Paleo update

Still sticking with paleo (I suppose you might call it “primal” as I still use a bit of butter on occasion), with auto-immune tweaks. My joints still hurt, but not as much as they did before I started this. Other benefits: I sleep better, waken refreshed, have more energy than I did, and am never hungry. In fact, I’m having trouble getting enough calories in.

I’m tracking my food and exercise at myfitnesspal.com and sometimes I have trouble reaching the “minimum” of 1200 calories — MFP warns me when I don’t, that I might send my body into starvation mode, where weight loss slows because the body is conserving all it can. I can go hours without eating, and without my blood sugar crashing. It’s a far cry from not so long ago, when I felt like I had to eat protein at least every three hours, or get the shakes. (Being off all caffeine may be helping, too.)

Anyhow, if you’re interested, here are a few websites to explore:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com

http://whole9life.com/
(This is the home of the Whole30, a kind of 30-day healthy-eating challenge)

http://robbwolf.com/

http://www.thepaleomom.com/
(check out her info about the autoimmune protocol)

http://autoimmune-paleo.com/

Next time, I’ll post some of my favorite paleo/primal recipe websites.

A new (to me) look at exercising

I was a runner at one time. I went from couch potato/non-athlete to runner when I joined the military and had to run a mile and a half in 12 minutes in order to graduate. In addition, there was an award you could earn if you ran an average of three miles a day during the training period, and that was motivating. After I graduated from training, I continued to run three to six miles a day. I was hooked on that runner’s high you hear about. It always took a mile of awfulness to reach it, though, no matter how fit I was. At about the three-quarter point I’d always feel like quitting, as if I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other to save my life, and yet I did. And then I’d hit the mile point, and all of a sudden it was effortless, I could run forever, I couldn’t feel my feet touching the ground — was I flying?

After the babies started coming I went from running to walking. I did a lot of walking, racking up Volkswalk kilometers every weekend. We had dogs all through the years, and the dogs needed walking.

And then, a few years ago, something happened. My knees went out on me. We completed a three-mile Volkswalk as a family, and by the last mile I was in agony. I haven’t Volkswalked since. I did a little walking (still with the dog) since then, anywhere from 1/4 mile to 2 miles a day, but my knees got really bad this spring, even with the water kefir, and now it’s a struggle to walk 1/4 mile. I walked half a mile this morning, and I think my knees are done for the day.

I’m still hoping this Paleo thing will help to restore my joints. Hoping. My elbows and fingers seem to be responding well, anyhow. Let’s hope the knees get the message.

Anyhow, I had read on some Paleo discussion board about someone my age whose knees had given out — did Paleo (or maybe it was Primal), eliminated inflammatory foods, and the knees came back (against all orthopedist’s predictions). That’s what I’m hoping for! I hadn’t been thinking about running again — I’d be happy just to walk, to be able to be on my feet most of the day and not hurt.

After reading this article this morning, I’m even more certain about not taking up running again. Who knew? I always thought I was doing my body a favor by running three to six miles a day…

A funny thing happened on the way to the meat counter…

I promised on another post earlier that I would tell you a funny thing that happened when I was passing through New Seasons on my way to the meat counter, to pick up more “stuff” to base paleo-style meals on.

A wine representative was offering tastes of his lovingly crafted red and white wines (I forget exactly what they were — Pinot? Shiraz? Chardonnay? Since I didn’t taste any of them I really wasn’t paying attention.). Eldest was with me, and stopped to ask for a taste. The man offered me a tasting glass as well, and I said no-but-thank-you, I was trying to follow the Paleo autoimmune protocol.

…upon which he laughed and said he was following Paleo himself, had been since January, and had noticed a huge difference in how well he felt after just five days! He was telling me about this book he’d read, to start off, and in the last chapter “the guy says he knows you’re not going to be able to stick to such a strict diet, and so he allows two glasses of wine a night…”

I told him I knew exactly what book he was talking about, as I had just finished reading that book myself. It’s Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution (affiliate link, just so you know — if you click on it and buy the book I get a little pocket money, and thanks! If you don’t, no biggie).

