Everything In Between

The Power of the Calm Down Chair

When my daughter was about 18 months, I began to notice the typical dreaded toddler behaviors come out. We went through a biting phase, a hitting phase, a “no” phase, you name we probably went through it. I thought I would know what to do when this happened but to my surprise, I had no fucking clue. In order to look for some sort of magic “make your child and angel” template I got to googling, listening to parenting pod casts and reading (mostly listening) to as many books as I could.

One thing that was commonly recommended to try was time out. I have nothing against time out or those who implement it, however, I just felt it wasn’t right for Savanna. I was at a crossroads. I had been trying out the REI method where you basically talk to you kids and tell them not to do things in a respectful way. It worked sometimes but honestly, sometimes it just didn’t do the job. Like when I’d tell my daughter ” I won’t let you hit me’ after smacking me in the face only to have her do it 10 times over. Yea, not happening. I  needed a mother solution that was in between that and time out. Cue the calm down chair.

The calm down chair was an idea I thought I came up with but turns out I was like the last to think of it. Here’s how we use it. When our daughter is on the brink of having a meltdown or behaving in an inappropriate way, we give her the chance to self regulate, regroup, and choose again by having her sit in the calm down chair. We put a special chair in the kitchen that is easily accessible from anywhere in our house. When necessary, we tell her it’s time to sit in her chair and count 10 breaths. Surprisingly, she caught on to this super fast. She never fought us going there, never tried to get up. In the beginning we would sit with her and breath. Now she actually takes her self there, counts her breaths and says all better when she’s done. And she is emotionally and physically better! She even tells us to take breaths sometimes! I really liked this idea because I felt that teaching her to take a step back in tough moments is a valuable life skill that I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn until it was too late in life!

There’s so much you can do with the calm down chair concept as kids grow. It builds a solid foundation for teaching mindfulness to children. As my daughter is able to understand more, I plan on created a calm down corner. If you google this, you will find awesome ideas, printouts, and photos of how to help children identify feelings and choose coping skills. We recently made some calm down jars to have by the chair and I would like to get some pinwheels and other sensory toys. However, she doesn’t really use that when she’s in distress. For now, the simpler the better. The calm down chair may not  be the cure to all meltdowns, but it is making year 2 that much sweeter.

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What The Heck Is Rapeseed and Why Is It In My Daughter’s Oat Milk?!

As you all know I am a fan of oat milk and give it to my 20 month old instead of dairy milk due to a sensitivity. Aside from a brief shortage, all was going pretty well. Shes growing fine and appears nourished to the eye. However, I learned some information about an ingredient that is listed full fat Oatly and needed to share.

My best friend was visiting from Chicago and as usual most of our conversations veer towards food. She looked at me and said with hesitation, ” Caar, I have to tell you something about oat milk”. I knew it wasn’t good. A friend of hers had been doing some research on food for brain health and was an avid oat milk consumer. Unbeknownst to me, the full fat version of Oatly contains an ingredient called Rapeseed oil. I know, your thinking, “Is that a typo? She means grape seed oil. ” No, it’s rapeseed oil. Someone actually named a seed “rape”, wtf? If that isn’t a big red flag than I don’t know what is.

It turns out rape seed oil is actually very similar to Canola oil and the both are often confused. Canola was originally created from rapeseed by removing 2 ingredients from the rapeseed plant: glucosinolates and erucic acid. Erucic acid was removed because it was believed to be toxic in high doses. Erucic acid is regulated in foods today. However, Oatly comes from Sweden, and not US, where regulations are different. The label states there is less than 2%, which is the maximum allowed amount of rapeseed oil in a product.

I did some research and found conflicting information. There are many articles preaching the health benefits of rapeseed as a great oil alternative with good fats such as this one here.  It does seem to be used more outside of the US, or at least labeled more often as rapeseed as compared to Canola.

The scariest evidence I found was about a test done on animals “showing that ingesting oils containing erucic acid over time can lead to a heart condition called myocardial lipidosis. This is temporary and reversible. Other potential effects observed in animals – including changes in the weight of the liver, kidney and skeletal muscle can occur when higher doses are consumed” ( https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/161109). The article goes on to warn that there could be a health risk for children under the age of 10 who consume products containing erucic acid regularly over time.

Well that’s enough for me, since I have been giving this to my daughter every day for the past 8 months. Talk about mom guilt. I beat myself up a bit for not looking into the ingredients more. At the same time, I am still learning about this product and the conflicting research. Either way, I made the choice to not give her the full fat version of Oatly any longer. We don’t need any erucic acid up in here.

