Book Review: The Serotonin Power Diet

March 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Last week I was doing some reading about weight loss while breastfeeding. There is a common misconception that breastfeeding promotes weight loss. It turns out this isn’t the case, at least for many women. Prolactin, one of the primary breastfeeding hormones, actually slows the metabolism of fat (Source). I’ve gained weight myself since giving birth nearly 15 months ago. My particular weight gain situation is compounded by a medication as well. The SSRI I take for my anxiety and depression has a side-effect of weight gain for many people. All of my family members have gained weight from taking anti-depressants, so it isn’t a surprise that I would as well.

When I attempted to wean off my medication three years ago, I dropped the weight quickly, but I also descended into a dark, suicidal hell. Those who love me agree that my will to live is much more important than being thin. Initially my medication-induced weight gain translated to being approximately 20-30 lbs heavier than I was pre-SSRI. With my added weight gain from pregnancy and breastfeeding, I am now approximately 60 lbs heavier than I was for most of my life.

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With my 2nd baby in 2007 and then 2016

Book Giveaway: The Castaways

April 6, 2016 at 11:08 pm

We have learned much about life after death. Sarah Hinze leads us into the next great area of research–the study of where we come from. -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

882979_10151546239626900_978963262_oThree years ago I gave away three copies of The Memory Catcher, Sarah Hinze’s remarkable memoir. For over twenty-five years, Sarah has conducted extensive research and thousands of interviews related to near death, prebirth and other spiritual phenomena. She has presented her work in several books, at workshops, seminars, conferences, and on radio shows and television shows. Last month, Sarah traveled to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women with the Big Ocean delegation to share her research. While there, she gave away over 150 copies of the revised and updated 15th Anniversary edition of her important book, The Castaways.

About The Castaways, Sarah explains:

Fifteen years ago my husband and I wrote a book called The Castaways. Since that time almost 10,000 copies have gone worldwide to teach people about the spiritual implications of abortion and that some souls who are aborted may return and be granted another opportunity for earth life.

5 Fixes for Fussiness

March 2, 2016 at 9:24 am

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Little Miss Hope has been the fussiest of my newborns, or “fuzzy” as my 5-year-old says. While I wouldn’t call it full-fledged colic, it has been pretty stressful for us. For the first month+ of her life, she was often unhappy. During those fussy periods, she would usually protest if I tried to nurse her. She wouldn’t take a pacifier. Being in someone’s arms wasn’t usually enough to soothe her, and neither was rocking. When all else failed, bouncing on our birth ball would at least soothe her to some extent.

Tinker Crate Review

November 18, 2015 at 6:27 am

Back in September, before we had even pulled our kids out of school, I started perusing homeschool stuff on Pinterest. I think that’s where I first heard about Tinker Crate. After we officially started homeschooling, I spent even more time on Pinterest adding things to my “Homeschooling” board. Truly I don’t know how anyone did homeschool before Pinterest. There are so many amazing and free resources out there. Thank you, interwebs! I love that we can all have access to and benefit from the ingenious ideas of people all over the world. I knew that I wanted our homeschool experience to include lots of hands-on learning, so I knew Tinker Crate was something I wanted to “pin” for future reference.

tinkercrateBasically, Tinker Crate offers a monthly subscription for hands-on learning projects for kids. The company creating these projects has crates for several age groups: Koala Crate (for ages 3-4) and Kiwi Crate (for ages 5-8). Tinker Crate (science, technology, and engineering projects) and Doodle Crate (arts and crafts projects) are for ages 9-16+. These kits are great for anyone, not just homeschoolers. (p.s. They didn’t ask me to do this review. One of my FB friends did.)

I have children ranging in age from 4 to 12, but I wanted the projects to be challenging for the older kids, and I felt like my building-all-the-time 6-year-old was beyond what the Kiwi Crate offered. So, after finding a Pinterest coupon code for 30% off my first order, I went ahead and took the Tinker Crate plunge. Since then we have received two Tinker Crate projects in the mail.

Is Play the Cure?

October 12, 2015 at 12:12 am

Over the past few weeks, I have devoured Peter Gray’s Free to Learn, a book recommended by one of my readers. Gray is a psychology research professor at Boston College, author, blogger, and a parent. I added that last title because parenthood has a huge impact on how people view children and education. This point was made almost humorous in The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn who cited example after example of teachers who revised their homework policies after their own children began bringing homework home. This particular passage is underlined and surrounded by stars in my copy of Kohn’s book:

“Now that I’m a parent myself,” one fourth grade teacher in North Carolina said, “I realize they have lives at home” (The Homework Myth, p. 23).

freetolearnHa ha! I realize they have lives at home. Cracks me up every time. So it was important to me that Free to Learn‘s author Peter Gray was a father himself in addition to being an “expert.” In fact, the first words of his book come straight out of one of his most painful challenges as a fatherthe day his nine-year-old son told him to “Go to hell” as they sat in the school principal’s office. Gray explained:

We were there to present a united front, to tell Scott in no uncertain terms that he must attend school and must do there whatever he was told by his teachers to do. We each sternly said our piece, and then Scott, looking squarely at us all, said the words that stopped me in my tracks (p. ix).