Another man was passing us, browsing the smoked salmon and pre-packaged bacon, and turned to ask, “Who allows two glasses of wine a night?”

The wine seller told him, and he excitedly said, “I’m doing Paleo, too!” The two of them immediately began enthusing about the benefits they’d reaped and comparing notes about how to “do” Paleo.

I felt as if I’d joined some sort of secret club or something. Honestly, all I need is a sign and countersign (oh, maybe I already have one) and just add a secret handshake and I’m in business.

If it’s a bandwagon, well, I’m glad I’ve jumped on. Feeling better every day. These Paleo people are on to something.

Make that: We Paleo people are on to something.

Night and Day

I can’t believe the difference.

Yesterday I could barely move my left leg. Walking around Costco and Trader Joe’s was more of a shuffle than a walk, and worse than that, it was agony to get in and out of the car. The right knee, oddly enough, was working much better than the left. (I say “oddly enough” because it’s the right knee that I kept re-injuring over the past two weeks. Every time it would start to get better, I would catch my foot and trip on something and the healing process would have to begin again.)

You might or might not recall that I’ve been eating Paleo/primal style for the past three weeks in a desperate effort to find relief for my painful knees and joints. For some reason, the water kefir that had been keeping me pain free over the past year wasn’t working anymore.

I had a big dose of nightshades (tomato and peppers) in Monday night’s dinner — was that enough to cripple me on Tuesday? Could be. I was very careful yesterday, avoided all semblance of nightshade (tomato, peppers, paprika, eggplant — which I can take or leave, but the other stuff appears regularly on our table), and woke up this morning in much less pain. Got in and out of the car this morning without a twinge. There’s still a little pain there, in both knees, a sort of underlying barely noticeable occasional ache, but nothing like yesterday, and all the other joints seem to be humming along nicely, which they weren’t, not exactly, yesterday.

Coincidence?

Just in case, I’m going to be avoiding tomatoes, peppers, and paprika today as well, to see if the improvement continues.

Paleo tweaks

Found a great tweak to my go-to coleslaw recipe. Coleslaw is my favorite way to eat cabbage, although the stir-fry cabbage I made last week was pretty amazing. (This, from someone who had a sort of okay-I’ll-eat-it-because-it’s-a-vegetable-and-vegetables-are-supposed-to-be-good-for-you attitude.) The coleslaw sauce recipe came out of a gluten-free cookbook, and was so simple to remember: equal parts mayonnaise, sugar, and white vinegar, whisked together. I ‘d add a pinch of salt and a little white pepper to that. Creamy coleslaw perfection.

Okay, so how to make this Paleo friendly? Homemade mayo, check. Raw apple cider vinegar, check. Sugar?

I thought about stevia, but didn’t really want to go there. My past experience experimenting with the stuff didn’t seem too promising for this recipe.

Trying to go completely sugar free… but finally broke down (don’t want the cabbage in the fridge to go moldy from sitting there) and tried honey in the recipe today, as in (for a wedge of cabbage, shredded)

1 TBS mayo
1 TBS raw apple cider vinegar
1 TBS raw honey

It made for a flavorful dressing — didn’t even need the salt and pepper. The honey was very strong, and can probably be cut down to a teaspoon or a little more. And of course I’m not eating as much honey as is there in the sauce because when the coleslaw is gone, there’s still sauce left on the plate. So while it’s not exactly cutting out sugar, it is cutting way down, and substituting raw honey (which has its own health benefits).

You can read on, or ignore the rest, which is mainly medical musing and a little background as to why I’m doing this “Paleo” way of eating, or trying to, anyhow.

***

Feeling my way here… I’ve been in a lot more pain lately, over and above (don’t you love redundancy?) what the water kefir has been suppressing…

(Digression: How do I know what the water kefir is suppressing? Because of what happens when I don’t drink it, if I didn’t get around to harvesting the latest brew and due to our busy schedule, have to run out the door without my morning cuppa.)

