30 November 2010

Recycled Card Making Class at Ann Arbor Free Skool

Saturday, December 11th at 1pm, see the AAFS Blog for the location

Do you love the ritual of Holiday Greeting cards for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Solstice, but hate the idea of adding to the landfill? How about using recycled materials like gift wrap, previously sen cards, ribbon, buttons, gift tags, and that beautiful whatsit from the kitchen junk drawer to create your holiday greetings?

Don't know how? Come for an afternoon of fun turning recycled materials into fun greeting cards. You can use these ideas for birthday cards, thank you cards, and whatever else you want a card for.

27 November 2010

Getting out of the card making business...

Mmmm, looks like I'm getting out of the card making business.

Last night, Jack was asking about when he learned to run and when he learned to walk. I explained that, like most children, he learned to run pretty much at the same time as he learned to walk -- but that actually, for a while, he mostly "danced".

Then I remembered that I had scrapped "Dancin' Man Jack" the autumn he learned to walk. We went and found that page and then Jack poured over all the rest of the scrapbooks.

When he was done, he wondered why the pages were all of him as a baby and none were of him as a big kid. I explained that when Grandpa John had to stop scrapbooking with me, I had started not to make time for crafting -- and then I had been so busy making cards that I hadn't had time to scrap in a couple of years.

He wants me to go back to recording The History of Jack and he says that he'll work with me so that I can be sure to make the time. :)

Yep, he's closing in on eight all right

My impression of eight years old is that is when the analyst awakes.

If that's the case then Jack is nearing eight for sure.

Last weekend, I was trying to get Jack moving so we could pick up a few groceries we couldn't get through the week without. I wanted to get them before we picked Rod up from church but I simply could not get Jack moving. I muttered about having no idea how Rod gets him moving in the morning.

Jack was quiet for a few minutes and then he explained.

"Well, you have the loudest voice in the family, but Dad loses his patience faster."

Hmmm. Yup, the analyst awakes. (And, again, Mamma is going top spend several years blushing.)

25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I hope your Thanksgiving was as marvelous as ours was!

We spent most of the day preparing the feast -- including a turkey that Rod suprised me with after we agreed that a turkey simply wasn't in the budget this year.

But Rod know that for me, Thanksgiving just isn't Thanksgiving without a turkey. (He's heard my "hotdogs for Thanksgiving" story often enough...) So he sought out a smaller bird, and not as high quality--and by gum, we had our turkey!

To that we added what feastables we had in the house or garden -- cranberry raspberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy, a medly of carrots, beets, and butternut. (I had only one pan left, so we cooked them together. They were pretty, but I have to admit that it could have been a Valentines day dinner, so red and white was our feast.) We followed it up with pumpkin chocolate pie in a walnut crust.

It was the first holiday meal I can remember making in which everything turned out and it all came to the table at the same time!

After dinner, we made new leaves for our Gratitude tree and posted those.

And then, finally, we worked on our holiday cards. Jack got all of the card he has finished autographed and sealed into envelopes. I got mine as far as into envelopes, but I still have to finish putting the appropriate greeting on each one.

(I found Merry Christmas and God Jul stamps this year, so more of my friends can have the greeting appropriate to what they're celebrating. Next year I hope to add Hanukkah -- though Kwanzaa will wait until I know someone who celebrates it.)

Then Jack has six more cards to complete his list and I have *16*!!! I thought I was just about done, but no.

While I was looking for a walnut pie crust recipe, I came across this:

Sweet Walnut Crust:
1 cup walnuts
¾ cup chopped dried apricots
¼ [2-3] chopped dates, or raisins
1/3 cup maple syrup

Place the first three ingredients in the food process and process into a moist meal. While the processor is running slowly pour in the agave until the mixture turns into a ball. Press sweet crust into 9-inch pie dish to form piecrust.

It sounds Amazing! We didn't have the ingredients to make it this time...but maybe for Yule.

This was the pie recipe we settled on:

Walnut Pie Crust:

2 cups of ground nuts
3 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons cake spice

Mix well and press into two buttered pie pans.

Pumpkin Custard Filling

2 cups (cooked) pureed pumpkin
9 pastured egg yolks, beaten
1 cup of grass-fed heavy cream
1 cup of grass-fed sour cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 nutmeg, ground
1/3 of a vanilla bean, ground
pinch of sea salt
1 ounce of baking chocolate
2 ounces dark, semi-sweet chocolate
a small handful of raw coco nibs

Mix the all ingredients except the chocolate until they're light and fluffy and almost ready to peak.

Whir the chocolate in the food processor until it's little pebbles.

Stir the chocolate into the pumpkin foam.

a handful of walnuts
a handful of pecans
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Warm the nuts, sugar and spices until the sugar is melted into the butter and it all smells faintly of caramel, making sure to stir well so that the nuts are covered.

