Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Real Life

It's 8:00 on Monday morning, and we find out that our afternoon secretary has called out sick.  A quick check of the schedule indicates that Drew CANNOT do this day alone, so I'm called upon to fill in.  I cannot tell you the comments that I get about "how nice you help out", etc.  So for today, I want to give you a peek into what days like this are really like.
First, I'm already behind on housework.  I send a note with my son apologizing that the "laundry fairy" didn't keep up last week and thus his gym shirt still smells of rotten bananas.  I spend all morning trying to get things as caught up as possible before I rush off to get our oldest from school at noon.  The first thing that I give up is a healthy lunch... hello Chick-Fil-A.  Thanks for helping me have one less thing to do today.
Within minutes of engulfing a whole bag of GMO-Canola fried french fries, the kids run outside to play for a few minutes before it's time to go, giving me just enough of a moment to throw on some make up and a pair of semi-clean clothes.
I walk downstair and find that the kids are COVERED in sand.  Head, to toe, sand.  Umm, we HAVE to leave!  Ultimatums are issued, orders given, and I leave with two kids barefoot, one in a shirt on backwards.  I grab the Ipad, which is a rarely used device for the kids, as a back-up.  We have just come off of a physically draining weekend and with no naps, late bedtimes, and early mornings, I know there will be at least one meltdown today at the office.
We have just gotten settled in, with a baby gate protecting the supplements and crayons strewn all over the floor, when patients begin to pour in and the phone starts ringing....
Yes, the chaos.  When patient #3 shows up for the 3:30 (that weren't on the schedule), we began some "emergency procedures".   The second thing that I compromised was the Ipad.  Movies, games, whatever.  Just keep the kids occupied.  I'm answering the phone with confused patients because scheduling had been changed, a baby who is spiraling down the "I need a nap" path, and LOTS of people waiting... and waiting... and waiting...
Then the scheduling book logs me out.  I don't have the password, so now there are people calling to schedule and I'm really up a creek... baby now crying in the background... kids needing help pulling up yet ANOTHER movie....

It was a few hours of crazy, then things began to wind down.  With the waiting room cleared, I decided to nurse the baby (under blanket cover), only to have a patient walk in needing some supplements.  No problem.  I detach the baby, who is almost asleep, grab the supplements, the file, collect payment, and continue trying to get the baby to sleep.
I swore to myself that I would NEVER nurse a baby sitting at reception while checking people in and out.  Well, there goes that.

Before I can blink it's 5:45 and as the predicted meltdowns begin there is a quiet lull.  Drew helps me load everyone up, finish some paperwork, then I'm off to come home and figure out what is for supper. Thank GOD for left-overs, and patients who bring in fresh baked bread!

So that is reality.  But, when there are patients coming in and LOVING on the kids, me and the whole family atmosphere it makes my heart skip a beat.  I had to give up some things that are really meaningful to me, including a playdate that would have been divine, but after the dust settled at the end of a long day, I can look at my husband...tired and exhausted, and know that we are in this together.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I Wasn't Raised This Way....

It's true.  Sometimes I meet people and they think I must have always lived in a holistic health bubble.  But I haven't.  The truth is that my elementary years were filled with kool-aid, kraft macaroni, ball-park hot dogs, and diet coke.  But there was something else that was different when I was a kid than just the sugar I consumed.  It was the rest of the food I ate.  Here's a few things that have changed since I was a kid. (and it wasn't THAT long ago...)

1.  Our food was grown in our backyard.
I know that this wasn't the case for everyone of my generation, but almost all of the vegetables and berries we ate we grew ourselves.   What we didn't eat fresh we either canned or froze and it served us the whole year-round.

2.  Restaurants were a treat, and were not "chains."
There were only a few places to eat for us.  Although there were trips to McDonald's and Burger King, they were rare.  It was the stand-alone places that are becoming more of a distant memory than the highways lined with Red Robin, Olive Garden, and TGI Friday's.

3.  Growth Hormones were not for animals.
When I was a kid, the cows that made our food were not injected with hormones.  To us, even saying the phrase "growth hormone may be in your meat" should raise some huge red flags, but I have discovered that many people believe if the FDA said it was safe, then we shouldn't question it.  Unfortunately, government bureaucracy would not exist without at least some corruption.

4.  We didn't have to be concerned with what "organic" meant.
One of the biggest changes from my childhood until now has been the over-use of growth-hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides in respect to our food source.  Although it was still around,  it was only a fraction as to what is used today.  Even trying to find the "organics" section of the supermarket was... well it wasn't even there!!

5.  GMO What???
This has to be the biggest change in our diets.  Genetically Modified Foods have become so prevalent that they are in almost everything not labeled "organic". My parents didn't have to be concerned about genetically modified anything or the possible effects it could have on me.

It's interesting to hear friends, patients, and family members talk about what role food plays in their life. My parents did not have the ability to make as many informed decisions as I have today for my own children.  With the rise of the computer and internet, we are now overwhelmed with information and it is our job to sift out what is true, meaningful, and useful from everything else we are bombarded with on a daily basis.

 Even though we still ate enough sugar to last my lifetime, the food that they served us was as close to "organic" as it could have gotten for that time in history.  

We have a very difficult time explaining what has happened to our food chain to patients, friends, and family.  Especially those ages 40 and over, because during their adolescence, food was still primarily "untainted."  For them, "organic" is still bought by people who's elevator doesn't quite reach the top floor.  It's costly and they just don't see the change that has happened in the last 25 years.

We have gone from a society of health and wellness care to a society of sickness everywhere.  Cancer has always been around, but today if you don't have cancer, don't get cancer, etc., then you are the incredible minority.  (Cancer is just an example of an abundance of diseases prevalent in our post-modern society).

