Saturday, May 30, 2009

Calculated Risks and an Unexpected Reward


Today I was feeling strong and well enough after my recent histamine attack to take my children to a "Safe Kids" Fair in the neighboring town. We got an ad for it that mentioned they would give away 200 free bike helmets. My 7 year-old son really wanted one (that's him in the picture with his little sister). I have been so sick lately and haven't done any outings that I felt this would be great, since it was free, fun, and close by, and would win points with my son if he got a helmet.

This one of those outings where I knew we should have left earlier to get in line, but I wanted to get certain things done before we left. As we were leaving I had all these thoughts like, "Are you sure you don't want to bring the stroller?" "What if the three-year-old gets tired of walking?" "Should I carry my bag so that I have my water and tissues close by?" "If you take the stroller then you will have a place to hang your bag." "Are you sure you are up to all this walking (being hugely pregnant and just recovered from an illness)?" "What if the two little ones (ages 3 and 4) have a potty accident?" "Are you sure you don't want to take sunblock?" A mother of young children taking them on an outing must go through more decisions and make more calculated risks than a general going into battle.

Then I had to figure out where to park and then find the gathering. Even though I wanted to park the closest parking I could to the event, the park was so big and I couldn't see all the events going on, so I ended up parking close to some other event and we had to walk clear across the park to get to the fair. Of course, since I am 6 months pregnant and have a bladder the size of a walnut, I had to find a restroom, even though I went right before getting into the car. So I sent the kids on ahead to find the line for the bike helmets. (ages 11, 7, 3 and 4; the oldest two, ages 13 and 15, are at a Shakespeare camp)

By the time I got out and found the line for the helmets and the kids amongst the hundreds of people, they were gawking at the BMX riders doing stunts and the two little ones had taken their shoes off. (Ugh!) I showed the 7-year-old where to stand in line to wait while the 11-year-old helped put shoes back on. Then the question was what to do while the 7-year-old waited. I did not want to stand in the mile-long line with my two little ones or check out all the booths. Someone announced free snow cones. Aha! So even though I am not found of snow cones because of artificial dyes and the petroleum that's probably in them (see my friend's web site at gotpetroleum.blogspot.com) I decided the possible poison was worth the risk. I am sometimes such a food purist even though I have never noticed any reactions in my kids after ingesting food dyes.

After we got the snow cones, as we were walking back to the shady spot to watch my son stand in line and have a place to sit, I was congratulating myself on keeping track of my two little ones through the milling throng of people by holding on to their bodies and then all of a sudden, the three-year-old was lost! Oh great! i started looking while keeping my eye on the 4-year-old. Thankfully, I finally found my little girl in some concerned bystander's arms.

In the end, the 7-year-old did not get the bike helmet. If we had arrived perhaps five minutes earlier, if I had parked somewhere closer, and if he gone to the line right away perhaps he would have gotten it. Thankfully, nobody had any potty accidents. We were subjected to loud music and gyrations of prepubescent girls in the dance show. The kids, however, each got a free helium balloon as we were leaving. Of course, being a mother of six, I know how easy it is to lose a helium balloon from the event to the car, and that even if you tie it on the wrist, you then have to deal with untying it to get the child's arm into the car seat straps. We were on our way home, still with balloons, but on the way to the house from the car a balloon got away, despite my efforts. Oh well. I started thinking, maybe the 7-year-old will give his balloon to his sister who just lost hers. Dare I hope for that?

Yes, he did. That was the biggest award of all, to witness my son's unselfish act. I didn't even have to ask. I started wondering if I could be as unselfish with something that means just as much to me as that balloon meant to him, even after I have lost out on something I really wanted, like he did with the helmet. So even though I as a mother deal with so many calculated risks, disappointments, and frustrations, I get a lot of unexpected rewards and examples from my children to draw me closer to Christ and become more like Him. What more can I ask?

Friday, May 29, 2009

So What Can I Eat?

It was a week ago today that I called my mother-in-law and asked her to do muscle testing on me to determine what was going on with my body. (See the post two times ago for more on my symptoms.) She has studied educational kinesiology (edu-K) and is very expert at muscle testing. So she tested me over the phone and said that I was going through a cleanse, not having an allergic reaction. I asked her to test for me and see if I should stay off grains and dairy, because that's what David Christoper suggested. She tested and said yes. I had already been staying off them but wanted her to check. I asked her to test how long this would last and she said it last until Monday night.