Pour the pumpkin into the crusts. Drizzle the toping over it.
Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

It turned our amazingly well!

24 November 2010


OK, I admit it.

Wordpress has me entirely flumoxed.

Anyone know of a Wordpress for Dummies resource?

For the moment, I can't even figure out how to design a template for it...and I don't care for the templates I've managed to find. I suspect it's not as hard as I'm making it, just a bit more opaque than Blogger.

Oh, and that's Thisbe, by John Waterhouse. Isn't she lovely? (I am a real fan of Waterhouse and the PreRaphealite Brotherhood.)
Posted by Picasa

Jack's Thoughts on Visiting Grandpa

We go see Grandpa John in Lansing because he's in residential care.
Grandpa John is my spare Grandpa. He isn't actually my grandpa, but both of my biological grandpas died before I was born.
Anyway, we went to the Potter Park zoo with him. We saw a lion in a close cage (Potter Park has very little cages inside!), a tiger who was pacing, lemurs that looked very excited, goats (as you can see above). There was an ass who made a lot of noise. Maybe because they were in such small cages.
Then is was closing time, so we had to go back to Grandpa's residential care. We stayed there a bit. It was fun, I think.

23 November 2010


The web is all about thankfulness and gratitude this week.

And so it should be. I was hoping to add my own voice to the chorus, because truly I am grateful for all that I have -- a wonderful family, good friends, and the life I've always dreamed of. I have so much to be grateful for.

And I try to practice gratitude many times per day, so that Thanksgiving become the crescendo to a year long melody.

But this year, I have embarked on the Iodine protocol. Having read that women who take thyroid medication are far more likely to develop breast cancer than the average, I started to investigate.

Then my friend Linda mentioned that she was on the iodine protocol for her thyroid.

And then my friend Sue mentioned that she was on the iodine protocol.

The more I investigated, the better idea it sounded. I brought it up with my doctor, and he agreed that I am an excellent candidate. For one thing, thyroid problems are the first signal that one isn't receiving enough iodine in one's diet.

For another, I have a HUGE goiter. It's hidden somewhat by the structure of my face, but it's really obvious on examination.

So...I've been on iodine therapy for a couple of weeks. That's a good thing in the long run, but iodine pushes bromine out of out body -- also a good thing in the long run. But pushing toxins out does mean that they're active in our systems for a bit until we can get rid of them.

I don't feel very inspired. I have a lot of symptoms of bromine toxicity that are bearable, but they have my head in a fog.

So...I have much to be grateful for. I am grateful. Maybe I can tell you why tomorrow. ;)

22 November 2010

Ann Arbor Free Skool

Looks like I'm probably teaching for the Ann Arbor Free Skool this winter.

My first class will be A recyclers guide to card making. ;)

In December.

Very cool! :)
Posted by Picasa

21 November 2010

My letter to the Michigan State Board of Education

First, My public thanks to Representative Opsommer's office for alerting us so quickly and making the detail available promptly.

My letter is going out to the Board of Education on Monday. I'm working on a (less personal) version to be sent to out state legislators when they're seated in January.

Dear Governor Snyder,

The Michigan State Board of Education has before it a proposal that would require home-schooled children to be registered with their school districts. My question to you is: Why?

Why is the State Board of Education considering adding to workload of the already burdened state system by asking them to take responsibility for registering our state’s home-educators and their students?

Elizabeth Bauer noted that the 2000 Census listed 250,000 school-aged children who are not enrolled in any school. She thinks that local districts have an interest in knowing how many home schooled students are in their communities “because in many cases those children re-enter public schools at the high school level. " she said. "They often come unprepared."

Ms. Bauer, first I ask you first to define your terms. Unprepared for what? Are these incoming students academically unprepared? Are they socially unprepared? Do they lack awareness of the needs of the bureaucracy? Then, Ms. Bauer, I would like to see that data you have to support your contention that homeschoolers enter the public schools “unprepared”. Please provide data demonstrating that these incoming students are substantially less prepared than students entering from out of state, or for that matter, substantially less prepared than students who have previously been failed by the state education system.

The “apparent unanimous consent on the board” that the current system is “potentially leaving some children behind” is a red herring.

The State Board of Education is charged with the education of those students whose education is entrusted to the public schools. The education of the children whose parents choose to claim that right and privilege for themselves is the responsibility of those parents.

Those few families who neglect their children's education would not be more readily identified simply by registering them with their school districts, but the education of those children whose welfare has already been entrusted to the public school system of the state of Michigan will be threatened by the addition of one more burden on the local school districts, already understaffed and struggling with inadequate funding.

Ms. Curtin has noted that state law requires that home schooled students be in an educational setting for the minimum hours required of traditional schools, “but there is no way to know if they are complying”.

