Amy and Simon Blog

The Natural and Healthy Lifestyle we Discovered Along the Way…

18 years ago… July 24, 2017

Eighteen years ago, I had this brand new, sweet and healthy, blue-eyed, chubby little girl. After her first round of vaccines she stopped growing. At four months old I was told to start solids early to try to get her to gain weight; that just weakened her immune system and she got sick. She was diagnosed with Failure to Thrive soon afterwards. At this point she was so tired of throwing up after each feeding that she would nurse as little as possible and suck her fingers instead to avoid it.

On my own accord, I had began weeks earlier trying to change our families diet for the better to fix some issues. I took away dairy, then wheat, but it wasn't until I took out gluten that I noticed that the baby stopped throwing up after nursing. It only took three days of that and it was gone. After my daughter was no longer reacting to the food I ate, I worked several months to wean her from sucking her fingers and taught her to be a good little nurser. She was able to maintain her weight and slowly gain weight, she was weight checked every month and continued all her scheduled "well" visits. At a year old, she was only sixteen pounds, but she had good muscle tone and was content. She didn't start to gain weight at a more normal rate until I stopped vaccinating her after eighteen months old. She had a growth spurt years later, when I started detoxing her body of the vaccines.

At the same time my daughter stopped throwing up, I also noticed that our new gluten free diet had cleared my two year olds infant acne that he had since he started solids. This started the long journey to where I am today and the decisions I make about food, medicine, doctors, child- rearing, education, etc.

Over the years I have gone through times that I doubted what I had learned and I tried to just forget about it all, but there was always a physical or emotional side effect from someone making me go back to it. Believe me, it is not easy to be the odd one out, never fitting in, and having very little support.

So before you try to educate me with the latest research, please consider that I have already done the research and have seen the results myself. You can find research out there to support any outcome you would like to believe, but how do you know what is real? I live with the results everyday. Please don't try to dis-prove me, all you end up doing is discounting the last eighteen years of my life, with or without realizing it. We all try to do what is the very best for our children, I am no different. Please respect that and the things I do and I will do the same for you. I am all for knowledge and research, but do your own research, or at least research where the research is coming from. You'll be surprised at some of the sources and who funds specific research. I trust what I have learned from my own experiences as a mother and as a volunteer who has helped many new mothers. I've seen the results myself, not in theory.

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Georgia Parenting Conference (CERP sessions for Healthcare Providers) May 1-2 February 8, 2009

La Leche League of Georgia Annual Conference now registering!!!  $15 off if you register by March 1st!!!

Check it out!  The featured speakers are:

Marian Thompson, co-founder of La Leche League and Another Look

Dr. Bob Sears

Diana West, IBCLC

Lysa Parker, co-founder of Attachment Parenting Intenational

 

SEE YOU THERE!!!

 

Why do our kids learn at home? August 12, 2008

Our first child was quite unique. He was a very early talker so we had the unique experience to know what our child was thinking before most people. Children know a lot more then we give them credit for. The amount of things they understand before they are a year old is amazing.

We figured by the time our son was three (Summer 2000) there was no way we could keep up with his rate of learning we had no choice but to enroll him into the best private Montessori school in town. To give you some little examples of his abilities, by twelve months he could hold a tune and sing a recognizable song; at his eighteen month well baby visit, he had a 300 word vocabulary in two different languages and spoke articulate complete sentences, and for what it’s worth he knew his ABC’s, colors and counting to eleven at least.

Well, we were wrong. We watched our very intelligent young man become a very timid child. He began to bite his nails; he stopped referring to his father as Papa because he was told that was wrong. He started changing and his love of learning was not the same. We thought that being in a Montessori environment with three to six year olds would let him continue at his own level, but instead it hindered his learning capabilities and he was only there from 9am to noon! Four months of that was more than enough. After that we let our little guy learn the way he wanted to learn, ON HIS OWN.

