Homeschooling Month 5

Well now, I had every intention to put up a weekly post, but who would have thought my days would become so full. In a good way, but full nonetheless. We are now almost 5 months into our homeschooling adventure. Many people have recently asked us if we would do it again and the answer is a resounding yes. But, given what we have learned so far, there are some things we would have done differently which I will touch on as I continue my journaling.

In this post, I touch on how they are doing developmentally and how we are doing as a family. The next two posts I will talk to how they are doing academically and socially. If you have specific questions, feel free to post in the comments.

So, how are they developing?

This is a tricky question because most “developmental” tests evaluate a child as compared to other average children of the same age – academically, socially and in performance of every day tasks. I am very familiar with this from a conventional perspective and in fact, I have to administer and interpret these types of tests in my practice when requested. But I do not believe they actually provide usable information when evaluating individual development. So I am going to answer this question from a different perspective without the use of a test. In this post I will focus on self-development and ability to function in the extended community.

For Sophie, at 9.5 years old and Brian 10.5 years old, each is developing a strong sense of self. They are choosing what they like, do not like, how they perceive a situation as being good or bad and why. They are developing an awareness that their perspective is their own and may not be the same as others around them. They are also learning that they and every person on this planet is in control of their own perspective, be it dismal, pessimistic, optimistic, based on valid assumptions and a reasonable reality. Because their sense of self is not tied to being accepted into a peer group, or any group for that matter, they are free to explore with confidence. They are open to being challenged as to why they believe what they do, to look at and identify their assumptions of the world and understand how those assumptions shape their perception. In general, they are both glass half-full people with a knowing that there is no reason why the glass cannot be full at some point.

How does this compare to others of the same age?

My assumptions for others of the same age to which they can be compared include: a loving core and extended family, spiritual beliefs and practices, absence of ridicule, encouragement to explore and experience their environment, promotion of self-encouragement and a structure with basic rules that carry known consequences when broken.

This is harder to evaluate as their social group has shrunk radically. Which we are attempting to change, but that may be a couple of months away still. Anyway, we have been trying to figure out how we can evaluate where they are in regards to functioning within the community at large. And then, the universe intervened.  We had the opportunity to go on a trip last week to AZ. I had a weekend meeting with an organization I am part of, it is beautiful this time of the year, and so the whole family went – easy breezy when you homeschool!

Here is what we inadvertently learned as we took the kids with us to meet many of my friends and colleagues, dine with them, socialize with them, some with kids, some without. We could observe the following: they were comfortable engaging in conversation, not self-conscious, were present in each moment, aware of what was happening, happy to share our attention with others, and were thoughtful and respectful.

Unsolicited feedback from others – the kids made good eye contact, held intelligent conversation, were fun and engaging to watch as they worked through topics and situations and seemed to surprise almost everyone. So, at this moment, we feel they are developing the skills needed to interact in the larger, extended community and are not behind their peers.

Overall, we are happy with their self-development and ability to interact in the extended community.

How are we doing as a family?

In general – good. We spend A LOT of time together and less time on our own out there in the world. It is a good thing we like each other 🙂 We manage this in several ways. First we have a schedule, flexible but there is a schedule. It has changed since the beginning.

  • Up by 6:30 am (sometimes I get up earlier)
  • Morning chores: pick up room, make bed, eat breakfast, shower when needed, get dressed, brush teeth
  • 8 am, stretching, Kata training with Bokken to learn how to connect breathing, cognitive and emotional patterns, and 1-3 mile walk
  • 9-9:30 am – start lessons (them) and work (Brian and I) with breaks as needed or desired. I am always available to help and we often review their lessons for the day so we know what they are learning and can brainstorm how to create opportunity to apply the concepts to every day life.
  • Lite snack around 12, usually veggies and hummus or 1/2 sandwich or left overs from dinner.
  • T and Th they go to the Y for PE and Th is also art class. Piano lessons and horseback riding starting soon for both.
  • 2 pm – they head outside in the afternoon to play and explore, work in the yard, help grandpa with projects – but in general, all outside activities.
  • 3-5 is cooking dinner together, we eat no later than 4 pm. Once a week they help create a meal plan and create the shopping list. Then they help with shopping, putting food away, preparing veggies to store for the week. We talk about the nutrition of the meal as we cook, best cooking methods, what we cook and store food in, how long one can keep certain food items, what is in season – all those wonderful feed yourself skills.
  • Sports in the late afternoons and early evenings. And when there are no sports they ramble a bit more outside – one of the things they have to do each day is take a picture of some plant or creature and then figure out what it is during school lessons.
  • We do some evening activity as a family – watch a show, play a game, sit and talk about the world.
  • We make sure there is personal free time – play a computer game, yoga, meditation, reading at least 30 minutes, journaling, drawing or painting, coloring Mehndi designs, whatever strikes us at the moment. Something we can do on our own, spending time with ourselves. However, I find when I color Mehndi, I am often joined by both of the kids.
  • Bed by 9 pm.
  • Free time for the grown-ups 🙂

I work between 9-3 and again in the evening for an hour or so if need be, but am accessible when needed. We are incorporating language days – one day Spanish, one day French, one day German, the rest English. The kids would like to learn Chinese, so eventually we will have a Chinese day.

