Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Transplanted Southerner Has Moved!

Now you don't need " dot blogspot" to find The Transplanted Southerner!

The New Web Address is:

Please Join Me There! You May Click The Link Below To Be Redirected.

See Y'All There!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mom's Healthy Crockpot Chili

Mom's Healthy Crockpot Chili

2 lbs ground beef
1 tube ground pork sausage
1/2 green bell pepper
1 zucchini
2 cloves garlic*
1 can each:
Black beans
White beans
Diced tomatoes

Chili Seasoning 
(if you don't want to use premixed packets, this is what I use:)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder (or you may add 1 small onion, minced to the veggies)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper

*if you'd prefer not to use the garlic cloves above, leave them out and add 1/4 tsp garlic powder to your seasoning blend

1. Brown all the meat (I like to brown 1 lb of ground beef at a time as I put the first lb in the crockpot and then add spices and veggies, then top off with the second pound of beef and the sausage)

2. Measure spices and add to crockpot on top of browned meat

3. Dice the bell pepper and garlic cloves, remove the skin from the zucchini and use a grater to grate it into strips (I cut mine into 1/4s before grating to make shorter strips), place in crockpot on top of meat and spices

4. Open canned veggies. Drain carrots and beans, add to crockpot. Do not drain the tomatoes, add to crockpot

(5. If you are browning the meat in halves, brown the second lb and add it to the crockpot on top of the veggie layer)

6. Stir to evenly mix meat, spices, and veggies. Then, set crockpot on low. This is good to go in a couple of hours, but can cook longer if needed (if cooking longer do not drain carrots)

Before serving, mix the contents of the crockpot one more time to make sure the flavor is even.

You may garnish with sour cream and/or grated cheese. I served ours with oven baked whole potatoes and parmesan garlic bread.

Makes approximately 7 servings 

This recipe is a great way to sneak in veggies your child might not otherwise try (like zuchinni), and a new way to use boring canned carrots! Do you hide veggies in your child's meals? I always love to hear new ideas!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Sinus Plunger: Essential Oils For Congestion

This Blend Will Get That Gunk Out Of Your Sinuses!

"Mom, my nose is so stuffy. I can't breathe!!"

A few nights ago one of my children complained of a stuffy nose. In the past we've tried OTC decongestants and even some prescribed ones. Nothing seemed very effective, or if it was it simply wasn't working for longer than a half hour. When he has congestion he is really chugged up.

For a few minutes I studied my stuffy nosed child as a I contemplated our options. "Maybe you can pick me up Breathe Right strips", he suggested. I was about to shrug and tell him I would add it to the list when it dawned on me...I had a whole basket full of oils. A quick perusal led me to peppermint and eucalyptus. I put a drop of peppermint on one hand, and a drop of eucalyptus on the other. Then I told him to rub them together and cup them over his nose. He took several deep breaths as his nose began to feel clearer.

The next day I decided to put together a blend for the next such occasion, and this is what I came up with:

The Sinus Plunger

Now, you can do as I first did and just use a drop of peppermint and eucalyptus, but this blend is mixed up with some fractionated coconut oil so it is diluted enough to rub a bit on the neck or chest. If you rub the blend on your hands the fco will make the essential oils linger a bit longer and you could just lay them beside your head on the pillow as you go to sleep.

My Blend For Sinus Plunger: Clear That Nose!

This recipe will need a 30 mL bottle, which will give you around 600 drops. It is almost a 50:50 blend with the fco.

80 drops lemon essential oil
80 drops rosemary essential oil
80 drops peppermint essential oil
80 drops eucalyptus essential oil
15 drops frankincense essential oil
25 drops copaiba essential oil

Blend the oils in the 30 mL bottle (using a dark glass such as amber or blue cobalt will help protect the integrity of the oils), then top with the fractionated coconut oil.

If you would prefer to not use a carrier oil because you want to diffuse it or have some other use in mind, the essential oils make up 18 mL or 360 drops of the blend.

Why Add Copaiba?

One of copaibas benefits is that it is an anti-inflammatory. This helps reduce the swelling and irritation in the body, in this case the nose and sinuses. It is also an analgesic which means it helps relieve pain. It can help ease the body aches that you may have if you've been congested and not resting well for a while. It can also help buffer a headache which is many times a side effect of congestion.

Copaiba Plant
(Image Borrowed From Allposters)

Does your family deal with sinus issues and stuffy noses? Congestion is the most common complaint from my kids whether it is an illness or an allergy. Leave me a comment letting me know your families home remedies!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why My Son Takes Gymnastics

Let's put aside the fact, for a moment, that he is one of those people with a God given talent in pretty much any athletic area. My youngest has always wowed people by being able to do athletic things easily. At three, he could easily hit a pitched baseball. Now, he was so small he could barely pick up the bat, but if he got the bat up he could knock the ball clear to the other side of the yard. He pretty much taught himself to swim by preschool age and was happily jumping of the diving board soon after.

