Why I love bats, and why you will too.

Call me crazy, but I find myself obsessing over bats. They are my favorite mammals, other than my cat, for several reasons.

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The best reason ever is that they can eat over 1200 Mosquitos an hour and can consume their body weight in insects every night! That’s right. Stupid, disease carrying, biting, poopy mosquitoes. BUHBYEEEEE

They are also great pollinators! So at night when they are flying around, they are pollinating your area so that the ecosytem can be maintained. Thank you fruit bats!

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Thirdly…they freaking ECHOLOCATE! Not all species of bats do. Fruit bats, for instance don’t echolocate at all. It is said that in a light rain, they can navigate through the raindrops(I don’t care if this is true or not), but if it is then they are basically superheroes. They are the only mammals whose front limb has adapted into a wing and are capable of true flight! And boy, are they awesome to watch at dusk dive-bombing to find all those dumb mosquitos. DIE MOSQUITOS…actually, don’t cause then the bats would leave.

Before you FREAK OUT and go all “count Dracula” horror movie about bats, yes I know they can be freaky looking. They sleep upside down for goodness sake! But take some time to consider that, yes while vampire bats do exists, they do not “suck blood”. They lap it up. Ok ok ok, calm down! I know that isn’t any better. But unless you’re in South America where some bats have been seen to be lapping up blood from a cow or goat here and there, you’re fine. (sorry South American cows)

Ok now that I’ve convinced you of their awesomeness, lets look at how to attract bats to your property.

Bat houses

Make the bats feel welcomed! Build a bat house using plywood or cedar. The rough surface will make it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house. Keep the roughest side of the wood to the inside of the house. Bat houses work best if they’re at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep. Keep the temperature between 85-100 degrees F, as bats prefer a warmer climate. To ensure this, place the bat house in a location facing the sun for the afternoon hours.  NO TREES as they are more susceptible to predators in a tree as well as too much shade.  To give ample enough room for the bats to drop before they take flight, put your bat house at least 15 feet up in the air. An east or west facing chimney is an ideal place.

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Cool, right?

Food and Water

Now that you’ve invited them home, give them food and a water source. Bird baths work well as ponds. Planting night blooming flowers can attract nocturnal garden insects, which, in turn, attracts bats! Marigolds, Dahlias, and Thyme are all good plant examples!

Screw you wasps

Make sure you check your house regularly so that you are not just making a home for bees, wasps, or hornets. Also check your house for holes before you put up your bat house! Seal and fill them as best you can. Bats can fit into a hole the size of a quarter, and we want to prevent cohabitation! After all, this roommate stays up ALL NIGHT!

Rabies

Yes, bats can carry rabies. But you’re more likely to have an encounter with a nasty raccoon or skunk than a bat. After all, they are way better at avoiding you with their echolocation than you are with your human eyes and ears. Plus, the benefit way outweighs the risk in my opinion, knowing that less than 1% of the bat population actually carry rabies. 2014-wildlife-us

Ok, so have I convinced you yet? Bats…do it…you’ll thank me later when you can enjoy your back porch without the Zika virus. Plus look how cute they can be!

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Dr. Annie Answers: Good fat, bad fat

 

In case you clicked on this post thinking it had to do with body shapes or positive body image – that’s not the fat I’m talking about here. Although, I do fully believe that there is a wide range of healthy body shapes out there and that no person should feel shame about theirs. I digress…

What I’m actually writing about here is the fat we eat. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you should be at least a bit aware that ‘trans fats’ are BAD and ‘omega-3 oils’ are GOOD. I’m going to both give you a bit more detail and also simplify it at the same time. **As always, this blog post is meant to give you information and not as personal medical advice since I am not your personal doctor. **

For decades, people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity have been told to follow a “healthy low-fat diet”. That is an oxymoron. It turns out, that exact advice has been a huge driving force in the EPIDEMIC rise in all of the above conditions.  We are just now starting to get a grip on the actual data and the conclusion is undeniable: a diet very high in healthy fats and very low in carbohydrates can prevent and reverse that damage. There are a tiny handful of people with specific health conditions in which they have to limit fat intake. You are probably not one of them.

