Dear God, Please

I always wonder why I ended up with this passion for nutrition that started three years ago.  It was a 90 degree, maybe even a 180–but since a medical doctor SHOULD be interested in all that is health, I’ll say 90 degree— turn from my former path.  It is not something I was ever interested in.  I was interested in finding the best chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Truly.  Truly.  Truly.  But it’s like God grabbed me, like we used to grab kittens we were housebreaking, and rubbed my nose in my mistake on the floor.  Smelly.

She’s Beautiful

When I was a kid, I had a dear friend who was always on a diet.  Remember those tuna can diets?  She exercised a lot too.  Walking.  Running.  Aerobics.  At home.  At the Y.  Exercise.  She was a beautiful, active woman.  Especially when she wore hats.  When she wore a hat, she put movie stars to shame.  Not a ball-hat.  She didn’t wear those kinds of hats.  Nice, church-like hats.  I kid you not, one little boy looked at my friend when we were in elementary school and said, “Wow.  She’s beautiful.”

As I grew with her, her weight increased.  She kept dieting.  She’d cook grand meals, and I wouldn’t see her eat.  I could see just how important losing weight was to her.  I used to always pray, growing up with her, “Please, God.  Please help her lose weight.”  I prayed for her weight for years.  I prayed desperately.  Pleadingly. The prayer of a child.  The prayer of a friend.  Despite her weight and her numerous diets, she kept right on being active.  Her activity was an inspiration to many.  Sometimes she’d lose 20 pounds, and I knew she was on her way!  Then, she’d gain back 30.  Over the years she finally gained back a lot more than 30 pounds.  And we had to be worried about a lot more than just weight.  So worried.

I’d Rather Be Fat Than Keep Trying

Food, which does deserve a high value, has become so cheap, so crappy, so disgusting, so pushed, it is killing us.  Here, eat another cookie.  Here, we don’t have much time, let’s run through McDonald’s.  (Yes, I used to eat here weekly.  And Chik-fil-A weekly.  And the Mexican restaurant weekly.)  And we sit there and ask why we feel so bad.  (Yes, I used to feel exhausted every day with headaches every day.)  We wear our health problems like a badge.  We say, “I’ve tried that diet.  I’ve tried that diet.  I just can’t lose the weight.”  It gets so hard.  My friend told me, “I’d rather be fat than keep trying.”  But consistency requires a lifetime of action.  My house doesn’t stay clean because I clean it once.  The baby’s diaper doesn’t stay poop-free because I change it once.  I’m not a good mom just because I pushed my kids out of my womb one day.

Stick to Real, Whole Foods And Willfully Shun Any Foods Which Lead You Down the Wrong Path.

You do not deserve to hurt so badly from food.  It IS hard.  I know it IS hard.  But keep trying.  Don’t see your failure as an endpoint.  See each day you try anew as a testimony to your stubbornness.  Choose real, honest foods.  Replace dry, hard foods with fresh vegetables and fruits.  Fill your day and life with as many vegetables and fruits as you want.  Even now, I am sitting beside a large tray of peaches and apples.  Toss in some nuts for salt and crunch.  Round out with some high-quality protein as fresh as you can afford.  (I like wild-caught fish, pastured pork, and eggs from chickens who roam free.)  Baked goods with sugar and/or white flour should be exceptionally rare treats.  Baked goods with any kind of flour and sweetener should be non-daily treats.  Root out foods for an undetermined period of time that cause you to over-eat inappropriately or bring you pain.  Cut them off.  Maybe forever.  Maybe not.  One day at a time.

One Good Life

We get one life to give.  Every day I miss who my friend was.  Slowly, she went from active to sitting.  She’d choose not to go out and do certain things because it hurt too much.  Yet, still, just about every day she made time for Dairy Queen or McDonald’s.  My friend.  One of the loves of my life.  Hurting because food gripped her so tightly.  It grips many, many of us tightly.  I’ve learned in this journey the last three years, “You don’t mess with people’s food.”  There but for the grace of God, go I.  Each day I will choose to walk this path of real, honest food as fresh as I can.  Walk with me.  Let’s live the lives we are designed to live.  Forget the guidelines, and just keep it, every bite, as fresh as you can.  Every–darn—bite.  Maybe my words fall on soil that is too hard, too dense to cultivate in my friend.  But maybe not.  Maybe my words aren’t meant for her.  Maybe they were meant for you.  Let’s choose to live.  Try again.  Today.

