Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Lives On

Yesterday was gorgeous. My peeps were happily playing with a bucket of water and some rocks while I laid, bare-belly to get some sun, on our outdoor swing with my eyes closed for a few precious minutes.

Then I heard planning.

Addie: "Let's sell our rocks!"
Ryan: "Yeah! A rock stand!"
Addie: "How much should they cost?"
Ryan: "Uhhhhh, I think $2 is good."
Addie: "No. Let's make them $10. $10 is better. People buy things for $10 usually."
Ryan: {sighs} "Ok."
Addie: "You take the rocks over there {points to front yard} and I'll go make the sign! Oh, and Ryan?"
Ryan: "Yes?"
Addie: "Get a box too. We need a table!"

So Ryan grabs a moving box from the garage and takes their rocks to the sidewalk in front of our house. Meanwhile, Addie is inside making a sign to tape on the box stating that they have "Rocks for Sale $10 each".

Meanwhile....I'm over on the swing, trying as hard as I can to keep from busting out laughing.

You see, as my children are having this hysterical conversation and are working up their excitement over all the money they're going to make selling brown rocks from behind our garage, a certain memory from my own childhood arose in my mind. At about the same ages (8 & 10), my brother Brandon and I got the brilliant idea one summer day that we needed to sell empty rifle casings as "bullet whistles" to the people driving down our road. We just knew people would think it ingenious to use the metal rifle casings and blow into them like a coke bottle to make a whistle and that everyone who drove by was sure to buy from us. (Granted, our bullet whistles were 50 cents apiece, I think; not $10 like my children's overpriced rocks.)

Brandon and I gathered up our bullet whistles, some lawn chairs, and our sign and hauled them down our country lane to where our lane met the road. In the miserable summer heat, we sat there for hours, just waiting for a car to pass by.

We sold one whistle and quit.

After Ryan and Addie quickly sold their first rock for $2 (not $10), they became discouraged after a while for lack of business.

Ever the optimist, Addie tries to up their business by offering their customers an incentive: free water for washing their rocks.

Grabbing the mop bucket they were using before opening their rock stand, she fills it with new water and then goes back in the house to make yet another sign to tape onto the bucket: "Free water for washing rocks!"

She set this up next to Ryan and the rocks on the sidewalk and they continued to wait.

They never sold another rock. With long faces, they came inside to get ready for supper. They were so sure this get-rich-quick plan was going to work. I did, however, encourage them that they were each $1 richer than when they started, which seemed to ease the pain a bit. ;)

What is it about our children that makes them want to earn something the way their parents do? As a young girl, my mother was probably rolling in the floor, laughing at my brother and I for believing we could turn a profit selling bullet whistles. She knew the idea was ridiculous, yet she didn't try to stop us, just as I kept my mouth shut and didn't even attempt to tell my kids that selling rocks, clean or not, was not going to take them very far.

But why? Why do children want to do what they can to earn money? Lemonade stands, rock stands, bullet whistle stands...all are a means to what our children see (and we as children saw) as fantastic ideas of owning our their businesses and making their way in the world.

Entrepreneurialism and the free market live on.

Friday, March 28, 2014

For Sale By Owner Frustrations

We've had our house on the market for three months today. Three long months.

We're doing a For Sale By Owner, and we're first-timers at this. I just want to say that selling your house by yourself is no easy undertaking, and I'm not even talking about the paperwork and contracts involved! 

I think we romanticized this experience a bit going into it. We have a beautiful home in a fantastic, quiet, historical neighborhood. 

We thought selling it would be a cake walk. 

Boy, we were wrong! 

In case you're thinking about selling your home yourself, let me tell you what we've encountered so far that has been frustrating, angering, and just plain annoying. (I'm trying to help you make an educated decision here.)

  • No-shows. We had someone make an appointment to see the house last Saturday at 3:00. We busted our hineys to have the house spic-and-span by the showing time. They never showed. And they wouldn't answer our phone calls or texts to find out if they were just running late or what. I'm sure realtors deal with this too, but when it's your home, it makes you feel like you at least deserve an explanation.
  • Curious people. We've had more than a handful of people look at our house, and it is so obvious that they're really not in the market to buy a home. They're just curious to see what the inside of your house looks like! Apparently, this is a common occurrence in our neighborhood since all the homes are nice and well-kept, and they're very unique inside and out. It really feels like a bunch of wasted time to show people around your house, knowing they really won't (or can't) buy it.
  • Silence. In the three months our home has been for sale, we've experienced weeks at a time without a single phone call or showing. Hopelessness begins to invade your thoughts. It's not a fun place to be. 
  • Rude people. One lady called and asked how much we were selling the house for. When I told her, she immediately said, "That's really expensive!" Let's just say that conversation was very awkward after that. Another woman wanted to know if the house was totally move-in ready because she didn't want to spend money on the inside, but had big plans for the outside. She grilled me for over 10 minutes over the phone, asking tons of questions about our wood floors, paint colors, bathroom tile, and more. We were having an open house the next day, so I invited her to come and see for herself. She never showed. 
  • Interesting people. One person looked at the back of the house in the alley, which has a concrete retaining wall with some paint chipping off of it. Of everything she saw, this seemed to be her biggest concern because it wasn't "pretty". It's an alley, dang it! What's interesting about this is that she didn't seem to be the type who would really care about if the alley part of a retaining wall is pretty or not. She reeked of cigarette smoke and spent the entire time slurping a Big Gulp. It was just...interesting.
  • People who get your hopes up. This is probably the hardest. We've had four couples who have told us that they REALLY want to buy our house. They come look and go on and on about how much they love it and can't wait to move in, and "Just let me talk to the bank tomorrow, and I'll get back to you." And then they never call back. Or they go to the bank and don't qualify for financing. Or they look two or three times and talk about how they're ready to move in, and then you never hear from them again. Big let-down every time. 
Sooooooo, if it's so frustrating, why don't you list it with a real estate agent?

Well, after speaking with two realtors, we feel that listing it really wouldn't get us very far. Home sales have been at an all-time low around here. In fact, one realtor I spoke to earlier this week told me that our county has an average of 35 sold homes by this point in the year. Right now, it's sitting at 13 sold homes. We don't think a realtor can do much for us at this point, and the realtors we've talked to happen to agree with us.

Also, our main reason for wanting to sell ourselves is purely motivated by money. I mean, why else do people sell houses, right???

We're looking at a savings of $6,000-$11,000 by selling it ourselves since we won't be paying a realtor a commission. That's huge! And, we'd rather have the headaches of being let down, frustrated, silence, and rude people over letting go of that much of our profits. We feel like, after all the blood, sweat, and tears we've put into this place, that we deserve every penny out of it that we can get!

