Hats off to the Dad in your Life
Recently, we cleaned a closet in our one room second story. The closet is a knee hole closet, poorly designed. The doors at one end make it challenging to access the contents 15 feet from the door. The previous owner of the house might have used it as a clothing closet. Because the far end of the closet is adjacent to the stairs, there is no easy way to add another door. We store VERY remote things at the far end. The only half of the closet that has easy access has become a library.
We love books. We like the feel and the smell and the messages of books of every size and shape and texture. We have accumulated books over the 39 years of marriage. My husband used to be an adjunct professor and had a stash of books from his coursework. The upstairs library holds ‘his’ collection of American Christian History, Economics, Theology, Presidential biographies and classics.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll let you in on a little family secret. We store things differently. I have a pet peeve: I do not like to waste time looking for something. So, my storage is often labeled and orderly. I put things in particular places so I can always find them. My husband is more spontaneous and his creative side allows him to put things wherever it seems to be a good landing zone at the moment. He doesn’t seem to mind searching for things because it brings adventure to his life.
The closet upstairs was once organized but lack of time or interest means the door would be opened and books randomly added to the shelves. I don’t know who did this. It might have been the two unseen guests who live in our home named Not Me and I didn’t. I don’t recall what event or search instigated looking for something in the closet. But the result was that we got to remove all the books to fix a loose shelf.
In the process of sorting (eliminating), and reorganizing the books, I found a title that spoke to my heart. It was a gift to my husband from one of our daughters. As I was contemplating what to write this week, the Lord brought to mind this book, WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A DAD. In the introduction to the 100 reasons a girl needs a father in her life, the author write this: “The love I have received shapes the love I give and it is evident at its best in my relationship with my daughter.”
Read that again. “The love I have received shapes the love I give and it is evident at its best in my relationship with my daughter.”
The book holds 100 reasons a girl needs a father. There is a similar book which we do not own entitled WHY A SON NEEDS A DAD. I suspect it is written in the same format. It is Proverbs-like, single sentences, couplets, or sometimes contrasts. It holds great spiritual truths though I am uncertain of the author’s faith. I won’t recount the 100 ways a dad shows his love for his daughter or why she needs those efforts. You can read the book for yourself to discover his treasure trove.
Dads, the love you give to your sons and daughters reflects the love you have received from your human and heavenly fathers and it is evident at its best in your relationship with your sons and daughters. This sentence would motivate any man to be the best example he can be of all he believes. So, for the dads who have come to Christ and live by His precepts, we applaud you for the love you reflect.
Hats off to the dads who have changed the world because they are different men from ungodly fathers; to the men who looked to God as their model for fatherhood. Hats off to the dads who continue in Godly fatherhood because they had great examples in their own lives. Hats off to the dads who sacrifice so their children don’t have to. Hats off to the dads who give love in the midst of exhaustion. Hats off to the dads who pray for their children. Hats off to the dads who invest in the lives of those who do not have dads. Hats off to all the dads who listen to the woes of their children without judgment. Hats off to the dads who continue to grow in the Lord.
Hats off, Dads. You are doing a great job. We admire you and we thank you for being the evidence of a loving Father.
We celebrate the men in our lives this week, the unsung heroes in families.
Silence is Golden
Years ago, I met an exchange student from Finland. As she was preparing to leave that area, she stopped at my office and invited me to visit her at ‘home’. Finland was not on my bucket list of places to go, yet just a year later, I was invited to be an exchange ‘student’ to Finland through an entirely different group, specifically at Kaisa-Leena’s home.
When I arrived in Finland, I quickly learned one principle the natives hold near and dear. ‘If you can hear your neighbor’s ax, you live too close to one another.’ The Fins love privacy and they relish silence.
When I read about the study performed by Finnish scientists, I was interested and not at all surprised by what they discovered. This information was printed in Lifehacks and I’m just going to summarize some of the high points.
First, though, as summer is upon us, Americans feel the need to fill every moment with activity or noise. This research may be just the ammunition you need to impose some ‘quiet time’ in your life, with your children, and with your God.
‘A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.
The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons. In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.
A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.
When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.
When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.
The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.
It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.
A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech.
Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.
The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making. The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.
Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.
But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise. ‘
Silence can be golden when it allows the brain to reboot, process information, and develop a positive direction. Swim against the current of culture and abandon the norm for a new and better alternative. Let’s use this information to discipline ourselves away from the noise of the world and into the quiet of replenishment.
Many afternoons when the children are dismissed from school, I’m in the yard working. I hear the chants and rhymes the children who aren’t on their phones sing as they are released for the day. Soon, they will be singing about no more teachers, no more rules, and looking forward to days at the swimming pool (if it ever stops raining).
A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook, our trusty source of all kinds of information, true and false. It’s a good reminder to all of us that despite the battles we are growing through, we have value in the eyes of our Creator. It’s a great lesson for children. But as adults, we need to be reminded, too. The storms of life wrinkle our perspective and distort our view. Culture may tell us our shape or size is unacceptable, but there is One who looks past the silhouette and examines the intent of the heart.
Credit is given in the post, which I have copied. I cannot verify its accuracy.
Today was bittersweet. My last day of my first year(semester) of teaching ever. My last day with my 4th graders. My last chance to leave an impact on them since unfortunately, I might not ever see them again. In order to hopefully leave an impression on them that would last a lifetime, I went to the bank last night and asked for the most crisp, without flaw, never been folded $100 bill they had. I would be using that $100 bill today in my final lesson of the semester. After our awards ceremony this morning, we returned to my classroom where I delivered my final lesson for this school year.
I took the $100 bill out of my wallet, held it up, and asked the class to tell me what it was. Obviously they knew what it was, who wouldn’t? I then asked them how much it was worth, to which they responded, “$100!” I began to explain how $100 is a lot of money, no matter how rich or poor you are in this world. I then asked them who wanted the $100. 14/14 students raised their hands before I could even finish the sentence.
The next part of my lesson required me to explain how a simple $100 bill can be related to our lives. I explained that this perfect $100 bill is like all of us when we’re born. No flaws, no imperfections, no negative thoughts being thrown at us by others. I had the students pass the $100 bill around and share something mean someone has said or done to them and how it made them feel using the $100 bill as visualization. If it was something minor, they’d fold it maybe once, if it was something more hurtful they’d maybe fold it a couple of times.
At the end, when all students were done sharing, I looked at the $100 bill(now crumpled, folded to what looked to be a million times) and held it up again. I asked my class “How much is it worth now?” They replied, “$100 still”. I asked, “Who wants it?” Again, 14/14 hands flew up. So I asked “Why? It’s all crumpled, folded, and it doesn’t even look like a $100 bill anymore.” I explained to them that no matter what anyone, or this world says about you, your abilities, your worth, your value or your flaws, you’re still worth something. The same as you’ve always been worth.
I ended my final lesson by saying this, “What you say and do to people matters. You may not see it, but I can promise you it matters. No matter how many times this $100 bill was folded or crumpled up, it’s still worth $100. It’ll still spend the exact same as to when it was brand new, with no folds or imperfections. That’s the same with all of you. You’re all still very valuable. My task for you is to find someone around you who doesn’t feel so valuable, pass on this lesson I’ve taught you, and be the difference. Be the difference you wanna see in this world. Be hope to those whose lives are far from easy.”
*By the end of it, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
In the days of kerosene lamps and coal furnaces, house wives had a ritual called ‘spring cleaning’. The residue these two items created mandated cleaning homes from floor to ceiling.
Even when electricity and gas furnaces replaced the dirty utilities, housewives continued the spring-cleaning ritual, opening windows, airing out the house, cleaning from top to bottom.
Today, we don’t need to remove coal dust from our walls. More likely, we need to purge the accumulation from Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s day from our closets and cupboards to make way for the next round of gifts, different sized clothing, and fresh fashion trends.
Our children’s rooms are no different. As they grow, closets need to be purged of items too small to wear; replenished with summer gear and eventually new digs for the school year. But what do we do with the rooms that house toys?
