Baby Dust Diaries

A Life Less Ordinary

Category: Health (page 1 of 4)

In Defense of “The Meanest Mom”

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the “meanest mom” a mom who’s account of a trip to Dairy Queen with her three kids (eight years and under) went viral. Here’s is her follow up where she explains her rationale.

The vast majority of people have rallied behind her. She’s a “parenting hero” and if more parents were “like her” the world would be a better place.

Unfortunately, literally all of the research on child development and parenting practices say the exact opposite.  What she did isn’t open to interpretation like we try to pretend parenting choices are. All current research on human development, psychology, and brain plasticity studies show without any doubt that what she did was damaging to her children and will  have the opposite effect on her kids. She demonstrated bullying perfectly. She embodied adultism in a way more clear than any article I could write. (This isn’t going to be *that* post with all the links to why this is wrong. I talk about that constantly and you can google scholar just as well as I.)

The minority of people pointing this out – that you absolutely can NOT teach kindness by being a bully – rightfully point out that this is, in fact, emotional abuse. Just imagine a husband doing this to a wife and it is easy to see how abusive it was.

Here’s the thing though: this mom, despite being wrong and woefully uneducated on child development, is not a bad person. She is a good person, with good intentions and not a single cultural belief system in sight to help her accomplish her goals.

The social messages about parenting are clear: control, power, obedience, adultism (adults matter more than children), and punishment (including shame and embarrassment) are what parenting is all about. She never learned about child development in school or through public education programs (like the ones so stringently trying to force crib-sleeping, funded by crib manufacturers). She never saw examples in her life or on TV that showed consensual, respect-based parenting. She sees cultural stories that say kids are “out of control” and “lazy parents” are making them that way.

Of course she didn’t want to be one of “those” parents. She sees bullying and disrespect for the working class (see any argument that fast food workers don’t deserve a living wage, for example) as a huge problem. Hooray! She wants to raise humans that are kind and respectful. Hooray! It isn’t her fault she’s been given exactly ZERO tools for doing so by her culture.

So, in her valid and worthy attempt to raise good humans, she ploughed head long into exactly the wrong methods. Of course she did! How could she do otherwise? She’s following the path laid out for her by her culture.

I wish I could spend an afternoon with her. I’m sure she’s a nice person and a conscientious mother. She’s been failed by her culture. Her kids have been failed by their culture. She is clearly intelligent and desiring to be a good parent.

But her culture exists to breed unkindness and violence, disrespect and marginalization of “less than” groups like children, obedience and deference to authority. This is reinforced by schools that work solely on the model of hierarchical control and obedience and profound, deeply rooted adultism.

The woman behind the counter was probably parented the same way. She was a teenager apparently which means, unless she’s unschooled, she is daily subjected to poor treatment and lack of autonomy at the local high school. If she continues to work at fast food places as an adult she’ll be well primed by her opinion not mattering for 18 years to have her livelihood denigrated by her culture through lack of respect and poor pay.

Mean mom herself was probably parented the same way. She associates parenting with being bullied and hurt. She sees her children’s emotional pain as proof she’s given them a “lesson” that will “last”.

And she’s right. Her children have learned that might makes right. That people bigger (or with more “authority”) can take from you without your consent. That the people who love you the most will hurt you when they can if you don’t conform to their expectations. That “natural consequences” means bigger people hurting you.

We all have to accept responsibility for parents creating bullies while ostensibly trying to teach them to be kind. We are this culture too and we have to be diligent in what type of culture we are creating.  The culture set up specifically to support capitalism (which requires that some people matter more than others) and hierarchy of authority (like patriarchy and white supremacy taught in schools) NEEDS you to parent in this way so your kids will be habituated to it by the time they are adults. Then they will quietly accept their lives of marginalization, debt, poverty, and purposelessness.

She’s the meanest mom in the world. Which means her culture applauds her good job! While her children internalize this (mean to children = good) insuring they’ll perpetuate it when they’re adults too. A cycle of abuse with no end in sight that exists to support the hierarchy of society.

Hurt people hurt people. I feel for this mom who wants so much to be a good person raising good people but is stymied by her own hurt and harm done to her by our culture.

It always fills me with so much sorrow when I see people parent this way. Knowing that there is another way. That parenting can be joyful and your relationships with your kids don’t have to be ruled by power struggles and tears. That kids will grow to be compassionate, thankful humans because they see their primary relationships model compassion and thankfulness. That you don’t ever have to bully your kids. That hurt does not EVER need to be part of you parenting.

IToto-1‘m so sorry, Mean Mom, that you’ve had this very natural truth about humans obscured by cultural belief systems rooted in violence and control. I hope that one day you see behind the curtain of our culture and find another way.


I’ll be over here like Toto jumping up and down and pointing behind the curtain screaming, “Look! Look!”

A Civil Debate About Vaccines

conflict-clipart-CLIPART_OF_ProcessI don’t write about vaccines much anymore. The reason is simply that I had read more than enough (several times over enough) to completely convince me that vaccines were a bad idea for both humanity in general and my children specifically (which, contrary to popular press, are BOTH very important to me). It isn’t my passion anymore. Unless someone is talking about “anti-vaxxers” going to jail or having their kids sent into foster care. It is only when you seek to infringe on my right to body integrity that I engage. I no longer play the show me your research and I’ll show you mine game.

I am disheartened that, from my perspective, so many people believe the vaccine propaganda without digging deeper behind these recommended substances being injected into our most vulnerable population. However, what really pains me is how impossible it apparently is to have a civil discussion about the topic.

Last year I was kicked out of a feminist group for, “promoting child abuse” after having a rather civil discussion on vaccines with other members. The group admins believed so strongly that vaccines are an inarguable benefit to children and humanity that they not only couldn’t have a conversation with me about bodily integrity and the right of the state to force medications on autonomous human beings, but that to even bring it up promoted child abuse.

Damn, that is some seriously strong cultural indoctrination.

I *get* that I’m the minority. I know you think I am straight up wrong. I get that you can’t believe I don’t get it. But what I don’t get is that you are going to shame and demean me in your arguments. Honestly, when you notice yourself so vociferously defending a point of view, which is fine, but feeling hot under the collar about it, then maybe you want to examine where feelings that strong are coming from.

An emotional response that strong comes from one of two places. Either you have a personal experience to draw on (for example, you have a child injured by a disease that has a vaccine and you feel the unvaccinated were responsible) or you’ve been subliminally and overtly indoctrinated to feel something by someone else. Who is that? Why did they do that? I’d want to know. And why do they need to use influence and marketing to “sell” this idea so hard? Why don’t the vaccines speak for themselves?

