taking the big leap

Today we withdrew my daughter from her private school for the foreseeable future. I’ve dreamed of homeschooling, or actually worldschooling, or real life education, since my daughter was two, but until now I’ve never had the means. With twins on the way, and with a two parent household, someone being home all or most of the day every day is finally a reality (and a necessity). And with a little bit of research into the homeschooling community around us, a lot of inner searching, much excitement, and some trepidation, we are giving it a try!

Even in the small, lovely Montessori private school that she has attended the past two years, I see my child suffering in a “school” environment. I see her growing sullen, reluctant to go to school, and feeling irritable and cranky after school, unable to focus on the activities she loves in the evenings. Why do children need to “recover” from school anyway? Because it’s work. Not good work, that you are inspired to do, but often drudge work. The school our girls go to really improves on public schools in a number of important and valuable ways, but when I looked at my very active, very impulsive, sensory processing-challenged daughter, I see a child for whom “classroom learning” is not the right fit, not right now. All of the authority that goes with a rigid schedule of academics and the crowd-control necessary for a peaceful group of 25 three-to-six-year-olds is a round-hold square-peg scenario for her.

And yet, we’ve been wavering because, well, we love the people at the school and appreciate the nurturing atmosphere that contributed so much to our children’s well-being. And also because we aren’t sure how we can possibly tolerate having this very energetic and sometimes difficult child at home 24/7. Actually, having her at home 24/7 is not even an option that she will tolerate.

The only way this could work is if we found some sort of outside programming that she could attend during the week to take the place of school. Something supervised but free-form. Something engaging and active. And so far, we think we have found a few very good options. Programs that take place all day, every day, in the great outdoors (thank you, California weather!). Programs that allow children to learn and inquire and grow at their own pace (goodbye to the reading level expectations!), while allowing for maximum movement and activity. And, by the way, it’s for a fraction of the price of private school tuition AND the occupational therapy required to fit my little square peg into that big round hole that is “school”.

But is it all too good to be true? What will it really be like, to drive her further, to have her around more, to balance homeschool activities with sister’s school schedule and two newborn babies?

We don’t know. It may turn out to be nothing like we hope, but I have a feeling it will be amazing. And I know that by taking giant leaps on faith alone, you sometimes find more joy than you ever could’ve imagined!

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mother of more things

The title of my blog changed (once again) with my return to the blogging world. I’ve been all kinds of mothers… foster, adoptive, special needs, step, baby loss. Time to add another label to that list! My wife and I are expecting identical twins at summer’s end!

Trust me when I say that “identical twin mom” was not even remotely on my radar as a title that I would ever be picking up. Nor was “mother of 4”! A little over two years ago, in fact, I was contented with the fact that I would have an only child! As it turned out, my little only child is way happier with siblings (she’s a natural at middle-childing) and I’m beyond grateful that I’ll be parenting a full herd of children with a wonderful partner. Life can be so unexpected!

For now, we are completely unprepared for twin life, and just enjoying the fact that the pregnancy is healthy and things are going well. In the future I’m sure there will be much angst over which double stroller to buy, how to avoid mixing them up, and the fact that we will never sleep again!

split peas are not a win

I made such a delicious split pea soup last night, with a side of honey/butter GF cornbread. I was so disappointed that it was pretty much gone after the family had eaten, I was hoping for leftovers! Today, however, I’m so bloated and gassy it’s gross. I guess legumes are not my friend, at least not in heaping bowlfuls.

Another thing that has not been my friend recently is my Instant Pot. It leaks steam, doesn’t seem to seal correctly, and when it finally does seal, the additional warming time is causing things to dry out. Quite possibly I need to replace the rubber ring on the lid, I think it may be stretched out.

I’m going to make a batch of my favorite almond butter Flour-less Chocolate Chip Cookies to take to work I think. I’m hoping to share my new love of healthier food options with more people, and I brought up these cookies with co-workers and the result was a great interest. These are absolutely my favorite “healthy” baked good alternatives so far, really satisfying my sweet-tooth!

I’m still hovering at 9 lb weight loss, with fluctuations bringing me to that 10 lb mark sometimes. I have fallen off the wagon with the work outs… somebody pull me back on!

birthday bashes

My only “cheat” during the week of my six-year-old’s birthday celebrations was a few pieces of gluten-free pizza, and a taste of the birthday cake (not worth a whole piece, since learning about my horrible sugar crash tendencies). It all went off just fine, and my dye-sensitive child even did pretty well eating mostly her GF cake, dye-free frostings, chocolates, and a few pieces that did have dye (she guiltily admitted to me). She held it all together even though her first/birth mom surprised her (this could’ve been a recipe for an understandable fit of anxiety) with a limo and spent the party with her. It ended up making her super happy! There may still be some emotional fall-out, but it hasn’t occurred yet, and she had a super fun party at her horse stables, with her favorite friends from school and horseback riding, and of course, her big sister.

