Tag Archives: health

Homeschool Adventures

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This year was our first attempt at homeschool. We ended up doing Oak Meadow through an online charter school. I had read in various places that other homeschoolers do not feel that charter schools online are “real” homeschool. I didn’t understand at the time, but I do now. Being tied to the state, having to deal with the stress of testing and the results, and being given extra work on top of what we are already doing is stressful. And it’s not particularly productive. These tests are not an accurate assessment of what my daughter knows. She completely freezes during the tests and loses all ability to comprehend. Her posture changes drastically and she looks so dejected, just from having to answer questions. It doesn’t help that it’s also timed. How ridiculous! Next year we will not be doing the charter school thing-even if it does have perks (like free curriculum and a learning fund to pay for horseback riding lessons). I would rather find a way to come up with the money myself to pay for all of these things than to subject her to this inefficient and inaccurate system of testing. No wonder people get up in arms over education. Thank God we are able to homeschool and she doesn’t have to go to a public school that would focus on testing and where she fits in that system. She doesn’t fit in their system.

This would have never have been a problem if we hadn’t been forced to test out of first grade into second grade simply to get the curriculum that best suited her learning. The first grade testing she flew through and did very well. She felt proud of herself. Now with the second grade testing (which is a very different test than first grade) she acts as though she has somehow failed. I know I am part of that problem as well because I am putting pressure on her to pay attention, click on the right answer and do well. We are now doing practice work that is formatted like the state tests everyday until the next round of testing in April. Oh joy. At least maybe it will help ease the unfamiliarity she faces every time we do a test. Ugh.

I am so over it. It looks like I will be heading down the unschool path. Because I would much rather have her discover which work is meaningful to her and do that. I want her to be free to pursue what she is actually interested in, rather than what a curriculum or state standard tells her is important. That to me is the inefficiency of the educational system in general. A bunch of students learning a lot of things that don’t appear to be relevant. Even in college-how much time/money did I waste taking a bunch of general education classes that had nothing at all to do with my major or my interests. I didn’t discover my true passions until I was nearly 30. I have a business degree, but I could care less about business-in fact, I hate it. It’s mind-numbing to me. But I love nutrition, love health and wellness, love learning about the way the body works together, love discovering natural remedies that strengthen the body and help it to heal. It’s fascinating. The body is so intricate and complex, this whole system working together to keep you alive. I could literally go on and on. That’s what I want for my children-to find what it is that makes them come alive, that captures their personal interest and then to find a way to do it, be it, etc. That is success, that is living life with purpose.

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It’s a JUNGLE!

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My tower garden is an official jungle now 🙂 and it’s amazing! This thing grows like nobody’s business once it gets going! My tomato plants are 4 feet tall and branching off all over the place (thank goodness for a tomato cage!). We just harvested our first cucumber. There are people who have wondered if it would taste the same, especially since I’ve used grow lights. Well, I have to say…that was THE BEST, most delicious, perfect cucumber I have tasted in a long time. There are 8 more growing. And my tiny little watermelon that was the size of a marble is now bigger than a plum. Note: remember to always check the water levels! Mine got way too low and the plants got pretty wilted. They sprang back to life within 30 minutes of getting water again. Whew!

This has been the most fun growing experience I’ve ever had. And involves the least amount of back-breaking work. None. I’m going to start more seedlings and fill in a few of the empty holes in my tower and take some to my daughter’s school tower. I want them to be surprised when they get back in the fall 🙂

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Blueberries!

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Last weekend I took the family out to pick blueberries. Thunderbird Farm has beautiful berries, rows and rows of bushes full of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. The girls had so much fun traipsing off to find the last bush and to see who could pick the most. The berries are free from all pesticides-a huge plus! And if you pick your own it’s only $3/lb. A bargain.
The sun was shining, breeze blowing and it was glorious. One of those moments where your heart swells, your soul is refreshed, and you realize that you are soaking in one of life’s important, meaningful, memories.
“Remember that time we went berry-picking and Zoe was covered in dirt?” and we’ll laugh.
“Remember that time we picked 13 pounds of blueberries?”
Drink it in. Life. Is. Full.

We’re going again tomorrow. We’re out of berries and I need more cobbler.

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Vertical Gardening Update!

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We love growing things!

