Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Birthday, Sweet Henry!

Oh, Henry. You add so much to our lives. We are so incredibly grateful for everything you bring to our family. 

You've grown so much as a kindergartener this year. You wake yourself up, get dressed, and make your breakfast. You help Tate all the time. 

You are constantly generating ideas: like the time you wanted to go to Terra Toys to buy stuff so you hatched a plan to raise money with a pecan stand. I came home and saw you standing at the corner with Dad and Tate, holding a sign that read "Pecans." You made $11 and bought yourself (and Tate) several toys. You are a generous person. 

You like to use screwdrivers to take things apart. You like to use string to put things together. You like to flip over chairs and stack up couch cushions to invent all sorts of things. You have never once in your life said, "I'm bored." 

You know how to read and write in cursive. You continue to be a phenomenal swimmer. You love the water! You love adventures--going to new places. This year we went to Flagstaff for Spring Break, the San Juan Islands for Summer Break, and Los Angeles for Fall Break. 

And you love having friends over. You continue to love eating meat, and you talk frequently about things like hunting, guns, and archery. You're getting better and better at aikido every week, and you started playing soccer during the after care program at school. 

You care deeply about other people. When we went shopping for birthday presents for twin girls, you knew which one would want a dog toy and which one would want a cat toy. Your gifts were their favorite. You knew exactly what they would like. When one of the little girls was sick, you wanted to make her a card and give her a dollar bill. I suggested that we make her something instead, and you said, "She really just wants money." You pay attention to others, and you read them well. 

You love to hear make-believe stories about pirates attacking a ship you're on and me coming to your rescue in a helicopter. We then travel to the island of our dreams and spend our days eating mangoes. We still cuddle together every night and almost every morning. We love to wrestle as a family. You and I are on the same team against Dad. You are a master at tickling. You can maneuver your body very quickly and get your small hands in all the right places. 

You bring so much joy, creativity, and curiosity into our family. Thank you for sharing your light with us and making our lives brighter. 

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Monday, February 27, 2017

It's Time for a Change

Now that we are using Sunbasket for three meals a week, I hardly ever have leftovers for lunch. I've been resorting to grabbing a protein bar and a piece of fruit. That was bad enough. Then I stopped having time to make my green smoothies for breakfast and starting grabbing the same kind of protein bar for breakfast. What?!?

I have to stop. I need more veggies and more fiber. Enter the work day salad...

Inspired by Kelsey, I am going to start making a work day salad the night before. Here's what I'm aiming for:
  • Crunchy lettuce
  • Farro
  • Boiled egg
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Red pepper
I'm going to try her strategy of salad dressing at the bottom, then grain. I'm excited! 

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Camping-Themed Birthday Party

I have to confess that I feel like a huge hypocrite when it comes to planning my children's birthday parties. I'm so judgmental of all the birthday parties I see on Pinterest. I have thoughts like, "Is all that attention to detail really for the children or is it for the adults? Whom are you trying to impress? Doesn't that bring more stress than joy into your life? And how much does it cost to buy color-coordinated straws?" 

And then when my son's birthday parties come around, I revel in the planning and in the details. I like planning! And I like details! (Maybe all those Pinterest moms do, too).

Now that Henry is older, we have so much fun planning together. He's turning 6 this year, and we are going with a camping-themed birthday party. Here's what we've got planned:
  1. Playing in tents set up around the backyard (we have one real one and one toy tent)
  2. Cooking hot dogs over a real fire
  3. Then cooking S'mores (with gluten-free graham crackers and vegan chocolate, due to all the food sensitivities in our life right now)
  4. Fishing in our pool (we bought these fish as favors, and our plan is to glue magnets onto them and make bamboo fishing poles using the bamboo in our backyard)
  5. Swatting at a camping-themed piƱata (Henry wanted to make a gun; I talked him into a tent)
I'm excited to do an inexpensive party at home for another year. It's getting harder and harder as Henry gets invited to more and more birthday parties at jump houses, etc. 

We're looking forward to it!


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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Making Babies

What better topic for Valentine's Day, right? 

I came across this book for the first time last week, and I'm intrigued to read it. It's called Brighton Baby: The Complete Guide to Preconception & Conception

It "celebrates the power of love as the intangible 'blueprint of life.'"

No, this does not mean that we are planning for Number Three. Life is perfectly full (and hard) with just two of them! I'm continuing to host my e-course about preparing your mind, body, and life for pregnancy, so I like to stay current on what's happening with the research. 

The book looks dense (a little too dense), but here's what I find intriguing about it:

Throughout the book, Dr. Dittmann turns the spotlight on the hidden dangers of: heavy metals and other toxins, genetically modified foods, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, rancid oils, antibiotics, processed foods, contaminated drinking water, electrosmog, and the pluses & minuses of vaccines - merging science and common sense to compel couples to take action today to prevent birth defects in their future child. Brighton Baby is a call to action for couples to commit now to consciously preparing for your future child together."

