3

Dancing with Werewolves

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In the midnight darkness
put on your dancing shoes
Get up out of apathy
Break free from this werewolf skin
growing over you

Choose to dance
through the suffering
Strip away the heaviness
restricting you and breath

Find a way to dance
until that thick black fur falls off
Throw down those claws
and release those dreadful teeth

Let tears wash away
the moonstruck thief
whose madness has stolen your peace

Turn off all the lights
and dance at 2 am
Remember that beauty hidden deep within
the teenage passion for life
feelings too strong and deep to express with words

Reveal the maiden with the glowing skin
the one whose laughter shows the joy within
who can dance like nobody’s business
and loves to, even 9 months pregnant

You are that same girl
who danced in the Kootenays
laughing with Janine
as her blond hair fell over her face
and her arms wove a tapestry
in the half-lit room
filled with music

6

On “Food Matters:” Nighttime Ramblings of a Herbalist’s Daughter

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Tonight I watched a great documentary on Netflix called “Food Matters.” I liked it because while it addressed serious health issues related to poor nutrition, it wasn’t pessimistic or guilt inducing. Rather it focused on the amazing link between good nutrition and healing, and encouraged its viewers to be empowered to take their well-being into their own hands. The main message was: your body can heal itself if given the right nutrition.

Good nutrition heals the whole body, or rather allows the body to heal its whole self. Eating more fresh, raw, healthy foods is safe, effective and affordable, so barring situations of extreme poverty perhaps, we can all do it. And by doing so, we can treat and even prevent many chronic diseases like heart conditions and cancer.

This goes rather against the grain in our culture of specialized doctors and medications for every disease. The doctors and nutritionists in “Food Matters” sees drugs as toxins meant to target specific symptoms of disease, rather than heal the whole person. While very useful in some cases, the strong occurrence of serious and even lethal side effects from drugs make the return to overall vibrant health difficult when they are taken long term.

Here are a few tidbits from the movie I found interesting. The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous was very depressed. Upon recommendation he tried taking high doses of the vitamin niacin daily and recovered totally. He wanted this to be part of his program but was forbidden. Niacin is natural and safe yet doctors generally will caution against taking too much (ie enough to be effective) because they are not trained in nutrition. They’re trained, funded and promoted by drug companies who stand to lose millions if people cure themselves of chronic diseases, or better yet prevent them through good nutrition.

Another interesting fact was that various alternative health clinics have found giving large doses of intravenous vitamin C very effective for curing cancer. Vitamin C targets cancer cells without harming heathy cells, and has no bad side effects. We might be inclined to rebel against this because it seems too simple, but compare this to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation which harm all cells and cause nausea, hair loss, etc. Large doses of vitamin C kick starts the body’s natural healing process, without harmful side effects, while most typical cancer treatments are themselves carcinogenic.

Our bodies were made to be healthy, and good nutrition can keep them that way. We have the power to cure ourselves but must take responsibility for ourselves. We tend to flock toward the experts and feel we ourselves know nothing. This is a disempowered lie. As the movie says several times, we all know that we are what we eat. We can all take little steps to improve. We can listen to grandma and eat our veggies, and to mom and take our vitamins.

One of the huge problems we have today is absorbing toxins from our food (pesticides, fungicides, etc) and not eliminating them. This is why simple things like drinking lots of water and eating lots of fibre can help us so much. We enable our bodies to pull the toxins out through our guts and release them, instead of reabsorbing them into our blood.

This is especially relevant for me right now as I’m struggling with cholestasis, a pregnancy-related liver condition. In some women, high hormone levels mess with liver and gall bladder function and make it difficult for the body to process and eliminate toxins. The bile salts then get sent into the blood stream under the skin instead of eliminated, and make a person very itchy. Not fun! It took several pregnancies before an OB suggested bran flakes as a way to keep bad things from reabsorbing, and keeping up with them religiously makes a huge difference. As skipping them for a week or two can make the difference between getting this condition or not, I can only imagine that bran fibre must have great health benefits for others as well. The baby just kicked in agreement! Again, an affordable preventative nutritional solution with no harmful side effects.

A relative of mine was very ill with MS. The medication she had to take several times a week made her feel awful flu symptoms and did little to improve her situation, if anything. When she transitioned to a vegan no-oil diet upon recommendation of my Dad, a master herbalist who also studies nutrition, she had vast improvements. Her weight returned to normal. Her energy improved and she has been able to work part-time again and to come visit her nieces and nephew. Of course she still struggles, but it makes enough difference that she firmly sticks with her new diet, and has learned to make delicious food without the things that cause her body harm. She no longer has to give herself shots several times a week with drugs which make her feel terrible.

