Friday, November 9, 2012

My Broken Heart

I just had my heart broken. No, it wasn't a new beau taking a walk. No, it wasn't that my favorite show was postponed for the election. It was what I heard over the phone from my son as I called him from work:

"Mommy! I just want you back, Mommy!"

And I felt my heart breaking.

You don't know what it took for me to hold it together in that moment and not bolt out of this room to my car, to go to my poor, sobbing baby. I had worked five 12 hour shifts in a row while the kids were shuffled between the babysitter and Gramma and Grampa. I hadn't seen them at all in those four days. I talked to them on the phone, but sometimes, it just isn't enough.

Then he sobs, "Mommy! I'm sowy, Mommy! I wanna go home!".

And I felt my heart shatter into a million peices. Now my child, my little boy, is telling me he's sorry! Like he's being punished for something because he misses his Mama.

I took a shaky breath and tried to reasure him, all the while hurting so much inside I couldn't stand it. He cried and sobbed and pleaded with me not to hang up the phone, telling me over and over that he was sorry and he just wanted to go home. At this point, my partner was staring at me and I was trying so hard not to cry (about has hard as I'm trying not to cry just telling you about it). I tried to explain, I tried to console, but he was adamant; he just wanted me.

This is not fair. It's not fair to him. It's not fair to his brother. But what can I do?

I never wanted my children to grow up this way. I never wanted to be an absent parent. I just have to keep praying, keep fighting, keep believing that this situation is only temporary and God does have a bigger and better plan for my life than I can even imagine. Though it's taking every fiber of my being to believe that at this point, there is no doubt in my mind that He's there and He will never leave me.

 "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." ~ Matthew 17:20 NIV

<3 SMF

Friday, June 22, 2012

Here we go!

So in my quest to provide the best education possible for my boys, the question has come up of how I will afford the needed materials.

And for a time, I was a bit puzzled.

But now, I have two words for you:


In the last two weeks, I've gotten a TON of educational materials for virtually no money and my kids are already so enthralled by some of the items that I can't wait to get started!

Here's how my treasures stack up:

                    Little Tykes Alligator Teeter Totter:  Retail: $79.99 (
                                                                             I paid: $3
                                                                             Money saved: $76.99
                                                                             Teaches: Physics, Teamwork
                    Casio Piano Keyboard with Teacher Feature:
                                                                              Retail: $68.99 (
                                                                              I paid: $14
                                                                              Money saved: $54.99                          
                                                                                      Teaches: Hand-Eye Coordination
                                                                                             (at the very least!)

                     My First Animal Encyclopedias:       Retail: $24.99 (
                                                                              I paid: $1
                                                                              Money saved: $23.99
                                                                              Teaches: About most animals A-Z
                    Black & Decker Kid's Tool Set:         Retail: $15.94 (
                                                                              I paid: $1
                                                                              Money saved: $14.94
                                                                              Teaches: Problem solving

I also got about 20 children's books, but I didn't take the time to find the cost of each one; however they are all learning books about feelings, colors, letters, and numbers.

Doesn't seem like much, does it? I didn't thinks so at first, either. Aside from the fact that I saved at least $170, the more I think about the items I purchased, the more educational value they seem to have! All kinds of possibilites just started presenting themselves - things I never thought of as "educational" are suddenly just what my kids need to help them learn about life in the real world.

Definately not my most informative post, but I just had to share with you this change of perspective. I look at everything my kids do and play with in a whole new light now and I think it's a really positive change. They aren't just playing, they're gaining an understanding of the world and how it works and I think it's fasinating! I can't wait to get started!

As always, do your best for your family and I'll do my best for mine!

<3 ~SMF~

Friday, June 15, 2012

There's something you should know.

So since we have established this whole virtual relationship thing, I've decided I need to come clean about something ...

I'm crazy.



However you say it, I'm out of my mind.

At least, that's the only conclusion I can come to because I recently decided I am not going to send my children to public school.


Yes. I am a single mom, working a minimum of 42 hours a week, and I have chosen to school my children at home.

