Monday, January 25, 2010

Cheese, Glorious Cheese....

This was the song we sang yesterday while we enjoyed dairy for the first time in nine weeks. It was nothing short of glorious!! We ate yogurt and milk at breakfast. Then at lunch we feasted on pizza topped with heaping mounds of melted perfection and homemade strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Afterward, everyone was satiated. No one asked for snacks before dinner. That in itself is music to my ears.

From the looks of it, everyone handled diary just fine. John had to go to the bathroom three times during church, so I'll be keeping an eye on him. We expected that Sean would have issues, but he did not for some reason. Of course, he knows not to drink a glass of milk straight out, so he just enjoyed the pizza and ice cream yesterday.

We are definitely in the homestretch. Red meat, peanuts and caffeine are all that remain. We are planning to celebrate Miriam's birthday on Thursday with some steak. That will be a special treat!

I've been collecting receipts and trying to learn how to be a wiser shopper. The bottom line is that is just costs more money to eat healthy and I need to learn to be okay with that. It seems backwards that foods with less ingredients are so much more, but it is the way our system works. As for healthy, affordable convenience foods these seem out of the question altogether. For example, a box of 12 small cookies costs $4.50. That's crazy!

It really has taken two months to figure out what the new normal is for our weekly grocery needs. Up until now, I'd found myself running out of food or missing that one important ingredient which would send me back to the store AGAIN. My plan is to weekly shop for fruits and veggies and stock up on what we need/what's on sale with the money that remains. This week it was paper goods, cleaning supplies and toiletries. Next week will be meat.

So, here's the shopping list for 9 people trying to eat without refined foods or artificial ingredients:


9 pounds apples
24 boxes 100% juice
2 cans refried beans
2 cans black beans
3 Avacados
4 Green Peppers
8 Kiwi
12 Pears
1 Pineapple
1 bag celery
2 lbs carrots
4 cans tomato sauce
4 cantaloupes
6 8oz packages mushrooms
canola oil
cooking spray
2 bags tortilla chips
2 bags corn chips
Glass Cleaner
Sandwich Bags
Gallon Sized Bags
Disinfectant Wipes


6 100% frozen juice concentrate
7 pounds bananas
Green tea bags
3 boxes rice chex cereal
2 packages rice cakes
1 large container organic yogurt
4 cans garbanzo beans
4 pounds turkey sausage
3 small jars all natural preserves
2 bags kettle chips
smart rinse

Health Food Store

Gluten free soy sauce
3 pounds oat flour
3 pounds white rice flour
1.5 pounds tapioca flour

Total: $135.77

Thursday, January 21, 2010


There is nothing I love to watch more than a child coming into their own. One of the tricky things about homeschooling is the amount of insecurity that the kids seem to have around their peers. They are not quite sure what the standards are so they are hesitant to get out there and reveal what they know or what they can do. It doesn't matter how many times that I tell them that they are right on track and should be pleased with their skills, they don't quite believe me. That's why we try, as often as possible, to put them in situations that are a bit uncomfortable. It's been a struggle at times to see them shrink back and loose confidence. But lately it seems they are each coming into their own, hitting a stride, making new friends and having a lot of fun.

Betsy has always been shy about reading in front of others. She's the youngest in her age group which can make a big difference in reading ability at first. She came home from her speech therapy beaming because she read a book to a teacher. The next morning she crowned herself king.

It's been so rewarding to see John and Rebekah find each other as playmates. My "babies" are growing up, that's for sure. Seeing them become friends just makes my heart swell. Yesterday, they played super heroes for hours. Rebekah tolerated the chasing and wrestling. John did his best to respect the baby doll.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Here's some recent funnies from the kids. I so wish that I would write them down more regularly.

Joseph on Chocolate:

"Mom, do you know I have a super power?" "Really, what is it?" "I can smell chocolate from a hundred feet away!"
(The child has a gift.)

Spoken while after basketball practice while his little friend was devouring a Hershey's bar and breathing in his face.

"Mom, my brain is telling me two things. Half my brain says to eat that chocolate. The other half says, don't eat that chocolate."

The other night at the dinner table I announced that no longer would children be using our bathroom for showers and baths. It's just a mess with toys and towels all over the place. They have their own bathroom for this.

Joseph responded nearly in tears, "This is life changing. This is life changing...."

Then I went on to ask how it is that toothpaste keeps showing up on all over the bathroom floor.