The bedrooms our children occupied were very small. Most of their toys were in the basement, where the Lego builds could remain from day to day; little villages created from Fisher Price doll house and farm set could last more days than one until a new game or adventure awaited. I have a distinct memory of allowing friends to come and play after church. The next Monday, I went to the basement to do laundry to discover EVERY TOY and piece was on the floor of the play room. Even I was overwhelmed at the mess, not certain where to start picking up. There was no way my children could tackle such disarray. Some of you may face a similar story.
When I read about research about the amount of time spent with a toy and the creativity it produced regarding numbers of toys available, this memory immediately came to my mind. Perhaps you will also find this article fascinating. It was printed in RETURNTONOW.NET. Read it and see if you can ‘spring clean’ toys or at least box a few things up so a rotation system can occur.
Too many options in the toy room can overstimulate and overwhelm a child, so that he can’t focus on — or learn from — any of them, a recent study finds.
Reducing the number of toys results in more creative, imaginative play, researchers found.
For the study, researchers from The University of Toledo gave toddlers either four toys or 16 toys.
The children with fewer toys played with each toy for longer periods of time, studying, observing and experimenting with it.
“An abundance of toys present reduced the quality of the toddlers’ play,” the study’s authors wrote. “Fewer toys at once may help toddlers to focus better and play more creatively.”
The children with four toys exhibited one-and-a-half times more interactions with the toys than the children with 16, indicating they were playing in “more sophisticated, advanced ways,” they added.
“This increased involvement with a toy has positive implications for many facets of development, including imaginative and pretend play, self-expression, physical skills such as fine motor coordination, and problem-solving,” writes psychologist Susan Newman for Psychology Today.
The study echoes the findings of a German experiment in which all of the toys were taken out of several kindergarten classrooms for 3 months.
The children were left with only their desks, chairs and blankets to play with.
At first they were bored to tears. But by the second day, they got creative.
They started building forts, turning their desks into trains, and performing circuses and plays.
Their drawing and painting skills even improved:
“The children used to do one little squiggle on a piece of paper and then throw it away,” teacher Gisela Marti told The Independent. “But when paper was given back to them they drew or painted all over it until there was not a patch of white paper left.”
“We find that children [who participated in the experiment] concentrate better when they work, integrate better into groups and communicate better than the children who didn’t take part,” said Elke Schubert, a German public health officer.
For tips on how to streamline your children’s toy collection, check out Simplicity Parenting and Clutterfree with Kids:
Sunday is Mother's Day. It is a day to celebrate the woman who birthed, reared, nurtured or cared for us. It isn't restricted to biology. Lots of women are mother's in the broad sense of the word, because they invest in the lives of others. I hope in reading this piece, you will look at any men or women who have contributed to your life. And, let's use it to remind ourselves what we are building in the choices we make daily. I don't know the author though I can relate to all she says!It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the wayone of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to betaken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweepingthe floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can seeme at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair ofhands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clockto ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number isthe Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'Some days I'm a crystal ball; 'Where's my other sock?, Where's my phone?,What's for dinner?'I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyesthat studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappearedinto the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she'sgoing, she's gone!One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of afriend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and shewas going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there,looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not tocompare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when sheturned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought youthis.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactlysure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'With admirationfor the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discoverwhat would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I couldpattern my work:1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no recordof their names.2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would neversee finished.3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.4) The passion of their building was fuelled by their faith that theeyes of God saw everything.A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit thecathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny birdon the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man,'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam thatwill be covered bythe roof. No one will ever see it'And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almostas if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you. I see the sacrifices youmake every day, even when no one around you does.No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you'vebaked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me tonotice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't seeright now what it will become.I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one ofthe people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to workon something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book wentso far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetimebecause there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he'sbringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in themorning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built amonument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if thereis anything more to say to his friend, he'd say, 'You're gonna love itthere...'As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we'redoing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel,not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to theworld by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.❤️
Spoiling and Ruining
Summer vacation is just two blinks away. It seems that family issues with children seem to peak at the summer vacation mark.
Recently I read an interesting article on how to ruin a child’s life. I wanted to see how well I did. I read the article and thought I’d use some of the concepts to share how I was successful. This is a little tongue in cheek. I don’t know that my children ever really SAID I was ruining their life. I’m certain they THOUGHT I was. Now that they are adults, they recount certain events and tell me how they disliked some things. They look back on the event realizing our choice was the right thing to do.