Wait - before your jaw totally hits the floor; there's more:

I am not going to use a homeschooling program, either. I am going to unschool them.

I know, I know! It's so much to take in! And while you recover from the shock of all this craziness, I want to explain my rationale and you tell me if it seems, er, rational.

So here it is; the ugly truth - the reason I have made this choice is ...

As a first grader, my teacher made me cry. In front of the whole class.

That's it. That's why my children will not attend public school.

Okay, okay so I suppose there is a bit more to it than that. Truth is, in that moment, I began to hate learning. I associated learning from that point on with people who only tolerated me because they had to. I thought learning meant being confined in a stuffy room with peers who didn't like me for one reason or another. I based my view of my own intelligence on the number of red check marks on the graded papers. I was sure from a very early age that I was stupid and worthless as far as school was concerned.

By second grade, I was consistently failing. I did fine on tests and in-class assignments, but I never turned in my homework. I remember the math assignments in second grade. They were double sided with five problems on each side of the paper. We were allowed to do the "A" side in class, but the "B" side was for homework only. I can remember my teacher humiliating me in front of the other students for repeatedly doing both sides in class. I thought by doing both sides she would be impressed and maybe I'd get a compliment or a gold star or something! But no, she shattered my little seven year old spirit into thinking I could never please anyone.

So I stopped trying.

I never failed a grade, but I never made the honor roll, the Principal's list, or got any outstanding awards. I failed several classes in high school and had to retake them. I didn't care. After a while you become numb to the humiliation and shame that comes with failing and being reprimanded for it. I was unable to go on school trips or attend special activities because of my grades. I couldn't play any sports or be involved in extra curricular activities. I went to school because it was required until I was 18. Then I could be done with it.

For 13 years of my life, I was miserable. In high school, I resorted to dumping last night's left overs into the toilet and telling my mom I'd puked so I didn't have to go to school. I hated it so much I often told my parents I just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. I felt I was being kept in a box and my interests and aspirations were not important; I needed to put them aside so I could fit into the school system's mold.

I never want my child to feel that way.

It wasn't until several years after graduation that I realized I am intelligent. I am valuable. I can finally have my own hopes and dreams and I will let no one squash them. Once I realized my life is mine to do with what I want, I felt so free!

And confused.

And lost.

What was I to do with myself with no one dictating my life five days a week?

So I did some things with my life that I regret. In searching for myself, I nearly lost myself (make sense?). I made some choices that will forever affect me and now, my children. I didn't know what to do with my life because there was no one there to tell me. I lost a full ride music scholarship (something I actually excelled at in school). I drank (a lot!). I smoked. I squandered my money. I didn't pay my bills. I had no respect for myself or any one around me. And in one poor choice, I was suddenly and severely grounded.

I was pregnant. I had some very real choices to make.

It has been a long and tough road to where I am, but today, I have one of the most unrecognized but important jobs in the country. Every time I log in, the safety of an entire county depends upon the competence of myself and my partners. I recently had my first yearly evaluation and the results absolutely stunned me. I never thought I could accomplish so much. I never thought I was smart enough to make anything of myself but it would seem that I am and I have!

Did I learn from my mistakes? Yes. Does everyone have to learn from their own mistakes? Absolutely. But I don't want my children to be so lost when they're turned loose on the world that they have to fall as far down as I did to realize their worth. In my opinion, children should be learning about themselves while in the care of their parents so they may be guided in a constructive direction and hopefully avoid a destructive one. Their aspirations and interests and desires should be given special focus so they may become someone that they think is worthwhile; not someone the world thinks is worthwhile.

So, we will school at home. The curriculum will be life and the world will be the classroom. It's not going to be easy, and their SD will most likely have a problem with it, but I believe this is the best choice for my family. (Not to mention, if they went to public school, I would only see them for one full day a week and that is NOT okay with me.)

I hope to share with you my discoveries on this new journey as I research and better understand others' success with this new way of learing the ways of the world!

 As always, take what you can use and leave the rest!

<3 ~SMF~

Thursday, May 31, 2012

What tweaks my melon ...

I can't stand parents who expect perfection.

Especially from a child.

