Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It's Been Quite a Week

I've survived the last week. Barely.

Joseph turned 13, and he was very happy to be our fifth child to have aged into teenager-hood. But his birthday wasn't the problem.

On Joseph's birthday, Elannah had her tonsils out.

She's been wanting them out for months, and they have become increasingly more bothersome. Tonsil stones, multiple canker sores at the same time, and bad throat pain every time she sings or acts made her eager to set a tonsillectomy date.

Now, she says, "I'm never doing that again!" Fair enough.

Along with the pain of having her huge tonsils sliced out of her throat came her desire to have her mother with her at all times. I was very flattered to have my 16-year-old want my presence in her time of need, but I should have taken a page of advice from when I had little babies: sleep when the baby is sleeping. The worst times for Elannah were at night, and the Lortab did nothing for her pain until three days in. Therefore, I was up all day and then all night with her for several days in a row. I'm an old woman. This is hard for me to do now.

I am always simmering at the chronic fatigue level just before Crying Tired, so staying up with Elannah knocked me hard into the Stupid Tired stage of sleep deprivation pretty quickly. It was during that stage that I put my water kefir into a bottle in the fridge for its second ferment--the first time I've done this process.

By the second night of little sleep, I had descended into the Seeing Things Out of the Corners of My Eyes that Aren't There stage. I did nothing but sit in stupefaction watching "The Office" episodes, one after the other, while Elannah either slept fitfully on the couch, holding my hand, or cried silently and wrote me notes of desperation and regret. Occasionally, I jerked when I thought a bug was coming at me from my peripherals.

By the third night, the Lortab finally started doing some good. Elannah and I are similar in that Lortab does little or nothing for our pain. I have to have Percocet when I have acute pain (like the pain from a tooth infection) or I'm writhing. But, finally, the Lortab did something, and Elannah went from agony to blissful, pain-free euphoria. She could finally talk a little, too, and she broke her days-long silence with a long monologue on how happy she was to be pain-free and how she would never, ever do something like this again. Hindsight.

She finally agreed to try to sleep, though I had to talk her into it (it was somewhere around 2 am when this happened). She was worried she would waste this pain-free time and wake up in agony, but she finally slept. I crawled up the stairs and collapsed into bed. Around 5 am, she texted me to ask me to come sit with her again because she was dizzy and starting to hurt again. I dragged myself back downstairs.

I convinced her after that night that she wasn't going to wake up dead, and that I really, really needed to get some sleep before I had a breakdown. She was apologetic for keeping me up, and she let me get some sleep the next couple nights, though she kept me up late and asked for me early in the mornings. I ascended back to the Stupid Tired stage of sleep deprivation, and it felt pretty good.

That was when I tested my refrigerated water kefir and realized it had not developed any carbonation at all. After a long, slow, and confused think, I remembered that refrigeration slows down the fermenting process. I should have left the bottle on the counter. So I took the bottle out of the fridge and set it on the counter, the lid tightly screwed on. I figured two days should do the trick.

Two days later, Elannah was still in a great deal of pain, and I was still in Stupid Tired sleep deprivation when I decided to "burp" the water kefir and let a little of the pressure out.

I'm happy to report my decision to let it ferment on the counter was correct, because the kefir was fully carbonated. The moment I wrestled the cap off, the liquid inside, which was under a massive amount of pressure, shot straight up in a column of bubbles and pieces of ginger. It hit the ceiling so hard that is created an umbrella spray effect, and within seconds, everything in the kitchen (including me) was drenched. I whooped so loudly in surprise that family members came running to see if I was hurt.

Fortunately, the glass bottle didn't shatter, so other than some mopping up and finding pieces of ginger is the strangest of places, no damage was done. And I learned a lesson.

I now have another batch of water kefir on its second ferment (but not sealed too tightly), and a third batch on its first ferment. There was just enough kefir left after the explosion that Husband, Sian, and I got to have a taste. Sian, who made water kefir during her mission in Ukraine, pronounced it perfect, and she liked the added flavor of the ginger I put in.

Elannah is up and around now. She keeps thanking me for being there for her and taking care of her. I keep telling her that she is always my baby no matter how old she gets. And I have been able to get some more sleep at night, putting me back into the Exhausted but Functioning stage of sleep deprivation/chronic fatigue syndrome.

It's been quite a week.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Short Tale of Two Hikes

Last Sunday, one of my friends talked about two different hikes she had taken down in Southern Utah.

One of the hikes was fairly short in length, but the trail led entirely through deep sand. With each step, the sand pulled at her feet, and by the time she reached her destination, she was exhausted.

