Sunday, April 29, 2007


I bought a wheatgrass kit about three months ago. I was so excited to grow my own grass and juice it for my morning smoothie. I imagined zen like thin planters of perfectly grown grass strategically hung in planters on a blank wall or even lined up down the center of my table. When I received the kit I realized that growing my wheatgrass was not going to be pretty.

I also realized that growing my own wheatgrass was going to take a bit of effort and if you have read my other posts you realize that my time has been extremely limited as a single mom with a toddler, four cats, and a full time job.

I opened the kit around Valentines day and found five or so large (probably 3 ft long by 1 1/2 ft wide) trays with holes in the bottom (hello dirt!). The kit also contained a few bags of compost and fertilizer and a number of bags of wheatgrass seeds. The seeds needed to be rinsed and soaked. Yes I know this isn't rocket science but the rinsing and soaking instructions were enough for me to put the entire kit in my pantry closet until today. Now let me explain why I suddenly have a bit of time on my hands to grow my own wheatgrass.

In a bizarre series of events, I lost my job a few weeks ago. I had worked my ass off for this guy, working through my lunches and never taking a personal call, never sending one personal email, and not even socializing with anyone in the office. I was really too busy (and the boss frowned openly on socialization at the office). My boss was a slave driver who gave me the work of three people and expected me to stay until it was done. As a single mom, I did not have the luxury of staying late unless my 22 month old daughter could learn to drive herself home, fix herself dinner and a bath, and hop into bed.

I asked my little Napoleonic boss if he would ever consider an alternate work schedule such as six days a week because day care was not working out for my daughter. That was the Thursday before Easter. On Monday morning Little Napoleon called me up and reamed me a new one for being unproductive and lazy and a bunch of other ridiculous accusations that flew in the face of all of my excellent reviews and prior praise. I assumed he was just venting but I guess I am getting to old and cranky to put up with that crap so the next day I let him know I still wasn't happy about his tirade (after he kept telling me how beautiful my work is). He sent me home (presumably on a time out) and when I spoke with him a few days later he said I should be working in a different environment and I no longer had a job.

But I digress. I am not going to dwell on the absurdity of what happened or how I am hoping karma sends Little Napoleon to his next life as a tapeworm. I am also not going to ponder what kind of a person puts a hardworking, never late, enthusiastic domestic violence survivor, single mother on the street with no severance and no warning.

I should also mention that I am really trying to make lemonade. I didnt even realize how much I missed quality time with my daughter and consequently we are really making up for lost time with long walks, leisurely playtime, and snuggles, snuggles, and more snuggles. That should explain why I am finally getting around to growing my own wheatgrass.

Today was a spectacular day. The weather was beautiful and my daughter was up from her nap cruising the backyard with the cats. There was a beautiful breeze and I was basking with my coffee and I figured I had put off the wheatgrass kit long enough. I dragged it out and although it wasn't quite as intimidating as I first thought (with the stress cleared out of my mind) it still was messy.

I am relieved that I waited till spring because I filled the trays outside and they still made a huge mess of my counters when I brought them in. Apparently the first few days in the wheatgrass cycle should be in the shade so I cant keep them outdoors unfortunately. Even if the new grass could handle the sun I am not sure that the trays can handle the wind because as I was filling the tray it took off across the lawn.

I really wasn't sure how to rinse the seeds. I guess in a colander? I held my hand over the top of the glass and let the water run out along with a few too many seeds. I am afraid I am going to have wheatgrass growing out of my disposal in seven days. I am going to have to figure out a better rinsing method for the next round.

I also did not have a large enough glass container to soak the two cups of seeds so I split them up between a vase and a rocks glass. I do have a few plastic containers but I am so leery of the toxins in plastic and I am trying so hard to go organic that it seems hypocritical and quite mad actually to soak wheatgrass seeds in a container that could leech toxic chemicals into my blood cleansing super drink.

So that's it for today. The planter is ready and the seeds are soaking. I am going to sprinkle them across the tray first thing in the morning and cover them with paper towels and spray them with a water bottle until muddy water comes out the holes. I think the instructions said to do this over the sink. I repeat, this isn't a clean endeavor. My digital camera seems to be on the fritz but I think I can take a flash free photo in the morning to document what the "kit" looks like across my kitchen counter and how the grass is progressing.

Peace out.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Attachment Parenting 101

I thought I would post about attachment parenting. It is a way of life more than a step to take to lead a healthy life but I have chosen the lifestyle for myself and my daughter and I believe it is a better way physically and emotionally.

What is attachment parenting?
It is a method of parenting that involves close if not constant contact for the first year or so of life and then evolves based on the parents and child's individual situation and needs. This means natural pregnancy, natural childbirth, co-sleeping instead of using cribs, breastfeeding instead of bottles, slings or carriers instead of strollers, elimination communication instead of diapers, genital integrity, and many attached parents also choose to avoid vaccinations and other questionable medical practices.