I worry a lot about the increasing toxicity of our world and the increase in disorders affecting children (from the perspective of an educator). I look forward to checking out [the less expensive, Kindle version of] this book!


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Monday, February 13, 2017

On Turning 39

Last week marked my passage across the threshold of being 39. I had a wonderful day that was celebrated by my children (Henry made me a "wind-powered boat" out of a shoebox, a pinwheel, and  duct tape, as well as four cards, so Tate started finding toys all around the house and giving them to me as gifts as you can see above), my colleagues, the children I tutor, my birthday buddy (we do a little exchange at school every year), and my partner Matt (he had warm cookies and cold milk delivered to me at work and wrote a poem for me).

The tenor of my birthdays is very different now that my life is so full. I used to pour my energy for creation and planning into my birthday parties, whether they involved random acts of kindness scavenger hunts or retro proms or trips to a YMCA camp for the weekend with a big group of friends. My desire to create and plan is reduced because I've just got so much going on in my life, and what's left of it goes into Henry's birthday, which is in the same month as mine. 

I'm working on bringing more balance into my life by trying to stop working by 8:00pm every night. We'll see if I have renewed energy and creativity to plan my birthday next year! Plus, it's #40, so maybe I'll want to do something bigger.

Regardless, birthdays are always a good time to step back and reflect and make sure we are living our  lives to the fullest. I'm watching a pretty dumb show right now ("No Tomorrow" on Netflix) about a man who believes a meteor is barreling toward the Earth. He's using his eight months to really live his life to the fullest (he has an "apocalist" of all the things he wants to do before he dies). 

It's funny to me that I am such a list person and yet the idea of a "bucket list" has never really taken off in my life. I'm not sure why that is. I wonder if it's because my list has been more around these lines:
  • Marry an amazing life partner
  • Give birth to children
  • Build a family life that is full of connection, quality time, adventure, joy, and love
  • Live in a beautiful space that makes my soul soar on a daily basis
  • Find a job that I love that helps bring about a world where there is "liberty and justice for all"
That's been my bucket list, or my Life List. And I've managed to bring these things into my life. (I'm frantically trying to knock on wood all over the house because I know that the things that matter to me most--my partner and my children--are tenuous. Their existence is not a given. Anything could happen at any moment and turn my life upside-down.)

If I died now (again--knocking on wood all over the place!), I would die in a contended place, knowing that I was able to do all the things I really wanted to do.

So maybe it is time to make more of an adventure-based list? I'll have to ruminate on that one for a while. 

For now, I'm going to focus on the gratitude I have for the life that is right in front of me. 


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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Sunday Supper Idea

By the end of this year, I want to be able to say that I feel "balanced, connected, full of vitality, and at peace." While it's definitely difficult to feel "at peace" given what's happening in the United States right now (I can't even imagine what I would feel if I were a person of color, LGBTQ, Muslim, or undocumented), I'm trying to work on the "connected" part. 

Matt and I are both introverted, so it feels easy to spend an entire weekend with just our little family. Yet at the same time, we enjoy other people and want to build deeper connections with our friends. 

That's where "Sunday Supper" comes in. I shamelessly stole the idea from Friday Night Meatballs. I'm going to start with monthly, rather than weekly. We'll see if people come! 

Here's what I'm thinking about serving:
  • Black bean and corn tacos using this crockpot recipe, with corn and flour tortillas, cheese, sour cream, and cilantro.
  • Guacamole, pico, and chips
  • Spanish rice
I want the whole thing to feel very easy and stress-free, so that we are motivated to do it again! 

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Henry's Genetic Issues

It turns out that Henry does have a genetic issue going on. We had him do the MTHFR test (a simple finger prick). Apparently his C671T allele (the larger one) is normal, but his A1298C is homozygous. It is missing the allele from each parent. It means that his body's ability to process folic acid is decreased by 30%. The psychiatrist explained that it's as if he only has 70% control of his behavior (because our body needs to process folic acid properly in order to support the production of important neuro-transmitters that are connected to self-regulation). (Editor's Note: All of this is coming from my scribbled, hand-written notes, so any part of this is not necessarily 100% accurate; it's a lot to follow!). Apparently this gene is linked to all sorts of things like addiction, depression, anxiety, thyroid issues, and heart disease. 

She prescribed him L-methylfolate, which is folic acid that has already been more processed for the body. He takes 15mg a day. For the first week and a half, it seemed to cause him headaches. I was worried that it was too much for his little body and thought about stopping it, but part of me wanted to keep him on it for at least 6-8 weeks, which is how long she says it takes to see its full impact. 

