How 30 Days of Paleo Changed Our Family

I haven’t posted in a while–things have been busy busy.  We finished our 30 days of Paleo and are pretty much continuing it.  We are not as strict with it now but we really enjoyed it and are going to stick with it as best we can in our busy world.  The biggest outcome of Paleo for our family (other than the fact that we had more energy and felt better) was in our children.  We discovered two things: 1) Our son is gluten intolerant and 2) when you feed your kids nothing but good foods, they start only wanting the good food and are more willing to try new and unusual things.

We have been on a long road with my son’s behavior and development.  He’s on the autism spectrum but is just boarder line enough to not receive much help (one of the reason’s we homeschool).  He’s also had terrible eating habits since toddlerhood.  He’d only eat white, starchy, processed, factory-made carbohydrates.  We tried feeding therapy, we tried changing our diet, we tried forbidding the poorer foods but nothing worked.  When we started Paleo, we went cold turkey–even with the kids.  We got rid of everything that was processed, carbohydrates and grains.  It terrified my son but it only took a few dinner battles to really get past it.  Once he started eating the better whole foods, he started feeling better, was more cognitive and actually started trying new things.  He went from eating a diet of french fries, chicken nuggets and rice to eating celery, strawberries, meat, salad, artichokes, almost anything I gave him.  And he was happier.  I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

When the 30 days were over, we let him eat some glutenous foods and the change was drastic and obviously connected.  As my husband said, “Our children are gluten intolerant .. when they eat gluten, they become intolerable!”  The day after eating gluten, my son couldn’t listen to a full sentence without tuning me out, he couldn’t remember any of his lessons, he grew dark and irritable and he was incoherent and non-verbal.  I had read many times about putting spectrum kids on a gluten free diet but I just stubbornly never wanted to walk that path.  However, having my son be with me mentally is worth every effort.  It really has made a difference.  He will still need some therapies and special help but I’m fully advocating a gluten free diet for spectrum kids.  And going Paleo actually made that incredibly easy!  We don’t have to substitute breads or desserts etc. we just eliminate all grains.  Truly amazing.

Paleo Kids–Food Recognition

As an introduction to our new Paleo diet, I taught the kids how to recognize the foods we will eat and the foods we will avoid.  Essentially I told them to look for foods with one ingredient.  I gave them a bunch of food sale ads and had them cut out foods that qualify as Paleo and those that don’t.  They then glued the pictures onto a plate of Paleo food and a plate of foods to avoid.  They both did surprisingly well at the project and it was great to see them getting on board with the diet.

Here’s what their final projects for Paleo food plates looked like:

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Butterfly Craft

It’s craft time up in here!  I love craft time.  I try to use limited instructions and I love seeing what my kids create.  Today we made butterflies.

To make these you’ll need tissue paper, scissors, paints, brushes, markers, clothes pins, pipe cleaners and glue sticks.
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You can either paint the clothes pin:

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Or use markers:

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Next, cut your tissue paper in half:

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Then in half again:

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Then, fold the tissue paper squares in the middle of the square as you would  a fan:

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Now, stuff the middle of the tissue paper “fan” into the “mouth” of the clothes pin (this is where you could use a little glue to hold the wings in place):

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Then add the pipe cleaner and wrap it around for antenna:

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Make an entire kaleidoscope of butterflies!IMG_4957

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So fun to play with!

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Happy Spring crafting!!

The Second Trimester

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About a week and half ago, we finished our first trimester of Oak Meadow.  I still really like this curriculum but I’ve decided we are going to supplement with Singapore Math and Easy Grammar (I feel math and grammar are the only weak spots in the curriculum).  I might also add a Latin program to the mix such as Prima Latina.  Another program I love (my mother used it with me as a child) is English from the Roots Up.  But I digress…  (I love books and learning and curriculum.  I could go on forever…)

As a reward (for all of us) in accomplishing the first trimester, we took a much needed Spring Break last week.  I didn’t get nearly as much done as I had planned (duh) during the school break but the kids had a good time and so did I.  And now, slightly more refreshed, we are beginning the second trimester.  This trimester I hope to put weekly lesson plans up on the blog and some information on how we are making this school year a success.

My goal and theme for this trimester is to stay positive.  To put a happy twist on each day.  Yesterday we welcomed the second trimester into our lives with happiness and excitement.  Children need to be guided in their days to feel a certain way about their tasks.  It is my job to set a precedent for each day so they know it is something special–a gift to be a part of this moment.  Here’s to a joyful week!

Happy Spring!