Dr. Sears coined the phrase attachment parenting and if you are interested in learning more about the specifics of how to practice attachment parenting you probably should visit his site first for a general how-to.

In my experience attachment parenting really makes sense if you think logically and trust your instincts. I like to assume that babies instinctively know what they need. That is why they scream and yell when they are hungry or wet. It is a primitive and effective means of getting their needs met.

So why are we taught to ignore them when they scream from their crib for human contact? Parents get so upset when their babies can only be rocked to sleep. Is this rocket science people? Rock your baby to sleep! Isn't life short? Don't children grow up so fast? Why on earth would I avoid holding my baby if that is what she wants?

Granted some times you need to get things done. That is where the slings come in. As a single mother I have to say that the one thing I could not do without is my sling. I use a New Native sling and after almost two years it is still going strong. When my daughter was young I also used a Baby Bjorn but if I am lucky enough to have another baby I will stick to slings and wraps. The Bjorn was nice but apparently it is damaging for an infants spine to be hung by their crotch and of course it is too hard on your shoulders after only a couple of months. My daughter loved the New Native, it freed up my hands, and was easy on my back. My daughter is 23 months old and still rides happily in the sling. Please go to Dr. Sears site for great information on the benefits of baby wearing.

Then there is breastfeeding. I think that is the cornerstone of attachment parenting. I am just so incredibly grateful that I am still breastfeeding to this day. It gives me an excuse to hold my daughter at least a few times a day and as I mentioned already, I savor her in my arms. I know someday she will be 12 or so and I will get the occasional hug but no more snuggles in my lap. I never want to look back on my life and wish I would have held her more.

is also bonding. Make no mistake about it. I think we strengthen our connection each and every time we connect. My daughter is secure and confident not to mention still getting the best nutrition she can possibly get. I do understand that some women absolutely cannot breastfeed. Sometimes it truly doesn't work and I am so sorry for them. I am honestly grateful that it worked out for me because it could have easily gone the other way and I would have stopped after six weeks or so and thought it was normal.

Suffice it to say however that 99% of women can breastfeed successfully. In some European countries like Norway the initial breastfeeding rate is indeed that high. I truly doubt Norwegians have different nipples than Americans. I am not dissing women that bottle feed but I think that many more women would choose to breastfeed if they had all the facts. Even if they had a couple of the facts. Please go to,,,, or before you make the choice to bottle feed. Take a few minutes to get some facts and then do your best.

Breastfeeding, as the cornerstone of attachment parenting makes the decision to co-sleep a no brainer. You can roll over and feed your newborn without sleepy trips to the refrigerator to make a bottle......It made all the difference in the world for my sleep. Yes it is perfectly safe. Visit for safety precautions. It is actually substantially safer than crib sleeping but that is another post. In addition to being safer and more convenient, it is much more rewarding and cozy than crib sleeping. Am I talking about snuggling with my girl again?? Carpe diem people. Carpe diem.

Breastfeeding and babywearing also go hand in hand because if you are nursing then wearing your baby close to your breast makes sense. Again the sling is much better for this than the Bjorn and affords privacy so you can breastfeed as you walk through the grocery store and not a soul will know.

Breastfeeding and baby wearing also go hand in hand with elimination communication. EC is about recognizing and responding to your babies signals for elimination rather than letting them soil themselves. The benefits are is obviously cleaner, substantially cheaper, and of course saves the environment a ton of hazardous waste filled landfill fillers. It is amazingly easy. I read about it online when my daughter was about a month old and could not believe it. I thought it was a joke. The basic jist is to hold your newborn over a bowl or sink and make a psssss sound and they will pee. Its insane but it works. Now think about it. Is it really that insane? What do natives in other countries do? Disposable diapers are a relatively new invention. Have babies always sat in their own filth or is there a better way?

I have to admit that I did EC part time which many parents do. I still use diapers but only as a backup. My daughter has always known what to do on the potty. She used the Baby Bjorn little potty and could sit up at a few months old (long before she could sit up on her own) so she loved being able to sit up and play (and not in a dirty diaper). If I get the opportunity to do it again I will go totally diaper free now that I know how easy it is and how wonderful.

Attachment parenting also usually involves natural childbirth which unfortunately I did not have. In fact had a rather horrific medically induced birth that went awry and I am still suffering the consequences. Again....if I am fortunate enough to do it over I will have my child at home, alone, without the interference of people who do not have my or my child's best interest at heart.

I did and do practice infant massage and infant sign language (even though my daughter can no longer qualify as an infant). She is now asking for her own massages and signing has been such a wonderful gift of communication for all of us.