One of the things Iove about my Dad as a herbal doctor is that he is not an extremist. He’s all about baby steps. Make one little change at a time in order to reclaim your health and vitality. No crash diets. So here are some little health tips that seem doable to me, as a busy mother of soon to be six. I hope that means they are reasonable suggestions for you as well!

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1. Drink more water, especially first thing in the morning. Flush out what’s been sitting inside all night. If you need a swanky new water bottle to remind yourself to keep sipping though out the day, go for it. Fancy it up a little sometimes by adding a squeeze of fresh lemon, which is a great cleanser and liver tonic.

2. Eat more fibre. This is the powerful partner of water that will scour your guts and scrape out those pesky toxins, allowing your body to absorb the good nutrients you want it to. One super simple but effective fiber is All Bran Flakes. You can also get powdered bran to add to homemade pancakes, muffins, etc. Oats are good, too, and brown rice. If your kids won’t eat while wheat pasta, try Cattelli’s Smart Pasta, which looks white but has a higher fiber content. You can also throw nutritious quinoa in stews, wraps etc, without it being too noticeable.

3. Cut down on fried oils. Many dishes are just as delicious when you satay the onions etc in a few tablespoons of veggie broth. Or try a little coconut oil, which endures heat well and adds a nice flavor. If you’d like the omega-three benefit of olive or flaxseed oil, try adding it to your stew or other dish once you’ve finished cooking it, to preserve its goodness.

4. Eat more raw foods. The live enzymes in uncooked fruits and vegetables are so good for you, but are largely destroyed by cooking. How about a fruit and veggie platter at snack time, or on the table before a meal? Or some baby carrots and cucumber served with hummus as an appetizer? Of course salad is fantastic, and if you dislike all the washing and chopping involved, it’s worth it to grab a nice salad mix or some prewashed organic greens. There are all kinds available now, and it’s easy to fancy up your baby lettuces or spinach by throwing on silvered almonds, sliced strawberries or dried cranberries, and a sprinkle of feta cheese.

5. Eat less prepackaged foods and read nutritional labels carefully. The salt content alone in many pre made foods is rather frightening…like a frozen meal that has 30% of your daily sodium….sometimes in half a portion! Not that I’m a queen of this…the other day my kids had alpha-getties for lunch, but it’s good to be aware…and save stuff like this for days you have the flu and can’t cook. It’s good to teach your kids to read the labels, too, so they understand why you say no to certain things. Recently my 8 year old read the pop bottle and exclaimed “Oh, 7-Up has 41 grams of sugar in it, Mummy, that’s why you don’t let us get it much!” “Exactly!”

6. Even if it’s just sometimes, perhaps when on sale, buy some things organic. We can remember the favour we are doing our bodies in not having to spend energy removing extra toxins from pesticides from their systems. I didn’t say always or everything, because that can be expensive, but getting some organic veggies or fruit as a treat is surely a worthwhile investment in our health and that of our families.

7. Portion your treats. I bought some pretty little metal bowls at an East Indian store recently, and though they are likely meant for chutney or other sauces, they are great for little portions of ice-cream or pudding, or even for a handful of trail mix or a few pieces of dark chocolate…instead of munching the whole bag or chocolate bar by mistake while you watch tv!

That’s enough for one day! You’ll likely be hearing more from the herbalist’s daughter…doesn’t that sound like a fun medieval novel? ;)

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8

Mama’s Waiting to Hold You

Soon the stillness will be over
my night vigils will be broken by tiny cries
tiny eyes and tiny fingers
a little sweet mouth seeking comfort

A snuggle of a precious person
I’m holding for the first moment
of forever

Until then
you’ve wished to spend this time with me
your child
in silence and contemplation

to help me remember the depths within
buried by the business of day

Carry me the way I’m carrying her
because I need you just as much

Help me see in the fiery heartburn
and endless nighttime trips to the bathroom
the forge of your love

shaping me by these vigils of prayer
for the great work you have for me

entrusting me with another soul
a little person to love forever

Bless her abundantly
this little one squirming in my belly
and through her
bless the world

4

Random Silliness: Scotty Goes Exploring

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Let’s just say I couldn’t sleep, so this is the random silliness I got up to to distract myself from thinking about being awake. A friend’s mother gave us this giant Scotty bathroom tissue stuffed creature. At first I thought it was straight to the give away pile, but my brother and I laughed so hard over thinking about stupid things we could do with it, that it’s still here, exploring the world and having adventures.

