Gathering my Thoughts




















I find myself:

::noticing God's glory

I definitely have shoots of tulips coming up. It's going to be super cold tomorrow. I hope all will be well.

::listening to 

Nothing. Very nice. 

::clothing myself in 

Layers. Many, many layers. Even indoors. It's cold, my friends. And tomorrow will be colder.


::talking with my children about these books

Misty of Chincoteague. Katie has requested "horse read alouds." We can do that.


::thinking and thinking

About staying warm and keeping children warm. We have no heat and probably won't until the end of the week, depending on how long it takes to receive the part. I'm being very intentional about what we do, where we do it, what we wear, how we cook, and what we eat. It's all about warm.

::pondering prayerfully

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

Aimee pointed out the the NAS version is Cease striving and know that I am God. Seems the perfect verse for someone who just spent six months making list after list and getting to nearly everything on them and trying mightily not to let anyone down. Perhaps it is time to cease striving?

To that, I've added Isaiah 43:1

But now, thus says the LORD,

who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name: you are mine.

Much more on this thought at the end of the week.

::carefully cultivating rhythm

We're getting there! Tweaks here and there to last week's schedule are going to render this week's nearly perfect, I think. Until the sports schedule shifts again;-). I've been working on our daytime learning schedule because it definitely needed some thought. Think I have that one nailed down now. My greatest challenge has been to figure out where to put our gym time. It's about two hours round trip to get there, work out, shower, and get  home. Some of those trips, I want to do with the children and some will be alone. I'm still working out the work out schedule.

::creating by hand

Flannel cozies. Katie and I sat in the warm, sunshiney window of the sewing room on Saturday afternoon and made eleven new flannel "pillows" filled with feed corn. When popped heated (the corn doesn't pop) in the microwave for three minutes, these become wonderful personal heaters. We filled a basket to overflowing on Saturay afternoon. They were fully utlized during football Sunday. Last night, I slipped a warm one beneath the covers of everyone's bed. Toasty. I'm sure those warmers will be busy all day. This project is a great one to do with children just learning to sew–nothing but straight seams, but some turning, corner practice, and a little filling challenge make for a satisfactory sewing afternoon. Then, when the cozies are so much appreciated, there is a bit of deserved afterglow. Detailed directions here.


::learning lessons in

 renewal. More later this week. 

::encouraging learning 

I have to amend a statement I made years ago. I said I'd never use IEW for a child under ten. Still true. For us, I don't think the Structure and Style Program is a good idea that young–I've had 7 children that age now and none of them would have benefitted at that age.  But now, the folks at Institute for Excellence in Writing have two (fairly) new programs written for beginning readers and writers. We're going to give them a try. I have lots of MP3s to download and listen to this week in order to learn the system. A teacher inservice to wedge into the regular schedule, if you will

::begging prayers

for Elizabeth DeHority and Kelly Davignon and Jen Fulwiler. And for all the folks who have asked for prayers this week.


::keeping house

We've vaccumed air filters and cleaned creosote from the fireplace. 

::crafting in the kitchen 

There is confusion in the kitchen. I registered for Heather Bruggeman's Whole Food Kitchen Online Workshop, which is supposed to start in February. I had hesitated and hesitated. Honestly, I'm a sucker for good visuals and everything Heather does is a good visual. I was feeling rather alone in my kitchen. It seems like every nutritious cooking endeavor is met with grumpiness, no matter how tasty. Somebody always has something negative to say. I figured the class would give me backup, because I have every intention of requiring it of my kids. 

After I registered, a friend loaned me her notebook from last year's class. Honestly, by the time I'd read the essays from every week, I was in tears. I didn't learn anything new. It was a beautiful presentation of the kitchen lifestyle I've long embraced. Until recently.

It's the grain-based, low meat kitchen that, quite honestly, doesn't work for me. Oh, but I can subsitute! I am assured that Heather's workshop could be totally gluten- and dairy- free. It can. I can completely avoid gluten and cook the alternate grains and potatoes for my family. But I can't eat them. I experimented last week with starches other than wheat. Not good. My entire system reacted violently. As in seven pounds of visible inflammation over night. The reality is that this way of cooking appeals to me. It's beautiful to me. But it makes me miserable. And sick.

But. But. But. An all paleo diet for a family this size would be very expensive and perhaps, needlessly restrictive.

I was feeling really, really despondent, perhaps unreasonably so. Food is such a relational thing for me. (Thanks for joining the conversation there. The giveaway is still open.) I felt like the people who live in this house couldn't care less about the value of the food. I think it and think it and think it. Perhaps I overthink it, you think?