Sure enough, by Tuesday morning I was feeling MUCH better. No more itchy, watery eyes and I didn't feel like my head was a balloon, so congested it was about to explode. Hooray! I decided I would some eat some yogurt. I was hoping that the avoidance of dairy and grain was only supposed to last until Monday night. I ate the yogurt (plain, with molasses added, just how I like it). By afternoon my eyes were watery again. So I am wondering if my body started having an allergic reaction to the yogurt, so I'm off it again.

Then last night I decided to try eating some grain and had some rice with my taco salad. Today my eyes are watery again. Oh, I also, consumed some peanut butter mixed with chocolate covered raisins because I was so desperate for something sweet and fat. So the watery eyes could be from that. I am getting very tired of eating like a rabbit with a green drink for breakfast, and a salad with avocado for lunch and dinner. I asked my sister-in-law for ideas on what to eat since she avoids gluten. She says that she loads up on sweet potatoes. That has helped to satisfy my craving for something bulky, but I am getting tired of those too.

I really don't want to be on a grain-free, dairy-free diet the rest of my life. I've checked into some recipes for sprouted grain stuff, maybe my body can tolerate that. Did I mention that I am pregnant? That makes me extra hungry, almost constantly wanting to bite off hunks of cheese or devour a leg of chicken every hour. Maybe I just need more protein. I think I will try that.

If anybody has easy, tasty meal ideas that are grain-free and dairy-free, similar to those in my friend Jonell's cookbook (see more on her in one of my older posts) then please email me.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Before Summer Gets Here








Before summer vacation gets here I wanted to post some pictures I took of all the lovely sights of spring. This season of pinks, purples, greens and yellows heralds the coming of summer, my favorite season. Spring brings forth the opportunity to think about new beginnings, about seeds for new kinds of freedom in my life. To me, summer means FREEDOM. Ever since I was young summer meant freedom, freedom from the confines of school and cold weather. Spring reminds me to think about what dream seeds I am planting to bring forth my dreams of freedom in all levels of my life.

It's time for me to purge my house of junk and feel more emotionally free of stuff. It's time to train my younger children in chores that the older ones do so that the older ones will have more time and freedom to study when they start new scholar projects in the fall. We are having a baby in August so that's extra motivation for me to get my two youngest trained in doing some chores before the baby comes. Now that I am getting my strength back from being sick, it's time to get to work!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Living Hell: Illness and Healing Crisis

Do you ever have those times in life when waking up in the morning is a groan? I just went through a two-week period of intense pain. Sleep was the best way to escape it. I have had hayfever-like symptoms: constant itching eyes, runny nose alternating with a stuffy nose, and watery eyes. I felt like scratching my eyes out or even dying, the pain was so bad! Taking care of my family of eight took a back seat to taking care of me. I have never been so fatigued in my life. I had to lie down and sleep several times a day and put a hot washcloth over my eyes to relieve the itching.

If only I could just reach for something and make it go away! Claritin and Benadryl were looking mighty good. But since I am naturally-oriented, I don't like to just take drugs to cover up symptoms. I like to get to the root of the problem. And I am pregnant anyway so I had more reason to find alternatives. I wondered, am I allergic to pollen? Am I having a leaky gut that is sending something into my blood, forcing me into histamine overdrive? Was my liver reacting to a toxic overload, causing me to cleanse? I felt like this huge well of mucous, constantly flowing over. Every morning I would wake up with agony, crusty eyelids, congested head, and all, thinking, "oh, I am still sick. Another day to endure."

I talked to different people and took different natural remedies. My midwife suggested I get a neti pot. I have always wanted one of those things, and I attracted it for free! My husband went to the local health food shop to get one and it turned out they had one to give away at no charge because it was in a damaged box so had become a store sample. That did clear up my nose somewhat, at least for a few minutes at a time. I ended up taking the following: homeopathic tablets, freeze dried nettles, megadoses of Vitamin C, tahitian noni juice, lemon juice with peppermint oil and lemon oil, local raw honey, and MSM.

The hardest thing of all was figuring out what to eat. Was something I had already been eating causing these problems? And who wants to fix food for themselves, let alone their family, when they are feeling lousy like this? I asked my husband to fix dinner one night, my visiting teachers another night (and the spread they brought was truly tremendous and delicious, believe me, in fact we made it stretch out for two meals.) They ate a lot of sandwiches, canned soup, toast, and chips and salsa. Dr. Christopher's son, David, told me over the phone to go off all dairy and grain. That's been really hard. I am one of those people who love cheese and yogurt. If I have to avoid dairy I feel like that one comedian, Brian Regan, who says he feels everybody near the dairy section at the grocery store has party hats and is celebrating and he was to walk by it, missing out. I can easily avoid milk but I do enjoy a hunk of cheese and my daily fix of yogurt, especially when I am pregnant and or nursing, which is the standard quo for me.

