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.

“Those Days” And How To Overcome

Every mother has “one of those days.”  I make a significant effort to not talk about them.  Positive thinking…super mom complex….denial… call it what you will but it rarely makes things better to dwell on the worst.  But…..today is “one of those days” and I’d love to share with you things I’ve learned to “deal.”

Baby number 3 is a fuss bucket–she’s oh so cute and sweet but she fusses incessantly. As in, hubby and I haven’t slept for a year, the kids are so used to her crying they don’t even look her way anymore, my arms are constantly full of baby–but not just sweet snuggly baby able to be put in a front back….no… that would be ok… we’re talking wiggly, unsatisfiable, back arching beastly kinda baby.   This is the kid that brought me to tears because I just wanted to fold the laundry without her screaming or without using one hand (the other being full of baby). And today she has been oh so difficult.  The funny thing is, if I were to give you a list of how my day went, it wouldn’t seems so bad.  Things like taking an entire nap time to make Paleo chocolate crepes that didn’t work so well instead of cleaning and doing laundry.  Things like cutting my own hair because life has been too busy to make it to a salon.  Things like trying to rock the baby to sleep while still dripping wet wrapped in a towel after attempting a shower only to have her refuse the milk and the nap…

It doesn’t seem that bad… but sometimes we as moms (and dads… and siblings….) get tired, get stressed, get burned out even if we are trying to stay positive.

In the past, this sort of day would have gotten me down for weeks.  You see, the biggest pressure I experience is giving into the pressure and judgement of society.  The age old stay at home mom question of “what did you do all day.”  It has to look like I did something with my day or I go into panic mode.  The kitchen is a mess, the laundry is behind, the beds are unmade, the kids watched TV (it’s a Birthday–no school), there is food and toys spread all over the floor and here I am taking deep breathes writing a blog post.

Since when is holding a baby “not enough?”

I’ll tell you when.  When we stopped being a community.  When we stopped being a village.  When we stopped supporting each other.  When women stopped making bread together while caring for their children.  We each started living in our homes as single families and no one else knows what’s going on in your days.  No one knows when you are struggling or when you are thriving.  Your worth is based on what can be seen–not necessarily on what is important.  I am a stay at home mom, not a stay at home maid, not a stay at home secretary, not a stay at home chef, not a stay at home nanny. I am a mom.  So on days like this, if the laundry is 10 loads behind and the dishes are everywhere it is because I was holding a baby and telling her I love her even though she is screaming.  It is because I tried a new recipe for my son’s birthday.  It is because I tried to comb my toddler’s hair.  It doesn’t mean I’m not working, it doesn’t mean I am lazy.  It means I am working despite being stressed out emotionally.  It means I’m still doing my job even though my own selfish desires are calling to me (like wanting to get dressed or pee).  It’s because I understand how short this time is going to be.  Soon the dishes will always be done and laundry will always be folded but there won’t be a baby in my arms.  There will be a grown woman in her place.  And I’m going to miss kissing her little head–even if she is crying while I do.

But knowing these things doesn’t always help–let’s be real.  I’ve been through babyhood three times already–I know how hard it is and how easy it is to get burned out.

So here’s some tips I’ve come up with to help myself:

