thealtmommy


Customizing Education
August 2, 2014, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Let’s have a discussion. Share your thoughts.

In today’s world, technology changes at a pace that our educational institutions cannot keep up with. If any of you have personally or have known someone who majored in a computer science related field you should have a total understanding of this.

In light of this, education required a complete transformation. In Classical education there is the idea that in the earlier grades K or 1 through 4th, children are in the “poll-parrot” stage, that is they are still like little sponges ready to soak up much new information. This is considered the ideal time for teaching facts. I do agree with this aspect of Classical education.

Beyond this stage, I feel, it is most important to teach children HOW to learn. After they learn the rudiments of math, grammar, and science and the basic facts of the social sciences and history, they should then be focused on how to learn. I feel that the best way to do this is through their passions. This was the driving idea behind the educational reform movements of the 1960s which were popularized by John Holt and are the foundation of the democratic Sudbury Schools.

Traditional education says the exact opposite. They continue to teach the same information across the board to all students. Those who aren’t interested in the information likely forget it once the tests have been passed and the course is over.

Is there a way, in public schools with their large classes, to give children this type of education? I fear that there is not. This is what causes the conflict I have about whether or not I should homeschool my child. I’m just curious on what other people feel about this subject.



TheAltMommy takes on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby
June 30, 2014, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I was going to make this a Facebook status, but I knew it would be too long.  This may be my only post before I go back into hiatus again.  I just couldn’t keep quiet about this one.

Hobby Lobby argues that providing access to all forms of contraceptives, including IUD’s and the morning after pill, violates their religious beliefs because they believe that life begins at conception.  Even though the science is there to prove that the morning after pill does NOT cause an abortion, the United States Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby because it causes a “substantial burden” to the corporation’s religious beliefs.

Now, where to start with the problems of this verdict?

First of all, the morning after pill is not an aborticacient, nor is any other form of contraceptive covered by the Birth Control Mandate in the Affordable Care Act.  This is a well-known FACT in the medical science community.  It isn’t up for debate at all. In my opinion, if you are even remotely pro-life you should be absolutely in favor of birth control.  You know what prevents abortion?  Not getting pregnant in the first place.  I guess Hobby Lobby hasn’t received that memo yet.

Second, Hobby Lobby does not have any religious beliefs.  Corporations don’t believe anything.  I spent years in the church and reading the Bible, but I do not recall reading about Jesus dying for any corporation’s sin.  I guess they left that part out in our Sunday sermons as well.  The beliefs of the owners should not be forced onto their employees.  Sadly, the Roberts court has shown once again that the rights of corporations trump the rights of actual living beings.

The reasoning behind this decision is that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act prohibits “Government [from] substantially buren[ing] a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” (taken from the SCOTUS opinion).  The SCOTUS argues that the RFRA intended to use the dictionary definition of person which includes both flesh-and-blood people and the fictional entity known as corporate personhood in which a corporation can be deemed a legal person.  I beg to differ.  Nobody in 1993 could have foreseen the Roberts court and their pro-corporation right wing extremism.

Your beliefs are just that, YOUR beliefs.  Insurance exists to help cover people’s medical costs.  Your boss should not be able to control the medical procedures that your insurance covers.  Hobby Lobby is a craft store; they aren’t doctors or scientists.  They shouldn’t be able to just pick and choose what is and is not morally acceptable.  The exact same thing can be said about the justices, all of whom are men, that ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby.

We all need to live and let live.  We should want people to be healthy and happy.  If you’ve made it this far, I’ll reveal to you why this is such a huge issue to me.  If you don’t already know, I almost died after I delivered my daughter.  I suffered from a rare condition known as HELLP syndrome.  If I were to choose to get pregnant again I have a roughly 1 in 4 chance of getting it again.  The death rate for HELLP syndrome is also approximately 1 in 4.  I could literally die if I were to get pregnant.  Obviously I take precautions to prevent that, but I have not had a tubal ligation yet.  Should my insurance-providing employer not cover contraceptives for me?

Everybody has a different story and a different reason for needing access to family planning services.  This issue is between a woman and her doctor.  This has nothing to do with religion.  Nobody has their rights violated just because a woman is given the type of medical care she needs and deserves.



Sustainable Sunday: Coconut Oil
August 18, 2013, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

If there is one product I absolutely could not live without, it is coconut oil.  I don’t think it has even been a year since I started using it, but I am so hooked on it.  It became an instant necessity once I bought my first jar.  It is such a versatile product that it should be considered a “must-have” by anybody interested in a sustainable lifestyle.  Here are just a few ways that coconut oil can be used.

