Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Food Sensitivity Testing

We finished doing a neurobehavioral assessment with Henry, due to some of the self-regulation struggles he had been displaying for the past couple of years. Interestingly, during the several-month process, he seemed to start to regulate more and more. I'm not sure if it's from the counseling we've been going to weekly or the fact that his brain is continuing to develop as he gets older. In Montessori theory, we believe that children go through a huge developmental shift as they move from the first plane of development (0-6) to the second plane of development (6-12). As Henry gets closer and closer to 6, we (and his teacher) are seeing huge gains in his ability to self-regulate. Regardless, I'm continuing to follow-up with the recommended next steps, including food sensitivity testing. We have an amazing place in Austin called People's Pharmacy. They have a wellness clinic that focuses more on holistic health. I'm also going to get Tate tested because he has a lot of eczema on his arms. 

There's also an emerging science around genetic testing to see how the body processes various vitamins and minerals. I don't understand it fully, but Henry's therapist says that psychologists and psychiatrists are starting to see that supplements can significantly improve mental health and that genetic testing can help guide practitioners to know which supplements to recommend. I definitely have to do a lot more research about this, but I'm going to start by calling a doctor who was recommended by Henry's therapist. 

Matt and I are also going to start going to parenting classes. I'll keep you updated about what we learn! Also, I ordered this book to try out some of the activities with Henry. 

Phew! It's a lot, but all of these feel like solid next steps. 

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Healthy Eating for Kids

I believe that food is fuel, and I worry that Matt and I aren't optimizing our children's health through the food we offer them on a daily basis, specifically around breakfast. Matt handles the breakfast routine for us (thank you, Matty!), and he usually defaults to peanut butter and jelly. I guess I wouldn't feel so bad about peanut butter and jelly if we made sure the ingredients were all healthy. As it is, Matt is picking up these items separately (from Target) instead of including them in our weekly Whole Foods trip. I realize that's what I'm struggling with. If we made sure the bread didn't have any nasty stuff in it and we used natural peanut butter and jelly, I'd feel better. I think the problem on the natural peanut butter front is that we need one of these so we can keep it mixed. That's why Matt reverts to unhealthy peanut butters. Maybe we could even get the boys to switch over to banana instead of jelly? I'm not sure how that would go at this point...

I also think I should start making green smoothie popsicles for the boys. I would love for them to get a daily dose of calcium (from plain yogurt) along with the vitamins and minerals from spinach and mango. I'm going to try these silicon push pop things to see if I like them. 

I also think it would be good to make some of these egg sandwiches in advance and store them in a freezer. This jumbo muffin tin will help. Henry loves egg sandwiches! 

I'd feel better if they took a multivitamin on a daily basis, too. I just did some quick research and landed on this one. The boys are going to love having four pieces of "candy" a day.

One final thing: I want them to eat more veggies at dinner. I really need to add more meals to my repertoire. I'm getting so bored with what we have day in and day out. I'm going to work on gathering more ideas right now! 

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Monday, November 7, 2016

Another Halloween in the Books

Although I miss the fun that I used to have in my pre-children days when I had the time/space/energy to get really creative with my costumes, I will say that there is such magic and excitement that comes from being in the presence of children. 

First thing in the morning, Henry set out all the pieces of his costume, including his trick-or-treating basket and a flashlight. It was fun to pick up the boys from school with such a sense of anticipation. We got home and started putting our costumes on. We also set up our driveway for our neighborhood party. 

The trick-or-treating with a big group through our neighborhood was really fun. Tate is rapidly turning into a "three-nager" and is both sneaky and willful. Despite the fact that we asked him not to eat his candy while we were walking door to door, he started to. Matt asked, "Why are your lips blue?" He replied (without skipping a beat), "I fell down and it turned my lips blue."

We are putting away the Halloween books and taking out the Thanksgiving books

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I Went to Bulgaria--WHAT?!?

So, yes, I had the opportunity to go to Bulgaria last week. I couldn't believe it! Montessori For All was invited to present at the Teach For All international conference entitled, "Reimagining Learning." It's embarrassing to admit that I had to look up where Bulgaria was (it's near Greece). 

