Thursday, January 29, 2009

HFCS=Mercury Poisoning

Get ready for a rant.

Most of you know that our oldest son, Kimball, is on the autistic spectrum. He has an autistic spectrum disorder called Asperger's Syndrome, which is similar to High-Functioning Autism. After coming to grips with the reality that our son was different and making peace with his diagnosis, we began to educated ourselves as much as possible about autism.

Much about what causes autism is a mystery, but many researchers have found links between autism and mercury poisoning--one big reason for the debate over vaccinations and autism. (We choose not to vaccinate our children, but that is a post for another day.) It is theorized that some people don't process mercury as well (although mercury is toxic to everyone), and that people on the autistic spectrum have weakened immune systems, which further complicates matters.

Until now, if we wanted to avoid mercury, we knew that the big risks were some seafood, the old amalgam used by dentists, and in some vaccinations. Because Jared & I also believe firmly that diet has an effect on behavior and overall health, we have really tried to eliminate processed foods from our family's diet. This is one reason that I make my own bread (including grinding my own wheat,) why I rarely buy cookies (although my food snobbery does play into that,) and try to make as much as possible from scratch. We, like the rest of you, have heard about the evils of High Fructose Corn Syrup--that it leads to obesity and diabetes, and have been reading labels madly to eliminate that as well.

But we haven't eliminated it completely. If you haven't read labels looking for it, you might not realize that HFCS is found as a main ingredient in lots of everyday items, like jam and preserves, yogurt, breakfast cereal (and not just the kind you think of as "sugary"), maple-flavored syrup (like Log Cabin), and even in nectars and sweetened juices. I have been gradually replacing the strawberry preserves in our food storage with organic preserves, in spite of the cost difference, but have been feeding my family the HFCS stuff until we wipe it out. And I have yet to bring myself to spend upwards of $20 on a bottle of real maple syrup for this family of 6, who goes through a lot of syrup in a year.

Imagine my shock, concern, and even outrage, when I read about two new studies that were published this week. It turns out that much of the HFCS out there has measurable amounts of mercury in it! Even worse, one of these studies was conducted by someone who left the FDA and became a whistle-blower over this issue--because the FDA knew about it over 3 years ago. But did the FDA insist that this type of HFCS be pulled from the shelves? Did they recall all the Kellogg's Raisin Bran and Nesquik? They did not.

Now I look at the Log Cabin in my cupboard and see poison. My poor little children, at least one of whom is even more sensitive to mercury poisoning than I am, and my unborn child, have been consuming mercury with their pancakes, waffles, and french toast. Yes, I knew the HFCS was not good for you, and we cut back dramatically, but I see no reason to give my children ANY mercury at all, thank you very much.

The second study, which tested 55 top food brands for mercury (and found significant amounts of mercury in 1 out of 3 foods tested), points out that HFCS does not require mercury. It is simply a less expensive way to produce it, and as the industry is unregulated, they have gone with the bottom line. It's disgusting, really, how irresponsible that is. Lots of kids out there practically live on processed foods (not that I support that), and think of what kind of exposure they have had now to this toxin.

So, I'm writing to get the word out. Parents need to know about this. And we need to stand up to these companies who are poisoning our children to save a few bucks. I plan to write to several companies, sharing my shock and concern. I will also be returning all my unused HFCS products to Costco (as long as that's where they came from), rather than using up those last few jars of strawberry jam before we go clean.

For more info on this, read:

USA Today
The Huffington Post (this one has links to the studies as well)
Washington Post

Now please, go through your cupboards and get rid of that stuff!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Outside Again

Guess who got to play outside yesterday? I decided to not be such a stick-in-the-mud and to go outside instead of blogging, so Bronwen got to play in the front yard. I know, I went soft, but it's hard to resist the charms of a nearly two-year-old when she's dying to play with the big kids.

She started out on Ian's abandoned scooter, but after taking a spill, decided to see what the boys were up to.

No big surprise (since the bikes and scooters had been tossed aside,) they were engaged in a Jedi-Sith battle. The fourth Jedi/Sith (as I'm not sure who was whom) is our next door neighbor.
Bronwen quickly joined the game as the medic, administering to those who had been hurt in the battle. She fulfilled this role well until she found that one of the wounded had lost his weapon and she decided to join the cause. She might love pink and Sleeping Beauty and ballerinas, but she can play Star Wars with the best of them!

And P.S. to Becky, my old roommate from BYU days: What's the deal with leaving me a comment and not leaving any contact information? Please email me: sleepymumATgmailDOTcom. I would love to catch up on your life!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What's a Girl To Do?

