Archives for February 2013

Natural Tooth Care: Four changes we’ve made

Most of our kids have good teeth, but one of our daughters came home from Ethiopia at 20 months of age with decayed teeth.  At age 2 we had four of her baby teeth capped and some others filled, and she’s continued to be most prone to tooth decay of all our kids.  Recently after yet another not-so-good dental exam, and observing that she also was developing dental fluorosis, I started doing some research on diet-related changes that we could make to help improve all of our dental health. Here’s what we’ve decided to do, with pertinent articles linked after each action point.

It remains to be seen whether these things will massively improve our tooth health and stave off cavities. But we’re giving it a try and see the potential for it to also improve our overall health. I wish I’d done this with our kids from the day they came to us. Thankfully we did do some things right.  We’ve used butter for years, we drink almost no soft drinks, and we have plenty of fruits and veggies in our diet.  But I’m optimistic that these new changes will help our family be even healthier.

If you’ve been reading this blog long, you’re probably wondering about the costs associated with these types of diet changes.  Costco is one of the most affordable places that I’ve found both for coconut oil and fish oil capsules.I’ve also gotten coconut oil at Azure Standard and on Amazon.   Raw milk is spendy– most weeks we drink only a couple gallons.  Some weeks we skip it.  Bone broth is very affordable– right now I’m making a big batch using turkey legs that I bought for $.88/lb.  But to put the changes into perspective, at our last dental visit, we spent about over $1000 on dental bills AFTER insurance, not to mention the pain of having multiple cavities filled.  We’re going to try paying just a bit more at the grocery store in hopes of paying less at the dentist.


Find this article interesting or helpful?  I’d love a pin on Pinterest!

Also of interest in this discussion:  Can a Weston Price diet cure tooth decay?


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Because few things in life satisfy a girl like facial hair

This afternoon while driving home from a movie, my 8 year old daughter said, “Mom, how come girls don’t have beards?”

I laughed.  “Well, I guess it’s because most girls don’t grow much hair on their faces.”

She frowned and sighed.  “That’s not fair.  I really want to have a goatee.”

The story of your life

I told you the other day that I really enjoyed reading Parenting From the Inside Out.  Daniel Siegel, the author of the book, said that being able to tell your own life story in a coherent way is a skill shared by the majority of emotionally healthy adults.  We’ve all got tough stuff that happened in the past, some harder than others.  But being able to make sense of it all in our own minds is a huge factor in emotional resilience.  You being able to tell the coherent story of your own life also makes it much more likely that your child will grow up emotionally stable.

I’ve thought about that a lot in relation to our adopted kids.  Too often major changes happened in our kids’ lives at times when they weren’t old enough to process what was going on.  That’s why it’s so important for us as parents to help them make sense of their own story, to go over it now and then with them so that they can process it in increasingly more mature ways, and to make it clear that we’re there to help talk through things and  try to answer any questions that they have.

My girls and I recently watched an amazing documentary that was a really neat opportunity for us to do some talking about their own lives, and for them to also just quietly take in the fact that many, many kids in the world wrestle with adoption and culture issues.  The movie is called Somewhere Between and tells the stories of several girls who were adopted from China as babies and toddlers and are now in their teens.  Several of the girls were able to go back on homeland trips to China to find out more of their story.  One even got to meet her first family.  It is a great, well-done documentary, available on Netflix.  If you’ve been looking for an interesting organic way to talk to your child about adoption issues and help them process their own life story, I highly recommend this movie.


Our sons’ 2009 Korea Homeland Trip  Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

40-ish skin & a $100 giveaway



Though I appreciate the added wisdom and perspective I’m gaining as I get older, I can’t say I feel the same about the changes in my skin.  My hubby, bless his heart, looked at this picture of me and said I’ve hardly changed since we first met when I was 17.   But I see the changes in myself and can’t help but wish that wrinkles didn’t come along with wisdom.

When I was asked if I’d be game to review StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles, I was more than willing. The stuff is pricey, but it comes in a huge 5-ounce tube, which makes the price per ounce actually pretty decent. It smells good and goes on nicely with just a tiny bit of tingling to signal its exfoliating effect on the skin. Some exfoliating cream is so drying that if you use it in the morning you’ll be peeling like a crocodile by noon. Strivectin-SD isn’t like that — it’s very moisturizing.

My skin care routine is really very simple. I do the oil cleansing method (I wrote about it here) and feel like it does a good job at moisturizing and leaving my skin looking fresh and feeling supple. I didn’t really expect this cream to magically get rid of my wrinkles — I’ve earned them, after all. But any improvement would be welcomed and I was really hoping to even out the brown sun spots on my cheeks.