I agree that the State Board of education currently has no method for verifying that homeschool students comply with minimum hours required. How exactly will putting the names of homeschooled children on a list change that? Or does Ms. Curtin see registration as a first step toward greater supervision of homeschoolers?

Ms. Curtin also disparages homeschoolers concern with registering “because it because it takes away from their freedom”. She is quite correct when she says that registering homeschoolers doesn't, in itself, deprive us of our right to educate out children in the way we see fit. However, the impulse that would have it mandated that we register is so often supported by claims that registering homeschoolers will have effects that it cannot possibly have. How then, are we not to believe that this is a “first step” toward mandates that very much would curtail our rights to educate out children by the methods that suit them best?

As to the question of the number of hours spent in “learning”, in a well-functioning homeschooling family, learning takes place, on average, for 5, 840 hours per year rather than for the approximately 1260 mandated by law. In a well functioning homeschool family, learning is not limited to several hours per day sitting at a desk receiving presented information; rather, learning takes place everywhere and all the time in the ordinary course of living.

Members of the Board of Education express concern that the state's current system of tracking homeschooled students provides no information on whether home-based education is meeting state standards. Ms. Danhof is quoted as saying "We have young people that, rightly or wrongly, and parents who believe, rightly or wrongly, their students get as good an education as anyone in the state, but we don't have any data to know."

Again I ask: How exactly will putting the names of homeschooled children on a list change that? For every tale of woe that comes to light about an irresponsible family who neglects their children by failing to educate them, there are a thousand such tales of publicly educated children in our state who enter high-school without basic literacy skills. Perhaps the Board of Education should focus on problems that are under their jurisdiction and resolve those before they decide to go looking for “problems” outside their jurisdiction.

Ms. Danhof was also concerned that, because many home schooled children are not registered and do not take the state tests, there is no paper trail to ensure they have access to higher education. "By the very fact that they're home schooled, are they given the same access to post-secondary schooling than those who go through public school by the very fact that they have no record other than 'trust me, they're ready?'" she said. "I want to make certain to the best of our ability that we afford those people access."

Ms. Danhof, the Universities in this country have had decades of experience to prepare them for incoming homeschool graduates. Home based students have access to the same college preparatory exams (ACT and SAT) that publicly educated students have. Universities can review those scores to determine whether an applicant is well prepared for University education. A very brief Internet search reveals that, based on decades of experience with homeschoolers, Universities publicly welcome students who have received the advantage personal educational attention in home-based educational environments.

Ms. Ulbrich is “concerned about those children who locked away ...under the guise of home schooling, but the reality is they're just not getting attention." Ms. Ulbrich, for every story about an family who keeps their children home to hide their abuse and neglect, there are hundreds of stories of children whose abuse is ‘discovered’ only when the child is killed, though public school teachers had repeatedly reported the evidence of abuse to child protective services. And truly, parents unconcerned enough to truly neglect their children generally find it more convenient to impose their 'burdens' on “state-paid babysitters” for several hours per day.

To the Michigan State Board of Education, I say there is no evidence to suggest that home-education in Michigan is broken. Registration of home-educators achieves no end useful enough to justify this intrusion into the privacy of home-educating families, nor the further assault on the limited resources available to educate the children entrusted to the public schools.

As a home-educator, I can assure you that government registration can represent a significant barrier to home-educating families who may consider moving to Michigan. Home-educators tend to be"can do" people, people who see a problem and work toward a solution rather than waiting for the government to fix it. This is the very sort of people Michigan needs to make its way back from the brink of economic disaster.

The United States was built on the principle of individual freedom, and the State of Michigan has fought, from its very inception, to maintain the independence of its citizens from government interference. We, the citizens of the state of Michigan don’t like government intervention unless we can see good reason for it. Have we forgotten already young Governor Mason, deposed briefly by federal intervention for purposes of political expedience, who was re-elected in a landslide in a protest by the people of Michigan who, on the same day, voted for the constitution which serves our state so well?

It alarms me that the State Board of Education would consider requiring home-schooled children to be registered with the government, a principle that flies in the face of the freedom of the citizens of this state. Surely there can be no fruitful end to an endeavor that would burden an already under-funded system with extra work to collect useless information, and present one more barrier for the kind of autonomous, enterprising families we need so badly in our state in these difficult times.

Misti Anslin Delaney
Parent Educator

(Sent to:

The Honorable Rick Snyder, President
Michigan Department of Education
State Board of Education
608 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30008
Lansing, MI 48909

State Board of Education
Post Office Box 30008
Lansing, MI 48909

Attention: John C. Austin, Vice President
Nancy Danhof
Marianne Yared McGuire
Kathleen N. Straus
Casandra E. Ulbrich
Daniel Varner
Michael P. Flanagan
Eileen F. Hamilton

19 November 2010

Another mystery solved ...