~~Terri

PS:  Where I used to see the label as “bad” or “unhealthy,” I now see the danger that lurks behind the food and its effects on cells.  For French fries from fast-food joints, I see destroyed oil getting incorporated into cells.  For dry, processed foods like crackers and chips, I see no fresh source of nutrients and supplementation with vitamins not physiologically compatible with proper cellular function.  I see FUNCTION (or loss of function, mo.re accurately) as the problem, not FAT.

Hemp Bars

Hemp barsHemp seed.  I picked it up for a recipe I wanted to try and discovered it’s a useful little seed.  It is typically imported from Canada because the USA wouldn’t allow farmers to grow it.  It has exceptionally miniscule levels of a marijuana-like substance.  About like poppy seeds and opium probably.  Once I found out how much we liked it, I tried to talk my farmer dad into growing hemp instead of soybeans and corn, since the USA has recently legalized its growth.  No go for the farm boy who was drafted in the flowery era to head off to Vietnam.

These bars are a twist-off from some bars that a beautiful neighbor brought us.  The original was called “Dr. Oz Energy Bars” and used oats.  Here is my family’s version.

Hemp Bars

2 cups of hemp seed
1 cup of peanut butter
6 T honey or maple syrup
2/3 cup chopped dried fruit (we like dates, raisins, cranberries, and cherries)
2 t vanilla
1/4 cup of chocolate chips (or sunflower seeds instead)

Mix all ingredients together well.  Press into an 8″X8″ pan.  Refrigerate for two or more hours.  Cut into bars.  Best served chilled to hold their shape best.

Closing:

I also have found that hemp makes a great “cereal” when mixed with fresh fruit, cinnamon and nutmeg, and a “milk.”  My kids like to do this.  It also works well for me to make cobbler topping, kind of like you would do for an oatmeal topping.  I was really excited to discover that use!  Hemp seed has a chewy, nutty type of flavor.  Unlike other nuts and seeds, you’re not supposed to soak it.  The bad news about hemp is that it’s awful darn expensive.

Have you tried hemp seed in your home?  Do you think my dad should grow hemp or corn and soybeans?  Is your diet going the way you want?  Can you tell a difference when it does?

Lastly, I am working on this site, to make it more aesthetically pleasing.  But, functionality is most important to me.  So, if you notice the site loads more slowly, will you kindly tell me in the comments?

Food imaging done by my girls.

Have a super weekend!

Terri

Is That A Pebble In My Shoe?

Wittelsbach_diamond,_before_beeing_recut_by_GraffToday I went for a walk down an asphalt covered path.  It was a lovely day.  The late summer sun was bright and strong, yet the impending autumn season imparted a crisp coolness to the air.  I felt strong.  I felt good.  I breathed deep, receiving a fresh, renewing nourishment.

To my right, I saw a dirt path and decided to leave the asphalt, as the path was surrounded by more trees.  More natural quietness.  A creek.  You know, more real.

The first thing I noticed was more bugs.  Tons of fall-hatched grasshoppers hopping my way.  More mosquitoes.  Swat.  Swat.  Then, I noticed some dirt and pebbles slipping into my shoes.  I never can tie my laces tight enough to keep the dirt and pebbles out of my shoes on a dirt trail.  Ah.  But still!  What a lovely day!  Fill those lungs deep then a little deeper still.

But darn.  There’s a pebble too large to ignore.  I don’t want to stop and pause.  I want to keep going.  Niggle.  Niggle.  Perhaps if I shake my foot around I can dislodge the pebble to a better spot.  Shake.  Shake.  Step.  Step.  But no.  The pebble feels to be growing larger with each step.  This must be addressed.

I bend down and pull the shoe off.  I tilt the toe box up and over and drop the stone into my open palm.  A brilliant, beautiful diamond shines up at me, reflecting the beams of sunlight directly to my heart.

A lovely, easy path.  A more real, genuine path with some flaws.  A pebble that makes you stop.  A diamond.  Even diamonds can give you blisters.  But life’s diamonds bring you joy.

Who, or what, is your life’s diamond?  How could this story apply to your life this moment?  Or could it?

Me?  Yeah.  Definitely the kids.  Todays thoughtful post was brought to you by a screaming toddler in my house from the hours of 3 a.m. till 4:30 a.m.  Teeth?  Who will know.