Especially from a toddler.

It's like once the child is old enough to start questioning and communicating and thinking for himself that fit hits the shan and parents lose their minds.

Example: Not using a spoon correctly. Boy uses the spoon to put refried beans in his hand and then in his mouth.

Result: Mom scolds him for getting his hands dirty and tells him to stop making a mess.

Earth to Mom!! The refried beans he's eating will wash off his hands!

Little Mr Spoon Boy is learning fine motor skills. He's experimenting with texture and developing senses. If it feels squishy between his fingers, it feels squishy in his mouth. If it feels warm in his hand, it'll feel warm in his mouth. Contrary to popular belief (as most things are) we are not born knowing these things!

What he's also learning when his experimenting is so rudely interrupted is that experimenting is a bad thing that makes Mom mad. It warrants a scolding and sometimes worse. So learning new things must be a no-no. Better not do that again.

Is that really how you want your child to view the world? That discovering anything on his own is a bad thing and he better just do what everyone else is doing? Don't you want him to learn to solve problems and think for himself?

Maybe we should rethink this.

What if Mom gave words to what he's experiencing? What if instead of scolding, Mom said, "Beans are squishy, huh? Are they warm? Are they cold? Now see what they taste like! Are they good? Do you like beans? Take another bite. Are they all squishy and warm?"

                                               My children playing in an entire box of baking soda.

Giving words to what he is experiencing enables him to better label what he's feeling whether he's sensing it by touch/smell/sight/taste/hearing or feeling it emotionally. Children are constantly struggling to find a way to express themselves. If you don't like the way they're doing it, maybe you should enable them to learn a new, more productive way instead of getting angry/frustrated and throwing an adult temper tantrum.

Temper tantrum? An adult?

Yep. When you got mad at your child for spilling his juice all over in the toy box, think about what happened. You raised your voice, marched over to him, gave him a rather loud talking-to, possibly spanked him, and angrily pointed down the hall and sent him to his room. Is that not the adult equivalent of crying, screaming, throwing oneself on the floor and pounding one's fists?

When you're frustrated and you let out an exasperated sigh along with your child's name, is that not the adult version of whining? Yelling when you're not pleased with something your child has done is the adult version of screaming "No, Mommy, no!", is it not?

Children learn what they live, not what you tell them to learn.

Want a respectful child? Treat them with respect. We often treat strangers with more respect than our own children. Would you yell at a stranger? Hit them? Humiliate them for making a mistake? Criticize their every effort to do what they've been asked?

No. Why? Because they'd probably call the police and report harassment or assault. If it were a co-worker, it could be considered discrimination.

But it's okay to treat your child this way? It's not discipline. It's total disrespect. Disrespect for your child's feelings. For his needs. For his innate desire to explore and learn and grow. Would you like it if someone treated you in such a way - especially someone who was supposed to love you unconditionally and provide for your every need?

Do I want you to let your child run the house with his little boy antics? No. If what he's doing is not appropriate for the time and place, gently tell him so. "We don't splash in the dog water. If you'd like to splash, let's go outside." My kids love textures. Instead of mixing their drink with their sandwich at the table, we eat lunch with the promise of going outside to mix up some mud. We add grass to one bucket of mud, sand to another, and extra water to another. They love it!

   Splashing in a big rubber tub at Gramma & Grampa's house instead of
playing in the dog water.

Think before you react next time you're faced with a challenging situation that involves your child's behavior. Ask yourself where that behavior might have been learned. If it was from you that the reaction was learned, change it. As with most things worth doing, it's not easy, but it will be worth it.

Just wanted to make you THINK.

As always, take what you can use and leave the rest.

<3 ~SMF~

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fad Diet? I think not.

I hate it when people give me weird looks; like when I'm telling them about something and their face just melts in to this "Are-you-sure-you're-not-crazy" kind of pose.

Everything from that point on just bounces off of them - they're no longer listening.

Especially when they ask about my kids' diets.

If you don't want to know, don't ask! If you do want to know, read this!