My  Tower Garden…I love it! I am learning a few things from it too….sunlight is extremely important. So, I bought 2 grow lights….I’ll be sure and take some before and after pics. We also bought a snap together greenhouse and put it up last night. (when I say we I mean my husband put it up)

The Tower Garden that I set up at my daughter’s school is doing amazing and I will be taking pictures to post today.  (they have full sunlight)

So, why all this talk of vertical gardening?? Well…I have always wanted to grow my own food, but I don’t have any land, I want something sustainable that isn’t going to use gallons and gallons of water and I want it to be fairly easy-because growing things hasn’t really been my forte. Last weekend I was at a phenomenal conference and one of the speakers was Dr. Dickson Despommier. He is a professor at Columbia University. He has a book called The VerticalFarm, which I intend to read very soon. He went through his talk explaining that within 20 years the vast majority of us will live in urban areas and that the population will be very close to 9 billion-how do we feed all these people and renew the land? Can we solve both questions? Very provocative stuff. The answer is yes. And the how is through vertical farming. Through hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics and the right lights….we can grow the food we need indoors, on rooftops, and in some places entire buildings are being devoted to vertical farms. Because if you can grow up, rather than out, you save on land. And through these systems you recycle the water and nutrients, so it’s more sustainable and less of a drain on natural resources. It’s brilliant and it’s not something in the far off future, but is happening right now. Projects are in place, systems are being put into place to make this a reality and it’s cutting edge, and it’s brilliant.

How does my Tower Garden fit into this? It’s a smaller, home version. I can grow at least 20 plants and more with extensions, its recycles all the water and nutrients, it’s low energy  and could even be powered by solar panels. It’s amazing. So, if you are interested go check out Dr. Despommier and his book www.verticalfarm.com. Check out the tower garden site…Tower Garden.

I’m learning-I had to buy 2 new strawberry plants to replace the ones I started with, but they are doing great! And I bought a red beauty pepper plant to transplant into my tower.

*disclaimer-I sell these Towers because I 100% believe in the product and making good food more accessible to everyone.

Handy Resources

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I love health documentaries! I mean really love them. Any new way of presenting the information that helps educate people and get them on the starting path toward wellness gets me so energized. So, I want to let you know about my new favorite…..

HUNGRY FOR CHANGE

This movie was made by the same couple who produced Food Matters. (Which is excellent). This new film is all about the diet industry and some very practical ways to take charge of your health, well-being and weight loss. It left me feeling empowered, hopeful and with some new tools. They are able to keep things simple, which is important for people who are starting out. The BEST thing about this movie-it’s FREE to watch online until March 31st. You can go here www.hungryforchange.tv 

You also have the option to purchase the movie and along with it you’ll get some great bonuses. One of which is a recipe ebook called Food Matters. It’s so great…there are a wide variety of recipes, easy instructions and simple to do. I highly recommend you take a look at it-Ill be using for my menu planning for the week 🙂 This bonus is only available until the 31st also-so go get it!

I’m planning to do a movie playdate this week and am going to use some of the juice recipes for my guests…it’s going to be delicious (and healthy).

Enjoy!

Time to Talk About FOOD! Part2

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I have to admit it took me a little longer than I thought to narrow my focus for this post. There are so many topics…so many angles. But one in particular has really been on my radar this week. GMOs, otherwise known as genetically modified organisms. I could write a ton on this, but I’ll try to keep it simple and straightforward.

What are GMOs and why are they harmful?

GMOs are plants that have been crossed with the genetics, characteristics of other organisms to take on those traits. For instance, there is a corn that has been modified (changed) to have a built-in pesticide. So, when bugs eat this corn they then die. The danger is this…those changed traits STAY through the manufacturing and digestive process. Are you seeing the implications of this? When this corn is fed to the cow or chicken or pig and is digested, that animal slaughtered and sold, you purchase it at the store, cook and eat it-you are INGESTING that modified organism producing pesticide which then lives in YOUR COLON! There was a test run where the blood of pregnant mothers was drawn and then their babies-both tested positive for GMOs in their bloodstream. This is critical. If it wasn’t challenging enough to eat healthy on our own, our health is being sabotaged by the big food industry. And unfortunately, this business is not regulated. There is quite a bit of corruption and conflict of interest surrounding government authorities and lobbyists. Thankfully, we can be aware of this practice and protest in a way that is heard-with our WALLETS.