John promptly raised his hand. Stood on his booster seat and said, "I go like this with my foot (stomp). I brush my teeth."

Yep, the boy has been stepping on the toothpaste tube to get some out. That does explain a lot.

Rebekah loves to look through the book, Eat This Not That. It's full of pictures of restaurant food and information about what's a good and bad choice. I caught her in her bed flipping through the pages.

"Don't eat that. We can't have that. Not that. Not that.... Elizabeth, this book is called Eat Nothing."

Need to a laugh today? Head over to Mary's for Tiny Talk Tuesday.

Elimination Diet: An Update

We are just beginning our eighth week on the Elimination Diet. Has it really been that long? In some ways it's flown by and in others it's been forever.

I think it's safe to say that everyone is fairing better in the morale department now that corn, soy, tomatoes, potatoes are back in the rotation. These just open up so many more options for us.

Since I last wrote we have trialed sugar and eggs. Ideally, eggs would have come along much earlier, but with the eczema not looking optimal, we wanted to wait until things were clearer so that a reaction would be evident. We had eggs for breakfast and lunch yesterday and no noticeable skin changes thus far. The verdict is still out, though. However, to my surprise there were some stomach aches and diarrhea last night and this morning. I've learned that some people have difficulty with the protein of whole eggs and not so much when they are in added into baked goods. So today we made some muffins with eggs and trialed those to see if anything happens.

Sugar was...well, exciting. You would have thought these kids had won a prize or something! We had brown sugar at breakfast, 7-up at lunch and allergy free sugar cookies. They. were. bouncing. off. the. walls. I literally had to hole myself up in the corner of the house and wear earplugs to take my Sunday afternoon nap. They were crazy.

Apart from the initial shock to the system, everyone fared well but Miriam and me. We were both dragging through the first part of last week. I could hardly put one foot in front of the other or get anything accomplished. I also noticed an increase in cravings, not just for sugar, but for anything and everything. I'm willing to stay away from sugar if this is what it does to me. Not worth it.

Many people are asking what we are going to do at the end of this process. I'm still thinking through a plan that will most beneficial and the least restrictive. With nine people finding a balance is going to require some planning and fortitude until we get into the swing of things.

It's likely that we will reintroduce the suspect foods only to certain individuals to confirm a response and then head off to an allergist to just get confirmation. But for now, we'll be moving forward. Dairy is next. Then it's red meat, caffeine and peanuts.

I've been documenting the eczema via pictures. If you don't like scaly, scabby arms you might want to skip this part. Here's a look at the progress:

Beginning of the Elimination Diet 11/30/09

After 3-weeks of allergy free foods. It got worse, I'm assuming because the body was getting rid of toxins. 12/21/09

End of week seven 1/16/10 The seeping has stopped as well as the intense itching. It's still very dry. In pictures it's hard to capture the true color and texture, but trust me, it's improving.

Friday, January 8, 2010

40 years ago today

Dear Cindy,

There are few people in this world who we will know for a lifetime or be known by them. God saw fit to make us sisters and to be that for each other. From my youngest years you have been the one that I have looked to in amazement and adoration. You have always been so creative, nurturing and determined. I remember wanting to be just like you. If only my hair would go back into a ballerina bun and I could dance gracefully. If only I could pick up a simple pencil and sketch the most beautiful scene. If only I could be athletic and not give up when it was hard.

When you chose to sit by me on the bus and talk, my day was extra special. When you drove me to school in the morning or stayed and played tennis with me after practice, my heart was full. When you dressed me up and fixed my hair, I became beautiful. When you shared with me you dreams and desires, I felt accepted.

I'm sure we would both readily agree that our road hasn't always been a smooth one. We are different enough to clash in many areas. There are a lot of words I wish that I had never spoken. There are many times that I wish I could relive and to show you the respect that you deserve. But as in all things, God is good. We've both grown up in so many important ways.

I praise the Lord for making you just the way you are. Your life shines bright as a reflection of Him and everyone in your path is blessed. Hearing all of the heart felt testimonies at your birthday party made me realize all the more that you are a gift, dear sister. You are sacrificing, innovative, intentional, authentic, encouraging, humble, kind, gentle and Godly. I can't imagine the world without you here.

I am proud to be your younger sister. I am honored to call you one of my dearest friends.



Thursday, January 7, 2010


Recently things have gone missing around here. It started when I bought some beans at the store. I knew for a fact that they were bagged and put in the cart, but they were nowhere to be found. Oh, well, I must have left them in cart in the parking lot.

