Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Here we are on Day 4. Yesterday I complained that my digestion seemed to have stalled. Well, it’s fixed! It’s the best it’s been in four years, which – well, it’s hard to explain just how huge that is.

My skin on day 4 of recovering from a coconut/nut allergy reaction

My skin on day 4 of recovering from a coconut/nut allergy reaction

My skin is improving every day, and the ulcers and blisters everywhere else are much better, too.

Also, my headache has improved no end.

I have to confess that I did not go to Pilates this morning. For one thing, I only stopped work at 1AM, and the prospect of getting up at 5AM was more than I could manage. But also, the aching around my right ovary, while improving, is not actually better. And Pilates makes it worse.

I have a cunning plan, though. I will either unearth my Pilates DVDs or find a good YouTube Pilates channel, get up early every morning, and do it here. Then I should get stronger, and maybe in a month or so I can go back.

Because I’m back to eating clean, obviously sugar is off the list. And dairy. And with them, chocolate.

A life without chocolate is chaos.

So yesterday I had no choice but to make brownies. As you do.

If you’ve been here a while, you’ll know that I’m a HUGE fan of Chocolate Covered Katie, and her no-bake brownies are The Bomb! Since I can’t have nuts, though, I had to improvise. I have tried a range of seed substitutes, but actually the best solution was what I did last night: simple sunflower seeds.

This is the easiest recipe ever, and these chocolatey heavenly squares of goodness are the most amazing snack/soul food ever.

sugar-free dairy-free gluten-free vegan browniesHere’s my variation of Katie’s no-bake gluten-free sugar free dairy-free low-carb vegan brownies of awesomeness


  • 250g dates, soaked in black filter coffee for 20 – 30 minutes
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds, thoroughly smooshed in the blender
  • 6 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 2 tsp unsweetened brewed black filter coffee (because coffee)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence (optional – I’m not a fan personally)


  • Blend everything together until it makes a smooth paste (and, as an aside, can someone please donate me a totally awesome blender than smooshes the living daylights out of seeds and dates?)
  • Line a baking tray with wax paper.
  • Spread the smooshed goodness you’ve just created all over the wax paper.
  • Exercising every ounce of self-control you can muster, leave the mixture in the fridge for two hours to firm up.
  • Cut it. Serve it*. Eat it.

*Note: serving does not imply sharing. Just saying.


About Time

The Secret to Work-Life Balance is Trusting that it will all be okay in the endWhen I was little, I used to listen to the older and wiser people in my life.
(And I read a lot.)

I picked up a common thread.

“I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time.”
“I wish I had spent more time with my family.”
“I wish I had spent more time with my kids.”
“I wish I had spent more time on what really matters.”

I vowed to learn from those older, wiser folk. I promised myself I would use my time wisely.
Focus on things that really mattered. Be wise myself.

As I got older, I thought that’s what I was doing.

Yet the more I did, the less satisfied I felt.

I was tired and irritable, and the important things seemed to be flashing past me before I had a moment to grab hold of them.

I imagined that having children would give me such a slap of perspective that I’d automatically get my priorities right. Especially since I was already focused on doing so.

But when I had kids, all I could think of was earning enough to give them everything they need. And I don’t mean horse riding lessons and ski trips every holiday.

I mean food.
A place to stay.

You know – important stuff.

Here’s what I discovered: important stuff clashes with important stuff. Spending time with my family clashes with supporting my family.

(And just between you and me, I have no idea how to fix that.)

I started to think that it would be terribly useful to meet one of those older, wiser people who, with the benefit of wisdom and experience, had discovered the true value of spending time with family (especially kids), and was making that discovery a practical reality in his or her life.

I really felt that there’d be a whole lot of wisdom and learning to glean from such a person.

Recently, I was lucky enough to find just such a person. He’s a colleague and a mentor. His business trajectory so far very closely mirrors mine. His kids are similar relative ages to mine (just twenty-odd years older, of course).

His life took some turns I hope mine won’t, such as divorce. But otherwise, I could see that I could learn a lot from this guy.

The best part (for me) is the fact that he has a daughter not much younger than my youngest.  So even though he has adult children (and even a grandchild), he also has the opportunity to live out the wisdom he learned in his younger years.

Whenever we’d speak, he’d remind me that time spent with family – especially children – is by far the most valuable investment of your time.

We both agree on this point.

But as we worked together, I started to notice a troubling trend: he has even less time available for his kids than I do. Seriously. And that’s saying something.

So really, I don’t have an answer. Maybe when I am old and wise, I will have a clearer idea of how these things work.

But I’m starting to think the best thing – the only thing – to do is to make peace with it.

I’m not saying “go with the flow” (although often that IS good advice). I’m not saying don’t make improvements if they’re there to be made.