Since the olive oil is so good on my skin, I decided to just add the StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate on top of that. I’ve used it for about 3 weeks now and am really happy with the results. It has noticeably lightened the sun spots on my cheeks, and made one smaller one on my forehead almost completely disappear. I need to start using it on the backs of my hands — I’d love to see if those spots would get lighter too.

 I think this tube is going to last me quite a while, but when I use it up I’ll be buying more. This stuff feels great on my skin, and has definitely improved the looks of it. It’s more even-toned and feels nicely moisturized. Love it! But I’m also glad I have a hubby who still thinks I look 17. I’ll take every advantage I can get!


 StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles dramatically diminishes the appearances of wrinkles, from fine lines to deep creases (and stretch marks, too!). It’s StriVectin’s #1 best seller, a wrinkle fighting hero. Only StriVectin formulas have a patented, clinically-proven NIA-114 molecule that powers up skin to help repair damage and fight off all visible signs of aging for a youthful look and feel. For more information, visit StriVectin’s website

 What interests you most about NIA-114, a key active ingredient in StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Stretch Marks & Wrinkles? Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.


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Sunday: You Are

When I can’t find the words to say how much it hurts
You are the healing in my heart
When all that I can see are broken memories
You are the light that’s in the dark

You are the song,
You are the song I’m singing.
You are the air,
You are the air I’m breathing
You are the hope,
You are the hope I needed.

Save Saeed

Are you familiar with the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini?  His wife and kids live right near me and attend a local church that many of my friends attend.  He went to Iran to set up an orphanage and in September was illegally imprisoned in Iran and is being tortured.

His wife, his friends, Calvary Chapel Boise, the American Center for Law and Justice, and numerous Christian recording artists are working together to seek signatures on a petition requesting the US and the UN to publicly demand Saeed’s release.

Would you sign the petition, pray for him and his family, pin this post on Pinterest, and share his story on Facebook? Let’s pray that God will turn the hearts of kings (Prov 21:1) and bring this man back to his family.

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The great bed switcheroo

The Nuffins gluten-free giveaway winner is Linda, commenter #40.


I’m still in the thrall of my great winter restlessness which so far has netted me a very clean closet and a new coat rack in the entryway.  Yesterday I decided that NOW was the time to finally get rid of my little girls’ bunk bed.  It’s a huge thing, with a futon double bed on the bottom and a single bed on the top.  I’ve rassled with it for years when changing sheets.

Does anyone else despise changing bunk bed sheets?  It EASILY makes my top three list of most hated household tasks.  It’s just so darned hard to do it nicely.  And by the time I’m done making both beds I always feel like it would have been easier to put sheets on a jungle gym.

The other thing I didn’t love was the way the size of the bed made their room feel crowded.  I’ve been wishing for several months that I could do something cute and girly like this.  Problem is, my hubby has bunches of other projects that I don’t want to derail, and after the almost-fiasco with the entryway coat rack, I didn’t feel confident enough in my woodworking skills to embark on such an ambitious project myself. And, I knew that much wood would be rather spendy.

So I began tossing other ideas around.  One of my 14yo boys has slept on mattresses on the floor, and was interested in having the futon part of the girls’ bed. I decided that if the futon part of the bed was going in there, we might as well put the upper bunk in their room too.  But since their room is big, we decided not to stack them.

That freed up my other son’s tubular-metal bed frame to go into the girls room. We began of disassembling beds, because of course none of them could fit through any of the doorways– and moved to move the girls’ beds upstairs and my son’s bed frame downstairs.  Since every corner of my girls’ room was cluttered with junk that of course also involved lots of cleaning and vacuuming.  The scene was pure chaos, with mattresses in hallways and bed frames half assembled.  (Sorry, I was way too busy to take pictures of the chaos for you, but I’m sure you can imagine.)

Also in the midst of this, I decided that to make more space in the girls’ room, their Barbie house  needed to move upstairs to the family room, so up that went.  In finding a good place for that, I totally rearranged and vacuumed the family room, in the process discovering a much nicer arrangement for the group of seating around the TV.

Luckily most of the kids had already gotten most of their school done, because for awhile all 7 of us were scurrying around doing various cleaning and moving tasks. I was especially glad for the screwdriver skills and muscle of the boys, as they were able to do most of the bed frame moving and assembly themselves.

