungry ALL the time.  So I'm thinking we will have to just eat gluten free, and do the probiotics and see what happens.  Because money doesn't seem to be growing on any of the 200 trees we have on our property :-)  Imagine that.

I really hate having to go back and forth, try this, try that...but really I am trying to do the best I can with what I have available.  What really is horrible is that my husband took a huge pay cut so we can have better insurance.  Waaaaaay too long of a story to put out here, just trust me on this.  However, we are now paying more for insurance, and the co-pays are higher....sigh.  Jed's speech is going to cost way too much, and we have to cut that out for now.  I feel very strongly that he still needs it, and I am trying to find a way to make it work.  So sometimes I feel like I am spinning my wheels.  We get things going over here...but everything falls apart over there.

One thing I am trying to work hard on is to NOT STRESS over it all.  I am one human, I can only do so much with what we have.  I know I am doing the best that I can with the knowledge I have.

So we tweak.  We had to take stock of our options and make a new plan.  We'll stay gluten free, only fermented milk products, no sugar (save honey), but that allows a bit more wriggle room in the grocery budget to add foods that will stick with us better, hopefully ending the 'hungry all the time stage'.  I will write an update once I get the probiotics in and we start that plate spinning :-)

Here are some pictures that have nothing to do with this post.  But of course.



Aubrey has been obsessed with taking pictures with the cats, or trying to make videos.  This is him with Simba, the cat we've had for the longest time (I think 6 years now?)



Six years old and trying to get the hang of taking a selfie!



Blurry, but so cute.  This was when Merida was *finally* starting to feel better, and she wanted to dress up like a princess.  After a week of not being herself, I was pleased to oblige!



More Aubrey :-)  I seriously have like 400 photos on my phone of his selfies and videos! Ha, ha!



At the playground.  She insisted her animals come to have fun too (a racoon and a very flat teddy bear...he's lost his stuffing).

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guess we'll have to take that two week break...

I mentioned that I was thinking about taking two weeks off of activities....well yesterday night Jonah was complaining of his legs hurting.  I was hoping, REALLY hoping, that it was just growing pains.  But then he started complaining of a headache. He woke up still in pain, and then Jed was acting funny.  Although Jedidiah is not our most active child, he isn't one to just lie on the couch for the heck of it.  He eventually fell asleep on the couch at 11 in the morning.  Sigh.  He woke up, and decided he needed to rid himself of the contents of his stomach, followed a couple of hours later by Jonah....and then a couple more hours by Merida.  Oh joy.

Maybe, just maybe it's food poisoning.  But at this rate, I'm not taking chances!  So I called off all outside activities (for the younger kiddos).  They seem to be the ones getting sick first.  We did start on GAPS today, but it's going to be a while before we see some progress.  My kids will readily eat yogurt, and I can usually get away with putting some fermented veggie juice in their soup or other meal...but I think this time around I am going to use some supplements to get us headed in the right direction faster.  I don't need this to take any longer than it has to!

I made a bunch of GAPS food, and then most of it disappeared....down the throats of my kids!  For the amount of time I spent in the kitchen I think there should be a **whole** lot more evidence that I was actively working, then there is in my fridge!  As long as I stay a couple of days ahead, we should be fine.  I think there is enough yummy food to be had on full GAPS, so I am not too worried of a mutiny at this time :-)  There may be a whole lot of yogurt and fruit eating going on for a bit.  Again, I'm not too worried, as the transition can be difficult, so whatever makes it easier I'm up for.  


The other day I drove the older girls to a church that was having free prom dresses and accessories available to teen girls.  This was amazing!!!  My girls got some fabulous dresses and makeup!  I didn't want to take Merida in since that was just going to be a recipe for disaster.  Instead I took her to a park nearby, which happened to be a park I visited when I was a nanny, some 20 years ago!!  I was walking up to it thinking....wow that looks familiar...oh, wait, so does that...



