weebly statistics
Home About Links Contacts Show Show

Healthy Child, Whole Child Book Review

by Amelia on October 29, 2009
category: Uncategorized


Healthy Child, Whole Child by Dr. Stuart Kitchek and Dr. Russell Greenfield is a book for parents who are interested in using both conventional and alternative medicine for prevention and treatment of illnesses.  The book is easy to read and the chapters are divided in such a way that if your child is dealing with a particular issue you can flip to the chapter and find out more information.

One think I appreciate about the book is that it takes a look at the WHOLE child, including environmental factors, activity levels, diet, and sleep.  It promotes that idea that preventing illness is a better strategy to healthy living rather and just treating every illness with the most aggressive strategy.  The doctors who wrote this book practice health care with the philosophy that integrating conventional (mainstream medicine), alternative (chinese medicine, aruvedic) and complementary medicine (acupuncture, herbal, or nutritional therapies) is the best approach to treating children and families.  They don’t dismiss alternative and complementary medicine and often prescribe remedies from those forms of treatment for illness.  In fact doctors who practice the philosophy of integrative medicine prefer to save the more aggressive treatments of illness if the more gentle approaches to medicine don’t work first.  They also prefer to have longer than 10 or  15 minutes with their patients.  In later chapters the book takes a deeper look at several types of alternative treatments (massage, chiropractic care, counseling, meditation/relaxation, herbal remedies, chinese medicine and homeopathics).  This is helpful especially if you are new to those types of treatment for sickness.

For those of you who are interested, the book encourages vaccination as one of the ways to keep your kids from getting sick.  Two chapters are dedicated to explaining how the immune system works, how vaccinations work and why they are important.  The book also explains why the overuse of antibiotics is a key factor in the “superbugs” that are now resistant to antibiotic treatment. One example is getting antibiotics for every ear infection.  A more integrative approach is to look at the evidence that most ear infections are viral and will resolve themselves in about 3 days.  The pain can be treated with over the counter pain relievers and perhaps a prescription pain reliever.  This approach can be stretching for parents who have it ingrained that an ear infection automatically means you need antibiotics to treat it.  The book has a whole chapter dedicated to explaining the different types of ear infections and how they are treated.

One surprising chapter is chapter 9 which is about how to protect your children from the hidden messages in mainstream culture–things like instant gratification, looks are everything, negativity, violence, sex and drugs.  I appreciate that they consider the messages children receive as something important to look at when viewing the health of a child.

This is a good introduction book for parents who want to learn more about how to think about how to keep kids healthy. It isn’t a book that you use to try and diagnose what illness your child may or may not have.  The last third of the book DOES explain most of the common illnesses that kids get most often and ways to use both conventional medicine and alternative treatments.  Illnesses covered: headaches, ear infections, gastrointestinal “tummy troubles”, reflux, colds and other respitory illnesses, allergies and asthma, and skin problems.  Also covered (briefly) are attention disorders and sleep issues.  In my opinion, both of those topics could be their own book when incorporating integrative medicine.

I have found this book to be a helpful resource on my bookshelf that I can pick up if we are dealing with an issue at home.  Like I mentioned earlier, this is a good intro book for anyone interested in learning more about integrative medicine.  It has a little bit of everything in it and can be handy to have around.

Happy Reading!

Do you use both conventional treatment and alternative treatment for illness?  Do you think homeopathics is a sham?  Have you thought about using a more alternative approach for treating illness?  What’s worked for you?

Deciding to Homeschool

by Amelia on October 15, 2009
category: 5 – 12 years (kid),Education


When children turn 5 (or 6) school is of course, the next milestone.  There are so many options now for school and many of them are appealing: public school, private school, homeschool (and there are many variations to homeschooling). In the US, homeschooling has become more mainstream.  Well, by mainstream it seems like everyone knows at least one family that homeschools.  The majority of children still attend public school.

Parents choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons and the availability of curriculum is so substantial that any parent can find (with some research) what kind of educational format they desire to teach their children.

Reasons for homeschooling:

  • Gifted children who can explore and learn broadly and more in depth at home
  • Parents want a better education for their kids
  • Incorporating faith into the classroom
  • Protecting children from the bad influences of public school
  • Allowing children to excel in areas they are giften and take time in subjects that are more challenging
  • Child has chronic illness that makes it difficult to go to public school
  • Parents live in a bad school district and want their kids to have a better chance at education

Right now our oldest child attends public school and we are homeschooling our middle child (long story–it was supposed to be the other way around but sometimes things have a funny way of working out).

