Products. What do you use?

If you know me, and I know you are conscious about your household and personal care products I have asked you what you use. I believe in non-toxic cleaning supplies so some of these items I use are:

 

Household:

- White Vinegar and Dr. Bronners soap. 1 quart of vinegar to a fourth cup of soap. I use it on my counters, floors, bathroom, everywhere!

-white vinegar and water on windows.

—–> you know, boiling white vinegar also removes skunk smell from your home?     If you come to my house and you smell white vinegar it is because I have either cleaned or am trying to remove a skunk odor.  Last year our house was known for skunk attacks.  It turns out a mama made her nest under our house and hence we had a massive skunk problem until the babies were born and moved out.  Exterminators won’t touch the things.

-Laundry:  EcoVer  or Trader Joes brand…… I also have used Molly’s Suds, and Dr. Bronners and White Vinegar to remove stains.  I also love the Trader Joes Herb packet laundry bags to put in the dryer. They are amazing. I also use Molly’s Suds wool balls to take out wrinkles and reduce static.

-Dish: Mrs. Meyers…. love this stuff, mostly

Personal:

-Shampoo- I alternate between Berts Bees and EO. I  have super long hair, and both of these products work really well for me.

-Soap- Dr. Bronners or EO, I also love Raw African Black Soap

- Face- I love the “Collective Well Being” line, but sometimes I just simply use Coconut Oil (yes, that’s right) and Raw African, grade A Shea butter. I do have to admit, I use “Paula’s Choice” 2% BHA, but that is because I have post- pregnancy/ breast feeding acne. yay.

-Deodorant- Thai Crystal, Tom’s of Maine Lavendar, and on really hot days, Secret’s Natural Mineral

     I have played with the idea of making my own deodorant, but ….. I am just not sure.

-Lotion: Dr. Bronner’s, Shea Butter, and Coconut Oil.     One of my good friends introduced me to Coconut oil as a mositurizer years ago, and I have been hooked ever since. Shea butter and coconut oil literally kept me from having stretch marks after having two children.  Sunblock: Babyganics on myself and the kids

-Vitamins: Vitamin Code RAW and I give myself and my daugher a probiotic I found the in the kids section at Whole Foods. I am still really starting my journey with Probiotics so if anyone has any suggestions I would love those. Popular ones I know are Florastor and Culturelle.

 

 

I know this has nothing to do with farming, or food, but it is still a topic that interests me.

 

Another note. My family has been sick with nasty stomach bugs this year, and some people may argue that using certain products do not get rid of “bugs,” however, My kids are in childcare, and I am a teacher. Germs are very hard to avoid. :)

 

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Happenings

Unthawing
Birds
Wine
Beer
Mushrooms
Milton
Livestock
Fun
The best grits and cornmeal of your life

Spring.

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Spring Break!

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This time last year I was nearly 40 weeks pregnant and thought having one child was hard. Ha. Reflection is a funny thing. Two kids are hard. I have no idea how my grandmas did it with 6-7 kids!

Anyway, Spring is finally starting to arrive and we have had time to get outside and play. Outside play really is so much more fun with children. My spring break is always a test run of how I want the summer to go. So far so good! We tend to settle into a nice routine of breakfast and story time together, walking/ playing/ gardening, dinner, nap time, snack, then outside play, walks, farming and supper then outside, baths and bed.

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It is a good life.

Lately I have been making lots of smoothies from things I have on hand. Our favorite mix is frozen blueberries from last summer, kale from our current garden, homemade almond butter, homestead creamery milk, ground flax, chia seeds, banana, and carnation instant breakfast. So good!

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Can’t wait for summer and everything else warm weather brings!

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…Cat.

The dead of spring/ hunger month

This winter will not loosen its grip. Is anyone else feeling the absolute depression that sets in when it has been freezing cold for 4 months? I keep saying “this has to be the end” but it seems there is always ONE more snow storm. Blah.

After reading Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal Vegetable Miracle” I like to lovingly, or not so lovingly at all, refer to March as “hunger month.” I love Kingsolver’s writing and actually saw her at Sweet Briar last March and it was beyond amazing. I digress.

My pantry is down to the bare minimum from last year’s harvest, with the exception of our sausage our freezer is nearly bare, and nothing but the Scapes are peeking through the garden. Everything just looks dead. The weather has been so terrible we have not been able to get a disc in the dirt and get the peas in. Heck, even the farmers markets are not open. I need a greenhouse. Jake, are you reading this?

Anyway, here are some pictures from around the farm:

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See you soon!

In which I write about Leukemia

How do I start this post? Why should I write this? How do I begin? I have started it fifteen different ways and no beginning sounds right. How do I convey the idea of worry, love, fear, terror, worry, faith, misery, disease, illness, family, children, husband, work, ANC, blasts, AML, chemo, prayer, worry, food, cleaning, bugs, worry,  environment, sunscreen, dish detergent, hormones, CANCER, baby, child, love… everything…. into words?