Selling your home yourself is definitely motivated primarily by the moolah. There's no way around that.  So if you're considering selling your house yourself, just be aware that that big profit doesn't come without a cost. 

And, knowing that our home will eventually sell and we eventually won't have to deal with this anymore makes us keep on believing that this is all going to be worth it. 

Right??? Tell me it's gonna be worth it.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Son's Book Recommendations + 7 Ways to Get Young'uns to Read

Sometimes it's hard to get boys interested in reading. I've heard from many of my friends that their boys simply aren't readers--not because they don't know how to read well, but because they just don't care about it. They'd rather be playing sports or video games, building with Legos, or having Nerf gun wars. I'm thankful I don't have this problem, but I do want to encourage those of you with boys who could care less about reading.

My son is the most avid reader I know. He has spent thousands of hours pouring over books, books, and more books. I am certain he has read more books in his 10 years than I have read in 30. We have a hard time keeping him supplied with books because he goes through them so quickly. He has over 100 books on his personal bookshelf in his room, plus he frequently snags books off his sister's shelves or our living room shelves. Don't let this cocky smirk fool you; this kid LOVES to read.

I've asked him to compile a list of his 21 favorite books and/or series of all time. If you have a boy ages 8-12, he might enjoy reading some of the selections from another boy's list, and it might save you the effort of trying to find books for your young men that you know they'll enjoy.

1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien (These are at a high school reading level. Make sure your boys are capable of that level of reading before turnin' 'em loose.)
2. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
3. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
4. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
5. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson
6. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
7. Stuart Little by E.B. White
8. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
9. Crispin: The End of Time by Avi (Last in a series of 3; goes well with a study of the Middle Ages)
10. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
11. The Spy and General Washington by William Wise
12. The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett (last in the My Father's Dragon series of 3)
13. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
14. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
15. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
16. The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner (My son read these when he was 6, but they work well for younger readers or those who are just starting to enjoy chapter books.)
17. Hank the Cowdog series by John R. Erickson
18. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
19. The Vikings by Clyde Robert Bulla
20. Heidi by Joanna Spyri
21. Augustus Goes South by Le Grand

Additionally, if you're looking for ways to encourage your young'uns to read, here are six suggestions:

1. Get them their very own e-reader, such as a Kindle or Nook. A boy who wouldn't naturally jump at picking up a paperback might be very willing to go for a book that is contained in a piece of technology. We gave our son a regular Kindle (no bells or whistles) for Christmas, and he has downloaded over 100 books on it for free! Having the freedom to download and read books on their own can really encourage reluctant readers to enjoy reading. (Our son isn't allowed to purchase books on his Kindle without permission, and every time he downloads something, my husband gets an e-mail, so we know exactly what he has access to.)

2. Limit technology, TV, and video games. I know, I just recommended e-readers and now I'm telling you to limit technology. We have always had pretty strict restrictions on the amount of TV/movies our children have been able to watch, and we have severely limited their access to video games. (We used to own a Wii, but they only played on it every few weeks. Now it's packed away in a box and may never see the light of day again, I hope.) This has worked to our advantage. If a screen isn't trying to lure them in, a book is a very appealing choice.

3. Get them familiar with the library. A shelf of books that doesn't look appetizing at home might seem like the greatest thing ever somewhere else, like the library. Kids have the freedom to choose (ok, some freedom) their books based upon what interests them and not just what you hand them. You'll have to set guidelines ahead of time for what they're allowed to bring home. For example, as much as my son may want to read it, Diary of a Wimpy Kid isn't allowed in our home. Your child's choices are up to you.

4. Entice them with a book-based movie. I realize this won't work with every book, but it's great fun to watch an approved movie after finishing a well-loved book. When our son wanted to watch The Lord of the Rings movies, the requirement was that he read the books first. He couldn't wait! He finished The Hobbit in less than two weeks and got to enjoy a movie day with Daddy watching both Hobbit movies. Other books-turned-movies we love: Old Yeller. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Black Beauty. Charlotte's Web. Unfortunately, there are some wonderful books that have been ruined (in my opinion) with poorly made movies. You're going to have to determine what works for your family.

5. Create a fun and cozy reading space. My children's favorite place to read is in their beds. But your kids may associate their bed with sleeping and not a comfy activity like reading. If you have an unused corner in your home, try creating a "Reading Corner". Make it cozy with bean bag chairs or floor pillows, a cute lamp, and maybe a soft blanket. Then leave a selection of adventurous books lying around for your children to pick up and get lost in! I absolutely love this idea to turn a dormer space into a fun reading nook!

6. Let them see you reading. You can't very well expect your children to be avid readers if you don't read yourself, can you? Let your children see you engrossed in the pages of a book, not wanting to put it down. This will show them that reading is fun no matter what your age and that they, too, can take part in adventures on the pages of books.  

7. Read to them often. This is probably the most important suggestion I can give to anyone. Start reading good, living books to your children from the time they are in the womb. Make reading a priority, and they'll grow up with books being at the center of their childhoods. No matter how old your children are, always keep reading to them. Give characters special voices and accents, do whatever you can to make it fun and interesting. One of the best experiences of my life was reading the last chapter of C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle to my children. We all cried together for joy at the ending! When you read to your children, you are making literature come alive to them and creating lasting memories together; and I promise you they'll crave more.

Do your kids LOVE reading? How have you generated interest in books at your house? I'd love to know!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Teach Your Kids to Work, Part 2

If you're just joining me on this series, you'll want to catch up by reading part 1 of Teach Your Kids to Work. If you've already read it and have been anxiously (yeah, right) waiting on me to post about what my peeps do around Dietzville, today isn't the day. Sorry!

Unfortunately, the computer with the PDF of my peeps' responsibility schedules is still sick. And, in what may be the first time in history, my tech-genius husband has yet to be able to fix it.

I'm still holding out hope that he'll be able to access my files somehow, but until then, I'll give you some more of my thoughts on teaching your children to work and be responsible.

Instruct and Follow Through
Determine what you want done, your children's abilities, and when you want it done. That's your first step. Teaching your child to wash dishes, fold the laundry, and/or dust the living room is NOT your first step. You'll both get overwhelmed after a few days and just like that, you're back into the habit of NOT teaching your children to work because you've determined that it's just easier to do it yourself.

If your child is 7, and you believe him capable of making his bed, unloading the dishwasher, and cleaning out the car, pick one and start with ONE.