Good fats go into your body and provide steady energy, a vehicle to transport important nutrients and hormones around, and keep your blood vessels and nerves healthy. Bad fats get in there and gum up the machinery, clog those arteries and often carry harmful things in with them. Your body needs a LOT of those good fats, probably more than you think.

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I have to admit, I too was a skeptic for a time. Enter Whole30 diet in which you eat only vegetables, fruits, meats (SO much meat), nuts, seeds and eggs for 30 days and NO grains, legumes, dairy, sweeteners of ANY kind, alcohol, soy or chemical additives. You aren’t supposed to track calories but I was curious – on average I was eating about 100-120 grams of fat per DAY, lots of it saturated. And you know what? I lost 15 pounds and 2 pant sizes and felt like a freaking super-hero by the end. Depression better, sleep better, skin better, energy better. It just works.

So, how is one to navigate this?? There are a few simple rules.

  1. No reduced-fat versions of foods.
  2. Not all fats are created equal, increase the good, limit the bad
  3. If something is high-fat, try to choose the highest-quality.

Want a little more detail? Read on, my friend!

Rule 1: Choose the full-fat version

“Whaaaaaaaaat?”, You say. Not even low-fat yogurt?? No. We are evolved to like the taste of fat. When fat is removed from foods, food manufacturers have to replace it with something – both for the volume lost and also for the flavor. The answer in most cases is carbs/sugar and salt – both of which have a huge body of evidence to show they are harmful. Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and multiple cancers included in the ‘harm’.

Moreover, when you have less fat, you have to eat more to feel satisfied because of the way hunger signals translate from stomach to brain. That big old bolus of sugar/carbs you ate instead causes an insulin spike that stores away fat in your body (no thank you extra stored fat!) and then crashes into hunger soon after. Higher fat foods, however cause almost no insulin spike. Check out the difference:

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Insulin over time after eating pure carbohydrate vs pure protein vs pure fat.

So, does this mean I can eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, a steak with butter on it for lunch and breatwurst wrapped in more bacon for dinner as part of this healthy low-carb, high fat diet? Um, no. (though there are some interesting studies in which people did just that…). Most people would still say your diet should include plenty of non-starchy plants (aka not potatoes, corn, peas or carrots). Half or more of your plate should be vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, greens, bok-choy, asparagus….. or sometimes fruits like so:

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Rule 2: Know Good vs Bad fats

So which are which? Nuts, seeds and fruits tend to have healthy fats and should be the largest source of your fats. Newsflash: corn (aka Canola), soy, cottonseed, palm fruit and peanut oils do NOT fall in this category. Coconuts, tree nuts, sunflower seeds are great for eating and their oils for cooking.

And, yes, I said fruits. Avocados and olives are fruits with hella good fat content (California joke). Good fats can also come from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and trout – or for the more adventurous palate, sardines and mackerel. Good quality meats and dairy can also be a great source – more on what “good quality” means below. If you have to buy the cheap cuts – limit these a bit.

The worst fats are the ones humans have done something ‘advanced’ to that alters them. Ask yourself: Is it is a processed ‘food product’ like margarine or Doritos? Bad. Did the animal or plant it came from have it’s natural lifestyle disrupted for mass production? Bad. Did it come from a lab – aka trans fats and hydrogenated oils? SO SO BAD.  Avoid, avoid, avoid. Also, avoid heating liquid oils (canola, olive, avocado, etc..) to high heat as this can create carcinogens (cancer-causers). Better to use coconut, ghee (butter), or animal fat.

Rule 3: Choose High Quality Fats

Some of you might be thinking at this point… is this what that Atkins Diet was saying? Yes and no. The Atkins Diet skims over the high-quality vs low-quality fat delineation and just says: increase fat, lower carbs. This is a good step in the right direction. However, the quality of the fat also matters, and I’ll tell you why.