Since I’m frequently up at night in the bathroom (gotta love the squished, almost 9 months pregnant bladder), I may as well have some fun with the Scotty creature. Someone’s gotta have some excitement!

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Thank you to my sweet brother who bought me this fun pen for my iPad!
Perhaps doing kindergarten style art will convince my body it’s way past bedtime and help me sleep… here’s hoping! ;)

Maybe then I could have enough brain power to actually finish the drafts I’ve been working on about leadership in learning and fostering peace in a warring world…but for now, it’s the adventures of Scotty, and me dreaming about soft pillows and happy sleeps.

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2

Academia Nuts

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Tonight my oldest daughter and I were cleaning up the kitchen while the second oldest, ever studious, worked on her homeschool. She had us guess words starting with the same letter:

“A is for apple, armadillo, Australia…”

“Academia nuts!” chimed in my cleaning helper. Hearing me laugh she said,

“Mummy, it’s a good thing you got married and had kids, cause your job is blogs, and otherwise you wouldn’t have much to write about.”

True enough! ;) So what have we been up to lately in Crazyland anyway?

We’ve been reading lots of books from the library. Here they are reading bedtime stories with their uncle. The big girls also like reading to the little ones, which is great practice for reading aloud and with expression. They also get to feel like the teacher, which pleases them…imparting their greater wisdom as the little ones snuggle up to listen.

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The kids have been colouring pictures and practicing letters.

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And making crazy drawings just for fun. Who can this crazy coffee monster be?!

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They all love stickers but these googly-eyed mermaid and pirate stickers were a special hit with my preschool crowd, who love the mermaid show Bubble Guppies. Three kids kept very happy for half an hour for $1.25. Not bad!

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I finally found the half-blank, half-lined journal notebooks I wanted at Shopper Drug Mart. I told the girls they can draw and write about anything. Not just what happened yesterday, but anything special they did before, read about, learned, etc.

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We’ve enjoyed making shapes on our geoboards. Mouthfuls like ‘parallel’ and ‘perpendicular’ are less intimidating when you get to make them with elastic bands! And we discovered times tables are much more fun when you recite them in silly voices. I’d do my best Gollum impression:
“Threeeee plus threeeee is NIIIIIINE!”
The girls would copy me then say, “Do it again, do it again!” Then they’d have turns choosing the silly voice themselves. Drama and math in one easy package.

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Nanna came and baked this birthday cake with my girls. They practiced math by measuring fractions and doubling the recipe. They sure love baking! I have many kitchen helpers pushing up chairs to stand near the counter, whether I like it or not! ;)

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We have been making cloth dollies and clothes with felt from the dollar store. Very fun, and great way for them to work on fine motor skills with little scizzors.

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This was our easy birthday party craft…even uncle and grandpa got into it!

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Our days have been very full…all this can be exhausting, especially if you only just turned three! ;)

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For a very interesting article featuring retired UBC prof Bob Steele on the importance of spontaneous drawing for the development of self-expression and literacy in children, check out the link below. It will make you happy for all the “scribbling” your kids do, and help you see that in drawing and expressing things they can’t yet put in words, they are learning to communicate, bond and interact in ways essential to developing later literacy skills.

Raise-a-Reader: Is childhood art key to developing language literacy?

4

On 2 am Poetry (and Chocolate Cake)

Oh the strange vigils of late pregnancy
when losing the battle between hunger and heartburn
means staying awake for the long haul
shuffling position in bed
and crunching tums like candy

Then taking long showers past midnight
and finally giving in to chocolate cake
at 2am
to appease that nocturnal belly beast
who jealously demands spoils
the way a dragon demands treasure

Only in this strange vigil of late pregnancy
would I be submitting poems to a prairie newspaper
at this ungodly hour
while eating plain yogurt with maple syrup
and sipping warm almond milk
to get sleepy

I wonder if I should go stare at the moon
with the ravenous racoons
who prowl my back yard

or stay inside and pray
cause it seems—
after the craziness of the day with kids—
that in this quiet moment
God wants to hang out
keeping me company in this sleepy solitude
as we wait together for the dawn of birth