It’s just that, sometimes, I’ll be working flat-out, and my kids will pick that moment – in the middle of that deadline – to have a meltdown. There go two hours of work. Two hours of sleep. Two hours of keeping a promise to a client … But they’re two precious hours that I’ve given my child, and that I don’t regret. Sleep deprivation and all.

Sometimes it goes the other way: the kids are doing something amazingly fun and I’d love to join them, but work beckons and deadlines must – and can – be met. Then the deadlines win.

In the end, I hope it all balances out. I really hope the clients are patient and understanding, and happy enough with my work that they don’t find someone with fewer time commitments. I hope my children are healthy and balanced enough to know that sometimes putting them first meant putting their physical needs (clothes, food, shelter) ahead of their desire to spend time with me.

I hope they all forgive me.

I hope it all turns out okay.

And I choose to trust that it will.


(This is really just a journal of my SCD/recovery journey, so that next time I am tempted to try a teaspoon of Rolo ice-cream or a handful of crisps, I don’t. Please feel no obligation whatsoever to read or engage with these posts.)

Coconut/nut skin allergy reaction on my face - day 3 of healing

Coconut/nut skin allergy reaction on my face – day 3 of healing

Just a quick update … yesterday I shot to the chemist to grab something – anything – to sooth my flaming skin. My kind and friendly chemist gave me Mylocort cortisol cream, and recommended I apply it frequently.


I did, along with the SilverGenesis gel.

This morning, it looks a whole lot better >>

Yesterday I had a raging headache all day, and the two aspirins I took did nothing to relieve it. Today is much better though: it’s just simmering now, and the rage has passed.

My gut aches and my digestion seems to have paused. It could be because I ran out of enzymes, although I’d hoped that the probiotics and homeopathic digestive drops and tissue salts might conspire to get things moving. Especially since I have officially eaten NO starch in three and a half days.


Starting Somewhere

Establishing a baseline for pending life changesDay 2 of the blog challenge, and day 2 of eating really clean. (Does coffee count?)

My raging headache has matured into a simmering migraine, and I’m actually thinking of taking a short nap.

I thought I’d get the week started with some stats so that I can track my progress.


I weigh 66kg and I’m a size 36. Not that I am specifically looking to lose weight, but it helps to know where I’m starting.


I apply rubbing alcohol to my suppurating blisters every morning and evening. If you imagine this would sting a little, you’re wrong. It burns like Billy-Oh and takes every ounce of willpower I have not to say the very bad words I’m thinking.

I follow that with calamine lotion.

Throughout the day, I apply Silver Genesis Skin Hygiene Super HydroGel, which seems to be, basically, colloidal silver suspended in aloe vera gel. It seems to be improving things:

bad skin - day 2

Update on my bad skin – day 2

There’s still a long way to go, though. I have to present a marketing strategy to the board at one of my clients’ this evening, and so far I have no idea how I will look presentable for this.

Other than that, I take a combo of vitamins every day, including Staphysagria powder from my homeopath. I also take a fairly potent probiotic, and L-Lysine every morning. The rest includes something foul-tasting called fulvic acid, drops for digestion and drops for immunity from the homeopath, and Doc Frank’s Business Owner Booster (BOB):

  • L-Carnitine
  • Chrome
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin D3
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Coenzyme Q10

Every evening I swallow a capful of colloidal silver.

Besides these things, I do Pilates once a week, and I’m supposed to do homework every day. I usually do the homework, but I’m pretty sure I’m not doing it right. I think I’m going to give the Pilates a break, because it hurts my lower back and makes the ache in my gut/ovary worse.

And I get way too little sleep – an average of 4-6 hours a night. I usually do nothing but sit at my desk working, fetch kids from school, and buy groceries. Every day of every week; every month of the year.

So that’s where we’re starting from.

Let’s see how it goes from here.



h o t - a i rIf you’re still reading this very sparsely and inconsistently updated blog, then consider this fair warning: things are about to get really dull.

This is for two reasons. First of all, I’ve set myself the goal of blogging every day for the next thirty days. (No, I’m not really sure why …)

Second, I am restarting my SCD plan.

It’s been four years (almost to the day) since I started my SCD journey. (It starts here.)

It lasted just on a year, and it was one of the most effective years of my life. I lost weight. I had energy. My skin cleared up* (sort-of). And my brain worked. Also – my digestion worked.

The thing is, towards the end of that year on SCD, my skin actually stopped being clear in what can only be described as a very dramatic way. It’s a bit too gross to describe in a public forum  but basically, I had break-outs everywhere.

It took a long time to get to the bottom of that skin issue. Eventually, it turned out that I had developed an allergy to coconut. Maybe I always had one. I don’t know. The point is, now I can’t eat coconut.

That’s a little bit of a challenge, because coconut and nut flours form the basis of most of the SCD recipes that aren’t simply meat and vegetables.