We engage in mutually interesting activities like traveling, hiking, reading, art, cooking, writing, photography, medicine making and gardening. We rarely eat out as we prefer our own homemade food. We make breads and our own nut-based milk because we avoid gluten and dairy. We eat minimal amounts of sugars and avoid preservatives. We follow a strict screen time policy as all four us have to work on our computers several hours a day, so TV, video games, movies, etc, are no more than an hour a day.

And finally, we talk through those “You are driving me crazy!” moments so everyone is heard and there is a resolution.

I will talk more in the next post about our plans to help the kids create their own social groups away from us – biggest challenge so far.

Have a lovely day.

Eli

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HSW1 – so far so good…

Well our first week of homeschooling is complete, and Wow, just Wow! In general, the kids are doing really well. They spent the first few days learning the software, how to navigate to lessons, figuring out how to pace themselves. As you can imagine, they have favorite subjects and do those lessons first. They are ensconced in their rooms at their new desks, take breaks as needed, stretch and move around, come in and talk with me or big Brian. We pop in every 30 minutes or so to see how they are doing, make sure they are not goofing off and help them out if they have questions.

Brian is very independent and rarely needs our help but with Sophie we are checking out her work before she submits the lesson. It takes them 3-4 hours total to work through the required curriculum each day and we are brainstorming supplemental activities for them. More on that as we develop the details.

Hear what Brian and Sophia have to say:

Here is our typical day:

  • Up by 7 am
  • Morning chores: pick up room, make bed, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth
  • By 8 am, walk 1-3 miles, choice of route alternates between the four of us and we use this app: Map My Walk
  • Come home and start lessons with breaks as needed or desired.
  • Lunch around 12, for an entire luxurious hour (they only had 15 min at school).
  • M and W after lunch they go to the Y for PE.
  • Everyday they head outside in the afternoons to play and explore, working in the yard, helping grandpa with projects – but in general all outside activities.
  • Except Thursday, which is soccer practice starting at 5:30, they have the late afternoon free for reading or doing art – whatever they want to do.
  • Once a week they are creating a meal plan with us for the next week and then checking on foods we have on hand – they are responsible for making the shopping list. They assist with shopping by reading labels, comparing prices and then help put the food away when we get home.
  • Dinner prep starts about 5, except Thurs because of soccer, and everyone assists in the cooking, setting table and cleaning up – they are 9 and 10 and do all the dishes and clean up except pots and pans (that’s grandpa’s job). We talk about the nutrition of the meal as we cook, best cooking methods, what we cook and store food in, how long one can keep certain food items, what is in season – all those wonderful feed yourself skills.
  • They ramble a bit more outside – one of the things they have to do each day is take a picture (or more) of some plant or creature and then figure out what it is.
  • We do some evening activity – watch a show, play a game, sit and talk about the world.
  • Thrown in each day are things like yoga or meditation, reading at least 30 minutes, journaling, drawing or painting, coloring Mehndi designs, whatever strikes us at the moment.
  • Bed by 9 pm.
  • Free time for the grown-ups 🙂

So far it is Sophia who misses being around other kids, Brian not so much. But they are interacting at the Y and at soccer. We are looking for other socialization activities…

So for now we are happy with how things are going and we are on to week 2 with bells on!

XOXO

Happy Home Schooling Family!

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the home schooling journey begins…

Have you ever thought about home schooling your child or children? We are just starting this journey and I have decided to share with those of you who may be considering this path.

We have 2 kids, 10 (Brian M) and 9 (Sophia). They are our grandchildren, actually, and we have been raising them since age 2 and 1 respectively. We had been considering home schooling for the last couple of years. But we had concerns, visions of writing and grading lessons, trying to figure out curriculum and lack of socialization for the kids. Not to mention concerns about the subjects which I struggled with, like physics and chemistry, and not knowing how on earth Brian or I would teach these classes.

And then there was the time factor. Often, for 2-parent families, both adults are usually working. For 1-parent families, well, that adult works too! So not only does the “WHEN would a person have time to  home school” issue come into play but also the “kids being at home unsupervised” issue exists. Even if you are lucky enough to work from home, as I am, well, you are working, maybe in your pajamas, but your attention is on your work. Our situation is a little different – I work from home, about 30 hours a week, and Brian is retired and runs the household. So time was a factor, but not a major factor as I could arrange my schedule somewhat.