There is a wealth of information available on the implications of GMOs in the food supply-everything from owning the rights to the seeds (putting small farmers and seed-savers out of business) to the feed for most conventional farms to the processed & packaged foods we eat on a daily basis. Thankfully there is help.

The BIG 5 to watch out for are Corn, Soy, Canola, Cotton, Beet Sugar. If you eat packaged and processed food-start looking for organic options and products labeled “non-GMO” ~there is a great app available called True Food that you can download for free and it contains a non-GMO shopping guide. Please begin to further educate yourselves on this topic-as GMOs are infiltrating the majority of the conventional food supply. Watch the movie Food, Inc-it’s a big eye-opener into what is really going on behind the scenes. Then take action to find organic substitutes for your current grocery list. There is a big misconception that it’s just “too expensive” to buy organic. My question to you is this-“what is your health and well-being really worth to you?” “how do you value your family?” I have been able to affordably stick to my budget and shop nearly all organic and non-GMO. Labels “natural”, “all-natural”, “made from natural ingredients” mean NOTHING. That label is not regulated at all and can be put on anything. Mineral oil is natural but you wouldn’t want to eat it. Go to www.truefoodnow.org &  www.drmercola.com for more information on how you can take action and what the health implications are for you and your family. Feel free to post questions in the comments! I love a good discussion.

Time to Talk About FOOD! Part 1

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I have been looking forward to this post. I love food! I love knowing what food can do for the body…that tenuous relationship between food and health. Let me preface this by saying there is no one-size-fits-all diet. BUT there are certainly things we can all do to make a positive impact on our well-being. Because really..who wants heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes, autoimmune disorders, arthritis and alzheimer’s? No one. I have exciting news for you…are you ready?

You are in control of your health.

We each have the ability to decide every day if what we are doing invests in our wellness, our health….OR if it subsidizes our illness. Ask yourself, and be honest, do the little choices you make on a day-to-day basis support your goals to have a healthy life or are they adding up to really do damage to your body?

I’m going to start with a few basic tips that can be easily implemented and can quickly become a new habit for you.

1. Drink water

I know this may sound basic, too easy, but staying hydrated is HUGE for your body. Every cellular reaction that happens, everything your body needs to function at an optimal level requires water. How much? Take the amount you weigh in pounds and divide by 2. That is the number of ounces you should drink per day at a bare minimum. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds divided by 2 = 75 ounces of water per day. Now, if you are overweight, have any kind of illness, or drink coffee, tea, soda or alcohol- you need to drink more. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel and look after staying well-hydrated.

2. Eat More Plants

The amount of evidence is overwhelming on the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. Really it’s a post all by itself. But to keep it simple-the USDA now recommends that half of your plate-whenever you eat-be fruits/veggies. That’s easier for all of us I think, than to sit around and count servings. Every time we eat-let half of what goes in our mouths be antioxidant-rich, immune boosting, disease-preventing, anti-aging fruits and vegetables. And for a bigger challenge-try and eat the rainbow colors everyday. For recipes, tips and support you can check out The Color Code, The Engine 2 Diet, Forks Over Knives and Foods that Heal.

Keep in mind, it’s not about one superfood over another, but a total sum of the variety you are getting in everyday. Different color fruits and veggies do different things in the body. You need them all. Start with the ones you like and try a new one each week. Buy organic as much as possible!

3. Whole is best

Eat foods that are in their whole state, rather than extracted and highly processed. For the greatest benefit, you’ll want to choose foods that are edible in their most natural state. Raw fruits, raw or steamed veggies, whole grains rather than refined, juices made from freshly juiced/blended fruits and veggies-not the bottled pasteurized kind on the shelf.

The last point I want to make is opt for foods that are as close to being vine-ripened as possible. The reason for this is that the majority of the nutrients found in fruits in vegetables do not appear until the last 2 weeks of ripening. Most of our store-bought produce is picked very green in order to maintain a longer shelf life. And so, is devoid of as many nutrients. One tip I like to offer is that frozen produce is a great option. It is picked when ripe and then immediately frozen. So, these items are great for smoothies, soups, sides, salads, etc. Avoid steaming your veggies in the microwave-it kills the nutrients. (more on that another time).

I hope you have found some helpful things you can do to add more of the best kinds of foods into your life to look and feel your best, all the while preventing life-altering diseases.