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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5 Ways You’re Not Failing as a Mom

December 3, 2016 at 8:47 am

Back in October, I celebrated my 36th birthday. Celebrated actually isn’t the best word. It was kind of an awful day ’cause I was in a horrible mood. As I got thinking about why I was so frustrated, I did a lot of pondering about failure. I feel like I’m failing at a lot of things lately. My husband and sister tell me I’m “not failing” in an effort to make me feel better, but the truth is that I am. We are all failing at something. Some of us are failing at multiple things. Some of us are failing at many things. Every single day of our lives we will fail at something. The question isn’t whether we will fail. Because we will. In ways both small and great we will fail. We simply cannot do it all AND do it all well.

What makes us feel miserable and frustrated isn’t the failures themselves, per se, but what we do with them. Do we retreat into shame and feel incapacitated? That’s pretty much what happened to me on my birthday. And I know it’s totally counter-productive and lame, but sometimes we even fail at failure. Ha! But a voice keeps tugging at the corners of my mind. It says, “Failure isn’t bad. Failure is a gift. Failure is feedback. Love your failures.” I’m intrigued. And I’m wondering what that would look like and what that would feel like. I’m still pondering that.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to offer you (and myself) 5 ways you are NOT failing as a mom. Even though failing is something we shouldn’t feel ashamed about, it’s still nice to remind ourselves sometimes that we’re doing better than we think we are.

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5 Ways Magnesium Makes Life More Awesome

November 27, 2016 at 4:09 am

It’s no surprise that I love magnesium. I’ve been counting the ways for years now. I first declared my love for this magnificent mineral in 2010 here. And since then I have probably sounded a bit like a broken record. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you’re well aware of my magnesium obsession. No shortage of posts about its many uses and virtues around here:

Today I’d like to share five of my favorite ways to use magnesium, or…

 

5 Ways Magnesium Makes Life More Awesome

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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The Mother-Baby Dyad: Sacred Synergy

July 4, 2016 at 5:03 pm

A few days ago I gathered with some lovely women for a Gift of Giving Life party. While there I shared with them some of the fascinating and beautiful insights I have been learning about the sacred interchange within the mother-baby dyad. The “thesis” of my message was this: mothers and babies are the key to creating a peaceful world. Without nurturing mothers and peace-filled babies, we will never see humanity overcome the evils that tear us apart. The love of a mother is so crucial, so irreplaceable, so powerful. Below I will share some of the slides from my presentation.

The Mother-Baby Dyad- Sacred Synergy

What I Learned from Our First Year of Homeschool

May 28, 2016 at 2:35 am

Last night I was reading John Holt’s Teach Your Own before bed, wishing it wasn’t a library book so I could highlight my favorite passages. Instead I kept ripping up a piece of paper to mark the parts I loved. It seemed there was something on every page. This might be a book I need to own. I’ll share some John Holt quotes in this post, in part because I want to have them written down somewhere to refer back to.

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This blogpost has been writing itself in my head for several weeks now. But it never felt like the school year was complete for the same reason that it never feels like the school day is complete. Homeschooling never ends because children are always learning. We have “school” plans that extend throughout the summer. It seems sort of strange to even define grade levels now. I can see how they will all bleed together as we simply incorporate “school” into our lives year-round. But since the traditional school year has ended for the local kids, I suppose I can write this blogpost now.

Monday Miscellany

May 2, 2016 at 6:14 am

I have so much I want to write about, so I guess I’ll call this one “Monday Miscellany” since I don’t have time to devote a whole blogpost to each item. Here’s some stuff I’ve been thinking about.

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5 Fixes for Fussiness

March 2, 2016 at 9:24 am

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Little Miss Hope has been the fussiest of my newborns, or “fuzzy” as my 5-year-old says. While I wouldn’t call it full-fledged colic, it has been pretty stressful for us. For the first month+ of her life, she was often unhappy. During those fussy periods, she would usually protest if I tried to nurse her. She wouldn’t take a pacifier. Being in someone’s arms wasn’t usually enough to soothe her, and neither was rocking. When all else failed, bouncing on our birth ball would at least soothe her to some extent.

The Power of Babies

February 19, 2016 at 10:00 am

Babies are such a nice way to start people. -Don Herold

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When my husband and I were engaged, we talked once or twice about our future family. We agreed that we wanted children, and it seemed to both of us that four kids was a good number. Three seemed too few, five or more seemed too many. But four sounded “just right.” Now, here we are, fifteen years later with baby #5.

Five Things for Friday: 5 Weeks Edition

January 29, 2016 at 8:55 am

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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.

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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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Is Play the Cure?

October 12, 2015 at 12:12 am

Over the past few weeks, I have devoured Peter Gray’s Free to Learn, a book recommended by one of my readers. Gray is a psychology research professor at Boston College, author, blogger, and a parent. I added that last title because parenthood has a huge impact on how people view children and education. This point was made almost humorous in The Homework Myth by Alfie Kohn who cited example after example of teachers who revised their homework policies after their own children began bringing homework home. This particular passage is underlined and surrounded by stars in my copy of Kohn’s book:

“Now that I’m a parent myself,” one fourth grade teacher in North Carolina said, “I realize they have lives at home” (The Homework Myth, p. 23).

freetolearnHa ha! I realize they have lives at home. Cracks me up every time. So it was important to me that Free to Learn‘s author Peter Gray was a father himself in addition to being an “expert.” In fact, the first words of his book come straight out of one of his most painful challenges as a fatherthe day his nine-year-old son told him to “Go to hell” as they sat in the school principal’s office. Gray explained:

We were there to present a united front, to tell Scott in no uncertain terms that he must attend school and must do there whatever he was told by his teachers to do. We each sternly said our piece, and then Scott, looking squarely at us all, said the words that stopped me in my tracks (p. ix).

Both Gray and his wife immediately began to cry, and in that moment they both knew what they had to do. They pulled him out of the school, and “not just from that school but from anything that was anything like that school” (p. x). Free to Learn presents educational history and research through the lens of Gray’s own experience as a father striving to provide his son with a learning environment suited to his needs.

School Battles: Kids’ Feelings Matter

September 15, 2015 at 8:44 pm

My 6-year-old gave me a heart attack this morning. I went into his room, as usual, to wake him up for school, but he was gone. At first I thought, “Cool, he’s already up! I don’t have to drag him out of bed.” But when I couldn’t find him anywhere in the house, I had a mild freak out. Logically, I should have known he was somewhere in the house. All the doors were locked. But I still went into a panic, frantically calling his name as I searched, convinced someone had somehow entered our home and stolen our son. I enlisted the help of my older daughters and dialed my husband’s cell number. But my 9-year-old knew just where to look.

Under the bed. There he was. Hiding. The first words out of his mouth:

“I don’t want to go!”

Even as he dressed himself and finally came out for breakfast, he repeated, “I don’t like school!” His sister promptly told him, “No one likes school!” As we sat in traffic, driving to the dreaded locale (since we missed the bus… again), he said, “Mom, I feel sick.” I knew he wasn’t physically ill. I dropped him off, and all the way home I started composing this blogpost in my head.

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