Maybe you feel you have examined these issues and you still feel vaccines are for you. That is great. I’m happy for you. Perhaps you even think that unvaccinated individuals are a danger to others. I imagine that is a painful feeling to have. I know how I feel when I see transphobia against little kids just trying to be comfortable in their skin. I just know I have to speak out – and do so loudly – to give voice to a group that I know is so often silenced. If you truly feel that my choice not to vaccinate my children puts infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised people at risk then I empathize deeply with the compassion for those people that drives your passion. Namaste. That place in me that feels compassion sees the same place in you and I respect your voice in this argument.

Can you see me for one moment? I do care deeply about people for whom measles or chicken pox are deadly. I would never, never have made this decision without researching that aspect of public health and vaccines. I know you think I haven’t researched enough, or in the wrong places, or that I simply don’t understand enough to make what you consider the right choice. I’m not asking you to understand my choice. I’m asking you to see the place of compassion inside that my choice comes from.

The fact is I am not a shitty person. I’m not uncaring. I’m not uneducated or swayed by celebrity worship or an irrational hippie (I’m a quite rational hippie thankyouverymuch). I am a very kind person. If we met in person I’m sure we’d like each other.

You’d undoubtedly call me weird, or crunchy. You most definitely rolled your eyes when I said “vaccine propoganda” (ha! my side uses subliminal bias too.) My medicine cabinet has more brown, glass jars with droppers than things you’d buy at Walgreens. I’m a peace-freak who doesn’t spank her kids or send them to the local schools. I’m a “femi-nazi” and I’ll tell you, at length, why you should never say that. But I’m friends with many people who don’t believe the same things I do. And I think at least some of them would vouch for me being a decent human being. I’m not asking you to *get* me or agree with me.

I’m just asking that you can stop for a moment and not see me as an “antivaxxer.” I’m not your enemy. I am a friend. My life isn’t like yours. My choices aren’t like yours. But I worry about my kids all the time just like you. I think about their health and do things to make them as healthy as possible. I also care about humanity and I care very much that babies die around the world, just like you do. I think deeply on issues like white, western privilege and how this discussion would be different if I didn’t live in a place with access to healthcare, sanitation, and nutritious food, just like you do.

Do you want to send the police to my house to put my kids in foster care? Do you want them to be held down and injected against their will? I am such a pariah to you that you want me HURT and ROBBED of dignity and my own children? If you had to be the one to hold them down after ripping them from my arms would it change your answer?

I hope you answered no. If we can’t look past our own thoughts and, even briefly, see the humanity in each other then what is all this even for?

Good Food v. Bad Food

Photobuckethostess_20120111064640_640_480Recently, my post 15 Tips for Raising Kids With a Positive Body Image, has received a lot of comments.  I’m so glad people are finding the post and discussing this important topic!  I have two follow-up posts: Big Fat Myths About Fat and this one.

Many commenters had problems with #6 and #13 in my list;

  • Do not label foods as “good” and “bad”
  • Avoid talking about a nutrionalist approach to food – disassembling “food” into fat, carbs, calories, and other things that need to be obsessed about and counted (difficult since it is explicitly taught in many schools).

For example, one commenter said, “I think this is ignorant regarding food options. It is highly important to educate your children about proper food intake & nutrition.”

So, let’s talk about why you don’t want to label foods as good and bad and then I’ll look at if there actually are good and bad foods.

Why You Shouldn’t Call Foods Good/Bad

The dichotomy of Good v. Bad is one that children learn very early on.  If you have a preschooler you’ll hear them talk about the good guys and bad guys in tv programs.  My daughter has even said “my good” when she helps pick up toys and this is with a very strong intention on my part to NOT label her (or her behavior) as good or bad.  When she is “good” I’ll say “thank you! You were so helpful.”  And, when she does something “bad” I’d say “If we rip pages out of a book then we can’t read the story any more.  Let’s tape it back in.”  This isn’t a post about gentle parenting but needless to say labeling kids with value judgments is not a good thing.  Even good labels are bad (ha!) for two reasons; 1) kids know the opposite of good.  If you say they are good then they know that they have a capability of being bad, and 2) placing a value judgement as vague as good becomes an external pressure on your child.  If you want to read more about this concept you can start here.

What does this have to do with food?  Before we can get there we need to look at another aspect of child development called moral reasoning.  The pyramid on the left is Kohlberg’s Six Levels of Moral Development.  Children start at the bottom self-preservation and move up to adult moral reasoning at the top.  Up to age 10 children fall into the three lowest levels while middle schoolers tend to be very black and white in a “law and order mentality” it is only in the later teen years (or older) that principled morality, recognizing shades of gray, is developed.

A young child can clearly understand good and bad based on the effect it has on those around them but they can not differentiate between a good person and a bad deed.  The idea that the bad guy on Monday can do something very good on Tuesday is too complex.  You are either good OR bad.

When you say “Twinkies are bad” and your child thinks, “I think Twinkies taste good and Twinkies are bad therefore I must be bad.”  And, even worse, “well I’m bad so I might as well just eat bad foods.”

And don’t think just sticking to good works!  If you say “fruits and vegetables are good” they are going to deduce that other foods are bad.  AND they won’t eat their veggies.  Oh, and don’t think trading another word works.  Kids know the opposite of healthy is unhealthy and the connotation intended.

It is too important to me that my kids develop a self-image that is positive for me to label them even indirectly.

But Twinkies ARE Bad!

Twinkies are horrible.  They aren’t even food they are “food-like substances”.  I don’t want my kids to eat Twinkies.  I want them to eat fruits and veggies and lean protein, etc. The fear is that if you don’t scare your kids with “DOOM for all Twinkie eaters!!” then they will eat nothing but Twinkies forever and ever.

But the opposite is true: Research has shown that creating forbidden foods actually increases poor eating habits in kids (see twinkies are bad therefore I must be bad above).  Other studies have shown that authoritative feeding styles in caregivers increases children’s consumption of healthy foods.

How To Encourage Healthy Eating Without Labeling

Authoritative Feeding is a style of parenting the eating relationship with the ultimate goal being your child making healthy food choices.  Parent-controlled feeding (Authoritarian Feeding) has the opposite of desired effects (as in the forbidden food research).  If your goal is to make your child a good choice maker then you need to give them choice.  There are 3 great ways to do this:

1. Have a Division of Responsibility.

You are responsible for providing options, a place, and a time to eat.  Your child is solely responsible for what they eat and how much.  SOLELY RESPONSIBLE.  That means stop with the nagging or commenting on how much they eat or what choices they made.  Remember that children learn food likes and dislikes through nurture not nature.  They eat what they see eaten; what they see served.

