family wellness

Taking a Pause: The Art of Convalescence

By on November 19, 2019

Untitled design

Cough, cough, sniff, sniff. Those are the sounds that have been traveling through our house the past few days. I have had 2 kids down with a virus, Ezra taking the brunt of it. He has entered preschool a few hours a week this year, and it seems each Friday he comes home with something. This time, the illness truly got my attention and required me to switch my mindset a bit. Recently my focus has been on what to do to care for my sick child when the importance was truly just caring for my sick child.

I’m a great caregiver, in theory. I will calmly make sure all of the logistics are taken care of, however, truly taking time to notice intuitively what my kids needed was missing. My mind fluctuated on everyone’s basic needs, the work I needed to do, and our recent sleep deprivation. Immediately, I went into “fix” mode with them. Fix the symptoms… you know, we have things to do!

I had a little ah-ha when the only thing that could console Ezra was me. I took the time to observe him, both physically and intuitively. What I realized at that moment was that he truly needed time to convalesce. Historically, this was something that was a standard for illnesses. We live in a society now where suppressing symptoms and getting back to “real life” is marketed heavily. We have “quick fixes” for everything. Yes, I believe in being comfortable and will not forgo medical care when necessary. But truly, just riding it out (even if it takes weeks) is often what we really require.

When our bodies are down, and especially when a child is ill, it is important to give space and time to truly heal. Symptoms may subside, but moving back into a hurried pace can keep the immune system weak and allow other illnesses to creep in easily. I have noticed with my kids that very often following a virus, they will have a physical or developmental leap.

The prescription I find the most helpful when we have sick kiddos is quiet time, less stimulation, and TLC. The definition of vitality is the state of being strong and active; energy. The power giving continuance of life, present in all living things. Overstimulation robs children of their vital energy. The very nature of screen time is vitality depleting, so that is something I am very cautious about allowing during illness. If I do allow screen time, we watch very gentle, calming shows. However, quiet play, books, mama cuddles, eucalyptus baths, etc are what I gravitate toward.

For me to nurture and tune into a time of convalescence, I had to release the expectations I have of myself and others and truly invite in a sense of stillness. The slower pace is necessary so the kids can replenish their vitality and do their inner work to heal. These moments are a great time to reevaluate our family rhythm and see what is serving us well and what needs adjusting so that we can all live together harmoniously and with minimal chaos.

The funny thing is, that when I spent a different kind of time with the kids I realized I was way off the mark in recognizing their needs. Ezra needed mama time, Mira needed me to loosen the reigns, and Keenan was squared away (he’s taken a lot of my brainpower lately). Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow and find new awarenesses for sure!

Continue Reading

emotional wellness

Simple Emotional Wellness Tips

By on October 9, 2019

Untitled design-2

Have you ever wanted to just run away?

This is my M.O. when I’m feeling stressed or down. I have an escapist fantasy. I imagine running away from my husband and kids and lounging in Bali in a beachside treetop hut.

My reality is that I am having one of those weeks… ugh, and it is just Wednesday. We had an amazing weekend and then it seems all of my stresses piled up in my body and mind and now I’ve created an internal disaster zone. Plus, I’m not getting any sleep (friggin 4 month sleep regression).

I am not writing this blog for recognition or sympathy. I am writing this down because I’m sure many people who open this post have these thoughts and feelings too. It is a tough place to be and for me, the cycle of negative thinking can spiral much quicker than it should.

Call it hormones, call it sleep-deprivation, call it emotional imbalance. Whatever it is, it sucks and I know I want to make bad choices when feeling this way. I often run to comfort eating, Target or Amazon retail therapy, an extra coffee– just something to pacify the mood. All of that can be well and good, but right now none of those choices line up with my current goals.

These days will come over and over again, however, I am learning to lessen the impact and the length of time I’m “out of commission” with stress and overwhelm.

I’m writing to share the tools I use to reduce the impact of negative days and recharge when the kids are extra draining. You know, since it isn’t possible to retreat to Bali, or even stay in bed for a day.

