Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hockey Mom becomes a Figure Skating Mom too.

Kirsten has finally gotten brave enough to speak up to Dad about skating. She really doesn't want to play hockey, she wants to figure skate. Ugh. I wish she'd been brave enough to stand up about it before we bought her almost a full set of hockey equipment. So now we're in buying figure skates mode. None of the shops around here sell figure skates. Girlfriend needs to be professionally fitted - her feet are on the wide side - but the closest place that does that is at the Detroit Skating Club. And it's by appointment only. Double ugh. I'm just not so good with appointments. I balk at making appointments to get hair cuts or go to the dentist. I really don't like making an appointment to go spend $150 on a 5 year old's figure skates.

Another thing...what is it with Figure Skate Moms and track suits? I refuse to wear pants with a word written on my ass. These moms don't really wear them to exercise, so I just don't get it. I'll be the one in the  rink with jeans and a heavy sweatshirt, MAYBE with makeup on. I don't know how well I'm going to fit in with these moms. I'm prone to yelling to suck it up and skate...actually I did that today when Kirsten fell and the coach gave her a HUG. Really? A HUG? If you don't need to go to the hospital, suck it up and skate! My children know there is no crying on the ice unless you need to go the hospital. This is a bad trend, this hugging on the ice.

Powerskate summer is over. Draft skate for Squirts is Monday, Kirsten is signed up for learn to skate on Tuesdays, skill practice for both on Saturdays. Husband has hockey every other night of the week. Here we, go! Let the season of the rink begin!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Organics...local if possible. Why we eat the way we do.

Somehow, my family and I have been tagged as “foodies.” We don’t think we’re “foodies,” but we are fairly picky about where our food comes from and the manner in which it is raised. Several years ago, we were about as processed and mainstream as the rest of America. We started down this path with our food when we discovered that some additives in our food were affecting our childrens’ behavior. When my oldest son was young we removed all artificial colors, flavors, and petroleum based preservatives from our kitchen. At the time it was hard and options were slim in our community. Through trying to source the best food for our family we learned more and more about where our food in this country comes from. We learned about the relationship between the petroleum industry and trucking food across the country to markets. We learned about mass farming and CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations - feedlots) and what the condensing of farms into massive industrial farms has done to the small family farmers. We learned about genetically modified plants being patented by chemical companies so their pesticides and herbicides work better and the way these companies drive small farmers who farm the “old” way out of business with intimidation and lawsuits. We learned about the way the USDA doesn’t protect the small farms, the local operations, or even encourage the growth of organics. Lastly, we became conscious of the way the US economic policies sometimes favor puppet regimes in foreign countries because of the revenue stream generated by the export crop of said small country.
We knew we wanted organic food to the largest extent it was available, but we live 48 miles from the closest large organic/natural food store. Our local natural food stores were carrying processed, canned, and frozen foods that still really didn’t meet our standard for “real” food. Our family signed up for a CSA only a few miles from our house and we still love their vegetables, but we needed access to fruits and need fresh food all year, not just in the summer. We were so excited to find out about Michigan Door to Door Organics from a friend. We signed up for our first delivery and were very excited for our our weekly boxes of fresh organic fruits and vegetables. We knew we wanted local food as much as possible, and realized that most of the food we were getting was not from within 500 miles of our home. I filled in the “contact us” section of the Door to Door Organics website and requested more local produce and also informed them that I would be willing to purchase local grassfed meats from them as well if they could source them. I received a pleasant reply from Door to Door that they were working on it and to keep my eyes open. Imagine my pleasure last year when they began sourcing summer vegetables from one of our state’s largest and most well known CSA farms, The Eater’s Guild. Over the winter they added grassfed beef and later pork from Graham’s Organic Meats. Door to Door Organics has exceeded our standards in every way, and every request I’ve made of them has been brought to fruition. Last week Door to Door Organics began carrying organic breads, made in Detroit at Avalon International Breads, and I couldn’t be more happy with this new partnership. This is one less thing I need to buy from a faceless big business more concerned with the bottom line than the needs of it’s customers. If I could locally buy raw organic dairy products from grassfed cows at a reasonable price, I would never walk into a grocery store again. 
We require organic food, free from genetically modified organisms, chemicals, and minimally processed. We believe in local business, local people and personal relationships with the people who provide our food. We prefer to give our hard earned dollars to people who grow or produce our food instead of to middlemen and the petroleum industry. If that makes us “foodies,” So be it. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Food & Homeschool: How I became one of "those" parents. Part 1

