Thursday, May 31, 2012

GIANT Baby Steps

When my family and I decided to become better educated about the food we eat, we watched various documentaries on food and the food industry like Food Inc. and Super Size Me. These eye opening films lead us to begin learning where our food comes from and what ingredients it contains.

I read countless news articles and reports on contaminated food and food recalls that I had never really been aware of before. To say the least, I was disgusted. Eric Schlosser said it perfectly when he said " There is this deliberate veil, this curtain, that's dropped between us and where our food is coming from." So once I removed this "curtain", hung by the food industry, I was left feeling helpless and frustrated. The more I learned the worse I felt. I started to recognize marketing scams like "all natural" and "no artificial ingredients/preservatives" which are on practically everything in the store! I didn't know what to buy anymore. I actually went to the grocery store to do my weekly shopping and came out with virtually nothing.

I have always just ran up to the one stop shop convenience store, filled up our cart with every household need for the week, and headed home. Bam! Two hours from start to finish. There are no seasons for fruit or veggies in the grocery store. The supply of milk and eggs is never low. Everything is always available. While this is a nice idea, having everything available at all times, we are all paying the hefty price of good health for these modern conveniences and most of us don't even know it.

According to the American Cancer Society's Fact and Figures for 2012:

"About 1,638,910 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2012. This estimate does not include carcinoma in situ (noninvasive cancer) of any site except urinary bladder, and does not include basal and squamous cell skin cancers, which are not required to be reported to cancer registries."

"In 2012, about 577,190 Americans are expected to die of cancer, more than 1,500 people a day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths."

Are these statistics alone not enough to make us re-evaluate our lifestyles?? What about all of the other diseases affecting Americans? Almost all of them are related to nutrition and lifestyle.

When the typical American decides to eat healthier, what do they do? That's easy, they watch their fat and calorie intake. They spend their shopping trips at the one stop shops looking for labels like low carb, low fat, low sugar, and so on. A few stock up on fruits and vegetables, but usually let them rot in the refrigerator involving bread. I know because I did it. But now I am learning more every day about real food and making changes one baby step at a time.

My family's baby steps have included:
  • Eliminating processed food.
  • Avoiding foods that contain msg & hfcs.
  • Only organic fruit and vegetables (to avoid genetically modified food and food treated with chemicals or hormones)
  • Buying milk from a local source.
  • Only raw grass fed cheese.
  • Free range local organic eggs.
  • We are currently working on a few different meat sources. Our meat is coming from a variety of places right now, mostly local farmers or Trader Joe's. Meat is a tough one.
It's really tough to stay on our tight food budget of $600 a month and some times I can't get certain items I need right when I need them, which can be a pain. I have to be very careful to plan my meals for the week and now I'm working on monthly meal planning which I hope will make things easier.

These are my family's "baby steps" and they have been a pain. After all, baby steps can be rather difficult when you're just a baby. That's what I feel like, a baby who has everything to learn about nutrition and real food. So we may be taking small baby steps to some, but to us they are GIANT! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Magical Tea Tree Oil

A few months ago I was introduced to a tea tree/melaleuca oil. It has definitely amazed me with it's wide variety of uses and effectiveness. I have only used it for a few ailments but I have found it to be more effective then other products I have tried. This lead me to do a little research to see what other uses there are for tea tree oil. Apparently there are tons! I advise you to do your own research before treating any condition with a home remedy but below is list I have compiled from many different resources on the uses for tea tree oil. 

But first, what is tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia. Historically, the leaves were used as a substitute for tea, which is how tea tree oil got its name. The part used medicinally is the oil from the leaves.Tea tree has a long history of traditional use. Australian aboriginals used tea tree leaves for healing skin cuts, burns, and infections.Tea tree oil contains constituents called terpenoids, which have been found to have antiseptic and antifungal activity. The compound terpinen-4-ol is the most abundant and is thought to be responsible for most of tea tree oil's antimicrobial activity.