I am thinking of doing a playground hop this spring/summer.  There are a ton of parks in the surrounding areas and I would love to bring my kids to them for a change of pace.  We usually frequent the same two playgrounds.  Maybe a new playground, and a new hiking trail each month.  I started making a list and it will take us a while to get to them all!



A long standing dream....a tree fort!  It's been a long wait.  Unfortunately for my girls, they didn't get to see that dream in their childhood :-(  But for the youngest four....this is pretty exciting!  It is a triangle shape, and now has slats on it.  I wouldn't let anyone up there, without an adult right there, until the slats were put on!  This would be quite a fall, and with all the bad things going on over here...I really, really, REALLY didn't want to have another hospital visit for a broken arm.  The kids always want to have a picnic, but between the chickens and the cats, that is impossible.  But now, they can have a picnic in their fort and be chicken and cat free!



This was right before Merida became ill today.  There is a LOT of driving to be had this week, between Moira's job, and Flannery's horse camp, and other get togethers, and events!  So we dropped  Moira off at work, and drove right to get Flannery, but we were an hour early.  I had totally forgotten they had a little playground on the premises.  It worked out great.  The funny thing is that there were a couple of big carpenter bees buzzing nearby.  Merida would just shoo them away, totally not afraid.  But she saw these two little gnats on the slide and she freaked out!  She is completely afraid of ants and other tiny little bugs. If she sees them on her swing, or a slide at the park she will refuse to use them!  It may be a long summer!  I tell all the other kids to NOT point out the bugs in the house, or outside.  A crane fly got in the house and you would have thought the world was ending!!!  Blood curdling screams.

Speaking of Merida, it appears she is still not feeling well.  She is sleeping but keeps crying out :-(  Off to cuddle with her.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Jumping into GAPS!

I should be preparing lots of food right now.  At the moment I am immobilized....by fatigue.  After a long battle of illness, the youngest is having a case of 'mama magnetism'....in other words, she is attached to my leg most of the day!  I kind of need some space and time to get some things done, which I have not been afforded.

Other, very fun things, have been going on instead, like fort building!  Now it is evening and I have to try to muster feeding my crew, and clean up my kitchen.  It's not in too much disarray, but I have a lot of food prep to do....a lot!  I can't think in clutter/chaos, much less cook and make more messes.

I would never tell someone to just jump into the GAPS diet, but we've been through (most, some....) of it about 5 years ago.  In that time I've learned a lot more about why we are sick all the time.  This time I do have a plan (a long range plan) to healing, but it may take time....how much time I do not know.  I kept thinking that 'this' illness would be the last one, and we could move on....oh wait, 'this' one will surely be our last bought of sickness....no, wait, maybe this one?  Yeah, it became apparent that I needed to do SOMETHING in the short term, and quick, before I lost my sanity.

So we are jumping in, head first.  Thankfully, for my kiddos, I am only starting us on the full GAPS diet, not Intro.  I need to get some ducks in a row before I do Intro.  There are some supplements that I want to add to our arsenal, and I need to not only order them, but I have to figure out how much and when to take them all to optimize the best outcome.

The supplements I plan on putting everyone on (though Merida won't get them all) are:

L-glutamine
probiotics from Custom Probiotics (they have low histamine strains)
caprylic acid
liquid garlic drops
milk thistle
apple cider vinegar
vitamin C
borax (topically for Jonah and myself...still battling ringworm....yes, for two years now!)

Some supplements that I need to do for my venture in healing a cavity:

cod liver/butter oil
a supplement that has calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and boron
wheat grass powder to swish in my mouth (along with oil pulling)

My suspicions are that we are all dealing with some level of systemic yeast, due to our black mold in the house.  To help our bodies process all the 'yuck' that will surely come from killing off yeast, I will be booting up my rife machine to help with heavy metal detox, and organ support.

It's been a lot to try to plan out.  Never mind the food planning....or the food planning that I still need to do.  I went into shopping day knowing we HAVE to do GAPS, but with NO meal plan.  So I just bought a lot of GAPS foods, and now I have to make some semblance of a plan on what meals we will actually eat!  I'm not looking forward to it.  Mostly because I know that despite a meal plan, we will all go through about two weeks worth of feeling like we are starving....all...day...long.  Sigh.  So whatever I make up will be eaten lickety split.  I'm not even sure we will have enough food to get through the next two weeks without doing another big shopping!

