What came first: the arsenic or the egg?

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(courtesy healthfreedoms.org)

Yesterday I did some reading, and one article was of particular interest to me: What’s REALLY in Your Eggs?  Read the article – it’s fascinating.

I kinda figured that eggs laid by hens that have been living out in a pasture where they have access to sunlight, exercise, and their natural food would be healthier than eggs laid by hens who have been living in cramped quarters.  But I didn’t imagine that the difference would be so great – even to the point of needing to eat less pastured eggs to feel satisfied.  Quick summary: pastured eggs have twice as much of most vitamins found in eggs, and a lot less fat and cholesterol.  The biggest discrepancy is Vitamin D, because hens who live indoors don’t get access to the Vitamin D in sunshine.

The other disconcerting thought was the presence of arsenic in commercial chickens and eggs.  There is an (apparently benign) arsenic-based additive that is included in chicken feed in the US (I’m not sure about Canada), which gets concentrated and turned into a lethal form of arsenic in the chicken meat and their eggs.  It’s not enough to kill you outright, but they are saying that the accumulation of these low levels of arsenic causes all sorts of health problems over time.  Did YOU know that there was arsenic in your chicken and your eggs?

Pastured eggs are a lot more expensive than commercial eggs, which makes sense;  it costs a lot more to raise the chickens.  At times it seems ridiculous to pay $8 per dozen when you can get eggs for less than half that price.  But the more I educate myself, the more I think that my health, and that of my daughter, is worth it.  If we need less of the food to nourish our bodies, perhaps it won’t be that much more expensive to feed our family on pastured meats and eggs.  The trick is to adjust our habit of eating a large quantity of those items.  As a chronic over-eater, that might be a challenge…but perhaps it’s one I’m willing to take on. It can only benefit me.

For about six months now, we’ve been members at a local farm, called Tara Firma Farms, that raises all of their animals in pastures, feeds them the food they were meant to eat, and grows their vegetables and fruits using sustainable, organic processes.  We don’t purchase ALL of our meat, fruits and veggies from them, but it’s a start.  One day, maybe we’ll be able to afford to switch totally, but for now, I’ll do what I can to help my family be healthy.

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10 Things I’m Grateful For Today

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I know I’ve done this a few times, but I think you can never be too vocal about gratitude.  I haven’t been feeling very thankful lately because I’ve been sick for so long.  So I think it will be a helpful exercise for me to focus on what there is to be thankful for.  In no particular order:

  1. I found a house/pet sitter for our trip to Canada over Christmas.  This is something that’s been stressing me out for weeks, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it.  I suddenly remembered (divine intervention?) about someone who might be interested, and sure enough, she is.
  2. I’m starting to feel a little better.  I actually got our dog out for a walk this morning.
  3. The Bean is at daycare this morning.  I’ve got a few hours to collect my thoughts, get some of our sick-house mess cleaned up, and maybe take a short nap before I have to go pick her up.
  4. My Baby Sister.  She has been a real light in my recent darkness and I really cherish her.
  5. My Middle Sister. She inspires me to do more and be more.  I am so proud of her.
  6. Our home.  I’ve spent a lot of time alone (with the Bean) in our house for the last three weeks, and it’s been a cozy haven.  That said, I’m looking forward to getting out more now that we’re on the mend.
  7. Large appliances.  I am so grateful that we have a dishwasher, washing machine and dryer, so that a lot of the hard work can be done automatically while I do other things.

    (courtesy flixya.com)

  8. Music.  It lifts the mood and makes chores more fun.
  9. My Husband.  He goes to work every day to make sure we have everything we need.
  10. God.  He’s been answering prayers I didn’t even know I was praying.

Grief During the Most Joyful Time of the Year

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Today I am hurting for a friend who suffered a miscarriage this week.  This is supposed to be a fun, joyful, and busy time of year, and yet there are so many people with reasons to mourn at Christmas time.  Hearing about my friends loss brought back the pain of my own miscarriage in full force.

We had been so excited coming up to Christmas.  Two weeks into December, we discovered that I was pregnant, and immediately informed both of our families.  Come Christmas Day, we received gifts for our unborn little one, and I was already imagining the coming year of a growing belly and our growing family.  The baby was due on my birthday.

Two days after Christmas, I started bleeding.  I was barely 7 weeks along, and my dreams were coming crashing down around me.  I called in sick to work, and laid on the couch holding my belly and sobbing.  The physical pain was considerable, but the emotional pain was much worse.  There weren’t many who even knew of the pregnancy yet, and so in order to get the support I desperately needed from my friends, I had to inform them of my pregnancy by telling them of the loss.  The only person I knew of who had gone through a miscarriage was my cousin, so I reached out to her, and we bonded in a way that I don’t think would have happened otherwise.  I’m not sure I ever thanked her properly for that.  Thank you!