So, here we go: I didn’t believe in entertaining my children. Oh. My. Goodness. I admit it! I made them play together or alone. They didn’t get devices to distract them. They got a box of dress up clothes (purchased from my husband’s grandmother’s household sale: $1.00 for a box of hats his grandparents actually wore.) We had some homemade capes and vests, too. We have a pretty large yard with neighbors who were fussy about noise, so they learned to play ‘quietly’ even outside…they couldn’t yell and scream to disturb the neighborhood. There were lots of different kinds of balls: soccer balls, tennis balls, baseballs, whiffle balls, basketballs, and volleyballs. They were pretty creative between the balls, the capes, and the treehouse, and the bicycles. They did whine and object to the ‘no video games’ until they were in college and saw what video games had done to roommates. Now, they are glad they were so deprived.
We weren’t keen on ‘participation’ trophies. We wanted the cold hard reality of some win, some don’t to come home. We have a few awards but we focused on ‘what did you learn?’ rather than ‘what did you get?’ I remember some close tournament loses and how instrumental they were in developing character. We focused on how everyone who plays a sport wins because of all they are learning…that’s the ‘participation award’. My children didn’t even CARE about the ribbons that were given at the 4H fair. (It was almost disappointing to me when they were recognized and it didn’t mean much.)
We insisted on doing the ‘right’ thing whether they wanted to or not. Case in point (this just came up in a recent discussion with one of the children). David had an aunt in a nursing home. We would attend a family event in the same town and I would insist we leave the event at least thirty minutes before we needed to head home, so we could stop at the nursing home and see Aunt Connie. She had no children and seeing nieces, nephews, and their offspring was THEE highlight of her holidays. The children went reluctantly. They gave hugs and kisses reluctantly. They now see that it was the RIGHT thing to do. Sometimes, children are guided by how they feel rather than learning that feelings are important but not always the guiding force in life. There must be a balance with using feelings as a guidepost and knowing what the right thing is.
Devotions. Are they completely absent or sometimes present? Sunday school teachers are wonderful. They should be the frosting on the cake, so to speak. Because, most of the spiritual truth in the lives of children should be taught and observed at home. Not just the stories of the Bible, but the applications of faith, trust, hope, love. The stories are a springboard for teaching the lesson. However you do it: after dinner lessons; conversations through the day; teachable moments; at bedtime; doing personal devotions when your children can observe. It’s all good. Any combination of the above is good. Absence, not so much.
Children before spouses. This might be one of the most important issues in marriage. We wanted children. We wanted them to grow up and become independent adults, leaving our nest when they were adults. So, our marriage outlasts our time with dependent children. Putting children before spouses makes them believe everything in life revolves around them. It isn’t true and it becomes a huge disappointment, a difficult thing to ‘unlearn’. Spouses come first. It establishes a good model for their future marriages.
Were we always successful? No. You won’t be either. But, these five elements delivered in the wrong way CAN ruin a child’s life. So, think about how to handle each of the five: how to ‘entertain’ your child; winning by participating; living by ‘feelings’; putting the children first; and, spiritual training.
It can make all the difference in the world because these issues are the framework for the rest of your child’s life.
Heart Attack in a Meal
My daughter used to request a particular meal to celebrate her birthday. Her dad called it HEART ATTACK IN A MEAL. It was delicious. The real recipe was called chicken and dumplings. The dumplings were actually frozen bread dough defrosted, cut into egg sized portions, rolled in flour and cooked with onions in butter and cream. The chicken was also cooked in cream with vegetables. I haven’t made the recipe in more than 5 years since the diagnosis of celiac fell upon two family members.
We found a new recipe, made for a celebratory dinner that could easily replace it. The real name is Lighthouse Inn Potatoes. I first saw the recipe a few weeks before a celebratory meal and tucked the idea away. It’s likely that I would never have made it except when we have guests, I try recipes I might not make for just the 2 of us. Easter meant dinner guests.
The recipe cooks RUSSET potatoes in cream. Not just half and half. Cream. I learned there are two kinds of cream: light and heavy. I’ve never seen light cream in the stores, so I had to do a little research to understand the fat content of each of the kinds of cream plus half and half.