2. Provide Choice.

With young kids a choice between two things is best.  “Do you want an apple or grapes for snack?”  This gives them control over their food choices. A caveat here that drives some parents batty: kids waste food.  My daughter eats half an apple a day…and leaves the other half to rot.  This drives my husband crazy!  But what are you going to do?  Tell them they can’t have an apple for snack?  Yell at them to finish their apple?  Anything you can do is counter intuitive   You could maybe give a sliced apple but my daughter likes to eat whole ones like a big girl.  I chalk up wasted food to the cost of raising a healthy eater.  Let it go.

3. Give Trust and Control When Possible.

I recommend having a “junk food” stash that your kids can get to.  Talk to them about how much candy they should be eating in a day (negotiate don’t tell) and then let them decide when to eat it.  With little kids it might be a “now or later” choice but as they get older it can be a weeks worth of candy that they are responsible for.  They can binge in one hour or make it last all week.  Little kids and those new to this control will always choose NOW and ALL but they won’t forever.  They will learn to delay gratification, space out treats, and trust their gut.  Stick firm to the limit and discuss the choice they made (“honey, you ate your candy for today this morning.  Maybe tomorrow you want to make a different decision and keep some for after dinner?”).

It is difficult to trust children when everything about our culture says they can’t be trusted and need to be controlled by adults.  But, remember, you are raising an adult not a child.  That means you want to nurture their strong decision making skills and they can’t do that if you control all the decisions.  

 But Are Some Foods Bad?

A Twinkie really is a bad food in my book because it isn’t food at all.  I’d rather make a fattening, sugary confection from real food and let my kids eat it than to let them eat a bunch of chemicals disguised as food.  My kids will learn from me about chemical dyes, artificial flavors, etc.  That is much more important to me than their ability to count calories or fat grams.  Humans can learn to trust their eating instincts – you won’t eat yourself to death with butter – but chemicals are like any drug in that they trick your body into thinking you need that non-food.  I trust humans but not drugs and that’s what food-like substances are.

I still won’t use labels of good and bad, and with all my kids being under 4, I don’t talk about this explicitly much but I will as they get older.  And even then, I will trust them to make their own choices.  (as long as they don’t have a dangerous sensitivity) I will let my kids pick the Twinkie if that is the choice they make.  Why? Because I’m not afraid.  Because bad foods don’t make bad people.  Because they love apples and eating is joy for them not a landmine field.  But mostly because their relationship with eating is so much more important than what they eat.

This concludes my follow-ups to the original article.  I know that our culture is firmly entrenched in;

a. fat is unhealthy
b. shame helps people get skinny
c. losing weight is easy with diet and exercise

so I’m probably not going to change anyone’s mind with three posts.  However, if you look at the research I’ve linked to and maybe read a few books you will see that the evidence is overwhelming in favor of intuitive eating and against the dangerous mentality we currently have toward food.  I hope I’ve piqued your interest to learn more.

Raising a Family on Food Stamps (SNAP)

The most surreal thing happened to me last week.  I was asked to participate in a live, online discussion on HuffPostLIVE called Faces of Food Stamps.  You can view the 1/2 hour program here.  It is so awesome that my post I’m a Welfare Mom has generated so much discussion here and on Everyday Feminism.

The HuffPostLIVE segment was prompted by a woman in Georgia who was harassed at a grocery store for being on Food Stamps (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP).  The guests were myself, Sandi Bachom, who is living on Food Stamps in NYC, Jojo Rhines, who is living on food stamps in South Carolina, and Mayor Greg Stanton, Phoenix, AZ Mayor who spent one week living on a Food Stamp budget (and limitations).  It was a wonderful discussion that brought up a lot of good points about how we treat people on “welfare”.

Is it Hard to Live on Food Stamps?

It was universal the dehumanized way people on Food Stamps are made to feel so in that aspect it is difficult to live on Food Stamps.  One thing I found interesting was that the other guests were talking about how difficult it is to eat on a Food Stamp budget.  A single person seems to get anywhere from $16 to $37 per week.  The national average is $133.14 per month.  I had never broken it down like this and that is a small amount to eat, let alone eat healthily. That’s $1.47 per meal.

I have to admit that I have found Food Stamps to be more than I used for groceries prior to Food Stamps.  I originally got $768 a month – that sounds like A LOT! – but is $153 per person per month.  The thing is you get economy of scale when you are cooking for a family.  If I make a pot roast I don’t have to buy 5 roasts, 5 pounds of potato, etc.  I can reduce my overall cost by combining and sharing.  Of course, my kids are small so I’d hate to estimate how much a family with 3 teens would need.  However, I still think the amount is high and perhaps the SNAP program could fund increased single-user benefits by calculating in an economy of scale decrease for families?

A couple other things to keep in mind with regards to Food Stamps: it is easy for me to cook from scratch and that is a very privileged position.  I have time, a plethora of tools that I had before going on Food Stamps, and the knowledge from a mother and grandmother that cooked from scratch.  This is not something that all Food Stamp recipients have at their disposal.

I’ve always disliked the image above because it makes a huge white, middle class privilege assumption.  If you are going between two jobs or working double shifts you don’t really have time to cook.  Do you have a functioning oven? A functioning refrigerator to grocery shop in this manner?

I think it is important to realize that everyone does not start with the same tools and opportunities.  We shouldn’t judge what we don’t know.

Are Food Stamp Recipients Lazy?

The other take away I wanted people to get was that many Food Stamp recipients do work.  The Georgia woman can’t work because she’s on dialysis.  Sandra Bechom is on assistance due to disability/age.  It is fitting that the guy who harassed the woman in Georgia gets to live with judging her as lazy when in fact she’s dancing with death.  Judge not, huh?

Here’s the thing though, I don’t like the idea of “well that’s ok because they deserve Food Stamps” implying that others do not.  At no point in our Food Stamp journey has my family been jobless.  Yes, I haven’t went back to work because I’m staying home with my kids instead of working only to afford child care.  My husband worked a retail job during our 5 months of Food Stamps.  He wasn’t lazy he was the working poor.

Food Stamps are available to families making at or under 130% of the Federal Poverty Line.  In 2012 the Federal Poverty Line for a family of 5 is $27,010.  That means you are considered underemployed and eligible for SNAP up to $34,032 (gross) for a family of 5.  Note, at that annual income a family of 5 would get less than $20 per month in Food Stamps so the sliding scale approaches zero quickly at the higher end and definitely does not cover a substantial portion of the needed food budget.

So why should an employed person get help?  For me, the obvious reason is everyone deserves a meal.  Especially kids (note that able-bodied adults without dependent children are normally only allowed Food Stamps for 3 months).  But, Food Stamps and other working poor entitlements like EIC, are often touted as alternatives to increasing the minimum wage.  These programs are designed to make living at a less-than-living wage possible without requiring businesses to shoulder the whole burden.  That is a Republican idea.  Don’t put it all on business and the minimum wage.