The only awkward moment was when, after she had asked birth mom about her bio dad (whose whereabouts are unknown), she thought that the limo driver was the dad in question, and burst into the party room exclaiming to me, “Mom! I have a daddy, I do!” I said calmly, “well let’s talk about that in a little while, first we need to have your cake” and she was sufficiently distracted from the topic in front of all 20 something guests! #adoption

Last week I had a lot of potato broccoli soup  (recipe in link), and tried out a different local grocery store to see what they had by way of organic stuff. Not much, honestly. We took the only two organic broccoli heads they had, and I was completely unable to find organic rbst-free greek yogurt. The soup was great, though, and if you’re going to follow the recipe above, I’ll just note that I used 4 cups of broth and 4 cups of water (as opposed to bouillon) and there’s no need to blanch some of the broccoli ahead of the soup if you’re ok with the soup just being blended or creamy, as opposed to having solid broccoli pieces. I feel like it just adds an extra step, and I sure don’t have time for that!

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down ten pounds!

Today I hit 152, down ten pounds from my starting weight of 162! That’s two pounds away from the “obese” BMI category, for whatever that’s worth. In any case, I’m happy that 5 weeks and 2 days after changing the way I eat to eliminate ALL non-natural ingredients, the weight is falling off. I do some workouts on fitness blender, but honestly not as often as I should. This is all diet, right now. If I was more committed to working out no doubt the weight loss would be more. What’s important is my commitment to this as a way of life. I had my first “cheat” last night, on my daughter’s 6th birthday, when I ate some GF pizza. It wasn’t organic, and it wasn’t homemade. God knows what was in it. At least it didn’t have sugar! I avoided the ice cream, knowing that a sugar crash can really do me in. My daughter chose to go to an all-natural gelato shop, meaning no artificial dyes or preservatives in the ice cream. I was super happy about that, organic or not, and they even had gluten free waffle cones. It may not be 100%, but it was 50%. So we’ll take it! Robyn O’brien says, “Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.” So her birthday was that much healthier, and I’m proud of it. For her actual party on Saturday, her birthday cake will at least be dairy and artificial dye-free. (I say dairy because at least we then know it won’t have non-organic dairy, meaning antibiotic and hormones in it.)

But back to the fact that, hey, I have a six-year-old! I can hardly believe it. She stayed up til bedtime putting together her new lego set. On her own! I seriously didn’t know she could do that without help. Gosh. I’m full of pride for her growth, and nostalgia for that cute baby I snuggled for years.

urban remedy to the rescue

I was saved from hunger pains last night as I left work by Urban Remedy, an all-natural organic brand of convenience foods. I almost always get hungry when I’m finishing a shift and walking out of work, and I used to remedy this with something from the cafeteria. Sometimes a grilled cheese, usually a healthier option like baked chicken or stuffed peppers and a side of vegetables. My workplace actually offers very healthy fare. Even so, the oils they use to cook it are probably canola/vegetable oil (and thus, GMO) and the vegetables aren’t organic, let alone the meat. So that was not an option. I thought I’d probably just have to starve all the way home (my commute is sometimes over an hour long), but I thought I’d peek in there and see if just by any chance there would be something organic, anything at all. And there it was, the Urban Remedy kiosk! Pad thai, burrito bowl, lots of salads, drinks, and snacks… every single one of them certified USDA organic, GMO free, and not a single unrecognizable or unnatural ingredient to be seen. I went with the burrito bowl (fresh salad and half an avocado, sprouted brown rice, black beans, pico de gallo, and a delicious vegan “nacho cheese” made of cashews that I could eat like soup!). The price tag, well, was $11. I thought about all the money I have saved, though, not buying my morning coffee there ($2.50) or my evening meal there (usually upwards of $10). This was the same price as the food and red bull I was buying there before! And way way way better for me.

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Today the cleaners came (yes, we are precious like that and have house cleaners, which is something I never, ever thought I’d be able to say), and one of them asked me if I’ve lost weight! I’m thrilled to be looking noticeably different to someone who sees me for maybe 5 minutes twice per month. Although I haven’t lost a single pound more since the first 10 days, neither have I gained, nor has my heartburn returned. I think the 2nd week weight plateau is definitely a thing, and I’m pushing on. It’s not all about weight… my body feels a bit rearranged. Clothing fits better, my face seems thinner. I have done some weight training as part of my fitness blender, too, so my arms and legs are feeling stronger. I’m definitely more flexible!

My headaches, though, they continue. I was put on topamax as a migraine prophylactic, and that coincided with my first week of eating clean. I wasn’t sure if it was the detox/candida die off, or the new med, making me so drowsy, so I stopped the med. I think it was the former, not the latter, so I’m starting the med again. I’m still very tired at bedtime, and in the morning (this is probably just who I’m gonna be for life), but I’ve noticed much more alertness and wakefulness during the day!

Except when I drank a smoothie the other day… my daughter begged me for a smoothie, so she got her fruit smoothie at Jamba Juice, and I had my first indulgence since starting this food thing. A peanut butter moo’d smoothie, my old favorite. Well, there was enough sugar in that thing that I couldn’t even finish it. About 30 minutes after I stopped drinking it, I felt drunk, my eyelids heavy, drowsy as fuck. I had to lie down and close my eyes for an hour! Talk about a sugar crash. Going from almost no sugar (except for what’s in fruit/honey) to that smoothie was waaaay too much for my system. And I think that may be a good thing!

I’m back!

It’s been a while, blogging world! For years I was a foster parent blogger, a baby loss blogger, an adoptive mom blogger, a mom blogging about parenting a child with attachment disorder and hyperactivity (she’s doing amazing, by the way). I last left you with a happy post about meeting my destiny in the city by the sea. In that time we’ve settled down into life, and I’ve returned to my passion for healthy eating, respectful parenting, exploring and adventuring with kids, and being a critical care nurse in yet another top ten hospital. Can you believe in a matter of years my life changed so completely, and yet here I am still pursuing these same passions, this time as a happily married mom of two and hopefully more down the road!

Let’s just jump right in: I’m on day 21 of the most radical eating change I’ve ever undertaken. I’m avoiding all foods that contain artificial, GMO, or chemical ingredients. And I haven’t cheated once! I’m also drinking teaspoon of apple cider vinegar each morning, not eating after 8pm, and have even cut out even organic added sugar in most things, including my morning coffee! I experienced the Candida die-off from hell the first ten or so days, and honestly I was wondering how eating such a healthy diet could possibly be making me feel so sick. But here I am three weeks later with several ongoing health issues that have disappeared (heartburn, bloating, itchy skin, recurrent yeast infections) and a burning desire to share all of the fascinating (and gross) things I’ve been learning about what’s in our food!

Today Vani Hari’s new book Feeding You Lies came out, but before starting in on that, I have finished reading her first book “The Food Babe Way”, as well as Robyn O’Brien‘s book “The Unhealthy Truth”. The information in those books alone is enough to make you want to join an organic food co-op for life, and adding documentaries like “Food, Inc” will turn you off of most processed foods for life. But we do live in the USA, and we are surrounded by processed food all the time, so I’m also trying to figure out how to incorporate what I’m learning with what we eat as a family. Every time I cook dinner made with 100% naturally derived foods and one or both kids eats it, I think “Victory!” Every time I bring the pure maple syrup and homemade pancakes to the Mom’s group parties as an alternative, I feel the warm glow of satisfaction that I’ve done right by them, but they didn’t miss out on the party. Even just knowing that their macaroni and cheese does not contain yellow dye, or knowing that every vegetable they were encouraged to put into their mouth was grown without pesticides or GMO seeds, makes up for the fact that hey, sometimes they get candy, or drink chocolate milk, or eat something with a preservative in it. We don’t want to suck the joy out of all of life by being too militarized. Robyn O’Brien says over and over: Do not make the perfect the enemy of the good. For a perfectionist like me, those are words to truly take home and use as a mantra!

More thoughts I’ve been having recently:

-Today I learned about how tomatoes, and some other fruits, are ripened by using gases during transport. Yuck. I really want to start going to the local farmer’s market more often. Support local anyway, right?

-I feel I’m in a rut with the kids’ lunch boxes. Carrots, cucumbers, and celery for vegetables. Berries, apple or pear, oranges for fruit. Maybe it’s ok to eat the same thing most times? I like to feel a little more creative in this area, though. I’m making a mental note to scroll through the pinterest “lunch box” ideas I have pinned again.

-Eating well has not been a mental challenge for me. But exercising totally has. I had a long stretch of doing fitness blender every day, and now I’ve gotten off track again. My weight loss has plateaued and I know I need to get back on it. 20 minutes of my life on my days off really should not be too much to ask! But god, do I drag my feet with it.

-My clothes are fitting better for the first time in a year and a half. The sleeves aren’t as tight, nor are the buttons. Even my jackets/coats are not feeling as tight. Hurray!

-Now that the detox/Candida die-off has passed, it’s time to see if I can get back on the prophy drug I was given for my migraines. I wasn’t sure if the fatigue I was feeling was related to that, but now I’m thinking not.