Abrasions: Add 5 drops of Tea Tree Oil in a bowl of warm water to clean the abrasion. Tea Tree oil may be applied directly to the skin to stimulate regeneration of injuries and fight bacterial and fungal infection.

Acne: Using a Tea Tree Oil Soap to treat acne has been very effective for many.

Athlete's Foot: Being a fungal based problem, Tea Tree Oil does a great job eliminating the problem. Add Tea Tree Oil directly to the affected area as needed until fungus is completely healed or put 2-3 drops in your palm and add a carrier oil or lotion and apply at least once a day. Keep foot clean and dry.

Bad Breath: Add a drop or two of Tea Tree Oil and baking soda to your tooth brush. DO NOT SWALLOW!

Body Odor: Add several drops to bath water daily to fight off the bacteria causing body odor. Add a few drops to a small amount of baking soda and put in smelly shoes to eliminate nasty odors.

Boils: Wash the area surrounding the boil thoroughly and then apply full strength with a cotton swab two to four times each day for four days. A gauze pad saturated with the oil may also be applied directly to the boil for up to twelve hours. Also, there is clinical evidence that topical dermatological preparations containing tea tree oil may be more effective than conventional antibiotics in preventing transmission of MRSA. I wish I had known this when MRSA swept though my family six years ago.

Bug Buster: Keep a spray bottle mixed with 15 drops of Tea Tree Oil and a quart of water to repel insects. In the summer when you see ants on your patio or deck, spray your natural Bug Buster several times a day for several days and they'll find somewhere else to go. Natural doesn't work fast like chemicals, but then it doesn't kill a little bit of you either.

Burns: Being a non-greasy and volatile oil, Tea Tree Oil is excellent for burns. Any of the oil which has not been absorbed within 10 minutes will evaporate, allowing the skin to breathe. Speedy treatment is essential. The burn should be put under cold running water or packed in ice for one minute. Then, alternate applications of Tea Tree Oil and cold water for ten more minutes. The oil may be poured from the bottle directly over the burn. The oil can be applied liberally twice daily for three to four days if necessary.

Canker Sores and Laryngitis: Add 3-4 drops of Tea Tree Oil to one cup of warm water. Gargle this solution twice daily. Do not swallow.

Cleaning: Add 1 - 2 teaspoons of Tea Tree Oil to 1 - 2 cups of water in a spray bottle to disinfect and clean surfaces.

Cold Sores: Drastically reduce the healing time of cold sores by applying Tea Tree Oil directly or diluted if necessary to the cold sore.

Common Cold: Add a ten fifteen drops of Tea Tree Oil to a pan or sink of HOT water. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam from the water as deeply as possible through your nose or just add to a vaporizer.

Dandruff: Add to your shampoo for dandruff, dry or oily scalp, and itchy scalp. Use 10 drops to an 8 ounce bottle. Diaper Rash - Apply 2-3 drops of oil mixed in your palm with a carrier oil (not baby oil - it contains mineral oil which causes Vitamin A deficiencies).

Dry Skin: Add 6 - 7 drops of Tea Tree Oil per oz. of Almond Oil and apply to skin often.Earache: Add one drop tea tree oil to one teaspoon olive oil. Gently drop a small amount into the affected ear for a few moment, then tilt head to remove excess oil. You can also massage the diluted oil around the outside of the earache. Repeat as necessary. NEVER apply tea tree oil to the ear without first diluting.

Fleas: Use 10 drops to 8 oz. of water and spray on animal's coat as you rub it in. It will be good for their skin also. This needs to be done daily until the problem is under control in the home. After all fleas are gone you can put it in a spritzer bottle and give your animal a spritz all over once or twice a day if fleas are in the area.

Fungus Nails: Andrew Weil, M.D. in "Natural Health, Natural Medicine", says Tea Tree Oil will clear up fungal infections of both toenails and fingernails even if they are resistant to strong systemic antibiotics.

