Monday, October 13, 2014

Does the voice in your head berate you or affirm you? Start noticing the good.

Ever have a day where you catch yourself thinking you've failed? Do you ever go to bed at night running through all the things you failed to do and all the things you messed up or skipped?

Although I can say I love motherhood, I still grapple with the general cultural messages that parenting is some kind of lowly, unproductive waste of our time. I have a doer personality and the grind of parenting young children can make me lose sight of what's most precious.

This past week, I took on too many projects and said yes too many times to too many people. Unsurprisingly, my house is a mess and most of the projects are overdue or half done. Let's not even talk about the activity of my blog lol. (Thank the FB Gods for the ability to schedule links at least?)

I was really feeling a good pity party coming on when I decided I needed to calm down with some mental affirmations. I decided to go to bed thinking about all that I had done, and all that had gone right.
Here's what I worked out:

I didn't list my box of items to sell last week. The box is still sitting here, staring at me. Am I disorganized and inefficient? That's what I could call myself, sure. Instead, I choose to remember that I committed to going on not one but three playdates with a new mom group, meeting new moms and introducing the children to potential new friends. I choose to call myself friendly and open to new experiences instead.

I didn't finish redecorating the living room. I had a whole plan, including new furniture, securing the TV to a different wall, building a table top for the train table, hanging photo frames, and more. Am I just flighty, unable to finish what I start? Or, could it be that I was prudent and went over the finances carefully with DH, and decided to halt the project until a later time? I choose to say that I can moderate my desires and communicate honestly with my spouse instead.

Once again, I forgot to pull out the fancy paints I bought ages ago and to do special stenciling with the children. I was going to go through the alphabet with them, and their numbers, and incorporate rhyming songs, and be a superstar home educator! I failed. But, did I? Today, we ran around the woods for hours, and the children excitedly ASKED to learn about tree identification. And we found an orb spider and talked about building spider webs and spinning silk. And then we climbed a hill to see a beautiful view of the lake. Learning happened, just not in the perfect and fancy way I was trying to create.

Another day went by and I didn't write the articles I promised to write for some people. I felt embarrassed. Unreliable. An annoyance to others. But, I know I answered some heartfelt PMs today and worked with someone who was really feeling alone and scared. I choose to remember that I can be trusted when someone is in need.

I barely skimmed over the house before bedtime, wiping down surfaces, shoving toys into piles, sweeping pathways. I started a load of laundry, but there are 3 more behind it. I washed a load of dishes, making room in the sink for the dishes waiting on the countertop lol. I could wallow in the self-loathing hatred of not being a primadonna housewife. Or I could realize that we painted Hallowe'en photos while waiting for their daddy to get home, and laughed together, and talked about costumes and made plans. The kids didn't go to bed thinking about laundry and dishes, so why should I?

No, I'm not saying to justify weaknesses or ignore mistakes. The thing is, when it comes to mothering and wearing all the hats women tend to don in their lives, the issue is not denial or justification, but rather too much criticism and a focus on failure.

If that voice in your head isn't motivating you to be a better you the next day, then it's time to change that voice. If you don't feel uplifted and inspired when you're talking to yourself or about yourself, then it's time to change the wording. Go to bed remembering all the good things and see how it changes you the next morning.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Kids at play. Shoes not required. Why I choose the kids over your fears.

I've learned something, having helped my siblings from birth to adulthood.

You know how your child pulls his shoes off in the car? Someday, all on his own, he won't do that. Freaking out about it isn't going to make that time arrive any sooner, and only serves to stress you out and damage your relationship with him.

The same goes for the Christian audience and church. Take a look around the next time you go to church services. What do you see? Hundreds of adults standing, sitting, kneeling, hands folded, reading, singing, or being silent. ALL on their OWN. It will happen.

Neurotypical toddlers without underlying conditions grow into children who use underwear. You wouldn't believe it by the way your toddler screams at the toilet or hides behind a potted plant to poop, but soon enough, she will refuse to soil herself.

So, when my toddler is prancing with joy on the playground bench, I'm happy to oblige. When they throw off their shoes to better experience the park, I'll pull my shoes off and experience it with them.