I had been more interested in homeschooling than my husband.  He grew up around kids that were homeschooled for faith reasons and once those kids left home after high school and went off to college they lost their faith.  Many of them were socially awkward and didn’t know how to deal with people very well.  He had some very strong feelings about how keeping our kids out of public school just to shelter them and protect them from all the negative influences was not good reason enough.  Before he agreed to homeschool we had many conversations about how important it is to teach our children to learn how to deal with the world so that when our kids leave home to make a life of their own they know how to make good decisions and deal with people (and hopefully don’t chunk their faith).  As a mom, I find it so easy to want to protect my kids from every bully, aggressive behavior, sexual influence, other kids who do drugs etc.  I freak out thinking about all those things and want to keep my kids home ALL the time so they don’t have to deal with those types of things.  Ultimately though, I want my kids to learn how to deal with difficult people, and make hard and wise decisions for themselves.  I want them to learn how to apply their faith. So for us, deciding to homeschool was not (as much) about shielding our kids from “the world” as much as it was that we want them to have a good quality education.  Definitely part of me likes having them at home away from some of the things kids deal with today–don’t get me wrong!  Porn, sexting, drugs, bullying….it all freaks me out too!

I know a lot of families that homeschool and enjoy it and I wanted to try it.  Most of the parents I know who do homeschool their kids enjoy the time they spend together and love seeing their children learn.  I wanted experience if for myself at least one year and then decide if I enjoyed it enough to continue.  I’m glad that my first year at homeschooling is teaching just one child. I think it would be more difficult to start off teaching two different grades.  Our youngest, who just turned 2, is at home with me and my middle while we do school.

What to do with toddlers while you homeschool:

I have found that our 2 year old enjoys being around us while we are schooling.  He likes to sit in my lap while we are reading books, looking at pictures, or doing fun things on the computer. If we are working on writing, the 2 year old is too–in his own way of course.  I make an extra worksheet for him or make sure I have paper, crayons, and markers nearby for him to play with.  Playdoh is a big hit too.  He’ll sit at the table next to us and make playdoh creations for 30+ minutes. I was worried that  the 2 year old would feel left out but it hasn’t been a problem.

I love the flexibility of school time too!  Usually we start after we send off our oldest to school with Daddy.  (School in the UK starts at 9!!) Most days we are done by lunch.  Some days we run errands in the morning and we do school while the 2 year old naps.  I love that we can do whatever field trips we want and incorporate our faith into whatever we are learning in school.

We like the ways schools work in the UK so we are thinking that next year we will probably have both middle and oldest in public school.  We may decide to homeschool them when we get back to the States in 4 years.  Who knows?  We want to take it one year at a time for now.

If you are thinking about homeschooling here are some tips to get you started:

  • Ask around to other homeschooling families what they enjoy about it and what the challenges are. Ask to go observe one of their school days so you can get a feel for what a day looks like.
  • Start researching curriculum early.  Ask other families what curriculum they use and what they like about it.  There are SO many choices that it can be overwhelming in the beginning.
  • Look for a homeschool fair where different curriculum publishers have booths set up so that you can see their materials in person.  You can order any curriculum you want online but seeing it in person and getting a feel for what works with you and your children is easier when you can flip through the pages.
  • Be prepared to spend some money.  Homeschool curriculums vary in price depending on the publisher but it can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to 1000 each school year.  If you are planning on homeschooling several different children then you can reuse some or most of the materials for future kids.
  • There are tons of places online to buy used curriculums and also forums for parents to discuss issues that come up.
  • Ask around or look online to see if there are any homeschool co-ops that you can talk to or join.  Many homeschoolers form co-ops to do sports and other extra curricular activities and socializing.
  • Think about an area in your house that you can use for school.  We have a bookshelf that holds all of our homeschool materials.  We use the dining room table or coffee table to do most of our school time.  Some people have a dedicated bedroom for school.

Deciding to homeschool is a big decision and we all want to do what is best for our kids.  Have you ever considered homeschooling?  What concerns do you have about it?  Do you homeschool? What is your experience?  Why did you decide to homeschool?

photo courtesy of PearlsofJannah

Real Food for Mother and Baby: A Book Review

I should be drinking whole milk while I’m pregnant?  And better than that is unpasteurized, raw milk?