Both Gray and his wife immediately began to cry, and in that moment they both knew what they had to do. They pulled him out of the school, and “not just from that school but from anything that was anything like that school” (p. x). Free to Learn presents educational history and research through the lens of Gray’s own experience as a father striving to provide his son with a learning environment suited to his needs.

My New Favorite Dairy Products

September 17, 2015 at 8:45 pm

When I was living with my mom between the ages of eight and eleven, I had one primary complaint about going with her to the grocery store. It took for-ev-er. My mom moves at a slow pace in general, but what made these trips exceptionally long was that she looked at the label on ev-ry-thing. At the time I was impatient and annoyed, but now (as we often do) I’ve become that mom myself. The more health-conscious I’ve become, the more I care about just what the manufacturers put in that “sour cream.” Thank you, Daisy brand, for limiting the ingredient(s) to just one.

I know I’m not alone in this. I’d wager that if you’re reading my blog you probably have similar concerns about what’s in your food. Last year I took those concerns to a crazy-intense obsessive-compulsive level, so I have had to make an effort to consciously avoid looking at every label for the past year. But as much as I try not to be obsessive about it, I do still care about what’s in our food.

I like to buy organic, but it’s not always available or affordable for us. So the next best thing, in my mind, is to find the products with the least number of ingredients… preferably all things I can pronounce and recognize as “safe.” For years I bought Breyers “natural” vanilla ice cream for this reason. Among the varieties available at our local grocer it had the fewest and least suspect components. Then I tried Haagen-dazs vanilla. So not cheap, but oh my gosh it tasted light-years better than Breyers and had even fewer ingredients (cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract). It’s really creamy and delicious, but I always kind of feel a little guilty supporting a Nestle product. My dad swears Tillamook “old-fashioned” vanilla is the absolute best vanilla on the planet, but I can’t get past the label. At least they’re working on transitioning to a recipe without Carageenan, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, and Polysorbate 80 early next year.

School Battles: Kids’ Feelings Matter

September 15, 2015 at 8:44 pm

My 6-year-old gave me a heart attack this morning. I went into his room, as usual, to wake him up for school, but he was gone. At first I thought, “Cool, he’s already up! I don’t have to drag him out of bed.” But when I couldn’t find him anywhere in the house, I had a mild freak out. Logically, I should have known he was somewhere in the house. All the doors were locked. But I still went into a panic, frantically calling his name as I searched, convinced someone had somehow entered our home and stolen our son. I enlisted the help of my older daughters and dialed my husband’s cell number. But my 9-year-old knew just where to look.

Under the bed. There he was. Hiding. The first words out of his mouth:

“I don’t want to go!”

Even as he dressed himself and finally came out for breakfast, he repeated, “I don’t like school!” His sister promptly told him, “No one likes school!” As we sat in traffic, driving to the dreaded locale (since we missed the bus… again), he said, “Mom, I feel sick.” I knew he wasn’t physically ill. I dropped him off, and all the way home I started composing this blogpost in my head.

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Book Review: Walking with the Women of the New Testament

December 14, 2014 at 11:53 pm

In October I received a free review copy (from Cedar Fort Publishing) of the book Walking with the Women of the New Testament, by Heather Farrell ( beautiful art by Mandy Jane Williams). I knew right off the bat that my review would be biased. Heather Farrell and I, along with Felice Austin, Robyn Allgood, and Sheridan Ripley, co-wrote The Gift of Giving Life from 2009 until it was published in 2012.

Meeting in-person for the first time in summer of 2010

Meeting in-person for the first time in summer of 2010

I found Heather’s blog Women in the Scriptures back in 2009 doing an internet search about Eve. After clicking around on her blog and devouring a bunch of her posts, I told Felice, “We need her!” Not long after that, we invited her to join with us in writing The Gift of Giving Life. Over the course of the project, we eventually all met in person. I adore Heather Farrell.

Mother-Daughter Book Recommendations

March 3, 2014 at 12:24 am

Last night I finished another book with my two older daughters (ages 8 and 10). My husband and I take turns reading to them at night (different books). After finishing the Chronicles of Narnia with them, my husband moved on to the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I married a fantasy fan. I, on the other hand, have been sharing books with strong, brave young females as their main characters. The last three we have read have been really different from each other, but all such wonderful books.

I thought I’d share a few thoughts about each of them here in case you’re looking for some mother-daughter reading material.

81b3VP92QjLRonia, the Robber’s Daughter, by Astrid Lindgren

I got this book for my second daughter for Christmas. We started reading it together Christmas night. When it began with a woman in labor on the very first page, I was sold. Especially when I saw these words:

“The fact was that Lovis liked to sing while she was having her baby. It made things easier, she insisted, and the baby would probably be all the jollier if it arrived on earth to the sound of a song.”