Toothpaste:  I hate the taste of toothpaste.  I like Tom’s of Maine peppermint fluoride-free toothpaste, but that is the only one that doesn’t make me gag.  This DIY coconut oil based toothpaste tastes just like Tom’s of Maine’s peppermint toothpaste, but it is cheaper and contains 100% natural, safe ingredients.  I just take coconut oil and baking soda in a 1:1 ratio (usually 1 TBSP each) and mix it in a small container.  I then add peppermint essential oil to my taste preference, typically around 5 drops.  That’s it.  Easy peasy.  You may need to store it in the fridge if your bathroom gets hot though.  Coconut oil melts at temperatures above 74 degrees.

Moisturizer:  Apply to skin.  Seriously, that’s it.  It works better than lotion and doesn’t contain any questionable ingredients.  It may feel a little greasy if you aren’t used to using an oil-based moisturizer, but it makes your skin so soft.  I like to put it on my feet and then put socks on.  It’s a great way to keep feet looking and feeling nice even for hippies like me who are almost always barefoot or wearing flip-flops.

Shaving aid:  There are many recipes on the Internet about using coconut oil mixed with other ingredients such as shea butter to make DIY shaving cream.  I just rub it on my skin and shave.  It leaves my skin so soft when I’m done showering and shaving.

Conditioner: My hair is naturally a bit oily so I don’t use a lot of extra conditioning products, but when I do, I use coconut oil.  Until I recently got my haircut I had major split ends.  It had been probably six months since my last hair cut.  I already use coconut oil on my face as a moisturizer every morning so I would just rub the excess oil off my hands into my hair.  It helped keep my ends from looking frizzy.  Coconut oil is also a popular choice for deep-conditioning.  Once again, there are a lot of different recipes for this online, but I’ve never tried it so I can’t honestly recommend one over the other.

Chapstick replacement: Rub on your lips.  Done. Noticing a pattern here?

Cooking: Oh yeah.  Cooking.  The reason I first purchased coconut oil.  It is perfect for sauteing.  We don’t eat a lot of fried food, but when we do fry chicken or french fries, we use coconut oil.  Using it to fry can be expensive because it requires so much.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, it keeps me from eating too much fried food.  I also replace butter with coconut oil most of the time.  Occasionally, however, I just want to taste some real butter, but if you just need the butter for texture, coconut oil is a great replacement.  It makes baked goods especially moist when used to replace vegetable oil.  I screw up every single time I try to make popcorn on the stove, but TheAltDaddy uses coconut oil to make the perfect Black Jewell popcorn.

I hope this list has been helpful for you guys.  What do you use coconut oil for?



ENERGYbits winner!
August 17, 2013, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We have a winner for the ENERGYbits contest!  It is.. Adam Hopper!  Adam, you have been notified via e-mail.  Thanks to everybody who participated.  I look forward to doing many more giveaways in the future.



DIY Household Cleaners

Last week I actually had a reasonable excuse for posting Sustainable Sunday a day late.  I was sick and spent all of Sunday laying on the couch feeling like shit.  This week… well, this is embarrassing, but I just lost track of what day it was.  I missed work Friday which threw me off balance.  Saturday, which I thought was Friday, I outlined the post.  Yesterday, which I thought was Saturday, I saved a draft of this post.  Today, I arrived at work, and realized it was Monday.  Oops.  There is actually a legitimate medical reason both for me feeling so bad last week and for my mental fogginess, but this isn’t the time to go into that.  I plan to make it into a post of its own soon enough.

Making my own cleaning products was probably the first thing I did when switching to a more sustainable lifestyle.  I did it because (a) I was concern for what I was spraying around my child and (b) I’m poor.  At that time I wasn’t using any essential oils.  As I’ve added oils to my collection I’ve added them to my cleaners both for scent and for the antibacterial properties of some oils, such as tea tree oil.  Experiment with these recipes and make them your own.  Let me know if you like them or if they inspire any new ideas.

Bleach Alternative/All Purpose Cleaner Without Vinegar

I know some people are repulsed by the smell of vinegar.  I don’t love it, but it doesn’t bother me.  I can handle it fine with a few drops of essential oils to mask the smell, but I know people who absolutely despise vinegar.  If you are one of those people, try this recipe.

3 C. Water
1/4 C. Hydrogen Peroxide
10 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil

Mix together in a spray bottle.  Use like any other all purpose cleaning spray.

Citrus-Vinegar All Purpose Cleaner

Fill a glass jar with citrus peels (orange, lemon, lime, whatever you prefer) and cover the peels with vinegar.  Let stand for at least a week, but preferably 2-3 weeks.  Strain and pour liquid into a spray bottle.  Add water to fill bottle.  Use as an all purpose spray cleaner.

Room Spray

1 C. Water
10-20 Drops of your preferred essential oil

This can be used as a scented room spray similar to Febreeze, but without all of the yucky toxic chemicals.  Depending on the quality of the oils you may need more or less.  I bought some crappy lavender oil a long time ago that I use only for the smell.  It works well for this spray.