Anyhow, have begun trying to eat according to “Paleo autoimmune” guidelines, more than I was when I was just following Paleo guidelines. Something that I hadn’t cut out before were the nightshades (specifically tomatoes and peppers — I can take or leave eggplant), nuts, and eggs. The earlier stuff involved in transitioning to Paleo-style eating as defined by Robb Wolf  and other people I’ve been “listening to” (as in, reading books and websites), well, that wasn’t so hard, considering that our kitchen has been gluten-free for over a year now, and over the past months I’ve been experimenting with dairy alternatives as well.

As a matter of fact, I had been eating a lot more eggs lately, especially since cutting out GF oatmeal and other GF grains. Eggs are relatively cheap protein, and since we get free-range eggs from friends with chickens they ought to be fairly healthy. However, the increase in joint pain this past week makes me wonder — am I reacting to the increase in eggs in my diet?

Need to get a handle on this so I can function again. In case I didn’t mention it before, I tried the medical route the last time my joints, especially my knees, were this painful. All the doctor wanted to do was throw — what are they called? NSAIDs? — drugs at the problem to mask the pain, and then when the damage had progressed far enough do knee replacement surgeries.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the medical people are out there and available with some sort of “solution.” I’d just like to avoid drugs (I looked up the side effects of what he prescribed. Scary.) and surgery if at all possible. I thought that the water kefir would be enough — it was enough, for months. But something has changed and so I’m changing my attack plan.

If something in my diet is causing the pain, and it’s as simple as changing my diet to eliminate the pain (or cut it way down to manageable levels once more), well then, I’d much rather do that than take pills which significantly increase my possibility of stroke and heart attack and I forget what else.

Have been egg-free for only a day — oops, no I haven’t. Mayo has egg in it. Will have to investigate homemade eggless mayo, if such a thing is possible.

Sigh. And yet, it’ll be worth it, if it works.

Selah

According to Wikipedia:

Selah (Hebrew: סֶלָה‎, also transliterated as selāh) is a word used 74 times in the Hebrew Bible that means GOD HAS SPOKEN.  – it used 71 times in the Psalms and three times in Habakkuk  – and is a difficult concept to translate. (It should not be confused with the Hebrew word sela‘ (Hebrew: סֶלַע‎) which means “rock.”) It is probably either a liturgico-musical mark or an instruction on the reading of the text, something like “stop and listen”. Selah can also be used to indicate that there is to be a musical interlude at that point in the Psalm. The Amplified Bible translates selah as “pause, and think of that”. It can also be interpreted as a form of underlining in preparation for the next paragraph.

I used to wince at red lights. Okay, I’d more than wince. I’d complain, usually inwardly, but sometimes aloud. “Oh, no!” you’d hear me say. “Not another red light!” And truthfully, sometimes it seemed (or seems) that I’d hit one red light after another. “These lights are so badly timed,” I’d grouse. I’d fret about poor fuel efficiency. I’d worry about being — not just late, but — later.

I have a bad habit of being too much of an optimist, not allowing extra time in transit for such things as red lights, construction, traffic jams, and that’s the kind of thing that makes you late. I’m getting better…

Anyhow, back to the topic at hand. One day, while sitting at a red light, it came to me. Stewing was a poor use of my time. Did it get me anything? (Other than aggravated, that is.) No. Obviously.

What if I were to use red lights profitably? How could I use them profitably?

Give thanks in all things. While it may seem silly to you, it came to me (while sitting at a red light) that I could be using red lights as a time to praise. To meditate on Scripture. To contemplate my blessings. To give thanks. (See 1 Thess. 5:18 and Eph. 5:20)

The idea of “selah” seemed to fit. I’d heard a definition of “selah” in a sermon some time ago; the preacher had called it a time to pause and reflect on what had just been said (in the Psalm we were reading), or the deep breath before the dive into the next section, or both.