I mean, face it, for many people school is a place where the kids go and not only are they learning but they are with a sitter – supervised and relatively safe. I say relatively safe because we all know what has been happening at schools lately.

And, with two kids, there is benefit in them leaving the house. They develop independence and spend time away from one another (major factor we have discovered – but more on that later). They are also exposed to other ways of thinking that can expand their minds in ways bigger than our world, or so we told ourselves. And of course, socialization with their peers and learning how to work in groups, manage different personalities and form bonds outside the family.

But, for Brian and I, we wanted to not only teach concepts important to us but also to teach them in a Socratic way. What do I mean by that? The Socratic method is using dialogue,  based on asking and answering questions, which stimulates critical thinking to draw out ideas and create awareness of underlying assumptions; it is highly effective. For example – teaching history, from an unbiased perspective or science from a broad perspective where the student (and teacher) is always questioning what the information means based on world view of both student and teacher. Unless one is lucky enough to have an instructor who embraces the Socratic form of teaching, this does not generally happen in our academic institutions today.

So, the plan WAS to let both Brian and Sophia finish 5th grade and then make the transition. We thought we would start with Brian since he is 1 year older, get our systems in place, establish a routine, and then a school year later start with Sophia.

But life happens and in our story four things affected our time plan. First, last school year, the teachers in OK went on strike – for so many reasons. They wanted higher pay of course, but they were also asking for better classroom resources, updated books, changes to the teaching day and more. We agreed and supported them every step of the way. But it brought into focus the aforementioned limitations of our public school system.

Second, Sophia had a teacher who did not allow “talking” in class, at all. No discussion, no conversation, just complete quiet. This is completely opposite of what we know to be a conducive learning environment.

Third, the kids only got 15 min for lunch. Who can eat in 15 min? Again, not ok with us and unfortunately not a situation we could change.

Last, and most important, is that both Sophie and Brian were far ahead of their class in comprehension and test scores, yet, they could only be presented with information to a certain level. And the teachers did their best to give them extra work including putting them both in gifted and talented. But even with extra work and the G&T program, they were bored. Kudos to them, their behavior was awesome, and they found ways to adapt, but they wanted to learn more. So we were supplementing at home which just fueled the issue at school.

So we felt we could do it better. And as luck would have it, my brother, Vince and his wife, Katie, had decided to home school their two youngest girls as well. We took the plunge, signed up for Epic Charter Schools, and plan to start on Sept 4.

First thing, the kids were assigned a teacher, Kim (who we were able to request), and who is the same one teaching their cousins. A few weeks before school was to start, Kim came to the house to meet with us, see the home environment, get to know Brian and Sophia a bit, work out a schooling schedule and talk to us about curriculum and their learning fund. One of our major concerns was alleviated immediately – we will not have to write the core curriculum, although we are allowed to supplement (for credit) whatever we wish.

There were many different curricula to choose from and as long as we used one approved by the state, they would earn their high school diploma as if they had attended public school in person. In addition, because Epic is a charter school, approved by the state, they were given a learning fund of $900/each/school year to use for extracurricular activities, computer, YMCA, etc., whatever they need to facilitate their learning. In addition, if they complete through grade 12 with Epic, their first 2 years of college are covered!

So we set up a meeting with Kim and left that meeting with a plan. We:

  • chose a curriculum with her guidance
  • created a plan to supplement/replace lessons based on our travels and other interests the kids have
  • set up a flexible daily schooling schedule (8 am – 12 pm)
  • set up weekly meetings with her, every other is to be in person
  • scheduled assessment tests so she knows where to start them
  • created Google accounts (email, drive and calendar) for independent communication, assignments and a repository for their work

Kim will be available to the kids daily via Skype, chat and email. There are also tutors available by chat on demand if they run into questions or have a hard time with any of the lessons. And, perhaps best of all, we are free to travel as they can complete their work as long as there is internet connection available.

OK, that’s it for this post. Now that you have the background, I will try to document this weekly so you can see how it goes!