Not so with the people who live here. They want to eat whatever they want, with little or no thought given to what nourishes them. And if I can't eat it? Oh, well. They'll eat without me. Furthermore, they'd be just as happy–happier, even–eating junk. Someone, who shall remain nameless, made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies four times last week. Um, yeah. I inhaled those cookies. Literally. Just breathed them in and tried to avoid the kitchen until they were gone.

By Sunday morning, I was sick and tired of thinking about food. I was also pretty miserable due to the experimentation with grains after trying some of Heather's recipes. Kristin came over for football and made Moroccan zucchini boats–no grains, dairy, beans, sugar, or potatoes. Oh my goodness! They were delicious. I was so hungy! And so grateful! 

Today is a new day. Kitchen adventures continue.


::loving the moments

When we are all home on Sunday evenings. Our friend Molly was home from college this weekend and joined us Sunday afternoon and evening. Patrick was missed; maybe he'll wander this way for the Super Bowl. Seems like he should be here to watch a classic showdown of highly intense, competitive, athletic brothers;-). Michael and Kristin have come over every Sunday since the wedding. We've gathered. I really, really love gathering. I know that, as soccer season begins, these Sundays might not be so cozy and easy to to pull off, but for now, I'm really loving it.

::giving thanks 

Oh, goodness! Am I giving thanks for guardian angels. On Tuesday, I took Mary Beth to the gym. I thought the steam room would do her good. She's been sick since before Christmas–first with the flu and then with pneumonia. She'd been feeling some better and she wanted a try to do something a little more physical than the half mile walk she'd been taking every morning. She got on the treadmill, and well, treaded. I finished working out, and headed downstairs to to check out the class schedules. She followed a few minutes later, down 26 stone steps to stand with me at a granite countertop. And then she passed out, falling against me so that I could cradle her head as we both dropped to the hard floor. I'm sure the EMTs had been called before we hit the floor. I'm so grateful she didn't hit her head. I'm grateful for the care on the spot and the continuing care. And I'm so, so grateful that she was right next to me when it all "went down." (She never did get to the steam room.)

Then…on Friday, a heating technician waded his way through the mess in Christian's room to the closet that holds our heating unit in order to do a routine maintenance check. He discovered two cracks in the heat exchanger. Two cracks that leak carbon monoxide. He turned off the gas immediately and explained what would have happened when the cracks grew. Yeah. Scary. Ridiculously scary. Christian is fine and happy to have a reason for the headaches and other weird things he was feeling. We're over-the-moon grateful those cracks had not yet expanded. Crazy grateful. I'm also ridiculously grateful my husband was wise enough to provide for those routine checks.

living the liturgy

We are preparing for Candlemas. Candles. I do love what they do for our home.

::planning for the week ahead

If the heating guy isn't scheduled for Friday, I think we'll go downtown for the March for Life. Mike is due to head out of town for a few days sometime this week or next. I have lots of sewing and knitting to do. I'm contemplating watching the first season of  Downton Abbey. Or maybe Call the Midwife. Yes, it's true. I've seen none of either. So, which one? Or none?

 Photo credits: Various children took the camera to record Sunday afternoon warmth yesterday.


  1. trish says

    Elizabeth, thanks so much for sharing. Your family is in our prayers. Glad to hear Mary Beth’s angels are hard at work and sorry to hear about the heat. I am always inspired by your nu-canny ability to adapt and adjust! You are an inspiration!
    My vote for your viewing is Downton Abbey all the way! I have seen all the Downtons so far and am absolutely in love with that show. I did see the first few episodes of Call The Midwife and if I could only choose one, it would be Downton!

  2. says

    Oh goodness, Elizabeth. Prayers of Thanksgiving here, as well!
    Also… I’m sooo glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t seen Downton Abbey. We should start it together! ;)

  3. says

    I love both of those shows but think you would enjoy Call the Midwife the most. Sorry about the Whole Food Kitchen thing…I thought it might encourage you on your own path but instead brought up too much pain! I will pray for you as you navigate this sensitive area of your life and that you will find joy and freedom in the midst of “restrictions”…no doubt that is terribly difficult.
    Thanks for the heads-up on IEW…will look into that.

  4. says

    I’m so glad the crack was discovered before a tragedy happened, and I do understand the food stuff, we have the same issues here. When to let those who can induldge without making those who can’t feel left out. And for the TV, I vote “call the mid wife” It is funny, pro life without trying to be, romantic, intense….. I like Downton Abbey too but haven’t because of time been able to induldge much.