But seriously.  Have a joyous day.  Go for a walk.  Swat some bugs.  Hug those you love.  Bask in something you worked hard to accomplish.  Did you walk too long on your diamond before taking it out to appreciate it?  It’s okay.  Find some Band-Aids.  Feel the warmth of life in your heart.  Give and smile.

Terri

 

 

Claiming Your Identity

We are back from yet another wonderful visit with family and friends at home in Indiana.  My husband and I were childhood sweethearts, so we are lucky in that home is home for both of us.  Today I am catching up on bills, sequestering fruit flies from a piece of fruit gone bad on the counter while we were gone, and killing mildew on clothes left inadvertently in the washing machine for ten days.

I am looking at an invoice to the local YMCA.  It is addressed to Dr. and Mrs. Fites.  Normally, I’d just write the check and send it off.  But today, I crossed through Dr. and Mrs. Fites and wrote The Doctors Fites above it.  Why?  Why does it matter?  Why am I feeling so pesky about this today?  I am typically the last person to care what you call me, as long as you don’t make me cry.

I’ll tell you why.  With the addition of our fourth child to our family, I’ve gotten less and less time.  Which makes me feel less and less like me.  And less and less like a valuable contributor to society.  I KNOW this is not right!  My husband tells me every  day how my raising our daughters makes a difference in our lives, their lives, and to how they fit into society.  And I am very comfortable staying home, cooking, cleaning, learning, and teaching.  Yet, the loss of control that a toddler imparts to a home and life is challenging for some of us.  Toddlers make you forget things.  Toddlers make you lose things.  Toddlers scream.  Toddlers are unpredictable.  Toddlers leave no cabinet, drawer, shelf, or basket unturned.  Toddlers don’t let you cook when you want.  Sleep when you want.  Exercise when you want.

However, it’s not just about the toddler.  Two days ago I decided to spruce up the living area.  My daughters all came in, “Ooh.  Mom.  That looks nice.”  Then, they decided they all had ideas too on where things should go and how they should be placed.  In MY living room.  Mine.  Mine.  Mine.  My head.  My space.  My time.  Mine.

No.  Hard stop.  Wait.  It’s a family of six.  Brain–take a ticket.  You’re sixth in line.

So, today, I am Doctor Fites.  Tomorrow, I will go back to being Terri.  Mom.  Or Mrs.  Even “Hey, You.”

But not today.  (Smile.)

Do you ever feel like life spins around you, and so, sometimes, you stamp your foot and say, “Not today.  Today I get what I earned.”?  Today, I am ____________________.  Insert your word.  Insert what you worked for and don’t want to leave completely behind.  You earned it.

Back to bills.

Iodine And The Prostate

I always wonder what brings people to this little, humble corner of the Iodineinternet where I write up some of the alternative treatments, diets, and supplements I read about (and even try). Who are you? What are you doing here? Do you find my articles helpful? Understandable? Do you cross-reference them to make sure I’m honest? Well, it’s neither here nor there and just a stream-of-consciousness thought. Today I’m finally writing up my studies on iodine and the prostate. A friend of my husband has prostate cancer and needs to have surgery. He wanted me to get some articles regarding iodine and the prostate to give to his friend, so I did.  I thought I’d continue on in my iodine write-up here for this blog.

If you search for iodine and prostate on the internet, you’ll come across some pretty dramatic, anecdotal claims–got some coffee up my nose a time or two (or even three) while reading.  What’s real?  Can iodine make a man shoot across the room? Well, there’s not enough iodine and prostate information out there to know much, but the scant research teases us with at least iodine’s efficacy in preventing prostate cancer and reducing benign prostatic hypertrophy.

Real Life Evidence That Iodine May Impact Prostate Cancer

You’ll read this everywhere on the internet about iodine: Japanese men have one of the lowest prostate cancer rates in the world and some of the highest iodine intakes. They consume large amounts of salt-water fish and seaweed, both iodine-rich food sources. The Japanese age adjusted prostate cancer incidence rate is 12.6 men per 100,000 men; in the United States it is 124.8 men per 100,000 men. That’s a significant difference, eh, by any statistical, analytical contortion. When Japanese men move to the United States and adapt a non-traditional diet, maybe some Totino’s pizza, microwave popcorn, or honey mustard dressing in a plastic bottle, their incidence of prostate cancer rises. Now, this is all interesting and observational. Is it the iodine? The omega-3 in the fish? The micronutrients in the kelp? The air in McDonald’s? (1)