My mother-in-law determined through energy work that I was not reacting to something in the air, that this was a cleanse my body was going through. I thought back to a time I heard Paul Leatham, an iridologist, speak about healing crises. He says we take in toxins into our bodies and once or twice a year normal people have what is commonly called a cold to clean out these toxins. If major housecleaning of the body is needed then the cold is more pronounced, it is more of a healing crisis, accompanied by intense pain and discharge. Was that ever happening! My eyes felt like they were being rubbed on the inside by sandpaper. If these colds or healing crises are covered up by toxic medicine and the body is not allowed to release the toxins then worse health problems happen later in life, even cancer perhaps.

I am happy to report that my healing crisis is over. Whew! I am grateful for good books and the Internet to read, and my iPod to listen to, while I am sick to distract me from the pain, for a bed to lie down, and for normal life. During this whole thing I heard that a friend of mine who is living in China had her home she left in Seattle burn down by arsonists. That made me sad for her of course and me more grateful for my own problems.

In addition to the gratitude I felt for my problems, some other good came out of this healing crisis. I learned that some homeschooling friends I have known for years are into natural healing as well and have been doing Quantum Touch. I went to take my daughter's lunch to her at her Shakespeare play dress rehearsal (yes, I still had to do driving around and other mom things during all of this) and these friends did an energy session on me right there. You can learn more at quantumtouch.com. I don't know if the work helped or not, but I do feel better less than a week after they did the work. I definitely have more compassion for people who have to suffer longer than two weeks with chronic illness and pain.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Secret Meets TJED Meets Granola Living







These are photos from the Natural Family Living for LDS Moms Conference, held April 25, 2009 in South Jordan, Utah.
Here we have some pioneering TJED ladies, Diann Jeppson and Jodie Palmer, catching up on the computer by their booth. Then we have Aneladee Milne, LDS homeschooling mom and co-founder of LEMI Institute, sharing with Joyce Kinmont, LDS homeschooling mom and grandma and founder of LDS Home Educators Association, about the evils of TV. Both of these ladies have influenced my life more than they will ever know. They are fellow Davis County Utah residents of mine. Finally, here's Leslie Householder, LDS homeschooling mom of seven and best-selling author, from Arizona, speaking. It was a fun, inspiring day!

Some Pictures from the NFL4LDS Moms Conference






Wow, I have a whole evening to myself! Dh took the kids to grandma's and I stayed home because of an attack of allergies. Anybody have a good remedy for hayfever symptoms, that is natural? The natural part is especially important since I am pregnant and should not take OTC drugs (like I would anyway--I haven't even touched Tylenol in years). I've tried stinging nettle leaves in capsule form and homeopathic pills and they barely help. Doing things like reading and working at the computer help to keep my mind off the suffering.

Anyway, here are some more photos from the conference I organized last month for naturally-minded, holistic LDS moms. Here we have Leslie Householder with some inquiring fans, a booth for La Leche League, and my friends conversing.

Can You Have a True Queen Without a King?

OK, I know I am way behind when it comes to pop culture. I just watched Princess Diaries 2 with my two daughters and mom for a "girls' night" while my dh and four sons went to the annual Fathers' and Sons' campout last Friday night. This is something that our ward does every year to commemorate the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood in the LDS Church. Anyway, the movie is probably four years old or more. So I am sure that what I am about to write will not spoil the movie for anybody, I am probably the last woman in America to watch it! Even my nearly-70 year-old mother had already seen it.

I was left wondering about the movie. Was it right for Mia to still get to be queen after she emotionally betrayed her betrothed and went on a "date" with that other guy, even spent the night with him, although supposedly, "nothing" happened? The biggest question of all is, can a queen be a true queen and rule a kingdom properly without a husband? The whole gist of the plot was that she had to get married in order to fulfill the law of the kingdom and be a proper queen but in the end she convinces the populace and the parliament to change the law and let her be queen without a husband, since she wasn't really in love with the man she was engaged to.