Later Days

Sleep at day

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

 -by Robert Louis Stevenson

Oh the exhaustion of putting children to bed in the daylight!  I used to think daylight savings was pretty fun–until I had children.  I love the warmer months, so having an extra hour of daylight to ride my bike or just be outside, was always thrilling.  Now that I have children, however, it just means an extra hour before bedtime!  I think blackout curtains are a genius product but they aren’t a cure all for the later evenings.  I’ve decided to be more relaxed about it this year.  As the weather gets warmer, I will plan evening picnics or walks to wear the children out instead of forcing bedtime.  Happy daylight savings!  Bring on the summer!

What’s The Hurry?

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The laundry is piled up, the dishes are overflowing in the kitchen sink, there are toys everywhere, the floor needs to be vacuumed, and I need to go to the gorcery store.  On a day like this, I used to start rushing around trying to get things done quickly until along came the toddler begging to help.  “That’s sweet, honey, but mommy has to work quickly.”  The toddler then mopes away  feeling rejected.

Sometimes as a mother, it is very frustrating when your child wants to help you.  It can be much much faster and easier to just do it yourself.  I used to find myself constantly refusing my children’s help.  I just wanted to get the work done as efficiently as possible.  There are only so many hours in the day, after all.  But there are also only so many days when your child is going to want to help you–or even to be with you at all.

Learning how to help and work is very important for child development.  Without chores and a solid work ethic, children get used to having things done for them–they become entitled.  A strong work ethic needs to be taught when they are young and interested.  It needs to be taught when they are having a sensitive period–when they are most interested and willing.  Teaching how to cheerfully work will be simple and beautiful, if it is encouraged while the child is excited about it.

It is also important to teach your child to work happily.  As a form of gratefulness and care for the gifts they are given.  I realized recently that my rushing around trying to get things done quickly was just showing my child that I wanted to get done–that I was not enjoying my tasks.  I was being ungrateful for the work I was given and I was teaching them to feel the same.  I wanted to get it done so I could “take a break” from caring for the things and the people around me.  That is not what I want to teach my children.  Adulthood is work.  All the time.  From sun up to sun down, I care for my family.  I make meals, I clean floors, I scrub dishes, I wash clothes, I wipe little faces (and tushes), I teach, I run errands, I buy food.  And everyone of those things are a gift–are something to be thankful for.  I am thankful I have the recourses to make a meal. I am thankful I have a hardworking husband that makes enough money for us to buy healthy food.  I am grateful I have a washing machine to clean our many clothes.  I am grateful my children’s clothes are dirty because it means they are healthy and able to play in the mud. I am grateful for the dishes I scrub because it means my family was fed.  I am grateful for all the many chores, as exhausting as they are, because it means I have people that I love around me. And mostly, I am grateful I do not have to do all my work alone.

Having your children work alongside you, will not only teach them to work but it gives you an opportunity to be with your children.  It makes them feel valuable and loved to be able to fold laundry with you and talk about their day.  It’s surprising how children understand that you need to work.  They know you have things to do but they don’t want to be ignored while you do it.  Inviting them to work alongside you makes them feel accepted into your life–not just like another chore for you to get done.

There is no hurry.  There is nothing wrong with not getting a particular chore done by a certain time.  What’s important is teaching your children the importance of work and the importance of them.  That you are grateful for the work you are given and that you are thankful they are there to help you.  I’ve made a conscious choice to slow down and ask them to help me–to involve them in my task as slow as it might be. d What’s the hurry?  One day they will be grown and caring for their own house and family.  Be with them in your work.  They are companions, not chores and they long to be just like you.

Waldorf Nature Table Meets Orthodox Icon Table

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As I have said before, I adore “Waldorfian ideologies” but I do like to incorporate our Orthodox Christian faith into the mix as well.  The concept of the Waldorf nature table is absolutely precious–what a sweet way to settle your children into the idea of seasons and celebrations.  (Here is a good explanation of the nature table concept.)

Something that I love about Children’s Garden of the Theotokos is that they use the idea of the nature table as a basis for the family icon table.  Instead of having the table scarf be of a seasonal color, it is of a liturgical color coinciding with the church calendar.  We have placed winter branches on the table as well as some candles and the icons of Christ and the Theotokos.  (Candles are a great way to instill a feeling of reverence for children making an event rhythmical and special–they can be used during prayers or on the dining table during meals etc signifying a time when they are to act with respect and good behavior.)

And so our family icon table meets nature table to create a special place signifying a season or celebration where the family can gather together throughout the day.