The thing is, he is also a thrill seeker. When I was growing up we called them dare devils (or just plain ol' rowdy boys). For him, it's so much more than just an interest in physical activity or an urge to show off. He is the kid who has no fear of heights, who hugs far too tightly, who talks too loud, and stands too close to others. The bubble of personal space is a foreign concept to him. You see, he was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder at age 8. Now, SPD is a kind of spectrum in that at one end you have the "sensory avoiders" and at the other you have folks like my son, the "sensory seekers". Avoiders seem to be more common, or maybe their inclination to cringe away from noise, to shrink back from touch is worrisome to more people than a kid who likes to spin and spin and spin to the point that the people watching him feel sick, or the kid who appears to have no fear of heights to the point that he will happily hang too far over the lip of a building's roof, or climb as high as he possibly can in a tree and then jump to the ground. These sensory seekers come across as "wild kids" and often people ask if they have ADHD, assuming it is the hyperactive component that is making them take risks they shouldn't.

Still One To Climb To The Top!
Thankfully Low Enough That I Didn't Have To Worry!
In our case, I knew that he didn't process sensation the same way as most of us from very early on. As a baby, he was a head banger. I dutifully traipsed from one doctor to another trying to explain to them the horror of watching your child whack their head on the hard floor. "Does he rock back and forth when he does it?", one asked. No. "Oh, well he isn't autistic. No worries." and he smiled and patted my shoulder and sent me back home. A couple of others assured me this was a stage and he would outgrow it. At this point it had been going on for two years and I wasn't really buying that. Finally, I burst into tears and tried to relate the scene to a doctor. "He once hit his head so hard his nose started bleeding!", I wailed. "Well you can be sure he won't do it again!", he told me with a smile. Therein lies the problem. People with normal sensory awareness assume that a kid will stop doing something if it hurts.

Very little causes enough pain that my son slows down. He once jumped out of a rope swing in my mother's yard. It sat on a slope so he could swing and swing and swing until he was a good ways from the ground below. He jumped out and landed on all fours. He complained a few days that his arm hurt, but intermittently and it wasn't swollen or bruised. Then for days he wouldn't mention it and would go right on with his business. I even took him to the family doctor who looked it over, felt his arm and wrist and hand, then lobbed him a football which he caught with a smiling face. We were sure it wasn't broken, he couldn't use it like that if it was, right? Wrong. After he complained again that his wrist "felt funny", I took him to a bone and joint clinic. They xrayed his wrist and forearm and, lo and behold, he had cleanly broken the ulna. There was no doubt. So they cast him up (he thought this was fantastic) and sent us home admonishing him to "be more careful, fella."

At the time he was diagnosed with SPD, we were on our third broken bone. The occupational therapist carefully noted that in the evaluation and told me that is not unexpected with thrill seeking kids. The best thing for them, she told me, is to find them ways to get the sensory input they crave that are not terribly likely to result in injury. For a while, that proved hard to do. When we moved, however, we had access to new things and I began to explore what would be good for my kids.

His Favorite Month? WINTER! Why? SLEDDING!
The Bigger The Hill, The Better The Thrill

He now takes Martial Arts once a week. This helps calm and focus him. The class is constantly active, but in a controlled way and everyone is quiet as they listen to the instructor. I hope this helps him learn to monitor himself and be able to assess if he is getting wound up (which is when he seeks more and more input such as spinning an office chair as fast as it will go for minutes on end). Then, my daughter went to a cheer clinic at a nearby gymnastics gym. I really liked the gym and staff so I decided to sign her up.

As I looked over the flier at the days and times that the classes were offered, I noticed that they offered a class geared specifically to boys. On a whim, I signed him up. Wow! I knew he would be able to tumble, he has long been able to watch someone do a something and work out the mechanics of it in his mind so he can do it himself. What I didn't realize was how good it would be for him. A whole hour where people WANT you to run and jump, where they ASK you to "put some power behind" throwing your body! The entire gym is a sensory seekers heaven. Spring floors, thick foam wedges, a rebounding track, a foam pit!

He has been taking for six months now and I have seen such a difference in him. He doesn't look for input at home quite as much, he has even started to stand at a reasonable distance to someone and his hugs are quick squeezes instead of a constricting vise on your neck that you must literally pry off.

