Loving the Pace of Summer

Happy Wednesday, Friends.

And happy smokin’ hot summer days!  At least, if you live in my neck of the woods.  I am soaking up every last drop of this summer.  It has been tremendous not only in terms of what we’ve been doing but also in terms of weather.  And before anyone makes a smart crack about the humidity, I just want to remind you of this:

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SERIOUSLY.  THIS. ^^^^^.  Don’t even try to convince me that six feet of snow and five layers of clothing is better.  Because it just isn’t.  Actually, I take that back.  I love winter up until Christmas.  And then it just goes downhill from there all the way through late March.  Verdict?  Summer.   Longer days, warm nights, sun-kissed tans, no parkas.  Verdict?  Summer.

I find it fascinating that I live in a part of the world that goes from -35°C in February to +35°C in July.  Five months ago I could walk across the lake at our cottage and now I can comfortably swim across it.

Mind blown.

Speaking of comfortably swimming in a lake and returning to the point of this blog post, I’ve rather been enjoying the slower pace we chose this year.  We made the conscious choice to avoid scheduling much during July and August.  I read an incredible article this spring that inspired me to schedule less but not necessarily do less.  In fact, we’ve been pretty busy. We just choose our busy-ness as we go.  Based on the whim and fancy of what we want to do that day.

Want to build a fort?  Sure!

Want to play Scrabble?  You bet!

Want to play tag in the sprinkler?  Last one in their bathing suit is IT!

The kids are in two separate weeks of day camps (one in July and one in August) but other than that, there is nothing.  No organized sports.  Few play dates.  No “bucket lists”.  Just inspired by what the day brings and what we feel like doing.  We’ve accomplished a lot.

I’ll be honest that in the beginning the thought of it seemed daunting.  Nine whole weeks of unscheduled open-ness?  I thought for sure I would crack….and I fully admit to enjoying a white wine spritzer in the afternoons on the back porch as the kids run around {virtual fist bumps for the spritzer!}.  There are days the kids get bored and I had to be okay with that.  I also had to be okay with not filling that time for them.  I asked them to come up with their own activities and most times they do without *too* much complaining.

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Here are a few ideas for those families looking to do less yet connect more in August.  Most of these activities cost little to no money and require little to no preparation in advance.

  • Build a fort (inside or outside)
  • Take a hike
  • Read a book (we love Chronicles of Narnia and are taking a few weeks – if not months – to finish it as a family)
  • Paint rocks
  • Garden
  • Go geo-caching
  • Count stars at night
  • Go to a drive in movie
  • Catch bugs
  • Go swimming in a lake or a river or the beach
  • Run in the sprinkler
  • Blow bubbles
  • Watch clouds float in the sky
  • Make a scavenger hunt in your backyard
  • Climb a tree (and please, get up there with them!  It’s fun!)
  • Play board games (we even made our own)
  • Go to the library
  • Make homemade popsicles
  • Make paper mache
  • Lemonade stand
  • Go fishing
  • Do yoga in your backyard 
  • Go on a picnic
  • Be a tourist in your hometown
  • Go on a day trip and let the kids decide when & where to turn (see where they take you!)
  • Hit up a provincial/state park
  • Make homemade ice cream

The ideas are simple and endless.  And thoroughly enjoyable.  And most importantly, we’ve found that we are seriously connecting with our kids more.  Sure, they still watch a movie here and there.  And my iPhone isn’t always turned off (how else do I share the photos of our fun but by posting them to Instagram!).  But I do find that we’re having more fun than we have in past summers.

AND with five more weeks of summer left, I’m looking for other ideas too – would love to hear about what you’re doing with your kids over the hotter months!

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Our Family Bed

It seems that we have reached a turning point in the sleeping patterns of our children.  It’s not guaranteed but for the most part, if my kids go to bed at their bedtimes (7:30 for Maggie, 8:30 for Caleigh and Blake) they now sleep through the night and wake up at a reasonable hour (between 6 and 6:30).  Sometimes they even treat me to a 7:30 sleep in.

Seven.  Thirty.  Folks.

It has afforded me some mornings to once again commit to my morning power hour.  I had missed my quiet morning times,  For a solid year, Maggie decided that her sleep routine was to wake up at 5AM.  My “power hours” became “Elmo hours” that included regular refills of raisins into a Minnie Mouse bowl.  Far from empowering and quite honestly, one can only take so many Elmo episodes off of YouTube.

