Vermiculture for kids

December 3rd, 2017

I decided to start composting using worms to speed things up and reduce the smell and flies, and I wanted to start with a controlled environment so I choose to start with an indoor worm farm, aka vermiculture.

First I ordered the worm “house”, then I was looking at purchasing worms online. I was planning on purchasing the “Uncle Jims” brand worms, but then I found the Arizona Worm Farm about a half an hour from my house. I planned a trip after getting my vermi-hut (so I would have a place to put the worms when I brought them home) and took a couple of my kids with me to get them.

After bringing home the worms, I setup the worm “house” and soaked the coco-core which came with it in water, then my kids took over and it was the best I could do to keep up with them while reading the directions in the provided manual that came with the VermiHut.

I knew the worms would be an attraction but I was pleasantly surprised at how hands on my kids got. I barely got to see the worms because they were so into it. ūüôā

vermiculture for kids

My kids took over the setup of our new VermiHut.

Beet Kvass for Post Nasal Drip

May 5th, 2012

I learned about a great way to find relief from sinus allergies recently. It started with home delivery of local organic produce from Natures Garden Delivered here in Arizona, which gave me easy access to a much wider variety of fruits and vegetables than I even knew existed.

One day I was looking through the list of items I could exchange in my box the next week and I saw beets. This reminded me of the beet kvass I made years ago when we lived in Portland and had raw milk delivered to our cohousing community. One a side note, I think red beets are better suited for making beet kvass than either chioggia beets (which I call zebra beets because of the stripes inside) or golden beets. I’ve tried all 3 kinds, the chioggia beets make a light pink color kvass and the golden beets make a pale yellow kvass.

We’d been getting raw milk for several months from, a local organic dairy farm in the Phoenix area (visit to help you find a source local to you). One week we didn’t use as much so there was leftover milk, so I decided to make whey by taking some raw milk out of the fridge and letting it sit in a jar on the counter for a couple days until it separated into curds and whey, then pouring it through a cheesecloth to separate the curds from the whey. Then I think I ate the curds and put the whey back in the fridge. More details and instructions for producing whey are on page 87 of Nourishing Traditions.

Once I had whey ready in a jar back in the fridge, I then added locally grown organic beets to my next delivery of the organic produce box using the user friendly order customization interface (at

When I first started doing this in January I drank about a gallon or two per week of beet kvass so I could keep ordering beets every week in my produce box (and because it felt so good to have relief from post nasal drip). I ended up getting a urinary tract infection and passing 4 kidney stones one day because I had effectively replaced my water intake with beet kvass for several weeks.

This recipe is in the “Tonics and Superfoods” section, not the Beverages section of the Nourishing Traditions cookbook, and now I understand why. The Tonics section starts with this paragraph:

The following tonics are offered for their medicinal rather than epicurean qualities. They are useful for fasting and detoxification. Caution: Fasting should only be undertaken under a doctor’s supervision. Consult a qualified health practitioner for the treatment of all serious disease conditions.

I had gotten carried away and drank the tonic like it was water, which is why I got into trouble. So I took a month or two off from drinking beet kvass before making a new batch, which I only do once every other month or so now. I am careful to stick to a small cup of it per day (when I’m most congested) and drink plenty of water throughout the day now. Last night I had some after dinner because we had pizza.

This is a great way to help resolve post nasal drip when I’m not experiencing other sinus issues. I’ve written other articles about how I reduce nasal congestion and deal with sinus infections.

Indoor Allergies? Get New Furnace Filters!

April 24th, 2012

This spring has been challenging for us in terms of allergies, the pollen combined with no rain in Phoenix to clean the air meant that we were sneezing and wheezing often over the last few weeks. Last night I had a dream that I couldn’t breathe and ended up breathing through my mouth and waking up exhausted (and sneezing) this morning.

I knew it had been 2-3 months since I changed the furnace filters so after dropping off the first batch of kids to their elementary school I took the two younger ones to Lowes and bought the best air filters I could get (the ones with the highest performance rating). We have 2 A/C units with 2 air intakes each so for 4 filters I ended up spending over $80. We plan to move to Prescott in another month or so, but I want to be healthy in the meantime.

After we got home I replaced all 4 filters and turned on both furnace fans to clean out the air. I can honestly say I haven’t sneezed since, and I haven’t heard anyone else either. It’s amazing how much better I feel now in my own home! Now I think the air quality is better inside than out, and I look forward to a good night’s sleep tonight. ūüôā

I remember last time I bought filters I couldn’t find the high quality ones in both sizes I needed (maybe I was at Home Depot then). I bet that most of the air went through the poor filters due to the reduced resistance in those, so this time I’m glad I got good filters all around. If you have trouble finding good filters in your size at your local store you can check out Achoo Allergy to find the specific size you need.