I should stay away from a low-fat diet? Especially while I’m pregnant?

What is “carbage”?

It’s okay to feed my baby meat?

So, can I or can’t I eat fish while I’m pregnant?

Industrial fats like corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil are making me fat and causing heart disease and diabetes?  You mean butter, coconut oil, and lard are better choices?

What foods are good to introduce to my baby?

You mean babies don’t NEED cereal when they first start eating? Are you crazy?

41wrrks-eal_sl500_aa240_I recently read Nina Planck’s book Real Food: What to Eat and Why based on the recommendation of a friend. Thanks Heather!  She also recommended Planck’s next book, Real Food For Mother and Baby.  When she told me that the book explains why mothers need more than iron and folic acid when they are pregnant and even trying to conceive a baby my interest was piqued.

This book will turn many of your thoughts about food upside down.  Nina is aon a mission to help people understand why it is important to eat “real food”.  Real food is food that people have been eating for thousands of years.  The kind of food that is minimally processed–meaning milk that comes straight from the cow, beef that is fed grass not soybeans and corn, grains that have been soaked, plain yogurt with your own added flavor, poultry that is allowed to roam and eat grass and bugs.  You get the idea.  Planck makes the argument that “industrial foods” are ruining our health.  Soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils are commonly added into our foods.  They are also highly processed and increasing our bad cholesterol.  The information in this book will make your head spin because it demystifies so much of our wrong thinking about food.

This book addresses all those questions I wrote above. The first chapter is basically a summary of her first book Real Food.  I highly recommend reading her first book to get more of the science and information behind her food recommendations. It is eye opening.  Chapters 2 and 3 deal with pregnancy and nutrition during pregnancy.  Chapter 4 covers breastfeeding. This chapter may make your eyes get as big as saucers in some parts but it is interesting all the same.  She covers why breastmilk is best for baby, what she would do if she had trouble nursing her baby, how formula is made, some of the basics of getting baby to breastfeed and even some anthropological implications for why we have to nurse so often.  Chapter 5 covers first foods for your baby.  This chapter has seriously made me rethink how I want to introduce foods to any additional children we may have.

This book, along with her first book, has caused me to reconsider the kind of foods I want our family to eat.  One thing that I really appreciate about her approach is that she recognizes that eating a traditional, REAL FOOD diet can be pricey.  Time magazine just had an article covering the benefits of grass fed beef for farms, farmers, and consumers.  The article showed how it is cheaper to buy  unhealthy, industrial food than healthy, traditional foods. Many of us are on strict budgets and have difficulty paying for free range chicken and grass fed beed for every meal.  She encourages people to pick and choose wisely and get the best that you CAN afford.  Can’t find raw milk?  Then buy organic whole milk.  Can’t afford organic?  Then at least drink whole milk.  She does recommend that we stay away from all foods that come with industrial indredients and not to fall prey to marketing schemes that tell us that processed foods are good for us.

When we get to England I am planning on implementing several things in the books I have been reading in the last few months about food.  One thing I want to do is avoid ALL forms of industrial food: corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, white flours, processed grains, powdered skim milk…you get the idea.  It seems almost impossible but I’d like to try it for at least a week and see how we do.  I figure since we are moving to a different country it might be easier to stop buying some of our industrial food culprits.

Other books I’ve been reading on the topic of Real Food:

The Omnivore’s Dilemna

Nourishing Traditions

Real Food: What to Eat and Why

Have you read this book?  What do you think?  Does the idea of drinking whole (raw) milk freak you out? Eating whole, unprocessed, real, traditional foods has been getting a lot more press recently.  What have you heard?

Is Your Kids’ Wrestling Getting Out Of Control?

by Amelia on August 27, 2009
category: 3 – 5 years (preschooler),5 – 12 years (kid),Practical Tips

876248679_db81340a57Do you ever think your kids talk too much about fighting or violence? Do your kids wrestle every day?  Does it start out fun and then end in tears? I noticed in the past few weeks that my two older boys were wrestling a lot and that the wrestling was turning into frustration and fighting quicker than normal.  At first I thought it was an “end of summer cabin fever and we don’t have much of a schedule” thing going on.  Then I noticed that my 4 year old was making a lot of references to fighting and it was really bothering me.