When they get down on the ground to look at worms, I'll smile and remember what it was like to love insects instead of worrying about disease transmission, poison, stings, and the like. (Such as LYME LYME LYME! LOL).

An odd bug! RUN FOR THE HILLS!

You might give me the evil eye. You might call us uncivilized. You might suggest I'm a crappy parent. You might display stroke symptoms when my children run up the slide. You might loudly tell your children, "We don't do THAT" when mine all jump on each other, a huge pile of giggles and love.

Barefeet, breaking the posted rules, swinging AT ALL during infancy.
How will these kids survive?

We're busy exploring, learning, loving, and growing together. The thing is, when it comes down to choosing between a random stranger's approval or supporting my children in their joyful exploration, my children will ALWAYS win.

Soon enough, they will put on their shoes and leave them on for long periods. They will read the posted rules and (usually) abide by them. They will sit still in church and read the scriptures if they have the gift of faith. They will bake without throwing flour. They will walk quietly down a path instead of shrieking and throwing out cartwheels.

This time right now is ours. I will not threaten it for your emotional satisfaction.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

5 Ways to Make Your Keurig Addiction Healthier

It turns out my husband is pretty crunchy. In some ways, he's got more crunch than I do, such as his continued attempts to do Elimination Communication and his constant research about electronics, environmental toxins, and IR/EMF exposure.

He remains super uncrunchy (is this oatmeal-y?) when it comes to one thing, though. Caffeine. Coffee, energy drinks, super-expensive-drive-thru-flavored-cups-of-cancer. He loves them. He appreciates the careful methylation support and b-vitamin tinkering I provide him, but still wants a hot cup in the morning on his way to work.

So, it didn't surprise me when he begged for one thing for his birthday. He wanted a Keurig machine. I laughed. I rolled my eyes. I pointed out, "You had a regular coffee machine and never used it!" He insisted this was different. He insisted it was perfect for lazies like him.

I obliged. (With this deal, who could really say no?)

Let's say you can't keep away from the caffeine. You might have methylation concerns or MTHFR, but you still reach for that cup. Adrenals and thyroid be damned, you want your coffee! What are ways you can make that Keurig machine a bit crunchy?

I mean, stop and think about it. Those disposable plastic cups aren't breaking down anytime soon. And they are filled with chemicals, endocrine disruptors, and all kinds of goodies that are more easily transferred to your body when activated by heat/steam. The coffee pods available are typically filled with "flavoring" and other junk ingredients. It's not exactly something you should be spending money on to consume daily. What can you do?

1. Clean it regularly. Use distilled white vinegar and water, and perhaps a drop or two of your favourite antimicrobial essential oils, to clean through the tubing and reservoir regularly. This will prevent mold/bacterial growth since some of the models cannot be adequately emptied or cleaned.

2. Buy a reusable k-cup filter. Actually, it's $5 right now on Amazon, roughly 50% cheaper than retail prices. (Not a referral link, just being helpful.) Then you can fill it with organic, fair trade coffee or teas.

3. Buy compostable and organic k-cups. If you don't want a reusable cup, at least upgrade your disposable ones to the compostable, fair trade, organic options. Especially if you buy them at a big box retailer such as Costco or Sam's Club, you can get them at a discount. (Or clip the numerous coupons, or wait for a sale and stock up.) The difference in price is not that extreme to ensure you are reducing pollution and avoiding toxins, along with supporting fair trade commerce.

4. Keep healthier ingredients on hand. DH likes to put a splash of raw milk and a sprinkle of stevia into his cup. Nix that cancer-creamer or fake sugar and use this area as an opportunity to boost your health. Think of what can go into a cup of joe. You could do your daily DE or clay without even noticing it. Or some raw honey if you feel under the weather. Organic protein mixes or powdered vitamins, too.

5. Brew healthy drinks. Get creative. The machine is perfect for brewing up your favourite herbal mix. You could make a quick cup to dump into a hot bath for nightly detoxing/healing. Or make organic herbal teas.