Flu: Add ten drops tea tree oil to a warm bath and soak. After dilute five drops tea tree oil in one teaspoon almond oil and massage your whole body. Go to bed and rest.

Genital Warts: Simply dab a cotton swab into the tea tree oil and gently apply it to the wart. Repeat this once a day for 10 days. If the treatment is effective, the wart will eventually turn white and then fall off. Note that the tea tree oil may causing a slight stinging sensation.

Hair: Add a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner.

Infected/Sore Nails - Applied several times a day.

Insect Bites and Stings: As soon as possible, apply the oil full strength directly to the bite with a finger or cotton ball. I felt immediate relief!

Laundry Disinfectant: For heavily soiled, bacteria ridden laundry, add one teaspoon to the washer to disinfect and reduce transmission of fungal infections.

Leeches: To remove leeches apply one or two drops of tea tree oil directly to the leech

Lice - Mix five drops of Tea Tree Oil in a teaspoon of shampoo and wash the hair. Repeat this treatment twice daily until the lice are gone.

Mites: Use 10 drops in a tablespoon of water.Then take a small eyedropper and squirt in one ear at a time, instantly covering the opening with the ear flap and a towel to avoid it being shaken on or around the animal. You can also use olive oil instead of water which will "stick" better to the ear. Spend at least a full minute massaging the ear to keep the animal from shaking it all out before it gets into the ear canal and begins doing its work. Massage as long as you can because it could be a one administration event if you can keep it all in there for 3 - 5 minutes. Be sure to wipe any residue off with either method so you don't have the dog or cat ingesting it since smaller weight animals can get too much of it quickly.

Mustiness and mold: Add 15 drops of tea tree oil to 2 cups water in a spray bottle and spray generously to eliminate mold and musty odors.

Nasal Congestion:  boiling water. Inhale the vapours for 5 to 10 minutes.

Poison Ivy: Add two teaspoons to 1/4 cup almond oil or other carrier oil. Dab onto poison ivy repeatedly until blisters heal

Ringworm: Apply two to three drops directly to the affected area several times per day until gone.

Skin Problems: Use one teaspoon in a tub of bath water for a very invigorating bath. It is reported to help sooth and disinfect the skin in cases of psoriasis, eczema and so forth.  That's a lot of uses!!!!!

Splinters: First, soak the afflicted area in hot water to soften the skin. Then, apply Tea Tree Oil full strength. Remove the splinter with a sterilized needle. Clean the cut, dry the area and reapply the oil.

Sunburn: Add five - seven drops to 1/8 cup Vitamin E oil and apply to burned skin frequently or dilute one part Tea Tree Oil with ten parts of olive oil or coconut oil and spread freely over the affected areas. This is reported to be soothing and pain-relieving and to reduce blistering and peeling. People have also applied tea tree oil full strength to sunburn.

Ticks: Apply a drop or two directly to the tick then gently remove tick with tweezers. If tick doesn't let go, apply another drop of tea tree oil.

Warts: Add a drop or two directly to wart frequently until gone.

Yeast Infection: Cisopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). Mix the solution, which should appear milky white. Store the solution in the dropper bottle. Add 10 drops of the solution to a pint of water. Use this douche once a day for a week.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Not Caring Sure Is Easy

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to care about things? I don't mean that it's hard to care but rather when you care, life is more difficult. It doesn't matter what it is that you feel passionate about. You can bet, if you care about something your passion will cause you some pain.

The world can be so judgemental and hurtful to anyone who is different. Most people live normal everyday lives. Going about their busy days of work, school, church, meals, errands, and entertainment is normal. As long as they complete all these things each week, they are satisfied. But when you truly care about something it changes you. Caring more about anything can change the way you see everything!! Some for better and some not, but either way you will be changed.