I would love any input you have or ideas to help enhance our explanations to patients, friends, and family.
Thanks a bunch!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Riding a bike in 1-2-3

As I was picking my son up from school yesterday I overheard several other parents talking about taking the nice weather as an opportunity to teach their 6 year olds how to ride a bike with no training wheels, so I thought I would share how we have taught two kids how to ride.
1.  Location Matters
Living on a quiet street with a fairly level driveway is a huge positive.  Let the kids experiment and explore on their own.  If you don't have this setup, make regular trips to the park or to a quiet street.  In reality I know this takes effort and is not always feasible, but finding a way for opportunity to explore helps.

2.  Have an extra (old) bike around with no training wheels.
We have always had an extra bike around with no training wheels that is the right size for the kids.  It allows them the opportunity to practice balancing with their feet while still being able to hop on a bike with training wheels to get the physical coordination under control.

3.  Make bike rides and outdoor play a part of life.
The more exposure your kids have to bikes and riding them, it becomes a part of their everyday experiences rather than a task that you feel obligated to teach.

4.  Let go of the bubble wrap.
Kids will take whatever temperament the parents have in all situations.  If you feel like you need to protect every inch of your child's body before putting them on a bike, you are telling your child that bike riding equals danger and pain.  Who would want to do that??  Be responsible, but don't instill fear.  If you child falls, scoop them up, kiss the boo boo, and tell them it's okay.  Have them try again, and downplay the hurt.

5.  Let them do it on their own.
Sometimes kids just need to be left alone.  Some are ready early, others aren't, and it's okay. If you feel like you are pushing them and it's resulting in tears, then just wait.

We have found most of our bicycles for free.  Even though they needed a little oil and are a little beat-up, it makes it more appealing to the kids that they don't have to be afraid of scuffing up a new bike, and give them opportunities to learn on their own.  You don't have to wait until they are five to start.  Start young, and let them go!
Do you have any tips on teaching kids how to ride a bike?  Comment and share!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Why We Are Microwave-Free

It is always an awkward moment when we have guests over and someone needs to use the microwave.  We don't have one, and I feel like it puts a "quacky" label on us as soon as we say it.  So today I will give you the reasons why we have gone microwave free, and it's not just what you think.

1.  We still use plastic.
It is now common knowledge that most plastics contain BPA, and that it is very, very bad for you.  Microwaving plastic leads to more BPA leaking into your food.  
Although there are ways around this, I prefer to have less dishes to wash, and we are just not ready to give up on plastic (yet).

2.  Lack of nutrients.
So this is the one you were expecting.  Here's the way I see it.  I spend time preparing broccoli for the kids to eat, and in doing so I have already taken many vital nutrients out of the food.  To save it and reheat it in the microwave the next day is probably only depleting those nutrients more.  So if I'm going to engage in a battle of "eat your broccoli or else", I would like the broccoli to still contain SOMETHING valuable.  

3.  It's not a time-saver.
Inevitably to heat each plate individually OR to heat up each food and then wait for it cool down enough to enjoy seemed to take as long as just warming up left-overs on the stove or in the oven.  

4.  It makes eating processed food attractive.
We do our best to avoid processed, pre-packaged food.  Having a microwave seemed to make eating processed food more tempting, especially when I'm looking for fast meals.  As soon as we got rid of the microwave, the processed food disappeared, too.  

Getting rid of a major appliance that you might use everyday may seem a bit extreme.  But just because it can be convenient, doesn't mean that we should use it every day.  We have been free of a microwave for 3 years, and have no regrets about it... except when we have company (and then feel a little quacky).  

Friday, April 5, 2013

How We Do Sun

Sun.  It's the first weekend of spring here, with the sun finally shining brightly overhead.  We often get asked about how we do it without using sunscreen.  So here's our all- natural method of sun care for our little toe-heads.

1.  Start early, and Stay outside.  
We always make sure our kids start their sun exposure as soon as the sun begins to peak out in early spring.  We want them to build up their exposure slowly, before the sun reaches higher heights as summer approaches.

2.  When in doubt, go in and out.
It's never a good idea to begin your sun exposure in one large dose.  The previous house we lived in had a huge tree right in the middle of it.  It provided natural shade coverage for the majority of our yard, so when the kids went out to play, they were constantly in and out of sunshine.  Because our new house doesn't have as much natural shade, we have to be more purposeful about allowing the kids freedom to come inside for a few minutes and then going back outside to play.  

3.  Early/Late Daytime Play.
If you find yourself already 1/2 way through May and your kids haven't played outside yet, start by small increments in the morning and in the late afternoon. With smaller children, this approach always works well, because we always take our afternoon nap and use it as a break from the sun.

4.  Use the Clothes.
Every once in a while, we decide to go crazy and take the kids down to the Jersey Shore.  We all know how much brighter the sun is reflecting off of the sand and water.  We always make sure that we all wear hats, swimming shirts, and cover our feet.  Umbrellas and pop-up tents provide extra shade where the kids can still play in the sand.  

5.  Nutrition Matters.
You are what you eat.  With four kids, we get how difficult it is to maintain a completely healthy lifestyle 24/7.  To keep it simple, do these two things to make sure your skin is thick and ready for sun exposure:
-Limit your Omega-6 fats (vegetable oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, if it's fried, it's this.), and INCREASE your Omega-3 fats (coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil, quality fish oil).
-Limit your grains, increase your fruits and veggies. Even just one one meal a day can make a dramatic difference.
For ideas on how to add these to your lifestyle, click here.

As more research is done, the more we find that sunscreen depletes your vitamin D levels, and can even lead to the exact problems you are trying to avoid. For more on that, click here. 

Gear up, and enjoy the sun!!