Thursday, March 31, 2016

Is this "natural"?

Who wants more beaver butt?? Yeah…

A few days ago while we were busy in the kitchen, my husband asked me if I had heard of a “natural flavoring” called castoreum. He knows how interested I am in health and wellness and the ingredients that are put into our foods.  Even though he teases me for it, he supports my quirkiness. 

It’s been a long road from eating what I THOUGHT was healthy to where I am now.  I still, once in a while, will consume a food that I KNOW if full of JUNK…just because I want a little.  But I do it knowing FULL WELL what I’m putting into my body.  While SO many people don’t realize the awful poisons and crap that they’re eating on a daily basis, I try to be more aware.  *shrug* To each his own. 

My husband likes to listen to talk radio and apparently he had heard about this “natural flavoring” the other night.  As I’m googling it he starts telling me it’s made from beaver butt.  Um SERIOUSLY??? Are you KIDDING me right now? I mean, come on people.  Why is the FDA allowing such ingredients in our food? I personally don’t trust the FDA and haven’t for a long time.  The ingredients they allow the American people to consume, with the idea that it’s “okay” to eat because they, the FDA, have approved it, is appalling. 

Take for instance cellulose.  It shows up in all kinds of foods like instant potatoes, breads, cheese and many more.  Several years ago, when I was regularly looking into ingredients to figure out exactly what we were eating, so that I could protect my son from gluten and dairy, my sister called and asked if I knew what cellulose was. Um, nope.  I had never heard of it. But maybe I had seen it before and hadn’t paid any attention to it...assuming that it was safe. It can be found in a few different forms: cellulose gel, cellulose gum, and cellulose powder. And guess what it is…tree pulp.  Yeah.  People, you’re eating tree.  I’ve heard, in the past, that bread has “saw dust” in it as filler.  Yeah. Pretty much.  It’s tree pulp ground into a powder.  So, if you don’t care that you’re eating tree…I mean…it IS natural for heaven’s sake…then go ahead and eat it.  It’s up to you.
Looks fairly harmless to me...

Back to the beaver butt…

I started reading about this lovely “natural” ingredient.  So, castoreum is a food additive that is made from the castor sacs of a beaver.  Who was the first person to try this as a food additive? What were they thinking? “HEY! I know! Let’s add some anal secretions from a beaver to this ice cream to make it taste better!” said no one thinking clearly…ever. My husband and I had voiced those thoughts, while laughing, and cringing, just before I read almost the same thoughts on this page. Oh my goodness.  This guy cracked us up.  He said pretty much EXACTLY what we were thinking. 

So the next time you decide you want some vanilla ice cream, something strawberry flavored or anything with the ingredient “natural flavoring” you might think twice about it.

I’m not so sure I want to, KNOWINGLY, eat a secretion from a beaver’s butt.  Shudder...

The worst part is that we can’t control what the manufacturers put into prepackaged foods.  And they only have to report the ingredients according to the regulations of the FDA.  They’re NOT being honest. NOT cool!!!  And that really irritates me. 

If you want to be healthy and eat foods and ingredients that you recognize, read your ingredients lists and educate yourself. Hopefully you'll choose real foods and not...beaver butt...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Silly Putty is just CRAPTASTIC!!

I just absolutely LOVE when I find treasures on the toys. Yes, you read that right…ON the toys. Oh yes! I was picking up a few toys to put them away while Alyssa was TRYING to wake up for school.  I picked up a Ever After High doll that seemed to be stuck to a baby doll. Upon further inspection, I realized that the dolls were stuck together with some sort of purple goo.  At first I thought it was gum, but as I began to peel the baby doll away from the other doll’s hair, I realized that it was S.I.L.L.Y. P.U.T.T.Y!  GROAN! NO!!!

GREAT!  Now I have to figure out HOW in the world to removed silly putty from doll hair.  Sigh!  I searched and searched the web for ideas.  But many of them were for removing silly putty from human hair.  I could see putting vinegar or another natural substance on human hair, but I wasn’t entirely sure what it could do to colored doll hair. 

My husband thought I was silly for taking the time to fix the doll.  He said he would either cut out the chunk of hair or throw the doll away.  Um NO!  It was a Christmas present this last year.  I couldn’t bring myself to destroy the doll or to place it in the depths of the trash can, never to return again.  Alyssa would be devastated. 

I began by pulling the large clumps from the hair. Pulling hard enough, the silly putty would break.  So I kept pulling at it. Large pieces started coming off. Once I got most of the globs off I realized that if I separated the strands of hair I could pull more off the hair.  Starting at the bottom, I squeezed the hair with my thumb nail and first finger and pulled the pieces down the hair.  Separating more strands, and pulling more silly putty off…

It was tedious.  And a couple of times I almost gave up. STUPID s i l l y   p u t t y!!! But over the course of the day I pulled all of it out of the hair.  Now, because her hair is blue with purple highlights, you can’t see any of the remaining silly putty.  It’s only a tiny bit.  And it blends in with the purple hair.  Haha!  Works for me!!