  5. says

    Elizabeth I really identify with the food thing. When I ate paleo-style I felt free of pain and symptoms for the first time in decades and weight melted off me. But I also felt like an orphan, bereft. I had lost all the familiar eating patterns, many of the beloved recipes, that sharing aspect of food that is so important to me, and felt like all I did was think about food. So I gave up. I can’t afford for everyone to eat paleo and I couldn’t cope with the stress of having two menus – either I had a fab day of food or the family did, never all of us eating well. And I hated not sharing meals fully. I’m watching how you manage with this with curious/desperate eyes!

  6. Delores says

    Downton Abbey. For sure. I tried Call the midwife… it seemed a bit rough. But that may just be me, and admittedly I only gave it about 10 minutes. But Downton Abbey just exudes beauty. It is a sight for the eyes, for sure.

  7. Heather M says

    I completely feel your pain on the eating and menu thing. For the last month I basically had to eat only meat, fruits, and veggies. Paleo plus no nuts or eggs. What a practice in self discipline over Christmas! Plus I feel the same convixtions as you do over food. Food is so much more than fuel for the body, but what I could eat s towas so boring! My motivation was to eat this way to find the food allergy of my baby boy and continue to nurse. Have you seen the ebook “Simple Food or Winter.” By blog writer from nourishing days. All recipes are grain free,if there is dairy it is on the side and easily left out. There are quite a few legume recipes but all the ones I have tried so far hav pleased my house which is 2 young boys and my hubby. Do you make your own bone broths? I swear by that for healing the response you had.

  8. says

    Oh, Aimee, don’t be sorry! Lots of people encouraged me. And I still think Mary Beth will benefit from it tremendously. I think the crux of it is that I’m still undecided about a whole foods diet as Heather presents it. It is certainly better than the SAD. Absolutely. And it yields the most graceful, economical of kitchens. I am not entirely sure that everyone needs to eat the way I need to eat. And therein lies my spinning. Does everyone have some level of inflammation when they eat starches and sugars? Would everyone be better off? Or is it just me, with a gut apparently very damaged during chemo and lots of sensitivities before chemo? I don’t know. And, frankly, it’s hard to make good decisions when one is hungry;-).

  9. Joan says

    Elizabeth, I feel your pain regarding food. I have to eat the same way as you. I’ve been eating this way for about 3 years now and it is getting easier. I do slip up, as is normal. My weak spots suffer though. That picture of you and your youngest little one, and your husband is so adorable. And the picture of Patrick (I think it’s Patrick!) with the heated pillow on his head is priceless. Thanks for sharing with us. May God Bless you!

  10. Patty says

    Elizabeth, many prayers of thanksgiving for guardian angels indeed. My heart is in my throat. My parents’ furnace broke in a similar fashion several years ago. They had a weekend of feeling poorly, so the kids and I stopped by for an hour. During that hour Madeline suddenly fell asleep in my lap (she was a baby) and Matthew fell asleep in the chair. Granted it was naptime but my children weren’t in the habit of just conking out where ever like that. I left feeling like I had the flu, drove home fighting fatigue and fell asleep for two hours behind the wheel after pulling into our home driveway and parking. Imagine the neighbors wondering why we were all sleeping in the car? The next day my mother opened their basement door to find black dust all over the walls, obvious signs of furnace malfunction. Gah! How frightening.
    Thank you also mentioning Downton vs. Call the Midwife; I’ve been asking myself the very same question!
    Blessings to you this week. Stay warm as best you can. It’s been very cold here the last couple of days. I got chilled yesterday afternoon and I finally broke down and used the bathtub to get warm last night. Brrr.

  11. says

    Great pictures! See, the sadness of ‘dispersing’ leads to the joy of ‘gathering’. Lovely to see it unfold amongst your beautiful family.
    Pneumonia really does have a long recovery time, (sorry, that’s the nurse me speaking) but Deo Gratias! And Christian – Deo Gratias yet again!

  12. says

    I feel your food pain! Have you thought about going on the SCD diet instead of paleo? It seems to be a bit more flexible. And there are many who seem able to go back to including more foods in their diet after a few years. maybe not everyday but they could eat, say, a potato a free times a week without I’ll effects. Or even foods containing gluten.
    I’m glad your guardian angel was on the job for you all last week. Carbon monoxide leaks are nothing to fool around with! Keep lots of sweaters on and eat a lot of soup. You don’t flaunt to know how cold it is here today. Lt’s just say that if our furnace were to quit we would be forced to move to a hotel and I’d have to take the plants with me so that they wouldn’t freeze. Let’s just try thinking warm thoughts…
    Stay warm and well fed and enjoy your day!