Another mystery solved. I had been pretty dissatisfied with my holiday cards this year. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but they cards just seems to lack ... something.
Then last night, I happened upon some pre-made packages of cards and it dawned on me...the paper I had bought to make my own cards this year (after three packages in a row of which I paid for 8 cards and got 6) was much, much lighter weight than I am accustomed to.

What they lack this year is...substance! Literally.

Now I just have to figure out where I can buy the heavier weight paper in bulk. ;)

Oh, and in case anyone was under the impression that we are staid and boring...tonight's cooking adventure was briefly side-tracked by the largest head of cabbage we've seen in a long time, and we took evid, er, mementos.

I really don't understand hopw people can not like cooking -- it's crazy fun! :p

Further Update on the Michigan Board of Education

OK, I admit it. I am completely amazed and very pleased to let you know that Representative Opsommer's office actually did respond to my question -- and pretty fast, too, as these things go.

Dear Ms. Delaney-Smith

Thank you for writing. The minutes may not be out yet, or they may be somewhat bare (most minutes are not word for word of what was said). The following is an excerpt from the Lansing publication Gongwer you may find helpful, but it is not a full transcript of the meeting:


Members of the Board of Education did not question the rights of parents to educate their children at home, but said the state's current system of tracking those students provides no information on whether they are meeting state standards.

That current system is a voluntary registration system that has very few of the potentially thousands of home schooled children in the state.

Home schooling has traditionally been a touchy subject in Michigan, bringing up the specter of infringement on religious rights when registration and standards are discussed. But there was apparent unanimous consent on the board that the current system is potentially leaving some children behind.

"We have young people that, rightly or wrongly, and parents who believe, rightly or wrongly, their students get as good an education as anyone in the state," said board member Nancy Danhof (R-East Lansing). "But we don't have any data to know."

"I know it is said in the home schooling world they don't want to sign up anywhere because it takes away from their freedom. It doesn't," said board Secretary Carolyn Curtin (R-Evart). "Just so we truly know how many kids are out there."

Ms. Curtin noted that state law requires that home schooled students be in an educational setting for the minimum hours required of traditional schools, but there is no way to know if they are complying.

Joseph Martineau, director of the Office of Educational Assessment and Accountability, said some 630 home schooled students took the most recent Michigan Educational Assessment Program and Michigan Merit Exam tests.

But board member Elizabeth Bauer (D-Birmingham) noted that the 2000 Census listed some 250,000 school-aged children in the state who are not enrolled in any school.

And she said local districts have an interest in knowing how many home schooled students are in their communities because in many cases those children re-enter public schools at the high school level.

"They come to high school because they want the social situation," she said. "They often come unprepared."

On the flip side, Matinga Ragatz, current Michigan Teacher of the Year who home schools her son for health reasons, said many of the home school students she has come to her class are actually beyond the students who have come up through the system.

Board member Cassandra Ulbrich (D-Rochester Hills) said current law could serve as a deterrent to families registering. Those who do register are required to use teachers who meet minimum academic standards. "We certainly don't want to drive people further into oblivion to hide from the state," she said. "But I'm also concerned about those children who locked away ...under the guise of home schooling, but the reality is they're just not getting attention."

Ms. Ragatz, echoing sentiments of others, said the situation could be flipped and local districts could offer assistance and services to those who register.

"I would hope that if I registered I would get some freebies like parent education classes or my child could participate in band," she said.

Ms. Danhof was also concerned that, because many home schooled children are not registered and do not take the state tests, there is no paper trail to ensure they have access to higher education.

"By the very fact that they're home schooled, are they given the same access to post-secondary schooling than those who go through public school by the very fact that they have no record other than 'trust me, they're ready?'" she said. "I want to make certain to the best of our ability that we afford those people access."

Board members said they would work on policy recommendations in the coming months and would invite home school groups to assist with that development.

Respectfully in Service,

Paul Opsommer's Office
State Representative, 93rd District

So, my heart thanks to Representative Opsommer's Office. Now I know exactly what concerns to address my letters to.

18 November 2010

Update on the Michigan Board of Education Proposal to oversee Michigan Homeschoolers

OK, I have researching the message that came through (through a long chain of alerts) from Rep. Opsommer yesterday.

Rep. Opsommer did indeed post an announcement that the Board of education is pondering a proposal that they oversee homeschoolers as well as public schoolers, but then the trail ran dry.

I checked the Board of Education meeting minutes for the last few months and so far have turned up nothing. Rep. Opsommer's office wants me to provide them with my address within Clinton or Gratiot County before they will chat with me and since I live outside his district I'm not expecting a reply any time soon.

My most generous interpretation is that Rep. Opsommer was reporting on a corridor conversation, and that the situation is not as immediate a threat as I first thought.