I want to start GAPS in two days.  So I am hoping i can get to:

rebooting my kefir
making a TON of yogurt (like three gallons worth!)
making some GAPS legal granola
cooking a bunch of chickens
putting those chicken bones in the crockpots for 'never ending' chicken broth
hard boil a ton of eggs
make mayo
soak and then cook a ton of navy beans, then freeze them

I know from experience that you HAVE to have a bunch of food pre-cooked to make this work.  None of these foods are hard to make, but they are not quick.  I can't be thinking about dinner one hour before we need to eat.  Having a bunch of foods pre-cooked will greatly ease the stress of getting our meals ready to eat.  Plus it will give the kids something to grab if they are 'starving'.

I am not looking forward to the weeping and gnashing of teeth the next two weeks will bring.  But I am looking forward to a break in the never ending sickness, fatigue, and other health benefits we will surely see!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fighting the computer games....and winning!

I'm sure I am not alone in the fight against the computer games take over!  To be sure I've read the 1,000 articles that talk about the negative effects of computer games, too much TV watching, etc.  I'm on their side. But over the past couple of years, the computers have been winning in our household.  It's not what I wanted, nor was it something we needed.  It was survival.  Being in survival mode is not pleasant.  There are many other people who seem to be in survival mode, and yet still make their goals happen.  Not me.

The good news is that I am moving on from survival mode.  I am shaking off the dust, and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  It has been difficult to face the damage that has been done.  I am hopeful that the damage can be reversed.  Currently the damage looks like this:

**short attention spans
**behind on school work
**bad attitudes and foul language
**laziness, chores not being completed, or started for that matter!
**everyone off doing their own thing, hiding in their rooms
**fighting and squabbling all the day long
**eyes glued to the computer screen, even if it wasn't their turn, they would sit to watch their siblings play on the computer
**too much phone time for the older kids

That would be a big overview, though I am sure I could list a ton more!  And this list does not do the 'picture' of our problem justice.  It's bad people, bad.  I'm not the only one who sees it or feels it.  It hurt to realize that my kids were looking to me to do something about it, but I didn't have the strength to carry out a plan.  And so I decided to skip having a plan and to just do **something**.  It doesn't have to be all or nothing.  It would be better to take steps in the right direction, than to stay stuck in the mud.  

For me that something turned out to be as simple as renewing our library card, and making computer time the last thing they could do in the day, right before bed.  I've read the research on how screen time before bed time is not good, but for us it will most certainly be the lesser of two evils!  And for my kiddos, they can sleep in if the blue screen is affecting their sleepiness sensors.

I had tried making it a rule that you can only be on the computer for so many minutes.  However, during the middle of the day, when they would have computer time, I am pulled in many different directions.  I have to take kids to and from things.  I have work that needs doing (laundry, dishes, dinner prep, etc.), or kids who need help with their school work.  I didn't have the ability to 'babysit' the computer clock.  We had problems with their games not working, so they needed more time.  Or possibly one of their siblings took over their turn, so they needed more time.  Now, at night, since bedtime is looming...you have 30 minutes and that's it!  Now I can come back with, sorry, but bedtime is in so much time, you have to get off so your brother can have his turn before bed.

This also means that all day long, they have the option to go outside (thankfully they've taken this option up more so), they can have a book read to them, they can color, play with toys, make plans for some game or some such, put on a play, paint....and so on.  It's not been all easy peasy.  Lots of, "How much more time before I can get on the computer?"  But I am hearing that less now.  Especially since I can point to outside and say, "Is it even dark out yet?  No?  Well then it's not even close to your computer time, so run along outside now."  

We've taken walks, visited the creek, read the Boxcar Children (now they want to read the series!), are reading The 39 Clues, played Heads Up (a phone app), and watched homesteading videos (which they really watch, ask questions, and talk about afterwards).