  • -Mantras are amazing.  They work. I say repetitive things to myself like “this will pass,” “I love my life/family/child,” “this is worth it,” “I can do this.”  It doesn’t matter if you really believe it at the time.  Pick something that works for you and repeat it over and over until you do believe it.  Or at least until it distracts you enough to get through the difficult moment.
  • -Smile in spite of your situation.  Studies have been done to show smiling actually can boots your mood.
  • -Instead of getting angry laugh at the situation–there have been many times when I’ve been close to tears and realized how silly my children were being and laughed.  It was surprising to me how it made everything a little easier.
  • -It’s also ok to cry.  Crying is better than anger.  If the baby won’t stop screaming, put her/him in a safe place and cry. It’s ok–it’s hard to keep up the good attitude all the time and kids are much more forgiving of tears than harsh words.
  • -Stretch.  Take a second to do your favorite yoga pose.
  • -If the kids are in a good place for you to take a break, work out.  And work out hard.  I can still remember the first time I “worked out my frustration.”  I was swimming laps and I was so frustrated with my kids.  They’d been little beasts for days and I remember taking all my anger and frustration out on the water–one aggressive stroke after the other.  I felt amazing afterwards!
  • -Deep breathe.  When we are upset, we tend to breath shallowly or even hyperventilate without even realizing it.  Stop and even go as far as to practice your labor breathing.  We did Hypnobirthing with our last child and it has made me a better parent to practice the meditations and deep breathing exercises.
  • -Know that it is ok to let the baby cry, the kids watch tv, the toddler run around the house naked for a while if you need to get alone.  Do your hair, get dressed nicely, do something to feel better about yourself–even if it’s five minutes.
  • -Ask for help.  In our society, there isn’t a lot of people around just waiting to be asked but if you have a friend or if your husband is home, just ask for help.  You are super mom–you don’t have to prove that to anyone.  But you do need a break now and then–even superwoman needs a glass of wine and a hot bath!
  • -Leave the house (with your kids).  I am really good at this when it is not perpetual winter–like right now.  It is a lot harder to be angry and down when you are smiling at people as you walk down the street with rays of sunshine warming your soul.  Just get your kids and leave.  Leave in the middle of the tantrum, leave in the middle of the crying, get those kids and get some sun and some exercise.
  • -Be forgiving of yourself.  It’s ok to struggle.  You are the caretaker of people–of souls.  This is not an easy job.  Learn, forgive and move on more enlightened when you make a mistake.
  • -Be happy.  Find things everyday to rejoice about.  It helps it really does.  Even if it’s one simple thing.  Dwell on it. Be thankful for it.
  • -Always know that you as a mother are loved.  You are love–you made more love for the world.  Love yourself and love them.  It’s all going to be ok.

Paleo Day 2

It’s the second full day of becoming Paleo.  Not a whole lot of observations yet other than 1) Paleo lunch ideas have been difficult to think up and 2) I am surprisingly satisfied!  I’m not hungry at all–in fact I am MORE satisfied then when I was eating breads and carb fillers.  I’m a nursing mom with a high metabolism so this is really exciting–it feels great!

Today I think I finally realized what a Paleo lunch might look like.  I think salad is a great carrier for left overs.  I made a salad consisting of lettuce, tomatoes, sliced grilled chicken (I cheated and bought this pre-made–but I made sure it was pure natural chicken with only spices no extra ingredients), left over sweet potatoes fried in coconut oil, cashews and red peppers.  It was delightful.

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For the kids, I made them plates of snap peas, celery, salad, the fried sweet potatoes and hot dogs (again, I cheated with these for the kids but made sure they were all natural with no fillers).  They ate every bite–it was truly amazing.

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For Paleo baby, I just kept throwing food on her high chair tray.

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Eat all the food!!!

When she was full, she threw the remainder of her lunch on the floor.  When I got her down from her high chair, she immediately went and ate what she had thrown off the floor–a true cave baby.

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 I’m so proud.

Pre Paleo Party

We have decided to try out the Whole30–do 30 days of a Paleo diet and see how it goes from there.  We are including the kids in this. This week is going to consist of teaching about nutrition and learning how to eat on a Paleo diet (as well as reasons why).

The first step of going Paleo is cleaning out your pantry from all things that are not on the diet (carbs, grains, legumes, etc). I really don’t like wasting food so I didn’t want to just throw it all in the garbage. When the kids woke up I had a surprise for them–I told them they could eat any of the food items I had on the counter all day long.  They could eat all the cookies, all the chips, all the crackers they wanted to their hearts content.

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They went crazy!

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Party time!

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Enjoy, little children, enjoy,  ’cause starting tomorrow you’ll become a cave man and you’ll be eating only meats and veggies!

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!