I hear more complaints from moms about their children not doing what they want them to do, but when I ask if they're present and following up on the assigned job, the answer I almost always get is, "Well, no. I tell them what I want them to do and then I go back to (__fill in the blank___)."

Well, Momma, if you expect the room to get cleaned, but you don't first instruct and then check back to make sure it's getting done correctly, I hate to tell ya, but that's not your kid's fault. It's yours. (Ouch. Sorry.)

Let's say you've picked "Clean Your Room" as the first responsibility to learn--and naturally so. You need to start by explaining your expectations.

"Suzy, you've grown to be such a big girl, and now it's time for you to take care of some of your own things. You're going to start with your room and everything that belongs in it. Every night before bed, it's going to be your job to make sure your room is nice and tidy. I'm going to teach you how to do that today."

Then you proceed with the instructing. Have Suzy help you as you pick up her room and watch her. Have you provided places for her to store her things? If not, you need to. If so, make sure she knows that her stuffed animals belong on this shelf, the books belong on that shelf, and that bin is for dress-up clothes. You get the idea. Children will consistently put things in the same places if you've provided storage options that are simple and make sense to them.

For the first few evenings, you're going to help Suzy clean her room before bed. Keep a close eye on her and instantly point her in the right direction if she puts something in the wrong place or begins to dawdle. After the first few times, have Suzy do it herself, but remain present the ENTIRE time she's doing it. This tells her that you're available to help if she forgets something and that you're also going to correct her if she gets off-track and starts to play instead of putting her things away. When she can consistently and correctly pick up her things and put them where they belong in a timely fashion, she's ready to do it without you present! This can take as little as a week to establish, which is not long!

From now on, you're going to expect her to pick up her room the very way you've instructed her to do so, but you can go back to the kitchen and wash dishes or whatever you would normally do. BUT, you WILL inspect Suzy's work each time to insure that she stays in the habit of completing the job the way you've taught her.

Don't EXPECT what you don't INSPECT. Make sense, Momma?

Once you've gotten Suzy into the routine of cleaning her room efficiently and correctly, it's time to start the whole process over again with another job. You continue to expect Suzy to clean her room, and you continue to inspect her work all the while. It probably won't be long before you can give up inspecting her room every day, and just do it randomly, providing small corrections here and there.

Following a predictable daily routine is going to be your biggest ally when it comes to teaching your children to help out around the house, be responsible, and learn valuable life skills. If you have a set time everyday that they know they have a certain job to do, it quickly becomes routine and results in much less complaining, whining, arguing, and forgetfulness.

If your child knows that he's supposed to clean and tidy his room every night before bed, it becomes part of his evening routine. If he knows that he's expected to unload the dishwasher every morning, he is able to do it without complaining because it has become part of his day.

If your children have certain responsibilities or jobs to accomplish at set times every day, your home will run much more smoothly. Of course, every new job assigned requires YOUR time and effort to give instruction and follow-through. Or, older children can inspect the work of younger children if they know how the job is supposed to be done.

Our family absolutely thrives on our routine. We joke a lot that we're like old people who are stuck in their same ol', same ol'! It's quite hilarious! But it works. We have happy kiddos who almost always know what's coming next and what to do. We don't have any bedtime problems--praise the Lord! We started a routine with our peeps when they were teeny tiny, and it's one thing I can say we have been rock stars at. (Maybe the only thing. Eeeek!)

And remember: a schedule or routine does NOT mean following the clock. It doesn't matter what time we wake up or how long it takes us to do school, our day follows a regular rhythm regardless of the time on the clock. Even if we wake up at 10:00 (psh, I wish!), our day will still have the same flow: make beds, unload dishwasher, eat breakfast, school, lunch, afternoon chores, free time, etc. It may all happen two hours later than usual, but it's still the same, predictable routine.

Make A List
Once you've given your children proper instruction in several responsibilities, you can list those out for the children so that they know exactly what they're supposed to do and when they're to do it. This is where you have a lot of creative license.

They can do all of their chores in the afternoon. You can break it up so that they have certain things to do at different, predictable times during the day (what we do). You can make a list for them to check off or a chart for them to put stickers on. The sky is the limit!

Having it written or typed for them in a permanent place keeps you from having to constantly remind them what they're supposed to be doing and when. And I don't know about you, but my 30-something brain can't remember anything anymore without me writing it down. I have a lot more grace for my peeps now that I've experienced true brain fog!

My final post in this series will go into more detail about creating a visible prompt for your children to take responsibility for their own tasks around the home. If my hubby can save my file, I'll even have a PDF for you to download and tweak to work in your own home!

What does all this accomplish?
By giving your children thorough instruction, following through, re-directing, correcting, setting up a predictable daily routine, and writing it down for them, you're setting them up for SUCCESS! You're giving them the tools, skills, and abilities they need to become responsible people.

Children are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. It's also a bonus that most children--especially the younger ones--are eager to learn and help. That's why it's to your benefit to start all this early! But even if you're late to this game, you can still reap the benefits of teaching your older children how to be responsible.

After all, we're not raising kids, are we? We're raising adults!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Nutritional Balancing: Month 1

I know I said I was going to post about my peeps' responsibility schedules, but honestly, the computer with that file on it has crashed, and there doesn't seem to be any hope for recovering it yet.

So I thought I'd post about this instead since my one-month "anniversary" of heavy metals diagnosis and treatment plan has come and gone just a few days ago.

I can't believe I've been on my Nutritional Balancing (NB) program for a month already! Time has literally (said like Chris Trager from Parks and Rec) flown by this past month. 

When I see or talk to people, most of them don't wait long before asking me how I feel--which makes me feel so special, by the way. It's nice that people remember when you're going through a difficult time and make an effort to ask how you're doing with it. I also like to think that those people are also praying for me often, which is another encouragement. 

So what's it been like to take over 20 pills a day, eat nothing but meat and veggies, have not an ounce of fruit or sugar of any kind, and detox from heavy metals??

I'm a list person, so I'm going to break it up into a positive and negative list. I believe this whole thing has been the best thing for me, so I even see the negatives as being necessary and steps in the right direction. Just some of it isn't "fun" right now.


  • As simple as I felt my life was before all this, having a real excuse to take life at a slower pace and generally do less overall has been amazing. I feel ZERO pressure to do or accomplish a whole lot outside my home or my family's immediate needs. This may sound selfish to you, but for me, it's been absolutely freeing.
  • I have grace for myself. This is a very new thing for me. I am able to look at myself and not feel like such a failure for not getting 472 things done in one day. I realize that it'll keep til tomorrow. Or next week. And I'm really OK with that.
  • My family has been super amazing. Not that they weren't before, but they're just as "in this" as I am. We're all eating the same foods, and no one has complained about too many veggies (of which there have been many) or not enough treats (of which there have been none). It's been wonderful to see them just as proactive about this as I have been.
  • Cooking this way is the easiest thing ever. No complicated recipes to follow. No crazy ingredients. I just pick what meat I need to thaw out for the next day and then choose my veggies, and I'm all set. The longest part of meal prep now is waiting for veggies to cook in the oven. It's so hands-off and uninvolved and simple. I don't even have to plan a menu anymore because these are meals I can plan a few hours before. 
  • I'm sleeping a full eight (or more!) hours every night!!! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
  • I am having detox symptoms. No, they're not much fun, but they mean that something is working and things are a-changin' in this body of mine, which is a very good thing.
  • No eating out! I really hate eating out, but sometimes we would anyway just because I didn't want to cook or we were running low on food. But I now have a really good reason to NOT eat out, and I love it. 
  • No cravings. I almost can't believe this myself. I thought for sure that going this long without any sweets at all would have me drooling over every sweet recipe on Pinterest, but most of it doesn't even look good to me. No joke. For those who know me really well, this is probably a shock. But seriously, this is the first time in my life that I can say I am craving NOTHING.
  • I am trying new veggies to add more variety to my diet, and I'm actually loving many of them. Parsnips are my new favorite food! Oh my heavens, they are so yummy! 
  • I'm having detox symptoms. Yes, this is a good thing, but it also means that I feel pretty crummy a lot of the time. So far I've experienced morning nausea, headaches, fatigue, more brain fog, eye floaters, muscle weakness, and weird dreams. All completely normal and expected, but still not fun.
  • Taking 10 pills when I wake up in the morning is not easy. I already feel nauseated when I wake up until about 10:00 a.m., so forcing 10 pills down isn't so great on my gag reflex. The rest of the day, taking my supps is cake. But the morning? Ugh.
  • It's expensive. There's no way around it. I think we spent nearly $800 on food last month. That's $300 more than we normally spend. Ouch.
  • I'm having some digestive issues that my doc and I haven't been able to figure out. He thinks that I need a full intestinal/bowel cleanse, which I'm fine with. But, things in the tummy department haven't been working normally. Well, technically, they weren't normal before either, but I can actually tell there's something wrong now, and I'm anxious to get it resolved.
  • Social awkwardness. The truth is that I don't like explaining to every person on this planet what's wrong with me and why I can't eat the donuts at church or go out for dessert. This is forcing me to be creative with ways to hang out with people that aren't centered around food/drink. I don't want to come across as picky or snobby about food, and that's hard when I can have almost nothing at any restaurant in our town. 
  • People trying to get me to think that they might have a better solution that the one I'm currently pursuing. I have had many--very well-intentioned--people tell me that doing this, that, and the other would be faster and easier than what I'm already doing. I've probably been guilty of this very thing in the past, and now that the tables have turned, I have vowed to be more sensitive of the choices other people are making for themselves and their families. I may not agree with them, and if they ask my opinion, I'll definitely tell them. But if they don't, it's probably because they feel confident in their choices and don't want to be bombarded with conflicting opinions. Trust me, I know that chelation, cleanse-in-a-box detoxes, essential oils, and herbs are all great and probably work really well. If I thought those were the best option for me, I would be using them. 
  • Meditating is hard, and I don't like it. There. I've said it. This isn't Zen/NewAge/Buddhist meditation I'm talking about. It's simply clearing the mind. There's no trances, hypnosis, magic words, crazy breathing, or funky poses involved. But for a person whose mind runs 90 mph even in her sleep, getting it to be still for five minutes is no easy task. And I don't enjoy trying.
My doctor is amazing. What I love most about him is that he's a team player. He really listens to my questions and concerns and even my suggestions. He doesn't sit on a pedestal and tell me how much more he knows than I do and that his way is best. He recommended a certain brand of fish oil, and when I told him I wanted to continue taking my Green Pastures FCLO/HVBO instead, he was totally fine with it. When I asked if taking activated charcoal or bentonite clay orally would help with detox symptoms, he was completely honest and said he didn't know. I really admire a doctor who can tell his patient that he doesn't know something. Dr. C. is seriously a godsend, and in my opinion, so is nutritional balancing!

Besides all the positives and negatives, I am truly happy with this program. I feel that it is the most holistic approach and that it is really affecting my entire body and mind in a positive way.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Teach Your Kids to Work

I grew up in a home where laziness was not allowed and hard work was just THE way of life. 
From the time I was 7 years old, I can remember my parents telling me to get my boots on and go outside to help my Dad build a fence, work with the horses, or do yard work. Rain, sunshine, wind, or snow, my brother and I had some pretty hefty responsibilities around our 32-acre horse ranch. It was our job to feed the horses every morning and afternoon, to clean out stalls about one weekend a month, to keep the yards around our house mowed and edged, to work in the garden, to do the dishes every evening after supper, to keep our rooms clean, and to also be willing to learn new tasks.

My brother could weld before he was a teenager. I was creating recipes of my own in the seventh grade. Before I was in junior high, I knew how to deep clean my room, decorate around our home, clean the bathroom unsupervised, and iron clothes for the entire family, in addition to the outdoor chores. We were in 4H and kept pigs and sheep to show. My brother and I were expected to take full responsibility for the care and feeding of our show animals. 

And the consequences for not taking care of those animals were STIFF. In our family, there was never an excuse for laziness. Laying around and playing video games after school was something we only ever heard about--not something we ever experienced. If we played video games or watched movies, it was on a Friday night or an unusual Saturday, perhaps if our Dad was out of town or something. 

I remember my friends at school talking about the latest episodes of Saved By the Bell, Friends, and 90210. I had nothing to contribute to those conversations because I had never seen those shows. Still haven't, with the exception of a few SBTB episodes.

At times, I resented my parents for making me work. 
I thought they were the meanest people in the world! 
Now, I am so thankful for the work ethic they instilled in me. I'm not afraid of hard work! 

Some of my fondest memories from childhood involve my brother and I making up songs or games while we worked together to pass the time more quickly or make a stinky job like shoveling horse poop more fun. 

And after our work was done? We got to hop on the four-wheeler and ride wherever we wanted until dark. And jump on the trampoline, ride our bikes down our long road, ride horses, play with our Legos, or watch Lonesome Dove for the 700th time! 