Those of you who know me know I am not really very mainstream when it comes to the food I feed my family. My path to food activism came through a desire to not see my oldest son suffer at school from the effects of the massive amounts of stimulants his teachers insisted he needed to function in class. Jordan was highly distractible, prone to making weird noises at inappropriate times, and wasn't really interested in sitting there doing busywork. They complained and complained about him, bruising my pride in the process, and making me feel like a failure for not being able to rein him in. I didn't really get it, in Kindergarten his teacher had given him glowing reviews, praising him and us for his abilities and behavior. Then we moved to a different school district. This one was supposedly "better," whatever that means. Within six months his teacher was on an extended maternity leave and a person who was not even a teacher was teaching his first grade class. Her mother was the Title I "teacher" at the school. All of the sudden our brilliant, well behaved child was a problem child. We were told he was highly distractible, prone to making weird sounds at inappropriate times, and that the other kids were not relating well to him.  This person actually asked me if I wanted my kid to be one of " 'those' kids" as this was a very small school district and the kids in his class would always be in his class. I felt like a loser parent, like there was something I had done wrong in loving and raising my sweet boy. I had some serious anger issues over it and hurt his feelings time after time. We tried every "plan" the school came up with: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, working on 1st  grade homework for hours. All we ended up with was a very sad 6 year old.  I took him to a psychologist who tested him and told us he had a genius IQ, but that he was distractible and might benefit from pharmaceuticals for ADD. He started on the stimulants in second grade. Ritalin, Concerta, Strattera, Adderall, he took them all at one time or another. They increased his dosage every month we went back. At the time he weighed only 45 pounds. He never gained weight for the 2 years he was on stimulants. He went from a vibrant, beautiful child to a skeleton; a ghost. His eyes were sunken and there were dark shadows around them. His hair was dry and falling out. He never slept. When I addressed this with the psychiatrist his answer was just to up the dose of stimulant and concurrently up the dose of Phenergan we were giving him at night. A normal adult will be knocked out by 15-25 mg of Phenergan. I finally drew the line when the psychiatrist thought nothing of telling me to give my 45 pound 8 year old 100 mg of Phenergan every night and didn't seem concerned at all that he had not gained any weight over the course of 2 years.

I had been doing some research online because I knew I could not continue to do this to my child to make it convenient for the school. I read some out there theories, but the one that stuck with me came from the Feingold Association. The Feingold Association claims that in some children symptoms of ADD/ADHD are caused by a reaction to salicylates, artificial colors, artificial flavors, sodium benzoate, and the petroleum-based preservatives BHA, BHT, and TBHQ. This assertion is backed up by an extensive list of studies. After discussing it with my husband, we decided to go ahead and try the Feingold diet. I threw away almost every single thing in my kitchen. I got rid of hundreds of dollars worth of groceries and bought NEW groceries following the Feingold plan. At the time, many of the items that were acceptable on the Foodlist were not locally available. The health food stores in our area were sadly lacking. It was incredibly hard, but we made it through Stage One, and it was like we had a brand new child. He was still prone to making weird noises at inappropriate times, we've found that's more his sense of humor than a psychological phenomena requiring pharmaceuticals. His attention span was better, not the BEST, but better than it had been on stimulants. His teacher that year in 3rd grade was wonderful, exactly what he needed. She was very stern, but loving and supportive of our treatment plan. She believed in it because she actually saw it work. That year was hard. Really hard because almost everything had to be made by scratch. Jordan couldn't eat school lunch, he couldn't eat anything at school. He couldn't spend the night at a friend's house or even at his grandparents' house easily. He never really argued over the food. Other people did. Milk is milk, right? Wrong. Most milk you can buy at the store in Michigan contains a preservative in the Vitamin A Palmitate that is added to it that would set Jordan back a week. We were driving 45 miles one way to the closest Whole Foods Market to buy groceries and those groceries didn't come cheaply. One day in 4th grade Jordan came home literally bouncing off the walls like he was crazy. I asked him, "What did you eat?!" He had to think for a long time and finally he remembered that the snack in his after-school program had been a prepackaged Kellog's Rice Krispie Treat. That was the most dramatic thing that sold me on this plan. It was amazing to see. Scary, but amazing at the same time. 

