Sunday, November 15, 2009


Choices define who we are.

Choices define who we become.

Choices define who we leave behind.

After much reading, prayer, thought, and discussion, it is time to finally make a change. I pray this is a choice that makes its transition easily. The choice we have made is in response to the way so many people in the world today live. The choice we have made is not an entirely new thought. It’s something that we have been trying to implement for nearly a year. In fact, my New Year’s Resolution for 2009 was to begin implementing this change and have the conversion complete by 2010. We have, however, fallen behind.

I cannot speak for other countries nor can I speak for America as a whole because I have not experienced the entirety of the world or our great land. There are many things about America that I am proud to see, to live, to experience. We are, indeed, a great country, but there is one front on which we have failed. This front is our relationship with food. Many Americans have an addiction, and I call it an addition because it has the same consequences and effects as any other addiction one can develop. Many Americans have an addiction to processed food, fast food, and junk food. I am trying to break that addiction in myself and my family. My goal is to turn to healthier foods, local foods, and more natural foods.

I have often heard that change starts at home. Many people feel that they cannot make a difference because they do not have the ability to influence a large number of people. That is not true. If they can influence the life of one person, even if they are that person, then they have done a world of good. The change in them will in itself influence anyone with whom they come in contact. Thus, I aim to change myself and those things that I can control.

Our goals are outlined more specifically a little later, but the basis of my goal is to turn to a more traditional lifestyle. This includes cooking more meals at home, decreasing use of prepackaged and prepared foods, using traditional storage methods such as canning and deep freezing, and reserving candy as a special occasion treat. Yes, before you ask, I understand what a task this is that I am starting. It is a process. I know it will not happen overnight. This has been, however, more than a year in the making, so I pray that God will help me be strong in my convictions to do this because it is so important to the health of my family.

We are not healthy. Anyone can look at us and determine that. I am convinced that our health problems are not due to heredity or poor chance; rather, our health problems are a result of what we eat…or what we don’t eat. I am plagued by asthma, sleep apnea, constant congestion, fatigue, and a very annoying cough. My joints hurt. My muscles ache. I never feel “good.” I think much of this has to do with the fuel that I give my body. If you fill a performance car with gasoline littered with trash, will the car perform at top ability? No. Food is fuel for my body. It is not a reward. It is not a place to hide.

You may be wondering what this is all about. Well, it’s about life, a life that I want to live. I want to be able to see my children and grandchildren grow up. I want to be healthy enough to have more children. I want to raise my daughter in an environment that will foster good choices and a love of food that is healthy rather than garbage. I want her to learn moderation. I want her to learn that McDonalds is not an ideal dinner. I want her to learn that candy does not precede every meal. I want her to learn to enjoy a variety of foods and not be afraid to try new things. I want my husband to enjoy flavorful meals that nourish his body instead of harm it. I want my family to have a better relationship with food than the one that I have developed. Change begins at home, right? Hopefully by changing myself, I can change others as well.

Our goals regarding food:

1. Reduce the amount of prepackaged food to a minimal amount.

2. Eliminate fast food. There is always another option.

3. Reduce the amount of refined carbohydrates that are consumed. Some carbs are good for us, but white flour and white sugar are not.

4. Choose traditionally prepared foods whenever possible.

5. Drink mostly water.

6. Eliminate “candy” except on special occasions. It should be a treat, not an expectation.

7. Choose local foods whenever possible.

8. Choose foods that are in season whenever possible.

9. Start a garden.

10. Preserve food though canning and freezing to be used “out of season.”

11. Keep studying about food.

Our other goals:

1. Exercise. Encourage others to do so as well. This does not have to be formal, gotta go to the gym exercise. Any movement will do.

2. Rest. A body cannot heal without proper rest. It will wear out too soon.

3. Be happy. Look on the bright side. It could always be worse, right?

4. Smile. Even if you do not feel like it, just grin like a fool. You’ll feel better, really.

I ask you, friends, to please help us. I have prayed and prayed that I would have support in my choices. I have also prayed for little resistance. I can only pray that our choices will help us be healthier, livelier, and more productive.

Thanks for reading!

Melissa Gilbert

November 15, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Poor Neglected Little Blog

I feel bad for neglecting you, blog. I really do. Life has been so very busy lately that I just have not had the time. But, here is an update on our little family.

First of all, I am working an insane number of hours, but I am teaching so it is work doing something I love. Not many people get to go to work everyday and be around smart, creative, fun people who enjoy being there. I have also started graduate school. I am majoring in secondary education, so I will be able to teach in the public schools soon. (Right now I teach college.)

We're also in the process of converting to Catholicism. We're going through RCIA which is basically a class that lasts several months to prepare people to enter the Catholic Church. We love it. Our confirmation and first communion is Feb. 7, 2010. We're currently attending St. Anne's Catholic Church.