I was still short one bed frame for one daughter.  I thought of just setting her mattresses on the floor for awhile. But then  I remembered seeing another old bed on Craigslist a couple weeks ago that was similar in style to the one being moved into my girls room. I checked, called the lady, found out it was still for sale, and also learned she would take $50 for it instead of the $80 that she’d listed it at originally. When we got to Boise to check out the bed, we discovered  it was huge, much taller than the other bed, and I wasn’t sure how it would  look next to the smaller bed.  But it seemed well made and I’d already gotten this far, so the kids and I loaded it in the car and got it home.

Once in my daughters’ room, I ended up very pleased with the way they looked together.  Even though there’s probably less floor space in the room, it somehow looks like more because the bunk bed is no longer towering and visually taking up all the space in the room.

At some point I’d like to tweak the colors in the room –maybe something like this? I’ve also thought of doing some kind of faux brass finish on the little blue bed so that they’ll be more of a matched pair.  (Anyone have paint recommendations for that type of project?) But already it is a huge improvement for a few hours’ hard work and $50.

The best thing was my girls’ delight with the new look to their space.  Last night they stayed awake in bed for an hour, whispering in the glow of their night light.  They love being right across from each other instead of stacked and not able to see each other.

The boys like their revamped space too.  They have a long narrow bedroom over the garage, which is really hard to photograph.  But I think the bulky bunk bed (taken apart into a single and a futon) works well in that space.   My son told me that if I was going to share a photo of his room that I should mention he’s got a nearly new Ibanez electric guitar (just like this one) up for  sale.  It’s in like-new condition and he’d like to get $200 for it.

I went to bed really tired last night, and I think the kids did too.  But all in all, I’d call that an extremely productive day, and I was pleased that all the kids were so happy with the rearranging that went on. And my girls whose room I didn’t touch?  They were happy too– although they helped here and there with the moving, they didn’t have do to all the heavy duty deep cleaning that the other kids did on their rooms!

PS– Anybody know about antiques?  How old do you think this bed is?  You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.


Last year’s project in my little girls’ room: my affordable closet fix

My stuff and theirs

I had an aha moment recently, which came from a variety of sources, and I thought I ought to share it with you in case I’m not the only nutcase  going quietly crazy at times over adoption issues.   (Cryptic, much?  Please forgive me;  I’m sitting here in the coffee shop at 6:18 am waiting for my coffee to kick in.)

Anyway, I’ve had various moments with teenagers where they’ve seriously disrespected me and I’ve just totally lost my cool.  I can  feel the steam leaking out of my ears, and the crisp angry words hissing out of my mouth, and I know the kid totally deserves every consequence I’m dishing out because, RUDENESS, hello!  You don’t treat your momma that way.

But in the back of my mind I also know I’m being triggered somehow in a way that I don’t quite understand.  I’ve hashed it out with my momma a few times.  (She’s my free therapist, and believe me, she’s as good as any paid ones out there.)  But all I could come up with is that I cannot tolerate disrespect from kids.  So they better get the sass outa their mouths.  Or else.

Problem is, they’ve experiences plenty of  ‘or else’– usually chores or loss of a favorite activity or early bedtime or early rising to weed flowerbeds, etc– and still they choose sass.  And still I fume.

Of course they’re wrong to be disrespecting me.  And since not all of our teens have been in our family since babyhood, it makes relationships much more complicated than average. (Folks who say discipline is discipline– do it right and you’ll get good results— well, most likely they don’t have a full grasp of the challenges of adoption issues, especially with kids adopted at older ages. There’s extra challenge, that’s all there is to it.)

Basically, what worked with some of our kids wasn’t working with others.  And the resulting relationship discord wasn’t blessing any of us.  Since I’m one of those stubborn problem-solver types of people, I wanted to figure out what I’m missing about these difficult interactions, and why rudeness so sets me off.

The first bit of revelation came a few months ago from The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind.  It’s an excellent quick-to-read book that does a fabulous job explaining brain function in a really understandable way. I can’t recommend this book highly enough, whether you’re parenting adopted kids or kids born to you or just dealing with humans on a daily basis.  It’s good stuff that we’d all do well to understand better.

My main takeaway from this book:  we have lower-brain (dumb-brain) and upper-brain (smart-brain) function. When we’re overly stressed and feeling threatened, we all go into that lower-brain (flight-or-flight) functioning, where typically we make lots of illogical choices. In fact, one of the signs of dumb-brain thinking is rigidity and lack of creative problem-solving. The better regulated we are –this has to do with oxytocin flow and the development of our middle brain– the more able we are to calm ourselves and use our upper brain to make wise and thoughtful choices.  We all have moments of disregulation, and kids who’ve experienced trauma often struggle extra with self-regulation.  But we can help our kids (and ourselves) get better at it.