Most things that we put into our bodies can be categorized in one of 2 ways – fat soluble or water soluble. In a huge simplification, that means that it can get through your gut and into the rest of your body by ‘riding’ on a fat or with water. Vitamin D, for example, is fat-soluble. So you want to take it after eating some fat. Vitamin C, however, is water soluble so can be taken with just water. This also goes for nasty stuff you don’t want in there. Many chemical pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and even heavy metals like mercury are concentrated in fats. Furthermore, the good fat to bad fat ratios change dramatically when we take an animal and feed it an ‘unnatural’ diet.

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Happy, healthy cows.

If a cow is fed grass, as nature intended, the fat profile in those rib-eye steaks and that delicious milk is WAY healthier than if they are corn fed. Not only that, because that corn-fed cow was on a diet it’s body wasn’t made for, they are loaded up with hormones and antibiotics which ride on in to your system with that fat. Note: organic doesn’t mean grass fed, but is still better than non-organic.

Where your budget allows, buy these top quality fats. Organic olive oil and avocado oil are cheaper at Costco. Search out the deals on grass-fed beef. Then cook it in some organic ghee and top off with organic Bechamel served with some broccoli roasted in coconut oil. Then tell me how “deprived” you feel on this diet 😉  It’s really not as hard as you think!

Take home point: Eat LOTS of fat, don’t worry about how much but do worry about what kind. Choose organic plant oils and aim for organic/free range animal products.

Resources:

There is a lot of emerging information about this (finally!!), here are some ways to learn more:

 

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Dr. Annie is a family physician, wife and mom of 2 girls in the Sacramento Area who, yes, cooks everything in butter.

Friday Faves: Margo’s Go-To For Working/Busy Moms

Hi friends!

I want to throw some things out there (like my besties did) that I have found to be stellar items as a working/busy/tired mom.  (Brad Pitt dancing has nothing to do with this but I liked the gif, so there you go.  Happy Friday!)

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1. Pumping on the go Accessories.  Before I even start with this, please know that FED is best.  So, while I personally loved breastfeeding, I have no judgements about how you feed your kids.  If you are a breastfeeding mama, I have a suggestion that changed. my. life.  One of the hardest things for me was finding time to pump.  Enter: hands-free pumping in the car (while I was driving, YES!). Working mamas who have jobs that require you to be out and about meeting with people and SAH mamas who spend their day driving kids around, running errands, and being a superwoman alike can benefit.

I put my Medela Pump on the passenger seat, zipped on my hands free pumping bra, plug in, put my cover on (to avoid peering eyes) and voila!  I was driving and making/storing milk.  HOWEVER, I noticed that I was going through a TON of batteries, and sometimes the pump batteries would poop out on me at the worst moments.  No bueno.

So, my husband set me up with a plug in the car.  Game changer!  Never again was I mid-pumping and realized I had no more power in the pump and ended up engorged.

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(Note: Do not do ANYTHING dangerous while driving.  I always set up the pump before I left my parking spot. Also note:  One time I got pulled over while pumping, but that’s a funny story for another time.  The only thing you need to know is that the police officer was super nice to me and I didn’t get a ticket for speeding!)

2.  Cooler cooler: Once you are done pumping?  Get that liquid gold on ice!  I used a small YETI Hopper cooler because it kept my milk SUPER cold, even in the summer, and for me was worth the investment.  I even did this all on a plane once (Southwest Airlines rocks!) and a male passenger chatted me up about how awesome it was to use a YETI to store breastmilk.  Now that I am done breastfeeding, my husband uses it for beer – Win, win for everyone.  Easy peasy, tata squeezy.  What did we do without/before technology?

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3. Kid Tracker.  You may think I am crazy for this one, but what the heck!  Judgement free zone, right?  I got this GPS tracker and watch for my each of my two kids.  I. Love. Them. I can see where they are at all times.  I can set up a perimeter and it will notify me if they leave that area (like my yard).  There is also an alarm if they try to take it off (or if someone tries to take it off of them).  It has two-way communication, and it has an emergency number they can dial.  It will also listen in on conversations (creepy I know) but if you are worried about an adult trying to approach them inappropriately in a public place like a large playground, this helps.  I have a big yard, you guys.  I want to be able to sit in the sun and let my kids run around.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 6.09.29 PMOne day, before I had this, my son decided to visit a neighbor’s grandma who he loves (inside their house) without asking for permission.  One minute he was riding his bike in the driveway and the next minute he was gone, and the bike was laying at the end of my driveway.  Scariest five minutes of my life when I couldn’t find him.  I was running down the street screaming his name.  I had the police on the phone.  I legit thought someone had stolen him.  Not interested in that experience ever again!