Well, wouldn’t it be nice to know? It would. In 1997, The British Journal of Cancer published a dietary study trying to label fat intake as a prostate nemesis, and they also looked at other nutrients as a side show. Fat intake was actually not found to correlate (so throw up the yellow flag on fat fears), but when looking at other nutrients, they found that the higher the iodine intake, the lower the risk of prostate cancer. Statistical contortion methods almost significantly indicated that high iodine intake was associated with less prostate cancer—but no cookie. (Please don’t eat cookies. Well, not many anyhow.)  High iodine intake was defined as greater than 156 micrograms per day, which is higher than the recommended intake in the United States and well below the intake in the average Japanese man. I wonder if anything significant would have turned up had they stratified out even higher intakes of iodine among the study population. That’s all I can do is wonder. And cook fish for my hubby. (2)

It’s Not All About The Thyroid

So, maybe iodine might, possibly, could help prevent prostate cancer. How? What could it do?   Well, we used to think that iodine was only needed by the thyroid gland– but oh, how we are learning that, ahem, we were wrong. (Why isn’t anyone blushing? Stammering?) In fact, the prostate and many other organs and tissues will actively pull in and accumulate iodine as long as there is enough iodine present in the body.  However, the thyroid gets preferential uptake of iodine. The doses of iodine recommended in the United States barely make the cutoff for thyroid needs, forget the breasts, brain, salivary glands, ovaries, testicles, prostate, and stomach! (3)

Iodine In The Prostate

Iodine, fascinatingly, is being found to have anti-proliferative, antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory effects. Increased levels of iodine regulate mitosis, reduce free-radical induced DNA damage, and markedly reduce tissue fibrosis. All these functions add up to protection. Iodine seems pretty protective. Studies on mice and in test tube cells have shown that iodine can cause prostate cancer cells to self-destruct (known medically as apoptosis) and to differentiate (a good thing). Cancerous cells begin to lose all resemblance to the tissue type they are supposed to belong to, and iodine helps prostate cancer cells go back to resembling normal prostate cells (known medically as differentiation). This sounds promising, but it just isn’t concrete enough evidence to say that iodine benefits prostate cancer. (1,3)

Although we use the general term iodine, the body actually uses iodine (I2), iodate (I-), and 6-iodolactone. Using human cell lines in mice, research has elucidated that both normal prostate cells and cancerous prostate cells are affected by all three forms of iodine. Iodine inhibited cell proliferation and promoted apoptosis (programmed cell death). Interestingly, the 6-iodolactone iodine form is a powerful form that is only formed in the body when there is enough iodine (and it seems to be more if it’s the I2 form) present at certain levels and certain lengths of time.  So, if you’re barely scraping by to feed the thyroid, you may not be getting the amount, concentration, and duration necessary to make 6 iodolactone! 6-iodolactone cannot be detected in human tissue when iodine deficiency is present. (4)

What About Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)?

My searches for information about benign prostatic hypertrophy and iodine brought up even less than what I found for prostate cancer and iodine. What little I found seemed very seductive, but when I tried to track down the primary sources myself, it proved a little sticky. The paper titled “The Extrathyronine Actions of Iodine as Antioxidant, Apoptotic, and Differentiation Factor in Various Tissues” ran in the journal Prostate in 2013. The following is an excerpt from this article:

“Similarly, I2 treatment (3–6 mg/day) of patients with benign breast disease is accompanied by a significant bilateral reduction in breast size and remission of disease symptoms, effects not observed when I− or protein-bound I− is administered. Moreover, similar benefits have been found in benign prostatic hyperplasia, in animal models with 0.05% I2 supplementation, and in human patients with early benign prostatic hyperplasia (stages I and II) where an 8-month Lugol (5 mg/day) supplement was accompanied by diminished symptoms and prostate-specific antigen values, and an increased urine flow rate.”

This excerpt just sounds wonderful, but I was not able to access the sources. One is a textbook where you can read just a garbled bit on Google and the other was presented at a scientific convention.

On a personal note, we do use a little bit of iodine supplementation in our family because we don’t have reliable iodine sources in our diet. We try to eat seafood abundantly and incorporate seaweed, but the main cook in our family (me) sometimes gets a little tied up in little arms (kids) and doesn’t quite cook the way she means to. Upon questioning, it was reported to me that nocturnal urination symptoms in the laborer of our family diminished with iodine. Anecdotal? Yes. Absolutely.