That the Board of Education would have members that think that way is no surprise, but as Rod says:
In a way they are declaring that they haven't got enough to keep themselves busy, and when you think about the state of public education, that's just truly bizarre.... in other words "get a handle on the stuff that is under your jurisdiction before you decide you need a handle on the stuff that is under mine"
If he was reporting on a corridor conversation, I am glad that
Rep. Opsommer spoke up on behalf of homeschoolers. But I have to wonder at the tone of his report. He didn't *say* he was responding to an official proposal, but he certainly left that impression.

I still intend to write to my newly seated legislators to let them know what I think...but perhaps it would be best not to mention this incident. If my interpretation is too generous, I don't want to stain my message with the taint of rumour.

Update to the update: one of my contacts (thanks, Dawn!) turned up an attachment to an agenda for a recent meeting that had attachments referring to homeschooling and she turned up this quote:

Board member Elizabeth Bauer (D-Birmingham) noted that the 2000 Census listed some 250,000 school-aged children in the state who are not enrolled in any school.

And she said local districts have an interest in knowing how many home schooled students are in their communities because in many cases those children re-enter public schools at the high school level.

"They come to high school because they want the social situation," she said. "They often come unprepared."

"Home schoolers want to come to high school because they want the social situation but that is a problem because they are not prepared," board member Elizabeth BAUER said. >>
(Note: Elizabeth Bauer lost her seat in the November 2nd election.)

So, it is really official.

Here we go again...

The Michigan Board of Education is trying to take control of Michigan Homeschoolers again.

From Rep. Paul Opsommer's blog:
Parrot at the Detroit Zoo
"the Michigan State Board of Education that could require home schooled students to register with the state or report to the government in other ways. The proposals were discussed at the board's most recent meeting, with some members stating that they did not think that students enrolling in a mandatory tracking system would be an infringement on their rights, and also saying that, "If we are in charge of education we ought to be involved in all education."
Time to update my last letter with answers to the new claims and spend some stamps. I suggest that if you live in Michigan and homeschooling is of interest to you, that you weigh in, too.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance
~Thomas Jefferson

15 November 2010

Yes, you can cure periodontal disease

About 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with periodontal disease.

Well, actually, I was abruptly dismissed from the chair and summarily dismissed from practice of the dentist I had been seeing for ten years. It was pretty clear that in this dentist's mind, periodintal disease is more sin than affliction.

Mind you, my dental care hadn't changed significantly over the ten years, though my health had definitely been deteriorating.

The dentist sent me to her associate, who informed me that periodontal disease is incurable and that in order to save my teeth, I was going to have to commit to a mind-bendingly involved dental program that included, among other things, a visit for cleaning every six weeks for the foreseeable future.

I have never been fond of the concept of "can't" and I certainly was not willing to commit to working with someone who declares something 'incurable" at the outset and has in mind a very expensive and time consuming method to keep at bay. I also had the distinct impression that he shared my former dentists views of the moral standing of anyone with periodontal disease. Ick.

I went looking and found a dental practice near my office that was also able to treat periodontal disease. One that didn't see periodontal disease as a terrible horrible sin. Rather than every six weeks, they wanted to see me for a deep cleaning every three months. It still sounded pretty dreadful, but still ... it was better than every six weeks. They agreed with the first periodontist that periodontal can't be *cured*, but they were encouraging about my ability to put it into a sort of remission where the deterioration would slow dramatically and where deep cleanings would be every six months.

I figured that was a good start.

But it wasn't enough. I wanted my healthy mouth back. So it was time to do some research.

Over the next few years, I turned up a lot of web pages that confirmed that periodontal disease was a one-way ticket to dentures. But in amongst those, I found a few pages that suggested otherwise.

Among the things I learned was that periodontal disease is a multi-level problem of inflammation, bone weakening in the jaw, and opportunistic bacterial infection of the gums. Treating one factor can reduce the deterioration, but unless all three are addressed, any improvement will be incremental and temporary.

The first step I took was to address the beginnings of bone loss. I am pretty sure that a mix of nutrients including a lot of minerals is the best way to make sure that we have whatever we need to rebuild bone. I started using bone stock every day as the basis of soups, stews, or just for braising. Next, I added horsetail tea. I drink it hot with alfalfa, nettle, and any other nourishing teas I feel like adding, or I make the tea and then when it's cool, I strain it over ice.

The next step was to rein in the inflammation. The first step was get my blood sugar down since high blood sugar and a lot of free insulin are very damaging and inflammatory. Next I started soaking grains, even rice, for 24 hours or more in warm water with a bit of lemon juice. This technique helps to reduce the phytic acids in the grains, which can reduce their inflammatory effect.

Even these steps saw me making great improvements. My gums were recovering and only in a couple of very hard to reach spots was I showing any sign of my gums continuing to recede. It was after a year of this that my periodontist told me that I was "his first graduate". I was allowed to stop getting deep cleanings every three months and just get a regular cleaning every six months from the dental hygienist.