E

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diamond digging in Arkansas

 We must play. If we do not play, we wither and die, a slow, agonizing death of the spirit. And so, we decided to play at Diamond Crater State Park in Murfreesboro, AR. We had gone on a trip to Virginia earlier this year and stopped at the welcome center coming into AR. Brian Michael, our oldest (7), looks at all the brochures of all the welcome centers of the country as his own personal FREE bookstore. So, now armed with at least 60 brochures and pamphlets about the wonders of this beautiful state, we loaded back into the van and for the next 200 miles heard about all the things we absolutely needed to do as we passed through AR on the way home. In a moment, our fate was decided. He opened the Diamond Crater brochure, and said, “oh, man, we have got to do this!” So we made a plan for fall break.

www.mining-technology.com

www.mining-technology.com

On Oct 7th, we packed the van with all the typical vacation things, at least for an ND – a cooler full of healthy food: coconut milk, gluten-free bread, Earth Balance, Kind bars, gluten-free pretzels, hummus, red licorice (for Brian K), PB and J, & organic potato chips because driving in a car makes you ravenous for salty & crunchy things. Also packed were sun hats, sifting screens, a large red wagon, two 5-gallon buckets, shovels, suitcases, pillows and blankets, Asia and her bed, and the doctor’s bag. We were READY! We had spent the last month reading books, looking at pictures of diamonds in the rough and picking up tips and tricks from innumerable online blogs.

https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3080/2825678081_2d30c2a0b1.jpg

c2.staticflickr.com/4/3080/2825678081_2d30c2a0b1.jpg

We stopped at the Cherokee Nation Headquarters in Tahlequah, OK to turn in the kid’s tribal registration, not exactly on the way, but had to be done since they lost our application sent in 2 years ago. On the road again, 4 hours to destination, Queen of Diamonds Inn. As you can imagine, excitement was rampant in the van, dreams of finding the next Hope Diamond were shared (by the kids who had just seen it in June at the Smithsonian) and how maybe we could even fit in panning for gold. Thankfully, riding in a car is a great way to rock a child to sleep, and Brian and I enjoyed some peaceful time just enjoying the countryside.

We arrived in Murfreesboro around 7 pm. Here are a few things to note – this is a dry county! So if you enjoy a cold beer with your Mexican food, or like to sip a glass of wine as the sun sets, BYOB. Also, for eats, there is Em’s Cafe (good old southern cooking) and Los Agaves (the BEST Mexican food ever!). So if you are on special diets, cart in your food items. And everything closes at 9 pm sharp!

IMG_20151011_092706127We pulled into Em’s Cafe, a small-town, locally owned spot, with yummy food and super friendly staff. Right across the street? The Queen of Diamonds Inn, our home for the next 5 days. We had planned to camp, but with unseasonably warm temperatures in the forecast, and knowing how dusty and dirty we would get at the mine, we opted for a bit of luxury. Right to bed, with a plan to be up early and get to the mine.

Diamond CraterNow, Brian and I did this diamond digging thing with Tony, Miki and her kiddos, like 20 years ago. So we knew what we were in for – hot, dusty, dry, hours of sifting through dirt, and a very low probability of finding a diamond. But – the finding of diamonds was not really the end goal, so off we went with smiles and a spring in our step. $24 dollars later, we had checked out the map of where all the big diamonds had ever been found, watched the video on how to mine, and were headed down the ramp to the BIG field of dirt.

diamonddigging11 diamonddigging7 diamonddigging8 diamonddigging6

diamonddigging11 diamonddigging13 diamonddigging9 diamonddigging10

The excitement that bubbles out of a child on an adventure needs to be bottled and sold. It makes life new and sparkly and I felt like I was 7 again. We chose our spots and the mining began. Every little shiny thing was put into a bag! I heard, “I think I found one!”, “Oooooh, Ahhhh” and “Grandma, is this a diamond?” at least a hundred times that day. But, 7 hours later with a bag full of interesting things, we headed to the identification desk to find out what we had. Calcite, Jasper, Volcanic rock, an old piece of metal, quartz and random other pebbles and rocks. And we made a plan to decide in the morning if we wanted to come back.

Ems CafeA quick stop at Em’s, a good night’s sleep, and believe it or not, those two were ready to do it again. So, we went back for a few hours, but enthusiasm soon waned in the heat of the day.

diamond_digging2Never fear, I had a back-up plan, the Ka-Do-Ha Indian Village complete with museum, mining for crystals and an authentic Indian trading post. This is where we hit the jackpot! For a mere $50, one can purchase a big bucket of sand and dirt, take it over to the sluice and “mine” for crystals, gems and diamonds.

diamond_digging3We hit the motherload. Two beautiful diamonds, bags of crystals and gemstones (including a garnet). Here at Ka-Do-Ha, we met Heather from Australia. She invited us back the next morning to go through all the left-over dirt lying on the ground and tables from people who had come before us that day. The kids were so thrilled, we were happy they were happy, and off we went to try out Los Agaves.

diamond_digging4 diamond_digging5 Los Agaves

The food and service at this little, out-of-the-way restaurant was just what we needed. And, when we found out the county was dry. Brian and I were going to share an ice-cold beer with our enchiladas, but alas, no drops of brew were to be found. We did end up driving the 15 miles to Footsies, in the neighboring county a couple of days later, but that night, iced tea was our beverage. I have to tell you, their food was REALLY good and the service was outstanding.

www.panoramio.com

www.panoramio.com

The next morning we trekked back to the Indian Village and spent the next four hours collecting bags of gemstones. It was really a great time and a special thanks has to go out to Heather.