At the end of 4th grade we parted ways with Jordan's school. It was time for him to move to the other school, the middle school, with a different teacher for every subject and a vastly larger set of people to educate and convince not to feed my son food that would set him off. We put him in a local charter academy and he did well for the first year he was there. By the second year we were tiring of the food prep and of fighting the system to get good, healthy food for him. The support structure just wasn't there and we started slipping, buying what was on sale locally or what we had a coupon for or just what we had been missing for so long. Jordan's attention span went right with our backslide. In sixth grade he was spending the entire day at school but not really paying enough attention to "get" it. I spent the evening reteaching the lessons and making sure he got his schoolwork done. It was never done before 10 pm.  He would take it back to school and invariably forget it in his locker. This school was big on personal accountability, and there's nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, it was affecting his grades in a big way. My kid with the genius IQ was getting horrible grades. At some point we all realized that he was not having the childhood that a 11 year old should get. He was literally stuck with schoolwork from 8:00 am until at least 10:00 pm, when I would make him go to bed. We had talked about homeschooling. Usually it was a threat, as I didn't figure `an 11 year old would want to be home with Mom all day. Eventually he came to me and told me that he wasn't getting graded on what he knew, he was getting graded on his level of organization and responsibility. If they were going to assign grades based on those things he thought they should call the classes, "Organization and Responsibility." He asked me if he could be home schooled. I made him finish out the year at school because that was a huge step for me and I wasn't at all ready to take on educating a child at home.                                         

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Science, Spelling and Pill Bugs

We are having all kinds of homeschool fun today! Dids' science lesson today is streaming from Yahoo Kidstudy via K12  It sounds like a 1970 something movie day in my living room. I love this kind of lesson. It requires the minimum from me and Dids enjoys just sitting there passively acquiring knowledge too. 

I found an app for my iPad that lets me enter a spelling list with words, sentences, synonyms and antonyms and has practice each day and tests him too! Princess Beans played it this morning with the levels 1, 2, and 3 Dolch sight words. She knows them to see them, but if you ask her to spell them she has some difficulty saying the spelling without looking. She was so proud of herself when she could spell a word and  even more proud when she could write it on the whiteboard in the app. The app is called SpellBoard by Palaware. If you home school and your kids hate the normal spelling activities it's worth a look. 

PB spent some time outside looking for Pill Bugs. Did you know that Pill Bugs (we always called them Roly Polies) are not insects? Kirsten has to to an oral report, complete with presentation board and book with references, that she can read at her level. She's in KINDERGARTEN! This is one of the sort of projects that makes me hate sending my kids to public school. She didn't get to pick her animal because it's virtually impossible to find a book at the Kindergarten reading level about a very specific animal. She got the only book that was suitable at Barnes and Noble for the price of $7.99. We couldn't find anything suitable in our home library or at the used bookstore. This is a parent project. One that tests how resourceful the parents are at finding the things expected for the project, and how pretty the parents can make the board. It annoys me to no end. The sheet explains that for every day the project is late, 5 points will be taken off. Really? In Kindergarten? Is this going to affect her ability to get into Brown when she's a Senior? Okay, yes...she needs to learn the responsibility of turning in a project, but not a project her parents did. Stupid public school. Why don't they ever get it?

The last thing of the day...where did the phrase, "Mad as a wet hen," come from? Jordan left the chicken coop open today and our hens are happy as pigs in poop cruising the back yard for every sprout of new grass they might find. They certainly don't look mad, I couldn't force them back into that coop if I wanted to!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

To Spring Break, or Not to Spring Break?

Princess has spring break this week. Dids...does not. Although in practice he is home schooled, in reality his "school" is a public school, so we have to loosely follow their schedule. They do not have a spring break scheduled other than Good Friday and the Monday after Easter Sunday off. Dids is NOT happy about this. Jordan is resigned to doing schoolwork every weekday, so he's not seeming too bothered. It's causing strife for Dids, who wants to sleep all day and goof off and play with his sister, or even spend the night at a friends. Poor kid. He'll be the happy one at the end of May though, when he's done with all the year's curricula and Princess has to go to school until July to make up for all these snow days we've had this year. It will all even out in the end. Mwhahahahahaha!

Please keep your fingers crossed for Jordan. I've applied for him to school through K12 and Connections Academy next year, with the hope that he will get into one or the other. Both schools have an enrollment cap of 400 that is mandated by the state. Last year both schools ended up with extensive wait lists. I got an email from Connections Academy today basically telling me not to hold my breath as there will be very few empty slots, possibly only one or two. He should have an edge with K12 as it is Payton's school already and I think siblings get first preference before a lottery. I'd rather he do Connections Academy though, I think they have it all pulled together better and have more teacher "face" time one on one. Both have the video game design classes Jordan wants to take. Both would keep him more accountable to a teacher for his grade instead of to me, which is what he needs right now to prepare for college, and the distance learning model seems to be the wave of the future. I'd be happy with either one, but probably happier with Connections Academy.

Monday, April 4, 2011


My living areas are clean again, so I feel sane for a day or two.  Scott and I went out to dinner and I had a couple margaritas, really good steak & mushroom pie, and cheesecake; so I'm full and happy.

I redesigned the format and colors for the blog. What do you think?

Oh, and it's looking like spring! My first crocus sprung out today after the snow melted.