  13. says

    A couple of things…
    That pic of Michael with the heating bag on his head is the best!! Love that!! He is married, but still getting warmth and love from Mama’s house too.
    Second, my hubby is a heating and a/c specialist, and he has many times found the exact same problem in people’s houses. What absolutely kills me is that people will ask him if it is okay for them to continue to use their heat while the part comes in. They do NOT understand the dangers of that carbon monoxide coming out of their registers. They sometimes get upset when my hubs tells them that no, they can’t. I am sure some of them probably run it anyway. So glad that yours was found before any further damage was done.
    The gathering…ah yes. My two oldest boys are married, and there is just nothing better than when they come home, bringing my precious grandbaby, and we all sit and laugh together. The best is when they start to reminisce about their childhood, because my littles thrill to the stories that their big brothers tell!!
    Stay warm!!

  14. says

    Aaack! Should have spell checked before posting… Typing on my iPad is so much fun! Please pretend that everything is spelled correctly and I meant to say “You don’t want to know how cold it is here today!” I wouldn’t flaunt our weather to anyone…

  15. says

    I love those cozy pictures; I do not love that you have no heat. Brrrrrrrrr. Praying that is gets fixed QUICKLY! It’s frigid here in Ohio, too.
    I keep WANTING to go Paleo. I know I should. But then: I flunk. Hugely. It seems like everything I love is grain based, especially pasta.
    And I love Downton. :) I Haven’t seen Call The Midwife yet, but my friends say it’s really good.

  16. Angie W. says

    So glad that MaryBeth is alright. I vote for Downton Abbey, as well. Very enjoyable! Just a suggestion: do you have a carbon monoxide detector? Especially in the room with the heater. Life saver for under $100!!! :)
    Blessings on your week and busy menu planning.

  17. Jodi-pa says

    I have autoimmune issues myself (once you have one You’re susceptible to others. I have 3) so feel the best when I eat paleo. With 9 other people to feed, including my 87yo mother-in-law who has her own set of dietary guidelines and won’t eat ethnic) I have found a rhythm of cooking for us all with slight modifications for me. Usually a meat, vegetables and salad for all of us and then an additional side for the rest (Mac n cheese, roasted potato cubes or baked, etc). I have given up making homemade bread from fresh ground wheat. Store bought stuff I can resist much easier. I do make the dough occasionally for a birthday or special request. Also, following multiplydelicious on Instagram gives me daily visual encouragement though she eats lots of eggs and sweet potatoes (I do eggs but not sweet potatoes). It can get easier just like any habit!
    Be blessed-
    You are appreciated!

  18. Sara says

    Oh Downton Abbey! Love it so!
    I am hoping everything is alright with your daughter. That must have been scary. I must admit, I am very nervous with all these germs going around this year. I would rather stay put in the house than have anyone catch something.
    And…I just made some rice bags last week. Similar to the popcorn version. My husband asked me to make them smell a little less like rice the next time around! haha!

  19. says

    Having not ever even heard of Call the Midwife, I would vote for Downton. But be warned that first episode (or is it the second) has a scene that almost made me turn the show off for good (a man makes unwanted advances on another man), but that particular story line seems to have been mostly dropped. I have enjoyed it ever since (not that there still aren’t soap opera elements, but nothing overly off-putting.
    Thank God for Gaurdian Angels…seems yours have been working overtime!!

  20. Betty says

    I am right there with you in the diet thing. Because 3 of us have celiac in our home, we keep our home gluten free. I keep GF frozen pizza and Udi’s bread and make lots of rice and potatoes to stretch things. We do have ice cream and GF waffles. I have 3 teens and a 9yo and a 1yo.
    I can’t eat grains either. I get so sick. So I try to make the main dish (meat or chicken) then make their starch/grain and then have some squash, or extra veggie for me available. When making spaghetti, I just reserve some of the meat sauce to pour over a spaghetti squash. I make myself some emergency almond flour scones and freeze them. I grab one when heading out the door so I don’t get too hungry.
    If you go to (I think that’s how to spell it). She has a 2 week menu for free that includes starches for the family. I also rely heavily on for recipes for treats for myself. It’s been almost 5 years since my diagnosis and I’ve given up on making/finding a bread substitute. I just try to make things for myself that keep me from temptation. I can do some dairy so I always have SCD 24 hr yogurt as an emergency food. I keep organic turkey burgers in the freezer for a quick meal for me. Eggs are also helpful.
    I have to eat this way or I swell up too. My last baby is my first one since my celiac diagnosis and I wonder how all this is affecting the quality of my breast milk. Baby still feeds every 3 hrs even through the night despite how much solid food she eats. I’m so sleep deprived. Hubby travels all week for work and I think of you often. It is hard being in charge of so many things, not feeling well, trying to figure what you can eat, being sleep deprived etc. One of the differences is that its in the 70s here in Florida. I pray you get your heat working sooner than expected. All is grace, right? Pressing on!

