More Challenges

Well, we received our daughter’s food intolerance test results and the foods she has issues with are pretty much the same as the rest of us, plus a few more.  This is common within a family, as the individuals within a family share a common diet.  That’s actually the good news.

The bad news is she has an extremely leaky gut, even more so than I had over a year ago.  Leaky gut is caused by a variety of things, including use of antibiotics, GMOs in the diet and candida albicans.  In her case, all three have played a role.  According to her test results, she should be much sicker than my son, who also has a permeable gut.  But his issues are different, in that he is still recovering from CMV Mom.

How do you tell by looking at someone’s basic food panel that they have a leaky gut? In her case, it was unmistakable.  She reacted to nearly every single food on the test.  No one is intolerant to every basic food, which tells you that her gut health is severely lacking.

So, what is a leaky gut or gut permeability?

A permeable gut is damaged intestinal lining where the tight junctions between cells loosen, allowing undigested food particles back into the bloodstream.  That’s not supposed to happen, so it triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system.  This cause a boatload of problems I won’t get into here.  A few are diabetes, skin inflammation, asthma, etc.  For more information about leaky gut, I’d encourage you to research it.  It is very interesting.  The thing about leaky gut is that it causes a myriad of different symptoms and each persons symptoms are different.

Our guts contain approximately 70% of our immune system, so when it is not healthy and working properly, we are at risk.  How to heal the gut?  Well, the first step is to avoid foods that give a strong immune reaction for at least six months.  Sis is reacting to everything, so the moderately reactive foods will  need to be rotated, because, well, she has to eat SOMETHING, right?  This means we must rotate her foods out every four days, which can be a challenge in the kitchen as I try to create menus and snacks that literally EVERYONE in the family can eat.  At this point, I am making 2-3 different meals at each meal to accommodate everyone’s issues.  I really don’t have to time for that, so I need to put a lot of thought into this.

She and my son are both also on supplements, which require me to have a supplement schedule so I can keep it all straight.  I spent some time yesterday getting it all down on paper so I can post it in the kitchen, just underneath my bulging vitamin and supplement cabinet.

Attached is Sis’s menu for this week.  At least I’ve got her figured out for now! Weekly_meal_planner

I’m losing my chef after this week, so it’s all on me next week.  Can I do it?


A New Year & New Challenges

I’ve been absent for an extended time, again, and thank you for your continued patience with me.

We have had a challenging year and this new year looks to be a continuation of some of those challenges, plus a few new, more delightful ones.

Our eldest son has had a long term illness since May that has required a lot of my time and energy.  It started as CMV Mono and just snowballed.  We’ve been working with a naturopath and are seeing some results.  He is keeping a blog and you can read his story here, if you like.


Noah at his last Judo Tournament in April.  This is where I am sure he contracted CMV.

In addition to my own food intolerance issues, and those of my next son down, we are dealing with his, as well.  The good news is that we have mostly the same issues.  The bad news is I have spent the past year trying to re-program myself in the kitchen and it’s been a tough road for me.  We are currently waiting for our oldest daughter’s test results, which will hopefully show the same food intolerances and no big surprises!

I had my kitchen pretty organized and my meals all laid out, my pantry inventory in writing, (all of which may be found on this site!) and I even spoke on this topic to encourage others.  It’s a topic that is important to me and I like to share what I have learned and discovered along the way to help other busy Moms feed their families with a plan to keep stress and food costs down.  I still feel like I can help others with this, but I am learning more about doing it with food issues in mind which requires me to do a lot of research and sometimes get creative.

Between this and my son’s slow progress in healing, this past 8 months has felt like a long road of two steps forward, one step back.  He’s frustrated.  I’m frustrated.  We’re all just pretty darn frustrated.

In September, we got a bit of a surprise when we discovered that Baby #7 was on his/her way! Wow!  It was a lot to take in at first, because we just weren’t expecting that news, HEHEHE.  If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know I get very ill during pregnancy, so it’s been a challenge to keep up our usual pace, make sure the housework is done and keep everyone fed properly not to mention keeping everyone educated, to doctor, dentist, orthodontist, chiropractor appointments AND our outside commitments (which we could not just drop without leaving others holding the bag)! Life can’t just stand still while I develop a long-lasting relationship with the throne.