Throughout the past week, there has been endless searching for notebooks and journals. First, it was Miriam's church notebook. Then it was Hannah's precious journal. Next, it was Lydia's all important school notebook. We turned the house upside down looking for it.

I was actually watching a show about hoarders with some of the kids (is was me intentional attempt to show them what can happen when you love stuff too much) when we realized that no one had seen John in quite some time. After searching we found him alright. Hiding happily under his bed....
With his booty of trash and other precious items....

A few hours later the beans were discovered as well....

Monday, January 4, 2010

Elimination Diet: Halfway there?

Today is the beginning of our 6th week on the Elimination Diet. I can't believe I'm writing this. Five weeks without a Diet Coke. Now that, my friends, is a world's record for this mama.

It's been tough going these past two weeks. The holidays were harder than I imagined on the kids. Our choices were to stay cloistered in our house or enjoy the company of others in the presence of some very missed cuisine. We chose to participate in humanity, but that didn't come without it's own set of troubles.

A few days ago I thought we might just have to call it quits. Not only were the little ones at the end of their rope, but the older ones were generally grumpy and tearful. "How much longer?" "I don't want to do this." They were starting to take it out on each other and wear me down to a nub by the constant asking for this and that. I don't know, I think they must have thought that I would at some point crack and the whole thing would be over. I was near that point.

Let me tell you. I thought I knew what it meant to say, "No," to my children, but I had no idea. Their little eyes are so pleading and their words so sincere. There response EVERY TIME is like they've never heard the word before- utter disappointment. It has given me deep sympathy for those mothers around the world who have to deny their children food because there simply is not enough. I can't imagine how very heart wrenching and discouraging that must be.

With all that said, I believe we are about to turn a corner. We've introduced gluten, nightshades and corn now back into the diet. Gluten is back out and corn is on trial. Hopefully it will get to stay. Yesterday we LOVED eating popcorn again (several times). Other than a rash around the mouth that was noticed last night before bed, everyone seemed to handle it just fine. It might be just windburn; we'll see.

I've been going over and over again the benefits of this diet to keep our chins up. Here's the most recent:

1) No nighttime shin splint pain for the kids (It will be interesting to see if this lasts as basketball gears up.)
2) Between Sean and myself we've lost 18 pounds
3) Much more focus and energy to complete work
4) Everyone is sleeping better at night- no tossing/turning, sleepwalking
5) Skin is clear and bright as are eyes
6) Very few stomach aches
7) The eczema has seen great improvement. Still very dry, but not seeping and beginning to return to normal skin color. The patch on the face that appeared with gluten is already completely gone

I asked Elizabeth(8) how the diet has helped her. She responded, "It's helps me pray more to God because this is really hard. I can pray to Him and trust in Him and it helps me." I'd say those are true benefits.

I'm excited about these changes and keep asking God for clear results with each trial. If corn passes the bar than we will try soy or sugar at the end of the week.

Thanks all of the continued interest and encouragement.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I love the picture in Scripture of a follower of Christ being like a tree planted by water.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."Jeremiah 17:8

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. -Psalm 1:2-3

More often my heart reflects this:

In this season of newness and resolutions, I'm confronted with the reality that enforcing change upon myself is a impossible task. The changes I want to see for 2010 go deeper than losing weight, keeping a clean pantry, returning library books on time, getting up earlier or being a more intentional in relationships. Sure, I could implement systems to make those things happen, but true change happens from the inside out. Lasting change is the fruit of God's work in our lives- a daily pruning and the work of sanctification.

During college, God used a particular study (given to me by a wise pastor) when everything had fallen apart and God seemed very silent to me. I feared that my heart was growing hard, so hard that I would never be responsive to Him again. It was a severe crisis of faith and yet ended up being a watershed in my life as a believer.

Piece by piece I brought my brokeness before God and piece by piece He put me back together. It was a LONG process and quite painful at times. I had tried journaling all of my questions and feelings. I poured myself into service and private worship. These things were beneficial, no doubt, but was not until I began looking at my sin, not my circumstances, that I began to flourish again.

Recently, I was crying to Sean about something that broke my heart and asking for direction. He brought me this study, the one that I had not seen in years. He encouraged me to work through it and to pass it along. That's what he had done years ago when he gave it to our pastor.

In 2010 I'm resolved to work again through these pages. Taken from the text in Hosea 10:1:

"Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the LORD,
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you."