  • Always remember my goals— I keep a vision board around to remind me of my goals. I make a new one every few months to stay fresh and to recognize my progress. I will spend a few moments looking at the vision board and remind myself where I am going so that I continue to make wise, not rash decisions (eat a whole pan of brownies for dinner, lol)– so guess what? My vision board currently showcases a lot of green and fresh veggies, exercise, and positive affirmations.
  • Meditate/Pray— I will take 5-10 minutes during the day (usually during the kids’ nap) and sit down. It is always surprising to me how this action will recharge my batteries or fill my cup when I don’t think I have any energy left.
  • Take care of my belly— My goodness this has been the best thing for my nervous system and anxiety. Magnesium supplements, a good probiotic and keeping my ph alkaline really help regulate my moods! I’ve posted a few times what I use to keep my belly healthy.
  • Art– doing something creative is also a great way to replenish when you’re dragging. I am not the most artistic being on the planet, but making a vision board or writing are great outlets (hence the blog post).
  • Rest– a nap or just lying down with your eyes shut for a few minutes can change your outlook as well. As a mom of 3, it is often hard to find a few moments for a nap– but I can utilize Buzz Lightyear or Baby Einstein for a brief 10-minute pause, and not feel guilty for taking a few moments of “me” time in the middle of a highly emotional day. A rejuvenated mama is better than a burnt-out one!

These are my tips for getting through when life and parenthood are taking their toll. I always feel more grounded and generally at ease when I pull a tool (or 3) from my toolbox rather than booking my flight and disappearing from my family.

 

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

pregnancy | toddler

You’re Going to Be a Big Brother

By on April 5, 2019

Copy of Untitled

One of the most perplexing things about being pregnant with baby #3, has been how to prepare or introduce the new baby to Ezra. I know that siblings have been introduced into families since the beginning of time, and I should not over think it. It is just a difficult transition in my mind when he has been the “baby” for the last 2 years. My older son was 11 when he learned he was going to be a big brother, so logic was in place and the preparations were easy.

My 2-year old seems to have a vague concept of there being a baby in my tummy. He attends prenatal appointments, hears baby Mira’s heartbeat, and has seen her on the “TV” screen during our ultrasound scans.  But, does he really “get it”? Probably not, is my opinion.

mama's belly

How have we been preparing?

Reading + Repetition

I ran across a beautifully illustrated book, Mama’s Belly by Kate Hosford which we have been reading frequently. Over the months since we have introduced the book, he seems to make the connection that his mama’s belly is “rising up like a wave”. He will now point to my breasts or belly when asked where his baby sister is.

I do not buy multiple books about the same subject, I tend to find one we love and read over and over. I have heard many times that we tend to learn by shock or repetition, so for a toddler, repetition seems to work well.

Attending appointments

As I mentioned above, Ezra has attended most of our OB appointments. Our doctor is great about talking directly to Ezra and showing him the doppler and explaining it is the new baby. Again, I am not sure he “gets it”, but the repetition and expansion of my tummy may be helping him grasp the concept. Also, the familiarity of seeing the doctor and the office may make my hospital stay less of a shock.

Videos

We are not big proponents of tv time with Ezra. When we do allow screen time, we try to keep his exposure to “quieter” cartoons like Little Bear. However, Daniel Tiger Season 5 deals with Daniel becoming a big brother. We have watched these episodes multiple times as a teaching tool.

Visiting Other Babies

Luckily, we are in an environment where we have many friends and acquaintances who have new babies. We have been exposing him during story times, play dates, and even when we are walking in the store we will point out the new babies and explain that he will have a new baby soon.

Preparing the House

As we have set up the room (which he will be sharing eventually), we have explained who the new items are for. Her clothes are in the drawers and closets, so he sees them often and we have even installed her car seat to establish the new seating routine in our van.

We have also introduced more stuffed animals into his life, and he is bonding with them. With the animals, we reinforce “gentle touches” animals so that he can make a similar connection with the new baby.

 

 

There are many blogs and articles with tips and tricks to introduce a toddler to a new baby. We are doing these small steps to include our toddler in the process. Ultimately, we will allow it to unfold naturally and deal with the transition as it comes. Our childcare comes a few days before our scheduled birth-day, so that will be another aspect we will talk up and make exciting! A sleepover with bestemor and big brother! How have you introduced a new sibling? Any tried and true tips?

 

 

Continue Reading

pregnancy | women's health

Third Trimester: Woes and Remedies

By on March 16, 2019

book-2592729_640

I am now a week into the third trimester. I can feel my body starting to slow down. My mental clarity and creativity are downshifting. Daily I have more aches and pains, and general discomforts. I am trying to work *with* my body. The show must go on in our family and in work. I can not just pack it up and nap for 9 more weeks. Life is actually busier than ever too. Chasing a 2 year old is no joke, my teen is wrapping up his final weeks of 8th grade, and we have work plans on the schedule until birth-day.

Mental Fatigue

Pregnancy brain is REAL! The physiological hormone changes reduce the amount of gray matter in a woman’s brain. I’ve left car doors open while taking yoga classes, put groceries in the wrong spot, forgotten to trim one toenail, and the list goes on. Clumsiness is also possible as weight is distributed differently in the body, and again HORMONES.

