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!

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.

“My Can’t Know!”

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My three year old often replaces “I” for “my” when referring to herself.  She has many little quirky ways of saying things that make her all the more charming.  My favorite right now being “my can’t know.”  When I ask her where something is, or what something means or ask her if she knows how to do something, she usually responds with “my can’t know.”  This has actually become very profound to me.

You see, every child should respond this way because it is such raw truth.  “Where are your shoes,” I’ll ask, to which she responds, “My can’t know.”  Or “Would you sort your toys into their proper baskets?” “My can’t know.”  “Do you know what ___ means?” “My can’t know.”  She isn’t tell me “no.” She isn’t simply telling me she can’t.  She is telling me “I can’t know because you haven’t taught me.”

Children are so pure and new and fresh.

I often fall into the daily grind of adulthood and parental responsibility and forget that my children really don’t know very much still.  They can’t know.  They haven’t been taught.  Every single moment of every single day while they are young, is something new.  Something that will grow their minds, their personality, their abilities.

Everything is new and amazing to children. After being reminded how almost every moment of the day is a teaching moment, I now approach most things with a lesson.  They will know because I will teach them.

Preparing a Learning Environment

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It’s hard to keep kids focused sometimes. They need an environment that encourages them to learn.  I have come to believe it is very important to keep the kid’s place of learning simple, straightforward and devoid of distraction.  Also, to keep it consistent.  While it’s nice to have some flexibility in where and when they learn, it’s vital to have some rhythm associated with their studies.

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For us, this consists of the dining room table, fully cleared and containing only learning tools.  I have also decided that a snack is important during the morning studies as it keeps their growing brains free from distractive hunger prior to lunch.  Preparing a simple plate of healthy snacks to set on the table keeps them from getting grumpy and begging me for a break.

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It brings peace to have things organized and aesthetically pleasing.  Especially for an ever growing child that already has so many new things going on in their minds.