Heavy whipping cream has a fat content of 35%. Light cream has 30% and half and half is only 18%. It required a little math to figure out how much half and half I could use WITH the heavy cream to decrease it to 30% butterfat but not lessen it more. Though the author of the recipe doesn’t say this, I found a source that said using just half and half would cause the sauce to ‘break’ which means, it separates rather than emulsifies.
I served this recipe to rave reviews even from the guests who rarely comment on a dish. I don’t say this to boast about my cooking, for I’m an average at best cook. But, the recipe, followed to the exact directions turned out well. We now have a new candidate for ‘Heart Attack in a Meal’ category. This recipe is one that would be reserved for special occasions because of the HIGH FAT content. Combined with the very starchy potato, it is not intended for any weight loss diet. However, if you want to tickle your taste buds and send them into euphoria, you might want to try this recipe. This is a Cook’s Country recipe (as seen on IPTV).
Lighthouse Inn Potatoes:
2.5 pounds of RUSSET potatoes, peeled & cut into 1” chunks
2.5 cups of light cream (2.25 c. heavy whipping cream and .25 cup half and half)
2 tsp. salt (this is NOT too much)
1 tsp. pepper, ground
1/8 tsp. baking soda (do not omit this)
Bring this to a boil on high heat and then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 min. Potatoes should be soft but not fall apart.
Add to the cooked potatoes and cream:
½ cup of half and half
6 T. of unsalted butter
Stir till the butter melts
Place in a 9x13 pan.
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 oz (1 cup) Parmesan cheese
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp. salt
Bake @ 375* for 15-20 min. Rest 15 min. before serving
If you want to complete some of the preparation the day before serving, follow the recipe through putting them in the 9x13" pan. The day of serving them, bake the dish for 30 min. then added the toppings, bake an additional 20 min. and let it rest per the directions. The results were amazing.
Try it. You will like it.
Maybe you have heard of food recalls because of listeria. What is it? Listeria is named after Joseph Lister, the British scientist, known for instigating sterile areas for surgery. Listeria is a category of bacteria that often comes from contaminated food.
Listeria causes food poisoning-like symptoms which might involve vomiting, aches, pains and headaches, and/or diahrrea. If the symptoms become severe and medical intervention is necessary, a blood test will determine if it is listeria. It is found in soil, water, and some animals. It can also be found in food processing plants and can sometimes be found in cold cuts. (I only learned this a year ago when our daughter was pregnant and could not eat deli meat.)
It can go away on its own but it can also cause significant issues for pregnant women or those with weak immune systems. Listeria can be IN food and it can be ON food.
Recently, I read that one in five avocados has listeria on it. This motivated me to wash every avocado under running water (and I use a little dish soap) before cutting it. I have always washed my squash and melon before cutting it, realizing that those items often grow on the ground and contaminants are frequently unseen. Apparently, as the knife blade pierces the skin of the fruit or vegetable contaminated with listeria, it carries that bacteria into the edible portion, potentially causing illness.
This is just one example of being careful with fresh fruits and vegetables. As we travel to farmer’s markets, roadside fruit and vegetable stands, or even our backyard gardens to purchase or harvest the food we eat, remember this: Wash everything first.
I have a strong immune system, developed over years of living on the farm, but listeria isn’t something I want to ingest, so I’m especially careful to rinse, wash, rinse food before we consume it.
Enjoy eating the colors of the rainbow, safely.
Twice a Year
I have a couple of soap boxes. Two, actually. One is about keeping everyone else safe and healthy in the fall and winter season when the cold/flu/virus season comes upon us. You have heard that one in the last year.
The second soap box is set for today. It’s called ‘eat healthy’ or ‘where are my healthy choices’ or ‘here are some options.’
I can nag and remind you of how important it is to eat well and eat as organically as you can afford. The real proof is in tasting the difference. So, today’s article is mostly a challenge. It’s a challenge to those of you with children who would like to teach your children about the source of their food; the taste difference; and the quality differences.