Most of their time has been spent outside, building their own empire....or fort....or a big open space of their stuff:


Directions to their get up.



Lots of hammering going on.



Lots of weapons, mostly handmade.



Other supplies, just in case.



You never know when you may need a bucket of small sticks!



The only girl allowed in their area.



Bug finding and storing.







I keep telling them to pick up all the nails...or they are going to regret it.



Not sure what this is supposed to be, besides a hanging sheet.



They even hung up a swing.



Outdoor dining available as well!  Or maybe a space to do some school work outside (shhhhh).



Must buy more hammers, as the one we have is a very prized item.



Aubrey and his weapons.



Not sure how the trees feels about all the nails!  :-)



Exploring the woods.







Merida needed one of these sticks before we ended our visit.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Time to wake up the blog

The other day I popped on my blog, looking for a site that I had hoped I had linked to in one of my posts.  Unfortunately for me, I didn't link to it, but my boys were behind me and were very excited to see old pictures (I was looking at posts from about 4 years ago).  They asked if they could get on my blog to look at all the pictures. They loved remembering what they saw.  They asked me if I could keep taking pictures so that we could look back on these days in the years to come.  It was then I that I realized that my 'record keeping' needed to continue, for their sake.

We were outside today, and I grabbed my camera.  I wanted to use my 50mm lens which I hadn't used in over a year or year and a half.  It does not seem to be working as most of my picture came out blurry.  It kept having a hard time focusing.  I'll have to get it checked out I suppose.  But it is a start.

I have finally (nothing like taking 8 months to do so) gotten the boys off the computers!  Granted they get a small turn at the very end of the day, but this is HUGE.  We are going in the right direction.  A lot more changes will be coming. Some welcome, and some not so much.  Some will be temporary, some I am hoping will stick around.  If I wrote everything out in this one post, it would be too long.  I will just share things as they happen.

Since it's been so long since I've written, I thought I would catch everyone up on a bit of background, and how the kiddos are.

When I mention change, here and in the past....when I mentioned that things were difficult, that I was depressed...it was a real battle.  Jeremiah and I had been separated for a year.  He is back in the house now, but our marriage has a very long road ahead to any sort of recovery/healing/etc.  The past two years have been exceedingly hard.  I have come up out of the deep dark depression I was in, though I still have bad days.  My focus now is to live life, not just survive it.  There is a book I am reading that I think is going to really help us overcome the turmoil we have been living.  The book is called, "A More Excellent Way".  Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the author!

As for the kiddos....Isabella will be turning 20 this summer!  She is currently living out of the house.  I think moving out did her a lot of good.  The mold was definitely adding to the health battles that she has been facing the past few years.  She is trying to get back into horses.  She found a great barn to exchange work for riding/lessons.

Moira will be turning 18 this summer, so our second adult child!  She leads a very social life :-)  She is into photography, drama, singing for church, and has a new job.  She is busy!  She is also facing some health issues, and we go to see our endocrinologist this coming Monday. There seems to be something wrong with her body processing her sugar during different times of the month.  It is scary, and we are hoping to find answers soon.

Flannery is 15, and will be starting to work at the same barn as Isabella in exchange for lessons.  Flannery will also being getting her drivers permit soon!  Three drivers!  Yikes.  She and Saoirse are into Anime and cosplay.  She still loves her Breyers as well, but I have noticed she has not been into barn making, or videoing Breyer horse stories.

Saoirse will be our 4th teen next month!  The big 13!  She has been in drama this year and really loves it. She is thinking about joining the homeschool cheer squad.  Moira was on it this year, and she has tagged along to see if she wants to join.  Moira will be stepping away from cheer after this season, so I hope that doesn't influence Saoirse's decision.

Jedidiah is 10.  He is really into planets and space this year.  He is still in speech therapy, but doing well.  There are a few things we really need to work on with him, mostly due to his sensory issues.  Otherwise he is growing well.  A bit too well in the wrong direction, but he is growing up as well :-)  I have made it a point that the boys get outside everyday, and that has really helped!  Jed is finally reading!  The reading has really helped with his speech as it seems to help him to see the sounds he is supposed to make (as opposed to remembering what sounds he should be making).