The second hike was quite long, but the trail was laid over solid rock. Despite the ups and downs and some difficult twists and turns, this hike was far easier to navigate because the rock provided a firm foundation.

As the world goes mad more quickly every day, you get to choose which journey you'll take in your life. Personally, I prefer the longer hike on a firm foundation.

My extemporaneous preaching for the day is finished.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Update on the Kefir Situation

It turns out that I really, really like dairy kefir. I love its sour tang (like plain yogurt), it's thick, rich texture, its brilliant white color, and the sizz of the carbonation on my tongue. I could drink dairy kefir like water and eat coconut oil like ice cream. Husband and Joseph also like dairy kefir, but they like to add a little fruit nectar to it to make it a little sweeter.

My dad, on the other hand, described dairy kefir as "part mucilage with a touch of gum paste." Descriptive but not complimentary. And he likes yogurt. So, obviously, dairy kefir is not everyone's cup of tea.

The bad part is that drinking dairy kefir like water and eating coconut oil like ice cream (which I don't do, by the way--either one--despite the temptation) is that it creates a diet very high in calories. I already eat a crappy diet, so even insanely healthy foods like dairy kefir and coconut oil can't overcome that. Also, just because a little is good for you doesn't mean a lot is better, which is true of so many things in life.

So here are some tips to drinking dairy kefir, assuming you like it enough to develop a taste for it:

1. It's better cold. Also, it gets a little more fizzy as it sits in the fridge.
2. Initially, it can cause some uncomfortable gas and bloating as the happy little microbes you've introduced into your gut start chomping away on your high-carb diet. While a diet made up mostly of plants and small amounts of meat protein is much better for you, in my opinion, many people who drink kefir tend to veer toward a high-protein diet because they feel less bloated at first. My remedy: start small by drinking four ounces of kefir in the morning and four ounces right before bed. Or less, if that still gives you discomfort. Then work your way up as you also start including more plants in your diet. Sian found she had instantaneous gas and bloating when she started drinking it, even though she liked the taste.
3. The grains multiply quickly, so either increase the amount of milk you're feeding them, divide them into multiple containers, or start giving away your extras. You need about a teaspoon of grains for, roughly, four cups of milk. When the grains multiply too much, your milk will still ferment, but it won't get fizzy. My grains started producing so much kefir we had it coming out our ears, so I had to let the grains go dormant in the fridge for a bit while we caught up. I pulled them out and did a ferment and they've woken up just fine after several days in the fridge.
4. Remember that even though the grains are eating the lactose in the milk, they aren't making it any less calorific. A couple glasses of dairy kefir each day could add 300 calories to your daily count. While I don't believe in counting calories if you're eating a healthy diet, 300 calories does do damage if you aren't eating a healthy diet.

So, to solve the "I love kefir and how it makes me feel but I don't love the calories part," I just bought some water kefir grains. I've got them feeding on sugar water right now because they were dormant in the lady's fridge from whom I bought them, but in a few days, I should be able to give you a report on how virtually calorie-free water kefir tastes.

Last note: it's pronounced "keh-fear'", not "kee'-fir." Sadly, most people pronounce it "kee'-fir," but there's not much you can do about that. It's just that I always see a picture of Kiefer Sutherland in my mind's eye, and while that isn't entirely unpleasant, I think ke-fir' sounds much more exotic and drinkable.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Relaxing before the 4th of July Rodeo

When I was in my young teen years, the NPR radio station would play "Music from the Hearts of Space" followed by "Pipe Dreams," two hours of auditory bliss on a Sunday evening. Having always been a daydreamer, I looked forward to this particular night. I would turn off all the lights, lie in bed, and just listen while my brain spun stories out of the notes.

Electronic music has come a long way since then. Now you can enjoy mixes like this one whenever you want. Not great for driving, but perfect for sending you into an alpha state--or theta or delta, if you're really tired.

Sometimes I just love technology so much.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Unconventional Thoughts: the Military

I write largely off-the-cuff here in my blog. That means I have stacks of unfinished, unpublished posts sitting in my list, whether it's because I ran myself into a logical fallacy, got tired of hearing myself talk, or found the topic too personal to share at the moment.

But when I find someone else who describes what I'm thinking far better than I can, I'm thrilled. I realize that some of the things I think are not conventional compared to those around me, so I don't always say what I think unless I find it necessary. Cowardice? Probably. I hate needless confrontation. It makes me feel all sick inside. Getting off Facebook was necessary for my personal well-being.

But we don't grow unless we learn new things, consider differing opinions, and remain flexible enough to change what and how we think when presented with new, true information no matter how inconvenient it is to our current world view. Truth will set us free, but it's not always a pleasant process. Sometimes, it really, really hurts.