 

I guess I will start at the beginning.

On February 4th 2012 my younger sister, Mandy, called to tell me my youngest sister, Tatum’s, water broke at work and she was taking her to the hospital to have the baby! I desperately wanted to go, but it was rainy, cold, and I was having severe back pain and just could not fathom getting out in the cold to go to the hospital and stay up all night….. it did not help that I was also very heavily pregnant.  I decided to go to bed and told my mom, dad, and sister to please call and keep me updated on the progress of the birth and I promised I would be there first thing in the morning. I went to bed, or tried to, and woke up at 12:30 am with a terrible pain that started in my stomach and radiated and settled in my back. After an hour of this I woke my husband and told him it was time for me to go to the hospital; not to bring the car seat, because I did not think I was in labor, but wanted to get checked out. heh. I called my family, who was already at the hospital, and told them I was on the way.  When we arrived my sister had already had her epidural and was resting happily in her bed surrounded by everyone. I wanted anything to take away the pain.  After I checked in the nurses did their assessment and to my astonishment I was 9 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I was having my baby too! Imagine that- two sisters having both of their babies (both girls) at the same hospital, with the same doctor, on the same day! What are the chances?

The night progressed and at about 2am my mom came in to tell me that my sister had started pushing! At 3:46 my niece was born. I was three rooms down and could hear her crying. She certainly had a healthy set of lungs! After her initial assessments were done her nurse brought her in to see me. She was swaddled, red, and as cute as a button. I held her and immediately fell in love. I was the first person to hold her besides her mom. Fast forward to 6:43 am, my daughter was born! They were 3 hours apart.

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My niece, whom I will refer to as “Doobey” because I will sometimes call her that, was a loving little baby. She was addicted to her mom and cried (very, very loudly) when someone other than mom took her. I often referred  to  her as a “spirited” baby because of her vocals and sensitivity.  As she grew into toddler -hood her personality evolved. She loved to scream, VERY loudly, to get attention, and, thanks to a wonderful family trip to Tennessee, she became “socialized” and finally let someone other than her mom hold her and play with her.  We took a similar family vacation this past summer to a lake in North Carolina and she was a changed child…. happy, talkative, and loved playing with her “aunties,” uncles,  and cousins and grandparents.

This picture was taken at Douglass Lake, TN: she was becoming socialized with “Poppy”

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Our family vacation this past summer in NC:

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I like to think of this past summer (2013) as a turning point in our family. In June my other sister had a Father’s Day picnic at her house- the allergens were at an all time high and Doobey, who had been battling a cold, really got sick at dusk. The summer progressed and she fought the occasional cold, got over it, and then moved on…. however around August we started noticing a slight change in Doobey’s face. The left side looked a little different, maybe lopsided? swollen? not symmetrical with the other side of her face? Another change: she developed a terrible diaper rash. Not your run of the mill red rash, but a swollen, blistery, horrible rash. We blamed my sister for not changing her enough (God forgive me).  On the way to her 18 month appointment she threw up in the car. Carsickness? She never got car sick before?

We started noticing the facial difference at about this time (late July)

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The Doctors prescribed a diaper rash ointment (which helped a little, but did not clear the rash completely- we still blamed my sister and brother in law), and in their assessments, initially, did not seemed worried about the change in her face.  My sister took her again to the doctor to examine her face; there were many options; a cyst, bone, cherubism, something else I can’t remember, or maybe… bone marrow. They sent her for an x-ray and also recommended her to an allergy specialist. The x-ray came back showing “something” and the allergy appointment was made. This was the third week of September. That Wednesday I went to pick my son up at the babysitter (who also watched my niece). When I got to the babysitter’s house Doobey was sitting on her lap. She looked very pale, and did not come to me and greet me or get excited. I found this to be very odd. The babysitter and I had many discussions about her face and her sitter consistently said something to the effect that she thought the difference in her face was caused by a cyst, or something of that sort.  On this particular Wednesday, she told me Doobey had bitten down and cried hard, and that she was unusually lethargic. She was also extremely pale, so pale she looked grey. I held her, gave her a kiss, and left with my son.  When I got in my car I immediately called my sister and told her she or her husband needed to go pick Doobey up, she was not herself, and looked terrible.  My brother in law picked her up.  When she went home, she went to bed at 6:30 and slept like a rock until my sister (her aunt) went to check on her at about 7:30/ 8pm.  When my sister roused her she was  very lethargic, and, had not had a wet diaper since 11 that morning. Weird.  The decision was made: she needed to go to the ER. My mom, sister, and brother in law took her in. I went to bed and anxiously awaited the news.

I woke up at about 3 am and it was my mom. She simply said, “leukemia.” I simply said, “no.”

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t think. I told my husband. I called my dad. I was in denial.

