Living naturally, most of the time.

To BlogHer, or not to BlogHer

I’d already lost count of which snow day it was when I bought a registration ticket for BlogHer ’14 in San Jose, California, the annual blogging conference’s 10th anniversary year. There had been so many days that the weather had forced me to scrap plans to work toward the launch of my new site or on my Holistic Moms chapter’s 5-year anniversary party. I wanted to want to be with my kids, but like every other Northern Virginia parent who has not achieved sainthood, I was pretty much done with unscheduled days off. The idea of spending 6 hours in a plane alone sounded like heaven. Attending the actual conference would be a bonus! I never booked that plane ticket, though. I figured the event would probably sell out; if it didn’t seem feasible for me to attend as the date got closer, I could likely sell the registration to someone else. Now it is seven weeks away, and I’m trying to figure out what to do. I’ve attended the annual BlogHer conference twice. In 2012, when the conference was in NYC, it actually worked out for my sister in New Jersey to watch my children for about 36 hours before my husband picked them up and brought them home to be with them until I got back on Sunday. Sure, it felt kind of icky to leave my daughter on her 2nd birthday, and yes, my husband had to spend an entire Saturday and part of Sunday with two kids in a newly renovated and moved-into house that had no kitchen counters or dishwasher. The timing and situation couldn’t have been a whole lot more nuts. I’m not sure what they did that whole 36 hours, but I’m pretty sure it involved District Taco. But still, it was mostly a fun adventure for my kids. For the first half of our time apart, they had my sister plus three tween and teenage cousins to play with them in the pool (which they can’t ever do with me because of my reaction to chlorine). My sister sent me pictures of them having a grand time and lots of reassuring exclamation points. I sent my son pictures of the Wells Fargo stagecoach and me with The Lorax. My son still talks about the restaurant meal he had that Friday night, when my husband met up with my sister so he could drive the kids home. We traded texts of green beans from my restaurant to theirs, and my son still...

On eating, blogging, and parenting

Being one of some 1500 traditional food enthusiasts here at the Weston A. Price Foundation Wise Traditions conference is humbling and exhilarating. So many people have regained health or healed their children through real food. The stories at the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS diet) lecture alone were amazing. It’s easy in mainstream circles to feel like an outcast, a weirdo. When your diet is so restricted, you just smile and nod when others wink and nod about chocolate, or wine, or even about fruit or raw veggies, which I still can’t tolerate after nine months on the GAPS diet. But here, as I listen to people who’ve put their whole family or hundreds of their patients on the GAPS diet and who, unlike me, actually render their own goose and duck fat, I feel like I’m getting off kind of easy, doing okay after nine months on the grain-free, starch-free, sugar-free diet. And yet, listening to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride talk about the physiology of damaged guts with damaged gut flora, I’m ever more determined to get well. As long as I continue to suffer from psoriasis, I will know that things are not okay in my body. Even if it goes away in a few months, as it did after my first child started sleeping (rather than nursing!) through the night at age two, I know I need to be very careful about what I eat. Forever. Not just in terms of no dairy or gluten but in terms of blood sugar fluctuations (which happen with a vengeance even just upon consuming fruit). And the lifestyle component. Sigh. I need to give something up to simplify, but I just don’t know what that is. I need to make relaxation a priority or I won’t do it. I need to commit not to just taking care of pain and digestive distress but to the whole of my body. And not just to promoting and cooking real food and being an active volunteer in school and community but also to the whole of my home and family. Tonight my husband spent almost two hours in the car – including a bathroom and sushi stop at  Kroger – to bring me my baby to nurse and my son to see after I’d been at the conference all day, some 15 miles away. In the grand scheme of things, this is not the end of the world. The kids were both fine and happy during dinner, but I’m sure it sucked to...

Earning my keep

I just returned from my first tutoring session of the new school year with the boy I’ve been working with for a year and a half. He’s a student at a boarding school, parents living in Europe. The differences between his life experience and that of the students I used to teach at the public high school nearby are staggering, to say the least. I imagine I’ll eventually do some writing on the social justice quandary at some point. For now, I’m just glad to be earning money. JL and I are taking a new (yet much overdue), hard look at our finances. We’re also completely clearing out our house, purging all the stuff we don’t need or want and really storing the stuff we can’t part with (like all my grad school notes, research, and reading packets). Both processes are going to take while, lots of concentration and some more childcare, but we can tell it’s just time to get cleared out. We don’t yet have all the numbers in front of us, but tonight I offered some thoughts on quantifying a life. It is so valuable to me to be able to stay home with my son. There’s no way to equal out what it means to operate from our home as a base, to get up when we want (though more routine might not hurt), to be able to take small classes here and there if we think they’re valuable, to be able to go to the zoo if it’s a nice day and we don’t have anything planned, to go to the farmer’s market early if nap is short or doesn’t happen. Since we can afford not to have an additional salary right now, it’s worth a lot to have the flexibility we do. And yet I seem to have a higher need for alone time and creative output time than some of my other SAHM friends. Or maybe I’m just more directed to get that time because of my history of depression and other health issues: I know what I can’t let go of without compromising my emotional health, and, by extension, my son’s and family’s health. Tutoring is great money, but if you don’t do a lot of it, it’s not the same kind of money a regular paying job would be. I explained to my husband tonight that in my head I have done a few things with the idea of what I earn. I equate what I earn to a service...

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