  21. Leslie says

    I also have a large family (12 under 20) and I’ve been on a paleo type diet for over a year now… With occasional slip ups. While the entire family eats healthy, no processed food or refined sugars, I do have to treat myself special sometimes. My husband is my biggest ally because the hardest part for me is not giving all my food to the children. There is no way we could give 14 people grassed burgers for lunch, for example. Then, when I have mine the eyes just stare! My husband has been great at explaining to the children that my health is a priority, that if momma’s not well, then the house falls onto disarray. That I cannot take care of them unless I take care of my own health first. 16 pregnancies have taken a toll on my body, but through this diet and supplements, I am regaining my health and my energy, which benefits everyone!
    So my advise is to treat your diet as you would a medication. It may not be necessary for the entire family right now, but it is necessary for you, so give it a high priority and remember… If Momma ain’t happy….ain’t NOBODY happy.

  22. says

    I’ve watched all of DA and some of CTM (“some” because I can’t watch women give birth while pregnant. I mean…no.) I think DA is waaaaaay better. Just my own preference.

  23. says

    Downton Abbey first, then Call the Midwife. I’ve seen only a few of those, but they were good.
    I could totally relate to everything you said about the eating and the family that couldn’t care less! I don’t “have” to eat Paleo, like you do, unless I want to be happy. ;-) But I’ve over thought it to death; my husband doesn’t want to hear one word about food anymore; my kids just want to eat—although I do have one who eats paleo (but he can get away with cheating and I can’t). I feel so alone in the kitchen! And I really don’t like not being able to celebrate the Church feasts the way I tried to when the kids were little! All those saints days are full of sugar and wheat. I did find a paleo Dutch Pancake recipe that made me really happy, though! I also just bought The Perfect Health Diet hoping that the allowed starches will be beneficial to all of us.

  24. Moira says

    Thanks so much for sharing, Elizabeth. Love the photos, esp. the one of you and Mike and Sarah, it is the perfect picture of “husband”ry, him holding his littlest, with his arm sheltering his wife. And while I’m here, I want you to know how important your writings are to me, how they inspire me to at least try to be a bit better at “wife”ry, at fulfilling the duties of my station, something I do not do well, I’m afraid. Blessings on you and yours.

  25. says

    Hi Elizabeth,
    First of all, so glad for your good news about the CO2 and Mary Beth.
    As for me, I cannot recommend Downton Abbey and I’ll tell you why. I LOVE LOVE all things Victorian or Jane Austen or anything really that is like them. I sat down last night to watch the first episode of Downton Abbey with my husband and we were both loving it big time. (I’ve converted him to my genre of movies!) Anyway, it was all totally spoiled for me with a very open homosexual act. I watch so little of any TV or mainstream movies that I was shocked. To me, it was like taking a beautiful ball gown and throwing mud on it and still saying it’s beautiful. That’s just me as I see many ladies have recommended it. I was unable to watch past that point, though. Just another perspective!
    Take care and stay warm!

  26. Susan (DE) says

    Downton Abbey was very fun, but sort of melodramatic. There were mentions (two?) of male h*mos*xual “love” — at least one partly enacted. But I enjoyed it a lot, even though that oldest daughter’s BAD BAD behavior (nasty words, mostly, but not entirely) to her next younger sister DROVE ME NUTS. (I think I relate as the oldest daughter myself — I feel so strongly that what she did was HORRIBLE to her younger sister.)
    I LOVED the first three Call the Midwives, though the birth enactments are very intense. I wouldn’t just allow my young (under, oh, 18 or 20?) kiddoes (boy or girl) to watch without previewing. The second three seemed more into “social issues” and less into the births. I didn’t like them as well, myself.
    But overall, I loved both shows.

  27. says

    Call the Midwife is wonderful. I like Downton Abbey too, but definitely not as much. It’s rather more of a soap opera for sure, whereas Call the Midwife has the feel of a documentary-drama. It has quite serious story-lines, all based on the real-life experience of a community nurse-midwife, working under a religious community of same. There have been some tears here, and hearts in throats! I watch it with my 13yo daughter and my (almost)11yo son, who both love it, and can’t wait for the next season (and, we are not at all a tv family, except for football, so this is something pretty new for them and they are quite impressed. They aren’t jaded by american tv, is I guess what I am trying to say): much food for discussion for us as a family! The acting and production quality are stellar.
    I am SO glad the furnace trouble was discovered in time. Thanks be to God.

  28. Heather says

    Downton Abbey is great, but Call the Midwife is, too. I’d pick DA if I had to choose one to watch, but definitely read the book it based on, The Midwife/Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth. It is a wonderful story of life in that place and time and also has a great religious aspect, too. I laughed and cried reading that book, which is very rare for me! And it is a true story!