Bronwen loves to play outside. She is constantly begging for me to put on her shoes and socks (which she loves to take off) and her jacket and let her go play in the backyard. She hates that I won't let her play in the front yard and on the cul-de-sac with her brothers unless I am sitting out there (which I rarely do.) She loves the change of scenery, running, playing, and feeling like she's one of the big kids.

Today is the first day all week that she is feeling like doing anything besides cling to my leg and whine. She's had a terrible cold, which today is mostly manifesting in a horrific runny nose, but without the fever and sleeplessness we'll take it! She is also back to her ways of getting into ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING if I turn my back. This morning, I caught her eating butter from the butter dish with a knife. "Yummy, Momma!" she enthusiastically announced. Then there was the moment when I found her helping herself to some triple berry sauce that I had foolishly left out on the stove, rushing off to do something else. "Taste it, Momma!" I decided to not tell her dad, knowing that he wouldn't have any with his pound cake if he knew his little darling had been tasting away unsupervised. She has also added her decorative touch to more than one of her brothers' math worksheets, journals, and independent projects today, which always elicits a roar from them. And Ian can't play with trains, legos, or action figures without her interference.

So imagine what torture it is for me her this afternoon. The rain let up for a few minutes and the boys all put on coats and ran out front to play between showers. She begged for her jacket and shoes, but this is what our backyard looks like this afternoon.

Jared and a good friend spent much of their free time last week tearing out everything in our backyard to make way for new pavement, sprinklers, and real, live grass! Unfortunately, this is not an instant fix, and 24 hours of rain did little to improve the terrain. I'm not sure that the photos do justice to the small, abundant lakes of mud. If my children owned slickers and rubber boots, it wouldn't be as big a deal, but she is not wearing her stride rite pink sparkly sneakers out in that, or her suede mary janes, or her patent leather t-straps. If it weren't 50 degrees outside, I'd be tempted to send her out barefoot with a big white trashbag tied over her clothes.

Here I am, pulling her back in as she tried to escape.

So, instead, I'm trying to type this post up with her "help" and taking frequent breaks to read all of her favorite books. This nearly 2-year old is exhausting. It's a good thing that I got pregnant before I remembered how busy and demanding 2-year-olds can be. Is it bedtime yet?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Too Many Blogs!

If you're starved for posts and have nothing better to do, hop on over to my Healthy Habits blog and read my update on my personal goals for the week.

Or, better yet, go see the impressive archeological discovery made a few days ago in my backyard on Kindling the Fire.

Or, if you're like me at the moment, and you have too many blogs to read and write and not enough time for either, just delete this one and come again another day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Doctors and Parasites

So, I finally saw the doctor today about this parasite that's been taking all the joy out of eating and sucking my energy dry for the past few months. Apparently, there's something in the water around here, because I know lots of other people with similar symptoms right now. He said that there is nothing to worry about, that this will run it's course. The lack of appetite will wear off (frankly, it did about two weeks ago, just in time for New Year's Resolutions) and the fatigue may or may not linger. I can expect to carry this parasite around with me for another 5 or 6 months. Jared & I have decided if it's going to hang around so long, we might as well name it and make it a part of our family.

Yes, it's true. We have entered unchartered territory. The territory where people look at you like you are a freak when they find out that you are going to have 5 kids. I'm pretty sure that qualifies us for the circus, the nuthouse, or at least a reality show on TLC. A family with 4 kids around here is uncommon but not unheard of--plus, the last time I was pregnant, most people assumed that we were just "trying one last time for a girl"--their words, not mine. Now I can be that crazy Mormon-homeschooling-mom-with-all-those-kids. (Who am I kidding--that was probably me long ago anyway.)

All kidding aside, we feel so blessed and grateful that the Lord is sending another one of his children to join our family, probably in the first few days of July. (I have scheduled c-sections, but sometimes they decide to come before their scheduled and approved date.) Our children could not be more excited, and I'm sure you'll hear in future posts about their fabulous naming ideas. To make things even better, my sister is expecting and due 3 weeks before me, so we'll have close cousins!

Are we crazy? Sometimes. (And more often when I'm pregnant.) But I have a conviction that the Lord wants me to be a mother to these children and that He is making me into the woman that He knows I can be. I'm far from perfect, but with His help, I can do anything He asks.

The picture is me with Kimball in the NICU, a few days after he was born. He probably weighed 3 lbs and a couple of ounces here. We don't want to do it that way again if we have our choice (which we don't).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Playing With Daddy in a park at the foot of Griffith Park 12/27/08

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Crazy for Stu & Malia

You know how I blog and blog and blah blah blah about what a stress case I am over Christmas? And how I try to come up with all these strategies for keeping my cool? Well this year, I was crazy enough to plan a trip out of town to take place only a few hours after Christmas Day was over. Those of you who are mothers, particularly with several children, will understand what a deep, personal, sacrifice this was for me. Taking any trip whatsoever requires ridiculous amounts of preparation and planning when you are moving 6 people. Add in the fact that the car had to be packed by the time we went to bed on Christmas night and it was a recipe for disaster.