Because of the way he was, we became child-led homeschoolers, or shall I say more unschoolers. We never forced anything on him. If he didn’t like it we didn’t do it. We let his love of learning alone. We should have done that from the start. Thinking back we had always, until we put him in school. At eighteen month, we remember the doctor telling us with his vocabulary skills we could teach him to read quite easily by doing such and such. Well, we didn’t force the issue and when he decided he wanted to read, he was able to do it within a few months of working on it on his own. He was pre-school age when he did this.

We have applied the same principles of unschooling to our other children as well and they all have learned different things at different times. It is not about what they should be doing at what age. It’s more about “what do they want to do, what do they enjoy.” It is unnatural to stop learning something that you are interested in so you can learn something else. Why not learn all you want to learn about a subject, and then move to what you want to learn about next?

Some of our children enjoy “school work” at times, and not at other times. They are unlike our first, who always did everything by himself. The difference is our children will ask us to help them with it, instead of us telling them to do it. The only time we have to make them do something is for our state testing policy. They have to test every three years starting in the third grade. Our children do attend weekly Religious education classes, but for the most part they want to because it pleases us and they see us doing our part in our Church as well. They must feel like this is the way they contribute to our Parish Community. They are also involved in other aspects of our Church voluntarily. It helps to be a model of the behavior you want from your children.

You might be wondering how we teach a second language to our children without making them do anything. Well, basically it is as simple as, Amy speaks English all the time and Simon speaks French all the time. We have books, games, cd-roms, and workbooks in both languages at all levels. They can choose what they want to do. Our oldest speaks English to his mom and French to his Papa. He can read in both languages, but not as well in French because he doesn’t feel like he needs to. Maybe someday he will decide to and maybe someday the others will decide to speak French to their Papa just like their big brother does. Who knows, but it is up to them.

In our opinion, Unschooling is an extension of Attachment Parenting, which comes from Natural Living or following your instincts. As an attachment parent you give your child what he needs, when he needs it. That’s the natural way.

Amy: As a La Leche League Leader I see a lot of mothers who are looking for way that things should be done instead of following their own instincts. I try to ensure them that only they know what is best for their children, they just need to follow their instincts. It is my opinion, that in our society it is hard for parents, especially new parents, to follow their instincts because there are too many “experts” out there. Only the parents know what their children need. Sometimes parents get a feeling that something is wrong, but don’t know why. When the “experts” are questioned, the parents are told they have nothing to worry about. If this happens enough, the parents lose their instincts and the children suffer because the parents really do know what is best and they know when something just isn’t right. So stop listening to the “experts” because only you are the expert for your own child(ren)!

So in conclusion, our children learn at home because it is the natural thing to do. It fits into our natural lifestyle. It just makes sense to us.

 

How did we come to question “authority”? July 29, 2008

I’ll answer this one alone I think.  For me, Amy, I would have to answer SUPPORT, SUPPORT, and SUPPORT.  I didn’t realize how important a good support system was until I began to build one.  My first support came from a required class that Simon and I had to take for marriage preparation back in 1995.  It was a Natural Family Planning (NFP) class taught by Couple to Couple League International.  In the class we learned about NFP, a natural birth control method this is just as effective, if not more then the conventional methods and has no side effects.  We also learned about ecological breastfeeding, which is feeding on demand with no supplements or pacifiers and as long as is desired by both mother and child and the importance of natural birth.  In the class we needed to put what we learned into practice (obviously not the part with the babies) over a few months.  It was our first taste of doing things the natural way and it made sense to us.  Well, with this class there comes a bimonthly newsletter (now it’s a magazine) that gives recent information, examples of NFP situations, a section for those who have children and lots of articles from just everyday people who write in with their experiences.

This is where I first had my support from when starting a family. Simon used to have a job where he traveled pretty much 100% of the time, so he would be home a few weekends of the year, not including vacation time.  So after our first child arrived in 1997 all I had for support was this little newsletter and my own instincts. (My mother had passed away before Simon and I met in college and my siblings are all older then me and we all love each other, but keep to our selves for the most part.)  Now I don’t think I would have listened to these instincts had I not taken the NFP course and been exposed to “natural” thinking.  I would read the newsletter from cover to cover as soon as they arrived to keep myself up to date and feel like there were other people in the world that did things this way.