Also, we tool a spin to Lake Greeson where we were going to hike. But hunting season opened that morning and the guy looked at us like we had lost our minds when we asked about hiking trails. “You know, hunting season opened this morning, not a good idea to me a moving target in any woods around here!” So we walked in the water and back to hotel we went.

We talked and dreamed, played and adventured, explored and spent 5 wonderful days being a family together. My spirit is refreshed and renewed. Make a plan to go do some adventuring with your family. No cell phones, no computers, nothing at all to do except live and laugh in each moment that comes your way. It is transformative.

Have a wonderful day!

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from grandparents to parents – a second chance?

Well, I have officially entered the second age and with that have cut my hair! It is interesting to me, that with the shedding of hair, and not necessarily planned to coincide with the cutting off of my hair, I also made some other big decisions in my life (more to come on that in future posts).

When we became the guardians of our grandchildren, I had intended to write regularly about our experience. One, because I found out that over 175,000 known grandparents in our country are raising their grandchildren. No telling how many are not known, but I would bet double. Second, because I am learning so much about life that I am not sure I would have learned otherwise, I wanted to share it. And last, because I wanted to contribute good energy to the world.

Well, here we are YEARS later, and this is my first post about it all. But, one of those decisions I made as I watched the hair fall to the ground, was to rededicate to writing about our experience.

So, when our grandson was 2 and our granddaughter, 1, we welcomed them and their parents into our home. And, at that point, we became caregivers to some degree. But, because Mom and Dad were present, Brian and I could come and go as we pleased. We just had a big, happy and full home. Of course there were the typical sleepless nights when the kids were not feeling well, but in general, our life continued much as it had before. Fast forward, omit many details for the sake of privacy, we soon became the primary caregivers and now, with Mom not in the picture and Dad around a day a week, Brian and I have become parents again. It has been several years and emotions are rebalanced, everyone feels loved and our (Brian and I) life is completely different.

This has been quite the journey and now, with a 7 and 6-year-old, I have learned some important lessons.

  • Major lesson – we are the parents we are taught to be. So the first time around, to some degree, I was the parent I had learned to be from my own parents. I parented the first time in an age pre-internet, where my best sources of information on how to do it came from library books, other people and of course, the television 🙂 The second time, I am parenting from the experience of having done it before and knowing what I did well and what I could have done better. Now I KNOW the LONG term results of doing or not doing certain things.
  • Second lesson – every moment is a teaching/learning opportunity. It is not about getting the kids to do what you want them to do in each moment, but rather, at least as I see it, it is about teaching them the potential of each moment and how the choices each person makes to act, feel and think in that moment will affect the rest of their life. Life happens all around us, but what those events mean, and therefore, what “life is all about” are up to each and every one of us. But unless we are taught this at a young age, we grow up with the idea that we are powerless, that life happens to us.
  • Third – keeping your room clean does matter.
  • Fourth – many people lose their innocence and therefore love of life as they grow but it can be recaptured and cultivated.
  • Fifth – you have to play and laugh, listen to music and dance, explore and adventure, and treasure every moment that comes along because we really only have the moment of now.
  • Sixth and last for today – your children will NOT necessarily become the person you are, BUT they will learn to see life the way you do UNLESS you teach them the power of making their own choices, developing their own perception and encourage them to be open to the idea that there is no limit to the way you can get 4.

For those of you who are parents the second time around, leave a comment, share your stories, help support the hundreds of thousands of people out there who are trying to do a good thing.

Have a lovely day!

EC

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Vaccine Court Awards Millions

Eli Camp NDI just finished reading this article and thought I would share it with all of you.

Vaccine Court Awards Millions to Two Children With Autism

EC

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The Healing Journey of Others – Words of Wisdom

Eli Camp NDOK, let’s face it – walking the health journey can be downright challenging at times. It can take more money that we have to spend (or want to spend and not that it has to), more time than we’d like, hours of reading and trying to understand what should be simple and at times we just want to go through the drive-through and have a burger and fries. At least this is what many of my patients tell me 🙂 Not that I’d ever go through the drive-through for a burger or fries, LOL.

I am a problem solver, and I love finding ways to make things work the way I think they should work. Many times I have gone into a hardware store looking for pieces and parts to build something that exists only in my mind. Of course the guys at the store will just look at me and say, well they don’t make anything like that. And of course, I say, ok, but can I use all of these gadgets to make it? It really seems to bother them that I want to use a thing, clearly designed for a specific purpose, for something else. But, I usually figure it out and happily use my new gadget, made up of pieces of things the makers never even thought they would be used for.