If I ever give birth again, I’m totally singing my baby out (see why HERE). This book is masterfully written. A beautiful coming-of-age story with strong themes of friendship, family, and forgiveness. It’s the kind of book where you feel like crying when it ends because you’ve grown to love the characters so much.

Magnesium for Healthier Moms and Babies

February 28, 2014 at 11:00 pm

My brother and his wife came into town and visited us on Monday. My brother mentioned that he was having horrible neck pain. “Magnesium!!” I yelled at him as I slathered his neck and shoulder with magnesium oil cream and spray.

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It’s been several years since I read The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. But I was skimming through it the other day and came upon the chapter about magnesium’s impact on pregnancy-related issues and early infancy. I shared some of this info in my 2010 blogpost “Magnesium for Pregnancy and Beyond,” but I felt impressed to share a bit more today. I’ve got a lot to do today, so I’m going to be lazy and just quote Dr. Carolyn Dean.

Soothe Your Life with Magnesium

February 24, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I’ve been in love with magnesium for years. Several months ago I stumbled on a website where a lady mentioned a brand of magnesium oil I’d never heard of… Magnesoothe [now called Mg12], sourced from the Dead Sea. She said it was the most effective magnesium oil she had ever used, and she 10386777_946446232048628_8039968799941556132_nhad used several of the other brands available. That totally caught my interest. And I thought it couldn’t hurt to contact the company and see if they ever send samples for bloggers to review. It was perfect timing ’cause they had just discussed doing that very thing in a recent company meeting. A few days later I received my samples in the mail.

Before I get to my review of these products, I want to touch briefly on some of the benefits of using magnesium topically.

Gifts that Heal

December 12, 2013 at 6:10 am

A few weeks ago, a friend showed up at my door with a giant stalk of brussels sprouts from Trader Joe’s… like this…

brussels

It was a healing gift for a number of reasons… 1) Because there’s something very heart-warming about having another person “get you” well enough to know exactly what would make your day, and 2) Because brussels sprouts are healing in and of themselves.

I love gifts that heal. They’re the best kind.

Here are some more healing gift ideas…

Windows to the Womb

June 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I’ve had this book sitting on my desk for a couple of months now, skimming select portions off and on, researching specific topics. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to just start at the beginning and read it, but I plopped myself down on the grass in my backyard this morning and started. It only took a few pages before I was smitten. (And nobody’s paying me to say that. I got the book from the library.)

Written by David Chamberlain, PhD, it delves into the fascinating research now available in the field of prenatal and perinatal psychology. Mothering Magazine celebrated Dr. Chamberlain as a “Living Treasure” in 2003, and he was honored in 2007 at the Gentle Birth World Conference, receiving the Mother Goose Award for his work with mothers and babies. Dr. Chamberlain also happens to be a fan of my mentor Sarah Hinze‘s work, and he has included several stories from Sarah’s pre-birth experience research in Windows to the Womb.

“Babies have taught me a lot, as I have been privileged to listen to their deep memories. As a psychotherapist, I am especially aware of the need to create babies that are mentally and physically healthy in order to have a world that is healthy and peaceful. Babies are the key to the future of the world” (David Chamberlain, Windows to the Womb, preface).

OK, I’m off to read some more. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review when I’ve finished reading.

Meditation as Medicine

May 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Last October, my friend Felice started teaching meditation webinars. I had been battling anxiety/depression for months. Felice had been trying to get me meditating for years. I figured, “Hey, it couldn’t hurt to try.” The week I started meditating with her was the week I started to feel like myself again. Coincidence? Perhaps. A lot of things had shifted in my life at that time. But the more I learn about meditation, the more I want to meditate.

Last week a reader recommended the book Meditation as Medicineby Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., when I wrote about my panic attack. I checked it out from my local library and started reading it yesterday. I wish I could just sit and read this book all day. I love the author’s writing/teaching style.

I’ve been learning a lot lately about the healing power of sound (see here and here).  So I’ve been seeing the world through that lens, frequently asking myself, “What sounds am I hearing? Do they feel good to me?” Interestingly enough, yesterday in the car, my daughter said (completely out of the blue), “This song sounds evil.” I changed the station!

I particularly like this quote from the preface of Healing at the Speed of Sound:

“When we speak of being of ‘sound mind and body,’ we seldom realize that sound itself is the root of being. That sound itself is the route to acquire those things we want so much, a sound mind and body.”

Panic

May 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Last night I felt something unwelcomely (is that a word?) familiar.

Panic.

And the fact that I was feeling panic made me panic even more. Ack.

People tell me, “Everyone has ups and downs,” but this is different. Once you’ve felt it, you’ll never mistake it for “normal.”

Coincidentally, I received a copy of a book in the mail yesterday called Pros of Prozac by Beca Mark. About the book:

Beca Mark wished she could have found this book when hopelessly struggling with depression and anxiety after having her first child.

She takes you on a heartfelt journey and shares how healing only came when combining a daily Prozac prescription with a commitment to be her best self.

By sharing faith-based, personal details about her life, she hopes to soften the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness, shedding a more positive light on these issues. 

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