With the help of this support I was able to raise my child by following my instincts mostly, but I was still not questioning “authority”.  I took my son to his scheduled doctor appointments, gave him his vaccinations, believe they knew what they were talking about when it came to medical things (i.e. his eczema).

After having our second child in 1999, Simon decided to switch jobs.  This one didn’t have quite so much travel.  All of a sudden, I had some more support.  My system was growing.  To make the commute easier we decided to move as well.  I had decided that I wanted to attend a La Leche League meeting with my niece who was expecting so she would nurse her baby too.  I wanted her to experience the bond I had with my children.  Well, my niece lost her baby at 11 weeks, but something in me decided I would go to the meeting anyway.

Walking into my first La Leche League meeting was like coming home.  For the first time since becoming a mother I felt as if I belonged somewhere.  I always did things my own way based on what my instincts told me to do, so I was very different from my siblings.  Now I was in a room of mothers doing the same thing. Thus, my support system grew even more.  I became confident in what I was doing (I wasn’t alone anymore) and I learned so much more was out there.  This was all happening the same time my daughter was suffering with her weight gain.  Now I had the confidence to trust myself because I wasn’t alone anymore.  I knew in my gut it wasn’t right what they were saying.  I was a good parent and I could figure out what was going on with my daughter. 

 

So what was it back in 1999? July 28, 2008

Well, apparently our daughter was allergic/sensitive to all kinds of food, but especially gluten.  Within three days of not eating gluten she was able to hold down her breast milk, but of course she was over six months old when we figured that out.  From the time she was born she would projectile vomit basically after each nursing.  She didn’t stop gaining weight until after her three-month “well baby” check-up.  At that point she was being regularly vaccinated and started sucking on her fingers instead of eating as much as she should.

It was not the doctors that told us the problem.  All they wanted to do was poke and prod and accuse us of being unfit parents. We took it upon ourselves to figure out the root of the problem. Our son, who had just turned two at the time, poor thing, became our guinea pig.  He had eczema on his face starting at six months when he began to eat solid foods.  We were told it would clear up, it was just baby acne, put some medicated cream on it and eventually and would go away.  Well it never did. When we started experimenting with his diet we noticed a change.  The poor kid didn’t get to eat much of anything until we figured out what we needed to eliminate to get rid of his eczema.  We took away all high allergens (i.e. dairy, wheat, corn, etc.)

The magic ingredient was gluten (wheat, oats, barley and rye). Then it occurred to us, “if mom stops eating it too, it would no longer be in the breast milk.”  It took three days for the vomiting to stop.  It took three months to wean her from sucking on her fingers instead of nursing.  By the time she was one she was about sixteen pounds, but she was gaining weight each month.

Unfortunately for her, we were still going to well baby visits and still getting her vaccinated, which just added to her problems. We stopped after 18 months, but that was after the big MMR shot, she was so desensitized at that point, she didn’t even flinch as they put it in her.  Very sad, I know; I still can’t believe I let it get to that point.

The MMR still shows up in her system today.  We just had her tested (non-evasive biofeedback) and are now treating her for vaccine injuries homeopathically.  She also has many emotional problems from her traumatic beginnings.  She is being treated homeopathically for those as well, in addition to her many allergies/sensitivities.  It is hard practice attachment parenting when your baby is suffering like she did.  I would wear her as much as she would let me (in a sling); this is one of the things you do in Attachment Parenting. Once she believed that nursing and cuddling with her mommy were happy, good things she did it all the time, but she was still injured from her start.  A good start is so important. 

 

Welcome! Come and help us re-live our journey.

Well here we are, nine years after starting a journey towards a healthier and more natural lifestyle.  Not really by choice but by accident.  We have discovered so much information we thought it was time we write it down.  We have come across lots of good products and resources and we would like to share our knowledge with you.  So as we think of them (or as we mention them in a post) we will add them to the links for you, as well as discuss them in our chronological account of our continuing journey to where and who we are today.  If you want the whole journey, start with the next post; if you just need some information on a particular topic, follow the links or use the search.  Thanks for reading and sharing our journey with us.