Attachment parenting is really about respect. Respecting your child. Respecting who he or she is and their needs and their opinions. Even a one day old baby deserves respect, kindness, and consideration. I think detached parents have to detach emotionally to a certain extent just to be able to ignore their child's pleas for contact. I am so fortunate that I found a better way in time.

Peace to all.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Smoothie a Day

I have been drinking a smoothie every morning for a couple of months now. The equipment I use every day is a smoothie machine, cutting board & knife, & my coffee grinder. I try to do everything the night before so I can just add some wet ingredients and blend when I get up in the morning.

I am fortunate enough to live near a Gordons Food Service where I buy five pound bags of frozen mixed berries. I also sometimes get frozen melon balls or tropical fruit. It is nice to change the recipe and it also adds some nutritional variety. If you dont live near a Gordons, I am sure you can get the same thing at Sams Club or Costco.

The other absolute staple for me is Vitamineral Green. I will be posting on how wonderful this stuff is at some point. It is absolutely wonderful. I feel great when I have some daily for just a month. It improves my digestion, flattens my stomach, and gives me more energy. It has minerals, vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, algaes, seaweeds, and grasses. It is just a wonderful all in one product. It is not cheap. A bottle runs roughly $50 a month if I take it every day but it is a complete food product, not just a supplement so if I include it as part of my food budget and I remove the need for additional supplements then it isnt quite so expensive.

I have everything ready in a cabinet by the refrigerator and the smoothie machine. I fill the smoothie maker about 1/2 way with frozen berries or melons. If I have a pineapple or a mango I will cube that and use it instead.

I usually add 1/2 to one whole banana and sometimes fresh berries or a peeled orange or fresh kiwi slices or mango. I always have a bowl of fresh fruit and I find it so much easier to eat it in smoothie form. My fruit used to always go bad before I started smoothie-ing. Now it never does.

I add a tablespoon or two of the Vitamineral Green and fresh ginger to the frozen berries the night before and set the container in the refrigerator. In the morning I add a teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil, two raw cage free organic eggs, Colloidal Minerals, and some freshly ground flaxseeds.

I also bought some 20 oz clear hard plastic cups with lids and straws at Gordons. It might not be the most environmental option but I dont have time to drink the smoothie before work and if I had to wash a large crusty glass when I got home at night then I would not drink the smoothie at all. As the subtitle of the blog indicates, I am trying to merge modern living (ie:day job) with a healthy, organic lifestyle.

I know I am not adding everything that I can (or should) to my smoothie but for now it is an easy routine that fills me up, gives me energy, and most importantly gives me the nutrients that I would not be getting from a cup of coffee.

In closing I should mention that the Vitamineral Green turns the whole concoction dark green. If you saw The Thomas Crown Affair, Renee Russo drank something similar every morning. I guess it is cool in the movies but in real life it really throws people. I have people making the worst comments to me. It is amusing to me. I can not imagine insulting someone for eating french fries..." OH GOD! HOW CAN YOU EAT THAT???? YUCK FRIES! AAAAAHHH.. EWWWWW! THAT IS DISGUSTING!!!" I might think it, but I wont say it. Needless to say, I should give fair warning that if you are brave enough to take this smoothie out of the house with you, then you should be prepared for the inevitable verbal attacks.

As always I welcome suggestions and comments! You can find all the smoothie ingredients in your local produce department, local health food store, or at A Much Better Store, my natural family internet store.

Sheryl Lyon

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Great Reasons to Drink a Smoothie

Do you want to eat healthier but do not know where to start? Are you trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet but are finding it difficult to eat five servings or more a day? What about all the supplements and antioxidants you read about? How do you keep it all straight? Who has time to sort through the data much less prepare and eat everything you should?

The solution may lie in a smoothie! Smoothies are fruit based concoctions usually blended with milk or yogurt and an unlimited selection of "add-ons" and blended until smooth. Smoothies are ultra-fast, convenient, rejuvenating, energizing meal replacements. If you choose your ingredients carefully, your smoothie can relieve fatigue and constipation, balance your blood sugar, establish proper PH levels in your colon, and improve mental sharpness.

The real beauty of smoothies lies in their versatility. You can incorporate as many of the "shoulds" into your smoothie as you like. You "should" take more Vitamin C. You "should" take cod liver oil every day. You "should" introduce seaweeds and algaes into your diet. The "shoulds" are varied and numerous. A smoothie is a fabulous solution because it is much easier to pour a teaspoon of cod liver oil into your pineapple banana smoothie than to drink it solo. The same holds true for many of the somewhat unpalatable ingredient choices.