As you know, Luke didn't have the best start in life. Right off the bat, before he was even born he was exposed to a mega dose of antibiotics because I had tested positive for Group B Strep. His little body was teeming with antibiotics so much so that any good bacteria he was exposed to was killed before it was able to colonize. Problem #1.

Problem #2 came with the fact that he was failing to thrive for six weeks and no one noticed. His body was begging for nourishment and he was literally starving. Problem #2.5 came with the addition of 17 different kinds of formula in the space of nine weeks (18 if you count the formula I made for him) and weeks and weeks of projectile vomit and diarrhea. The lining of his intestines were pretty much pulverized.

Problem #3 came with the addition of baby food. It also caused a reaction in his little gut and though he wasn't on it for long, even a little damage is harmful when your digestive system is so weak.

Problem #4: More antibiotics. When Luke had an "unexplained" seizure the day before his first birthday, he was given a horse size dose of antibiotics "just in case". Any good gut flora that had been able to colonize from being on donated breastmilk was wiped out.

In short, Luke had constant diarrhea for over two years. After he was no longer receiving milk from the Milk Bank, his rate of weight gain and growth decreased. He was still growing, but just not as quickly as he did on breastmilk. He always had a diaper rash no matter how quickly I got his diaper changed. His doctors came up with a ton of random reasons for his issues. They wanted him to see a pediatric gastrointerologist. They wanted to use a scope down his throat and in his colon.


Luke was already sick constantly. Respiratory, vomiting, head colds, you name it. He didn't sleep well. He didn't eat much. He was mentally unstable (smiling one minute, screaming and hitting people the next). I refused to put him through any more suffering at the hands of people who were just guessing. I was once again on a mission to find someone with answers.

In the mean time, I used up all of my sick time because the babysitter would not keep him even if he had a runny nose. I was afraid she might report me because I wouldn't take Luke to the doctor for his diarrhea. It took a couple of months, but I finally found a pediatric natropath. She is 60 miles from where I live, but I was willing to do about anything.

The thing that appealed the most about her method of care was the fact that she took a full history; from my health at conception to what happened during his birth to now. It took nearly three hours to tell her everything that had happened to Luke in his short life; and she was appalled.

The natropath gave me some homeopathic supplements for him, but what helped the most was her recommendation to exclude gluten from his diet. Though I couldn't afford to have him tested ($300 out of pocket), he had all the signs of gluten intolerance and possibly Celiac's Disease.

It was really hard, but it made a difference in a few days! Luke was happy, sleeping well, eating, rash free and, after about two months, diarrhea free! Hallelujah! Nathan was also affected by the new diet - his little spots of eczema cleared up and his nearly constant runny nose was suddenly gone! I lost 10 pounds in the first three weeks (granted I have gained it all back ... the joys of shift work) but now I know what works as long as I can stick to it.  

For anyone who says going gluten free is just a fad, I beg to differ. It does seem to be the "in" thing to do, but for us, it has literally been a lifesaver.

As always, you do what's best for your family and I'll do what's best for mine as long as we're both making educated decisions!

<3 ~SML~

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Rest of the Story ...

So. Now that I've got the whole non-vaccinating thing out in the open and ya'll know about it, here's the rest of the story.

You can't just not vaccinate your kids and expect them to magically stay healthy. Would that be convenient? Absolutely. Is it reality? Sadly, no.

But, by the same token, you can't just vaccinate your child and expect them to stay healthy either.

Whether your choice is to vaccinate, delay vaccines, or not vaccinate at all, your child's diet is what matters more. 85% of your immune system is in your gut. If your gut isn't healthy, you won't be healthy either.

The first thing that is of great importance to your child's gut health is to breastfeed immediately after birth. I understand this isn't always possible, but it is imperative that your child have the chance to get colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk your body makes - that thick, yellowish discharge you saw from your breasts in the last weeks of your pregnancy? Yep. That's it. Truth is, at birth, your baby isn't actually hungry! (He just spent nine months gaining weight - why would he need to eat?) Colostrum actually feeds the good bacteria that's colonizing your baby's gut right after birth. It also seals the intestines against bad bacteria which is a big deal when you're coming into a world full of bacteria!