  • Utilize your phone to keep your brain going- Take notes on a note taking app. When you feel creative or have a brilliant moment, record it as soon as it occurs. Set alarms as reminders to do things (ahem, pick kid up from school).
  • Prioritize and Focus- For me, I have several goals that I would like to achieve before May 20th. I have my day plotted out on multiple calendars so that I know exactly what steps to take daily and I can check it off as I go. It is a structure and a discipline, and it keeps me accountable for my to-do lists.
  • Rest- This is tough for me. What I have done is know that I am in my peak performance hours when I wake up until between 12-2. I am now giving myself permission to relax, nap, or just prop up my feet for a few when I feel the slump. Often, during the third trimester night time sleep is disturbed as well, so a rest may be necessary to take you into the evening.
  • Minerals- Minerals are an important supplement for every stage of life. Our soil is deficient, our food travels a long way to get to our plate, which reduces it’s natural vitamin/mineral content.

Aches and Pains

  • Chiropractic care-This pregnancy and my last I utilized chiropractic care to rid myself of many aches and pains. It is incredibly useful to keep yourself aligned as body weight and posture shifts and changes. I look for a chiropractor that uses torque release or activator methods of adjustment.
  • Massage- So, my husband is my current massage therapist and I have been so incredibly pleased with his work! During my last pregnancy I had prenatal massages pretty frequently. This time, it isn’t in our budget or schedule so he is doing the work. It really helps keep tightness at bay and promotes relaxation.
  • Collagen- Again, I sing praises of my collagen. I feel much better in general, and collagen is a wonderful support for skin, hair, nails, and joints.
  • Essential Oils- There are many, many oils for physical discomforts. I could write an entire blog on just recommendations for that. I will narrow the list down to my two personal go-to’s. I love the blend Deep Relief and the single oil Copaiba. I use roller balls on the bottles and apply directly to where I feel the discomfort. If you have not purchased oils before, understand how to get them here for 24% off.

legs-762565_640

Leg Cramps

  • Again, the beloved minerals. A friend of mine reminded me of this yesterday. She recently had her baby girl and said her cramps disappeared when she added minerals to her regimen. I did it myself last night and viola! A night charley-horse free!
  • Magnesium + Calcium is also known to be helpful. Finding magnesium in the citramalate form seems to work the best for me.
  • Hydrate drinking 3-4 quarts of water per day during pregnancy means you are adequately hydrated. This is probably the first pregnancy that I have actually managed to do it. Hydration is important for every single bodily function!
  • Foot Soak. I like to do this with about a half cup of Himalayan pink salt with a few drops each of geranium, lavender and cypress essential oil.

Varicose Veins/Hemorrhoids

During pregnancy these are related maladies, and are often linked to constipation. Heredity also plays a role in this issue.

  • A diet high in fiber and an adequately hydrated body can help relieve some of the pressure that is intensified by a sluggish colon and extra uterine weight.
  • Essential oils- Diluted lavender or helichrysum is wonderful for hemorrhoids. And a blend that is known to help with varicose veins: 30 drops of cypress, 20 drops of lavender, 10 drops of lemon and 20 drops of lemongrass with 60ml of fractionated coconut oíl.
  • Compression stockings- these can be helpful, as long as they are not cutting off circulation. The compression from the stockings will help recirculate blood flow so that it is moving toward the heart, and moving out of the lower extremities. Some insurance companies will cover the cost too, and can be ordered through sites like aeroflowbreastpumps.com.
  • Change your position frequently- avoid sitting or standing in the same postion too long. Take breaks, shift your position and avoid sitting with crossed legs, or with legs tucked under you.
  • Elevation- elevating legs periodically throughout the day can also help with circulation.

Heart Burn

Argh, this is one of my biggest complaints. I have tried all of the remedies during my 3 pregnancies. The things I have found the most useful are:

  • A natural alkalinizing supplement- I can drink this and immediately feel relief.
  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals- I have to be very mindful of my eating patterns, and what I am consuming. I avoid acidic or spicy foods and make sure I have digested before lying down.
  • Essential oil- Peppermint oil is helpful as well. I will apply on my esophagus where I feel the burn, and sometimes will ingest a drop or two of peppermint vitality.
  • Digestive enzymes- these are also a nice supplement to add in to aid in the digestion and assimilation of your food.

Pubic Bone Discomfort

The hormone relaxin is something women naturally produce during pregnancy to aid in pelvic joint mobility, so that the baby can fit through the pelvis at birth. Sometimes the joints become misaligned and the pelvis too loose which can cause tremendous discomfort. This pregnancy is the only one where I have experienced this and my go-to remedies are.