Smoothies are a great chance for you to exercise your personal taste and creativity. You can start with a bag of frozen berries or hit the produce department for fresh fruit that you enjoy. Any juicy fruit is a great choice for a smoothie. Be creative and avoid ingredients that you do not care for.

Any yogurt,milk, or kefir will do the trick but some experts recommend avoiding pasteurization and low fat dairy products for health reasons so if you are trying to switch to a raw diet you can use raw milk or make your own raw yogurt to use in the smoothie. If you are a vegan or want to avoid dairy altogether then use soy milk, rice milk, firm tofu chunks, or simply forgo the dairy aspect of your smoothie altogether. Many people like to use organic, raw, cage free eggs in their smoothie for a fabulous source of protein.

Grasses have tremendous nutritional and cleansing properties. You can grow your own wheatgrass and juice it fresh into your smoothie or you can purchase grass powder superfoods such as Vitamineral Green which is high in vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, chlorophyll, probiotics, and enzymes.

Some great additions to your smoothies can include algaes such as ultra cleansing chlorella and spirulina with 96 trace minerals. Another ingredient that is easiest eaten in a smoothie is freshly ground flax seed which will provide you with valuable plant based Omega 3 oils as well as soluble and insoluble fiber. Keep a coffee grinder next to your smoothie machine to make sure the flax seed is added to your smoothie immediately after grinding to prevent oxidation.

Some other ingredients you can try are ginseng, raw cacao, aloe vera, vegetable powders, coconut oil, ground nuts such as almonds or walnuts and medicinal herbs such as cinnamon.

You can purchase plastic take out cups with lids and straws and leave the house every morning with a few of your fruit servings out of the way in addition to meeting or exceeding many of your other nutritional requirements. Smoothies are a fun, delicious, nutritious way to maximize your health in a creative way that is limited only by your imagination.

You can find all the smoothie products you need including smoothie machines, coffee grinders, and hard to find ingredients at A Much Better Store under the Blog department.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Organic Cat Food and the Recall

I was planning on eventually switching my cat's food to something organic or natural during Stage 11 of the list but I decided to make the switch earlier in light of the recent pet food recall scandal. I have been feeding my cats grocery store cat food, primarily Cat Chow for the last ten or so years. I began to consider feeding them something healthier during my own journey of discovery to all things natural.

I am not going to pretend to know everything there is to know about the proper or even natural way to feed pets but it does stand to reason that cats in the wild do not eat anything even remotely similar to Cat Chow. My cats are strictly indoor and therefore do not have the luxury of getting a bit of natural food through their own hunting. Being an animal lover I am relieved that they are not out there murdering birds and rabbits but the unfortunate fact remains, they are carnivores and as the hand that feeds them I am not doing a very good job.

Now that I reflect back on my years of Cat Chow, I am afraid I was feeding them the equivalent of Doritos every day for the last decade. They had hairballs, constipation, and a terrible shedding problem. I blamed all of the above on age, rather than diet. I have noticed that some of my friend's cats that eat Iams had much healthier coats and didnt shed nearly as much as mine.

I switched to Iams a couple of months ago but I have read that Iams isnt much better and still doesnt approximate the diet that the cats would get in the wild. Going back to common sense I realize that cats in the wild would not eat grains or fillers at all. They would pretty much eat raw, Atkins type of diets.

I found two types of dry cat food which I am trying out for now and I will report back on how the cats seem to like them. The first is called Raw Instinct. Here is a Nature Varieties own description of the food.

"Nature's Variety Dry Kibble Diets provide biologically appropriate nutrition that can facilitate health, optimum body weight, and longer pet life. Dry kibble diets containing more high quality meat protein and fewer carbohydrates can aid in reducing the incidence of stomach bloat, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), some urinary tract crystals, allergies, and other diseases. This nutritionally dense kibble formula is appropriate for all life stages based on high meat protein content and whole grains. "

This food has received 5 stars by Amazon reviewers. In the week that I have been feeding it to them, their coats are much shinier and I dont notice much shedding at all. They seem to enjoy the flavor. They still prefer their wet food so there is a little competition for flavors but so far it seems to have a majority vote.

I also purchased TimberWolf Organics Serengeti Herbal Feline Formula Cat Food . There are no stars on Amazon for this product and the description is pretty sparse. "A special carnivore specific felid diet that promotes low urinary pH and assists in the removal of hair balls." Naturally that doesnt mean anything so I am here to test it for you.

I bought a four pound bag of each and I have four cats so they wont last long. I am going to use up the Raw Instincts first and then the Timberwolf and I will report back.

You can find both products at my store or you can purchase them on Amazon by clicking the links in this post. Please feel free to comment here if you have any experience with these foods whether positive or negative as I am learning here too.

Thanks for visiting & see you soon!