Jason, the dear husband, has also started grad school. We're actually doing the exact same program except he wants to teach middle school and I want to teach freshmen high-schoolers. We would both love to teach at a private Catholic school.

Natalie started preschool this August. I had toyed with the idea of homeschooling her, but I am not confident enough in my ability to actually do it. She is going to public school right now, but we plan to try to move her to a Catholic private school by first grade. The cost is just something that we are struggling with. She loves school though.

Look for more posts soon!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Earth Day at the Greenway!


Today we went to an Earth Day Celebration at the Greenway in Fort Mill. We had such a nice time. Natalie got to pet goats (and a baby goat that she adored!), cows, sheep, horses, and dogs! There were chickens there too... but we didn't pet those! They didn't look too friendly.

After the petting was over, we washed our hands and went to get Natalie's face painted! She asked for a pink heart and that's exactly what she got. She was such a good girl sitting still! She didn't want me to wash it off before bed tonight... but the lucky girl gets to keep it a while longer because the paints stained her face! LOL

After the face painting, we went into the little animal museum there and looked at bobcats, owls, hawks, and coyotes! We even got to touch a few skins.

Of course, they had some arts and crafts to do... we made sun hats and learned about why we should take care of our skin from the sun. They passed out odd packets of sunscreen that we graciously declined. We will just stick with the hat.

Of course, my princess had to wear her princess crown all day too!

I hope you enjoy the pictures! I enjoyed taking them!
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Sunday, April 5, 2009


Defense get that ball!!

I cheered in high school for the girls varsity basketball team. As much as I hate cliques, this was a really different experience for me. The other day Natalie came across some cute pom poms at the dollar store. She loved them so much that they came home with us.

She was singing and dancing the Wildcat cheers from High School Musical 3... so I decided to teach her one of our simpler cheers from my days on the squad.

D-E-F-E-N-S-E... defense get that ball!

There's nothing to it really. She catches on quickly though. And she is so cute doing it!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Farmer's Market

I am so excited that the farmer's market is open again! Thank goodness for SPRING!

I went to the market today and got a whole bunch of goodies for around $9! As you can see in the photo, I got a bunch of pole beans, a few tomatoes, green peppers, celery, cabbage, garlic, bananas, and sweet potatoes. There are really quite a few sweet potatoes there... I may have gone a bit over board... but they were only $0.19/lb! What a steal!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Park

In addition to our art project today, we also met up with a friend of mine and her son at the park inbetween our houses. The kiddos had a blast.

Her son, Holden, turned a year old in November and could not be cuter. Natalie loves to mommy him. She even named her baby doll Holden.

They enjoyed the beautiful weather today (right around 70 degrees all day and just a gentle breeze) and they played on the slides and swings. Then we had a nice snack and parted ways. You should have seen Holden grinning when Natalie gave a kiss on the head! :)
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Portrait of the Artist

Today we made a few art projects. We did hearts for Valentine's Day and talked about how Valentine's Day is for people to show each other that they are special. We also traced our hands (she did hers all by herself!) and cut up some paper. Natalie had never used scissors before, so I thought she caught on pretty quickly! She cut and snipped for almost an hour! It was scissor love!

Then we made some lunch after we did our projects. Natalie made peanut butter and honey sandwiches on organic wheat bread. (It's special peanut butter - just nuts and oil freshly smashed up!)

Natalie did a very good job spreading the peanut butter with a butter knife and she even got to cut the sandwich herself! She was so sweet because she told me that I could have half of it because I was her Valentine. :) I love this kid! We finished off with some frozen grapes, yum!
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To Preschool or Not?

"Oh, my child is turning four! I must send her to the best preschool. She's been on the waiting list since my husband and I started trying to conceive...but I am still worried that she might not get in for this year!"

I really DO NOT want to be that mom. Natalie is three. She goes to daycare... against my better judgment but that's not a battle I want to have with the dear ole hubby again right now. Two weeks ago the daycare owner told us that if we hoped to get Natalie into the public (free) preschool for the fall that we needed to get her application in by the following week at the latest. Gosh, don't you love deadlines?

So this got the gears turning in my head. Should Natalie go to preschool? I did. My husband did - but we had totally different experiences.

More than that, should Natalie go to public school? I have absolutely no faith in the public school system. I am sorry to those few wonderful teachers out there trying to make a difference. The problems with the system are too big for a handful of great teachers to fix, IMO. Once upon a time I wanted to be a public school teacher. Then I started getting into the school system and actually reading about it. So I changed my major. (I'd much rather be a librarian and/or do art preservation.) And I knew that I did not want my child to go to public school.

I don't want her to go to a snooty school like the one the mom at the beginning of my post is trying to get her kid into.... first of all, we're middle class. We can't afford $1000 a month for a preschool. If I were to send her to a private preschool, it would be a Montessori school. I love the Montessori methods and have studied (and applied) them extensively.