One of the unconventional things in my head is that I do not worship the military. For Conservatives, that's particularly affronting. I'm not a Conservative (note the capital "c"), though I am conservative. I would never encourage one my children--or anyone else's child--to join any branch of the military. If one my kids decided to do so, I would try to talk him or her out of it with all my strength.


I find it abhorrent that our government sends troops into places where we have no business. We do not fight defensive battles. We are always and ever on the offense in this phony War on Terror. And why do we invade so many different countries who could not hope to harm us even if they had all the evil intent in the world? Because of money and power. Always follow the money to see why American men and women are sent anywhere to be cannon fodder for American corporations tied to politicians to subjugate and control the resources of another country.

I cannot support duping men and women into becoming cannon fodder. They are not fighting for freedom and liberty. They are not preserving our rights. They are not protecting us from the Other. They are trained to kill, and for what? No matter which way you try to spin it, they're trained to be mercenaries. So many of them come back broken, mentally and physically. So many of them kill themselves to quiet the horror in their minds. And for what? A lie.

Therefore, I cannot abide the sick worship that people heap upon the military. I'm a patriot, not a nationalist. I would fight to defend my country and my family and friends if we were under attack, but I do not swear my allegiance to a corrupt, bloated, deceitful Deep State that has no interest in preserving anyone's personal, God-given rights, including those of the people of this nation. My dad is a vet, and I have friends who have and do serve in the military who are excellent, decent people. None of them deserve to be cannon fodder to the self-styled elites.

Laurence M. Vance has this particular bee in his bonnet, as well, but he says it much better than I can.   Read his latest here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The State is God. Little Charlie Must Die.

This is disturbing. More than disturbing.

Here is the story.

According to the Daily Mail, young Charlie Gard must be killed rather than be taken to the United States to undergo a last attempt at saving his life.

In a nutshell, Charlie Gard was diagnosed with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome at the age of eight weeks old. He was only the 16th person in the world to have this diagnosis, and it has required him to be in a children's hospital in London since September of 2016. There is currently no known cure or treatment for this condition.

Desperate, the parents found a doctor in the United States who was willing to offer their son a trial therapy. The parents started a Go Fund Me account and raised $1.6 million in order to transport little Charlie by air ambulance to the States and fully pay for the procedure. All the hospital had to do was release the child so the parents could take him to the U.S. and see if this trial would help him.

But the hospital refused, and the parents were forced to take their rights as parents before the High Court, where the judge decided the parents must just let the child "die with dignity" and allow the hospital to remove him from life support. But the parents are not allowed to remove the child from the hospital.

The parents then appealed to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the High Court judge's ruling of killing the child instead of allowing him to leave the country with his parents to seek help in the U.S.

Matt Walsh wrote about this, and I really like his analysis of what is happening. Read it here. But I feel that he missed one vital point as to why the courts and the government of the U.K. and the EU must be able to supersede parental rights:

In socialized medicine, money for treatment becomes a serious obstacle. A socialized society does not have the money to pay for new or costly treatments because the burden is on the system to care for all the people in the same way regardless of economic status (though we all know that in such a system, some people are more equal than others and will receive better care). This approach suppresses any incentive for innovation, as innovative technologies tend to cost more (at least at the outset). Worse, if they work, then people will be clamoring for them, and if the people are little more than serfs (as they must be in a socialized society), they become bothersome in their pleas for salvation when there really is no money to afford the technologies. Matt Walsh is correct about the need for this death cult, this "die with dignity" emphasis. Life is too expensive when medicine is socialized.

The danger for government in allowing innovation of medical technology in a socialized medicine system is that the people might start realizing that the government is not the loving parent it portrays itself to be--especially when real life death panels become obvious. There may be a revolt.

If the U.K. and the EU allow Charlie's parents to take him to the U.S. for treatment, they run a huge risk: the treatment might work. If it works, it means that the socialized healthcare system is faulty, even if only 16 people in the world have Charlie's particular syndrome. Innovation in medicine and in any part of a socialized society becomes a threat to the establishment, the State. It cannot be allowed if you want to keep the status quo. If the State is God, then the State must supersede parental rights, which means suppressing innovation or refusing to allow parents to utilize innovative technologies from countries that are not yet completely socialized.

Even if the treatment didn't work, the fact that Charlie's parents had the ability to make the decision about Charlie's care is dangerous. Socialized medicine must offer the same treatments for everyone, regardless of outcome. The State is the parent/god of Little Charlie, but his parents are not.

A socialized society means that all must live at the same level of misery.