I guess with a little bit of legwork, convenience can still be crunchy. At any rate, I don't think I'm going to separate these two anytime soon, so I'll do what I can to work around it! LOL.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The day I told my husband to self-soothe

My husband arrived home from work, but as he stepped through the door, I could see that he was clearly upset. He shared with me that he was tired. He'd been dealing with some indigestion because his lunch was rushed. Then he sat down to share some more. He began talking to me about some concerns he had at his work.

That's when stopped him in his tracks. I shushed him.

He looked up at me with confusion, then started talking again. I cut him off again.

I told him, "Look, you need to take a time out. You need to sit in the other room and learn some coping skills and self-soothing skills." At this point, his confusion changed to anger. I could tell he was clearly upset now, but I continued to hold my position.

I was irate now. "You ate, right? The bills are paid? You have a roof over your head? You need to understand that your basic needs have been met. None of this whining about other things. You're on your own for those. You need to figure out how to deal with them alone."

His flash of anger had finally turned to hurt and sadness. With tears in his eyes, he looked up at me and asked me why I was doing this to him. He started to cry openly and reach out to me. I took a step back and set him straight.

"You need to stop manipulating me! You are way too old for that kind of clingy, whiny behavior! You need to figure out how to calm down by yourself. I'm just being a good wife. This is for your own good. What will the neighbors think? Stop crying now or I'll really give you something to cry about!"

Do you have a problem with the way I treat my adult husband? Do you see a problem with interacting this way in an intimate, caring relationship? Tell me, why is it okay to set these standards with our infants and children, even teens?

We demand that our infants and children do things that we don't expect from grown adults. We refuse to listen to them when they are having a bad day, insisting instead that they deal with it, and quietly!

We brush off their attempts to reconnect with us, sometimes physically pushing them away or removing them to separate rooms and time out spaces. We invalidate their negative emotions or punish them for expressing any sign of vulnerability and hurt.

WHY!!!???? If you wouldn't treat a grown adult this way in a loving relationship, don't force your infants and children to experience it either.

Relationships are about being there for the other person, not only during wonderful times, but most especially during the hardest and darkest of times. People find the strength to keep going when they are supported, validated, and respected. Their fears are soothed not by being hidden behind closed doors, alone, but rather by being welcomed with a warm heart and open arms.

How would you have treated your husband if he walked through the door upset today? And how will you treat your baby when she cries out in the middle of the night? Or your 4 year old when he whines for food? Or your teen when she gets angry to hide her hurt over a disagreement?

Instead of focusing on laying down the law and obtaining power over the other person, shift your focus to restoring the relationship. Stop focusing on invalidating the other person. Start reconnecting. Affirm. Uplift. Listen, truly listen with a caring heart. Empathize. Relate. Build rapport. Support. Share honestly if giving advice, but with kindness. Be there for the other person.

© 2014 Holly Paz

Holly Paz, mother to four, puts her mothering where her mouth is when it comes to perspective and experience. She's walked many roads including a c-section birth and VBAC. She used the CIO (Cry it out) method with her first child and has made a complete 180, learning the value of responsive parenting along the way. She wants others to also be inspired to change, to better their parent/child relationships and to raise children in tune with their needs and feelings. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The van with stickers all over the windows

Do you sport stickers on your windows? Crayon in your carpet?
Crumbs in every crack? Scratches on the door? This post is for you!

We're not rich. I don't often focus on that for several reasons. First, I believe in the process of encouraging abundant thinking and grateful living. Second, I feel wary about complaining or being negative when I know we are lucky as it is that my husband has a fulfilling job to cover the bills, that we have a safe home, and that we have healthy food to put on the table. I know that's more than many in this world.

Still, every now and then I feel the swirling doubts, fears, and discontent in my mind. It's hard to be a stay at home mom counting every penny, and not look down the other pathway in the medical field and think, "What if I had chosen a lucrative career instead?"

Maybe the ingratitude slipped into my heart innocuously, on the backs of all those extremely fit, shiny beach bodies in the vacation ads that seemed to have cropped up with the turn of the season recently.

Whatever silently crept into my day, it was there, hanging over me as I took the kids grocery shopping. I felt it as I pulled my sputtering old van into a parking lot and pulled open the squeaky doors. I felt it as I painstakingly calculated unit prices and stacked coupons with mobile rebate offers, noticing as others simply grabbed what they wanted off the shelf and hurried on their way.

I felt it as I got to the checkout and spent a frazzled few minutes trying to gently wrestle 4 shrieking monkeys while keeping an eagle eye on the cashier and the total to make sure everything was perfect. I felt it in the sigh of relief as I ended up 30 cents under my budget. Another successful shopping trip.

By the time I was pushing my full cart out to the van, I let those negative thoughts float freely in my head. We're poor. We're not keeping up with the Joneses. Our house is tiny. The van is going to die any day now. I'm tired of the stress.

Distracted by my self-pity, I let the kids get ahead of me and missed a beat. In an instant, I had unlocked the door without noticing my 3 year old was up by the passenger side. He loves to open the passenger door and climb into the front seat. I jumped around the van, words caught in my throat, and it was too late. With the energy of a 3 year old boy, he flung open the door, slamming it into....

Shit. Yes, a shit was required here.

He slammed it right into some kind of black, shiny, convertible sports car filled with two wealthy looking people. I stood there, my mouth not even able to fall open, watching what was almost like a Matrix-style scene, as the van door bounced off the side of this beautiful car, the thunk reverberating through my head. Holy cow, I thought to myself. The repair for that is going to cost more than our van is worth!

I grabbed my son and stood there, waiting in shock, as the man climbed out of his convertible and turned towards me. "I'm so so sorry. Does it look like there's any damage?" No response from him, so I kept at it. "I should've kept an eye on him! I can't believe this happened. I'm so terribly sorry." Before the man could respond, my 5 year old daughter decided to add her voice to the situation. She rang out loudly, "Wow! You must be really rich! You have a cool car!"

The man was older, maybe in his 40s, and looked pained. He put his hands on his hips, and stared at us all, my 4 monkeys practically vibrating with energy. A huge kid-cart filled with groceries, foam swords sticking out, open snacks, water bottles, and two ergos. All next to my dinged up, scratched up, rusting old car with the missing license plate.

Then he changed my life that day.

"Little Miss. I'm not rich. I'm actually quite poor. Your mom here is the rich one."

He looked at me. "See, my wife and I wanted nothing more than children, but we didn't know it at the time. We sought riches first. We worked hard to be rich and we were rewarded. But, we didn't know what it meant to be truly wealthy. Oh, yes, we had our big home and our vacation home. We had our careers. We had our fancy cars. We didn't have bills to worry about or budgets to follow. We thought we had it all. And now I know we have nothing at all. We are the poorest of the poor."

He waved at my van. "I would trade you my three cars, my big home, my vacation home, my timeshare, my gadgets, my chef, all of it. I would trade you the nice clothes off my back and the shoes I'm wearing, for just one trip in this van, this happy van with stickers all over the windows. I would climb into your old van and drive away a happy man, the richest and wealthiest man in the world."

Then he smiled and said, "Don't worry about that scratch. Just do me one thing and remember how blessed you are today. Don't squander your riches."

I buckled in the children, put in the groceries and climbed into my seat. I started to sigh at the familiar sight of the yellow empty sign on the gas gauge. And then I caught myself. I didn't have money to spare. Or the career I thought I deserved. I didn't have a big, fancy home or a nice car. But as the kids started to sing along to their preschool CD and I heard their loud, giggling voices, I realized I was driving home wealthy.

It's true, we don't have a lot of treasure in our family. But, we do have each other to treasure. I'm forever grateful to that man for his reminder. I hope his words ring true against any negativity that pops into my heart and mind in the future.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Parasites in your bum howling at the moon? Tidbits on melatonin and immune modulation of parasites

Everyone has heard that parasites become more active with the full moon. A quick google search brings up plenty of articles and discussions on this phenomenon, but no clear answers. Some people have theorized that gravitational changes are the cause, but this doesn't make a lot of sense in regards to parasitic behavioral changes. So, what's causing the bugs to go out for a romp when the moon is hanging in the sky? Is this a myth? Psychosomatic?

I was browsing available medical literature on human sleep during lunar cycles when something caught my eye. Researchers observed human sleeping patterns during full moon activity and discovered that melatonin rates drop during the full moon. (Read about the study here.)

This immediately piqued my interest because a frequent talking point in the natural community is that children with gut issues...damaged guts, leaky guts, food intolerances, allergies, and the resulting behavioral labels that come with this situation such as autism, ADHD, SPD, etc have very hyper sleep patterns and are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. Parents desperately turn to melatonin supplements in these cases.

Then I remembered something from my college days. Parasitology 101: melatonin in the host can influence the parasitic-host relationship. See, melatonin might be known as the sleep hormone, but it has immune system functions, too. It makes sense that if children are exhibiting immune system issues, they might also have low melatonin. (And it's chicken or the egg: could low melatonin be causing the immune system issues? And what caused low melatonin in that case?) At any rate, the wheels started turning.

I quickly typed in, "Melatonin parasites" and began reviewing the current medical literature on the topic. Sure enough, I found several references to the influence of this indolamine on parasitic infections. Melatonin mediates immune responses to parasites, controlling their reproductive cycles, their population levels, and host "fighting reaction" to infection. (See the studies here and here for examples.)

So, if you notice a change in your health during the full moon, especially regarding parasitic infestation and gut issues such as flatulence, constipation, and bloating, or mood changes such as irritability, insomnia, and brain fog, consider supporting your neurochemical balance in the brain, along with healing your gut. Research healthy foods that support serotonin and melatonin. Brush up on amino acids needed for neurochemical health. If you suspect parasites, touch base with a health care provider for testing. Depending on the type of parasite, things such as minced garlic, diatomaceous earth and various essential oils can help.

And the next time your kids are jumping off the ceiling, refusing to sleep, and running around like crazed zombies during the full moon, you might have an interesting answer for onlookers. "It's the parasites! The melatonin hormone has dropped and those parasites are howling at the moon!"

And you thought it was just the red hair!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When Dog Ownership is Violence and Cutting Your Son is Freedom

I learned something new the other day. I casually mentioned my dog, Butters, while at the playground. I laughed a little and said, "I never thought I would be a dog owner, but he sure is cute!" The lady I was talking to did not respond with amusement. Her face remained flat as she sternly rebuked me. "Dog ownership is a form of violence. It is wrong to own another living being. I am an animal companion."

We have reached a fascinating step in mankind's development. We have reached a time where we are dedicated to eradicating any form of violence against any living being. To smack a dog on the nose is abuse. To cut its tail is an unspeakable horror.

And I certainly find nothing wrong with that stance. Hurting another living being does not receive defense from me. I do not punitively care for my dog, despite the inadvertent use of a politically incorrect label. I guess my doggie companion will forgive my verbally violent labeling even if this society cannot.

What I find most hysterically concerning is actually the inconsistency in applying an affront to violence. Are we actually opposing violence because it is violence? Or do we select specific forms of it and specific victims to suit our own emotional needs?

I have an analogy, one that I have shared during those terse and unpleasant times when human violence activists begin to pick and choose what violence they oppose and what violence they support. They make bold attempts to oppose violence while still loudly supporting it in another way.

Let's say, within the expanding field of prenatal surgery, that a mother is now able to choose elective circumcision surgery on her son while he is still in her womb. Thanks to the miraculous advance of technology and medical precision, at the mere gestational age of 17 weeks, doctors can use a delicate laser to accurately remove every bit of the male's foreskin long before he is born.

Would someone who opposes circumcision but supports reproductive choice still support the mother in this situation? Would someone who opposes surgical abortion but supports parental circumcision choice still support the mother in this situation? Or will their heads merely explode after reading this analogy, as they refuse to acknowledge their hypocrisy and lash out at the messenger? Perhaps, then, the two parties will find unity in their contradiction.

If you oppose a mother electing to have a surgeon cut a piece of flesh off the body of her son after he is born, will you still oppose the mother electing this if her son is inside her womb? Is it not her reproductive choice to do as she desires while pregnant?