Good news is that many US based companies have recently come out with oat milk such as Silk and Quaker among many others, which do not contain rapeseed oil! The low fat version of Oatly does not contain rapeseed oil either.

Moral of the story, check your ingredients and do some research. I will be on the look out for rapeseed from now on! While we can’t believe every scary tale we hear or read online, I’m going with my gut on this one.

Everything In Between · Mom Life

Simple Ways to Encourage Mindful Kids

Mindfulness is all the rage. There’s a reason why it has gained popularity. Mindfulness lives up to its claims to create a calmer, peaceful and more happy life. I’m definitely not a perfect practicer, but I always wonder what life would have been like if I was taught mindfulness when I was younger. I had never even heard the word mindfulness until about 6 years ago or so.

I made a vow to teach my daughter now what I learned later in life (and am still learning now!). But how the hell do I do that when she’s 1 and a half?? Here’s what I’ve noticed and been able to do so far. Turns out shes teaching me more than I’m teacher her. Continue reading “Simple Ways to Encourage Mindful Kids”

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What the Holidays Taught Me

This year, I really felt that “holiday stress”. I never thought that the holidays could be or should be stressful. However, this year I found myself getting overwhelmed by things that wouldn’t even matter in a few days. I felt pressure to have my house sparkling clean, asked my self questions like “Do I have enough gifts”?, “Do I have the right gifts?” “Did I make enough cookies?” “Will they like it?” Then, just when I thought I was in the clear, the anxiety set in about making sure I saw everyone and accomplished every task I frantically wrote down to complete in my time off.

Just before I turned into a ball of knotted up Christmas lights, I took a look at all this frantic-ness and realized that it was not about that. I didn’t want this time to be about stress. I want it to be about fun, relaxing and enjoying time with my family. Instead of freaking out over the mess of toys and bags and gifts I decided to relish in it. I enjoyed a day of just being. It was actually the most fun I had in a long time. I adopted the same choices the next day, prioritizing my tasks and checking other things off my list I want to accomplish like playing with my daughter, taking a nap, and watching a good show on TV.

Shifting my perception changed the entire atmosphere of my home, how I felt, and my relationships with others. I became less edgy and much more relaxed. I’ve always been a “do-er” but since becoming a mom my brain sometimes tricks me into thinking I need to have everything right and in order 100% of the time. This only leaves me drained, unhappy, and half-assing almost everything I do(more than usual).

The truth is, nothing needs to be perfect all the time. Sometimes getting done just what needs to be done that day is a huge accomplishment and feels amazing. I’ve realized I’d rather be happy than drive my self crazy. I gotten to know my “gut” and am getting good at noticing when I need to do something and when I am just avoiding or being lazy. Being in tune to yourself can be super empowering.

With the New Year here, I’d like to keep things this way. But how? Life is bound to set in an stress reappear at some point. It all comes down to being aware and noticing those trigger points. By simply being aware, we can make a consciously choose a different response. It’s going to be a challenge, but the amazing feeling of being on top of the world is so worth it.


Everything In Between

5 Books That Changed My Life

Sometimes I feel like I just need a pick me up. I get into a funk and can’t see a way out. When I was younger I hated reading. Like really hated it. I never actually read any of my books for book reports and my mom would get me cliff notes for summer reading out of desperation for me to do something. The running joke in my family through college was the only book I read was Funny Bones in 3rd grade. It was true. I had to read it if I wanted to be a character in the wax museum we were doing. I actually loved that book. When I was in my early 20s I had broken up with a long term boyfriend, moved back in with my parents and felt like I had no idea where I was going. Desperate for relief and answers I went to the book store. I was drawn to the self help section like a magnet. Nothing else seemed worth reading. I started  by reading a book on happiness (I forget the title now). After that, I was totally hooked. I couldn’t get enough of these types of books and wanted to learn more. Continue reading “5 Books That Changed My Life”

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How to Start A Meditation Practice

Meditation and mindfulness have become all the rage. These terms are popping up everywhere, from magazine articles to elementary and high schools classrooms. There is extensive research on the life changing benefits a regular practice can provide such as stress reduction, decreased anxiety, increased attention span, a greater sense of kindness, and increased overall emotional well being. So why would anyone not want to experience these things?! I could definitely use some more emotional well being in my life, especially during the holidays.