  • A yoga therapy ball-. I can put this where I feel the discomfort a few minutes per day. This will relieve some of the pressure.
  • A SI belt this is designed to support the sacroiliac joints and will relieve instability in the hips.
  • A chiropractic adjustment- again a chiropractor can adjust the pubic bone or any of the surrounding areas that are misaligned and causing discomfort. Just look for someone who is well versed in prenatal adjustments.
  • Ice therapy- icing can be a great relief. My husband suggests it all the time, and often I ignore him. However, when I actually listen, I feel relief for quite some time. It is also nice to ice after a chiropractic adjustment or using the yoga therapy ball.
  • PT- Some women need to see a Physical Therapist, and finding one that is well versed in pelvic floor therapies is ideal.
  • Homeopathic Remedies- I have heard several midwives suggest the homeopathic remedy of Rhus Toxicodendron 30C from Boiron. This can be found in health food stores, or online. I have never actually tried this myself, it is just something I have heard from multiple people in the birthing community.

Pregnancy is a time of tremendous change, and the female body is amazingly adaptable. Many of the typical complaints rebound very shortly after delivery. In my opinion, it is lovely there are so many natural remedies out there to help us along the way. I always opt for natural choices over medications and synthetics, and I’m even more hypervigilent about this during pregnancy.

Continue Reading

diet | recipes

Simplifying Dietary Changes

By on January 17, 2019

The Struggle is Real

The holidays are over and I am still having trouble getting back on track with my diet. These are the thoughts that have been floating around in my mind:

Carbs taste good, I’m pregnant, just one more day, it’s just “social” eating, one more treat, I’m tired of cooking, cleaning, planning, purchasing.

There ya have it. All excuses to not be my best self. Have you ever had that dialogue floating around in your mind?

I KNOW changing my diet changed my life. I found a healthy, stable weight, my periods returned like healthy clockwork, my son’s medical issue resolved, my feelings of anxiety released, and countless other benefits.

Why, oh why are bad habits so hard to break? Why is convenience more important than health?

Last night, I really had to give myself a reality check. I’m going to deliver a baby in just a few short months, and I do not want a repeat of my last birth experience. Plus, I want my body to bounce back so that I’m not telling another story of postpartum depression or healing difficulties.

Three Tips to Simplify

Simplifying the diet is key. I’ve had to adapt so that I’m not cooking and cleaning all day, or having to run all over the state finding appropriate ingredients.

How have I simplified?

1. Shopping in bulk and mail order has been #1. I found a local source for high quality meat, and place a big order about every 2 months.

Our Costco membership has also been amazing and saves quite a bit of money. We can find compliant cheeses, vegetables, grain-free products in bulk, nice cooking oils, avocado oil mayo, almond flour, compliant salad dressings and several other staples. Scheduling this every 4-6 weeks keeps our pantry stocked and minimizes our trips to run out for just an item or two.

Amazon Prime or Thrive Market are excellent sources to find items that aren’t as accessible in the mainstream market. For me, I would have to drive an hour to a grocery store or health food store that carries compliant baking items.

2. Meal planning is also important. I used to be able to replace a meal with a protein shake to lighten my cooking load. Being pregnant has required that I eat 3 meals and only use shakes for protein rich snacks. Have you ever tried planning 21 meals a week? Its laborious.

Batch cooking and freezing is a good method to lighten the load or just having a plan for dinner by 10 am tends to work for me. Unthawing meat, knowing what veggies need prepped and just general timeline can make the task easier.

Cooking enough food to have leftovers for lunch is also a time saver, or cooking a bigger batch of a favorite that can be eaten over the course of several days for lunch.

3. Instant Pot

I have had my instant pot for about a year and wasn’t sure if I loved it or not. It is not something I use daily but it works wonders to cook a good, healthy, nutritious meal very quickly. I love it for soups and stews or to cook a perhaps frozen chicken very quickly to use for multiple meals.

These are just my tips and tricks that help me stay focused and on task with what I’m putting in my body. I am going to share one of my favorite lunch, batch cooking recipes. I make enough for several days and serve on a bed of greens with a few Simple Mills grain-free crackers. It’s both healthy and satisfying.

Lemon Tarragon Chicken Salad

2 lb. pasture raised chicken breasts

3 stalks of celery, diced

lemon juice

4 Tbs chopped, fresh tarragon

avocado oil mayo (Chosen Foods brand, I buy at Costco)

handful of dried, unsweetened cranberries

1. Drizzle chicken breasts with avocado oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 375 degrees for about 25 min.

2. Cool and dice chicken breasts.

3. Add diced celery, tarragon, salt, pepper, and enough mayo to coat thoroughly. Approximately 1/2-3/4 c. Mix well. Add 1-2 Tbs. lemon juice and cranberries and mix again.

4. Chill and serve.

Continue Reading