Why would I be so foolish, you might ask? This decision laughs in the face of reason. But you see, my baby brother Stuart and his adorable wife Malia were visiting the mainland from Hawaii. And my little family of 6 hadn't seen them since they got married 2 1/2 years ago. Shameful, I tell you.

Thank goodness for blogging, or I would hardly know Malia. I don't think that meeting a bride on the week of her wedding is the best way to get to know someone whom you will call "sister." Don't get me wrong--I do not remember Malia being a Bridezilla in any way (not like I was, at least,) but she was still somewhat distracted and lovesick, which doesn't lend itself well to bonding with anyone but your soon-to-be-husband. Fortunately, Malia does keep a blog (a couple of them, actually,) and through that medium I have fallen in love with her and have no doubts why my brother did the same. Her photography is exquisite (you simply have to see her best of 2008 pictures. The word stunning comes to mind.) and always makes me wish that I could pull a Samantha Stevens and wiggle my nose right over to their island paradise.

Anyhow, by some miracle (but not without a Christmas Day breakdown on my part) we did leave town at 5:30 am on December 26th. We had a wonderful time hanging with many members of the Johnson family, singing songs to the guitar, playing card games, and attempting to visit Griffith Park Observatory along with half of the greater LA area (one of our vans made it to the top. The one with my family in it, however, did not). And the afternoon that we arrived there, Malia and I took my kids to the park, where she captured a few photos. Go here to see them. My favorites are the one of Ian and the one of Bronwen and Henry laughing together.

And guess what? The trip was completely worth it. Even if I did have to do a few loads of laundry on Christmas Day.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Because Misery Loves Company

If you haven't already, go over to my Healthy Habits blog to sign up for the new challenge. It incorporates both exercise and scripture study, although you can opt to only do one part if you like. We kick off Monday and we'd love to have you join us!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Want Wednesday

I have started half a dozen posts today and scrapped them all. Nothing felt right. Finally, I googled blog memes for some ideas and came across "I Want Wednesday".

As one of my goals in 2008 was to want less and be content with my life, this was a challenging question for me at first; but after a bit of contemplation I realized that we all want things. The wanting itself isn't wrong, particularly if the something you want is worthwhile. And I won't think you're terrible if what you really want is a new pair of jeans or great drapes in your living room. I've just tried to step away from wanting the kinds of things that cost money and always leave me wanting more.

Anyhow, after thinking about it, it felt fitting for me to discuss what I want now that I've (mostly) done away with the I-want-itis that has plagued me for most of my life. And here's what I came up with:
  • I want my children and husband to know I love them. Deeply and completely. Hopefully they will never have cause to doubt that fact.
  • I want to instill in my children a desire to please God and to keep His commandments-- rather than just instilling in them the ability to obey our rules while they live in our house.
  • I want my words and actions to reflect the joy I really feel in my life. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in complaining about the little, unimportant stuff.
  • I want to get through a Christmas without a little (or big) breakdown.
  • I want to find a balance in my life so that I can fit in all the important things, including exercise, scripture study, serving others, family time, one-on-one time with my kids, date night, relationships with my friends and extended family, reading, learning, sleeping . . .
  • I want to get enough sleep tonight.
  • I want to feel close to the Savior all the time instead of having some periods of my life being closer than others.
  • I want to be debt-free.
  • I want to remember for all my life that joy and contentment do not come in having pretty things--that I can spend my time and resources in pursuit of things more valuable than material goods.
  • I want to be a better friend. wife. mother. daughter. sister. you get the picture.
What do you want?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Healthy Habits Challenge

Come on over to the Healthy Habits blog to read all about it and sign up. You know you want to make some changes! Okay, I'm the one who needs to make some changes and to tighten up old habits that have gotten too lax with the holidays--but I'm too weak to do it alone. So join us. You (probably) won't regret it!:)

New post coming soon here. Should I reflect on 2008, report on what things I want to do differently next year to stop the Christmas crazies, share my personal focus for 2009, or just find something entertaining and fluffy? I can't decide. Speak up if you have a preference!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Don't give up on me! I have some posts in the works, and will have a new Healthy Habits Challenge up soon, too. I just haven't been able to fit it all in (with all of the card games, naps, and feasting I've been busy with.) I promise to give you something decent to read in the very near future and I will do my best to motivate you to make some changes. Heavens knows I need to make them, with all the card games, naps, and feasting I've been busy with!:)

I promise that my burnout is about to end. I hope.