I think boy gymnasts are more common place today, perhaps, but back home it would have been very different. Some, perhaps most, people would have been fine with it but I know of plenty who wouldn't. I can pick out who would have been saying "A boy. Taking gymnastics. I would NEVER let my son - he is going to play a REAL SPORT!" A real sport meaning one that is typically dominated by boys and usually involves cleats. I expect there are those people all over the world, I just don't know them all personally.

Taken After Riding The Rope Swing Through The Sprinklers
(and jumping into the mud!)

I'm happy, though, that we persisted in finding him an athletic outlet that would help meet his personal needs and I'm thrilled that we now have a community of moms and dads shuttling their sons to and from the gym for tumbling. He can be part of a group, the same way a Little Leaguer is part of a team, while receiving valuable sensory input that calms and quiets him.

If someone asked me "What can I do for my thrill seeker child?" My first response would be "Try Martial Arts and gymnastics." They both allow the child to move and do things that provide the sensory input they crave, but at the same time someone is teaching them how to do these things correctly, how to do them responsibly, so that they learn how to seek out sensation but in a safe way.

Do you have a child with SPD? Are they a sensory avoider or seeker? I, myself, am prone to avoiding and I know that can be just as frustrating to deal with. What have you implemented in your personal lives to accommodate your child with SPD?

Snorkeling In March 2013. The Water Was Freezing.

Do you think your child might have SPD?
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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Southerner Looks At Snow

I remember growing up in the South, we would get one actual snow a winter. My mother has the pictures of me beside our snowman, and the dog bounding through the snow covered yard. I remember the year we trudged up the street to a friend's house to sled. Their house sat on this big, steep hill. To a child it felt like being on a ski mountain.

By the time I was a high schooler, the winters didn't bring snow anymore. We did get "ice storms". There is very little pretty about an ice storm, and certainly nothing about them is fun. The ice would bring down power lines, people lost their lights and heat. The local motels were booked with people trying to find a warm place to sleep and shower. I didn't notice it at the time, but looking at pictures from that time clearly shows the effects of those snowless winters and hot, dry summers. Our grass went from healthy, thick, deep green to a sparse covering of dull yellowish green. Even the trees had less leaves and they were not the glossy green of my younger days. In addition, temperatures that rarely went below, and even more rarely stayed for any length of time, below freezing increased the pest population. Fleas and ticks abound, mosquitoes became almost a year round problem.

When we moved North, as winter approached the children and I chanted "snow snow snow snow"! We didn't really have any idea what we were in for. When Mother Nature blankets the North in deep, white snow, she really makes sure it is covered. My husband, bless his heart, had been up here for several winters as this is where he has worked for several years. Worked outside 365 days a year, I might add. He knew exactly what was coming.

The first winter, the snow was beautiful. Sparkly white, calf deep snow. The kids went out a few times to throw snowballs and build snowmen. I stocked up on hot chocolate and marshmallows. We went to a nature preserve to sled. It was beautiful, all the sledding families and, out on the pond, small tents dotted the ice as men ice fished. "Just gorgeous", I thought to myself.

There Is Nothing Quite Like Snow Covered Evergreens

Who Needs Snowblowers? WE DO!!
The second winter.....the second winter was the polar vortex of 2014. In a word, it was horrible. Frigid temperatures, what felt like six months of gray dusk, snow being dumped on us week after week. "This is terrible", I thought to myself. The kids and I ended up spending January - March back with my mother down South. I later learned that even lifelong Northerners had been stunned by the harshness of that winter.

This year has been better. Winter here is still much bleaker than it is in the South. Where it is dark by 5:00 at the shortest of winter days back home, it begins to get dark at 3:30 here and is dark by 4:15. You may tell yourself forty five minutes can't matter that much, but this also seems to last a bit longer here, and when you've had gray skies with no visible sun all day....well, it matters. Still, as I said, this winter has been a cake walk compared to last year. We tend to have at least one bright, sunny day with brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds a week. Sometimes two or three such days in a row. While we have had below zero days and single digit days, we have also had some days that were quite warm  for this area. A few days in December reached the mid forties which now seems like a balmy day on the beach!

The children all now own thermals, snow bibs, true winter coats (back home a winter coat was usually a fleece jacket), insulated, weather proof boots. And the hats and gloves! Oh the hats and gloves we now possess!

All Bundled Up!

The upside to these months of dreary days filled with nothing but black, white, and gray is that Spring and Summer here are glorious. A bit cooler than this Southern lady might like, but the thick green grass of our lawn and the canopies of dark green, glossy leaves blowing gently in the breeze makes up for that. The days we spend outside in our backyard grilling, playing frisbee, watching our children play tag with the neighborhood children give me many memories to carry in my heart through these cold, foreign months and for that, I love the North.