Practicing “selah-ness” at red lights has totally changed my driving attitude. Now instead of an “oh, no!” reaction to a yellow light announcing a red soon to follow, I (usually) am reminded that God is there in the midst of my busyness, my hurry. It’s a sort of tug on my spirit, a signal to slow down and think about what’s really important.

I’m sure it’s done my blood pressure some good, too.

HM Review: My Home School Grades

Note: Our family received a free subscription to My Home School Grades for this review. Opinions are our own. No other compensation was involved.

To start with, I have to admit that I find transcripts terrifying and the idea of assigning grades, much less keeping track of them, paralyzing. There’s something intimidating about writing it all down. My early homeschool record-keeping took place in fits and starts, books read, narrations, things checked off a list. I can’t tell you how many times I started with the best of intentions, only to sputter out a few weeks into the process. If you were to look at my records, you’d wonder about our girls’ education.

Standardized test scores say they were/are getting some kind of education. The younger two have tested at the top of the scale over the years. (Youngest’s final state-mandated test is coming up next year, and she’s very happy to see the end in sight.) Eldest is special needs and always struggled with academics. Frankly, I didn’t worry too much about a transcript for her. Just learning as much as possible was a good goal.

Transcripts — the “love language” of colleges (Lee Binz)

I attended an online seminar in creating transcripts, taught by Lee Binz. One of the things she said that struck me is that transcripts are really the way that you communicate with a college that might be considering your student for admission.

Granted, none of ours are interested in college right now. They hear about massive college debt, for one thing, and people having trouble finding jobs even with college degrees. None of them is interested in being a doctor, lawyer, or engineer at this point in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not aimless drifters with no plans for the future. It’s just that their plans don’t necessarily require four more years of academic studies.

Still, they might choose to go to college someday. Add to that, they have been learning an awful lot over the years, of history, geography, literature, science, and yes, even math. I think they could hold their own against their peers. It seems a disservice, not to document their learning somehow, and portfolios and transcripts are the current way to do that.

What I needed was something easy to use, intuitive, that would lead me gently by the hand despite my intimidation.

Enter My Home School Grades

Okay, more True Confession time here. I did not volunteer to do this review. (Did you know that oftimes reviewers volunteer/beg/plead/submit requests for review products?) I said I’d help out if another reviewer was needed. I really would have preferred, ostrich-like, to have kept my head buried in the sand for another few months of blissful ignorance.

(Do you know how hard it is to put a transcript together from fading memory?)

Of course, the Lord knew what I needed, even though it was not what I wanted. He knew that I had been slipshod in keeping records, and that putting together a transcript for Middlest to graduate in a couple of years would have been even more agonizing than pulling together her records right now.

When I received the link to My Home School Grades with word that I had been picked to review the program, I dutifully signed up for an account — easy! — and started to play around a bit. I entered information for all three of the girls, added a few classes, thought about activities, exited the program, and managed to forget about it until the review deadline was looming.

In the meantime, I took Lee Binz’ online transcripts class, which helped a lot with some of my confusion. (Like, how do you record high school level work done earlier than 9th grade? How do you record college-level work done in high school? How do you actually assign credits for work? How do you figure out grades?) Which means, when I finally got back to My Home School Grades I was a little more confident. I added in lots more classes, a whole slew of activities — volunteering, choir, that sort of thing), even… gasp… assigned grades.

User helps — such as video tutorials

Mind you, I did all this without even checking out the tutorial videos available on the site. I was able to use the site without the tutorials — the whole thing is pretty intuitive. However, I found (afterward) that the videos are very helpful and gave me a much better idea of the scope of this simple-seeming program. It’s amazing how much you can do!

The tutorials currently available show you how to add a student, a class, or activity, and how to generate a transcript from the information you add. You can watch them at theMy Home School Grades website to get a better idea of the program.

Powerful features

For such a simple-seeming program, My Homeschool Grades offers a variety of features. You can keep a record of your child’s learning from kindergarten through grade 12 (and beyond, with community college dual enrollment). There are several options for adding a class. The lesson plan option allows you to choose a particular curriculum (in which case lessons are automatically added) or a custom curriculum (which allows you to create your own lesson plan).