After talking to my husband and evaluating our environment we decided to try an experiment.

A little back story first: we are living at my mom’s house while we transition to our move overseas.  My mom has expanded cable which means that the boys have been introduced to Cartoon Network.  They love Pokemon and enjoy watching Secret Saturdays.  We have only been allowing them to watch 2 shows (or one hour total) in the morning for their tv time for the day.  They consistently were picking Pokemon, Secret Saturdays, or Transformers.  All of these shows are good guy/bad guy shows and there is of course some fighting.

My husband and I decided to limit the “fighting” shows to only one in the morning.  Then can choose a show on PBS in addition to one of the Cartoon Network shows.  Or they can watch 2 shows on PBS.  They love all the shows on PBS but there is a draw to the more unknown shows on CN so they still pick one from that channel.

Our experiment worked!  We started it this week and have noticed a significant decrease in their fighting.  Our 4 year old is not referring to violence as much either.

I think boys and wrestling go together and I don’t have a problem with them burning off energy in that way.  I don’t like it when they are being disrespecful, fighting, and using their imagination for fighting games ONLY.

I thought I’d share our little experiment with you in case you are dealing with some thing similar.  What do you think?  Do you notice the same thing in your kids?  How do you handle it?

photo courtesy of Aislinn Ritchie

Moving from One-on-One to Zone Parenting: Having a third child

by Amelia on August 19, 2009
category: Practical Tips

Some say the most difficult transition of having children is moving from 0 children to 1 child.  Some say it is when you move from one to two.  Others say adding the 3rd is the most difficult and adding more after that is a piece of cake.

mommy-gets-to-holdFor me, it was transition from 1 to 2 children.  We found out we were pregnant with our second child when our first was 7 months old.  We were a little shocked since we weren’t exactly planning on having another baby so soon.  We call him our “gift we didn’t know to ask for”.  They were supposed to be 16 months apart but Isaac (the second) was born 6 weeks early.  He spent 2 weeks in the NICU with some minor complications.

Having a 14 month old and a preemie was difficult for me.  Isaac was very jaundiced when he came home so he slept a lot the first few weeks.  After that he became more high needs and needed physical contact almost 24 hours a day.  I struggled with feeling guilty that I couldn’t always meet my oldest son’s needs right away.  I remember realizing that there were going to be many days that someone would have to wait while I met the other child’s needs–and that often meant that someone would be crying.  Due to the circumstances of the children being so close together and one being premature and high needs resulted in some post partum depression.  I was sleep deprived, still transitioning to being a stay at home mom, and found parenting to be quite a challenge.  Things started to get better when Isaac was 7 or 8 months old.


We wanted to give ourselves a break before having another baby.  Sometimes my husband would joke about getting pregnant right away again so we could just get it all over with.  I think my eyes turned red and tried to shoot lasers at him.  It took us a little longer to get pregnant with our third baby and the age gap between #2 and #3 is 35 months.  We weren’t sure if #3 would be our last baby and I had the attitude that I would enjoy my third as if it were my last baby. That attitude helped me to enjoy all my kids, and especially my third.  It helped me get through all those sleep deprived nights.

I found that adding a third was not as difficult as I thought it would be.  Adding a child to a family causes the whole family to transition since everyone’s role changes.  Responsibilities change between the parents, the former youngest child is now the middle child (or one of the middle children), the older child gains more responsibility and higher expectations.  It is a big shift in a family–unless you are the Duggers–they seem to transition very easily!

Keep in mind this is our experience with going from Man-on-Man parenting to Zone parenting!

Here is what we did that helped us get through those early days of having three kids:

I wore the baby in a sling a LOT.  It made life aound the house run so much smoother.

We had meals brought to us by friends and people from our church.  We also planned ahead and had some meals in the freezer.  Those were all lifesavers!

Both older kids were still napping during the day and went to bed at the same time.  Their bedtime routine continued as normal and their dad did all the bedtime stuff while I handled the baby, dinner, and dishes.

The two older boys spent a lot of extra time with daddy while I handled the baby.  (i.e. Running errands on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, making a quick trip to the store after getting home in the evening)

Friends offered to take our oldest to preschool two days a week and we were responsible for the third day. Graham (the third) was born on Labor Day so school for Ewan started two days after.  Having friends take Ewan to school and bring him home was super helpful.  Carpooling is awesome!