7:30 wake up times also allowed Tom and me to lay in bed for a while longer some mornings, halfway between wake and sleep in that lovely, warm, drowsy space where dreams come and go.  What was nice about these mornings is that eventually, we would be joined by three drowsy kids.  One by one, they would plod into our room with blankets and stuffies trailing behind them, find their way into our bed, and snuggle in under the blankets between us.  We talk about our dreams from the previous night.  We talk about what was awesome about the day before.  We talk about what we are excited or nervous for in the coming day. It’s time that I relish.  The kids are still young enough to find this nice.  Tom and I can connect with our kids all at once (rare with five of us!).  We have real, honest conversations.  We tell jokes.  We laugh.  It’s family bliss.  I love our family bed.  I know it won’t always be like that so for the time being, I’ll hold onto those mornings for as long as I can. 86d875f3db62169d_157104402.preview

Our Christmas Tree

I love our Christmas tree.  It’s not flashy.  It’s not bright.  It’s not adorned with the trendiest ornaments.  Our Christmas tree has had the same ornaments on its branches over the years, save for (usually) one addition per year.  Each ornament has a special significance to it.

We have ornaments that were handed down to Tom and I from our parents or over the years.  Like the straw ladies that I remember as a child on my Mom’s tree.  Also, the wooden airplane, the bird house, and the wooden angel.   Tom has ornaments from his childhood, including a special one of the little drummer boy, which was given to him by his late Uncle John.  Those ornaments hold a place in our hearts.

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We have ornaments that have been given to us by patients over the years, some that reflect us as Chiropractors and others that were given based on our passions.

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We have ornaments in honour of the births of each of our children.

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We also make it a tradition that each time we go on vacation, we purchase an ornament that reminds us of our time together as a family.  We have the princess we picked up at Walt Disney World last year.  We have a beach scene from our honeymoon in Jamaica.

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My favourites though are the homemade ornaments our kids have made over the years.

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We make trimming the tree a family affair.  We lay all of the ornaments out on the ground and the kids are able to put up ornaments, one by one, on whatever branch they want.  Tom and I place the ornaments on the higher branches, but only as directed by the kids.  There is always a squabble over who gets to place the angel on the top of the tree, and each year it ends with Tom taking the honour.  The finale is, of course, turning on the white lights, with the rest of the room in dark.

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Carrying on a tradition that was in our family growing up, we play a game where Tom and I name an ornament and the kids have to find it.  I remember as a kid loving this game, the sense of excitement as I explored the tree with all of the decorations on it.  I’m thrilled that my kids have just as much fun as my brother and I used to have.  There is something quite comforting about carrying on a tradition that is so deeply ingrained in Christmas spirit.

I love our tree.  I wouldn’t give it up for all the sparkly newness that is on the shelves of the stores I’ve been to in the last few years.  I love the story behind each ornament.  I love sharing those stories with the kids, as they hang them delicately on the branches.  I hope that one day they will receive some of these ornaments and have just as much fun telling their children of their significance.

Eight years ago

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Eight years ago this sweet being came into our life.  She did not at all come in quietly but of course she has also, just like her sister and her brother, left an impressionable mark on my heart ever since.

I’ve written about Caleigh’s birth before.  Every year on her birthday, I count my blessings for how healthy she is.  This year, as I think about how grateful I am for having her for a daughter, I’m also in equal amount of shock that she is in fact eight years old.  When did that happen?  She’s halfway to her driver’s license.

As my kids get older, the things that used to worry me are replaced with new worries.  Instead of watching as she stumbles while learning to navigate stairs, now I watch as she navigates the ups and downs of friendships at school.  I used to wonder if she was safe in the playroom to play on her own and now I wonder if she’s safe as she walks down the road, out of sight, to the park on her own.

I love the person she is becoming.  When she was first-born, I wondered if I would love being a mom as she grew older as much as I loved being a mom when she was a baby.  That sounds so incredibly selfish, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit it but I didn’t know if I would like it as much.  And now that I’m here, I realize that I love it just as much, just in a different way.  Instead of watching her as she reaches her different milestones (first smile, first step, first word), I’m now watching as she develops her own sense of self and passions in life.  I have moments of pride and moments of heartbreak as she goes through different stages.  And I most especially love how our relationship as mom and daughter as evolved.

I watch as she figures out her emotions.  I watch as she rebels against her bedtime.  I watch as she learns that alone time is sometimes just as important as together time.  I watch as she learns about the repercussions of choosing play over homework.  I watch as she reaches that age where she still is, and wants to be, a kid but at the same time, she wants to be more grown up.  I listen to her as she shares her day at school with me.  I cuddle with her in bed when she cries over the unjust in the life of a (now) eight year old girl.  I laugh with her over jokes, funny stories, and memories from when she was younger.

Eight years from now it will be a totally different experience.  High school.  Boys.  Part time jobs.  Sports.  Right now, I’ll enjoy Rainbow Loom marathons and playing Uno.

Happy, happy birthday Caleigh.

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Two years ago

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Two years ago this sweet being came into our lives.  She came in quietly and has left an impressionable mark on my heart ever since.