Summer Is Still My Favorite Season

Have you ever moved to an area with a new climate? Was it hard for you? It was for us! What is your favorite season where you live now?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Keeping Your Children Little

Time goes so quickly. One day you have these small children who are leaving messes around the house, their noses are dripping, and no one seems to be able to sleep at the same time. You may find yourself wishing they would "hurry up and outgrow this".
One Of The Few Moments Everyone Was Sleeping
They do, and they do it in the blink of an eye. You turn around to pour a glass of wine and suddenly they are teens and preteens. They want to sleep all the time, they have pimples on their forehead and the boys may have fuzz on their chin, and now no one wants to play anything so no messes. Great! Right? The heart of the mother is a strange thing. This change was expected. You knew it was coming from the time they were newborns who couldn't pick up their own heads, but it still takes your breath away. Or, at least, it did for me.

Today kids seem to "grow up" swiftly. I began to look, really look, at my kids and their peers. They were good kids, all of them, but adults seemed determined that they would become little grown ups as soon as possible. I heard mothers saying that their eight year old daughter was simply "too old" for dolls and so they had taken them away and packed them up. "She asked for American Girl things for Christmas! Can you believe that? And her in the THIRD GRADE!!" It cast my mind back to my doll playing days which, I blushingly remembered, lasted for me and my friends through sixth grade and a bit beyond. And now little girls, young girls, were being told they were too old to play? Boys seemed to be hitting that particular point even earlier. By the time my boys were skipping up the sidewalk to kindergarten so many of their classmates were so "booked" they didn't have time for "babyish things" like play dates and birthday parties. They had ball tournaments and private practice sessions with coaches that had to come first. I was gobsmacked the first birthday party I tried to throw. "I'm sorry. Little Johnny has to drive six hours one way on Saturday for a state tournament." State? We went to state when I was in high school. Now five year olds were going? Oh yes they assured me, these kids were "focused".
Sister And Brother, Ages 4 & 7
We did our best, bobbing along in that fast paced existence, trying to find some balance so they could have memories of playing dolls with their friends and having birthday parties where they pinned tails on donkeys with their friends and were serenaded with Happy Birthday before blowing out their candles. Thankfully, my older two each had a couple of good friends whose parents were, like me, in no rush to end the sticky sweetness of the grade school years. My youngest? Well, by the time he joined the fray it was even harder to suss out boys who weren't mini teenagers. My heart ached as he asked "Can I have a birthday party?" (All your classmates said they had ball games and practices, sweetie.) "Can we call someone to come play?" (None of the boys play anymore, honey. Not unless there is a scoreboard involved.) I did have a good friend who had a son a couple of years younger and thankfully she shared my view of childhood being precious. We had many play dates and a few sleep overs with him and his sister (who was one of my daughter's best friends).
Baby Of The Family, Age 2
As everyone got older, I noticed more and more how much we were pushing them into acting older than they were. By the time our children would go into high school they would possibly have "graduated" from preschool, preK 4, kindergarten, fourth grade, and eight grade. The year my oldest transferred from elementary to middle school (grades 5-8) I found out that eight graders were renting a boat after graduation for their own version of "project graduation/senior trip". That was just too much in my mind, and it started the wheels turning in my head telling me that maybe our family was a bit of a square peg. Maybe I needed to do something before my kids became jaded teens who already had a copy of dad's credit card and had long had a cell phone
(Full disclosure: two of mine do have cells. They got them as twelve year olds because they had, by that point, gotten more involved in things like gymnastics, children's theater, or were venturing off to nearby parks or out riding bikes and I wanted them to be able to reach me if something ended early or they got lost or hurt. Also, we, like many, did away with the landline so I wanted them to be able to call me if I ran errands and they stayed home.)
Growing So Fast, Ages 15, 11, and 12 )
Putting the brakes on the fast slide into adulthood was approximately one third of our decision to homeschool. The other two thirds deserve their own post, and will, eventually, get them. We have seen big changes since we brought them home. Good changes, to our eyes. My oldest has gone back to enjoying being outside. He isn't climbing trees or playing in the mud, but he fishes and is planning to tap a few trees with a friend. He still has fun sledding when we get a big snow. My daughter continued to play with dolls until shortly after her 12th birthday. She went from playing "babies" to dressing them up and writing scripts for them to "act out" in stop motion. The youngest? Well, he will probably be young at heart forever. He still loves bicycling, skateboarding, playing at the playground, swimming, shooting hoops in the driveway, and bouncing on the trampoline. During the summer I joke that he leaves after breakfast and we have to hunt him down and drag him home for supper and a much needed bath....and that makes this mother's heart happy!