Fabric Softener

This recipe is found all over the Internet, but it is the first DIY cleaning products I ever made so I’ll repost it here.  I have no idea who the original credit actually should go to.

6 C. Water
3 C. Vinegar
2 C. Conditioner (I buy whatever is cheap and smells good)

Boil the water.  Once it is boiling hot add in vinegar and conditioner.  Stir until well-mixed.  I store mine in an old milk jug so it is nice to have a funnel on hand.  I made one myself from a bottle of pina coloda mix.  Pour into whatever container you want to use.  I eyeball it when I pour it in the wash, but I’d say use roughly 1/4 cup per load.

I hope you guys found this helpful!  Enjoy making your own cleaning products if you aren’t already.  It is truly liberating.



ENERGYbits Review, Giveaway, and Discount Code
August 10, 2013, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Giveaway, Reviews

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a trial of ENERGYbits to sample in exchange for an honest review.

I recently had the opportunity to sample ENERGYbits 100% spirulina algae bits.  They are small bits of pressed algae that you swallow like a vitamin.   They are a whole food source of algae protein, and contain only organically grown spirulina.  Spirulina is a super food which is a great source of protein as well as a source of iron, antioxidants, a multitude of vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and electrolytes.

From one of the informational cards they sent me: “We are committed to your health.  That’s why all our ENERGYbits are 100% pure, organically grown, certified NON GMO algae that contains no sugar, caffeine, gluten, additives, animal products, chemicals or fillers of any kind.  ENERGYbits are 100% pure spirulina algae that has 64% protein, 40 nutrients, and GLA (an Omega 3), all for just one calorie per.  Remember, they are not pills.  They are BITS of green food (algae is a crop that is grown hydroponically, harvested and air dried like other crops).”

ENERGYbits are recommended as a pre-workout snack, when you’re hungry, or when you just need a little boost of energy.  I took them on days when I was working and cleaning at home.  I didn’t really notice any appetite-suppressing effect, but they were a very clean source of energy.

I was pleased with my experience with ENERGYbits.  I wasn’t feeling well and was working a lot on the days they sent them.  They gave me a subtle natural energy that helped me get through my day without feeling exhausted or needing a nap.  They don’t come on strong like energy shots or synthetic supplements.  You can definitely tell that it is a food-based source of protein.  If you’re looking for a quick heavy jolt, these aren’t going to be your thing, but if you want consistent energy in a natural and healthy way, I recommend trying them.  It was also an easy way to up my protein intake and my consumption of superfoods.

The down side: you have to swallow 30 bits for one dose.  I don’t have many problems swallowing pills so I took them 5 at a time.  For some people I can see where this would be a turn-off.  They also stink.  They smell like fish food.  This was my first time consuming spirulina so I don’t know if it always smells bad, but these definitely do.

There is also the cost.  $115 for a 1,000 count bag.  I really enjoyed the product and am planning to order some when I can afford it.  Although they work well, this price tag isn’t in everybody’s budget.

The folks at ENERGYbits were kind enough to offer a discount for my blog readers.  You can order ENERGYbits at www.energybits.com.  When ordering ENERGYbits simply use the coupon code BLOG in the coupon box for a 10% discount.

Want an even sweeter deal?  Enter below to WIN a trial size container of ENERGYbits.

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You can also find ENERGYbits on facebook and twitter.



Sustainable Sunday [a day late]: Essential Oils: Tea Tree Oil
August 5, 2013, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Essential oils are great for anybody trying to live a more sustainable life because they are so versatile.  One of the most versatile essential oils is melaleuca alternifolia better known as Tea Tree Oil.  TTO, like other essential oils, is all-natural.  It is also antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal.  I also find the smell to be pleasant.

One of the most common things I use TTO for is cleaning products.  Whenever I make my own cleaning products (mostly out of vinegar) I add TTO both for its antibacterial properties as well as to add a natural fragrance to my cleaner.  Just a few drops goes a long way!

TTO can be used to treat several skin conditions as well.  It can be used on ingrown hairs or razor burn.  I don’t have any sensitivity to TTO so it doesn’t bother me to apply it directly to the skin, but I do recommend using a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) if you aren’t sure how your skin will react or have never used it before.  It can be used to treat burn or blisters, cuts, acne and facial blemishes, athlete’s foot, and nail fungus as well.

Two things that I have NOT used TTO for yet, but want to check out are bug repellant and mold removal.  I’ve been researching these things on the Internet.  There are several different recipes, but I’ll share with you what I’ve found to be the most common recommendations:

Bug repellant: 1/2 oz of TTO to 1/2 Cup of coconut oil or olive oil.  Apply topically to your skin before going out.

Mold removal: 2tsp of TTO to 2 Cups of water.  Spray on mold.  Do not rinse.

Leave me a comment and let me know about your own experiences with TTO.  I’ll update you guys on my success using it for a bug repellant and for mold removal.




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