So when our children were still toddlers, I began teaching them how to be helpful around the house. I wanted them to learn early on that everyone in the family had to contribute in order for it to work, that everyone on the team had a job to do so that the home could run smoothly, and that having things means taking good care of those things.

As I go through the long process of detoxing heavy metals from my body, I am not as able to keep up with my normal homemaking jobs, and I find myself relying on my children more and more. I'm fatigued much of the time, nauseated from all the toxins circulating around my body, and frequently have episodes of brain fog that cause me to forget where I am or use the wrong words in a sentence. It's been very debilitating at times, and very annoying all of the time! 

Still, our family has been able to maintain a pretty normal life because my children are so very helpful and know just what to do! The house isn't going untended or dirty because they know how to help take care of the cleaning and chores. We all have clean clothes to wear because they know how to do laundry. They are capable of making their own breakfast or putting together a snack lunch if I'm unable to do so.

I'm definitely bragging on my peeps here! 
But I also want to encourage you mommas and dads to take the time and energy to train your children to be hard workers in and out of the house! I thought I was preparing my children to be responsible, capable, independent adults by teaching them how to do dishes, fry an egg, and vacuum; and I am. 

What I NEVER imagined was that I would be the one relying on that training! 

Mommas and Dads, start when they're young.
Take the time to teach them to pick up their own toys instead of doing it for them. Teach them to take their plate to the sink after eating. Teach them how to put their dirty clothes in a laundry basket when they get undressed. A 2-year-old can easily do those things! 

And as they get older, add to their responsibilities. Every year I make new chore schedules for my children, and I add to their responsibilities. Each new job requires some instructing time, usually a week or two of consistent practice, but then I turn them loose and expect them to do the job well.

There are hundreds of chore lists by age on Pinterest and all over the Internet, so I'm not going to give you lists of chores here. But I will say that your children are capable of a lot more than you think they are. I never thought my children would be doing all of their own laundry at ages 8 and 9, but they are! And they're doing a great job!

Next time, I'll post exactly what my children are doing at this point, along with their specific chore schedules!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Guest Post: Food as Ministry

Hello guys and dolls! 
This is the unedited view from my second story window right now:

Cloudy, big snowflakes, wintry goodness. My favorite kind of day!

In other news, I've got another guest post up over at GNOWFGLINS!
This is my first post in what will be a two-part series on ministering to others through food. 

So, click on over and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Another of Life's Curveballs & Lessons Learned: Part 2

Well, now that you all know everything I know about all my problems, diagnosis, heavy metals, and nutritional balancing as an approach....
Allow me to share how all of this is going to affect us/me on a real-life, everyday basis.

{This is going to be LONG, so you may want to run get some coffee and a comfier chair and settle down for some reading.}

I've spent the past two weeks using up all the food in our house that I knew I wouldn't be able to have once I started Nutritional Balancing (from henceforth known as NB). Our fridge got frighteningly empty last week and I could not come up with one creative thing to make that used up the ketchup, green salsa, milk, and onions. 

That meant it was time. So last Thursday evening, with my peeps spending the night away from home and my hubby not feeling well, I went by myself to the big city to stock up on my NB essentials--basically a crap ton of vegetables and meats.

Four hours, some last-time sushi, and $338 later, I came home with the back of my minivan completely filled with mountains of broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, grass-fed bison and beef, organic chicken, and a few other things I can't remember at this moment. (It won't cost us that much all the time. We were LOW on food in general since I hadn't been grocery shopping in almost two weeks, so I had money leftover from last month to apply to this month's food budget.)

Lesson #4: Figure out a way to grown my own vegetables ASAP, or this won't be affordable. At all.

Remember how I told you that NB is an individualized plan specifically tailored by a physician for each person? If five people are in the same room and all are following a NB plan, all of them will be eating differently. It's not like Paleo, where all the basics (no grains, no potatoes, no refined sugar, yes bacon, yes veggies, yes raw honey) are the same for everyone.

Well my plan is custom fit to me! 

The foundation of the plan is known as the Slow Oxidizer Diet, because I'm a slow oxidizer. The idea is that I need to get my oxidation rate up, and the foods I eat on this diet are supposed to do just that. All the cooked veggies are full of minerals that my body is basically starved of. The veggies are also great at removing toxins from the body, including heavy metals! There were a few surprises when I saw the foods I couldn't have.

Tomatoes? Nope. Eggplant? Nope. Potatoes, salmon, and bacon? Nope. 
What the heck?! Aren't all those things healthy?

Lesson #5: "Healthy" is a relative term. What's healthy for you may not be healthy for someone else. And what's healthy for me may not be healthy for you. 

Case in point: Most of my favorite veggies on this planet are nightshades--eggplant, tomatoes, jalepenos, potatoes. Typically, they're very healthy veggies. The problem is that they can have an inflammation-inducing quality in some people. By body is already inflamed with all the toxins in it, so it doesn't need anymore sources of possible inflammation. Make sense? Also, these veggies are more acid than alkaline, which is a whole different post, but suffice it to say that alkaline is where you want to be, not acidic.

By now I'm sure you're dying to know what I can/can't have. Hahahaha...
The first component of NB: Nutrition

I need to avoid completely:

  • All nightshades (peppers, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes)
  • All pork (no bacon, sniff, sniff.)
  • Seafood and shellfish, especially large fish like salmon and tuna
  • All fruits
  • Honey, maple syrup, and all sugars
  • Peanuts and other nuts
  • Soy, unless properly fermented, such as tamari
  • All vegetable oils (soybean, canola, corn oil)
  • Gluten (all wheat, spelt)
  • All raw vegetables
  • Lettuce and salad greens, unless cooked
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Artichokes
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery 
  • Fermented foods, except raw yogurt, kefir, and my probiotic
  • Non-organic white or brown rice, jasmine rice, enriched rice

I can have these foods occasionally:

  • Zucchini
  • Sweet potatoes and yams
  • Avocados
  • Pinto, black, and kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Soups
  • Beets
  • White or brown basmati rice
  • Organic yellow corn chips, tortillas, or popcorn
  • Chemical-free beef or turkey jerky
  • Oatmeal
  • Coconut oil, flakes, or flour
I should have these foods often:
  • Grass-fed, hormone-free, vaccine-free meats such as lamb, goat, beef, chicken, turkey, and venison
  • Cooked root veggies: carrots, onions, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, garlic, parsnips
  • Cooked green veggies: beet greens, spinach, green beans, peas, kale
  • Cooked cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
  • Cooked winter squash: acorn, butternut, spaghetti
  • Quinoa
  • Organic white or brown Basmati rice
  • Organic blue corn chips and tortillas
  • Raw goat dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese)
  • Raw cow's dairy (milk, kefir, cream, yogurt, cheese)
  • Butter
  • Organic extra virgin olive oil
  • Eggs w/ soft or runny yolks or soft-boiled
  • Organic sardines (recommended 3-4 cans weekly)
  • Herbs like cilantro, parsley, chives, thyme, basil, ginger, rosemary
  • Roasted almond butter
  • Rice crackers
  • 10-12 oz. daily fresh carrot juice
It took me a few days to wrap my mind around this diet because it seemed so restrictive to me at first. I talked with Dr. C. about it, and he set my mind at ease about a lot of things. His colleague, Dr. Wilson, tends to be very strict with his patients' diets, but Dr. C. is more relaxed. For example, Dr. Wilson says no coconut products at all, while Dr. C. says that coconut oil is very healthy and it's ok for me to have it a couple of times a week if I want. 