Some challenges and things to be aware of:

We found it difficult to bathe our third child regularly. For so long the older two had bathed together and gone to bed either at the same time or within a half hour of each other that we just couldn’t seem to fit the baby into the bathing schedule. I am so embarrassed to admit this but sometimes I wouldn’t remember when I had last bathed him–we were doing well if he got bathed once a week!  I finally figured out that I could bathe the baby in the morning and when the baby was about 4 or 5 months old and have more of a regular bedtime I would just move all the dinner dishes on the counter and bathe the baby in the sink while the older two were getting their baths after dinner.

When our oldest dropped his nap we started letting the middle child nap less. Eventually we dropped his nap for him because it was difficult to juggle three different bedtimes.  It was easier to deal with a little extra grumpiness in the afternoon and put both the older boys to bed early at the same time.

Our third child has done a lot of things earlier than our other two did–like eat cookies, ice cream, candy.  I am not big into junkfood for the kids but if the baby (who is almost 2) sees his older brothers eating a piece of candy, he wants to do it too.  He desperately wants to be a big boy and fit in with his bubbas.  I don’t let him get everything he wants by any means, but I am much more relaxed about letting the baby do things than I was with the other two.

My parenting is different with our third than it was with our first. We did a lot of things by trial and error with Ewan and now I am much more comfortable with being a mom.  I think I am a better mom than I was when I first started out. I understand more about kids, the ups and downs of different ages, my own limitations, and some things that seemed to be such a big deal aren’t such big deals to me anymore.   Being a parent is a lot of on the job training, isn’t it?

My house got messier. Now, I like to think that part of that was because we lived in a 4 story house and it was just hard to keep clean (looking back, I think we just had too much stuff in a 4 story house that was hard to keep clean).  My husband said to me one day, “If I come home and the house is a mess but you and the kids are happy–that is fine with me.  I’d rather come home to that than have you stressed out all day keeping everything clean all the time and being grumpy when I get home.”  There were many days I took his gracious attitude.

Having some special things to look forward to during the week helped me get through the monotony of day to day life with the kids. Living in a state that had a very long winter was difficult so the different activities really helped.  I went to a craft group on Monday mornings with some other ladies.  Some brought their children and they all played while we crafted and talked.  I went to a play group at least once a week.  We also joined my husband up at his school for family lunch day once a week.  All the kids from the school would run around and play together and it gave me a chance to be involved in the community. I had two things during the week that I did apart from my kids: I went to a Bible study and taught birth classes.

I got over the fear of taking all three kids out at the same time. In order for me to feel like a sane, normal person I have to get out of the house.  Sure, it was stressful sometimes and didn’t always feel worthwhile but having all three kids out and about became the norm.

Having two (or more) older children to entertain the baby and play with him can be a lifesaver. There have been many times that the two older boys have played peek-a-boo with Graham while I finished making dinner or lunches.  I imagine that if my kids had more spacing between them they could even be more helpful.

The more children you have, the more difficult it is to get one on one time with them. McKenna wrote a great article this week about spending special alone time with your children.  It gets more challenging but it is so worth it–and the older the kids get, the more they appreciate it.  My 6 and 4 year old always say they love it when it is “just me and mommy” or “just me and daddy”.  Admittedly, I struggle with this issue. I worry about my kids not getting enough individual time with us, but I think that overall it is more important for me to engage with them daily with quality time, regardless of who else is around.  I read a study that even if parents spend 15 minutes of quality time engaging with their children by getting eye-to-eye and talking or enjoying an activity together it makes a difference in children’s perceptions of feeling loved and cared for.


I don’t want this article to sound all doom and gloom–there are definitely challenges and some are quite different depending on the age gap between children.  Children are a gift and wonderful to have.  For all the challenges that having a child brings, there is 10X more joy that comes with it. My kids bring me delight and we spend a great deal of time laughing together as we celebrate each other and all our family inside jokes.

If you are considering having a third child but don’t know if you can do it, I say GO FOR IT!  It can seem so daunting before you get pregnant–or while you are pregnant with your third for that matter–but somehow it works itself out.  You find a new family routine, your children adjust, your spouse adjusts, you adjust.  It just works–like magic.

Are you considering having a third? What are some of your fears or considerations? If you already have a third (or more) did you have some of the same challenges?  Don’t be shy!  Tell us your story!

« Previous PageNext Page »


Blog Ads: