4 Questions to Ask about Our Children’s Futures

February 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm

A friend of mine has been dealing with some intense challenges with her son’s school. Her sweet but very active 5-year-old son has been suspended three times in the past three weeks. I’m tempted to say he was suspended for rule infractions that could fit under the umbrella of “being a 5-year-old.” Most American kindergarteners are expected to sit still, stand still, be quiet, stay in line, and generally avoid typical 5-year-old behavior at all times. So sad.

While American kindergarteners are denied their one short recess for small infractions, kindergarteners in Finland are given as many as four free-play breaks between classes because “educators and parents here believe that these breaks are a powerful engine of learning that improves . . . executive function, concentration and cognitive focus, behavior, well-being, attendance, physical health, and yes, test scores, too” (Source). Professor Howard Gardner, from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, gave this advice for improving American schools: “Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States” (Source).

All of this has me thinking a lot about what really matters and what will really prepare my children for the actual future they will be living in. My research and my gut agree that what is being taught in most American schools is insufficient for and even opposed to what our children will actually need in the future. For what it’s worth, here are some questions I feel we should be thinking about.

4 Tips for Improving Life on an SSRI

January 25, 2017 at 3:48 am

Taking an SSRI for depression and anxiety can be life-saving, but anti-depressants aren’t always as helpful as we would hope. Some people don’t find any relief at all, or try multiple types of drugs before finding one that works for them. Science Daily recently reported:

More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects (Source).

I first began taking the anti-depressant Sertraline (Zoloft) in August of 2012. My journey managing life with this drug over the past few years has taught me a thing or two. One of my favorite things to do is to write about and share the things I learn. My hope is always that reading one of my posts will change someone’s life for the better. Here are four tips for improving life on an SSRI.

**As always, none of this should be considered medical advice. These are things that have helped me, but none of them should replace the advice or care of a qualified mental health professional.**

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Glutamate and Anxiety

August 26, 2016 at 9:40 pm

It has taken me over two years to decide to write this post. To be honest I’m feeling a little bit PTSD-ish just thinking about it. But I think it’s time to share this info. So here I am.

When I felt myself diving back into anxiety and depression in the spring of 2014 (after a lengthy period of weaning off my SSRI medication) I began to spend nearly all my time doing research and then implementing that research. I wanted to find a cure. I wanted to be happy without medication. I spent hundreds of dollars trying different supplements… various omega-3s, multivitamins, methylated B-vitamins, turmeric, taurine, various types of magnesium, probiotics, and so forth. I tried Q96. I tried bone broth (and it was a horrible idea for me, by the way). I tried eliminating all processed foods, meat, wheat, and most dairy.

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Five Things for Friday: 5 Weeks Edition

January 29, 2016 at 8:55 am

Friday

It has been 5 weeks now since Baby Hope joined our family earthside. Today also marks my first full 5-day work week flying solo (during the day) as a mom of 5 kids. Five is apparently the number of the day. Seems fitting to do a “5 things” post for the occasion.

Third Trimester: Preparation and Sanctification

December 21, 2015 at 8:11 pm

Last week was crazy busy. That was probably true for most of us. Now that all the Christmas preparations are finished, all the holiday events have been attended, homeschool is on break, and my school-employed husband is home for at least two weeks, I feel like I can finally mentally, physically, and spiritually prepare myself for my baby’s birth (I’ll be 38 weeks tomorrow). On Thursday afternoon I told my husband, “All I want to do for the rest of the year is take baths and showers and sleep and meditate.” He said, “I can support you in that.” I said, “Good answer.”

The other day I was looking for ideas of how to nurture myself during the last few weeks of pregnancy. Google brought up a few things, but nothing was quite what I was looking for. So I bagged trying to get ideas from other people and decided to just do what my soul wanted me to do. Here’s a list of the things I’ve been doing to prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually for my upcoming birth.

37 weeks

Meltdown and Misgiving

November 17, 2015 at 6:04 am

So I had a total meltdown this afternoon. Lately I seem to crumble into tears at least once every week or two. I know this is common for many pregnant women, but I’m not generally a weepy pregnant woman. Usually it happens more when I’m sleep-deprived, but I’ve actually been getting plenty of sleep lately thanks to our lax homeschooling schedule. Today it was triggered by a midwife appointment.

It’s kind of a long story, but I’ll just summarize by saying that my glucose levels have become a bit of a concern. So I’ll be doing the 3-hour glucose test on Wednesday morning. At my appointment, my levels (tested via finger-prick and diabetic test strips) were nerve-racking. My midwife is recommending that I reduce my carb intake even if my 3-hour results come back OK, just to work on eating healthier in general for myself and my baby. She also recommended taking more walks since exercise is one good way to reduce high blood-sugar levels.

I was so relieved that my husband’s car was in the driveway when I arrived home. I was feeling panicky, and I knew having him there would help. Almost as soon as I walked in the door, tears were welling-up in my eyes. I spent the next hour or so texting my sister with tears streaming down my face almost the whole time, and intermittently crying on my husband’s shoulder.

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Light Exposure in Pregnancy

November 7, 2015 at 4:48 am

I don’t have a lot of tasks in my morning routine. Get up. Use the bathroom. Drink water. Go into the backyard. Sit in the sunlight. The rest of the morning varies from day to day, but these first five items happen almost without fail.

Some time in the last few weeks, as I basked in the mercifully-cooler-November morning AZ sunshine, with my shirt pulled up above my belly as usual to maximize the skin exposure for vitamin d, I started thinking about how easily light travels through the skin. This is a fact most children given a flashlight are delighted to discover. Earlier today, one of my kids shouted, “Look, Mom, my finger is red,” holding a light behind her fingertip. I’ve noticed that the baby in my womb, if she hadn’t been “awake” yet, usually wakes up and starts wiggling and kicking once I’m outside with my belly in the sun. So I’ve been wondering… what, if any, effect does my daily sun routine have on my baby?

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Five Things for Friday: 2nd Edition

October 24, 2015 at 12:50 am

About three weeks ago I wrote my first “Five Things for Friday” post. Time for another quintuplet of randomness, I think. 

Friday

Thing 1

I learned a fun fact about kissing and breastfeeding this past week. Many of you probably saw this on facebook, but I want to share it again here just in case. It’s rare that the word awesome is applied to something that is truly awe-inspiring, but this really is:

kissingbabyKissing your baby changes your breast milk. Did you know that the undeniable urge to cover your baby in kisses serves a biological purpose? When a mother kisses her baby, she samples the pathogens on baby’s face, which then travel to mom’s lymphatic system. Mom’s body then creates antibodies to fight those pathogens, which baby receives through breast milk. What?! Amazing, right? (quoted from 10 Things You Might Not Know About Breastfeeding)

I learned something similar related to nipples and “baby backwash” a couple of months ago. Katie Hinde, a biologist, associate professor, and blogger at Mammals Suck… Milk! shared these fascinating details with Angela Garbes for her breastmilk post on The Stranger:

According to Hinde, when a baby suckles at its mother’s breast, a vacuum is created. Within that vacuum, the infant’s saliva is sucked back into the mother’s nipple, where receptors in her mammary gland read its signals. . . . If the mammary gland receptors detect the presence of pathogens, they compel the mother’s body to produce antibodies to fight it, and those antibodies travel through breast milk back into the baby’s body, where they target the infection (Source).

My New Favorite Dairy Products

September 17, 2015 at 8:45 pm

When I was living with my mom between the ages of eight and eleven, I had one primary complaint about going with her to the grocery store. It took for-ev-er. My mom moves at a slow pace in general, but what made these trips exceptionally long was that she looked at the label on ev-ry-thing. At the time I was impatient and annoyed, but now (as we often do) I’ve become that mom myself. The more health-conscious I’ve become, the more I care about just what the manufacturers put in that “sour cream.” Thank you, Daisy brand, for limiting the ingredient(s) to just one.

I know I’m not alone in this. I’d wager that if you’re reading my blog you probably have similar concerns about what’s in your food. Last year I took those concerns to a crazy-intense obsessive-compulsive level, so I have had to make an effort to consciously avoid looking at every label for the past year. But as much as I try not to be obsessive about it, I do still care about what’s in our food.

I like to buy organic, but it’s not always available or affordable for us. So the next best thing, in my mind, is to find the products with the least number of ingredients… preferably all things I can pronounce and recognize as “safe.” For years I bought Breyers “natural” vanilla ice cream for this reason. Among the varieties available at our local grocer it had the fewest and least suspect components. Then I tried Haagen-dazs vanilla. So not cheap, but oh my gosh it tasted light-years better than Breyers and had even fewer ingredients (cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract). It’s really creamy and delicious, but I always kind of feel a little guilty supporting a Nestle product. My dad swears Tillamook “old-fashioned” vanilla is the absolute best vanilla on the planet, but I can’t get past the label. At least they’re working on transitioning to a recipe without Carageenan, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum, Mono and Diglycerides, and Polysorbate 80 early next year.

Snarky School Spiel

September 10, 2015 at 1:25 am

Kids are at school 7 or 8 hours a day. That’s a full working day, and why should they have to take work home? -Etta Kralovec, an associate professor of teacher education at the University of Arizona South

So we moved over the summer. Not because we wanted to, but circumstances required it. Despite our sadness at leaving a house and neighborhood we loved, we do really like our new living situation. Here’s the view from our kitchen table…

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Unfortunately, we don’t really like our new schooling situation. We were really pleased with our former school. The kids were doing really well, their teachers were great, the principal was great, they had plenty of time after school to relax and play and do chores. Now they are attending a new school, and it has become a significant source of stress in my life. <—That’s a diplomatic way of saying they are seriously pissing me off.

Yoga Teacher Training Diary, 3rd Edition

March 18, 2015 at 3:45 am

I’ve now completed three full weekends of Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and thirty days of my assigned 40-day sadhana. This stuff is tough! I had to laugh at the end of our weekend training while we watched a Yogi Bhajan video. He said (about the Warrior Exercise he was about to teach):

I’m not willing to let you misunderstand this. If we start doing it, we’re going to reach a stage called ‘The Twilight Zone,” and then there’ll be humongous pain; pain so much that you do not know. . . . Set yourself, folks. You asked for it. I forgive myself and wash my hands of it.

It reminded me of something I had read online in which a critic of Kundalini Yoga called its practices masochistic. Sometimes it can feel like torture, to be honest. But, as we often talk about in class, the practice of Kundalini Yoga is about training your mind-body to serve your spirit, and if you can command your mind and body to endure a difficult yoga exercise, it becomes easier and easier to command your mind and body to endure anything. It’s like a fire-drill.

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Mental Health Update

May 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I wish I could tell you that I feel better than ever. I wish I could be a lighthouse all the time, radiating joy and love and hope to everyone around me. But I’m not gonna lie… this past month was rough. And this past week was rougher.

It’s hard not to wonder if the reason it was rough is because I weaned off my medication. In moments of desperation, I find myself thinking I made a mistake… that I shouldn’t have stopped taking it.

But in moments of clarity, I think… Well, you still had hard times even when you were taking the medication. The past couple of months were stressful with the crazy job-hunt and all the illness. You weren’t getting enough sleep. You weren’t getting out much. You weren’t meditating. You weren’t eating enough. You got depleted. Just give yourself a break while you catch up.

So I’ve had anxiety (and some depression) off and on this week. It has fluctuated. Some days were horrendous (that day when I cried to a whole bunch of people on the phone). Some days were so-so, and some were good, hallelujah.

Magnesium for Tics and Tourette Syndrome

April 15, 2014 at 6:15 am

When the blinking started, we knew something was definitely going on.

I’m not talking about ordinary blinking. I’m talking about excessive blinking, sometimes extremely excessive. If you’ve ever seen a kid with a blinking tic, you know what I’m talking about. Approximately two years ago, my second daughter began exhibiting tics. IMG_0707_2Since then, we have seen a variety of tics come and go (both vocal and motor).

Kidshealth.org describes tics this way: “A tic is a sudden, repetitive movement or sound that can be difficult to control. Tics that involve movements are called motor tics and those that are sounds are called vocal tics.” Tics usually become worse when children are under stress. This is definitely true for my daughter. When my daughter began experiencing tics, my mind quickly jumped to Tourette syndrome, but having tics does not necessarily mean you have Tourette syndrome.

I watch my daughter carefully every day. I notice when a new tic emerges. I notice when an old tic disappears. I notice when the tics escalate and when they subside. We have learned that certain things exacerbate her tics: stress, lack of sleep, food additives (artificial colors, etc.). If certain things can exacerbate her tics, it seems logical to me that the tics are her body’s way of calling for help. It also seems logical to me that something inside of her is out of balance. My daughter would like her “habits” (as she calls them) to stop, and by golly I’m going to do everything I can to bring about her desire.

Magnesium for Healthier Moms and Babies

February 28, 2014 at 11:00 pm

My brother and his wife came into town and visited us on Monday. My brother mentioned that he was having horrible neck pain. “Magnesium!!” I yelled at him as I slathered his neck and shoulder with magnesium oil cream and spray.

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It’s been several years since I read The Magnesium Miracle by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. But I was skimming through it the other day and came upon the chapter about magnesium’s impact on pregnancy-related issues and early infancy. I shared some of this info in my 2010 blogpost “Magnesium for Pregnancy and Beyond,” but I felt impressed to share a bit more today. I’ve got a lot to do today, so I’m going to be lazy and just quote Dr. Carolyn Dean.

Soothe Your Life with Magnesium

February 24, 2014 at 9:04 pm

I’ve been in love with magnesium for years. Several months ago I stumbled on a website where a lady mentioned a brand of magnesium oil I’d never heard of… Magnesoothe [now called Mg12], sourced from the Dead Sea. She said it was the most effective magnesium oil she had ever used, and she 10386777_946446232048628_8039968799941556132_nhad used several of the other brands available. That totally caught my interest. And I thought it couldn’t hurt to contact the company and see if they ever send samples for bloggers to review. It was perfect timing ’cause they had just discussed doing that very thing in a recent company meeting. A few days later I received my samples in the mail.

Before I get to my review of these products, I want to touch briefly on some of the benefits of using magnesium topically.

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