  29. says

    This can be one of those times you can be thankful that you don’t have an old farm house out in the country! If we had no heat, we’d be high tailing it to some where that did! LOL It’s 15 degrees outside right now and even being set at 65 the furnace hasn’t shut off this whole day. My husband is in North Carolina. Sigh. Poor man! :)
    Very thankful for God’s protection of you and your family!

  30. says

    I loved the book to. Just beware of two or three chapters in the middle. Very graphic and upsetting to me, but the book overall was very, very good.

  31. Stacy says

    What frightening situations with your daughter and the furnace! Praying she is well (I had pneumonia back when I was 19, and it took me a good three months to completely recover.) I wanted to cry, when your were describing the food situation in your home- I’ve experienced that “oh well,..” and it really does hurt! Too often, I find I work so hard at making a lovely meal for everyone else, that by the time I am finished, I am way too tired to make my own meal, and end up substituting with something less healthy or lovely. For some reason, my brain has trouble multi-tasking in the kitchen. ;o)

  32. Stacy says

    OH, and my vote is for “Call the Midwife.” I loved the series, the Christmas special, and I just finished the book. It is such an interesting look at a part of English history that was completely unknown to me. I found the stories very gripping. The series adds a bit to Jennifer Worth’s book, but I would liken it to an historical fiction of her historical book.

  33. Ann Marie says

    Prayers of Thanksgiving for those Guardian Angels!
    I started Downton Abby last year after hearing so much about it and have really enjoyed it. Also heard great things about Call the Midwife but have yet to make time to watch it.
    I share your kitchen frustrations but for very different reasons. Trying to get away from so much processed junk so I’m spending much more time in the kitchen but it never seems to be enough to stay on top of things and so much negativity when I serve the meal I worked so hard on.

  34. says

    So thankful with you Elizabeth. If we could but see the things He protects us fro.m ever seeing.
    I think you would love both series, but there are things in Call the Midwife I think you would love. I am so taken with the scenes of the nuns praying and singing the scripture. It is heavenly. There are some very intense moments, and I wouldn’t recommend it for your young ones, but I just love it

  35. Shelli says

    1. Carbon monoxide detectors please. My husbands family about succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning so we’ve always had a detector. 1 by the bedrooms.
    2. I eat paleo, my husband eats paleo. We sneak it into the 4 kids as much as possible. I have a gluten sensitivity. I equate flour to poison and I have been very good to resist. Dairy is much hard to resist as is chocolate but when I do I feel amazing. It took 2 years to avoid the temptation of gluten. I’m sure it will take 2 years to avoid the temptation of sugar and dairy. It’s a process just like everything else. And thank goodness for paleo blogs and pinterest recipes.

  36. Mary Lou Shookhoff says

    I got as far as “Misty of Chincoteague” and child hood memories came flooding back. I loved horses and read Misty and “Justin Morgan Had a Horse” but my all time favorite was “Black Beauty”. I read that book to death. Literally. It was in multiple pieces when I sadly threw it out. When I finished my library books for the week, it would be either that or “Little Women” which I would reread over and over. When I was young, and school was out for the summer, books were a large part of out leisure time. Only it wasn’t even taking the bus to the local library, the library came to us. Once a week the Bookmobile would come and my sisters, our friends, and I would be eagerly waiting. I was allowed to take out 5 books a week and, once I narrowed down the contenders, I took the thickest ones because I read voraciously. Thank you for bringing this great memory to me.

  37. Stephanie P says

    Our family has been in a similar situation. My body started falling apart a few years ago after our 4th child was born 5 years ago. At the same time our oldest, who was 5 at the time, started going through some major issues. My body also suffers from inflammation due to all the grains. My son and I had been to several doctors, allergists and naturopaths. We are finally seeing someone whom we believe is helping us. Child number 3 is now allergy free after her treatments. She apparently had a severe allergy to gluten. I recommend checking out and it will tell you a little bit about the NAET treatments. I was also severely allergic to dairy, now I am able to have raw milk/cheese after going through the treatments. I am still working my way through the treatments because I am so sensitive and allergic to many things. What I have also come to learn is that for some people who are so sensitive or allergic to a food or substance, elimination does not always work because you can be reacting to it even from a distance. So even if you are not eating it, you can still be reacting to it by having it near you or walking by it in the grocery store. This has been the case for us. My hairdresser told me she went through the treatments 2 years ago and is now allergy free. She couldn’t even walk in the grocery store near tomatoes because she was so allergic to them. She can now roll in a bed of them if she would like to. I have also learned that many of these issues stem from genetically modified (GMO’s) grains. Most are modified in the US. A lot of people will do just fine eating Italian made pasta or wheat because the wheat is not genetically modified. My son who is 10 and the oldest, was severely allergic to dairy. They will test you for each component of dairy. Lactose, Lactase, Casein, A1 and A2 protein. He is able to have raw Goat’s milk now and once he’s complete with A1 protein, he will be able to have raw milk again if we choose. We also came to find out that he was allergic to one of the vaccinations that he was given when he was 2 months and again at 5 years old when he went to kindergarten. We saw changes in him and for 5 years I have been praying for answers and begging someone to tell me what happened to my son but no one could. We finally have an answer. She has worked on “reversing” the effects of the vaccination. These are just a few of the ways this treatment has helped our family. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. Hope this helps!
    I also vote for Downton Abbey! Even my hubby can’t wait to watch it with me Sunday night’s! It’s the only show we watch unless it’s sports:)