Well, I thought what I might do is start a blog post and ask people to name a challenge they have faced on their journey to health. But then, can you also offer what your solution is to deal with that challenge? Maybe, by putting all our heads together, we can come up with solutions for people out there who start and stop, who never start at all, who feel overwhelmed, and who really, really want to become healthy but are not sure they will be able to walk the path. If you see a challenge listed, but have a different solution, go ahead and add it! Feel free to comment – all input will help someone. I will start us off.

Challenge: Time – I find that eating well, exercising, taking my supplements, meditating, breathing and immersing myself in community takes a lot of time. I used to try so hard to fit in everything that by the end of the day, even though I had done all this healthy stuff, I was so stressed about what I didn’t do that I am convinced I cancelled out all the benefits of the good stuff I did.

Solution: Breathe. I picked one thing off the list and made a commitment to do that every day. I chose breathing because I can use it to center, it is really good for me, it slows me down, I can clear my mind, slow my heart, stretch my back and muscles, realize I am hungry for something good and I have to do it anyway. So, 10-15 times a day, at least 1 time an hour, my alarm on my cell phone goes off and it tells me to breathe, deep, slow, purposefully, for at least 3 minutes. Now I find myself doing that most of the time and I cannot explain but I actually seem to have more time to do everything else. All the other healthy stuff – it works its way in, some on one day, some on another. The most important thing – I am not stressed at the end of the day – I just choose to feel good about what I have done for me and my health today.

OK -your turn! Looking forward to what everyone has to say. EC

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parasites – eveything I never really wanted to know…

Eli Camp NDSo, I am getting ready to do a teleseminar on Monday evening about parasite testing. I was reading and preparing a basic overview of parasites – and have decided I will never walk barefoot again, probably won’t let me dog kiss me on the lips, may never eat out again and I am even contemplating never drinking water again! Seriously, the presence and easy transmission of parasites is really scary.

So, what have I found out? Here is a really brief overview, and if it catches your interest, come visit us on Medicine Talk to register for the Teleseminar or to download the audio archive (available sometime early Aug 2012).

  • about 50 million American children are infected with worm parasites
  • approximately 90% of all parasitic infections are due to microscopic single-celled parasites
  • a parasite is an organism that needs a host to live – us and they inhabit our body and feed off tissues or body fluids
  • there are parasites for every single tissue of the human body
  • they get in through: Drinking water • Skin contact with contaminated water  • Food • Insects • Air • Pets • People • Soil.
  • Symptoms: GI symptoms include pain, bloating, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation, cramps, poor digestion and poor absorption of nutrients, bleeding, irritable bowel, leaky gut and excess mucus secretion. Systemic symptoms include anxiety, depression, allergies, fatigue, nausea, neurological issues (brain fog, memory loss, poor coordination), eczema, psoriasis and other skin rashes and disorders, joint and muscle pain and other problems, fever, headache, immune deficiencies, insomnia and weight loss or gain.  We can see mild to serious symptoms and many parasites can be fatal over time.
  • Another class can be even more serious, the helminths. These are parasitic worms that are ingested, they hatch and the larva migrate through the intestinal lining, lymphatic/blood vessels, the hepatic portal system, liver, right heart and lungs. They are then re-swallowed and establish as an adult worm in the small intestine. Allergic responses to the metabolic byproducts of adult worms are known to cause asthma,  insomnia, eye pain, and rashes. If the larva migrate in other patterns, which they do, we can see inflammation and reaction in places like the spleen, liver, lymph nodes, and brain. The lungs may become infected and symptoms like coughing, fever and difficult respiration may show up. Pneumonitis is a possible complication and this can be lethal. The intestines may become blocked and this can lead to a state of toxemia and death. Adult worms are able to penetrate the wall of the intestines and cause complications like hemorrhage, infection in the abdominal cavity and appendicitis.
  • Not everyone who is infected with parasites has symptoms.
  • Not everyone who has symptoms tests positive for parasites.
  • The Naturopathic Approach
    In general, Naturopathic Doctors and practitioners with similar training are always striving to accomplish several things: find and fix or remove the deepest underlying cause of any illness, help with relief of symptoms, and stimulate the healing ability of the body to fix any damage that has occurred. What might we do: Diet, Lifestyle, Botanicals, Supplements and of course:
  • Homeopathy: This is perhaps one of the deepest and most curative modalities, especially for clearing parasites from the body. There is much historical discussion and case evidence that homeopathic treatment can effectively clear the organisms and induce healing. However, there may be instances, especially in long-term infection, where homeopathy is not enough and has to be combined with other treatments.
  • Additional Resources: I have read every single publication by Dr. Omar Amin. If you are interested in reading his work visit the following page: http://www.parasitetesting.com/publication2.cfm
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which wolf to feed?