Tom and I debated on having a third baby.  At the time, with a five year old and a three year old, it seemed like we had the perfect family.  It didn’t feel as though there was a piece missing.  Since before we were married, we had thought that three kids would be what we wanted.  But two difficult pregnancies later, my enthusiasm and desire for a third had waned.  But as I watched Blake grow from a toddler into a little boy, something pulled at my heart.  A feeling that I simply chalked up to the sadness that comes when I realized my “babies” were no longer babies.  But as that feeling grew stronger, we revisited the topic of a third little one.  We decided to give it six months and it if was meant to be, it was meant to be.  Apparently, it was.

It was the best decision of our lives.

Within moments of her birth, when I had my first opportunity to hold her and look into her eyes, I knew that Maggie completed our family.  I hadn’t realized that our puzzle was missing a piece.

Dearest Maggie, you are a spitfire.  I have no doubt you will contribute to more grey hairs on my head than your older brother and sister combined.  You are adventurous and brave.  I love how you leap into the arms of people you trust and love – how you come hurtling down the hallway when I arrive home, yelling “mama” and jump into my arms.  I love how you already count to twenty, kind of, because you get to nineteen and then go back to sixteen or fourteen or whatever number is on the tip of your tongue.  I love how you will argue with whoever tries to convince you that something is any colour other than green.  I love how you follow your big sister around like a shadow.  I love how you snuggle with your big brother on the couch.  I love that when you hug your daddy, you snuggle into his neck and announce “MY dada”.  I love to watch as you learn to express yourself both verbally and through emotions, as hard as that can be sometimes.  I love that for the last two weeks, you’ve sung the words to “happy birthday” to yourself as you are falling asleep.

I know you want to be a big girl – to play with the your brother and sister and the big girls outside but I beg of you, don’t grow up too quickly.  Be my baby girl just a little while longer.  There will be plenty of time to be a big girl and there is only so much time to be a little one.  As I type this, I realize that by me asking this of you, it’s really a reminder to me to enjoy these years too.  The days may be long but yes, the years are too short.

Happy birthday sweet Maggie.

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Short but sweet, on this beautiful Thanksgiving Sunday.

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“I am thankful for a lovely house.  I am thankful for a nice healthy meal.  I am thankful for a warm bed to sleep in at night.  I am thankful for a bit and healthy life.  I am thankful for a safe trip to school.  I am thankful for my big caring family.”

I, Caleigh, am thankful that you are such a thoughtful, sweet, caring daughter.

Pretty big heart for an almost eight year old.

Happy Thanksgiving.

My Six Step Punch to Knock Out Colds

Hi there!  I feel like I’m coming out of this hole that I’ve been living in for the last two weeks.  There’s been a lot of excitement with my nephew being born  and getting back to routine in September.  Sandwiched in-between those two events was this nagging sense of not getting things done, being disconnected from the world due to lack of internet at home, and this after-summer cold that my family has been hanging onto for a few weeks now.  It went from one person to the next and seems to be working its way out of our home (finally)!

I was sharing our story of this persistent cold/”viral thing”/”congestive annoyance” with another family in our office and they asked one of the most common questions I get in practice.  “What do you do for your family to beat infections?”

This is a topic that I’m very passionate about.  I’m a Mom (first and foremost) and I’m also a Chiropractor, who has a special interest in taking care of myself and my family as naturally and holistically as possible.  And I like to share what I have learned with others because over the years I have connected with so many amazing families, headed by mamas who are doing everything they can to support their family’s health with as little medical intervention as possible.

So, before I answer the question “What do I do for my family to beat infections?”, let me share some of my beliefs so that you understand why it is what I do.

1.  Your body (and those of your children) is intelligent.  The human body will always pick the perfect response to stress that it encounters.  For example, if your 3 year old daughter gets a virus then her body will do whatever it has to do in order to kill the virus.  It will raise its internal body temperature (read: get a fever) in order to destroy the virus as it tries to multiply.  Viruses love normal body temperature, they do not like higher than normal body temperature and will die off as a fever is produced.  Also, it will create an increase in mucous in order to rid the body of the virus.  Hence the gunk that is coughed out of lungs and the stuffy, runny noses that are draining.  Pretty smart of her body, right?

2.  Infections are a Normal and Healthy Part of Being Human  When we “get sick”, it’s not always a bad thing.  I have to look at a few things to determine whether or not this is my own fault out of conscious (or subconscious) thought and action OR if simply, this is my body (or my children’s bodies) growing a better defence system.  What do I mean?  I mean that if I’m burning the candle at both ends – not sleeping well, not exercising, not eating whole foods, not getting adjusted as often as my body needs, etc. – then I’m likely setting my body up for an infection.  It’s energy stores are depleted. I can’t possibly expect for my body to ward off a cold or flu if I haven’t been properly taking care of it.