At the time, none of the well-meant comments about the frequency of miscarriages, the good chances of a healthy pregnancy afterwards, or the blessing that it happened so early in the pregnancy comforted me.   I endured a wedding shower (with family that hadn’t even known I was pregnant) and a baby shower within a month of my miscarriage, and it was so hard.  I was a mess at work for the first few weeks of January, and my colleagues were so sweet, even though I’m sure most of them had no idea what to do with me.  In the months that followed, friend after friend sent out happy announcements of their healthy pregnancies, and I cried.  I sobbed each time my period arrived, even though we had decided to wait a few months before trying again.

Of course, my Sweetie was also affected strongly by the loss, even though I’d had to convince him that having a family was a good idea in the first place.  In the few short weeks that we’d known of our little one’s existence, he had also formed some hopes and dreams for his child.  If people aren’t sure how to comfort the mother, they are even more at a loss about what the father might be going through.  I think the hardest part for him, though, was not knowing how to help me work through my own strong grief.

To distract ourselves from baby-related things, we took a trip to Thailand and had an incredible, life-changing journey that would not have happened if I’d been pregnant.  My best friend got married that summer, and it was fun to be able to fully enjoy the celebrations without the encumbrance of a pregnant belly. We started “trying” again, and I was tracking all sorts of unmentionables in an attempt to increase our chances of conception. I cried every time it became evident that there wasn’t a baby on the way.  It felt like an eternity of waiting.

Then, one day in July while I was alone with my thoughts, I suddenly felt a real sense of peace.  I knew God was telling me that he had things under control, and that I would be pregnant before my birthday – the due date of the baby who hadn’t made it.  Sure enough, that month I got pregnant – only four months after we started trying again.  Part of me was nervous that I would miscarry again. But for the most part, I just trusted the feeling I’d gotten in that quiet moment, and believed that everything would be fine.  And it was.  I had a relatively easy first trimester, a wonderful second trimester, and we were able to celebrate my healthy pregnancy at Christmas that year.

One thing that really comforted me was a statue of an angel that my parents had given me for Christmas two days before the miscarriage.  The angel’s hands are held to her heart as if she’s protecting something precious.  For me, it has always been a symbol of God holding me and my first baby close to his heart.  I still tear up when I look at it on the shelf, but it’s primarily a comforting feeling, not a painful one.

I still feel the pain of my loss every time someone tells me they’ve had a miscarriage.  However, I know that if that baby had survived, we would never have known our darling Bean.  I can’t imagine that!  My experience with miscarriage has allowed me to comfort my own sister and friends who have endured the same loss.  In the same way that I feel a special closeness to my cousin, I have bonded with those friends over our shared pain, and it’s good. Some people seem to be more matter-of-fact about having a miscarriage, and some are affected very deeply by it.  Each person needs to deal with it their own way.

So to my friend who is in so much pain right now, I know what you’re going through.  I am so sorry for your loss.  It WILL get easier over time, but for now, you have every right to feel lost, and alone, and disappointed, and supremely sad.  Cling to the hands and hearts of those who love you.  Allow yourself to grieve and then allow yourself to be happy again.  And then when the time is right, you’ll give it another try.  There are no guarantees in life, but the fun and interesting part is the journey.

Harder Than I Thought… and some clever ideas that someone else came up with

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I knew the discipline of posting every day would be a challenge for me.  But I didn’t count on being sick for two weeks (and counting).  I’m behind on pretty much everything: errands, Christmas planning, crafty presents, and housework.  It’s not really that I haven’t had time – the Bean and I have spent quite a lot of time sitting on the couch watching TV because we don’t have the energy to do much else.  The mental energy that it takes to think of something to write hasn’t really been around either.  Last night, I sat down to write and ended up getting distracted by a Skype call from my folks and Christmas present research.  Suddenly it was an hour later and I desperately needed to get to bed.

But I’m going to keep plugging on, and do as many days this month as I can manage. Today, I want to share a great link posted on Facebook by my friend Debbie yesterday.  It’s a list of 25 clever ideas to make life easier on Fabulously 40 and Beyond – a blogging community for women.

Some of my favourites:


Via: marthastewart.com

Overhaul your linen cupboard – store bedlinen sets inside one of their own pillowcases and there will be no more hunting through piles for a match.