I was left with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth with this ending. This was a nod to the popular feminist notion that men are disposable and not needed. Sure, a man can be a nice accessory for a woman's pleasure, much like a scarf or piece of jewelry, but in the end he is not really needed and can just as easily be cast off. That's what many in our society proclaim. Yes, a woman can manage life without a husband. Yes, women are capable and just as smart as men. Yes, a woman can run a home and family without a husband, as many single women do. But, it is not easy or the best or the ideal state, for a woman to be without a man, or for a man to be without a woman. I think most single parents long for a friendly companion to share the burden of parenthood. It is best for a queen to have a king to share the burden of governing a kingdom.

The restored gospel of Jesus Christ gives us the answer to the question of the title of this post. The answer is "no." We are told in the scriptures that a man can't enter the highest kingdom of heaven without a woman married to him, eternally sealed through a priesthood ordinance, and the same goes for a woman. You can have a "queendom" with just a queen, but a traditional kingdom, in the best sense of the word, takes a king and a queen, who are equal partners. A statesman or stateswoman, as any true king or queen desires to be, desires to improve the state or condition of whatever circumstance he or she happens upon. The ideal or best condition for a kingdom is to have a true queen, a woman, with a true king, a man, at her side.

I am happy that the movie ends with Mia and Nicholas acknowledging their love for each other, after her coronation. This implies that they will get married. It would have been so much better if they had been married before the coronation though.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Natural Family Living for LDS Moms Conference



Here is a summary of the talks from the first ever Natural Family for LDS Moms Conference that I hosted three weeks ago on April 25th in South Jordan, Utah. These pictures show the attendees of the conference, and then my good friend and LLL co-Leader Amy Ihrig talking with Leslie Householder, author of The Jackrabbit Factor and the keynote speaker at the conference. Amy is sharing with Leslie the finer points of babywearing. Leslie is holding the baby of my friend Shauna.

We had a marvelous time! It was so energizing to feel the synergy of women involved who are all interested in some or all aspects of LDS living and a naturally-oriented life, such as gardening, natural healing, whole foods, attachment parenting, and natural childbirth. You can read my summaries of what I heard below. I missed parts of every single talk so I could attend to various details out of the room. Those of you who went, please add comments below after each talk. As I get the recordings and watch them, i will add more to the summaries. Thanks for being patient for the recordings. I don't know technical stuff so I am depending on other people to help me with it and they all have busy lives.

I hand-picked each speaker to address some of the topics covered by my book, Tree of Life Mothering Volume I, which will be available this summer. I intend to give LDS natural moms a guide to ideas and resources that will make their lives full of more health, happiness, and freedom. The flow of the conference roughly followed the flow of the book. To get a basic idea of what Tree of Life Mothering is all about, read my posts below about the Tree of Life Motif and the older post about Liber Mothering.

Friday, May 8, 2009

"How to Attract Prosperity as a Stay-at-Home Mom"






I first read Leslie Householder's book, Hidden Treasures: Heaven's Astonishing Help With Your Money Matters, over two years ago. When I read it, I got this warm, amazing, comforting feeling (it must have been the Spirit) telling me that I would get to meet Leslie someday and she would become a part of my life. Well, that dream came true last summer when she came to Utah to speak. When I met her in July of 2008 and got to talking with her I had this vague sense that I actually already knew her. We got to talking and found out that we had been in the same MLM in our newlywed days in Provo, Utah back in the early 1990s and went to the same meetings for it. So I can say I knew of Leslie before she "made it big." She has made it big! See her story at prosperyourfamily.com. The pictures of her living quarters before and after her success are astounding.

I invited Leslie to come and speak because I think many naturally-oriented moms get stuck in a rut like I have thinking with financial limits. We tend to be so frugal that we think we have to make do with what little we have and make everything from scratch, down to our own baking soda sometimes. I think it's important to learn the laws about money matters that Leslie teaches in the book I mentioned above. We can have a bigger pie instead of making do with the small slice of pie that we have. We can attract all the financial blessings God has in store for us, regardless of the size of our husband's income. Leslie has written another book that complements the aforementioned. It is called The Jackrabbit Factor. The principles can be applied by anyone to attract wealth. You can get a free PDF copy of it at jackrabbitfactor.com.

Leslie shared her story about her struggles. She has struggled with depression over not being perfect. Interestingly, Leslie said that her mother made sure she got a college education, because her mother felt that the lack of one was a disadvantage to her own financial success. Leslie's mother wanted to make sure Leslie did not have the same disadvantage. Leslie said that even though she had a college degree, she still struggled financially. It was so refreshing hearing from someone who has succeeded financially that she had struggles. That makes success seem possible for the rest of us.