Eli Camp NDI have been doing some reading since I went on my June sabbatical. Lately, I find myself drawn to the writings of people who are exploring the idea that through our thoughts, emotions and actions humans can change the current course of mankind. That seems like a no-brainer – right? Of course how we think, feel and act determines the course. As obvious as that concept appears to be, I simply cannot wrap my mind around why humans have  chosen to think, feel and act in a way that is apparently bringing us, thousands of other species and perhaps the entire planet to extinction. Do we simply forget to think, feel and act in every moment as a guardian of earth and all its inhabitants? Is the house we live in, the clothes we wear, the things we own, the PROFIT of it all truly the motivation for why so many people do the things they do?

It is easy to get caught up in a wave of concern especially given the state of our ecology, economy, community, health and dwindling water and food resources. Add to that the very scary reality that someone (no names mentioned), with the barest understanding of what the long-term consequences are, is altering the very genetic code of many of our food crops. Does anyone else have a concern about this? Really, a judge would rule that now “corn” can be owned by a single company. Ahh, the forest seems to be obscured by the trees. Yes, I have to stop quite frequently, take a deep breathe, and remind myself that at this moment I am ok, for now.

So many of our greatest mentors simply lived it, led by example, and yet the message of how to live in harmony with one another and with the planet appears to have fallen on largely infertile soil. I say largely because there are so many people out there who get “IT”.

Folks are consciously choosing to think in ways that are loving, healing, compassionate and connected. People are teaching what they know to anyone who will listen. We are buying local and not to excess. Many are walking, riding a bike, car pooling and using public transportation whenever possible and often choose to not own a car. We plant food whenever possible and share the extra. People are helping and volunteering in their free time to care for our homeless, our unwanted and unloved children, our elderly. They put no time and energy into mindless media and do not allow themselves to be brainwashed into purchasing things that only speed along the destruction of our planet and its inhabitants. What else? They recycle, cooperate, accept, love and live consciously.

There is a snippet of a conversation my sister and I have a couple of times a year. I cannot remember how we get to this in each of our conversations but we end up discussing how people seem to want to deny their darker side preferring instead to pretend it simply does not exist or drug it away, shop it away, eat it away, play it away – anything seems better than to have to look at it and exist with it. And I intentionally do not define “darker” side because that is an individual perception. I think it is whatever we are taught or believe should not be there – and that differs based on the societal wave.

But, all of this brings to my mind, a Native American proverb, and I do not know which tribe this should be credited to nor how it might have changed in the telling, but I hope I have the essence. It is of Grandfather talking to grandson.  Grandfather, who is always wise,  says, “Inside of me live 2 wolves and they always seem to be at war with one another”. Grandson’s eyes grow big and round at the thought of wolves living inside Grandfather. Grandfather takes his long pause and gazes at the sky and just when grandson thinks Grandfather might have fallen asleep he speaks again, “One of the wolves is greedy and finds fault with everyone, he feels he never has enough although he has more than any other wolf, he cares not for where he lives and leaves the bones of his kill lying around.”Grandson asks, “And the other one?” Grandfather is quiet for a minute but then he says, “Ah, the other is completely the opposite – he is steadfast, calm, kind, loving, forgiving, cares for the mother earth and is all a wolf could hope to be.” Grandson thinks about this for awhile as he watches sun travel across the sky. Finally he asks, “Grandfather, do you know which wolf will win?” And Grandfather turns, “Of course.” He smiles at his most loved grandson, “Which ever one I feed.”

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antioxidants

Eli Camp NDI taught a class a few months ago at Everglades University about Antioxidants and in the course of preparing for and teaching that class I read a book called the Antioxidant Miracle by Lester Packer PhD. Wow! This was a great book and I learned some very important things about antioxidants over all. In medical school and on my every day journey of being a doctor and patient I have learned the importance of antioxidants to our health but my understanding of how to use them changed in dramatic ways after reading Dr. Packer’s book.

So, perhaps I should start with a brief explanation on antioxidants. Every day we create free radicals in our body and in addition, we are also exposed every day to a number of free radical producing chemicals and toxins in our food, in the air we breathe and in the products we use.  Free radicals create something called oxidative stress.

Free radicals can be damaging in a number of ways: they lower immune function, cause us to age more quickly, set the stage for various cancers, cause inflammation and pain, lead to degeneration in our tissues, joints and bones and affect our cognitive function. This is just a glimpse of what I usually review over 2 or more weeks in class but it gives you the basics of the damage free radicals can cause.

