Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oh What a Day!

Today started off as a not-so-good day. The most bizarre thing happened today with my vision. At about 0700 this morning my vision changed. My left eye lost peripheral vision. There was this weird prism-like light moving up and down supper fast where I would normally see peripherally. My vision was starting to decrease in other parts of my left eye.

But, it is now 0715 and time to head off to school. I was able to get my two oldest daughters to school without problem. As I am sitting in carpool line, my left hand starts to go numb. I am thinking this is fine and I'll shake it out. The next thought was there is no way I can get CG to school having these strange feelings, can't see and now numb. I decide to drive myself to the emergency room which is about 5 minutes from where we were.

As I am driving to the hospital, the left side of my face, teeth, lips, and tongue go numb. I am really freaking out at this point because I have my 4 year old with me. Somehow I made it to the ER. I whisk her out the car and run into the building. As I approach the reception area, I collapsed. The whole left side of my body is weak and numb. I got scooped up in a wheelchair and a "stroke code" is called. STROKE? I am only 42 years old. How can I be having a stroke? IV started, CT scan completed, meds given.

During this time I was having a headache...extreme headache. Finally the results are in. No stroke! They feel like it was a migraine with stroke like symptoms. I never knew there was such a thing. Next, I had an MRI and am still waiting to get those results.

As of now, I am headache-free, no numbness or weakness; everything is back to normal! I just have to wait until tomorrow to go home.

The official diagnosis was "complex migraine." I learned that this is an official disorder. Migraines that start with an aura of vision changes, nausea (which I have been having), and stroke like symptoms such as numbness, weakness, and speech impairment are classic signs of this type of migraine. I am due to see a migraine neurology specialist, but I think my first visit will be with my chiropractor/Chinese medicine doctor.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Good and The Bad

Happy Thanksgiving! Our family has plenty to be thankful for today.

My middle daughter had a first yesterday. We are so excited for her. She learned to ride a two wheel bike all by herself yesterday! She has a few bumps and bruises to show for it, but is very proud to show you.

In addition to MM's great accomplishment, we celebrated our thanks with both of our families yesterday. It is always so nice to be with all of the extended family. You see movies and hear horrible stories regarding family turmoil on Thanksgiving. I am just happy to say that doesn't happen with our family.

The sad news is that my husband's brother died at 2:00 PM on Thanksgiving. He was very sick and it was a matter of time when he would pass. FG went to visit him about two weeks ago with the anticipation he would let go while he was there, but he was holding strong.

Needless to say, FG left at 4:30 this morning to get back home to be with his mother and bury his brother. His mother is crushed. This is the second son she is burying in about 3 years. It was not an option for the rest of us to go with him. We are sending his family love and support from home.

May you rest in peace Cayetano.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Being Green

I saw this on Facebook and it really struck home. It is from the page Things That Make You Go Hmm. The little clip really says a lot. All the talk about recycling and being green, we've been doing this for years, but now it has a name to it.

We only have one television and people think we are nuts because of this. At work, I walk the stairs. I have great memories wrapping our school books in the beginning of the school year with brown paper bags; Oh Schwegmann's Supermarket how I miss thee. So many things from the past we did that are so old school, but we were being green.

Being Green

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.
The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have th
is green thing back in my earlier days."
The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment f or future generations."
She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truely recycled.
But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags.
But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn't have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?
Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.

Autumn Craft

The girls and I made these cute owls out of toilet paper rolls and cupcake papers. When I was posting I was thinking they were turkeys, but obviously they are owls.
Hoo Hoo

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pompous Grocery Shoppers

I've been following a few blogs and Facebook pages lately and got rather irritated. The basis of all these sites is to eat well. Don't get me wrong, it's not the owners of the sites I'm bothered with, it's the people commenting.

What I feel is that the ones making these horrible comments must be ones who don't have to work, are very rich and don't care how much their grocery bill costs, money is no object, make 6 digit incomes, and don't really know what happens in the world outside of theirs. The truth is that the majority of people are not in that category. People of all incomes want to eat well and do what they can to provide as healthy a meal as possible to their families.

A lot of us do this to stay healthy, it's the right thing to do, have food allergies or intolerances, doctor prescribed, and choice we make. I know there are many other reasons we do this, but I am sick and tired of people belittling others because they can't purchase organic foods 100% of the time, they shop at Walmart, or they buy organic foods from the Big companies that voted against Prop 37.