It's not just coincidental that the logo for Leslie's company, Thoughts Alive, is a tree. How perfectly that fits in with the Tree of Life Mothering concept! As Tree of Life Mothers, we can be abundant producers, just like trees are. This abundance can flow relatively easily as it does with a tree, without frantic activity, by following the natural laws of abundance that Leslie teaches. Leslie was mentored by Bob Proctor, the old white-haired guy in The Secret, so she knows them well.

(As an aside, it was so fun to see Leslie speak with a friend of mine, Wendi Jackson, a homeschooling mom from Salt Lake, who attended the conference. Wendi's sister-in-law is married to Leslie's brother-in-law. Leslie credited Wendi with being a source of inspiration for her to homeschool. Little did Wendi know! It was fun to see this chance meeting take place. We never know who we are influencing.)

"Mother Self-Nurture Culture"


Donna Goff of Orem, Utah spoke of the importance of creating a culture for yourself that increases your ability to nurture others. She also talked of how it's important to nurture in your daughters a desire and ability to nurture others. She spoke of how this is not a generally accepted part of our culture today as the general culture today encourages young woman to have a career outside the home. At the beginning of the talk, she suggested that if you view God as your pilot in life and you as the co-pilot, that might not be the best course to take. You should let God be the pilot in your life and take a backseat to Him.

Donna said that part of taking care of ourselves is going to bed early, following the commandment in the Doctrine and Covenants to "retire to thy bed early." She stated that when we stay up late (she defined this as past 10:00), especially at the computer, we trick our bodies into thinking that it's still day. The light of a computer monitor does this. Then our bodies start running on our adrenal glands to give us energy. In the long run, this is not good for our bodies. We just get more stressed as our adrenals get overworked. She said that it is a myth of the adversary to think "well, I'm just a night person," as an excuse for staying up late.

(I personally can testify to this. I used to think that I was allergic to mornings. I would stay up later and later, especially as a young mother when my husband was out of town a lot for business travels for three or four nights in a row, week after week. I had three little children ages four and under and I thought the only time I could "get something done" was after they went to bed. But ten years later, I have repented. I got a burning motivation to write a book, and I could see that it just worked better for my body and my family to get up earlier instead of staying up later. After almost three years of working on my book, it's about to get published. I know that God helped me to overcome the pull of the mattress in the wee hours of the morning.)

Donna claimed that to take care of ourselves, women must learn and practice the homemaking arts. This seems somewhat surprising. Isn't that what we do to take care of others in our families, not ourselves? She said that the baby boomer females were the first generation that was not taught this. Now, generations later, we still have the majority of women in our society who are raised focused on a career and not homemaking. Donna asserted that as we learn the homemaking arts alongside our daughters so that they learn to do them too, following the example of Deuteronomy 6:6-7, we will nurture ourselves and our families.

Donna talked about the importance of turning problems over to the Lord. She told the story of a time when her husband was out of work after just suffering a stress-induced heart attack. A friend told her to just give the problem to the Lord. She said she thought that she had. The friend said "Yes, but you keep taking it back." That made me wonder if I am doing the same thing with some persistent problems in my own life. Hmmmm......

"The Blessings of Children and Fertility"


I was so honored to have Joyce Kinmont speak. I have been going to her conferences for years, ever since 1997, when my oldest child was three. She is the head of LDSHEA, an association for LDS homeschoolers. She used to have a conference every summer, the day before the UHEA conference, in June. It was at her conference that I first heard Oliver DeMille speak and then later, in June 2001 at her conference, I got to hear Oliver and his wife Rachel speak. That talk they gave about how children have missions impacted my life and I know it has others.

Anyway, it was a statement in one of Joyce's books that inspired me to see children as blessings and fertility as a blessing. She said that we often think we are made to have X amount of children instead of thinking, "What can I do to increase my ability and capacity to have the amount of children God wants me to have?" We can increase this ability through exercise, improved nutrition (Jonell Francis, who I refer to in a post below as she spoke as well, is a great example of this) and other means.

Joyce told me that a few things she said "came out wrong" and that she is going over her talk to edit it and will then post it on her Web site, ldshea.org.

"How to Garden with Little Children"


Vernie Lynn DeMille of Paradox, Colorado, grew up on a farm and married a farmer, so farming is in her blood. She and her husband William know how to grow things. They have started a CSA in their community (see localharvest.org to learn what a CSA is) and do weekly Internet lectures on topics related to gardening and farming.