Basically what was happening in a lot of these conflicts with my teens is that they’d get mad and start thinking with their lower brains, making bad choices illogically, not caring about the consequences I was tossing out.  Because their disrespect was making me feel threatened, half the time I also ended up reverting to dumb-brain functioning.  Definitely not optimal.  But why was rudeness such a trigger for me?

The next little snippet of insight came from this little video series about disrespectful kids by Dr. Bryan Post.  He explained that disrespect can actually be a coping tool, something that helps folks blow off steam, regulate their emotions, and gradually come back to a homeostasis.  The example he gave was the way a typical person responds to their alarm clock.  Usually there’s grumbling and sighing, but a few minutes later we’re up and resigned to getting on with our day. He said that when parents try to shut down what is eventually going to help our kids get regulated, we may actually be pushing them to act out in bigger, less safe ways.  A more effective approach may be to hear and validate kids’ gripes instead of shutting them down.  (Here, even though I was hearing his point, I was thinking, I still need kids to be respectful even while sharing feelings.  Respect is just huge in my mind.)

But then came the real light bulb for me.  He asked the parents to think back to their own childhoods to figure out WHY disrespect is such a trigger for them;  our parents never would have allowed half the stuff kids do today, right? I know my dad never would have.  There would’ve been World War Three right there in the living room.  And in fact, the few times I tried it as a kid, there was.  Much misery.  Much relationship rupture.  My dad was a good dad and I still love him to bits.  But he lost his cool majorly when we were disrespectful.

And therein lies the reason that my kids’ disrespect triggers me.  It sends me back to the most unhappy memories of my childhood.  Moments of extreme relational unhappiness.  Moments that I wished never happened.  And so when my kids disrespect me, all I’m thinking is, ‘This has got to stop-NOW.’

The feeling is irrational in its intensity.  Because, looking at it logically, my kid rolling her eyes and muttering sass under her breath isn’t at that moment causing true danger.  Yeah, it’s wrong.  No, it won’t bless her to do that to a boss when she has a job some day.  And I do need to address it and encourage my kid toward right. But AT THAT MOMENT it’s not truly risking anybody’s life.

So when my blood starts boiling at the disrespect, instead of losing it, I can remind myself why this moment is hard for me.  I’m being triggered, taken back to a stressful time in my own past. With that logical self-talk from my smart brain, my dumb brain can chill, NOT go into overdrive.  I can keep my perspective on the size of the issue,  keep on thinking with my smart brain.  I can give my kid a calm reminder and a few minutes to turn off her dumb brain and turn ON her smart brain.  And then we’re all happier.

Will it extinguish the rudeness eventually?  Maybe, maybe not.  But me being in control of my junk is a huge step towards helping them eventually control theirs.

For more info on wise self-reflection, I also highly recommend the book Parenting From the Inside Out, also by Daniel Siegel.  Good stuff.  I’d love to hear from other mommas struggling with frustration.  How do you handle those moments when your kids are getting on your last nerve?

Sunday: Reckless

I will lose my life
And just let go
Because I know this world is not my home
With fearless faith
I won’t be moved
Unshakeable inside Your truth
You laid Your life down
And gave it up
So I’ll give it up

I won’t waste any more time
My life’s Yours it is not mine
Use me Lord no matter what’s at stake

A great mom

This morning I happened to hear a snippet of radio conversation where a mom was sharing the sweet praise her 12-year-old daughter had written and gave to her on a valentine yesterday.  The DJ speaking with the mom congratulated the mom on such a cool kid and said, “Good job. Obviously you’re a great mom.”

Well, here’s a reminder for the mommas out there whose teens and preteens didn’t all shower you with love and appreciation on Valentine’s Day.   Don’t judge yourself by your children’s choices.  Give yourself grace. Sure, parent with the best wisdom possible. Guide them as best you can. But remember your children have free will, minds of their own.

Their choices — whether tiny ones like giving (or not giving) mom a valentine, or big ones that could mess up their lives for a good long time—those choices ultimately are a reflection on them, on their hearts, and where they are on their own personal journey.

Sometimes our very best efforts will not yield the results we long to see. Not yet anyway.  That doesn’t make us bad moms;  it simply means we’re doing our best while parenting imperfect, struggling souls in an imperfect world.

You are a treasure to God, whether or not you got sweet words of thanks from your kiddo yesterday.  Good job, mom.  Keep being faithful even when you don’t see fruit.  He sees every tear, hears every prayer, notices every sacrifice you make on your child’s behalf.


“….being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6