The fact is that the majority of Food Stamp recipients either can’t work (elderly/disabled/primary care givers for children or disabled) or are in fact working.  According to Forbes only 16% of recipients are non-working and without children.  A full 30% of SNAP households are working at below a living wage and use Food Stamps to offset the deficit in wages.  The US ranks first in amount of people on Food Stamps and I think this is why: other countries invest in living-wage policies and thus require less food supplementation.

Are you wondering now if you know someone eligible for SNAP who doesn’t even know it?  I bet we all do.  The USDA estimates that 1 in 4 eligible people don’t receive SNAP. During the Bush Administration commercials actually ran to increase enrollment – which worked – increasing participation by 63% (source).  I don’t see any rational reason for avoiding SNAP.  This overblown idea that American’s are “bootstrappers” who “built that” is total bs.  If your country says that increased wages are not possible for x business but this program can supplement your income then why avoid that?  You don’t avoid public schools for those that can’t afford private; you don’t avoid middle-class tax credits like the mortgage interest deduction.

I mean think about it: The government is saying that homeownership is difficult and they want to help people make that happen.  Instead of sending everyone a check for a down payment they decided to allow an interest deduction.  Does anyone say “well I’m not going to take that because I’m a self-starter and can do it on my own!”?  No way!  So if you are working in one of the millions of jobs that the government has decided is not paying a living wage and they are pointing you to this program to help you why is that stigmatized?

Well the stigmatization ends for me.  I refuse to hang my head for supplementing my husband’s income with SNAP.  My husband does an important job keeping the electricity running in this country and the government says we get a little help based on the pay he gets.  I’m taking it!  We aren’t lazy.  We aren’t irresponsible.  If he didn’t do that job then someone else would need to.  They should be able to have a family too.  I’m taking the mortgage deduction.  I’m taking the EIC if I’m eligible.  Maybe some day everyone will get paid a full living wage.  Until then I’m using the programs that are available for me and my children.

Big Fat Myths About Fat Part I


Recently, my post 15 Tips for Raising Kids With a Positive Body Image, has received a lot of comments.  I’m so glad people are finding the post and discussing this important topic!

I’ve been reluctant to talk about some of the naysayers because I’m not primarily a size-acceptance blogger and there are so many great bloggers out there already doing the work.  However, I haven’t been able to reply to every comment so I figured it was time for a clarifying post.

First, the post in question was a revisit of a previous post “I Don’t Think of You As Fat!” Raising Size-Accepting Children where I provided a little more background on why shaming doesn’t work and how close most kids skate to an eating disorder.

  • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives[1. Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2005). I’m, Like, SO Fat!. New York: The Guilford Press. pp. 5.]
  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner[2. Collins, M.E. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among pre-adolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 199-208.]
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat[3. Mellin, L., McNutt, S., Hu, Y., Schreiber, G.B., Crawford, P., & Obarzanek, E. (1991). A longitudinal study of the dietary practices of black and white girls 9 and 10 years old at enrollment: The NHLBI growth and health study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 27-37.
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets[4. Gustafson-Larson, A.M., & Terry, R.D. (1992). Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth-grade children. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 818-822.]

Several comments left are completely off base and lacking in a factual basis.  For example,

Fat = Unhealthy

 the fact that you refute fat=unhealthy is completely off base. This is not just some beauty myth. Being overweight truly is unhealthy. It taxes our joints, our organs and every part of our body.

It’s absurd to think being overweight is as healthy as being ideal or average weight.

Uh, no. Sorry.  Not true.  This is an idea promoted by the diet industry not science.  Researchers at Case Western Reserve studied the idea that “fat” taxes our organs when in fact “the idea that fat strains the heart has no scientific basis“.  I recommend this series of articles from Junkfood Science for more information: 

Fat – aka adipose tissue – is not a disease.  It doesn’t cause disease.  It has even been shown to be healthy.  I love this quote from Kate Harding at Shapely Prose;

In fact, fat people live longer than thin people and are more likely to survive cardiac events, and some studies have shown that fat can protect against “infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.” Yeah, you read that right: even the goddamned diabetes.

Losing Weight is Easy

 Weight control is pretty simple – eat less and exercise more if you want to lose weight. Maybe they would do it if told/shown how…If I had an overweight child I would help them lose weight and it WOULD happen.

The hubris here defies logic.  Three words: Minnesota. Starvation. Study.  You can read about it here or here.  Of course scores of other researchers have found the same thing like this for example which has a fascinating follow-up where they tried to get thin people to gain weight;

subjects were prisoners at a nearby state prison who volunteered to gain weight. With great difficulty, they succeeded, increasing their weight by 20 percent to 25 percent. But it took them four to six months, eating as much as they could every day. Some consumed 10,000 calories a day, an amount so incredible that it would be hard to believe, were it not for the fact that there were attendants present at each meal who dutifully recorded everything the men ate.

Once the men were fat, their metabolisms increased by 50 percent.

They needed more than 2,700 calories per square meter of their body surface to stay fat but needed just 1,800 calories per square meter to maintain their normal weight.

Within months, they were back to normal and effortlessly stayed there.

So, no.  Losing weight is not easy, simple, or even beneficial in some cases.  Everyone’s body has a healthy size and trying to alter it is nearly impossible and a bad idea.

But I know a fat person that got skinny!  No, you probably know an out of shape person that got in shape.

Stay tuned for part II where I”ll look at the myths of Good vs. Bad Food and the myth of Nutritionism.

Hand, Foot and Mouth My Ass

For the past two weeks we’ve been sick.  And by we I mean Aellyn, Asher, Boston, AND me!  We had Hand, Foot and Mouth (HFM) disease which is a common childhood illness caused by the coxsackie virus.  It normally starts with a fever and sore throat and then two days later you develop a rash and blisters in and around the mouth, on the soles of the feet, and the palms of the hands.  It isn’t dangerous and the biggest risk is dehydration due to difficulty swallowing.

Asher's HFM sores

Asher got it first and holy hell did he get it bad.  He ran a high fever for 48 hours.  (I don’t own a thermometer I trust my sense of touch.)  And then he got huge ulcers all over his hands, legs, diaper area, and mouth.  They were HORRIBLE.  Plus he was covered in a rash from head to toe.  After the fever though he didn’t seem to be in any pain or itching.

Boston was next.  He had a low grade fever for about 20 hours and then a day later got some spots on his mouth and on both his legs.  He also wasn’t bothered much post-fever.

Aellyn had a low fever for maybe 12 hours and had a grand total of 8 blisters all on her upper arms.

All in all it wasn’t too bad and the kids LOOK sick much longer because once the blisters dry over they take time to go away.  People keep asking if Asher has chicken pox and I keep saying ‘I wish’ hoping to bait someone into an argument about vaccination – lol!