Next I discovered that grains were causing me a lot more trouble with inflammation than I had realized. I have a strong sensitivity to just about all grains, and the symptoms I get from them scream 'inflammation'. I stopped eating grains entirely to make the pain stop--but this also had the effect of reducing my overall inflammation levels and improved my dental health even more.

However I continued to have problems with one of the spots in my mouth that is very hard to reach. That brings us to bacterial infection -- and a method of getting to the areas that are very hard to clean.

I came across the idea of pre-rinsing with a capful of hydrogen peroxide and a cap of water with a few drops of tea tree oil. See, it turns out that tea tree does tend to reduce gum infection, but it's not very good at reducing cavities. Peroxide is good at reducing cavities, but isn't so good at preventing or reducing gum infection. In combination, they're a powerhouse! I add a drop or two of tea tree oil to keep any other opportunistic bacteria and yeasts under control. I swish this all through my mouth, but especially in the areas that have continued to be inflamed. Then, once a week, I brush with the peroxide and tea tree combination and a little baking soda on the brush. That reduces the gum inflammation further and makes my teeth look less like I drink as much coffee and tea as a I do.

I came from a dental appointment this evening. The news was very good. To explain, normal measurements of gum pockets are between 2 and 3mm. 4 is a transition size--good or bad depending on what it was last time. 5-12 are bad to worse, and at 11 or 12 you're not far from losing the tooth. When I was diagnosed, my "good" numbers were four and five. Today, I was almost entirely 2 and 3. I have one pocket at 5 -- the tough one. But that was a 9 last time. I had absolutely no gum bleeding, and the plaque buildup was minimal.

There was much marveling amongst the staff who knew me. If these trends continue, I'll be able to go to a once per year cleaning. They will probably never declare me "cured", because periodontal disease isn't curable, but I'd say this is working.

14 November 2010

Mystery solved

All week, I have been mystified.

I have aching as though I'd been poisoned by wheat or corn, but I couldn't figure out why -- we'd had only home cooked food all week. Come to find out, I did it to myself.

I made ground nut stew on Sunday, and as usual I used Planters peanuts on top. As always, I made enough to last all week and I've been eating every day for lunch. Who knew that Planters peanuts have corn starch,corn syrup,and MSG on them? I didn't, I thought they were just nuts. I even read the ingredient list at the store -- unfortunately I read them in my old glasses. I saw "Contains peanuts" in bold and thought I was safe. Turns out that was the allergy notice. :( In my new glasses, the ingredient list is clear.

Best we roast our own peanuts and almonds from now on, I think. Needless to say, the last of the ground nut stew belongs to Rod and Jack.

Corn is a major pain in the butt. It's hiding everywhere. Rod has a much more severe reaction to wheat than I have to corn, but he has managed to go most of a year and a half without being inadvertently glutened.

People are starting to understand about celiac and most things are pretty clearly labeled these days - at least clearly enough for Rod's level of sensitivity. I know some people are sensitive to a whole lot less than it takes to make Rod sick. But corn has so many secret hiding places that I get "poisoned" about once every couple of weeks.

I'm frustrated and sick of hurting.
Posted by Picasa

Smiffy's breakfast eggnog

It's cold again, and around here, that frequently means' eggnog for breakfast. Not the kind you get in a carton in the grocery store -- that's yummy, but not very healthy. We make out own raw eggnog once a week or so. It's easy, it's yummy, and it really sticks with us.

And it's raw -- in our world, raw foods are a good thing.

This serves three of us, 2 cups each.

6 raw egg yolks from pastured hens (I truly wouldn't use grocery store eggs for this. That's dangerous.)
2-3 ounces of raw honey
1 pint whole raw milk
1 cup raw heavy cream
1/2 nutmeg (freshly grated if your using a blender)
1 inch of vanilla bean (freshly grated if your using a blender)
6 raw egg whites from pastured hens

In a vita-mix or blender, whip the egg yolks until they lighten in color.

Add the honey and continue to beat until completely blended.

Add the milk, cream, nutmeg and vanilla.

Whip some more.

When the spices are completely pulverized and mixed in, add the egg whites.

When they're completely incorporated, serve.

If you can't get pastured eggs, here's a recipe for cooked eggnog.
I played soccer by myself in the yard yesterday with two balls.And I also played some golf.

The most fun part of karate class yesterday was dodging the bat and so Sensei thinks I practice a lot more than I do because I am doing well by a seven-year-old's standards.

Crazy week

It's been a crazy weekend -- preceded by a crazy week! Last weekend, Rod had an astroloy conference all weekend. Fortunately it was in Lansing, where Grandpa John is now in residential care, so we were able to visit John on Saturday at the end of that leg of the conference. Then on Sunday, the conference moved (with a greatly reduced membership) here to Chez Smiffy.