Antioxidants are substances that deal with the free radicals. Thankfully, we have built in antioxidant pathways in our body to deal with free radicals to some extent and many wonderful medicines of the earth that also act as antioxidants. We can stimulate our antioxidant pathways in our body by eating healthy, staying hydrated, getting good sleep, thinking in a positive way and dealing properly with stress. In addition to all these wonderful strategies we can also use a variety of natural medicines to boost our antioxidant activities even more. For an approach using food see my post, “mom made all our meals from scratch”. I will post about the other topics eventually, but here I am going to review the substances Dr. Packer discusses in his book.

So, he puts forth this idea based on an enormous amount of research, that antioxidants actually function within a network. He shows that to get the best antioxidant action these network members must be taken together. In addition, he discusses other substances which are needed for the network to function at its best. So here is the overview:

Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C is vital to the production of collagen; enhances iron absorption
  • Water soluble (located in watery portions of cell) but helps protect fat-soluble like vitamins A and E and fatty acids from oxidation
  • Is easily damaged during food preparation such as chopping, exposure to air, cooking, boiling and being submerged into water
  • May block the formation of nitrosamines-carcinogens formed in the stomach from nitrates in the diet
  • Critical for well-functioning immune system
  • Can reduce length and severity of common cold and viruses
  • Bolster’s immune system’s ability to resist cancer
  • May also prevent cancer by shielding DNA from FR damage
  • FOOD SOURCES: bell peppers, citrus, broccoli, cranberries, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, kiwi
  • Recommended intake per text: 500 mg daily of ester C, split dose

Vitamin E

  • Exists in 8 different forms of tocopherols
  • We need a blend of tocopherols along with something called tocotrienols
  • Located in fatty portion of cell
  • Protects cell membranes and tissues from damage by oxidation
  • Prevents oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (cardiovascular protectant)
  • Prevents oxidation of Vitamin A
  • Sources: raw vegetable oils, nuts, nut butters, olives, rice bran oil, corn, barley, wheat germ small amounts in leafy greens
  • Recommended intake (per Dr. Packer): 500 mg

 Lipoic acid

  • Can recycle itself and ALL of the network antioxidants
  • Is the only antioxidant that can significantly boost glutathione levels
  • Allowed in both watery and fatty portion of cell (unique to this substance)
  • Takes over Vitamin E’s function in its absence
  • Crosses blood-brain barrier
  • Helps break down sugar for production of ATP (energy)
  • Technically “Non-essential” (synthesized by body in small amounts)
  • Important implication in PREVENTION and treatment of many diseases.
  • Declines with age
  • Recommended intake (per Dr. Packer): 50 mg twice per day

CoQ10

  • Is a compound naturally made in the body and is synthesized in the heart, liver, pancreas and kidneys
  • Body uses it to enhance cell growth and protect cells from damage
  • Fat-soluble molecule that works synergistically with Vitamin E to protect the fatty part of the cell from free radical attack
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Has been shown to help with side effects from cancer treatments
  • Sources: produced by humans but also found in seafood and organ meats
  • Body’s levels will peak at age 20, levels decrease in the body with age
  • Recommended intake (per text): 30 mg daily; increase to 50 mg cardiovascular risk

Glutathione

  • The most abundant antioxidant in the network
  • Primary water-soluble antioxidant
  • Is found in every cell and is an important weapon in the battle against free radicals
  • Glutathione production begins to decline at age 40, it can drop almost 20% by age 60
  • Low levels of glutathione have been linked to premature death and disease
  • Is produced by the body from three amino acids:
    • Glutamic acid
    • Cysteine
    • Glycine
  • Recycles Vitamin C
  • Vital detoxification function in liver
  • Levels reduced by Acetaminophen (ie Tylenol)
  • Important for strong immune system
  • Sources: abundant in fruits, vegetables, freshly cooked meat
  • Recommended intake: none, levels boosted by Lipoic Acid

Co factors – these are other substances needed to help the antioxidant network and while I do not go into great detail here about these you can read about them in a variety of places including Dr. Packer’s book.

  • Flavonoids
  • Carotenoids
  • Selenium
  • Phytochemicals

Dr. Packer suggested that these work best when combined together. So, I searched out a product and reviewed over 150 different antioxidant formulations until I found the best one. The one that used the right forms and the right amounts. It is called Quench, made by Bio Tech. However, it has recently been discontinued and so I am on the hunt again. I am trying to find someone who will make this specific formula such as a compounding pharmacist or one of the other nutraceutical companies…if I cannot find anyone to make it I will find the next best option and will let you all know. You can still find Quench a few places but you have to hunt for it. If you find it, buy several bottles, I did.

If you get a chance to read the book it is great!

The Antioxidant Miracle, Lester Packer, PH.D., ISBN 0-471-35311-6

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