In November, our youngest got Pertussis.  I was up every night for three weeks with her.  The Chinese call it the 100 day cough.  Yep, she’s still coughing!  I was exhausted.

We had to get help.  There is no shame in getting help when you need it.  NO SHAME.  Hugging the toilet is not very conducive to scrubbing it, although I guess since I was there, anyway, it could have worked. But you know what I mean.  It was about survival.  So Beloved got me some help, after I nearly had an emotional breakdown before Thanksgiving (pregnancy hormones, and all that).  It was either hire help, or send the kids to public school (not MY suggestion).  It did not take me long to insist that made no sense AT ALL.  NONE!

He instructed me to hire a chef, and that is what I did.  Why a chef when I enjoy cooking so much?  Well, when I’m nauseous, I really don’t enjoy it that much.  We were living on frozen pizza, and it wasn’t working.  Plus, I tried to hire someone to come in and clean, too.  But I found someone to cook, first, so that is what we went for.  She is a trained chef and it’s been a great experience.  He found me someone to clean, too, but he never followed up, and I’ve been doing it, so everything worked out okay.

So, now as we prepare for a May baby, we have a bunch of projects we are trying to wrap up for our business:

  1. Get our new business website finished.
  2. Hire a secretary.
  3. Hire a technician.

Boom!  YEAH!

At home:

  1. Re-organize and decorate family room. (Nearly finished!)
  2. Re-organize and decorate girls’ room and move C in with Big Sis. (Sis grew impatient and started this project without me.  Will post pics, soon!)
  3. Install kitchen backsplash and new shelving.
  4. Move new baby things into C’s dresser, and adjust crib to correct level.
  5. Get new dog quarters and new storage shed built. (We’re half way there!)
  6. Remove side fence and relocate, with new materials/design.
  7. Take apart master bedroom, re-organize and do a deep cleaning.
  8. Freeze meals, stock pantry and dry goods to keep from having to leave the house after baby is born.
  9. Assemble birthing supplies.

We have a lot to do.  How are we going to manage?  Stick with me and watch as we figure it out was we go along.

“Labor” Day Weekend

Well, my weekend was filled with labor, in the truest sense of the word.  We had a lot of projects to finish and things around the property to take care of.  We’ve been so busy, that our weekends are taken up with getting all of the things done we can’t during the week, and that’s starting to get a bit old.  It would be nice to take some time to do something more diverting!

We had a few woodworking projects to finish, and Beloved worked on those, with a bit of help from myself and our oldest daughter.  General clean up around the property and some planning were taken care of.  We are finally ordering our metal carport this week.  We’ve been using portable ones from Costco for years, and are finally upgrading.  The dogs and some locked storage will be built into the rear of the carport.  It will also be used as a work out area, completed with heavy bag, etc.

I worked in the garden and took care of a bunch of preservation projects that needed to be done.  I had my boys pick tomatoes, which really needed to be done, and then I slow roasted them in the oven.  Next, I will puree them and can or freeze the result.

I finally roasted up all of the jalapeno peppers that have come out of the garden and made a puree with sea salt to add to salsas.  I’m just going to keep that in the frig with some olive oil on top to preserve it.

I  made more lacto-fermented pickles, including a half gallon for my Mom, but I am so done with pickles.  The lemon cucumbers keep coming, and I will be giving a bunch of them away this week.  I don’t think I’ll plant those next year.  If you like fresh eating cukes that are prolific, I would recommend them, though.

I made some grape jelly, putting me closer to my goal of 52 pints of jams/jellies for the year.  Current score:

16 Pints Peach Jam

4 Pints Blueberry Jam

4 Pints Mixed Berry Jam

8 Pints Grape Jelly

20 Left to go!  I will be making plum jam this week.

Today, I have red chilies to dehydrate in the oven.  I am dehydrating them whole, and then will store them in sealed, vacuum packed jars. Others I will grind up, first, before putting them in jars.  It’s been a good year for my garden, as I’ve put up hundreds of pounds of food.  After years of struggling with gardens, I am really enjoying my bumper crops!