The thing with mindfulness and meditation (I’ll explain the difference below) is that in order for it to work you need to practice it regularly. The difficulty for most people is not finding the desire to practice, it’s finding the time. I’m not going to lie, it was much easier to incorporate a mediation practice into my day before children. A busy life style doesn’t mean it’s not possible, it’s just life challenging you to find a way. Here are my tips for making mediation a part of your everyday. Continue reading “How to Start A Meditation Practice”

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Debating Trying out Reiki? Here’s My Experience

If you asked me a year ago what Reiki was I probably would have said a 90s singer. Today I cannot only tell you what it is, but what it’s like. Growing up I think I always had a little anxiety, but didn’t notice it much. After giving birth to my daughter and going through life changes like moving in with my parents and a new job I found myself more anxious than ever. Racing thoughts and fear began to run the show. This was not me I thought. All I wanted was for this feeling to go away.

I was able to manage much of this by taking a step back and letting myself off the hook. Because I didn’t buy a home yet didn’t mean I was a bad parent or any less than anyone else, I just kept telling myself that. I re read lots of books that helped me in the past and found new ones. I pursued counseling and tried to take on more self care.

All of these things helped, but I still felt off. One night I decided to google meditation classes near me. I was surprised to see something come up just 10 min away which is a true miracle when you live in the middle of nowhere. The center was called the Tree of Health and they not only offer mediation classes but TONS of other services that I thought I could only find in some really hipster area of NYC. JACK POT. As I was browsing the site I saw they have a Reiki clinic every month for twenty dollars for a one hour session. Twenty dollars, when the regular sessions are 90? I’ll take it. Now obviously I figured out quickly that this was how training Reiki practitioners get their practice but I didn’t care, I didn’t see any way it could hurt me.

I was super psyched to show up for my first sesh. When I arrived they asked if I wanted to be smudged. Feeling like I couldn’t say no, I quickly and enthusiastically responded, “Sure!” When the “smudger” then asked me to step outside I thought I for sure was a goner.  She asked me to spread my feet out wide and raise my hands as the woman waved a burning bushel of sage around me. All I could think of is what is going through the mind of every person driving me viewing this scene right now. This was a little weird but I was totally into it. I swear I felt negativity leave my body.

Finally, it was time for the real stuff. I met my Reiki practitioner and she took me into what looks like just a room at a spa, but a little more hippy dippy. There was a massage table, oil diffusers blasting, tapestries, angels, and anything else you’d find at your Aunt Millie’s garage sale. I loved it.

The whole session lasted an hour. Basically, what happens is that the practitioners positions her hands over specific parts of your body. She starts at the head and moves down to the toes and then back up to head. For me, the challenge was lying still for an hour. Surprisingly, I was super relaxed. By the end of the hour my mind had slowed down. I felt like I could think more clearly and I no longer so the need to be anxious or act out of urgency. I had ideas and solutions come into my mind during that I had struggled to find the answers to in the past. I was digging this feeling. I booked my next session as soon as I was done.

If you are wondering if Reiki is right for you I would suggest doing a little google research. While I was there I heard people speak of the healing they were experiencing from illness or disease. There are a number of benefits that Reiki can have on your overall well being such as decreasing stress, assisting the bodies’ natural healing process, reducing pain and anxiety, and treating depression. I haven’t seen anything about negative side effects like those can come with taking prescription meds. If you’re really feeling bad and it can’t make things worse, why not give it a shot? I’m still feeling the effects of my first session and can’t wait for the next.

Everything In Between

My Journey on Freaking Whole 30

Well this has been interesting. I decided to start the whole on September 10. It’ll be great I said, I will feel awesome I said. Well… turns out its not that easy. As a GF human due to stomach issues, I try to eat healthy or at least what I think is healthy most days. Then we hit those weeks where its party after party, and then you find yourself creating a wine and cheese party for one on a Tuesday night. The only reason I started the whole 30 wasn’t because of the 3 week end of summer bender me and my husband were on. The main reason came from a book I was reading (well listening too, who has time to read a whole book) called Girl Wash Your Face. It was an amazing book, but there was one chapter that practically smacked me in the face. It was about keeping promises to yourself. I realized I don’t think I’ve ever kept a promise to myself. Myself must think I’m the biggest liar, because I am. I would start things or tell myself I would do this or that and then come up with an excuse to not follow through. Now, not all the time did I break my promises, but it sure felt that way when I looked at it all in retrospect. The author talked about how the outcome for all future goals for promise breakers is set before you even start. Your subconscious looks back at similar past events and says “oh, here we go again, she doesn’t mean it. Don’t even get excited.” And then you grab that twinkie and margarita with a side of cookie dough on day 3 of your diet. Continue reading “My Journey on Freaking Whole 30”