4. Help with cooking.  Have I mentioned I am not very good in the kitchen?  Understatement of the century.  I have a dear friend (Hi Jennie!), though, who helps me out with this by getting me access to super awesome and necessary tools, like the Ceramic Egg Cooker.

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My Ceramic Egg Cooker makes me feel like SuperWoman in so many ways. I can enjoy a hot wrap with a perfectly Scrambled Egg (Who knew I was capable of that?), or make each kid a personalized order of Gluten Free Oatmeal (I didn’t even know what this was before Jennie)…  

This product is so multi-functional, and at only $15.50 it definitely gets it’s money’s worth!  Jennie made a page for our readership here: Pampered Chef Fundraiser.  Since May is Whip Cancer Month, a portion of anything you buy gets donated to American Cancer Society!  Getting this stuff has made it SO much easier for this tired, time-crunched and not-so-talented-chef mama when it comes to feeding my family.

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HAPPY SHOPPING!!!!!!

Essential Oils 101

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So what is Aromatherapy? Do you ever think back to a time before modern medicine? Before the time that the answer to everything seems to be to pop a pill? Well, before we had pills, the people  looked to the earth for help (sure, a s*$t-ton more folks died back then, but also nobody was willing to scrape the mold off cantaloupe and stick it on a festering wound either….but I’m splitting hairs. ).

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, derived from plants, roots, flowers, and saps and adapted into a concentrated oil to be used as aids in wellness of mind, body, and spirit. It can be inhaled indirectly, like in a diffuser( This one is super zen. ), via direct inhalation like using an Essential oil in your bathtub or an inhaler, or can be applied directly onto skin (be careful to be under direction of someone who is certified and knows about oils before you do this) via carrier oil such as jojoba or coconut oil.

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In my massage practice, I am certified to custom blend about 21 different oils. I use these blends for each client in a room diffuser. My favorite way to wear them daily for my own personal sense of zen is via my Essential Oil Necklace.

“Each type of essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and how it is used by the body. Even the oils from varieties of plants within the same species may have chemical compositions different from each other. The same applies to plants that are grown or harvested in different ways or locations.” Says this article published by PubMed. This is important to remember when using oils for their medicinal properties.

Blending Smells

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Since the olfactory nerve can be sensitive to the chemical properties of the oils, it is best to smell each oil when pairing oils together. Each blend should have three different components. A top, mid, and bottom note.

Top notes are oils such as citrus oils: lemon, sweet orange, grapefruit, being good examples. These top notes have the properties to “lift” up a mood. These oils are well known for the antidepressent qualities.

The Mid note is an oil that functions to balance out the blend. Lavender calms and sooths, eucalytpus balances and flows, and geranium is said to help regulate hormonal imbalance. There are many more, these are examples of the ones that I use frequently.

The Bottom notes are important. These are your saps, resins, barks, and some plants. Thick and earthy smelling, these function to ground you. They have very great propensity to help with sleep, anxiety, stress reduction, and overall centering.

Creating a delicate balance of chemical properties is important when blending oils. Smelling each oil one at a time can help you determine if the chemical properties of the oil are something your body can handle at that moment. For instance, you could think you LOVE lavender, but today you smell it and it smells awful! There are many other oils with soothing properties that may be less offensive to your nose, so move on to the next!

It is good practice to smell your blend and add ONE drop at a time per oil so you can be wary of the strength of your blend, and customize it directly to you!