My disclaimer is that I don’t belong to a group because I have my own organic garden. But, if I couldn’t manage that space or if I didn’t have a garden, this is what I would do. Now, I’m going to lead you on a brief rabbit trail to tell you why I feel so strongly about this.
We have health issues in our home. Some of them are related to food issues. Celiac: the inability to process wheat, rye, or barley because the protein ‘gluten’ argues will all systems inside. My husband discovered he was gluten intolerant about 5 years ago. As soon as we learned this, I encouraged our older daughter to be tested. She had been to 25 specialists for health issues and they all thought she was perfectly healthy. She was not.
After she learned she was also gluten intolerant and changed her diet, her health improved but not all the issues were resolved. It has only been in the last year that one doctor has been able to put many puzzle pieces together and begin to bring her out of ‘health hell’ into some kind of normal. Many of her tests are still in the basement but she feels better than she has in a long time.
One of the key elements has been the right combination of healthy foods. Not just eat the rainbow kind of healthy, but REAL food. Food that has no processing. Food that has no pesticides or herbicides. Food that is heirloom for flavor and nutritional content. The detour has now ended. I shared that so you understand why I am passionate about this topic.
I know it is easy to go online and order your groceries and drive up and have them loaded into the back of your van. It saves time. But, it isn’t very interesting and there is no guarantee of freshness. Instead, why not join a CSA?
A CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. This means, the consumer pays the farmer up front to plant and grow food, of which they get a share. The consumer then shares the same risk as the farmer. Some things like weather, insects, and environmental factors are high risk for one person to assume. A partnership between the consumer and farmer fortifies each one and spreads the risk.
The consumer pays a set amount of money at the beginning of the growing season. Each farmer has rules for how the food will be distributed to the consumer. Often, the consumer gets a ‘share’ each week. Some farmers have options, so if the consumer is on vacation, a week can be skipped and made up the next week or so.
The food that is available is whatever is ‘in season’ that week. In the spring, lettuces, strawberries, and asparagus are likely things to find. In the fall, it’s more likely to see squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, etc.
Some CSA’s have meat or eggs in addition to vegetables. Some have orchards or berries on the farm, which give a vast amount of variety. One of the best advantages of a CSA is the food is FRESH. I mean, picked the day before or even the morning of the distribution of food. Grocery store vegetables are often weeks or even a month old, picked before ripe, shipped and stored. With every passing day, the nutritional content decreases. Pick it and eat it optimizes nutrition.
Each CSA operates differently. There are several in the metro area. Some also show up at local farmer’s markets as one way to market. Some have roadside stands.
Today, I’ll share about just one CSA. I know these folks a little. They offer eggs, poultry (meat), and fruits and vegetables. They have distribution on their farm AND at a local chiropractor’s in West Des Moines one afternoon a week. A family can purchase a small, medium, or large ‘share’ depending upon family size or your willingness to take a risk…if you aren’t too adventuresome, go small. They offer shares based on seasons of the year. They offer so much flexibility.
Additionally, they host events on the farm, just west of the metro. This month, there is a cookbook exchange. They have sponsored a 5K run. There have been strawberry shortcake Sat. night events, where members gather for fellowship and good food on the farm. There are potlucks and recipe exchanges. It’s an opportunity to explore good food, know the grower, and expand the palate. They accept feedback from their customers and change what they grow based on what people want to eat. There is a dedicated Facebook page for their members. There is a weekly newsletter keeping people up to date on what is happening on the farm and with a recipe for the week.
Meet Lori and Matthew of Heirloom Farms at this website:
Because I cannot grow my own chickens in my suburb, I do purchase the poultry meat from their farm. I can say this: it tastes a delicious as the chicken my mother grew on our farm. It’s wonderful.
I recommend you take a food adventure this summer and join a CSA. The time to join for spring shares ends soon. There are options for summer and fall shares, too. You might expand your food options, find some fun field trips, and teach your children (and maybe yourself) how food is grown and what delicious tastes like. I challenge you…just do it.
It’s that time of year again, where mud seems to automatically appear. Pets and children drag it into the house and even the most careful adults deposit sand and silt from the winter salt and sand deposits from sidewalks, parking lots, and streets, into our homes. Fastidious housekeepers may despise this time of the year because it is impossible to keep dirt out of the house.