As you can see from the figure above, the program allows you to use weighted grading, in an easy, visual format.

You can also add classes that receive an overall letter grade or pass-fail mark, and there’s an option for indicating dual-enrollment where college and high school credit are earned at the same time.

Adding activities uses the same method as adding classes — drop down menus, intuitive visual feel. In this way, you can document volunteer work, extracurricular activities, choir, band, sports, 4H, and more. You can choose to include these on a transcript, or leave them off, but in any event, you have a record of activities on file. 

Transcript creation, at the click of a button

 Well, it’s just a little more complicated than that. After all, you have to enter all the information that’s going to appear on the transcript. What My Home School Grades does is arrange it all in a professional-looking format. It looks something like this on the screen:

Click the “Print” button to print out a copy. You have the option of adding the graduation date and the student’s SSN to the transcript before printing; however, this information is not stored. (I really like that the SSN is not stored!)

 

Ordering details

My Homeschool Grades is offering a 14-day free trial, so I urge you to check it out for yourself. A lifetime membership is $49.99 and covers all the students in your family. No matter where you are in your homeschool journey, convenient, efficient record-keeping is just a few mouse clicks away.

 

Glad it’s Friday!

Coming off a nasty cold (as is Middlest — I think I caught hers). Finally feeling some energy again. So, today will be something of a catchup day. I have to be careful not to overdo and consequently relapse. Add to that the fact that it’s so chilly, it’s hard to stay warm short of turning the heat on again. (And we did turn the heat on earlier in the week, funny thing to do in May but when you have sick people, you’ve got to keep them warm!)

The weather all week has been more like March than May. After the summery weather early in the month, we were all ready for summer, but summer, it seems, is not quite ready for us…

Have you been reading the 30 Day organizing series at The Happy Lil Homemaker? I just stumbled across it this morning. Just might be the thing for the month of June. Will let you know.

Thankfulness

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thess. 5:16-18 ESV
 It’s not always the easiest thing to do. Grumbling for some reason is much easier than gratitude. “Counting your curses instead of your blessings” is what we call it around here, or rather, when in the middle of Attitude Adjustment, it’s in the form of an admonition to count your blessings, instead of your curses.
I’ve been pretty grumbly at times today. We need a new roof, and there’s water damage in the living room that may or may not come from the old roof. We’re hoping that it won’t be serious in the end, but we won’t know until they tear off the old roof and see what’s there to see. I could go on and on, but I won’t.
You see, we are so blessed, so very blessed, that we don’t even know how blessed we are. How many people are out there with no roof, or dirt floors, or a whole family crammed into a room or two, or not enough to eat? And here we are, grumbling about our not-perfect house, or an annoying sister, or plans that aren’t shaping up exactly the way we want them to. Not to mention our own shortcomings, the things that didn’t get done today because of our (poor) choices.
No. Not going there. I’m going to concentrate on blessings right now. I can hear the Giant Schnoz enthusiastically gulping her dog food after ignoring it all day. (A little kombucha was all she wanted. Guess she was feeling grumbly, too.) Dinner will be quick and easy tonight — crepes. Just whip them up in the blender and start frying, one by one, and top with powdered sugar and lemon juice and roll them up. Church meeting tonight to talk about the possibility of a new pastor, after our church has been in limbo for many months.
(Still counting blessings… the interim pastor has been a gift of God, a shepherd who loves the sheep he’s been given to guide through a difficult time, who has brought healing with his wise and understanding heart.)
Anyhow, am going to keep on counting those blessings and more, even after I finish up here and post this.
How many blessings can you name today?

Cool!

The last speech and debate qualifier tournament is now officially behind us. There were five qualifiers over the season, and we went to every one. In case you were wondering, the “qualifier” means that if you have a winning record at a tournament, you get an invitation (or qualify) to compete in the regional competition. Middlest and her debate partner qualified four times over, and learned valuable lessons in the tournament where they did not qualify. A winning record, in case you were wondering, is winning at least four out of six debate rounds. There’s also a deal where you can win three and lose three and still qualify if the judges give you high points for your speaking skills, but I don’t really know how that works.