I have some orders for dairy free pesto to fill this week, and then I might go ahead and harvest the rest of my basil and make more for myself to freeze and dry the rest of the leaves.

We did find some time to do some fun things this weekend.  I took my daughter to a formal dance, which required me to dress formally, as well.  That was a switch and I have to say I really am a jeans kind of gal.  But it’s nice to dress up every so often.

We took the whole family out to see Monsters University on Sunday and were quickly reminded why we only go to the movies once or twice a year -$52 admission!  CHA-CHING!  The movie was cute and baby sat on my lap the whole time.  She did get a fright and jumped out of her seat once.  Poor thing!

We had fun.

I ordered the rest of our school books, and now I’m really excited to receive them.  Books on my porch is like Christmas to me.  How about you?  I think I have a good plan of attack for schooling five children at once . . . I hope!

All in all, it was a good weekend.  We didn’t get everything on our list done, but we almost never do.  I have a few more weeks left before school starts, so I need to put my head down and get busy.  This week, we start some of our new routine with music lessons for my two middle children.  It looks like Wednesday is going to be music lesson day at our house.  This makes me think of a  friend, who has since passed away, who used to take her children to several music lessons on Wednesdays.  She put together packets of schoolwork for them to do in the car and called it Wednesday School.   I always remember her telling me about that.  She was a neat lady and is missed by many.

I also have a few sewing projects to complete this week: nightgown for the little one, curtains for her play kitchen (which is finally almost completed!), Judo pants hemming for my seven year old, and setting a waistband on a new skirt for me.  Lots to do!  September is always a busy time.

What’s keeping you busy this week?

Blessings today, Kris

I Could Be Better Prepared

2013 Forest Fires

Summer 2013 Southern Oregon Wildfires

If you’ve read this blog for long, you know that I am into preparedness.  That does not mean I am ready for anything and everything and super organized, because I’m not.  But I continue to work toward being more prepared because I feel the great responsibility of caring for our children not just in every day life, but also in challenging situations like natural disasters, epidemics and whatever else may come our way.

Like the situation we’re in right now.  We live in an area with a lot of wildfires burning.  Thousands of acres of forests are burning and over 100 homes have been evacuated.  We hope and pray for the safety of residents and firefighters and for the protection of property.  If you live in the area and would like to do something to help, please leave a comment here and I will direct you to a local program working to provide some relief to our firefighters.

Now, the fires are not too close to our home and it doesn’t look like they will be.  But this has been a good exercise to show me what I am not prepared for!  What would I need to be prepared for if the fire isn’t coming my way, you ask?

Hazardous air quality!

The wind has been just right to send all that smoke our way and last night the air quality was so bad it was off the charts.  To give you an idea, it was three times the worst air quality ever recorded for Los Angeles, California, a city known for it’s smog and poor air quality.  I’ve been monitoring the Air Quality Index (AQI) all day and we are pretty much stuck indoors since late yesterday.

They are recommending N95 or P100 respirator masks if you must go out, which we do.  We have animals to care for and you can’t completely stop life for an undetermined amount of time.  There are just things you have to do, sometimes.

But, of course, I have not gotten to the point in my preps that I have these handy dandy masks in my stores and I think a part of me depends too much on what I “think” my husband keeps for work in his warehouse.  I asked him if he has some of those kind and of course, he doesn’t right now.

Enter Amazon Prime.  I expect the smoke will not clear by the time I receive these in two days.  I bought them on my husband’s recommendation, as these are the kinds of items he deals with in his business and although the ones without the valve are a lot less expensive, he says the valves are the best to have.

3M N95 Respirator

Now, it’s a good thing in this situation that I can remedy my lack of preps in this area using Amazon Prime.  We’re using damp bandanas in the meantime.  But what if I couldn’t?