Jonah is 8.  For some reason he is really into doing the laundry now a days!  Ha, ha!  Jonah, like the other boys is into Minecraft and watching youtube videos.  He is finally making progress in reading.  It has been a long slow process!  I don't think it has anything to do with any issue....he just wasn't ready to read!  We finally got our library card up to date (we use the libraries that are out of our county so we have to pay an out of residence fee, and then there were those pesky late book fees....) and we have made it a priority to get to the library.  I think he is getting the idea that he could read these books himself...if he could read!  He has been trying to sound out the words in the library books, so I am hoping that will be the push/incentive that he needs.

Aubrey is 6.  He is still all boy!  Always moving.  He loves to rough house, and jump on the trampoline.  He likes to do the things his brothers do too!  He made it his own job to move all the old wood off into the woods.  It has been in the area that we play in, so he moved it out.  He used his wagon to haul off loads of wood to dump in our woods.  Hey, it kept him busy!

Merida is 3.  For those who know me, it may be odd to hear me say....I'm kinda happy that we don't have a baby in the house.  Shock!  A lot of that has to do with the almost 20 years of not having help with the kiddos.  No babysitters, no helpers....just me.  I have watched a little boy recently, who is 9 months old, and I have to say it is very nice once he goes home to realize that I get a whole lot more done without a baby around.  I LOVE babies!  It still saddens me to think that we are all done having babies, but it is also nice that Merida can dress herself, she can walk, etc.  She still needs close watching, but not like a crawling baby!  She loves to play with her doll house, or with playdoh, or to paint, or to run around with her brothers.  She is a cutie and says the funniest things.

So that's it!  I only have a couple of pictures to share today, but I am hoping to make it a habit to pick up my camera a whole lot more often.


Laundry time.  Jonah really likes to hang the laundry outside.  He says it brings back memories :-)



Waiting to see if Daddy catches the chicken....that's under the house!  We put up new blockades, but one of them got knocked out (we have vents around the bottom of the house, and our original vents got knocked out, and Jeremiah made some new ones recently), and we didn't realize there was a chicken under there!  The boys were hanging out by the back of the house when they heard noises under there!  It was a chicken, and yes, Jeremiah caught it.  It was quite hungry! I think it had been under there for 2 days!



Blurry.  We made our way to the creek today.  We didn't stay for long.  Jonah asked me to untangle the disk swing that hangs over the creek.  I did so, he got on, and the next thing I hear is CRACK SPLASH!  Poor kid, the branch that the swing was attached to broke.  Lucky for him, it wasn't a very long fall.



Merida's wild hair!  She has hair like Isabella's, but not as thick.  She has a bit of waves.  I go back and forth on whether I should cut it off or not.  I did take quite a few inches off not too long ago as it is a struggle to keep it tame.  She hates getting it brushed.  But it is so beautiful that I don't want to chop it off!



We always seem to have some sort of specimens in mason jars around here.  It may be bugs, or rocks, or weeds, or seeds, or....who knows!  Two rocks that Jed found at the creek and insisted on bringing home with him.



Rainbow plastic shot glasses.  Really exciting, I know.  I am hoping to have a success story on here of healing cavities naturally....my cavities!  Never had a cavity in my life, until a few months ago.  I have two, in the same tooth.  So not fun.  Done enough reading to know that cavities CAN heal, they do not need to be filled by a dentist. So far so good.  I had pain that was radiating along my whole ride side upper jaw, even had a week of difficulty opening my mouth.  With a change of diet, and taking a cod liver/ butte oil blend I am pain free!  I've been sick for the past few weeks and if my sinuses are swollen up I can feel a bit of pain in the tooth, but it only lasts like an hour or two.  I used these little cups to fill with some healthy lemonade, then plop the cod liver oil in and gulp it all down in one swish.

Looking forward to recording our days once again.
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