We traveled all over the region to these tournaments. Well, not quite “all.” There wasn’t a tournament in California, but there were tournaments in each of the other states in the region. Our shortest drive was about 40 minutes, the longest took the better part of a day.

We were blessed to have “host housing” when we traveled out of town. This is where people open their homes to far-from-home students and their families. Some of the hosts have students who are competing, but this wasn’t the case in three of the four homes where we stayed. Some were church friends, some had been involved in speech and debate but their children had graduated, and the last family we stayed with were homeschool graduates themselves, and had competed in speech and debate in the early days of the NCFCA!

Not only do I find homeschool graduates encouraging, I find a lot of them amazing, and this young family fit into that category.

They apologized for the fancy car parked in front of their house. (I hadn’t even noticed the car — in our neighborhood, other people park in front of our house all the time. Makes it hard to find parking sometimes.) They wanted us to know that they weren’t the kind of status-seekers who go into big debt to buy an impressive car; they had won the car in a contest.

I’ve never known somebody who won a car in a contest before. Amazing.

They showed us the ad with them and the car. Not only did they win a car in a contest, but they won a car in a contest in Rolling Stone magazine, and went to the Grammy awards, and were featured in a full-page ad in the magazine. The photo they submitted for the contest was on their refrigerator, and I can see why it caught editors’ attention: The family business is zipline gear, and their Christmas card photo (the one on the fridge) shows the mom dangling upside down from a zipline, calmly kissing her hubby while the little kids hang around in helmets and zipline harnesses (not literally hanging from the zipline, I mean, just casually standing around looking preschool cool).

Now, we were told repeatedly that host families only provide a spot to sleep. You might very likely have to bring your own sleeping bags and be prepared to camp out on the floor, or a sofa, or a blow-up mattress. Host families might provide refrigerator space (we always asked for this as we are gluten free) but they don’t, as a rule (this was emphasized to us when we were learning about the host housing option), provide any meals.

These guys had been to tournaments; they knew what we were facing: grueling 14-hour days, a 40 minute drive from their house to the school where the tournament was held, leaving before 7 and getting back late. The mom baked a huge batch of gf muffins the day we arrived, one big bowl of dairy-free and one big bowl with dairy. She used a Pamela’s mix as a base for her muffin recipe. I’d never eaten Pamela’s products before. Let me tell you, those muffins were delicious. She also set up a French press before she went to bed each night, and a teakettle full of water waited on the stove when I got up, which meant all I had to do was turn on the stove on my way to the bathtub, and pour the boiling water into the French press on my way back to the spare room where we were bunking in. Coffee and muffins and even yogurt for breakfast, perfect for a quick starter.

They also fed us dinner after our long drive to get there, the day before the tournament began. What a treat! It was good, too, roast chicken and cottage potatoes and fresh green beans, pretty similar to the way we cook at our house. They have gluten-free family members as well, so they understood our constraints and concerns.

Oh, and that spare room? No sleeping on the floor, no, the two girls shared a futon and we parents had an inflated mattress, and our host family provided bedding and towels, what luxury!

Probably the best part of our stay were the conversations. The evening we arrived, we talked over chocolate and tea, a wide range of subjects, from ziplines to adventure movies to literature to homeschooling. The talk was lively and interesting — and so was the early morning conversation I enjoyed with the little ones as I poured out the coffee, peeled hard-boiled eggs and set out muffins on plates. With Youngest being 14, I miss those childish insights in the morning. (Of course, when I was a younger mom, I didn’t really appreciate them, being desperate for more sleep and wondering just how a child who’d been up and singing in her bed at midnight could be so bright and chatty at six a.m….)

Anyhow, it was a good trip, and now I’m in full-blown catch-up mode. So I’m going to have to cut this off short today. Hope to see you again in a day or two! Thanks for listening.