I finally went into a very restless sleep and woke with my 5:30 alarm. I couldn’t go to work. I had to go to the hospital. When I arrived  I found about eight doctors outside her door (this scared me) and when I went in she looked like this,

 

niney hospital(the red marks are not a result of the leukemia or anything else… she was playing with stamps at the babysitter the day before)

At this point we did not know her diagnosis or prognosis. The team of doctors came in and examined her and told us they would know the type of leukemia that day and then go from there.

That night this came in:

-she was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia)

-her prognosis (chance of cure) is 40-60%

-leukemic cells were found in her spinal fluid (moved into the central nervous system)

-her blasts (bad cells) were taking up 81% of her blood

What did it all mean?  The normal childhood leukemia is ALL. this has a 90% cure rate. Doobey has an “adult” leukemia. At diagnosis she was 19 months old. She was listless and pale because 81 % of her blood was leukemia. She was dying and we didn’t know it. If left to go on any longer she would have died.  Why couldn’t her pediatricians have found this sooner?  They said this leukemia presented itself in a very unusual way. Not normal for a baby. Not normal for a baby? That is because the BABY has ADULT leukemia.

I cried every day, I think every hour, for three days. If you know me personally and saw or talked to me within that time period I cried to you. Every time I thought of her, looked at my daughter, saw a picture, said a prayer I cried.  My mom, middle sister, and I also went through various stages of grief: denial (is this REALLY leukemia?), grief, and now, finally, we have accepted it.

She started chemo therapy. Her plan of action was to have 5 rounds of chemo: the doctors let her blood get to a certain level then pump her full of chemicals (therapy) to bring her immunity down to O, meaning she is at the mercy of any and every infection possible. Then they bring it back up, then they take it down again. It is a roller coaster of treatment and recovery.  She is currently in her last round, but when she is done she will still be immune compromised for six months (at least) and will be in and out of the clinic for another five years, and every year after that for the rest of her life.  I pray to God all the time (even right now) that the cancer does not come back, and that she will be going to a doctor until she is 100.

A lot has happened in the past six months. She has had a few complications, but she is hyper, curious, and meeting all of her developmental milestones. She is bald and skinny but funny and social, and very loving.

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As for my sister, I don’t know how she handles it. I don’t think I could. She is a rock. At 2 years old Doobey is the strongest person I know. My sister is the second strongest person I know.

 

Did you know that AML has a trigger? Just like a gun, the cancer was in her body, waiting for something to ignite it. WHAT COULD HAVE TRIGGERED THIS. The only absolute known trigger for AML is a chemical called benzene which is found is some paints.

WHAT CAUSED DOOBEY’S CANCER?

Now- I find myself asking many questions.

Was it her diapers, food, sunscreen, diaper ointment, cleaning supplies my sister used, insect repellent, mold, hand washing, hand sanitizer, lotion, perfume, dish detergent, the air conditioner, the gas logs, lakes, swimming pools, Walmart yogurt, fruit, dirt, trees, oxygen, wood, bugs, insecticide, laundry detergent, furniture polish, wood buffer? WHAT WAS IT?

I have always believed in eating organic and using non-toxic products to clean my home, but since this diagnosis I am a fanatic. I use everything non-toxic I can think of on myself, my kids, my home (if you know me then I have probably asked you what products you use: everything from your face to your home wash). I do this because something caused her leukemia. Something. I do not mean this conclusion to be a lecture, but I do hope we are all aware of the toxicity of our environment.

Thanks for reading this post. I still don’t feel like I said everything.

Have questions? Leave me a comment.

Making Sausage!

Welcome to our sausage- y kitchen!

I love sausage. One of my favorite memories of childhood is watching my grandma McNabb can and cook it and the way the smell would fill the house. I still love that smell. I love the smell of bacon too and my sister often remarks how my hair smells like bacon. Weird? yes, but Mmmmmmmm. We live in an old farm house and I feel like the house itself has absorbed the smells from years of wonderful cooking. Anyway, I digress.

I am so lucky to have married a man who loves coming up with ways to prepare and enjoy meat like I do, and I must say… He is AWESOME at it! We always have a variety of local meats in our freezer: chicken (ours we raise and process), beef (ours), lamb (4-H, local), pork (local). We regularly grind and freeze sausage but Jake just got a stuffer for links and they turned out amazing! He used intestines for the casings. (Ever heard of chitterlings?)

I can’t wait for him to stuff a variety of sausages! (This was breakfast sausage)! Maybe I will try canning it this summer.

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Sorry for the poor picture quality, but, I use my iPhone. I am just an ordinary girl trying to capture a moment. Even this can be hard with kids.

See ya!

Baby, it is cold outside

Trying to stay warm

Trying to stay warm

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It has been a while. What do you think? Should I revive le blog? My kids are a little more self sufficient so I may actually have some time.

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