And then I got a fever.  I had a low grade fever that was easily broken with Motrin for 24 hours.  I started to feel some tingly spots on my palms and I was praying I got it easy like Aellyn.

No such luck.  24 hours after my fever my palms and soles felt like screaming hot burns.  A constant throb and crazy-making itch.  But unlike a pox itch or poison ivy actually scratching it is near impossible because it hurts so bad.  The skin is so sensitive like a raw burn.  I couldn’t wash dishes because even slightly warm water burns so bad.  Plus my hands and feet feel swollen like they are about to burst.  I can’t close my hands and walking is excruciating.  I couldn’t sleep because of the pain/itch.  At one point I smeared orajel on my hands and feet because it was the only thing on hand and I was desperate.  It didn’t work.  Keeping myself dosed with Motrin was the only thing that gave the slightest relief.  Pure. Hell.  But I’m not done – my scalp – every inch of it is covered in blisters.  I want to shave my head.  And cry.  Lots of crying.

I think I’m on the mend (I’m typing after all!)  I’m soaking my feet in ice water and elevating them.  Thank goodness my sister came to take care of the kids so I could get some sleep and mend.  I’ve since read that kids are rarely bothered by the rash/blisters unless they make it hard to eat.  Adults on the other hand can be in intense pain.  No, really?

Whew, Coxsackie can suck it.  May you never have to find out.

Spicy Pumpkin Surprise Muffins

Oh boy are these good!  They are not super sweet and the cream cheese in the center is very creamy and savory so this is a great brunch muffin.  If you wanted to make them more desert-like you’d probably want to add more sugar to the batter and mix the cream cheese with powdered sugar to taste to make kind of a spice cake/icing centered muffin.

If you are sugar free you could add honey or bananas for sweetness.  You can leave off the sugar sprinkle on top too (it makes a delicious crunchy top!).  Alternatively, you could sprinkle some honey-soaked oats on top.

I’ve only begun to play with gluten free so I can’t help you there.  I’ll try them out with coconut flour some day. 🙂

Healthy Pumpkin!

I used canned pumpkin as it is June in Ohio!  In the fall when the pumpkin is in season this will be even better (I’ll update then!).  NOTE this is NOT pumpkin pie filling but straight pureed pumpkin.

Pumpkin is a super food including:

  • Pumpkins owe their bright Orange color to the carotenoids present in them. Carotenoids are free radical fighters and along with two other antioxidants in pumpkin, Lutein & Zeaxanthin, fight premature aging, and protect agains cardiovascular disease.
  • Pumpkin is high in Vitamins A and C as well as Magnesium, Potassium and Zinc – Pumpkin is a rich source of Vitamin A. Regular consumption of pumpkin (both seeds and flesh) can promote the health of your eyes and boost your immune system remarkably.
  • Pumpkin is a high fiber food.
These also have flax, yogurt, and butter – wonderful healthy fats!

Spicy Pumpkin Surprise Muffins


2 organic eggs
3/4 cup plus more for sprinkling organic sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup organic plain yogurt
3/4 cup puréed pumpkin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or add nutmeg)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground flax
1/4 stick of cream cheese


1. Using a mixer combine eggs, sugar and yogurt.  Add pumpkin.  Mix well then add spices.  I used significantly more than listed!  Start with 1/2 tsp and taste then add more to taste.  I ended up with more ginger and cinnamon.  Cloves are very strong so go slow there!
2.  Mix dry ingredients (salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour) in separate bowl.  Add dry ingredients in 3 parts alternating with a portion of the butter so that you end with the addition of the last of the butter.  Mix until combined.  Add flax and mix.
3.  Cut cream cheese into 1/2 cubes (roughly).  Keep it in the refrigerator until just before this step os it is easier to cut.
3.  Spray oil in muffin pan add batter to each muffin till 1/2 full.  Then add square of cream cheese; press lightly into batter.  Top with remaining batter to top of muffin tin.
4.  Shake/tap muffin pan to level out batter and make sure the cream cheese is “hidden”.
5.  (Optional) sprinkle with sugar
6.  Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes.  Place on wire rack to cool.  Eat warm so the cheese is gooey!

I’m a Welfare Mom

I’m on “welfare”.  Whatever that means.  None of the social services that I’m participating in are called “welfare” and there are thousands of social welfare programs in the United States.  However, many are socially acceptable while food stamps are “welfare”.

If you live in a country that provides comprehensive social programs (read: everywhere but here) I have to explain the connotation of that word “welfare”.  It is said like the lowest and most disgusting thing ever.  People here say “she’s on welfare” they way they’d say “she kills baby seals”.

The response I’ve gotten from some people because I’m using social assistance has been…eye opening.  People you think are your friends become vicious.  This made me hesitate to write about it.  Especially since one of those people is my Dad.  I don’t think he would agree with any reason under the sun for quitting a job and going on welfare.  I was afraid he’d be embarrassed if anyone he knew read this.

Then a few weeks ago Gina, over at The Feminist Breeder, mentioned her difficulty with WIC (Woman Infant Child, a national child nutrition program run by the USDA) and (as they tend to do with EVERYTHING Gina says) the response was…eye opening.  Half the people thought she should be ashamed that she wasn’t growing her own food in her backyard (in Chicago. in February.) while the other half thought she was “milking” the system.  That’s when I knew I had to speak out about my own experiences with social welfare (I’m actually not going to talk about WIC specifically because it needs its own post).

My Experience

The Monday after I resigned from NASA I was sitting in the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services applying for public assistance.  It is a first come first served thing where you get a number and sit around for hours trying not to make eye contact with anyone else.  I, as usual, was writing a blog post in my mind about the experience.  Like how I hid my iPhone behind my purse because I thought I should feel shame to have an iPhone and be getting welfare.  Everyone else was hiding their phones too. Or how the waiting room had primarily white people, a handful of black people, two Hispanic families, and one middle eastern family with a translator.  All ages were represented.

Five hours later a woman called my number and led me back to her office.  She never made eye contact with me.  At her desk I was seated behind her while she typed away on a computer, asking me questions to verify my information.  I didn’t even see her face until I tried to make small talk.  By the end of the meeting we were talking about our favorite novels because that’s how I roll :).  I wonder if she has disdain for people on welfare or some people really are rude or maybe her workload is just insane.  I know the crappy DOS program she had to use was insane.

So, here is what my family of five was eligible for:

  • $786 in food stamps
  • $627 in cash assistance
  • Ohio Medicaid for the kids (Ohio Healthy Families)

Because I worked the first week of October our benefits would not start until November 1.  I was so relieved that my kids would have medical coverage and that we wouldn’t go hungry.

Am I embarrassed?