So I asked my husband what he thought. I told him that I did not want her going to public school - and I am not wavering on that - and I told him how much our local Montessori school costs ($6000/year!) and I asked him what he thought we should do.

He thought about it a little while and here is what he said:
Natalie's a smart and curious kid. We're both very educated. I have a degree in theater and creative writing. I have a strong background in language arts and social studies. You have a degree in English and are only a few credits away from degrees in Early Childhood Education, History, and Art/Art History. You have a solid background in educational theory and practice and I am getting a stronger background with every class I take. Why not home school? Maybe try it for the "preschool" years and see how it goes.

Well...... that's really not what I expected my husband to say! His biggest concern is that she will be "weird" and I think that means unsocialized. But I really think there have to be ways around that! Don't you? So there it is... stewing on the back burner. I have some more reading to do, but I've been thinking about it. I still have really another 2 years before I HAVE to send her to school (according to SC laws) so why not give it a try? Maybe like a pre-test before the exam? Oh, and believe me.... this is something that I never expected to even consider!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bye-bye pop!

I gave it all away. I had 6, yes, SIX fridge packs of diet pepsi in my closet. But it is all gone now! I gave it all to other people. That was one thing that I was really struggling with giving up. Wish me luck, say a prayer, or whatever you do because I have NEVER been able to give up pop. I am pretty confident that I will be able to do it this time because I really don't want those nasty chemicals in my body! Would you?


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Back on the Wagon

I was desperate. I caved in. I took the easy way out. But, I am getting back on track now. My new year’s resolution was to eat a more traditional diet. I was doing so well... and then I got caught up in the New Year’s Diet Craze. I should have known what would happen. I joined Weight Watchers. I wanted to lose the weight so badly, and I remembered that I have always had success with WW. The problem is that in order to lose a few pounds, I have to sacrifice quality food and eat what I feel are “fake foods.” Now, I realize that the Weight Watchers people are focusing on eating “filling foods” such as whole grains and vegetables, but the problem is that they still want the members to eat the “one ingredient away from being plastic” butter substitute and fat free everything. A dear friend convinced me that the body does need some fat!

So I quit. I do thank Weight Watchers for one thing… helping me re-learn what a proper portion looks like. With the super sized servings that we are so accustomed to today, it’s not hard to forget how much we really should eat.
My revamped diet is one of my own creation (with the thankful educational tips from a couple great people!) and my husband has taken to calling it the “1950’s diet” even though I guess it’s not really that at all.

My plan is to just be simple. Try to get back to what my New Year’s Resolution was supposed to be. Be good to my body, be good to the Earth, and live like people are supposed to live, naturally. Eat things that I make with my own two hands, avoid processed foods – especially HFCS! – and get some exercise and sunshine whenever possible.

Let’s see how it goes!

A Poem

My mom told me a few days ago that her best friend from grade school is dying of cancer. She wanted to send a card but told me that she didn't know what to say. So as I was laying down to go to sleep that evening, these words floated through my head and I put pen to paper.

Here's the result.

I thought of you today as I do once in a while

Memories of our times spent together always make me smile

The years have passed in the blink of an eye

But, my friend, I am not ready to say goodbye

Perhaps in God's garden we'll meet again someday

For your life and our memories, each day I pray

Fearful of forgetting the way we were so many years past

Fearful of a day coming that may be our last

The secrets we shared and the chances we took

Will live in my heart like an unfinished book

Across these many miles I wish you could know

That the world is not ready to let you go

Now, the funny thing is that I emailed this to my mom and she called me later to say that the poem was perfect. She wanted to know where I found a poem that had just the right words.... well, mom, I wrote it! :)

Chicken Soup Warms the Soul

I have always heard that chicken soup cures winter ills. My little tot, Natalie, has had a cough, fever, and been so hoarse today! So I thought a little chicken soup might make her feel a bit better. My first batch of homemade chicken broth didn't turn out so good, so I used store bought broth, but it was organic from those "free range" chickens. I hope that's a decent enough substitute for now.

My recipe was one of those "make it up as you go along" type things. I didn't have a whole lot in the house, so a few extras like potatoes went in too. I really wanted some celery to put in there but didn't want to drag poor little sick girl to the market.
The soup was actually pretty cheap. I had some good chicken breast (no hormones or antibiotics) and cooked up one breast in a pan with some olive oil and seasonings.

While that was cooking, I simmered three big carrots, one really big potato, two cloves of garlic, 1/2 an onion, and some pasta in the chicken broth. When the chicken was done, I shredded it up and added it to the soup and seasoned some more.

For about $6, it made a huge pot of soup and we have at least three big bowls worth of leftovers. I've already packed some up for my husband to take to work tomorrow!

Now, that's certainly not the best picture around since it was simmering and I took it with my cell phone, but it does show all the goodies inside!

We ate it steaming hot with a big hunk of fresh sourdough bread. YUM!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009