Therefore, little Charlie has to die to maintain the myth that the State is God.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

My Initial Foray into Kefir Culturing

I am inordinately pleased with myself, and I haven't even done anything that would justify being so smug.

I bought some kefir grains two days ago from a lady in The Big City, and I made my first batch of kefir. Here's what I did:

  1. Bring kefir grains home.
  2. Put them in a glass quart jar (I used a pickle jar that I had thoroughly washed out with filtered water).
  3. Fill the jar with whole milk.
  4. Let the jar sit on the counter for 24 hours.
  5. Strain the fermented result into another jar, put the kefir grains back into the first jar, and fill with milk again.
  6. Drink the first batch of kefir while a new batch is brewing.
I basically filled a jar with milk and kefir grains and let it sit for a day before drinking the results. So easy. No reason to feel so pleased with myself, right? It's not like I did much.

And, yet, I am pleased with myself. Making and drinking kefir is one step closer to gut health. 

Here are the facts:
  • While yogurt contains 2 -- 7 types of live cultures that help heal the gut, kefir contains 10 -- 30 (or more). 
  • Kefir contains 100% mesophilic strains, which culture at room temperature. Yogurt contains mostly thermophilic strains, which require heat to culture.
  • Kefir cultures eat the lactose in dairy milk. When the kefir is fully fermented, even people with lactose intolerance are able to stomach dairy kefir because all the lactose has been consumed, making the result very digestible.
  • Kefir grains are hard to kill. As long as you feed them and don't expose them to extremes in temperature, they'll thrive. The best way to feed them is to keep making kefir. You can even store them in the fridge when you don't want to make kefir so the grains will go dormant but won't die (just feed them a little new milk once a week).
  • Kefir grains multiply. Your initial supply will grow so you can make larger quantities of kefir or give some of the grains away to friends and family. 
  • You can also use nut milks or coconut milk to make kefir, though you'll need to make dairy kefir every two or three ferments to fully feed the grains (they need the lactose).
  • Making kefir is so easy you'll wonder why you never tried it before.
  • Kefir grains contain no actual grain and are naturally gluten-free. They kind of look like blobs of tapioca pudding.
  • The beneficial bacteria cultures in kefir stick to the lining of the alimentary canal (your digestive system) and help heal leaky gut syndrome and repair the gut lining. Yogurt cultures also help heal the gut lining, but they only stay in the system for about a day. 
Why Drink Kefir?

Kefir cultures produce the kind of beneficial bacteria and yeast that your gut needs to be healthy. A healthy gut is able to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat and correctly distribute those nutrients to the rest of your body. The more diverse your microbiome is (the microbiome is the ~3 1/2-pound collection of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that live in your gut), the healthier your gut will be. The healthier your gut is, the healthier you will be overall. You'll be able to absorb nutrients for energy, all your body processes will be working at optimal levels, and you'll even think more clearly and feel more optimistic.

Think of your gut lining as a shag carpet. The pile of the carpet is the villi, little fingers that increase the surface area of your gut lining. When the balance of beneficial bacteria and yeast in your gut gets upset, flora like candida yeast begin to flourish. The pile of the shag carpet gets cut down, and the backing of the carpet begins to crack, allowing small bits of improperly digested food to get into the bloodstream. These particles of food alert your immune system, which rushes to deal with the intruders. This immune response causes inflammation in the body, and that's a good when it is needed to heal a wound on a temporary basis; but constant inflammation from an immune system always on high alert causes a grocery list of chronic and serious illnesses. The doctor who wrote Gut and Psychology Syndrome blames leaky gut for everything from asthma to schizophrenia. 

When your gut flora is imbalanced, the thugs of the bacterial and yeast world take over. They make you crave sugar and processed foods because that's what the thugs need to survive and thrive. They also make you feel tired and depressed. 

A healthy gut, on the other hand, loves healthy foods like plants. When your gut is healthy, the ruling culture is one of calmness and happy productivity. The thugs are held in check and are forced to be good citizens.

Kefir alone won't heal a leaky gut and reduce body inflammation--especially if you haven't changed your bad eating habits--but it's one great weapon in the battle to a healthy microbiome. It packs a powerful probiotic punch. If you're drinking kefir while eating a diet very high in vegetables (raw and cooked), fruits, and some quality protein from meat sources, and with little to no processed foods or junk foods, you'll be able to heal the gut and keep it healthy.

This is long enough, so I'll stop. I'm just so happy that something so healthful is so simple and easy to make and produces so many good results. 

If you want to learn how to make kefir, this is where I bought my kefir grains and learned the simple process of making kefir. Just do a search on making kefir, and you'll find plenty of resources.