The things we do for our kids!!! 

There's a new rule in my house...NO MORE SILLY PUTTY ALLOWED!!!  Yep.  That's right.  None.  It's awful stuff!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Mud Season. Oh LOVELY mud season. It's something I grew up with. When the snow and ice begin to melt and form mud in the once firm dirt driveway...yep that's mud season.  It's something that I thought was simply part of life...everywhere.  When I moved away I realized I was wrong.  It's not in the city. Lucky dogs!  And if there's not a lot of snow on the ground it's doesn't even occur.

But here, in Maine, it does.

My kids are NOT all fans of mud season. In fact, Colin hates it.  He hates that he can't go run and play.  He hates that he gets dirty outside.  Um REALLY??? Because I thought that that was where dirt lived...outside.  He wants to be C L E A N when he plays outside.  Silly boy!

The little ones, on the other hand, like it!  Because there are PUDDLES. Who wouldn't want to stomp in puddles?  Muddy, icy puddles all over the yard.  Deep, muddy puddles are GREAT...when you're a kid. And they want to SPLASH in these beautiful puddles.  They'd go out in their Sunday dresses, if I let them.  They don't even care that it is cold enough that ice is still on the ground.  Meh! Who cares?!?! What's a little ice? Right??

Alyssa was enjoying her puddle boots and the ease of putting them on and taking them off, while Cassie was sad because she didn't have any puddle boots of her own.  So, I grabbed a pair of puddle boots at the store and we went out to play...for a few minutes.
We walked carefully through the puddles and onto the melting ice, feeling the ice crack and break under our weight.  

Photo op...

 We stomped and splashed...and shuffled through the puddles covering the ice.

Strike a pose!

And then the rain began sprinkling down on us, the ground, the puddles and the ice.  It was a cold rain. We decided to call it quits and we went inside.  

Even though Mud Season can be really dirty and a pain in the rear, it can be fun too. Especially if you're a kid...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cassie does NOT like to sleep

Cassie is 4.  Cassie likes to stay awake. Cassie likes to play all night.

She has a REALLY hard time falling asleep.  I DO believe that her Grandma Cantwell used to be this same way.  ;) If Cassie stays up past 9pm…we are IN TROUBLE!

*One night when we had come upstairs to get a drink and use the potty for the umpteenth time she found that my sister was home.  Oh yes! SOMEONE is STILL awake!!! She can entertain them!!! Then she started running…in circles…around the living room. Around and around she went.  Giggling as she ran.  Sigh.  How can you NOT laugh when they are so happy and silly!?!? So that’s what we did.  We laughed. I took a video to send to Todd, who was at work. We cringed when she almost ran into things…several times. And laughed some more.  Silly girl!

*On yet another night when Cassie could NOT seem to fall asleep, she was running around in circles…she must like circles I guess…and stops.  She points to her throat, scrunches her sweet little face up and says, “It’s kinda woggly.” Hahaha!

*We are in my room and TRYING desperately to get Cassie to lie down to go to sleep and she starts jumping on my bed.  She jumps and jumps and then falls off the bed.  Of COURSE! She cries and cries and cries.  Once she seems to be calmed down she very seriously says, “If Canela (our dog) was a peanut I could eat her.” WHAT!!! I laugh and laugh. WHERE or where does she come up with this stuff??  When she sees me laughing, she laughs too.  We laugh and giggle until Cassie decides to try to make another joke…but it falls flat. Which then makes us laugh some more.  If she remembers NOTHING else, I hope she remembers that we laughed a lot.  

Friday, March 18, 2016

I wish

I want to be a runner...but I'm not...YET. 

I'd say I have some pretty lofty goals when it comes to fitness.  Some of them I wonder if I'll EVER meet.  Although, I don't have any dead lines. HAHA! That would be too difficult. I simply WANT to get stronger.  

This week I have woken up almost every morning with a headache.  I used to have them ALL the time.  I definitely DO NOT want to go back to that lifestyle.  It's horribly rough.  

Today's headache I knew was from staying up too late.  Hey! When there's a day off from school and I don't have any early obligations I'm GONNA watch some shows after the kids finally go to sleep.  The "alone time" is blissful.  And it only happens once in a while. 

I got up, stretched and headed for the kitchen. The more I moved the less my head hurt.  That was a good sign.  

I didn't get much exercising done this FABULOUS! 

I headed outside to check the wood-boiler and realized that the temperature isn't too bad.  It's 36 degrees and sunny.  It felt good.  Yeah. I know. That's cold.  But it felt great.  