There was one day when we ran out of the pill (between the samples and his actual prescription). He didn't take it in the morning like he normally does. That afternoon, he had the kind of fit that he hasn't had in several months. The next morning, we gave him his pill like normal. The next morning, he woke himself up, got himself dressed independently, and then made breakfast for himself--all before we even got out of bed. I know this evidence is entirely anecdotal and completely unscientific, but it's the only data I have, and I'm compelled to keep him on it. 

I'll keep you updated about how it goes for us! 

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Monday, February 6, 2017

My Big Failure

Last year was supposed to be my year of "Health & Wellness." While I do have a lot to celebrate, I have to officially call my year a failure with regard to those goals.

I started out really strong with a 21-day cleanse, and I was the most regular participant in my yoga class for a solid four months. I used the Pact app to make sure I was running twice a week, and I was always planning ahead to make sure I could fit in my runs, no matter how busy my week was going to be. And all of this lasted for a third of the year! And I felt great.

And then performance review season hit (where I have to write detailed reviews for every employee), and I started feeling too busy. And then I wasn't exercising (because I was too busy) and that made me more tired. So then even when I wasn't as busy, I was then too tired. And then if I'm not exercising, why not eat whatever I want? And then it was a downward spiral from there.

I'm not one to wallow in negative feelings, so I'm here asking myself, "What can I do to make it different this year?"

Here are my ideas:

  1. I have to commit to weighing myself every week. Even when I'm not exercising and I'm eating crappily.  I need that accountability--that honest look at where I'm at. I know weight isn't an indicator of health and wellness for everyone, but it is for me. My weight is an honest reflection of whether I've been skipping exercise and stress eating. I already have a little notebook that I keep in the bathroom, so I can record my weight. It's really helpful. 
  2. I'm going to use a little tracking sheet to paste inside my notebook, so while the shower is heating up I can reflect on how I'm doing with regard to running, yoga, drinking water, and eating healthy. I know there are apps for this, but I am more of a paper and pen kind of gal. 
I believe in the old Chinese adage that we should be healthy 80% of the time. Broken down mathematically, that means we can be unhealthy for a little more than four meals. Matt and I eat out on Friday and Saturday nights, and then we eat out for lunch (something light like breakfast tacos or sandwiches) on Saturday and Sunday. That's about 20% of my meals. And then I'm going to aim for only one more random treat at any point during the week (a donut at school, a mini-blizzard from Dairy Queen, etc.). 

There's really not much more I need to do. I already bought a treadmill so I could run during the week if the weekend gets too busy for running. I already know the day and time of my yoga class. I just need to stick to my goals! Stay tuned for my check-in at the beginning of February (and then March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December--please ask me about it if I stop mentioning it during my monthly reflections!). 


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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Reflection & Rejuvenation: February

The new year!

Oh, how much easier it is to stick to intentions and goals in the new year...

By the end of the year, I want to be able to say that I feel balanced, connected, full of vitality, and at peace. I want to keep my bucket full, so that I can interact with others from a place of patience, love, and joy. I'm about an 8 toward this goal right now! Not too shabby.

Here are the things I'm trying to do toward the above goal this year:

  1. Run at least twice a week and do yoga at least once a week. Running = 90% of my goal this month. Woo-hoo! Yoga = 0%. I'm having a hard time fitting this one in because of #4 (see below). I can't finish my work before I need to go to yoga, which would then necessitate working late into the evening, which I haven't wanted to do. I have also had a TON of evening meetings this month.
  2. Eat in a balanced and healthy way. Yes! I've only had one additional unhealthy restaurant meal and one extra treat. 
  3. Continue my daily meditation and gratitude practice. I meditated 79% of the days in January (I use the Insight Timer app).
  4. Stop working at 8pm to create two hours of free time for myself each evening. I did a lot better than I have in the past! I should start tracking this.
  5. Attend therapy every other week and attend leadership coaching every other week. I started the leadership coaching this month! 
  6. Take a pottery class. Later in the year...
  7. Host a Sunday Supper at least ten times this year. Not yet...
  8. Religiously use Mint.com to track our expenses. We have categorized all our expenses so far!
  9. Restore our house each night. Better! 
  10. Go on a retreat by myself. Later in the year...
  11. Go on a trip with Matt. Later in the year...

I also worked with Henry to plan his birthday party for next month. 

Up this month: Everything above plus...
  • Getting our taxes done
  • Organize our office desk
  • Organize the boys' bathroom (now that everything has a place in our house, I want to go back through one area per month to maintain it). 
I'm going to write this goals up on our giant kitchen whiteboard, so that they are front and center all month long! 

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