I don't agree with Walmart's practices, but I do shop there because it is more cost effective for my family. I try to avoid the Big company products when possible. I try to shop at Whole Foods when I can afford shelling out $150 on a bag and a half of groceries.

When I grocery shop it takes me forever. My family quit shopping with me because I have to read every single label. I can get good stuff at Walmart with a bit of reading and perseverance. Our Walmart even has a gluten-free section. Contrary to what people believe, Whole Foods and other health food store chains sell GMO laden foods. I put down many items at Whole Foods because of the ingredients, so don't go all pompous on us Walmart shoppers when you can get the same thing at Whole Foods.

True, I cannot get everything I need at Walmart, but don't discount the fact that they do offer healthier options that can also be found at Whole Foods. In addition, not every city has a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, or other "health food" grocer.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day of Cooking

I am officially exhausted! Today I baked until my little heart was content. I started with Deliciously Organic's Pecan Pie without Corn Syrup. Next I was on to brownies, cranberry sauce, cupcakes, sweet potatoes, and a baked chicken.

I ate throughout the day on all my creations. They all tasted rather lovely. Well, the only thing I did not taste was the pecan pie. I wanted to wait 24 hours for it to set before cutting into it. Although the recipe calls for a grain free crust, I used another recipe. I tried 100 Days of Real Food's pie crust. It's pecan pie for breakfast in the morning.

Next in the line up was brownies. I got this recipe from King Arthur Flour. The name of the recipe is kind of silly, but to the point..."Tasting is believing whole grain brownies." What more convincing do you need than that? I will attest that they were quite yummy. I had more than my share for the day.

Homemade cranberry sauce is always a staple on our dinner table for the holidays. My family now reminds me to make it because they have grown to love it. I remember the first year I made it. There was so much left over. Last year, there was maybe a tablespoon or so left. That sure does make me feel good. My daughter will eat it from the ramekin with a spoon like it is peanut butter. No recipe for this one, I wing it every year.

My favorite of the day was and is the cupcake. I used my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook I got from my wedding many years ago and modified it with whole wheat pastry flour and unrefined cane sugar. I still cannot get over how good these cupcakes are. Here's their recipe for a citrus yellow cake but I omitted the lemon and of course made revisions. Right now they are not frosted. I'm not sure if I will. We are having a Disney Junior Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess movie premiere party. Maybe I will whip up something Sunday and let the kids frost their own.

Last was the chicken and sweet potatoes. It was good, but after all the snacking on our goodies, our appetites just weren't where they should have been.

You know what I think made my day of cooking really fun and great? The girls helped me. I didn't ask for their help; they just offered. Usually when I ask, they just don't want to do anything, but something was different today. I bet having the girls in the kitchen offering their services helped me get my cooking mojo back. We had FUN! Cooking has become fun again.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bug be Gone

I've been taking care of sick kids the last week. In addition, I've been feeling nauseated for about a week. Don't ask because I am not pregnant.

My oldest came home from school Friday with an upset stomach. She was pale, not very talkative (major cue for me that something is wrong), and listless. She claims she threw up a few times since she got home from school, but I didn't witness it. I contacted one of our friends (whose son is in my daughter's class) who said her son came home with a sick tummy, too. I wonder what's going on at their school to have two with the same illness, same classroom, on the same day. Hmmm. I gave her probiotics and she came around by morning.

My youngest had been feeling warm for a few days, but not quite a fever. Thursday night while she was sleeping I did hear her cough a few times. I sent her to school on Friday and let the teacher know my concerns.

When I picked her up from school she had 103℉. Her right cheek was red, her palms were hot, and she was listless. Next thing you know she starts coughing the weirdest cough. It is hard to describe but very high pitch. I called her primary doctor and she thought maybe it was croup. Then I hear her wheezing. I called the doctor back and the usual was said, "just keep an eye on her." As a parent I feel like I need to do something other that watch her. As a nurse I feel like she needs to be seen by a physician.

Then I decided to bring her to the after hours pediatric urgent care center. The whole time we waited, she was wheezing and coughing. Once the nurse took us back to the exam room, she commented on how audible the wheezing was without a stethoscope. Now you know I am not imagining this. The best part is the doctor comes in and assesses CG and she isn't coughing or wheezing any longer. Her temp went down and appears to be all normal.