I needed to exercise.  I needed to move.  I felt the need to run.  Well, maybe jog. Haha!  

I changed my clothes and started jogging up the camp road.  

The muddy ground was soft under my shoes. Squishy. In some places it was dry and firm.  I tried to keep my feet on firm ground. 

I focused on my breathing.  Breathe in. Breathe out.  Breath in. Breath out.  I jogged for a while, dodging puddles...breathing in the fresh air. 

The icy wind blows against my face making my eyes water.  Warm tears run down my cheeks. That's annoying.  I wiped at my cheeks. It's hard to see through the watery eyes.  Just keep going...

I keep running. I'm halfway up the hill, but I can't make it.  I walk as briskly as I can. At the top of the hill I start to jog again. 

I want to say run, but I know better.  It's a jog.  

I reach the end of the road and check the time.  I have a few minutes.  I keep going.  Keep pushing. Keep breathing...enjoying the brisk air. 

I turn around and head back.  I have an appointment to keep.  I jog all the way home.  I can't believe I made it! I didn't have to stop.  What a THRILL!  

I might not be a runner, but I think I can safely say I'm a jogger.  It might be slow, but I'm getting stronger every time.  And THAT's all that matters.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Kids or Age?

I’m fairly certain that kids and age drained my brains.  REALLY! It’s pretty clear that with each pregnancy some of my brain cells were killed off….or seeped out somehow. Maybe during some of those cat naps I took…

Add to that the fact that I’m not getting any younger each year and I find that I don’t remember things like I used to.

I used to be SO very organized!
I used to remember everything!

6 pregnancies caused forgetfulness that never really came back the way it once was. At least I don’t think it has. I can’t quite remember…

I DO remember when I used to be really smart and could remember everything I learned in school. I could figure out an algebraic equation in my sleep.  And OH did I LOVE it.  *chuckle* Now it takes me a while to recall things. When I offer to help with my kid’s math homework and end up spending far too long “refreshing” my memory JUST so I can help them…it’s AWESOME.

But to be fair, when looking it up I found that there are differing opinions about whether or not pregnancy actually alters or changes your brain. Maybe they've never experienced "mommy brain" for themselves!  Are they CERTAIN they conducted that study correctly???

 When “they” say, “If you don’t use it you lose it,” they are NOT kidding! I moved away from Maine 14 years ago. I could get myself most anywhere I needed to go.  I used to drive all over the place. Since moving back I’ve struggled with recalling how to get to places I once knew.  It all comes back after I’ve driven it a couple of times.  But Man! It’s not fun to forget. 

So is it having children or age that depleted my brain? Unfortunately I don’t think I can really blame either one.  Although…children do cause a lot of stress and lack of sleep!  Case in point: My four year old ended up in my bed, again, just last night.  SIGH! I DREAM of a full night of uninterrupted sleep!

I’ve been extremely sleep deprived and stressed over the years. It does a number on your memory.  I have woken up MANY times seeing a spider come down out of the ceiling toward my chest. I’d swat at it like crazy until my eyes cleared and the creepy crawly disappeared. Having children, once thought to be a fairy tale, carries with it a lot of stress and sleepless nights.  Those were things I never realized before having children.

I DO have a few things that I try to do to relieve some of the stress and forgetfulness.
Prayer…it’s something that works without fail every time.
Scripture study…the benefits are many.
Yoga or other exercise is crucial in helping to de-stress and re-energize our bodies
Eat healthy…fresh and frozen fruits and veggies along with proteins and whole grains.

Friday, March 11, 2016


Oh CRAP! It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and I just realized that I forgot to post on my blog today. OOPS!!!

Well, here goes…

Recently I was lying on Cassie’s bed to try to get the girls to go to sleep.  Our bedtime routine has had to change and adapt to whatever circumstance we were in over the years. 

In Texas, Todd and I shared a bedroom with the girls because there weren’t enough rooms in the house for all of us.  Bedtime was especially hard.  We snuggled with them in our big bed before putting them into their own beds…4 feet away.

We couldn’t put the girls to bed and then go to our own room to watch a show or two before we went to bed.  Todd and I would watch a show on our phones with the brightness turned way down and headphones in our ears. We had to have it dark. We had to be quiet. 

Now that we are in Maine and have our own room again, we are still trying to get them to go to sleep in their own bedroom. Alyssa wants/needs to have snuggle time on mom’s bed.  Cassie doesn’t want to ever sleep.  EVER! 

In a desperate attempt to get them to go to sleep in their own beds and stop having “snuggle time” in my bed, I tried to snuggle in their room.  This is how it went:

Lights are off and we are supposed to be quiet…trying to sleep.
Cassie: Oh, oh, and what about the butterflies fluttering?
Mom: Yes, they flutter.
Alyssa: And they start out as a chrysalis.
Mom: Yes, they do.  Now close your eyes and go to sleep.