The mirror in the picture on the right has an inscription that says, "A garden is a gift." Vernie explained how having your children help you in the garden is a gift to them. They learn about consequences relating to actions by how they treat their garden and they learn about starting over when the garden doesn't work. Vernie said a great way to involve children in gardening is to grow things that are really big or really litte, or things with unusual colors or shapes.

She also gave four gifts that come from gardening with children, using the acronym, "GIFT:" G is for gratitutde, I is for independence, F is for forgiveness, and T is for Time with them.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Health is a Blessing: The Connection Between Diet and Health"



I have known Jonell Francis for over ten years now. We have been part of a girlfriends' lunch group that meets almost every month over a potluck lunch. She always has the most fascinating things to say about nutrition and the connection nutrition has to spiritual matters . In her talk, she shared her story of overcoming debilitating symptoms that doctors told here were part of fibromyalgia over ten years ago. She had a friend who suggested that she change her diet and go wheat and dairy free for a time. It worked for Jonell. She has recovered and been able to "run and not be weary, walk and not be faint." She could have easily decided that she was done having children when she was feeling weak and pained (I think she had five at the time) but she has achieved vibrant health and gone on to have four more for a total of nine. You wouldn't know it to look at her because she looks so young, but she has a married daughter.

Jonell shared some facts about the dismal state of America's health in general. She talked about the importance of eating a plant-based diet to improve this dismal state, in alignment with the Word of Wisdom. She then shared that a little bit of animal food is needed, according to the research of Dr. Weston Price.

Jonell said that "health begins in the navel." She was referring to overcoming leaky gut syndrome, which is what she did by avoiding allergens, to overcome her symptoms. She talked about Candida or yeast infections and how that can be caused by a leaky gut. Her mention of health beginning in the navel made a light click on in my brain. I thought, "Yes, it begins in the womb with how the mother nourishes the baby with the food the mother eats (see blueribbonbaby.org) that goes through the umbilical cord (the navel) into the child, from the first tree of life, the placenta. Then the health in in the child's navel, or gut, is preserved by the mother's milk from the second tree of life, the ****** (mammary organ)." Mother's milk is sterile and has a huge amount of good bacteria to help the bacteria in the gut keep out the bad bacteria that make a baby sick and keep the baby's gut a virgin gut until the permeability of the gut has sealed closed, which happens during the middle of the first year of life. If you preserve the virgin gut of a baby iwth mother's milk, the baby is much less likely to get sick. After the gut permeability has closed then the baby is ready for solid foods, around the middle of the first year of life, but it could be different for each baby, depending on the family history of allergies.

I really appreciate all that Jonell has done to share her story. She is a gourmet cook and mother, so her appreciation of healthy and tasty, kid-pleasing foods shines in her cookbook, The Feel Good Cookbook. See it at feelgoodcookbook.net. I think she took it on herself as a personal mission to visit every non-fast food restaurant in Provo and Orem Utah, copy all of their delectable dishes and put the recipes in her cookbook. You will find some delicious French, Italian, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Chinese and Japanese recipes in her book. She is a wonder and I think you will love her cookbook!

My two favorite parts from her talk are as follows. First, she said that she often repeats the following affirmation to herself (paraphrased), "I have a personal savior who loves me. He is Jesus Christ. He is stronger and more powerful than any problem I have." I got to watch a recording of her talk during my recent illness and just hearing her say this brought a tangible feeling of hope in my body that the Savior would heal me from my affliction. She says she teaches this affirmation to her children and reminds them to say it aloud whenever they are stressed and burdened.

She also said "Ladies, we can build Zion from our kitchen counters." Amen, sister, let's do it! Let's build healthy strong bodies of ourselves and our families physically able to carry out the work of building Zion to usher forth the coming of our Savior.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Mealtime Magic: Nourishing Both Body and Spirit"


Diann and Jodie (pictured above at the conference) spoke about creating mealtime magic in your home, a time when you nourish body and spirit. When I first asked Diann to speak about this, she was reluctant. She said that dinner was a rushed affair at their home, with each person grabbing a bite to eat and fleeing out the door to various activities. So I asked her to think about their breakfast times, which is when they do their devotional for the day. I think many families relate to having meals eaten separately, but hopefully you can have at least one meal a day, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner, when you are all together. There is such a protective power in sharing a meal together. You can share ideas too and these ideas sink into your children's spirits, so that they have a well of spiritual fortitude to draw on during tough times. Children who regularly eat with their families, usually dinner, are less likely to get into drugs, alcohol, and other addictive things.