Have I mentioned how thankful I am for Dr. C. yet??? Every time I talk to him or e-mail him, he tells me that he will do anything he can to get me better. He explains why each supplement, food, and detox is beneficial for me and answers all my questions.

It may seem like I can't eat anything, but it really hasn't been hard. In the first few days I've created some delicious dishes that took very little time or effort. My favorite so far has been the lunch I've had the past two days. Chicken breast slathered with homemade pesto and a large side of Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. So, so good!

I haven't had a drop of anything sweet in almost a week, and I don't feel deprived at all. I haven't craved chocolate, honey, sugar, cookies, wheat, or anything. I know it's early, and I'm not so naive to think that I won't have cravings later on, but typically the first week or so of a new diet is the hardest. I haven't felt like it's been hard at all! 

In true Dietz Family fashion, the whole family is joining me in this new way of eating. I didn't expect them to because I felt like it was so restrictive, but then I got very stressed out when I thought about having cook two different meals--one for me and one for them.

Lesson #6: I have the greatest family. Ever. In the history of mankind. 

David quieted my anxiety right then and there by telling me that we were all in this together and that I would not be making any special meals for them. I will throw in something they can eat without me often to give them variety and to show my appreciation, but I won't be making two separate meals three times a day! Whew!

The second component of NB is supplementation.
Again, my supplements are tailored specifically to me based on the results of my hair mineral analysis. I am extremely deficient in several minerals as well as having imbalances in most mineral ratios. This can get confusing, so I'll just list out what supplements I'm taking and explain what each is for. 
  • Megapan: a multiple vitamin-mineral product for slow oxidizers. Megapan stresses those nutrients which correlate well with those effecting one's metabolic rate. These nutrients include the B-complex, particularly B1, B3, B5 and B6. Other important nutrients in Mega-Pan are vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, zinc and chromium.
  • Thyro Complex: contains thyroxin-free raw thyroid concentrate along with raw adrenal, pituitary and spleen concentrates, which work synergistically to support the endocrine system. Kelp is also included as a rich source of organic iodine. Iodine is included in this formula as it is an integral part of the endocrine system.
  • Kelp: from the sea, provides a full spectrum of minerals, including iodine.
  • Zinc: to help balance copper toxicity as a result of zinc deficiency.
  • Ultrazyme: Nutritional support for healthy digestion and overall well-being. Pancreatin, oxbile and papain are specially coated to provide release of these enzymes in the intestines. Cellulase, hemi-cellulase and lactase are specially coated to provide release of 50% of these enzymes in the stomach and 50% in the intestines. Also provides bile salts for liver and gallbladder support.
  • Ca-6+M: Calcium and magnesium blend to correct deficiencies as well as to induce calmness and help with stress.
  • Vit. D3: 5,000 IU daily to correct deficiency and help strengthen immune system.
  • Renamide: For kidney support during urinary excretion of toxins. Specifically to aid in removing metals mercury, cadmium, nickel and lead, which often accumulate in the kidneys.
  • Selenium: Detoxification of heavy metals and also for production of thyroid hormone T4 and for conversion of T4 to T3. Selenium also enhances glutathione production, which makes the liver more efficient in detoxification. Without efficient glutathione production, the liver is seriously impaired, making it difficult to detoxify heavy metals, chemicals, and other toxins.
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil: For Vitamins D, A, K, and E, provides essential Omega 3 fatty acids, helpful with depression and mineral absorption.
The third component of NB is Detoxification.

The detox methods that have been recommended for me include daily coffee enemas and using an infrared sauna. Luckily, I'm already used to coffee enemas, since I've been doing them almost daily since July! (Don't be grossed out please. Coffee enemas have a long history of being very beneficial in curing cancer, autoimmune disease, heavy metal detox, and more!) When we sell our house, we plan to use part of the money to buy a Far Infrared Sauna, which is small enough to fit in the corner of our bedroom without causing any inconvenience or loss of space at all. And it won't just be for me; all of us can use it daily and reap the numerous benefits:
“Far”-Infrared Sauna is great for the traditional uses of meditation and detoxification. Detoxification of the body can optimize the efficiency of the immune system.  Toxins in the body can accumulate in the skin and the liver and sweating is one of the body’s natural ways to remove toxins…. As a result, detox helps avoid disease, prevent illness and improve general health and vitality.  FIS heats the body from the core, therefore, it allows you to sweat up to 7 times more toxins than traditional saunas.  Daily sweating can help detox the body as it rids itself of accumulated heavy metals as well as alcohol, nicotine, sodium, and sulfuric acid.  FIS helps with acne by purifying the skin and cleansing the pores thus ridding accumulated dirt, cosmetics, blackheads and dry skin cells.  Less toxins in the skin means healthier skin with improvements in skin complexion, tone, texture, elasticity and overall appearance.  A weight loss benefit can be seen with FIS.  Studies show that just 30 minutes can burn upwards of 600 calories!  When using FIS core body temperature increases and the body works hard to cool it down which then causes an increase in heart rate, metabolic rate and cardiac output allowing you to burn calories while you relax. Cardiac improvement can be seen in congestive heart failure, and improved circulation benefits individuals with high blood pressure, sciatica, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.  FIS can help you maintain healthy levels of your stress hormones, like cortisol, thus leading to relaxation, better sleep and an overall feeling of being refreshed and rejuvinated.  FIS works by deeply penetrating joints, muscle and tissues, which increase circulation and speeds oxygen flow.  Many physicians recommend FIS for Pain Relief and to athletes for sports injuries, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain syndromes (
Other small things I can do to detox the heavy metals from my system include bentonite clay baths, getting an ionic air purifier, and getting outside in clean air (which is NOT around my house). When we move, we plan to source environmentally friendly materials for cabinets and flooring and not buy pre-fabricated materials that tend to "off-gas" chemicals over time. (Paint fumes, anyone?) Low VOC paints, natural carpet fibers, and formaldehyde-free carpet pads are all on our list of things to find once we get moved.