This is my wake up call to myself and to you all. 

Just do it. BE PREPARED for anything that could possibly happen in your neck of the woods.

Now, if only they made those handy dandy masks for dogs and chickens . . .

Been Busy. What Else is New?

Hi, all.  I’ve been busy here with gardening, some food preservation, sewing, weekends away for work and family, painting our living and family rooms and working on a project for our two year old.

We’re making an old entertainment center we got for free into a play kitchen for her.  It was supposed to done for her second birthday, but we ran out of time so are just hoping to get it done this week.  For information and fantastic photos of entertainment centers turned play kitchens, check out Pinterest or just Google “entertainment center DIY play kitchens.”

Seems like I’m always way too busy and there is never enough time in the day.  I would really like to make some changes this school year so we can be at rest, more.  I’m not sure how to go about that with teens in the house.  I’ll let you know when I come up with a solution!  For now, all I can think of is better organization to save more time.

One way to accomplish this is to create color coded chore charts.  In our family, each child has his or her own color and all charts, lists, etc., reference that child’s color.  I recently did a chore chart for this year as we switched up the kids’ chores again and I will upload it here for your review.  I like to use WORD, but you could certainly do it in EXCEL, too.  It’s an easy chart to make and it keeps things simple for the kids, removing guesswork or confusion about who is supposed to do what.

Now, if I can just figure out a way to make them enjoy their work, we’d be lookin’ good.

This week, I’ve got two kids at day camp and I miss them something terrible, already.  It’s only Monday!  My agenda for this week is:

  • Make pickles
  • Make relish
  • Make mixed berry jam
  • Go through and sort clothing
  • Choose paint and start painting chicken coop with kids

I’m starting the week off caught up on all laundry, so I need to keep it that way.  Wish me luck!

Why I Love My Large(r) Family…

There are so  many reasons I love having a large family.  Compared to some of my online friends, six kids really isn’t that many.  But most folks?  Well, they have a hard time wrapping their heads around why we have so many and how we make it work.

Here are just a few of the reasons I love having a large(r) family:

1. There’s always someone to play with.

2. Parenting a teen and a baby and everything in between is challenging, but fun and rewarding at the same time!  Teaching my older children to dance and my little children to read, shopping for formal dresses and onesies on the same outting, feeding teenagers and babies and picky middles at the same table, rocking a baby while counseling a teen; I’ve got it all!

3. There is no time for boredom.  I am constantly being challenged by my work, resulting in many lessons learned and lots of great personal growth.  Warning: If you ask the Lord for patience, you WILL learn it -the hard way!

4. Got a tough job to do?  Many hands make light work!

5. Can you imagine multiple talents, ideas and thoughts crashing together to create a wonderful invention, business plan or solve a great problem?  Now imagine this can happen without even leaving your house!  Too cool for words!

My large(r) family is awesome!!!


This is the longest I have been away from my personal blog.  I didn’t really mean to take this much time off, I have just been so busy and my energy has been going to doing things rather than writing about them.  But hopefully I am back.

What on earth have a I been up to?

Well, you mean besides having a baby, right?

I’ve been planting a garden, planning our homeschool year, cleaning my house and getting it ready for my first homebirth (which went awesome, by the way), having a baby, enjoying my baby, trying to keep a garden alive, ordering homeschool books, getting organized for school, canning….and on and on. 

Then, in August, my father in law passed away suddenly.  So that has taken up some time and energy, too.  We all traveled to California for the funeral.  But mostly it has taken time for my Beloved, as he has traveled to California several times since.  But it looks like he is home for the winter (we hope).  And, although we are saddened by his Dad’s passing, some good things have come of it.  The Lord really does work in mysterious ways!

Now we are into full on school and all of the normal things that go with it.  We are actually supposed to be living on a schedule; still working on that one!  We are enjoying fall field trips and crisp mornings, hot cocoa and learning together.  And I am looking forward to sharing it all with you once again.

So, keep reading.  And please don’t forget that I heart comments.  Happy fall!