Recently, we were watching some program that claimed Ireland had found a cure for superbugs: dirt. There was a careful analysis of the soil from a particular area of Ireland, where folk lore taught this soil could and would cure what ails one. The analysis showed the microbes of the soil could destroy what we know as superbugs: germs resistant to our current range of antibiotics.
My grandmother used to claim that a little dirt was good for children as long as it was clean dirt. While that sounds like an oxymoron, there is truth to it. Growing up on the farm must have inoculated my constitution with good germs. I shudder to think of the things we touched and played with. I remember my mother’s words to ‘wash up’ for a meal, but honestly, I don’t think any of us were thorough by today’s standards. Yet, we were rarely ill and seemingly healthy. Hand sanitizers had not hit the market yet and I doubt my mother would have bought them even if they had.
It turns out that exposure to dirt isn’t all that bad for children today. Now, my disclaimer is that yards and gardens treated with chemicals to fertilize and keep pests at bay would not be my choice for child’s play and ingestion. With that in the back of your mind, listen to some of the new research on dirt and children.
Jack Gilbert, who studies microbial systems at the University of Chicago, did a study after parenting a second child. He decided to investigate the science behind germs and the risks they pose to children in the modern era.
Perhaps surprisingly, his research demonstrated that most germ exposure was actually beneficial.
‘As adults, we naturally want to protect our children from anything that could hurt them, but what we may not realize is that, by trying so hard to protect them, we could actually be hindering their ability to develop a strong immune system. When we rush to wipe their hands and faces after playing outdoors, or block the affectionate licks of our pets, we prevent germs from working their magic.
Gilbert references the way life used to be, explaining that “we would have eaten a lot more fermented foods, which contain bacterial products and bacteria. We would have allowed our children to be exposed to animals and plants and soil on a much more regular basis.” Today we are so careful to ensure anything on them or around them is sterile, when in fact, that lack of exposure and over-sterilization creates a hyper-sensitized immune system:
You have these little soldier cells in your body called neutrophils, and when they spend too long going around looking for something to do, they become grumpy and pro-inflammatory. And so when they finally see something that’s foreign, like a piece of pollen, they become explosively inflammatory. They go crazy. That’s what triggers asthma and eczema and often times, food allergies.
By allowing your child to play out in the dirt and remain relatively “dirty,” you are increasing their chances of building a strong immune system. One main crime most parents are guilty of, despite the good intentions behind the behaviour, is over-sterilizing their environment. Gilbert specifically mentions how using hot or even warm soapy water is fine for washing your child’s hands, and much healthier than using a hand sanitizer.
Gilbert also debunks the “5 Second Rule” myth, explaining it takes “milliseconds for microbes to attach themselves to a sticky piece of jammy toast, for example. But it makes no difference. Unless you dropped it in an area where you think they could be a high risk of extremely dangerous pathogens, which in every modern American home is virtually impossible, then there’s no risk to your child.
This is definitely something every parent thinks about the moment the pacifier drops from their infant or toddler’s mouth. It’s a knee-jerk reaction that most people can’t help but have. Yet Gilbert offers some controversial advice for how to respond in this situation, recommending that, when this happens, parents should lick it rather than wash it. One study showed that for “parents who licked the pacifier and put it back in — their kids developed less allergies, less asthma, less eczema. Overall, their health was stronger and more robust.”
Dirt has amazing benefits for us, even as adults. Soil microbes, specifically mycobacterium vaccae, are considered a natural antidepressant.
Regarding the frequency of bathing, “Over-washing can actually damage the skin and lead them to have a higher likelihood of infections and over-inflammatory reactions like eczema.” Children under the age of six months and infants up to about 18 months can safely go a few days without bathing — using a warm wash cloth is sufficient.’
For more information, and to answer questions, you might want to refer to the book, DIRT IS GOOD: THE ADVANTAGE OF GERMS FOR YOUR CHILD’S DEVELOPING IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Perhaps the mud pies, the outdoor pets, livestock, walking soybean fields, making hay, and gardening were inoculating our immune systems as farm kids. It might be a good idea to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying the things children naturally do, to be sure they are healthy from the inside out.