Diann commented that to make mealtime memorable, it is good to draw upon the connection that happens during a baby's mealtime of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding allows a connection of both body and spirit of mom and baby. That's an example for us to follow.

A quote from Babette's Feast, a foreign film that I saw in my BYU days at the International Cinema, illuminates this idea of the power of mealtime. "She could transform a dinner into a kind of love affair; an affair that made no distinction between bodily appetite and spiritual appetite." That is what I aspire to. Not every mealtime is a winner at my house. Sometimes I burn the food or I reach for the canned soup or we have lackluster conversation, but more often than not I think I hit the mark.

A tree gives food, and shelter and protection. A Tree of Life Mother can give food, and more with mealtime. She can give food for thought that nourishes and protects, and food that protects the body, if it's full of nutrients. I so appreciate the ideas Diann and Jodie presented to make mealtime a time of connection. The ideas from Jonell Francis' cookbook have helped me to fall in love again (it's something mothers get to fall in love with again and again) with preparing nutritious, satisfying food for my family. Some recent talks/articles by LDS church leaders have referred to the power of mealtime. See Sister Julie Beck's talk “Powerful Nurturing,” in the Ensign, December 2005, p. 36 and the mention of mealtime in the Worldwide Leadership Training under the heading "Come and Dine" from 2008. I have excerpted as follows:

“Come and Dine”

Elder Holland said, "In the true spirit of homemaking, in the best and highest sense of that word, I hope we can again sit down at a common dinner table as a family. I think almost any sociologist who has no affiliation with the Church at all would say, and they do say, that perhaps nothing is as unifying in the course of a family’s week as to eat together"

Then Sister Beck stated, "A scriptural example that is one of my favorites, is in the last chapter of the Gospel of John, where the Savior at the Sea of Galilee gathered His disciples. He had a fire there and coals and fish, and He said, 'Come and dine.' Now, that describes quite a bit of preparation. A meal had been prepared—a family meal, you could say—and He invited them to come and dine, not just run in and eat, but come and dine. And then the scripture says, 'When they had dined,' He then began to teach them that wonderful teaching about feeding His sheep (see John 21:9–15). There is something about eating together and mellowing out and having that feeling there. What would His teaching have looked like if He hadn’t prepared the place to teach it? He created the setting for that marvelous teaching, and it was a mealtime. And I think that wasn’t accidental." (end of excerpt from 2008 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting for LDS Church.)

The joy of hearing one of my children say, "Oh I love this! Thanks for fixing it mom!" of "This tastes so good," and the feeling of connection that comes from digging into something yummy as we discuss something yummy as well gives me a taste fo the fruit of the tree of life daily.

(As a postscript, most people know Diann because of her involvement in the Thomas Jefferson Education--TJED--community, as a coauthor with Oliver DeMille and Rachel DeMille and founder of the annual TJED Forum. But most people don't know that years ago, she trained to become a La Leche League Leader. So she has been involved in the natural mothering movement both as a breastfeeding advocate and as a proponent of attachment parenting and natural, real foods. Jodie has been the president of the Midwives College of Utah, so she is very involved with the natural birth movement in Utah.)

"Conveyor Belt Entertainment vs. Leadership Art: The Choice that Faces Every Family"


My dear friend Aneladee Milne of Bountiful, Utah spoke about media. Two years ago I read a book that really jived with the TJED teaching of conveyor belt education and leadership education. (If you don't know what I am talking about, go to tjedonline.com and read more there.) This book, Parenting Well in a Media Age, by Barbara de Gaetano, claimed that media is dominated by a faceless, profit-driven, commercialized industry. This industry is toxic. It kills our spirits. The author contrasted this industry with a personally-generated culture that authentically comes from within ourselves. I thought, aha! This is just like the choice we each have to accept a conveyor belt education (which is not necessarily toxic overall, but is toxic to leadership and liberty) or a personally-customized leadership education for ourselves and our children.

This topic is so important for every parent to grasp. We don't have to be consumer units, constantly programmed by a faceless industry to accept their ideas of fun. We can create our own music, art, our own fun! I battle with this every day as a mother, and I must admit we do watch videos and I do use the TV as a babysitter. I do limit those times though. My children watch only videos I have personally selected and approved. I heard Aneladee speak years ago and it is because of her that we cut off our network TV reception. We can only watch videos and DVDs on our TV.