  38. Christine Scarlett says

    I am so glad you discovered the carbon monoxide issue. I am sorry your son suffered some ill effects.
    I have been TV free for almost 32 years, but we do have a DVD player and I sometimes watch things during the cold weather. My husband and I watched the first two seasons of Downton Abbey which we borrowed from the library last year. The very first episode has a creepy scene and I turned it off. My husband mentioned it to a co-worker who told him that it was a gratuitous, but singular scene and suggested we reconsider, so we did. I enjoyed watching how the three sisters changed through adversity. The period clothing was a bonus,too. I really enjoyed the BOOK, Call the Midwife, except for one very disturbing chapter. The show expands on ithe book quite a bit, in ways both good and bad. There is a bigger emphasis on the “romances” of the nurse midwives. The book only hints at the approval of contraception, but the show promotes it. One episode in particular is quite vulgar; the dorkiest virgin nurse is demonstrating on an anatomically correct model how to apply a prophylactic. Lame and not for youth. I hope my wording is discreet enough for this site. The characters are primarily Anglican and their church approved of some contraceptive use beginning in 1930, so I guess it is historically accurate. As far as the birth scenes, I am a nurse and I thought they were well done. No nudity, just intensity. My verdict: read CTM, watch DA, but not with the kids. Probably too much of a time waster for Lent though.

  39. Rachel says

    Very glad to hear that you discovered the boiler fault in time! Also that Mary Beth avoided a nasty bang. My baby had pneumonia twice last year ( he has Down Syndrome and is prone) and I was surprised that it took so long for him to recover fully. I assumed that antibiotic therapy was a quick cure and unconsciously expected him to be fully well after that finished. It took around three months for him to get back to where he was and he had some developmental setbacks due to how weakened he was.
    I will pray that Mqry Beth can regain her strength over the next weeks.
    Really enjoying the recent posts, thankyou!

  40. Michelle says

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I’m an avid reader and infrequent commenter, but can’t resist chiming in on the food topic. I can’t tolerate gluten, dairy or soy at all, and am slowly realizing that grains in general are just not good for me. We have 4 children, ages 8 through 7 months, and all react to varying degrees to gluten, with 2 also sensitive to dairy and soy. We’ve gone gluten free in our household, and I have tried to compromise regarding grains and dairy. So if I bake, it’s only with almond flour or coconut flour. However, I buy 2 packages of gluten-free cookies every 2 weeks that the kids can have as an infrequent snack. Most breakfasts are some variation of eggs, meat and fruit, but the kids get GF oatmeal once a week. We use almond milk or coconut milk for cooking/baking, but I do get yoghurt and cheese for the folks who can eat dairy. I make homemade ice cream using canned coconut milk (which we think is better than most store-bought stuff) but my husband takes my oldest daughter for a weekly ‘date’ to an ice-cream parlour. And so on. My basic premise is to compromise in the areas that I can resist – I wouldn’t be able to bake GF without sampling, so I only bake what I can eat too. That keeps me safe, but the rest satisfied. Perhaps if when someone bakes things you can’t eat, you made a treat that you can eat, it would help? Just a few thought, anyway. Hope they help!

  41. Elizabeth says

    Oh my goodness, you are right, thank God for guardian angels!
    I vote Downton. It’s just plain fun. Call the midwife is also very good. I vote viewing them in that order, when you get time:)
    We love PAL so much, Elizabeth. My 6y.o. absolutely loves the games and everything else the program has to offer. Though my instincts tell me you probably do so much of this already with your kids just intuitively. It’s certainly worth it for me because I watched one of my first readers (my son) really struggle with certain aspects of reading when he was first learning. He would have loved this method. My daughter doesn’t even know she’s doing any formal reading instruction most of the time because she pretty much just has a good time with it.