Life Is A Journey, Not A Destination
Enjoy The Ride!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Warts and All...

Until I had children, I had only the vaguest knowledge on warts. I remember some schoolmates having them on their hands and/or fingers. I can recall one girl who said she had hers removed because it was on her right hand and interfered with her pencil grip.

When I was a teen and went to sleep away cheer camp I remember my mother sending cheap flip flops and warning me to wear them in the communal showers lest I end up with athletes foot or plantars warts. I didn't even know what a planters wart was....until I got one. Or, to be precise, I got two. One on the outer ball of each foot. I really didn't know what I had and ignored them until the pain was so bad that every step was torture. I remember holding my feet up and my mother confirming "Yup. You have plantars warts." I was grown and married by then so I knew it all (ha ha!) I bought one of the foot shaver razors, took the razor out and eradicated the warts. Oh, sweet relief!

And that was the end of warts for me. Until it wasn't. One by one, over the years my children turned up with them. First my daughter had one appear on her finger. We trotted to the doctor and had it frozen. Not one to keep her feelings bottled, she had a complete spasm when the doctor began freezing it. I was pretty sure we would be banned from his office, but he is a kind soul with a forgiving heart.

Later, my oldest son announced "Look at this!" His feet were covered in plantars warts. <insert heavy sigh> He announced that he had no interest in freezing them after his sister's procedure. I waxed poetic about cutting holes in the soles of your feet, but he wasn't having that either. So we made a trip to the pharmacy and bought some OTC wart remover. And then another bottle. And another. We weren't making progress here and I could tell because he had more warts, not less. In desperation, I turned to the internet. That is where I read that lemon essential oil can kill warts.  "Oh I have a bottle of that", I thought. I grabbed it from the box in the floor of my closet and chucked it into his room. "Here", I said," put a drop on each wart twice a day." Then, like the good mother I am, I forgot all about it. Months later he brought me the empty bottle. "This works", he announced. What? For real?! Hmmm, maybe I needed to look at my essential oils again.

Lemon Essential Oil Has Been Proven To Cure Plantars Warts
I sifted through things and extracted them from the closet. I hopped online and began reading about essential oils. These were some amazing claims! People treating ADHD, insomnia, thyroid disorders, wrinkles, cuts. There was even a blend of oils that was supposed to help protect you from catching all the nasty germs flying around when you left your hermetically sealed bubble house. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! We needed all the things! So I got ready to order and that is when the fun began. Do you know how many different essential oil companies there are? No? Me neither, but it's a bunch. I turned to my Facebook friends where I came to find that many already knew about these fabulous oils. Some were even extremely brand loyal. I went into information overload and decided to just sample some of this and a little of that to see what I liked best. Turns out, I'm not terribly brand loyal. For single oils, I like one company. For blends, another. Sometimes one company didn't have a blend specific to my needs and another did, so I spread my pocketbook around. To be honest, I like them all. I've had good results with them all.

So by the time my youngest son showed me the massive wart growing under his toenail, I was armed and ready. I had already soaked up all the knowledge about the powerful blend of oils purportedly used by robbers during the plague. I had even already used up a bottle. What?! I didn't HAVE that on hand? Nope, but I did have an arsenal of single oils. As it turns out you can find close to a billion (maybe less) recipes for most of the popular blends. A few brave souls have even blended blends to create special new blends! I clicked through almost every link I turned up, and this is the one that I decided to use:

Defend Blend Oil and Epsom Salt/Baking Soda Mix

I poured this into a 15 mL bottle that I had left over from another essential oil, then I typed up a label "Defend" and taped it on the bottle with scotch tape. It actually doesn't look too bad, a little like an old time-y prescription. To my nose, this smells extremely close to if not identical to the original pre-blended oil that I had. To treat my youngest child's recent wart, I mix two or three drops of the Defend blend, two or three drops of lavender oil, and a drop or two of copaiba oil with 2/3 cup of baking soda and 1/3 cup of epsom salt in a small basin. Then I run warm water in the basin, stir it up, and have him soak his foot. Once he has dried off, we apply a single drop of a special blend I made for warts that contains oregano, lemon, and tee tree oil. In less than a week, the wart has started to come off and the nail bed underneath looks healthy. Once the nail regrows, he will be as good as new.
 Hopefully, he sees the same result that my oldest child did and the wart will be a thing of the past.

* All links in above post are affiliate links to Amazon. These were the oils I used in creating my Defend blend for personal use. All photos in the above post are mine, please do not reuse them without contacting me first. *