How does that happen when you bring your car to the mechanic for a problem and it stops when you bring it in? That is the same concept here. CG quit wheezing and coughing. The nurse was chuckling over this, too. I don't get it. The best news was that she was negative for RSV. She got a diagnosis of unknown respiratory virus.

Whatever is affecting her little system keeps attacking. I have been giving her alkaline water, but I should probably give her probiotics, too. Six days later and she still has a temperature between 101-102℉, still not eating, and not her perky little self. I am giving her nebulizer treatments twice a day. I just hope whatever this is it goes away.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Proof is in the Pudding

When my oldest daughter was young she was so busy. Some would say she was hyperactive others would say spirited. I didn't agree with either of these assessments made. Something just didn't seem right. Then I have baby number two and the same people told me the same things about my second daughter.

Many thoughts went through my head like:
1. Am I a bad mom?
2. How did I get such a busy and bad kid when I was so quiet and good as a child?
3. How can this child get into so much mischief?
4. And many other thoughts and questions.

So, I read many books on "spirited" children and they didn't really say much. I took matters into my own hands and I started experimenting with foods. What I learned was that there certainly was a link between the foods my daughter ate and her behavior.

From the time she was 2 until now, she is 8, I have watched closely at what she eats. I never went crazy and eliminated extreme amounts of food, but minimizing candy, sugar and milk seemed to make a big difference. I remember being at my sister's house in Pennsylvania for a hurricane evacuation. SG acquired some red licorice and went nuts. She was about 16 months when I saw this crazy side of her. She started hitting her head on the sofa, running back and forth in the room, laying down hitting her legs on the ground, and other very peculiar behaviors. At this point I just thought it was the sugar. I never really associated it with artificial food dyes.

Over the last 2 years she's had these crazy episodes where she gets crazy fits, sits on the ground and hits her head with her fists all while rocking back and forth. Her mood just goes blank and her eyes seem hollow. It is as though my child was snatched by some crazy creature. This happened again this week. Since we went processed and dye free last month it just hit me. It is red dye. We kept a few candies from Halloween. Sunday she started acting like the body snatchers got her. I happened to see a wrapper for Swedish Fish in the trash can. I asked her if she ate them and she did. I am convinced it is the red dye that her body is reacting to.

It has taken 2 days for it to clear her system. She knows I don't like her and her sisters eating food with dyes and I think this week she realized why. She seemed so scared like her body was making her act crazy and couldn't control it...Powerless.

This is proof to me that artificial food dyes are dangerous. They are out for our family. It is obvious what harm it does to my child.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cooking Queen

I was a baking and cooking queen this weekend. Cooking used to be a great passion of mine then I had kids. The joy of cooking stayed outside when I walked in my house. I think part of the frustration of not liking to cook any longer is the kids have such minimal palates. They only like certain things and aren't willing to try as many new things as I would hope.

Although I love my kids and get excited when they want to help around the house, I cannot stand it when they want to help cook. Yes, they help me all the time in the kitchen, but it doesn't mean I like it. I do a lot of smiling. Maybe when they get a bit older I will enjoy them cooking with me. A cooking task that takes me 10 minutes will now take 30-60 minutes with their assistance.

My advantage this weekend was that no one was home. I was in cooking heaven. I made granola, tomato bisque, pumpkin muffins, and whole wheat honey bread. When everyone arrived home the kitchen was smelling some good and I got to feed hungry little tummies with my homebaked yummy goodness! It was a great feeling because that joy of cooking is slowly coming back.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Halloween Loot

Here's a picture of most of the candy my girls received on Halloween. This is crazy! I weighed it and it comes to 12 pounds and 1.2 ounces. Can you believe this? It seemed to make more sense to me when I separated it. I was able to get a better handle on how much was really there.

Of all the "treats" we received, there was only one healthy snack. It was one lonesome Clementine orange with a Jack-o-Lantern face painted. In addition, we received a few "Little Hug Fruit Barrels" drinks (which really aren't fruit drinks) and a Halloween hand sanitizer.

The girls had fun collecting all the treats, but today is the day we are doing the candy trade in. I mentioned it to them and they decided to go with it and pick a few pieces for later.

