Thursday, December 31, 2009

The call to simplify...

A friend sent this piece by Ann Patchett as inspiration for taking oneself seriously as a writer. I love it and did find inspiration in it, but I also found it rather divorced from the world of being an at-home mother.

Additionally, I am someone who seriously needs to spend a good bit of time on meal preparation -- and on exercise and/or yoga, and at least one bodywork appointment per month, if not more -- or everything else falls apart. I know that I need a lot of components to be running on all cylinders. If I ignore one thing -- sleep, or healthy food, or exercise, or acupuncture/chiropractic/craniosacral work -- for a month, I spend the next 6 weeks or more playing some kind of catch up.

My feeling is often that there just isn't enough time -- not to do all the things I "have" to do, but to do all the things I want and feel like I need to do to feel alive and with both feet on the ground and my hands pressed together reaching for a star. It's like there's a Top 40 of needs in my world, not just one or three things that can demand my laser focus.

I know there are ways I can cut down on some things. Blogging for instance. But the work (to upgrade/combine/streamline) seems so much more daunting than just plodding along (which has some personal rewards, or I wouldn't do it). Shifting toward a new momentum is where I need some motivation, a coach, the decision to make something a priority. But I don't think working on writing presence/business development is going to help me fit more writing hours in the day anytime soon (as the article discusses). So the goals seem to be at odds. Would that I'd quit teaching and started freelancing before I became a mother!

The multiple strands in multiple directions are not doing wonders for my sleep or centeredness, especially as long as I keep acting like I rue them.

I am resolving nothing for the new year other than to try to be kind to myself and to be in the moment in whatever I'm doing -- even if I've got multiple things going, I'd like to stop making that wrong and just play with the complexity, which is, I recently realized, something I do truly value for its own sake.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Yummy food for the holidays

We had a lovely holiday today. After a very busy Thanksgiving hosting four adults and two teenagers, I enjoyed not having to do a whole bunch today while at my in-laws'. But I did make the pumpkin pies, and they turned out delicious!

Check out this (newly updated) recipe for Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie on my food and health blog, Inexact Science: Raising Healthy Families.

It's great to make something I enjoy when other people around me are having foods that are no-nos for my body. But it's really great to hear that other people enjoy my creation, too. Glad I made two pies!

Happy holidays, and happy, healthy eating!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A week home sick

I'm still climbing out from the mounds of things that piled up this past week when my son missed all three days of preschool. Monday I thought was just a precaution, that going would tire him out. The cough wasn't that bad.

But apparently it was too much to take him to the Vitamin Shoppe for a homeopathic remedy, to a crowded post office where we left without sending a package because the line was ridiculous and the self-print label machine was broken, and then to Trader Joe's to get some onions so I could make soup. That night he came down with a fever, and it was lethargy city around here on Tuesday. The rest of the week was just coughing and whining, but enough that we couldn't do anything or be around anyone.

I'm glad for the Ergo that let me carry all 35+ pounds of him on my back and for the remedies, which I think helped while not fighting his body's natural work.

He was better enough today to shovel snow (his idea!). Let's hope that wasn't too much and that we're all in decent enough health to get to family for the holidays.

For more on holistic health, see "Let the Fever Go" on my Washington Times Communities column, "Reading Ingredients: Tales from a Health-Conscious Mom."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Waldorf School Advent Garden

I just wrote this post at my column on the Washington Times Communities. The main idea is that I found this simple ceremony of children lighting candles and walking through a spiral of fresh evergreens to be profoundly moving.

It's late, and I don't know why the photo of the apple candle wasn't loading to the longer article, but here it is. No photos of the actual event, beautiful as it was and as much as I'd like a postcard; that, of course, would take you out of the moment.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Putting my son on the table: craniosacral therapy

I don't claim to understand exactly what craniosacral therapy (CST) does, but I believe in it. I've read some books by Dr. John Upledger, and I've talked a whole lot with my practitioners about my body and my son's body.

And I've seen its results firsthand.

I've been getting CST for six years, since I first started pursuing alternative therapies, which ended up including diagnoses of celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid disorder en route to dealing with infertility.

I learned about the therapy through my sister and her work with her son, who is on the autism spectrum. CST has been immensely powerful for me, helping me to let go of a whole lot of energy I'd been holding onto, which caused physical and emotional problems. (For more, see my article in the Winter 2008/2009 issue of the Journal of Attachment Parenting).

I had my craniosacral therapist there at my son's birth, which was supposed to be all-natural in a birth center but instead was a c-section due to my baby's breech position and extremely short umbilical cord (see my poem about that in Exhale magazine). So instead, the therapist videotaped the birth, which gave her great insight into how to treat my son hours later. "There's a lot of unwinding in his hips," she said; I later learned breech babies sometimes need to wear harnesses because of their in-utero position (hip dysplaysia).

My son is now 3.5 years old. I schedule CST for him every few months, when it seems like he's just kind of off or working on something I don't know how to address. I'm so grateful that she's been seeing him since he was an infant -- really since even before he was born.

A few months ago I asked the therapist what might have been different if he hadn't been seeing her. I trust her with my life. She does tell some people they don't need to come back. She's never said that to me. "It's hard to tell. Maybe speech or other development issues. Maybe ADD or sensory integration problems."

I've had several different practitioners work on him, and they all say the same things about tight parietal bones and jaw intensity. Lately, E has been chewing on his shirt in a way that disturbs me. A lot of kids have oral fixations, but this one is causing my son's skin to be chapped, and, well, it just looks like an anxious reaction. So I made an appointment.

Usually she just plays with him on the floor with toys while they work in a gentle way. The appointment lasts a full hour. Today, after a while, she invited him up to the table, where she tucked him in. It was the first time I'd ever seen him laid down like a patient. It was a little freaky, but he looked so nurtured and cared for in the soft glow of the massage center room.

She said her recent sensory disorder training recommends letting kids follow their interest/obsession while they are getting treatment. So she did. He chewed on a toy and then, when she felt a big release, he was done with the mouthing and just sort of flopped into relaxation.

After seeing him so manic and wound up recently, it was a real gift to see him so calm under her hands. She explained some other physical things and gave me more ideas for ways to work with his particular needs, including broad and heavy strokes on his body and heavy weight on his legs in front of him, and offering him straws and other mouthing options. Her questions about other behaviors -- "does he seem to need to run full boar into things?" -- seemed so spot on. He's never gotten any kind of diagnosis, and I don't understand all the ins and outs of sensory integration issues and proprioception. But I do feel very good that I have this therapist on my team.

She said that it felt like a phase but like there was also an emotional component that was not yet resolved. His neck and chest were pouring off heat, she said.

I left a little poorer but more resolved to model and live the grounding, solidifying presence he and I both shun but deeply crave.

For more information on CST and children, see "Craniosacral Therapy and Scientific Research, Part II" by John Upledger, DO, OMM. The website for the Upledger Institute is pan style="font-weight:bold;"> Find practitioners at