Aneladee said so many amazing things. She said that all of earth life is a search to reconcile ourselves with the will of God. Her mention of Plato and Moses in the same paragraph fascinated me as she explained this concept. She has strict boundaries. Rock and roll music and video games are not allowed in her home. She boldly said that video games do nothing to bring us to the will of God and are a complete waste of time. I appreciate her rare bold stance. She talked about three main things: music, interactive gaming, and movies. I can't wait to hear the whole talk on the recording!

(Over a month later.) I just listened to the whole talk this morning and loved it! I will have it available for purchase soon.

"Spontaneous Healing"


Wow! Cliff is an amazing man. I wish I had been able to hear all of his talk, just as with the other speakers. He told an amazing story of the power the body has to heal itself. He said that when he used to work at BYU in the Brimhall Building as an adjunct professor of art, he couldn't find a parking spot. So he went over to that quaint little house across from the McKay Building (it used to be the home of the President of BYU, back in the Pat and Jeff days) and asked Sister Holland, who happened to be outside the home, if he could park there. She said yes. He went to move a sign out of the way and the heavy metal chain sliced his fingers. He rushed into the building, put his hands together under running water, and focused his thoughts on the hands healing. After a long time, he turned off the water. The bleeding had stopped and the hands were much better. I got a copy of his book. It tells of acupressure points to use in helping the body to heal. It's full of beautiful illustrations done by Cliff himself. Contact Cliff at 801-766-9191 for a copy.

"Teaching Children How to Work"

I have become good friends with Christine Mullins, a homeschooling mom of seven who lives in Hyrum, Utah. She runs an amazing home and family that is focused on becoming great in all areas of life: physical, financial, emotional, social, and mental. They have systematized the chores in their family and get them done as quickly as possible so they have lots of time for service to others and developing their talents. Unfortunately, her DVD presentation that she sent to represent herself (she stayed home because she is eight months pregnant and not up to traveling) didn't work. But, the good news is that her Web site (childrensmiraclemusic.com), will have the presentation up there soon! She said that it will be up and running on the site in a few weeks.

A few things from the presentation that I remember (I previewed it at home before I planned to show it) are: 1.Don't do anything for your child that they can do themselves. and 2. Gently show your child how to do the job you want them to do by doing it with them, even taking their hand gently under yours and doing the task together. She gave an example of her teenage daughter who needed a ride to her job every day. Christine has a lot of little children and did not want to be loading them up to drive the big sister to work every day. So she told her daughter that she would show her how to ride the bus every day to her work so that she could ride the bus, even though the daughter protested and said, "But all my friends' moms drive them to work!" So one morning all the children and mom went with this teenage big sister on the bus to her job and then she rode the bus every day after that to work.

Two other resources that have helped me greatly in teaching my children how to work are the books The Parenting Breakthrough by Merilee Boyack, and W.O.R.K.. by Debbie Bowen. You can probably find both at deseretbook.com.

"Funerals: Dignified, Inexpensive, and Eco-friendly"


My dear friend Joyce Mitchell of Orem, Utah spoke about funeral advocacy. Some might think that was a strange topic for a natural living conference but not when you stop to think about. A lot of the attendees at the conference are into home birth, home food production, and home birth. What's next, but home funerals? It's important for us to know what our rights are concerning the care of our loved ones when they pass away. I am so grateful that Joyce has gotten into this and can be a clearinghouse of information. I didn't hear all of her talk but I did see her citation of a free PDF ebook that helps with funeral planning. See homefuneralmanual.org

This is a picture of my speakers and the staff who helped me with food and registration over lunch. Joyce, in the far right upper corner, is passionately talking about the funeral consumer. It was so tremendous to me to have so many of my dear friends from different circles of my life (my Veggie Gal friends, my TJED public speaker friends, my sister, and Leslie Householder) in one room sharing a meal. If only it could have been longer!

My talk


Here's a picture of me with Leslie Householder.

I was the last speaker but I only spoke for five minutes because my back and feet were in great pain. I forgot that the shoes I had planned on wearing would be tight on my feet since my feet have gotten bigger with pregnancy. Then my lower back was aching, that's a sign that I am pushing too hard. We were running behind on the time anyway so I condensed my talk to five minutes and promised to put it here on my blog. Part I is below and I will have to get Parts II and III, about Attachment Parenting and Holistic Education, up next week. This conference was just like childbirth. It was very rewarding but a lot of hard work. I even went through "transition" the night before where I wanted to call the whole thing off. I am so glad it's over. I am working on getting the recordings up on the Web for sale. Thanks for being patient, I have a million things to do with my children's school year winding down with Shakespeare play rehearsals and homeschooling them.