Maybe a little but at this point because of the treatment at the office – like I’m not human. But, I am not ashamed.  I am a productive member of society.  I have paid taxes for years into our social welfare system and I plan to pay into it for years to come.  I’m well educated and I think I’m a benefit to society.  And, most of all, I’m glad I live in a society with social welfare programs.  It is no secret that I’m a socialist.  All the way.  I want it all.  Give me Sweden.  Thanks.

I “put myself in this situation” because I quit instead of getting fired or laid off.  To some people this makes it unforgivable that I’m using social assistance.  No one even took the time to ask why I felt the need to quit – to some there would be no reason ever acceptable to quit a job.  I was really attacked about this – people said I quit to stay home with the kids or because I didn’t “like” my job.  I was told to “man up” like everyone else.  I’m happy I live in a country that has escape clauses for people in bad situations.  I don’t want women to endure horrible situations because if they don’t want their kids will starve.  But, I’m going to focus on peoples’ reactions to welfare in general and not my reason for being on welfare since it relates to how thousands of people are treated daily.

I Encounter the Policing of the Poor

My first encounter with what I call “policing the poor” was on a message board of moms.  The topic of welfare reform came up and I thought I’d share my experiences and specifically my amounts of support to give us a frame of reference for discussion.  Bad move.  The attacks came in three forms:

1. “I think food stamps shouldn’t be able to buy pop or chips or cookies.” These comments were all about policing the nutrition of the poor.  The feeling that if “my money” is paying for it they should have to eat healthy.

Being poor or needing social assistance means that these people should have their choice taken away?  I’m all for a healthier diet for everyone but food stamps is not a license to start dictating behavior.

2. “I hate when I see someone using food stamps with their hair and nails done and on their iPhone and driving a Range Rover.” These comments were all about policing the enjoyment and finances of the poor.If you need social assistance then you should not be happy.

It doesn’t matter that getting out of a phone contract can be more expensive than just maintaining.  Or that the Range Rover is paid off.  Or that your cousin did your nails for free as a pick-me-up.  Or maybe that person has only been on welfare for a few weeks.  If you happen to live in a half million dollar house and drive a lexus the government does not make you sell all those things and live in an alley before your kids can eat.  Welfare is a helping hand to fill the gaps while someone finds a new job.  Besides who are you to judge their choices?  My husband and I discussed it and decided we would give up our cable internet connection before our phone plans because we don’t have a land line and that ensured our Internet access which helps us find jobs.  You can’t tell just because someone has an iPhone in their hand that they are abusing the system.

3. “I work and don’t have health insurance for my kids.” These comments were about how many people are working but get no assistance.  People out of work should not be better off than someone who is working.

I hear ya.  I think the underemployed and underinsured is a huge problem.  This is why I believe in a) a living wage, and b) universal healthcare.  It is sad when working can be less desirable than welfare but it happens every day!  Mere weeks after our initial benefit approval we had the $627 cash assistance terminated and our food stamps dropped by $300 because my husband worked a double shift on Thanksgiving and made $100 extra in his check.  Isn’t working more hours the right thing to do?  The system penalizes doing the right thing

The Cult of the Employed

I heard a lot of “you are using my hard earned money”.  This is baffling to me.  It isn’t your hard earned money – it is the fee you pay to be part of this society.  I don’t hate taxes, am I the only one?  We pay our “societal membership dues” for the betterment of all.  You use social welfare programs too:

  • public schools
  • public libraries
  • public roads
  • public parks
  • unemployment compensation
  • disability compensation
  • child care tax credit
  • earned income credit
  • pell grants (for college)
  • Stafford loans (for college)
  • social security
  • farmer and corporate subsidies

When someone gets a pell grant (which is need based) do you get upset because “your hard earned money” is going to someone that should have worked harder to save that money?

For some reason only “welfare” is marginalized.  That is – cash assistance and food stamps. Could it be because it is disportionately women and children?

How much of “your money” are all these welfare moms using anyways?

There is a wonderful way to visualize where your tax dollars go.  It is called, funnily, Where Did My Tax Dollars Go?  You can put in your income and filing status and get an actual bill of where your tax dollars went.  Here it is for Married Filling Jointly and making 50K a year.

The actual amount “you” paid for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) is $128 (1.5% of total taxes paid).  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (cash assistance) cost you $32 (.4% of total taxes paid).  And of that money only 27% is the actual “cash” assistance the rest is job programs, child care supplements, and administration.

By contrast – paying for unemployment compensation cost you $336 while “middle class welfare”, e.g. programs like mortgage tax credits, education tax credits, etc. far exceed assistance for the poor.

I found lots of conflicting information and it is hard to get current statistics but anywhere from 60 to 90% of welfare recipients use assistance for less than 2 years.

Why We Need Welfare

The amount of social assistance programs a country has the lower its child poverty rate.  Period.  The US has an alarming child poverty rate. In 2005 the numbers were (via UNICEF);

I do not think this is something to be proud of!  According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, poverty actually results in a loss of 8.2 “years of perfect health” — exceeding the effect of smoking.

[box]Research finds that experiencing poverty during the first three years of life is related to substandard nutritional status and poor motor skills. Childhood poverty is also related to “age-normed growth stunting” (low height-for-age) and “wasting” (low weight-for-age), common indicators of poor nutritional  status.  At the other extreme, poverty is also associated with obesity among children.  As they get older, poor children are more likely than other children to have chronic health problems such as asthma and anemia.  Low-income children and adolescents are also more likely than higher income youth to have a physical impairment that restricts their activities.  Adolescents living in poverty are more likely than their higher income peers to get involved in risky and health-compromising behaviors, such as smoking or engaging in early sexual activity.  Health problems associated with poverty during early childhood become  risk factors themselves for developmental problems in later life, including problems in the achievement,  cognitive, language, social-emotional, and physical domains (source).[/box]

The fact is we all benefit from social programs.  Poor, wealthy (tax breaks), families, corporations (through subsidies), farmers (subsidies), and we all benefit from a fed, healthy, educated populace.  The vilification of one type of assistance (and one type of recipient) stems from misguided beliefs about the burden on society and fraud (vendors commit over 90% of the fraud in welfare eta: the number is 93% as per a study done in Mass.).  Who suffers? The Children.

Being poor, down on your luck, a mother, a woman…does not convey the right to police every decision and making broad assumptions about a woman using a “food stamp” is just asinine.  You can’t know her journey and you should know the alternative.

Formula Safety: 7 Tips To Minimize Risks

This week a new study was published in  Environmental Health Perspectives that found alarming levels of arsenic in baby formulas.  The amount of arsenic in one organic formula was 6 times the recommended threshold for adults. This is so distressing to a mom giving her baby formula (like I currently am).  You try to do the best for your baby and the industry just seems to totally fail us sometimes!