A Candy Corn Witch, a Devil, and a Spider Witch


Saturday, November 3, 2012


Today was certainly an unusual day. I spent seven hours in a computer class for work. My parents took the kids to the country for the weekend and my husband is out of town. I came home to a quiet and clean house. I expected to clean, but instead I've watched television since 5 o'clock this afternoon. It is 10:00 PM and I am still watching.

The worst part is that I've been watching Christmas movies all that time. Can you believe Christmas movies this soon? It isn't even Thanksgiving. We are just 3 days past Halloween and the Hallmark Channel is playing Christmas movie marathons. But look at me, I'm the succor. I'm the one on my 4th Christmas movie of the evening.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Deja Vu

Hurricane Sandy sure has done a number on the East Coast. This is very familiar to me since I live in Southeast Louisiana. Listening to the news reports just seems like yesterday when we were hit with Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005.

There was a reporter calling into a news show stating how in the Rockaway area where he was reporting from, there was no help. It seems this was the area hit the hardest. People don't have food, water, resources to clean up, or any assistance. He even stated he saw National Guardsmen hanging out a few miles down the road just waiting for orders.

Lessons we learned in New Orleans is that your community is your family. Don't wait on the government to step in because you might be waiting a long time. The spirit of community just overwhelms you in situations like this. You meet neighbors, strangers who become good friends, and a sense of ownership and belonging.

Natural disasters are terrible things, but it really brings people together. Thank goodness to the many faith based groups that come in to offer their expertise and assistance. Sometimes talking with a complete stranger and them saying a prayer with you is just what you need.

New York and New Orleans have a reciprocal relationship when it comes to times of need. We were there for them during 9/11. They were here for Katrina. And I bet you we will be up there to help out with Sandy's aftermath. I could almost guarantee the Gumbo Crew will be up there soon cooking up some gumbo for anyone needing something to eat.

I know I will be helping out, but I don't know exactly how just yet. I might send money, provide clothes, send toiletries, or fly up there to help rebuild. I do know when a hurricane leaves its wrath people come together. And we will come together and help rebuild the New York and New Jersey areas even better.

Our house was flooded by Katrina with about 4 feet of water. My parents' house was flooded with about 20 feet of water for about 10 weeks. We got through it so will you!

31 Days of Unprocessed Food

It has been 31 days that I have been eating, for the most part, unprocessed food. It was very somewhat challenging at the beginning, but got easier as time passed. I got through it and plan to keep it up.

What I thought would be the most challenging day for my children and me wasn't so much after all. We got right through Halloween without too many obstacles. For me, I thought I would go crazy with the candy loot. But to my surprise, I wasn't really interested. I even went out to buy some UNREAL candies. I don't even want the better option candy. I was sitting next to the buckets full of candy and the smell of the sugar was grossing me out.

My eldest daughter ate a few pieces and said "let's get rid of this junk." What? Am I hearing that correctly? My two younger girls normally would eat and eat candy on Halloween literally until they fell asleep. This year, not a chance. They ate some, but didn't have the usual interest. This is a high five moment for me. This makes me feel good. Although they are not eating 100% unprocessed, they have not been eating food dyes and junk food. Some words and phrases I heard were, "too sugary," "too sweet," "yuck oh," "that has dye in it," "did you read what's in it?," "can you believe people eat this stuff?" They can taste the difference. They now know and can taste the difference in food that is good or bad for you!

Instead of keeping the candy (we won't eat) in the house, we learned that one of the local toy stores, Learning Express is having a buy back candy program. For each pound of candy you turn in, you get one Boo Buck up to 5 pounds. They each are hoping they will have 5 pounds of candy. It was quite ironic because we received a catalog in the mail this week from Learning Express Toys.

Well, back to my 31 days. I did loose some weight which I had not intended and my calcium level dropped but was corrected. Now looking at the up side, I feel much better. I don't feel sluggish. I have more mental clarity. I have more energy. I don't get cravings for junk any longer. My pH level has become more neutral therefore less aches and pains. I am enjoying the art of cooking once again and actually cooking. I am eating more fruits and veggies. I have learned to tolerate green drinks; still not a huge fan of them (I just can't get over drinking that color green). The skin on my face doesn't seem so splotchy. I have been an advocate for eating real food and educated many. But, I think the best part of this month is the progress with my kids. They can actually taste the difference between foods that are good for you and those that are not.

Thank you to Andrew Wilder from Eating Rules and allowing the public to participate in his October Unprocessed 2012 Challenge. You have taught me a lot!