Via: iheartnaptime.net

Add this item to your beach bag. Baby powder gets sand off your skin easily – who knew?!


Via: realsimple.com

Attach a velcro strip to the wall to store soft toys.


Via: kiboomu.com

Bake cupcakes directly in ice-cream cones – so much more fun and easier for kids to eat. Definitely doing this!

To see the whole list, read the article here.

Christmas at Our House

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We love Christmas at our house.  We had our outside lights up and the Christmas tree trimmed on Thanksgiving weekend.  And then we got sick.  I finally got the rest of the decorations up in an attempt to cheer myself up today, and I think they’re pretty.

Newly painted white mantle...it used to be dark brown.

Hand-carved nativity brought back from Africa by my youngest sister.

Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care...because otherwise they will fall down.

I love the blue and silver ribbon on this wreath.

Oh Christmas Tree...

The Bean LOVES the train

One of my favourite ornaments...a gift from my mother

Another favourite. She gives us an angel every year.

Our angel tree topper...I wish she lit up because you can't see her if the room lights are off.

Little Christmas village - next year, we won't be able to put this on a low coffee table, 'cause the Bean will be able to get to it on her own.

Window to the kitchen. When I was a kid, I bead-stitched the hanging embroidery piece.

The stuff in the background was too messy to do a far away shot, but this is the doorway to the diningroom.

Pretty silver detailing...

So, if you can piece it all together, that’s what our living room looks like right now.  It feels so festive.

Short But Sweet…

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(courtesy thehappyhousewife.com)

I’ve decided to put my crafter’s hat back on.  I was inspired by one of my favourite bloggers, Mommypotamus, who recently posted a bunch of great ideas for homemade gifts.  This evening I was baking up a batch of cute felt cookies like these ones.  So far, I’ve just got some circles cut out, but I’ll post pics when they’re done.   I can’t wait to see what the Bean and her friends think of them.

The Joy of Music

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(courtesy of wikipedia)

Recently my Sweetie picked up his guitar again and has started serenading us every night.  It started a little rough…after all, it had been at least 10 years since I’d heard him strum those strings.  But he was determined, and he’s starting to get pretty good.

When we first started dating, it was his rendition of The Barenaked Ladies song What a Good Boy that won my heart.  I was impressed that he trusted me enough to sing and play his guitar in front of me, and I was properly wooed by poetry and music.  As our lives became intertwined, things got very busy and the guitar disappeared for while…a very long while.  I’m so happy it’s back.

Sweetie has been experimenting with everything from his favourite classic rock songs and oldies to Christmas carols and children’s songs.  Probably the best part about his renewed love of singing and playing is that The Bean LOVES it!  She gets super excited when he brings out the guitar, and loves to strum and pick the strings herself.  She dances and smiles and laughs.  Today, she kept pointing toward the dining room where a bunch of her toys were, and when I set her free to show me what she wanted, she grabbed one of her bells and started playing along.

The Bean and I have been going to music classes together for a few months now.  She starts out reserved in each class, but gets into it earlier and earlier each time.  She has even started to sing along in class and loves to experiment with the instruments provided.

Treble Clef (courtesy of starmouth.wordpress.com)

Music is one of the major themes of my life.  I grew up listening to my parents perform duets as my father played guitar.  Later, I sang duets with my father as well.  I played the piano from the tender age of 6 and added recorder and flute into the mix later on in school.  I was in the church children’s choir, often chosen for solos and duets.  I joined the band and the concert choir in high school.

When I started college I stopped playing piano, was no longer in a choir, and sold my flute.  Music became something I only did in the car or with my family – singing at family gatherings, especially around Christmas.  I really missed singing in choir, but never thought I had the time to devote to practices and performances.  Perhaps I didn’t…I was working my way through school and living away from home.

I rediscovered my voice when I got pregnant with the Bean.  I sang to her and knew she could hear how much I loved her and the music.  After she was born, I made a point of learning lullabies to sing her to sleep.  I made up new words to old songs, and a few tunes of my own.  I pulled up songs that I hadn’t thought of since my own music-filled childhood.  They brought back so many good memories.

Attending toddler music classes with the Bean has brought so many more songs into my repertoire.  I’ve been practicing harmonizing again – picking out a harmony if there isn’t one I already know.  And to top it off, the Bean’s music teacher has now asked me to sing some harmonies on the album for the next session of classes.  We record in January!  I’m pretty excited.

I hope that the Bean’s love of music continues.  I hope she wants to play instruments and doesn’t feel shy about singing.  I’m so glad that my Sweetie is starting to model that for her as well, and it’s so much fun to have live music in our living room every evening!

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