Tips to remember

  1. Never put an oil directly on skin without a carrier oil as a base. Some oils (especially citrus) are phototoxic (breakdown in the presence of UV light) and will make your skin super susceptible to burning in the sun.
  2. Since oils are heavily concentrated (about 200lbs lavender flowers go into making just ONE lb of lavender oil) try to never blend more than 4-5 oils together.
  3. Make sure your oil is pure, in a blue or brown glass bottle that has been shipped and stored in a cool dry place (these are organic matter essences and have a shelf life) To tell if it is pure, you should see its latin name as well as its country of origin written clearly on the bottle. StillPoint Aromatics is a company that I like to recommend .
  4. Please DO NOT FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER ingest essential oils. Unless you are under the direct care of a clinically trained Aromatherapist (not corporate trained), you should avoid ingestion. Like I stated above, these heavily concentrated oils can eat through surfaces like wood. Imagine what it could do with a stomach lining or liver!
  5. Be careful and do not use oils if you’re pregnant! Again, it is earth medicine and needs trained minds to approve before use.
  6. Have fun with it! It can become a very awesome ritual if you let it!

Here is an excellent guide!

 

Essential Oils Guide

Kristy, Au Naturale: Home delivery S.T.E.A.M. projects for parents who can’t DIY

If you have a kid like mine: an active, energy-filled seven year old boy, you can commiserate with me on how hard it is to get them to sit still to do…well… ANYTHING. My son, OG we’ll call him, can literally sit still for only three, maybe four seconds before fighting the urge to make a musical beat, a funny noise, or to try and make us laugh with his latest made up karate move or a full sentence in his made up language.

Talk about trying to focus on homework in the first grade? Nope. Nopes. All the no’s.

He has always been able to focus, however, on things involving art, science, technology, adventure, and music. He’s developed an affinity for math in his Montessori school (a skill he definitely doesn’t get from me) so we longed for a way to incorporate all these things into a parent/son project at home.

S.T.E.A.M. if you don’t already know, is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.

Engineering? WHAT? For a kid who likes to throw things just to see how many pieces they will break into against the wall? The one who likes to pull apart his whole room in order to create an elaborate fort/putt putt course/cookie stand all in one that he drew in his blue prints the day before….BINGO!

Welcome to our sanity (other than a crisp Nobilo Sauv Blanc).

Kiwi Crate:    https://www.kiwico.com/

Kiwi Crate is a monthly, age-based home delivery project kit. All the parts and pieces come inside the themed box, (Thank you sweet Lord for me not having to lug two kids into Michael’s without having multiple panic attacks and visions of a bull in a china shop) along with the instructions for three projects to do throughout the month. Our son has built everything from kites, to robot arms, to sewing and stuffing felt organs to paste on a full size paper person to teach human anatomy!

When my husband said he was subscribing to a monthly project system I admittedly did an eye roll thinking “you think he’s gonna sit still long enough to warrant spending that money?” To my surprise, that’s exactly what he did. The first crate we got was building a full working pinball machine out of rubber bands and cardboard.

Which he Maguyver’ed the eff out of, following the instructions, all by himself! No help at all. And the best part was…he focused! He had a blast, too. I was SOLD. Onto the next and the next…finally coming to his favorite one: The Spy Kit….(pictured below)

Ok enough gushing about my amazingly awesome kid’s productivity…

How it works.

If you’re like me and you’re too lazy to go to the website above I’ll give you the rundown.

  1. Pick a line based on your child’s age: 0-16plus (yes, they even have one for toddlers and a newborn pack!)
  2. It will ship to your home once a month
  3. Watch the excitement on your child’s face when the box arrives and its for THEM! Now they can have some independent or parent led learning time at home.

How much is it?

Packages vary depending on if you buy one month at a time or more, up to 1 year at a time. starting cost for a month is $19.95 – The more you buy the less you pay.

$19.95 and what do we get?

The benefits are many. Your child can feel a sense of being:

  • productive
  • accomplished
  • creative
  • engaged and connected with you
  • independant
  • successful in learning a new task
  • inventive
  • oh….need I say more?

And you can either help, or lie back and smile with your wine glass full snapping photos of how much of a kickass decision you made to watch you kid’s mind grow and explore.

I wonder which one I chose to do 😉 #noshameinmygame

https://www.kiwico.com/Refer?i=MichaelW131 you can click here if you want to try and give us some referral credits!🤙🏻