Over the last few years I have developed a strong conviction to care more. I care more about my children. I care about what kind of an example I set for them and what kind of example the people around them are setting. I want them exposed to Godly things so one day their hearts will desire such things. We are to teach them to seek the things that are above. (Colossians 3:1,2) (Deuteronomy 11:19)

I care more about the health of my family and myself. As I learn more about the dangerous chemicals we have all allowed into our bodies and homes I want to stop it.  I want my home to be as safe and natural as possible. Does this make me strange? To the world it certainly does.

I care more about following in the footsteps of Jesus. Jesus was not wrapped up in a career. He was not busy trying to impress everyone around Him. He was not concerned with having the best or most beautiful anything, besides His perfect heart. I imagine if Jesus were on the earth today He would use our modern technology and  resources to reach out to others. He would care about the souls of the people He met. He would do God's work day and night. He would still be a perfect example of what we should strive for. Would that make Him strange? To the world, yes.

The world usually has great points when I talk with someone about my caring. They say things like "well you can't change everything", "I think you're right but, you may be taking it a little too far", "you need to be careful not to shelter your kids" or "the Bible says to be 'in' the world but not 'of' the world". While these all make sense it is very likely that if someone is saying one of these, they are "in" and "of" the world. We are supposed to be different and if our life is not difficult because of difference then we are not different enough. Not caring is most definitely the easy way to live. The world says "after all the Bible says not to worry, doesn't it?". It's funny how the world uses scripture to make a point.

I say we need to care more. Care about souls, care about family, care about doing God's work day and night. Even if it makes life hard. Even if we have no money and no time for ourselves. Care.

I know I have a long, hard journey ahead of me. But I will not stop caring!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

This Mother's Day began much like every other day. At 3:00 am I got up to pump and prepare the baby's morning bottle. I made it back to bed fairly quickly but before I was able to fall asleep I heard a hungry little cry from over the monitor.

She drank her bottle right up and clearly was awake for the day. So at 5:00 we came downstairs and started our morning.

As I kissed and cuddled with her I took a few moments to reflect on motherhood. From there my mind wandered to homekeeping and all my "to do's". I decided that this day I would let my family spoil and take care of me, after all it was Mother's Day. I would not do any of the usual chores I so often find myself wrapped up in during family time. Today I would enjoy my family.

Then they woke up. One by one they told me happy Mother's Day, gave me a hug and plopped down on the couch. I slipped in a quick shower, got dressed (well actually half dressed) before graciously receiving my gifts. Then I managed to whip up some pancakes (they've got to eat, right?), fix hair & dress girls, pump two more times, and we were off to church, only about 7 minutes late! Shoot!! I forgot to brush my teeth.

During the hour and a half I spent calming my crying baby in the church nursery I was thankful to hear most of the sermon. I even shed a few tears while applying the lessons on mothering to my life.

Lunch was canceled due to a fussy baby so Dad took us home and went back out in the pouring rain for my favorite mexican food. The baby finally went to sleep so I got in a little homeschool research on the computer and we all watched Indiana Jones. I'll admit I didn't make it all the way through to movie. I snuck out towards the end and finished my research for our library trip the next day. I loaded the dishwasher and did one load of laundry (Daddy needed clean work clothes) while the baby and I stayed home from Sunday evening worship.

Each year Mother's Day means something a little different. At one time it was all about my Mother. Now I find it is more about my children and them feeling excited to celebrate me. A few years ago one Mother's Day I may have wanted a day "away" from it all. A day to myself, to be selfish and celebrate myself and all my hard work. But this year I celebrate this wonderful blessed life and embrace my crazy kids, dirty house, and undone chores. God has me right where He wants me and I am eternally grateful to Him for allowing me to be a Mother!! Three times He has blessed me with a prefect little girl to nurture and care for. He has entrusted me with three little souls to mold into faithful servants for Him. He has given me everything I need to do this work and provided me with His guidance and strength to succeed. I celebrate Him today!!

Now... what to feed everyone when they come flying in the door any minute???