Anyway, since getting to the bottom of the coconut thing, my skin did clear up. I have eased up on the eating plan and basically just follow a gluten-free eating plan now.

It includes potatoes and potato crisps. It also includes gluten-free flour, baked goods,  pasta, and pizza bases. The upside is that I picked up some of the weight I lost on SCD. Then some more. Then all of it. Then some more again.

At which point it stopped being an upside.

I also slowly started introducing dairy products, like cheese and yoghurt. The yoghurt (no matter how whole and pure, and even goat’s milk yoghurt) makes my throat, nose and chest close up. So that’s off the list.

Everything else seemed to be okay, but in recent months I feel like my health has steadily declined again. (Of course, it could be all the late nights. My gut is bloating and something that feels very like my right ovary is incredibly sore pretty much all the time.

On Wednesday I ate a gluten-free rusk, without checking the ingredients (#RookieMove!). It had coconut and nut flour. By the end of the day my jaw line had started to itch. The next morning, I had itchy bumps lining the lower part of my face, and the skin had started turning red.


bad skin 17 Jul 2016

My Skin on Day 1

Now, Sunday, my face is a mess. It’s itchy and blotchy and ugly – and all from just one stupid rusk. Which actually tasted a lot like chipboard, if I’m honest.


So here’s the plan: SOMETHING in my diet is hurting and fogging my brain, growing my gut, scarring my face, and causing me belly pain.

So it’s back to SCD. Except without any dairy, nuts, or coconut. Which leaves meat, veg … and maybe some seeds. We shall see.

This is day one.



Mama ain't Proud of you

There. I said it.

You got 98% for your spelling test? Well, sure. You’ve been drilling those words into your brain for a week. Should I be concerned about the fact you’ll probably never use the word “bipartisan” in a sentence again … at least for another twenty years? And that even then you probably won’t know what it means?


You got an A+.

That’s all that matters, right?

Well, I’ve a got a secret for you: I am not proud of you.

don’t think it was a good idea for you to skip break to “get ahead” in your English. And I definitely don’t admire your teacher for letting you do so.

(And don’t even get me started on keeping kids in at break as punishment for not being able to sit still. That’s like depriving someone of oxygen as punishment for breathing too deeply. Kids need to play!)

When you come home with loads of homework and spend all afternoon doing it – even skipping Family Movie Night to study before tomorrow’s big test – I am not pleased. I admit that I admire your tenacity. It’s great that you’re doing what you committed to do. I’m pleased that you’ve found something that is important to you, and I’m very glad that you have the self-motivation to make sure you achieve your goal.

But, Honey, here’s the thing. Why do you care so much? It’s just a test. It means nothing. Frankly, if the teacher hasn’t managed to convey enough in six hours every … single … day … for you to be able to pass a Grade 4 test, what on earth has she been doing with her time?

And do you honestly, truly care about fault lines and plate tectonics? I mean, if you do, fantastic! Let’s study the crap out of those things! Let’s make models and do experiments and really understand the whole fandango.

But I know you. And I know that all you care about is that grade. That 98%. That A.

Why is it so important to you? Why would you give up your afternoons, evenings, and weekends for it? Especially when you’re only 10 years old?

I am not proud of that.

Frankly, I’ve failed.

Because you should be outside, playing. Climbing trees. Building forts. Covering yourself and everything else for twenty feet in thick, sticky mud that makes me want to cry when I think of the laundry I’ll have to do.

That would make me proud.

My friends on social media all post status updates and photos of their kids – JJ just won this award for science. Amy just became a prefect. Susanna came first in her class. They’re all so proud of their kids.

But not this Mama.

Your success is not a number on a piece of paper. Your success is finding your self in the midst of this crazy, noisy world. When you have the courage to tell people – firmly – that you will not hug them, I am proud of you. When you can gently but truthfully tell your best friend you’re “peopled out” when she asks to play … and when she graciously accepts that … I am proud of you both.

When you then realise you would LOVE to see her, and you have the courage to change your mind without shame or guilt, I know you’re growing inside. When she is happy to spend the afternoon with you without a shade of bitterness or malice, I know her parents are doing a good job.

When you feel your friend’s pain, and weep quietly for her when she’s not here, I love you to the shattering, splintered ends of my bursting heart. When you ask me to advise you on how to counsel her, and trust that I will understand that you won’t ever tell me the whole story (because it’s not yours to tell), I admire and respect you. I would move the earth for you.

When you forgive the unforgivable sinner, young and innocent though you are, knowing (as you do) that he will never, ever apologise … my darling, then I am proud of you.

Because those are the things that really matter in this life. And they have nothing to do with fault lines or sentence diagramming or times tables or dates and maps.