We flew from Austin to Toronto to Munich to Sofia and then took a shuttle another two hours to Blagoevgrad. On the way back, we left Blagoevgrad at 2:15am and flew from Sofia to Frankfurt to Houston to Austin. Something I unintentionally realized about international travel: it helps so much to plan your flights to arrive in the evening so you can arrive, get settled, and go to bed around 8pm. I accidentally scheduled my flights that way in both directions, and I experienced zero jet lag! 

The only issue we ran into was that one of our suitcases didn't make it to Bulgaria with us. It had 25% of the Montessori materials we brought for our session (we were supposed to create a hands-on learning experience for the participants), so we had to hurry and improvise at the last-minute. It seemed to work out okay, though. 

On one of the days, we connected with a friend of a friend who was born in Blagoevgrad and volunteered to give us a tour of her city. It was a delightful experience to drink freshly-squeezed fruit juice at one of the highest points in the city, shop for souvenirs at a little place off the beaten path along the river, stumble upon a prolific artist in the historic district who wanted to show us all her paintings, trek around the lake to see reindeers, rabbits, and deer, walk into a hand-built church from the 1800s, and hear stories about the rise and fall of communism in Bulgaria. Our tour guide's family had to be evacuated out of Bulgaria in the middle of the night in the late eighties to seek political asylum in the United States. 

I had never been to Eastern Europe before. Observing the remnants of communism was fascinating. And of course international travel is such a profound way to step out of one's daily experience and widen our sense of the world. 

I'm so grateful to be part of the Montessori movement, which is truly "education for peace." We need better educational opportunities for our children all across the world. As Maria Montessori says, "If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men [and women]."

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Reflection & Rejuvenation: November

Only two months left of the year. One of the things I like about my 5-year journal is that it gives me a sensorial experience every single night about how much of the year is left, since the thickness of the remaining pages dwindles each day.

October! What a month! Our Fall Break trip to Los Angeles and my work trip to Bulgaria (more about Bulgaria tomorrow)! There was also my big fundraising push to raise $150,000 more so we could get started on the first part of our permanent facility. And I've been shopping for Christmas presents (to reduce my stress this holiday season). And Matt and I started working on our holiday card. 

But I've really been dropping the ball on my big goal for the year: "Health & Wellness." I haven't been running twice a week or going to yoga because I've been too busy and too stressed. It's such a downward spiral for me. When I stop exercising, I feel more stress because my body isn't releasing its stress in a positive and productive way. And then I start coping with the stress I feel by eating unhealthy things. And then I start gaining weight. And then my clothes don't fit and I end up feeling really gross. 

Now that I'm back from Bulgaria, I really, really want to go to yoga again. And I have a new plan for how to fit in two runs a week: I'm going to see if both boys are ready to ride their bikes around the lake with me while a run. We'll see how it goes! 

I really, really want to end the year back at a healthy weight with my clothes fitting again and with an overall feeling of less stress and more health and wellness. 

I was nervous about reflecting on my goals for the year, but it looks like I'm not doing too badly!

  1. Start the year with the 21-day cleanse from Clean and work through a book about breaking the emotional eating habit. 
  2. Eat more salads with dinner. 
  3. Drink at least 80 ounces of water each day.
  4. Run once on the weekend and once during the week. 
  5. Go to yoga once a week. 
  6. Cultivate a daily meditation and gratitude practice.
  7. Publish five books. 
  8. Clean and organize our house before the boys go to bed each night. 
  9. Track our expenses in daily so that we are able to hit our saving goals. 
  10. Invite friends over monthly. 
  11. Use my work time in the evening to clear out my inbox and do bigger-picture planning. Try to move all projects into slots during the work day.  
  12. Take a trip with Matt.
  13. Go on a retreat by myself.
  14. Reflect each month about how I'm doing toward these goals.

I've also made progress on the book I'm working on, so that's exciting. 

I think my goals for this month need to be simple:
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Keep getting ahead of the holiday season
  • Keep picking up the house each night before bed
  • Keep trying to use my work time in the evening to clear out my inbox and try to move all my projects into slots during the day so I can close my computer by 9am each night. 
I'm looking forward to November! 

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