  42. almamater says

    Elizabeth, Do you have Celiac Disease or just symptoms triggered by gluten? If it is the latter, check out the GAPS diet. It is a rigorous, but temporary diet (similar to SCD) that can heal a lot of problems. I have witnessed a lot of healing in several friends and relatives. I think our family is going to give it a try soon, though I won’t deny being a bit scared. Like you, not all of my family members are super concerned about nutrition. ;) I think my 15yo son summed it up when he asked, “Can’t I just do all of this when I am like 40 or something and re-evaluating my life and stuff?” LOL!
    My family of eight does eat all organic, grass-fed beef. We bought half a cow from a local farm and saved a ton of money. That might be an option for you.

  43. Jaime says

    IEW PAL is a fantastic program. I am a kindergarten teacher by training and have used this with two of my children at home. It has a fantastic balance of phonetics with whole language reading. Poetry, games and writing all mixed in. I LOVE IT!!! A great choice for a CM family!

  44. mary says

    Thanks for the recommendation for IEW. Your guardian angels are working hard! I did Heather’s class last year and although I do not have to eat a paleo diet, it’s very close to what we eat. I used Heather’s class to teach my girls about nutrition, pantry supplies, etc. I think that you will still get a lot of information from the class and that it can be turned into a cooking unit for your girls. (That’s what we did.) In fact, we plan to get out our binder and see what changes we’ve made in the year and what we could do better.
    If you have time, I would love to hear how your days go. My girls want to learn to sew and I’m not making it happen. It tends to fall to the bottom of our school day and by then, I’m too tired to find the sewing machine. When do you manage the sewing time? Thank you for all that you share.

  45. Angelina says

    Have you looked at eating for you blood type? There are several books on Amazon. As my family has walked through the same food journey you are I have found help in the idea of eating for our blood types. Hope it helps. Thank you for your honesty. You encourage me greatly!

  46. Angelina says

    Have you looked at eating for you blood type? There are several books on Amazon. As my family has walked through the same food journey you are I have found help in the idea of eating for our blood types. Hope it helps. Thank you for your honesty. You encourage me greatly!

  47. says

    I started watching Downtown Abbey on Netflix on Wednesday. Then went to Hulu for Season 2. Last night, I was entirely caught up. Nuff said. I am looking forward to hosting a party for the last show of Season 3! I am hoping to get at least one of my menfolk interested. Don’t know if that will be possible. Sometimes it;s hard to be the rose among thorns. :)

  48. says

    Oh my goodness, I had chills of panic when you related those scary stories about Mary Beth and Christian! I am so thankful that tragedy was averted in both instances! Praying that they are both feeling better…
    And I just typed, then deleted, a comment about the food issue, because it wasn’t very helpful, and it’s 5:12 pm and I don’t know what I’m making for dinner yet, so, really, who am I to give advice?!

  49. Rachel says

    Downton Abbey!! We love it, but do agree that one of the earliest episodes is off-putting. After that, much better. Hoping that you all warm up soon!

  50. Megan says

    Praise God that Mary Beth, and the whole family, really, are ok. The Holy Spirit seems to really be inspiring timing this week for your family! I hope that asthma hasn’t been an issue with the fireplace.
    And, as regards the food issues: so far it’s manageable for me to feed my family all the same food. My husband doesn’t have to follow any of the food restrictions, but does, mostly because he doesn’t cook. I do buy some dairy for him, because I know he likes it, and he keeps a little cubby of dairy/soy treats for himself. But, I DO NOT keep cheese in the house, because I know I would cave and eat it. Also, he doesn’t eat ice cream or milkshakes in front of me. And, as a nice surprise, he occasionally brings home a steak for me:) I try to keep a supply of baked treats in the freezer for when we go to a birthday party, so the kids and I don’t feel so left out. It’s really been helpful to figure out the biggest temptations and ask my husband to sacrifice in those areas (like the ice cream); somehow it makes all the other daily food sacrifices seem a bit easier.

  51. Tracie Craig says

    We’ve been around the paleo community for years (my husband does CrossFit). One thing we’ve noticed is that people who go strict paleo with their diet often lose their ability to digest a lot of dairy and other non-wheat starchy foods, because by avoiding those for so long the gut flora necessary to properly digest them has died off. Usually, taking a good probiotic will help with this issue (yogurt, kefir, kimchee, natural sauerkraut, or pill form).
    I don’t know if that is your specific problem, but I thought I’d mention it. I’ve just seen this happen so much over the years; it can really play havoc with people’s health, and it’s ironic that it’s something they unwittingly do to themselves in a bid to improve their health. (The water retention is common after being very low carb and then eating them again, it eventually evens out.)
    Good luck, and stay warm!

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