It’s a digital age, and the debate for and against the use of electronics rages back and forth. We’re told that it isn’t safe for our children to spend so much time online, or behind electronic devices of every kind.

They need to play!

That’s the war cry from every camp.

Proponents of unlimited electronic access claim that this IS playing in the new millennium, while the opposition insists it is harmful for both the brain and the body – not what playing is supposed to be at all.

My approach to life is to take all the views and consider them, then do what I was going to do anyway. Sometimes what I’ve learned along the way influences what I end up doing … This means that, at times, I have seriously held to each of these views.

But now, like a real grown up, I have my own views. So here they are:

5 reasons why I don't limit my children's exposure to electronics

5 Reasons Why I Don’t Limit My Children’s Exposure to Electronics

  1. I don’t want to.
    I keep searching my gut for some kind of feeling that says, “No, this is wrong. They’ve fried their little growing minds with too many electronic inputs. Make them stop!” But it never happens. I can’t find it. And, seriously, my “STOP IT!” gut reflex is VERY strong. If I’m not hearing it, it ain’t there.

  2. Even if they spent all day plugged into some device or other, they’d be spending less time attached to electronics than either of their parents do.
    We do this for a living, and we love it. I don’t think it’s wrong or hypocritical for parents to say, “Do as I SAY, not as I do” … I do think that there are times when that response is precisely reasonable and valid. So it’s not that I think I’d be a hypocrite if I gave them less access to electronics than I have.

    It’s just one of the ways our family enjoys time alone together … like reading, watching a movie, going to an art gallery, or taking long walks. We don’t have to be doing the same thing at the same time, or even talking, to be having quality time. This is one of the benefits of being an introvert – or a family of introverts!
  3. I’m interested in them doing what interests them.
    And the things they do on these devices interest them a lot. People learn best when they get to follow their interests. My kids have improved their reading and research skills. They have a bigger vocabulary and a wider range of interests generally now.

    They have their own tastes – music, hobbies, people, clothes – than they ever could have gleaned from me alone. They have had safe exposure to all kinds of people – people I could never have found and introduced them to. They have career interests that didn’t even exist five years ago. And they have the confidence that comes from knowing they could learn ANYTHING. Between sites like Khan Academy, Wikipedia, and YouTube, there’s nothing you could want to know and not be able to learn. And they’re teaching themselves stuff all the time.

  4. I wouldn’t ban them from going to school as a punishment, so I won’t stop them from spending time on electronics. It’s how they learn. And it’s what they love. Besides, they don’t really do things that need punishing. #JustSaying.

  5. These are life skills they’re learning.
    No matter what they do for a living, it will involve something electronic, somewhere along the way. In Goldilocks’ case, she’s already using the web to earn a fair amount of pocket money, and she has big plans for a future career based entirely online. The sooner she acquires and masters those skills the better, in my opinion.

    I feel that I am empowering my children with the skills to keep up with the future. And if they can learn to do things like programming and design along the way, so much the better. So many doors open up when you have these skills. And no one online cares how old you are. If a thirteen-year-old could give you a great, mobile-responsive website, and you didn’t know the developer as just a teenager, you’d be delighted with the result. And that teenager would be empowered by having learned and used real world skills.

Here are some things my kids do a LOT of, that don’t involve electronics:

  • Climb trees
  • Climb jungle gyms
  • Swim
  • Ride bikes (depending on where we live at the time)
  • Make tree houses
  • Make wendy houses
  • Make fairy houses
  • Make doll houses
  • Make doll clothes
  • Weave complex narratives for their newly outfitted dolls
  • Write novels
  • Create puppet shows and plays
  • Jump on trampolines
  • Play in the ocean
  • Go for long walks
  • Play in the river
  • Play in the garden
  • Organise their rooms
  • Mess up their rooms
  • Play dress up
  • Try on makeup
  • Read stories to each other
  • Haggle at the market (and achieve samoosas or macaroons!)
  • Do their chores
  • Help with the cooking and laundry
  • Babysit
  • Study for school
  • Draw
  • Colour in
  • Paint
  • Sew
  • Make things out of clay
  • Create complex science projects
  • Run
  • Dance
  • Sing
  • Play the piano
  • Play guitar
  • Look stuff up in real books – with pages and everything!

And a whole lot more. They choose to do these things – sometimes more often than they choose to use electronics.

We need to guide them to make smart choices – choices that support their goals and their health. But we don’t achieve this by taking away their choices. They understand the consequences of their choices, and by and large they DO make good choices. Their choices are never rooted in rebellion or deceit. They are honest with us, and if we have been firm, they accept that with respect and good grace.

But that wouldn’t have happened if we had kept them away from the things they love to do simply because it seemed like they’d spent too much time on those things. The things they love to do are precisely where I want them to spend their time. These are the things that lead us to the truly joyous discoveries we make in life.

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