Will you only attempt to educate or dissuade the mother if the organ being destroyed is the foreskin? What if she decides to pay for other cosmetic changes? What if she decides to surgically alter her daughter in the womb?

If you say that circumcising a small, defenseless human being out of preference, desire, or misinformed and uneducated reasons is wrong, is painful, is violent, is inhumane, is you only feel this way when the flesh removed from him is a foreskin? And only after he is born? What about if an arm is removed? A leg? At what gestational age is it repugnant? At 12 weeks? Or 22 weeks? Or maybe only the last trimester?

Oh, I do not hold only one party to the wall here. Let us not overlook the screaming, red-faced activists who vehemently oppose abortion. Life is precious! Unless you are a baby boy. Abortion is violent! But cutting a newborn's genitals is loving. We are pro-life! Except for when we want to risk our sons' for sexual preferences. She's a person, not a choice! He's my son, it's my choice! Ah, how the gaps grow wider.

If people are only now becoming aware of the level of violence against completely defenseless living beings, I see nothing wrong with giving them space to continue to soften their heart and adjust their ethics.

If someone has not stopped to think about what it means to dig a sharp tool down between the prepuce and penile shaft, to rip the two apart, and then to clamp and cut the organ off as the newborn is tied down to the circumstraint board and fully conscious, I hope she stops to think now.

If someone has not stopped to think about what it means to locate the being inside the womb, cut him into pieces small enough to vacuum out, reconstruct his body to ensure no pieces of him were left behind, then send him nameless and forgotten off for incineration, I hope she stops to think now.

What underlying need is more important than the plight of these tiny living beings? To be esteemed by friends? To be accepted into a group? To look as if you are saying the right thing and doing the right thing? What would cause a person to oppose violence against him in the womb, but then turn a blind eye to his bloody genitals after birth? What would cause a person to rally against the scalpel when applied to the penis, but fall silent when applied to his entire body?

I think back to an incident after the birth of my third son. For the first time in my mothering journey, I flinched while clipping the fingernails of my baby. I barely clamped down on the top of his finger, not even breaking the skin. He awakened immediately, eyes wide with fright, and began screaming. I felt a wave wash over me as I held him. What kind of wave must parents harden their hearts against when they sign the papers for something that cuts as deep as circumcision and as final as abortion?

If I cannot stand to clamp the tip of his finger accidentally, if I cannot so much as clamp the flesh on my son's penis after he is born, I certainly cannot clamp his arms and feet, nor crush his skull, nor have his tiny body sucked up into a tube to be incinerated. Circumcision, this thing some people consider to be a "snip" is a severe, deep human rights violation. The concept of dismembering his entire body, then, must be unbearable.

This aspect of ignoring violence has always perplexed me. If a woman, going back to my dog example, refuses to call herself a "dog owner" as she finds the concept of owning an animal to be a form of violence, what then of actual violence committed against defenseless beings?

If uttering a word is violent, if snipping foreskin is violent, what then, is this thing, this choice we can barely utter in close company, this magical "A" word, that involves crushing entire bodies and incinerating them as mere hospital waste?

So, you see, when activists from various topics mingle and begin to shout at each other, asserting who is the least violent and who holds the most important stance, I have to bring up my analogy about prenatal surgery.

Of course, I find that focusing on one topic at a time is sometimes necessary. People need to work through things, they need to reconsider, grapple, learn, and grow. Toss too much at them and it can shut them down or turn them off to your thoughts. I get that. I also think the forest is filled with birds and each bird has a unique song. Focus on what your talent is and share it with the world. If you lack experience or insight when it comes to a particular topic, leave it for others who have their heart in it.

That being said, in the continuum of consistent upholding of living beings' rights, it's clear that we cannot hold contradictory viewpoints on the aspect of violence against defenseless and innocent living beings. Either we oppose forced cutting, or we don't. All this talk about it being just a prick or  it being justified because it's the mother's choice or refusing to enter the debate because whatever parents choose to do is their right  is merely a socially acceptable way to express our apathy when it comes to protecting the bodily integrity of other living beings.

Perhaps, after that lady informed me that she is not a dog owner, I should have smiled brightly and responded, "I understand! I am not a child owner."