But this news is hardly exclusive as a reason to avoid formula.  There are all kinds of scary things going on in formula (bug parts anyone?) and the evidence that breastfeeding is so far superior from a health perspective is enough to make a mama scream!  Formula feeding is not always avoidable and until society puts a premium on milk bank breastmilk so that it is affordable many of us will be using formula.  Here are my 7 tips for avoiding the major risks of formula.

1. Don’t use soy formula.

I really feel soy formula should only be given by prescription.  It is horrible and only needed in less than 1% of babies (with a true milk allergy) and yet in the US up to 50% of babies are getting soy formula.  Unfortunately soy’s reputation as a health food makes conscientious parents think it is better than cow’s milk formula.  I avoid soy in all forms and if I must have some it must be organic.  Soy is the most genetically modified and heavily pesticide drenched crop in the world.  Besides that soy is naturally a phytoestrogen meaning it has a compound that mimics the hormone estrogen in the human body increasing rates of breast and ovarian cancers and causing infertility.
If your baby isn’t tolerating cow’s milk well it is to be expected since cow’s milk is not ideal for human digestion, however, your child is probably not allergic to milk.  Try a hydrolyzed formula instead (see #6).

2. Don’t use fluoridated water to make formula

Ever.  Reconstituted formula “contains 100 to 200 times more fluoride (1,000 ppb) than is found naturally in breast milk (5-10 ppb). In fact, while breast-fed infants receive the LOWEST body burden (mg/kg/day) in the population, they receive the HIGHEST body burden if they receive fluoridated formula(source).” Fluoride is a toxic substance that can cause tooth deformity (called fluorosis), cancers, and decreased cognitive skills in children.  Remember, even if you a pro-fluoride for tooth decay it is only beneficial when applied topically NOT when ingested.

The CDC has a website called My Water’s Fluoride where you can search for your city’s fluoride levels.  However, there didn’t seem to be any data for my state at all.  I did find Ohio Fluoridation levels with a Google Search. If you have well water have it checked for fluoride levels.  The levels could be low or high as it varies from well to well even in the same area. Get a reverse-osmosis or activated alumina water filter.  Your average Brita does not remove fluoride. Bottled water has fluoride in most cases.  Bottled spring water is best but just because it says “spring” on the label doesn’t mean it is from a spring.  Besides, bottled water creates a landfill nightmare.

3. Use organic formula if possible.

This avoids pesticides as well as genetically engineered products like High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  The recent arsenic scare was in organic formula using brown rice syrup so until better regulation I would avoid that ingredient.

4. Give a probiotic supplement.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help in digestion.  Babies get probiotics from their mother through vaginal birth and through breastfeeding. In formula fed babies the introduction of cow’s milk throws off the delicate balance of gut flora.  A probiotic introduces the good stuff.  I personally like Udo’s Infant Probiotic.

5. Give an omega-3 supplement.

Omega-3’s help the development of eyes, brain, and immune system and can also stabilize mood. I recommend a cod-liver oil and to avoid some of the junk on the market like Flinstones that have HFCS, artificial dyes and flavors, and less bio-available omega-3.  I use an adult norwegian cod-liver oil where I break the gel-caps and pour the liquid directly into the formula.

6. Consider hydrolyzed formula.

I don’t use this because there isn’t currently an organic option on the market but if your child is having trouble with regular formula this provides milk proteins that are pre-broken down and easier to digest.  There is even some evidence that are showing a long-term benefit of decreased allergies, asthma, and eczema when compared to whole-protein cow’s milk formula.

7. Practice gentle, responsive parenting.

This is good for the immune system and brain development two things that breastfed babies have a leg up on.  Practicing gentle and responsive parenting will bathe your baby in oxytocin the love hormone that breastfeeding releases.  This will enhance brain development and develop a wonderful attached relationship with your formula-fed baby.

My Month With Water Kefir


Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener and gentler. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Since becoming a SAHM I’ve been on a streak of introducing new, more natural and healthy, things into my diet.  For example I’m making my own laundry detergent, deodorant, toothpaste, and shampoo.  I even been washing my face with oil! I’ve also been making things from scratch like bread and healthy cookies.

There were a few things that just became incongruous in my lifestyle.  One, coloring my hair which I’ll talk about soon and two, drinking large quantities of Dr. Pepper.  If you “don’t like” pop (as we call it in the Midwest) and it is easy to stay away from it for you then I’m jealous.  Sometimes when I first wake up all I can think about is a Dr. Pepper.  I’m like a junkie.  Despite abstaining during my pregnancies I picked my habit back up with much glee each time.

Now, Aellyn wants drinks (she says “bites”) of mommy’s pop.  I know there is just no way to convince her forever to drink only water if I’m not doing the same.  Thing is I hate water.  I know, I know it doesn’t “taste like anything.”  I’ve heard it all before but the fact is I don’t like the way it does or does not taste.  I can have a drink to quench my thirst when I’m working out but I don’t like to drink it at other times.

I needed a healthier drink choice I could happily share with my daughter.

I first read about water kefir, also called tibicos, when I was researching making my own yogurt.  You may have heard of water kefir’s more famous sister milk kefir which is often just called kefir.

What is Water Kefir?

Kefir is a living product.  Like yogurt is a product of milk with bacterial colonization, kefir is a product of either milk or water colonized with a symbiotic community of bacteria AND yeast. They create a matrix that looks like little gelatinous crystals called kefir or tibi grains.  They are white but can take on the colors of the sugars they are cultured in.  Here is a good example of the difference between water kefir (l) and milk kefir (r).

Milk kefir eats lactose – the sugar in milk.  Water kefir eats sucrose or fuctrose – so it needs sugar or another type of sweet like molasses.  (note: although I’ve seen recepies online for honey – honey is technically antibiotic so it is generally NOT recommended).  If you give kefir food it will thrive and grow.

Why Water Kefir?

As a cultured, fermented food it provides beneficial probiotics.  Generally the probiotics of kefir are considered 10x as powerful as those of yogurts.  Also, as water kefir does not require any dairy it is one of the few fermented foods available to those who do not tolerate dairy or who are vegan.

Probiotics help you maintain a healthy gut flora which is so important for the whole immune system.

It is super cheap to make and is self-perpetuating.  Well cared for kefir grains multiply and the other ingredients you have right in you pantry.

You can learn more about water kefir here and here.

So How Do You Make Water Kefir?

Super easy!  You need:

  • 1/4 cup of water kefir grains
  • 1/4 cup of organic brown sugar
  • 4 cups of water
  • a wooden spoon
  • a glass mason jar
  • a non-metal strainer

It is important to not use purified water (because the kefir like the trace minerals in water) but also NOT to use chlorinated water.  So, if you have municipal water (and if you do, you aren’t drinking it anyways because of the fluoride, right? 🙂 ) you need to let the water sit out for 24 hours for the chlorine to evaporate.  Spring water is another option (but make sure it is spring water and not municipal water with the word “spring” on the label).