How I work at home with young children

April 8th, 2012

Sometimes people ask me how I get any work done at home with five little kids running around.  I thought about this the other day when two of them were arguing and came to me at my desk in order to plead their cases against each other.  I told them I wanted them to work out their differences between themselves and hoped for the best.

I was actually listening to a guided meditation at the time from the “In the Vortex” CD from Abraham-Hicks publications. ¬†I had it playing on my phone and just happened to be sitting at my desk when they tried to pull me into their argument. ¬†Fortunately their scuffle¬†dissipated when I showed firmness in staying centered and not taking sides. ¬†Sometimes one or two of the kids will even join me when I listen, that’s always nice.

I read “The Vortex” book, but the most useful tool to me has been the¬†guided meditations with background music which I copied onto my computer and my phone (and my next phone and the one after that – they don’t last as long as computers it seems). ¬†There are four different topics to choose from with positive affirmations about each topic in 15 minute “songs” on the CD.

I can pick one and play it on my phone sometime in the morning wherever I am (usually somewhere in the house) in order to help me relax. ¬†Then I’m able to get into a good feeling place that helps me to be focused and productive in my work so I can enjoy time with my family when I get to a stopping point later. ¬†It also helps me to be more flexible and understanding of interruptions throughout the day, both from my kids and from clients calling about issues to be addressed.

How I got my son to take a nap

August 27th, 2011

I feel very proud of myself, because I was able to get my 3 year old son (who doesn’t like naps) to go to sleep while his 8 year old brother was playing in the same room next to his bed and all three other kids were up playing as well (even coming in the room on occasion to ask me something). If you have children who don’t like to take naps or even sleep at all you’ll understand how big of an achievement this is. But first I’ll provide a context to help you understand why this was so important for us today.

My Son - Napping

In the morning I had spoken to their grandma who wanted to take the older kids to see a movie in the afternoon. The last time I tried to take Hani to a movie I almost lost him because he kept wandering off and wouldn’t stay in a seat (even in my lap). Apparently Popper’s Penguins were not as interesting to him as the lights on the floor (for the walkways) or the rows of folding seats or the multitude of people (including many children, some his age that he probably wanted to play with) sitting and staring at the screen. Or even the curtain under the screen or the hallway outside the theater or… just about anything but the movie.

I took the kids to the children’s museum in the morning to give them something to do since it was too hot to even swim before sundown. I packed a lunch this time so we could eat when we wanted and we wouldn’t have to wait in line for it. After arriving back home I got a confirmation call from grandma to decide on the movie and the time she would pick them up. It was about an hour away so I told her I would try to get Hani to sleep so he wouldn’t see everyone else leave for the movie. We had already had lunch but I made a fruit/veggie smoothie for us to share as a snack. Then Hani brought me a snack pack of fig newtons and asked me if he could have it. I told him he could share it if he laid down with me afterwards (I wanted every advantage I could get).

After Hani finished the fig newtons I asked him if he was ready to lay down with me in my bed. He said no, but I reminded him of our agreement and ushered him into his room (as the alternative to my bed). I was a bit disappointed because I was tired and wanted an excuse to rest, but I stayed the course, undaunted by his resistance and change of plans. I put him into his bed and was going to try and lay down with him, but he told me to get off his bed so I agreed if he would lay down and close his eyes. Then I pulled out my phone and started a lullaby app which I had installed a few days ago. He complained that everybody else wasn’t laying down (the other kids were up playing, throughout the house) but I just empathized with him and turned up the music.

Less than 10 minutes later (after trying to relax while sitting against the wall) I realized he had fallen asleep so I got up and started reminding the kids to get their shoes on. He stayed asleep until about an hour after the others left for the movie when he woke up crying, but I just went back and turned on the app again (I had removed my phone in case it would ring) and he fell right back asleep.

So how did this work? Here are the six things I did to help manifest this much needed nap for my son amidst a cacophony of boisterous juveniles:

  1. The trip in the morning gave him plenty of stimulation and got him tired
  2. I made sure his tummy was full but not stuffed
  3. I made an agreement about him laying down (for the fig newtons) that I felt good about holding him to later
  4. I stayed with him until he went to sleep and made sure he stayed in bed
  5. I gave him empathy without trying to ‘fix’ whatever he protested about
  6. The soft piano music (lullaby) helped give him something to focus his attention on besides the joyful noise of 4 other kids playing in the house