Know that delightful "new car smell" we all love so much? Well, that's not good for us AT ALL! That smell is actually the off-gassing of hundreds of chemicals, including formaldehyde, from the non-natural materials used in making car dashboards, seats, seat belts, and floor mats. It's actually a good thing when that smell fades because it means the car isn't off-gassing as much!

Part of my daily detox just includes ways to make my home and life "cleaner" in as many ways as we can. We've already cut down on the toxins in our home by making our own cleaning products and laundry soap. We don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener, so our clothes are chemical-free. I don't want to just eliminate all these metals from my body, I want to stop bombarding myself and my family with chemicals PERIOD! It's impossible to avoid all chemicals, but we're going to do our best to live as toxin-free as possible!

Last but not least is Lifestyle.
I'm not going to talk about this much here because I'm planning on a separate post in the future. But I do want to say that my day-to-day life is looking a lot different nowadays. I'm much less "busy" both in and out of the home than I was before. I'm not forcing myself to get out of bed at a certain time, but allow myself to sleep as long as my body allows. This week, that means I've been waking between 8:30-9:00. I'm taking time each afternoon to lay down, but I can't fall asleep however desperately I'd like to. I hope this is something that changes in the future.

I'm also making a point to really control my stress levels. I have to decide right away if I'm going to let something affect me to the point of getting stressed out or not. Most things simply don't deserve my stress, I'm discovering. Dr. C. and Dr. Wilson both highly recommend Roy Masters Meditation. I've listed to samples online, but have yet to take the plunge and buy my own download. I need to soon.

That's what our new curveball has thrown us. In the midst of a new living situation, selling our home, and trying to buy our dream, we also have to change the way we're eating and living so that I can heal. Before too long, we plan to have the kids' hair tested as well to see if they may have what is known as congenital copper toxicity--meaning it was passed from me to them in-utero. Because of Addie's SPD, we highly suspect copper and other heavy metals, which means she will do nothing but benefit from the same changes as me. 

Lots of new things to learn, lots of expense involved, but I'm more hopeful than I've been in years. And it's going to be totally worth it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

When Heavy Metal & Nutrition Collide

Before I shared Part 2 about the specific changes I'm undergoing, I wanted to talk with you more about heavy metals.

Heavy metals are tricky little boogers. 
They are literally EVERYWHERE.
Vaccinations, car exhaust, gasoline, paint (even when dry!), pots and pans, deodorant, prescription drugs, canned foods, rubber, cigarettes, lead and copper pipes, wheat flour (what?!), some ceramic dishes, crock pots, fish, and more! They're in the air, in the water, in the food, in the house. EVERYWHERE. 

It's unfortunate, but true. And, as industrialization increases, so does the amount of metals and other toxic chemicals in our environment. Honestly, I don't think God meant for it to be this way; but since it's what we're stuck with, we might as well make the best of it. 

It is impossible to avoid contaminating your body with heavy metals. Sure, you can eliminate some of the risks. If you smoke, you should quit--that's a no-brainer. You can opt out of immunizations, make your own deodorant, switch to healthier cooking ware, quit using canned foods, and quit taking medicines, but you're still stuck with the metals that are already in our air and water supply.

Miraculously, our bodies are created with natural detoxification systems. Sweating, crying, peeing, and pooping are the pretty basic, everyday detoxes that most of us think of. But, inside are even more processes being done every second of every day at the cellular level. Specifically, our livers and kidneys are the primary sewage systems of the body, responsible for purifying our blood, removing chemicals and toxins from our bodies to be eliminated later, and catching all the "stuff" that shouldn't be inside of us. 

There are some people with genetic mutations who are unable to eliminate toxins, specifically heavy metals, on their own. I have no idea if I have this mutation or not. And there are others who, for various reasons, become extremely inefficient or stop eliminating toxins altogether. Those toxins have to go somewhere, so the body stores them deep inside organs and tissues where they accumulate over years and years of even more repeated exposure. 

By the time symptoms start, you're in rough shape. I am evidence of this.

There are two ways to detox the body of heavy metals: chelation and nutritional balancing. 

Chelation used to be the primary means of flushing metals out, but it's becoming more and more apparent that chelation poses risks of its own, some of them dangerous. In addition to possibly causing heartbeat irregularities, kidney damage, rashes, headaches, and more, chelation therapy can actually remove vital minerals right along with the metals, causing deficiencies and a whole new set of problems.

Chelation is also very expensive, costing thousands for just a few treatments. Chelating agents can be administered in pill form, as a suppository, or transdermally in an IV. The problem with this is that none of these modalities reaches deep into the organs, such as the brain and bones, to remove metals. It may find and bind to the metals in the kidneys, blood, and liver, but will leave behind all the metals in those deep tissues.

Based on the work of Dr. Paul Eck and continued by his student and colleague, Dr. Lawrence Wilson, nutritional balancing detects heavy metal toxicity, including copper, mineral ratios and imbalances, and determines if the patient is a fast, slow, or mixed oxidizer. It is a very comprehensive and detailed test that costs between $150-$250. 

Once the results of the hair analysis are determined, a program is designed specifically around that individual's needs. No one person is going to have the same amount of metals, the same mineral deficiences, or the same oxidation rate. Each nutritional balancing program is tailored to the individual, making it a very effective program.

Nutritional balancing utilizes four different components, meant to be used together:

1. Nutrition: Determined by rate of oxidation.

2. Supplementation: Prescribed based on mineral deficiencies and imbalances as well as which metals are toxic in the body. For example, if a person is copper toxic, they will be prescribed a therapeutic dose of zinc, which is the "antidote" to copper. Zinc and copper balance each other, so a person high in copper will typically be low in zinc. Same goes with other vital minerals such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, and more. Other supplements, such as kelp, are given for naturally and safely chelating heavy metals. And others are given to help with digestion, hormones, and other functions that are lacking. Supplements should not be bought at a local health food or grocery store. These supplements are of the highest, physician-grade quality, and many are quite expensive. Again, this is completely specific to the individual.

3. Detoxification: primarily through daily coffee enemas and infrared sauna, but also by drinking only spring or carbon-filtered water, never reverse osmosis (which is dehydrating), avoiding toxic personal care and cleaning products, breathing cleaner indoor air, and more.