Step 1:  dissolve the sugar in the water.  I just stir it in but some people like to heat it up to really get it incorporated.  If you do heat it up make sure it cools completely before you introduce the living kefir grains. OPTIONALLY you can add dried fruit at this step which should be sulfur-free – available at most health food stores.  Apricots and Figs are popular ones.  I started with just the sugar.

Step 2:  pour in the kefir grains.

Step 3:  cover the jar with a lid or with a towel and rubberband.  I’m using the rubberband method.  It does not need to be airtight in this step

Step 4:  Allow the kefir to ferment for 24-48 hours.  Do a taste test.  If it is too sweet you can let it ferment for up to 6 days.  It seems people find there perfect time based on taste preference so you have to experiment.

Straining my kefir grains after 48 hours of fermentation

Step 5:  Strain the water to remove the grains, which are now ready for a second batch, into another jar that has a tight fitting lid.  In this next step you want to hold on to that CO2 so you want a lid that will hold that in.  A flip-cork style is best (see below).

Step 6:  Now you can add flavors!  Fruit juices, fruit, vanilla, ginger, the options are endless.  I’ll list my experiments below.

Step 7:  Allow this mixture to further ferment for 24 hours then drink!  You should have a light bubbly carbonation and a sweet and tangy drink.

Stumbling Along

I got my kefir grains in the mail 2 weeks before Christmas and immediately started my first batch!  The instructions that came with the grains mentioned that it can take the grains several fermentation cycles to acclimate to their new environment and I’ve found this to be true.  I don’t feel I’ve gotten much fermentation happening.  I feel like I’m drinking sugar water and don’t notice any carbonation.  I should taste a decreased sweetness but it has really been too sweet.

In my 3rd batch I put blueberries in the second fermentation and the next day poured out a gelatinous mixture.  I wish I had videoed it! lol.  It was like loose jello. Clearly something is going on, right?

This led me to research and this is when I learned about the chlorine problem and to not use metal utensils.  Sigh.  I’m not going to give up.

My next two batches were delicious.  I used raspberries and lemon in the second fermentation and made a delicious raspberry lemonade.  I’m still not feeling any carbonation but I might be expecting too much?  I’m going to keep at it.  Also, this week since I have been drinking this now for a while I stopped eating my daily yogurt to see if some of my previous intestinal problems would return (I have IBS) and they have not.  So, I feel that I’m at least getting the probiotics I would have gotten in yogurt.

My 2nd fermentation with raspberries and lemon (l) and my 1st fermentation (r) of the next batch

I’m still craving carbonation and I think I may have found an alternative solution to that but the water kefir tastes great and is another traditional, healthy food I can add to my diet!  I say, the experiment was definitely worthwhile!

Fermentationally yours,

Baby Dust

Have you tried kefir or water kefir?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Make your own moisturizer! — Megan at boho mama whips up a winter skin-friendly moisturizer.
  • Cold Water Only — Brittany at The Pistachio Project talks about how you do not need hot water to wash laundry.
  • Family Cloth… Really?? — After lots of forethought and consideration, Momma Jorje finally decides to take the plunge with family cloth.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : 5-5-5 Things A Day — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about decluttering her home in an attempt to create a gentler living space. She takes on a new project where she sets a goal of reducing, reusing and recycling every day.
  • Pros and cons of family cloth — Lauren at Hobo Mama would love to continue replacing paper products with family cloth … if she could only get over how damp she feels.
  • Craftily Parenting — Kellie at Our Mindful Life finds that crafting makes her a better parent.
  • Changes — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen couldn’t choose just one area to experiment with, so she wrote a long post about all the fun changes initiated in her life!
  • Life without Internet: Not all it’s Cracked up to Be — Adrienne at Mommying My Way tries to go a week without the Internet, only to realize a healthy dose of Internet usage really helps keep this stay-at-home mom connected.
  • My Progression to Raw Milk — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares her natural parenting progression all the way to trying raw milk.
  • mama’s new little friend. — Sarah at Bitty Bird tries a menstrual cup to “green her period,” and is pleasantly surprised when she falls in love with the product!
  • Before you throw it out, try homemade laundry soap! — Jennifer at Practical OH Mommy shows visual proof that homemade laundry soap is cheaper, easier, and works better than the store-bought chemicals!
  • Oil, Oil, No Toil, No Trouble — K from Very Simple Secret talks about her foray into the oil-cleansing method.
  • I Need a Hobby — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro couldn’t decide which experiment to run, so she did them all.
  • 7 days of macrobiotics for a balanced family — The Stones make a [successful] attempt to release the “holiday junking” with 7 days of macrobiotic meals to balance their bodies and souls. Elisabeth at Manic Mrs. Stone includes an explanation of macrobiotics.
  • Chemical Free Beauty Challenge — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction turned to natural alternatives for her daily beauty and cleaning routine, with great results.
  • Greening my Armpits!? My Green Resolution — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about how she decided to give up her traditional antiperspirant and make the switch over to crystal deodorants and definitely isn’t looking back!
  • Going Raw (for a while) — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares her family’s experience with raw food.
  • Do we get to eat gluten today? — Sheila at A Gift Universe has been trying to figure out if her son does better with or without gluten in his diet … but it’s really hard to tell for sure.
  • Hippies Can Smell and Look Fabulous Too! — Arpita of Up, Down And Natural details her experience of going shampoo-free and overhauling her cosmetics to find the balance between feeling beautifully fabulous and honoring her inner hippie.
  • Our cupboards are full…but there’s nothing to eat — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud takes on the challenge of chomping through the contents of her storecupboard rather than going shopping — but there’s something that she just can’t bring herself to do …
  • Elimination Experiment 3.0MudpieMama recounts the messy adventures of her baby daughter trying to be diaper free.
  • Family Cloth Trial — Amyables at Toddler in Tow talks about making and using family cloth wipes in the bathroom for the first time.
  • Taking a Hiatus — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares how her experience of much less internet interaction affected her family and how it will change her approach in the future.
  • Trying Out the Menstrual Cup — Lindsey at an unschooling adventure ditches the tampons and gives menstrual cups a try.
  • Managing Food Waste in Our Home — Tired of the holiday waste, Robbie at Going Green Mama takes a weeklong focus on reducing food waste in her home, and learns some lessons that can take her through the new year.
  • Going Offline, Cloth Tissues, and Simplicity — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses over her time away from blogging and social networking. In addition, she shares her newfound love of cloth tissues and simplicity.

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