Unfortunately, not every baby has the opportunity to get the best start in life (READ: I am not criticizing you for not breastfeeding by stating it is the best start. Just stating a fact.). So you have to look at the next best thing. If for whatever reason your baby needs formula, research it. Don't just put baby on whatever the doc prescribes, do your best to find a formula or milk that best meets baby's needs. You could use goat milk (closest in composition to human milk - second only to camel milk, but alas; I don't know anyone who milks camels.). You could find a donor. You could go through a milk bank. There are many more ways to feed your baby that are much better for him than formula.

Moving on to babyhood ... A breastfed baby can be exclusively breastfed up to two years of age and not need any other source of nutrition. Most babies are eating solids by then, but the way you introduce solids is important as well. Parents today are advised to start with rice cereal. Really? Rice cereal (no matter how fortified the package claims it is) has no nutritional value and is just a filler. Wouldn't you rather fill baby up with something that's at least a little healthy? Contrary to popular belief, when baby is ready for solids, he'll tell you. It's not like someone flips a switch right at six months and POOF! baby needs purees shoveled in his mouth with a spoon. Baby-led weaning is (in my semi-educated opinion) the best way to introduce baby to solids; in other words, let him introduce himself!

The quality of your child's food also plays a HUGE part in their health. If your kid lives on mac & cheese and fruit snacks, expect illness. If the only veggies they ever eat come in the can of chicken & stars, expect sick days. If your child thinks fruit is best with chocolate syrup or sugar all over it, expect doctor visits. So here are the shockers: Milk is bad for you. Soy is not a super food. Animal fat lowers cholesterol. All corn (even organic) is genetically modified to withstand pesticides. Aspartame (in anything labeled low fat, light, or diet) is a huge contributor in behavior disorders in kids. Five of the seven colors of food dye we use in the US are illegal in other countries. High fructose corn syrup and MSG is illegal in Germany. Genetically modified products are either labelled or illegal in other countries. Not here, though. No way. In the US, nothing is labelled. And we are the unhealthiest country in the world. We have the highest rates of childhood obesity, diabetes, ADD, ADHD, Autism, cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease ... the list is endless!

Solution: Eat real food.

Buy vegetables that still have dirt on them. Fruit that has to be peeled. Meats that are well marbled. Eggs from free range chickens. Raw milk from a local dairy. Dried beans. Real rice. Where possible, grow a garden. When you're able, buy local, organic eggs and produce. Meat is healthiest when the animals are pastured and not grain fed.

Is it easy to feed your kids well? Not always. It's not as convenient. A lot of people will tell you it's too expensive to buy organic, but last I checked, diseases and hospital stays are more expensive than organic food! In order to build a healthy immune system, your child's body has to be well prepared. There is nothing healthy about breakfast cereal, packaged snacks, fruit snacks, powdered juice mix, chips, ravioli, or anything else that comes in a box/package/can.

If you think you must have the convenience of cans, take the time a couple of times a year to preserve your own food. You could can fruit, veggies, beans, applesauce, soups, tomatoes, and just about any other food you can think of. You could also consider dehydrating foods for later use; I dehydrate veggies for soups, make apple chips for snacking and adding to oatmeal, puree a couple different kinds of fruit and dehydrate to make fruit leather. You can make jerky with any kind of meat and any seasoning. The possibilities are endless!

Unfortunately I don't have the time to put into this post everything I had hoped, but hopefully it's enough to make you think; to make you want to do some of your own research.

As always, you do what's best for your family and I'll do what's best for mine. Take the information you need and leave the rest.

<3 ~SMF~

Friday, May 18, 2012

Because I'm the Mom!

I get asked a lot why I do things the way I do. Why don't I vaccinate? Why do I buy organic? Why do I feed my kids gluten free? Why don't I spank? Why no fluoride? Why no hot dogs? Why, why, why????

Well, the short answer (as the title implies) is that I am the Mom.

But that would make for a rather short and uninformative post. So, I'll give you the long answer.