A few seconds go by…

Cassie: My eyes are big like this!  They’re big like this!
She shows me her big eyes. 
Then she gives me Eskimo kisses and nose kisses. A Teddy bear gets snuggles.
Mom: Okay Cassie, it’s time to close your eyes and go to sleep.

A few seconds later…

Alyssa:It’s hard for me to go to sleep.

GEE! Ya think!?!?!? Oh my!

Mom: Well you have to close your eyes and stop talking.
Alyssa: Can you count sheep to sleep?
Mom: Yes you can.
Alyssa whispers: 1, 2, 3, 4, …

Oh my gosh.  I don’t think they’ll EVER go to sleep! 

Cassie: Can we go snuggle on YOUR bed?
Mom: But we’re snuggling on your bed this time.
Cassie: But your bed is more comfy-er.
Mom: Sigh…I guess we can snuggle for a few minutes on my bed. 

I’m too tired to care.  We snuggle on my bed. Yep! And we both fall asleep…in my bed again.  I wonder if I’ll ever sleep in my bed without children…

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Apparently this is POST ABOUT JOHNNY week...haha!  This happened several weeks ago:

I know I’m in trouble when my high school senior comes home from school and my sister asks him, “Did you tell mom what happened today?”

Oh great! What now?

“The first incident of bullying here,” Johnny replies. FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC!!! This kid has been a target for bullying since elementary school.  He’s shy, wears glasses, is smart and doesn’t get into trouble. Somehow his personality always attracts the attention of other boys who think it’s their job to torture other kids for fun.  Every time we’ve moved it’s been similar.  Someone always targets Johnny.

We moved to Holts Summit just before Johnny was supposed to start the 7th grade.  In our previous home 7th grade was the first year of middle school.  But for Holts Summit it was the middle of middle school.  He got thrown into school with kids who had already been in middle school for a year. Tossed into the sea of hormones and cliques and social unknowns.  It was CRAPTASTIC!  

A student who had been the object of other kids’ negative attention decided that Johnny would make a great target for his negative feelings. I’m sure it made the other child feel powerful after feeling so powerless. Thankfully, that ended quickly, but others continued their torture.  Knocking his books to the floor in a crowded hallway when teachers weren’t looking. Purposely pushing. Putting him in a headlock in the locker room. Yeah…

Usually I didn’t find out about the bullying incidents until there were several that had happened.  Johnny didn’t like to tell me when he was the butt of someone else’s jokes or torture.  Being bullied makes a person feel small and helpless.  No one wants to feel that way.  He took it and took it and took it until he erupted; tears spilling down his hot cheeks.

I clearly remember one Friday afternoon when Johnny came home from school and broke down and told me about another student bullying him.  I don’t remember any of the details. But I remember the Mother Bear that reared its head in that moment.  Furious doesn’t even describe how it made me feel.  I almost drove myself down to that school and marched into the office to make things right.  Thankfully a more rational side of me kicked in and I sat down to the computer and sent out some emails.  There was a super-fast reply and on Monday morning the staff worked to change his schedule to protect him from being preyed upon by this bored, angry, sad and hormonal student. 

Needless to say, I wrote a lot of emails and made a lot of phone calls during Johnny’s middle school career. 

We moved to Texas and I was so thankful that no one bullied him.  Yeah. No one bullied him.  But then no one noticed him either.  He was lost like a tiny grain of sand on a huge beach.  In a year he made one good friend.  Unfortunately we learned rather quickly that in that high school you needed to be in sports or some sort of extracurricular activity to be noticed. He’s not athletic and has no desire to be.  I’m not sure which is worse…being bullied or being invisible. 

Last summer, just before his senior year in high school and we moved again.  Again the new kid.  And now he’s getting bullied again? Great! Just GREAT!!

“Okay, so what happened?” I asked.         

“A kid taped me to my chair.”

“WHAT!?!?” I can’t help it…I start to laugh. Oh the mental image.  Wait.  Stop! I don't need to add to his humiliation. I take a breath and make myself stop laughing. 

“Okay, so tell me what happened?”

“I was just sitting there doing my work and the kid next to me started wrapping tape around me.”

What in the world was the kid thinking? Gee…it would be fun to tape this kid up.  Seriously?

So he starts wrapping tape around Johnny’s arms, chest and back.  Johnny stands up and tears the tape apart. (I’m sure he was imagining himself as the Hulk.) 

And the kid still has his hands on Johnny.  Really?  Johnny pushes the kid away and sits down.

Luckily the teacher saw enough to know that it wasn’t Johnny’s fault. Sigh.  THANK goodness! The predator was punished. Good times.  Good times.