Closing

Yes. Iodine does seem to play an important role in the prostate, and 150 micrograms does not seem like enough to get the protective effects. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a conventional medical doctor who will encourage you to take more iodine. In medical school and residency, we were taught that iodine can trigger hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Yes, it can rarely do that, especially if other nutrients are missing as iodine is added in. But I really can’t help but think that we need some more iodine than we’re getting (or perhaps we simply need to get less of what interferes with iodine’s function in our bodies—which is exceptionally difficult to do in our modern world). IF iodine would help a subset of population avoid prostatectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, boy, it seems like a simple thing to observe for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism compared to impotence.

My homeschooled iodine education must concur with the minority of healthcare professionals out there pushing for higher doses of iodine. BUT due to the high incidence of subclinical selenium; zinc; B vitamin deficiencies; and the fact that some forms of iodine are better than others, it must be done cautiously and under the scrutiny of a trained eye.  Rarely, a patient may convert to florid hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.

This blog site and this post are not to be used for medical advice or treatment.  That would be silly.  Have a great day and a wonderful life.  I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the sources:

“We propose that the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficient Disorders recommend that iodine intake be increased to at least 3 mg/day of I2 in specific pathologies to obtain the potential extrathyroidal benefits described in the present review.” (3)

~~Terri

Iodine Bibiliography

  1. Cann SA, Qiu Z, and van Netten C. A Prospective Study of Iodine Status, Thyroid Function, and Prostate Cancer Risk: Follow-up of the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Nutrition and Cancer. 2007. 58(1): 28-34.  Full text if it is still up.
  2. TJA Key, PB Silcocks, GK Davey, PN Appleby and DT Bishop. A case-control study of diet and prostate cancer. British Journal of Cancer. 1997. 76(5): 678-687.  Full text.
  3. Aceves C, Anguiano B, Delgado G.  The Extrathyronine Actions of Iodine as Antioxidant, Apoptotic, and Differentiation Factor in Various Tissues.  Thyroid. 2013 Aug. 23(8):  938-946.  Full text.
  4. Aranda N, Sosa S, Delgado G, Aceves C, Anguiano B. Uptake and antitumoral effects of iodine and 6-iodolactone in differentiated and undifferentiated human prostate cancer cell lines. Prostate. 2013;73:31–41.  (I got this from ReadCube.)  Abstract.

Granny’s Barbecue Sauce

Granny's BBQ sauce

One of the easiest main courses I make is to put a Boston butt (a specific cut of pork) in the crock pot on low for about 8 hours with some of Granny’s barbecue sauce.  Then I drain it, shred it, and drizzle more barbecue sauce over the top.  Dinner!  Let’s eat!  Use this sauce for grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and pork chops.  Use a beef brisket to make barbecued beef rather than pulled pork.  Add it to baked beans for tremendous flavor.  The opportunities are endless.

Everybody needs a secret recipe.  Make this your own secret recipe by using honey instead of maple syrup.  Try increasing the amount of maple syrup or decreasing it.  Choose to skip the allspice or up the vinegar.  However you tweak it, I think it’ll be great!  Do use caution on the Worcestershire sauce if you have food sensitivities because it can contain some pesky, allergenic substances.

This is the sauce my mom has always made for grilling and baked beans.  She uses ketchup instead of tomato sauce.  It is a happy recipe in our family.

 

Granny’s Barbecue Sauce

(Makes about 3 cups)

  • 1  can plain tomato sauce, 15 ounces (equal to 1 and 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ground, black pepper to taste, maybe 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients together in a medium-sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stir, and then reduce heat.  Simmer for no more than 5 minutes.  Stir frequently to avoid scorching.

Store in refrigerator after cooled for up to a week.

Family “gustar” report:  Everybody likes this sauce in our house, and it’s a great trick to get the kids to eat meats they wouldn’t normally like.  So the score is 6/6!

I mentioned this is a happy recipe for me.  It reminds me of raucous summer days around the dinner table with my family.  Do you have any happy recipes?  Are they secret?  Do you believe in secret recipes?  I don’t really.  If it’s good, it should be shared!

Eat real.  Be real.

~~Terri

Five Reasons My Mom Thought I’d Fail At Homeschooling

You’ve got naysayers breathing down your back about homeschooling?  Well, if it makes you feel any better, my mom didn’t think I had what it took to be a homeschooler.  Something along the line of, “We’ll see how long this lasts.”  Thanks for your vote of confidence, mom, but I appreciate your honesty.  It made me determined.  She was right, you know.  I don’t fault the doubts she had one bit.  How was a short-tempered medical doctor who appreciated alone time to herself going to deal with kids all day, every day, much less teach them?