It was a blast!

But during the conference, Rod was invited to submit a speakers application for UAC 2012, which requires the submission of an audio recording of a one hour lecture. He didn't have one -- so he scheduled a free lecture here this weekend to complete his application package.

In the meanwhile, I had signed up for a card making class last week and next..it's been altogether fun and crazy.

However, I now have 2 weeks to make the last 60 cards for the holidays. So what am I doing? Blogging, of course. And cleaning up from the lecture. And listening to Jack hum Yule carols. (huh?)

I think the downside of starting cards early is that if life isn't cooperative, the sense of urgency isn't there -- until it *is* overwhelming.

So, that really cool blog post about thneeds? That has to wait. ;)

12 November 2010

Homeschoolers, you really have to read this

Over at Colorado Adventure, I found the coolest article: 10 reasons not to homeschool.
(My apologies to the author -- I couldn't find your name to credit you ...)
I'm tempted to quote it -- but I can't find only one piece to quote for fair use - I want to quote the whole thing, so you''ll just have to head over and read it for yourself. :)
Head over here to have a look!

11 November 2010

Jack as Puck - final soliloquy

See the silliness we get up to when Dad isn't around to supervise? ;)

08 November 2010

Home Made Laundry Detergent

* 1 bar (about 3 oz) of bar soap (Fels*naptha works best for us, but lot of people like Ivory)
* 1 cup of borax
* 1/2 cup pf washing soda (NOT baking soda)
* Water

* grater/knife/food processor shredder
* 5 gallon bucket with lid (a cleaned out cat litter tub works great)
* 2 quart saucepan
* LONG stirring spoon
1) Grate the soap into shreds or crumbs so that it will dissolve easily. (This is the "hard part")

2) Next, heat 5 cups of water in a saucepan.

3) When the water starts to steam, add the soap shreds and stir.

4) While the soap is melting, put three gallons of hot tap water into your 5 gallon bucket.

5) Once the soap is completely melted, pour it into the water in the big bucket and stir well.

6) Add 1/2 cup of washing soda and stir thoroughly.

7) Once the washing soda is completely dissolved, add 1 cup of borax and stir thoroughly.

OK, now you have a big bucket of soapy water. You can use it immediately, but as it cools, it will gel. The exact texture depends on the soap you choose, but in each case it will be part gel and part watery liquid. It ain't pretty, but it works really well as a general cleaner, too - - and it's a whole lot cheaper and easier to carry home than the commercial detergents.

Use about 1/2 cup for each load of laundry. Because the gel tends to lump up, if you have a high efficiency washer, you'll want to chop the lumps up befopre you put them in the washer. Hot water dissolves it just fine, but you'll get some backwash as it gets started. With a top loader, just dump it in. The water and agitator will do the trick.

I find it works even better if I put 1/2 cup of baking soda in the drum along with the wash and then use white vinegar and a drop of essential oil as the "fabric softner" in the final rinse. The clothes are fine without, but smell fresher with.

With thanks to Felicia Williams over at Suite 101 for getting me started.

07 November 2010

Update 7 November

Children grow up so, so fast!

On Friday, Jack and I were faced with several days worth of dishes after several days running at full tilt. (And with Dad still running!) Knowing that we have company coming today, Jack pitched in. I washed, he dried and put away. Every. Single. Dish. Jack has helped with dishes before, but always before, he got bored and tired of it part way through and went off to find somrhing less boring to do. Not Friday -- he was very intent on getting it all done.

Once it was done, he asked to go upstairs to do some bed-schooling while we waited for Rod to get home. We did -- we read some Plutarch and some Pollan and then Dad appeared as we started to open Famous Stories Retold.

While I was still glowing from my big boy's very responsible evening, I heard that my granddaughter had baked her (adult) cousin's birthday cake! A delicious apple cake, I hear. Wow! I was baking at eight years old, too, but knowing that Bella is baking already makes me so aware of how much she's grown up since I saw her last!

I am grateful that her mother keeps me posted about these little things that mean so much to a grandma! She's been especially sweet about that while she's been between jobs and has a little more time to send a Facebook note from time to time about the very important "unimportant" things. (I also learned that my grandson has started playing soccer -- and Bella is learning karate! Hurray! And thank you so much, Wanja!)

Oh, and the recent post about my thyroid treatment -- I wanted to update you. First know that I didn't bring enough food to work on Friday and wasn't able to find anything safe in any of the machines. When I was offered a slice of home baked red velvet cake toward the end of the day...well, I succumbed. And I am paying for it. Come to find out, wheat isn't as hard on me as corn is, but it does hurt.