First, just let me say that as parents, we are saddled with the responsibility to do the best job we can with the knowledge that we have; sometimes that means we need to acquire more knowledge. For me, this is a no brainer. I've never been one to just believe what the doctor says because there are letters after his name. I have learned the hard way that doctors don't know everything. Nor does your great aunt Millie, your mother in law, or your best friend. They are only humans, just like the rest of us. They have to research. They have to learn. And they, too, are doing the best job they can with the knowledge they have. Should they choose not to expand that knowledge, well, that's when the slope becomes slippery.

When my baby brother, Jake, was seven months old, my mom took him in for a well child check. He was given a clean bill of health and "routine" vaccinations were administered. Two hours later, my mom had put him down for a nap. When she went to check on him, he was blue and not breathing in his crib. She rushed him to the ER. Jake's lungs had filled with fluid. The doctors said he had a severe case of pneumonia and should have been seen days ago. He was hospitalized for 8 days. He came home with oxygen for nighttime use and a nebulizer. My mom had to put him upside down across her lap and use these paddle-looking things to beat on his back and jar the phlegm loose several times a day.

I don't remember much of it (I was only five at the time) but I do remember my mom being frantic when he wasn't breathing. I remember her fighting with the ER doctor who said it just wasn't possible for a child's lungs to become filled with fluid in a day's time. I remember her crying because the doctors just wouldn't consider that a vaccine nearly killed her baby boy. I remember Jake screaming and gasping for air as he coughed up an alarming amount of mucus. I remember his little red, tear stained face under the oversized mask of the nebulizer as my dad held him so his arms were pinned because he kept trying to pull the mask off.

According to the Centers for Disease Control,  it’s estimated that only between 1%-10% of adverse vaccine reactions are reported. Doctors are not required to report these reactions, so if parents don't report them, the statistics are grossly flawed. My parents were never told by anyone that they could report Jake's reaction. They were never told that his reaction is listed as one of the possible side effects. Nor were they told that his particular reaction was also associated at the time with permanent brain damage. Funny how the vaccine that was administered that day was pulled off the market for "further testing". It was not returned to the market until 2005, when the vaccine "schedule" contained less than half of what it does now. Someone covering their tracks, no?

Jake was actually very fortunate.  He was spared any lasting side effects of the reaction. It would blow you away to read the stories of parents whose children had such a severe reaction that they couldn't be saved. Children whose parents watched them have 80 seizures a day ( Children who had strokes in infancy; who no longer have the use of one side of their bodies because of a reaction to a vaccine. I'm not just talking autism here. We're talking life or death reactions.

Life or death reactions that vaccine manufacturers are aware of - that they warn against on the vaccine label. When was the last time you read a vaccine label? Truth is, very few parents have. It's not like you're offered the choice to do so at the doctor's office; you are given a disclaimer to sign - that the office/hospital/doctor will not be held responsible for any reactions and you are aware of the risks.


Risks? What risks? Doc said I should give Tylenol in the event of a fever or pain and swelling at the injection site. Nothing about brain damage, seizures, strokes, lowered consciousness, coma, extreme fever, difficulty breathing, anaphylactic shock, deafness, bowl blockage, or anything else that would raise a red flag.

Indeed, the CDC's website claims rates of reaction as "less than" or "approximately". There are no percentages. There are no facts. They use the phrase "it is reported" when addressing the amount of people affected by vaccines. Take into account that doctors are not required to report vaccine injury and patients are not informed they can report it and you have virtually nothing to go on. The CDC does, however, report that less than 10% of vaccine injuries are reported - therefore you can safely assume that there are hundreds of thousands of children who are killed or maimed by vaccines that are not included in the the CDC's "statistics". What I want to know is how the CDC knows that less than 10% of injuries are reported unless they expect a much greater reaction?

Just food for thought. This is in no way medical advice. It is, however, a plea for you to do your own research. Yes, it's time consuming. No, there are not enough hours in a day when you have children under foot. Trust me, I get it. But you should also trust me when I tell you that finding the time to research something that could potentially change your child's life forever should be at the top of your list. 

As always, do what you believe is best for your family. But you will never regret making a truly informed decision.

<3 ~SMF~