Mama’s Doubts

We are now entering our seventh year of homeschooling.  I have four kids, about the ages of 11, 9, 6, and 1.  My kids, husband, and I are exceptionally satisfied with how homeschooling is going.  So what made my mom raise her eyebrows and predict my kids would be hightailed to school in a heartbeat?

1.  I like my alone time.  There is no doubt.  Homeschooling families are TOGETHER.  All the time.  A homeschool mom (or dad, if that’s who does the bulk of the teaching) is dinged like a bell ALL DAY LONG.  Unless you sacrifice sleep, which I’m not usually willing to do, finding a balance of self and kids is tough.  Thankfully, my husband is often able to take on the four kids by himself and let me have a quiet hour.
2. I naturally lean toward impatient and irritable.  Let’s face it.  Perfectionistic people like things done their way or the highway.  Homeschooling has been a fun way to rein in my expectations and learn to communicate better in a more positive way.  I can definitely see that I get easier to get along with each year.  Maybe it’s just that I get more worn down, but regardless, it’s better.
3. I don’t like clutter.  I once read, years ago before I started homeschooling and was still in the preparation reading stages, that homeschool moms needed to brace themselves for two things:  1)  a messier house  2)  some extra pounds.  That stuck in my mind, preparing me for things to come.  I hate clutter.  Hate it.  But with four kids of different ages, it’s something we deal with every day.
4. I am not a gushy mom.  When people ask if I’ll be homeschooling in high school, I bust out belly laughing.  When I was planning our homeschooling journey, I saw myself teaching the kids algebra and calculus and classical literature.  Organized.  Logical.  Sitting still.  I did not see myself gluing and pasting and singing and nature walking.  Oh, sigh.  I love my kids to pieces.  I’m kind.  And I’m learning patience.  But don’t make me play Ring Around the Rosie or cut out a butterfly or gush over your 50th fairy drawing.  I’m practical, not touchy-feely and lovey.
5. I was a working medical doctor.  This probably blew my mom’s mind the most.  Why did I go to medical school just to stay home with kids?  Well, when I went to medical school and residency, I didn’t have kids, did I?  And I wasn’t sitting around thinking about them either.  Kids came along.  Kids change things.  Yes, it kind of hurt and stung to leave my colleagues behind (or what it actually felt like was that I was getting left behind), and it usually feels like I left my brain behind too.  But 98% of the time, I have no regrets.

You’re Right, Mom…

So, Mom.  You were right to question me and draw me up to prepare for the battle.  Thank you!  I could have easily failed and packed those girls off, not just to school, but to boarding school!  Instead, I met your challenge, and I think we’re doing right well.  How?

1. Be a self-examiner.  Was I too harsh?  Am I too lenient?  Am I preoccupied with perfection?  Am I comparing my kids to others?  Am I spending too much time on the phone?  Each move I make throughout the day, I try to measure its impact on my goals for my children’s education (and their lives in general).  Without self-examination and a desire to improve, I would be a terrible homeschooler.
2. Love to learn and teach.  I’ve always loved to teach.  Sometimes I step back when I’m irritated when teaching my kids and try to pretend that I’m teaching someone else’s child.  It usually (always?) brings out a nicer teacher.
3. Love my kids.  We all love our kids, I know.  So this is kind of a weird one to put.  But man, I love my kids and I often try to envision their futures.  What they’ll need to succeed.  Am I giving them the tools they need?
4. Know when I’ve reached my limit and know to stop and take time to change tactics or educate myself or get help.  Kids can be big stressors in small packages.  It’s hard to understand, and when things are going well or our kids are grown up, we even forget how stressful they really can be.  When I’m feeling squeezed, for whatever reason, I stop and regroup.  Change things up.  Get a babysitter.  Ask my husband to do a little more.  Take a break.  Read on how somebody else tackled the same problem.  It always helps.

Closing

I’m not really giving tips here, and I don’t mean to talk about myself.  But I do want others to know that people will always question our choices.  I’m glad they do, and if I can open a good dialogue with them and not let my feelings get hurt, I can rise up and overcome.  If people are wondering if you should homeschool, ask yourself the same question.  Write down deterrents.  Write down a way to make each deterrent a strength, or at least a non-obstacle.  Write down your strengths and how you’ll manipulate those strengths to succeed in homeschooling.  With diligence and an open heart, you’ll succeed.

~~Terri