So then, imagine a woman in her fifties, with her hair in a bun and wearing sensible shoes...imagine her pushing her good friend, John, in a wheel chair, down Grand River Avenue.

Now imagine her roaring suddenly at her seven year old (like a monster or a lion) and then chasing him at a dead run for half a block out of sheer exuberance.

Yep. Even in pain, I feel so much better without the stray T4 in my system that I was able, to run just for the fun of it. Twice! Jack and John both laughed so hard the first time, that I had to try it again a while later when the sidewalk cleared for a block again.

Fun! :D I like this feeling truly good again.

03 November 2010

Meet the Family (updated)

Why your thyroid treatment may not be working like it should

As long as I can remember, my mother has been sure that I had a thyroid problem. She commented that she was so worried before I was born, because I never moved. But not, she said, as worried as she would have been had she had one of hr other children first. I never moved.

She also pointed to my goiter, to my insanely low energy levels, and my tendency to gain weight very easily.

She tried several times to get me treated, but in each case the test came back "normal". One time, though, they put me on thyroid hormone until the test came back -- I felt so much better! I was able to keep up with the other children, finally! I felt NORMAL! Sadly, the tests came back "normal" and they wouldn't let me continue to take the medication. I cried and cried...but I also KNEW that it had helped. There was indeed something wrong with my thyroid.

I was forty years old before I managed to find a doctor who would treat me again, and when she moved to Virginia, it was a never ending struggle to stay on the meds that were making my life better. Every new doctor would test and then try to reduce or eliminate the thyroid hormone. Time after time, I would get a note that the doctor had called in a reduced dose to the pharmacy and I should pick it up immediately because I was "over-medicated".

The truth was, that even on an enormous dose of synthroid, I was still feeling under medicated. I had low energy levels, my hair was dry, dry, dry and falling out, my eyes were dry and sore, I need a lot more sleep than most people -- 10-12 hours per day!, my skin was dry and sore, I had serious memory problems and I couldn't think clearly, and all this was made much worse when they reduced my dosage.

I heard about dessicated thyroid and wondered whether it might help the remaining symptoms. I managed to find a doctor who would put me on that, and while she wasn't willing to replace the synthetic, she was willing to cut the dose of the synthetic and make it up with dessicated thyroid. I still didn't understand why it worked so much better for me -- but it did. When the doctor later said "we don't believe in that (dessicated thyroid) and we're going to take you off it." I knew I needed to find another doctor.

That's when I met Dr Sickels. (Yeah, my blog seems to be becoming one long ad for his services, but it's amazing to work with someone so knowledgeable whose goal is the same as mine - lets not treat the symptoms, let's solve the underlying problem.)

Anyway, he tested my thyroid levels -- all of them, including rT3, and gave me back my dessicated thyroid. After a year, we talked about the results. I feel much better -- but I am still having some symptoms, so he removed the synthetic and has me titrating the dose of dessicated thyroid for optimal results.

After years of rising doses of thyroid hormone doses and reducing effectiveness, he has finally explained to me why that is.

As best I can remember his explanation, it seems that there are several hormones produced by the body. The thyroid gland makes mostly T4, which it can convert into the others (T2 and T3). In some cases, in converting T4 to T3, the wrong molecule is lopped off, creating "reverse T3". That's biologically inactive, but it takes up a T3 receptor, leading to "reduced thyroid function". This has a survival value in times of famine and excessive stress, but sometimes it gets stuck and then it's not so great. (Gosh, yet another way in which I am well-designed to survive a famine! Nice to know. Interestingly, it often appears alongside diabetes.)

The doctor didn't use the name, but my research later calls it Wilson's Syndrome.

The standard medication is T4, because the common medical wisdom is that the body only needs T4 which it can convert as needed to the other, biologically active forms. In most cases, that's true. But in the case of Wilson's syndrome, T4 is converted into the rT3 form, which then blocks the sites needed by T3, causing decent (or even excessive) levels in the blood, but with symptoms of deficiency.

The good news is that Wilson's syndrome can often be cured, which is not true of standard hypothyroid. We started me on Iodine therapy along with the titrated dose of dessicated thyroid to see if we can't wean me off my thyroid hormone replacement entirely and get my body functioning correctly on its own.

So, if you have been on ever increasing doses of synthroid with ever decreasing results, this might be something to look at. Ask your holistic doctor to check your reverse T3 levels. You might want to research Wilson's syndrome, but may be best not to bring it up that way with your doctor. Research is ongoing, but there is (of course) debate in the mainstream medical community about whether Wilson's syndrome exists. No need to open a can of worms.

02 November 2010

My honey's new look!

Isn't he beautiful! My new glasses should be in within a week or so.

The new insurance has a very steep deductible, which basically means they cover nothing, But on the other hand, we also get to set the priorities for what we spend when. I think the payoff is there for us.
Posted by Picasa

01 November 2010