4. Lifestyle: Roy Masters Meditation is highly recommended, as many deep-rooted emotional issues have been scientifically proven to affect physical healing. Eliminating as much stress as possible, resting, and taking life easy are requirements of this program.

It is VERY important to realize that these four components work TOGETHER. If you just do two or three, the program will not work and healing will continue to elude you. Nutritional balancing is, in my opinion, the epitome of holistic healthcare. 

You see, healthcare is never about taking a pill to solve one problem. It's about the whole body. Someone doesn't just have cancer. Cancer affects the rest of the body. So taking a pill/radiation/chemo for cancer isn't going to solve the big picture problem. That pill/radiation/chemo may be shrinking the tumor, but it's also causing a host of new problems that you never had before. It's also likely that other medications have to be prescribed to counteract the effects of the pills/radiation/chemo. 

Nutritional balancing, on the other hand, doesn't address symptoms or one specific problem. It addresses the BODY, the ENTIRE body, with all systems and organs working together. If toxins are being removed, that detoxification affects every system and function in the body in a positive way. Symptoms that may be present that aren't even a result of toxicity will even go away because the WHOLE body is healing. 

You can't NOT see results when you are treating the body at such a deep level, right down to the mind, emotions, and spirit. 

Obviously, nutritional balancing is the approach I have chosen for my own healing process. In my next post, I will discuss the specifics of my diet, supplements, and more. 

Stick with me. We're almost there!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Another of Life's Curveballs & Lessons Learned: Part 1 if our lives weren't changing enough already, there's more to be thrown into the mix! In case you haven't heard yet, three big changes have happened in our family in the last six weeks.

1. The in-laws (a.k.a. Andy and Becky, Guh and Pops, Mom and Dad) moved out right before Christmas, creating a big, gaping hole in our home and hearts.
2. We have the opportunity to have a dream come true by purchasing a house on 10 acres.
3. To seize that opportunity, our current house -- which we have lived in less than a year -- is for sale.

And now, the latest change, which isn't completely positive, but it's not completely negative either, involves my health. 

I haven't posted much about my personal health here on the blog. I don't like to be seen as a complainer or whiner, but also, I have secretly felt like I would be criticized if I shared everything that's gone on in this body of mine, despite eating a very healthful, clean diet. 

Lesson #1--You can't blame everything on food.

I would have to write a novel to share everything that I've experienced in the last two and a half years, and you'd get pretty bored reading about all my insomnia, anxiety, digestive issues, hair loss, and skin rashes. To spare you that and more, I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version.

After seeking answers to the myriad of mysterious health issues I've been experiencing for quite a long time and not really being any closer than when I started, I began to lose hope. (Hey, it's easy to start feeling sorry for yourself when you lay awake night after night with nothing but your own problems to think about.) 

After a guest blog post over at GNOWFGLINS that was well-received on Facebook, Wardeh (the owner of GNOWFGLINS) sent me a link of all the comments people were leaving me on Facebook. Most were just agreeing with my post about supplements, but there were several that said they would be praying that I could find answers to my issues.

And then there was that one comment. It stood apart from all the others.
All it said was, 
"It sounds like you have copper toxicity."

Copper what??

Any good researcher doesn't leave something like that untouched, so I was all over it. {I seriously don't know how we ever survived without Google.} This article, written by a well-respected physician, pretty much sealed the deal for me: I knew I had copper toxicity, and I wanted real confirmation.

I set about finding a practitioner who could perform the necessary hair tissue mineral analysis and also treat this disease in a way that held to my personal beliefs about the body and holistic health. 

Well, I found him. In Dallas. But he agreed to work long-distance with me and, that afternoon, he had e-mailed me patient paperwork, instructions for collecting my hair, and a lab order to send in to the lab for the test. 

Two weeks later....

He called with my results. 
Copper toxicity? Confirmed.

By this point, I had pretty much come to terms with the fact that I most likely had copper toxicity. I just wanted something in writing to prove it. What I wasn't betting on were all the other things Dr. C would tell me I had wrong with me. 

Lesson #2--It is almost never as simple as you think.

In addition to the copper toxicity, which by itself requires some intense dietary and lifestyle changes, detox regimens, and about a 2-year recovery time, I also have heavy metal poisoning (toxicity)

Super. This, I was not expecting. Arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, aluminum and more are making my life a living hell by collecting in toxic amounts in my brain, liver, bones, and other tissues and organs and not being eliminated naturally like a normal person. 

But, wait, there's more. I don't want to go all scientific on you because my explanation would leave you with a bunch of questions that I probably couldn't answer, so in laymen's terms, I basically have all sorts of mineral deficiencies and imbalances that are contributing to things like poor protein synthesis, a sympathetic dominant pattern, hypothyroid and adrenal exhaustion, and pretty much living in a catabolic (tearing down) state all the time.

The good new is that there's hope! What I have is fixable, and there is a very, very good chance that I will eventually be back to my happy, spontaneous self. 
The bad news is that it's going to take a while. Like, years.

Lesson #3--Quick fixes aren't fixes at all. They're band-aids.

Relief. That's the one word I had.
When you've suffered as long as I have, most of the time quietly, and someone can validate that with a real, live medical test that you and the whole world can believe, relief washes over you like a flood. I literally collapsed in the floor and began praising God for the test results, for leading me in the right direction, for providing a doctor, for giving me a husband who puts up with a lot.

But you know what I praised Him for the most?
That I wasn't crazy. That it wasn't all in my head. That I wasn't a hypochondriac after all. That what I've been experiencing is real and I didn't make it up.

{Believe me, after over two years of trying to figure it all out, I wondered a lot if I wasn't just crazy.}

And all the healthy food in the world wouldn't have fixed this. I wasn't eating anything "wrong" or "bad". All of these things take years, probably decades, to get to the point of being as symptomatic as I am. And by the time you're that symptomatic, you're also extremely toxic. It's hard to diagnose because it's not something you can see or touch. You can't pee in a cup or have a vial of blood drawn to find this problem. And the hair test has to be done in a very specific way, or the results won't be accurate. 

I have 100% certainty that God is answering my prayers. They're not being answered the way I thought they would or should be, but I can see now that His plan is perfect and that if He always did things MY way, well, my life would look a whole lot different--and not in a good way. 

I'm armed with a plan now, which I will share in Part 2. It's not easy, quick, or what I would call fun. And as if all the changes in our lives weren't enough right now, this one is probably going to be the most difficult. 

But we're hopeful. The future looks bright, and we've come too far to give up now.

Stay tuned...