The second part of this is that getting sick can simply be a way for my child’s immune system to expand and get stronger.  Childhood infections of any kind are a great way to test, grow, and support the immune system.  If we never got sick, then we wouldn’t have a heightened immune system to protect us against future infections.  When we take medication or give our kids medication, it doesn’t allow for their bodies to properly and completely internalize the infection, build an immune response against it, and heal from it.  As a result, when future infections hit, the body is less prepared and more likely to get knocked down even harder.  Interesting concept, yes?

This all being said, when I or my husband or my kids are sick, it sucks.  None of us enjoy being sick.  It affects the whole family too.  It impacts our ability to do what we want.  It impacts our ability to work.  It impacts our ability to play.  I respect the whole process that the body has to go through when it’s healing from a sickness, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t sideline our lives.  Prevention is key but let’s be honest, even with the most organized plan to stay well, we still get sick.  So, let me share with you what it is we do once “something” sets in.

My Six Step Punch to Knock Out Infections

1.  Get adjusted!  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Regular Chiropractic care is crucial to supporting a imageshealthy nervous system AND immune system.  The nervous system is the master control system of your body and directly affects how your immune system functions.  If there is interference to your nervous system then there will be interference in your immune system (read: your immunity is working at less than 100%).  Get adjusted.  Regularly for preventative reasons and to stay well…and then yes, when you feel like your immune system has been compromised, get checked immediately!

2.  Essential Oils  A relatively new addition to our family’s toolbox but one that I can’t believe we lived without up until the beginning of this summer.  I use DoTERRA oils and I’ve been amazed at how well they work.  Their purpose is not to “treat” your infection, but support your body through it.  That being said, I was shocked the other night when I used a couple of drops of OnGuard and immediately my sinuses cleared after hours of being congested. Find out how to order them for your own family.

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  • OnGuard – An incredible immune support oil.  It’s Wild Orange combined with clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  I put a couple of drops under my tongue (very spicy, like oregano oil but wow, does it work!), put a drop on each of the soles of my feet, and dilute 3-4 drops in a tablespoon of coconut oil and massage it into the areas that need support (bridge of nose if nasal congestion, chest if coughing, across throat if sore, behind ears if sore, etc.)
  • Lemon – I add 1-2 drops in each glass of water I drink.  Another great oil for immune support.
  • Helichrysum – Helps to support healing.  I take 1-2 drops (with or without a carrier oil, depending on level of sensitivity…I use a carrier oil for my kids) and place it on the soles of feet and into areas that need extra support (see above with OnGuard).
  • Breathe – great to use if congested and having trouble breathing (also great support for allergies, asthma, and other breathing challenges!)
  • Peppermint & Lavender– We often don’t get fevers but when we do, they hit hard!  Fever has its place but it makes it very difficult to sleep, especially for young ones.  I will take 2 drops of peppermint & 2 drops of lavender & mix it in 1 tsp of carrier oil.  Rub onto soles of feet, back of neck, and down their spine.  It creates a cooling sensation that isn’t meant to kill the fever, just make it more manageable to live with.

3. Drink Liquids  So great to stay hydrated!  Water, water with lemon and warm tea (or even warm water) are images-1all easy ways to get fluids in.  Bone broth works by bringing oxygen to the cells that need it.  I make homemade bone broth once a month and then freeze it in small portions (1/4 cup sizes…or use an ice cube tray to make individual portions).  Simmer different bones (oxtails, bones of fish,  chickens, cows, etc. – just make sure they are organic!) in water for days (I stick it all in a slow cooker for up to 72 hours).  Breast milk for those who are still breastfeeding is exceptional for immune system support.

4.  Tone It Down  Hardest part especially for the “go go go” types like myself.  But it’s crucial to get into a quiet place.  Stay home.  Snuggle up on the couch or in bed.  Watch a movie.  Play quietly.  Read books.  Draw.  Our lives are so busy usually that for us, we really need to focus on just being as still as possible.

5.  Avoid Sugar and Dairy  Sugar is a feast for viruses and bacteria.  Eliminate it asap (it’s not good for us anyhow!).  Dairy is a congestant.  It will create more mucous than what is necessary.  So getting rid of all dairy products is a second nutritional change that has to be made the moment we are fighting something.

6.  The 24 Hour Rule   Did you go to bed with a fever and wake up feeling great?  Well, you’re likely not out of the woods yet.  The rule in our home is 24 hours without fever before heading back out into life.  It’s too easy for infections to rear their ugly heads again.  Your body is still processing!  I know that life is there and needs your attention – but I promise you it will still be there tomorrow.  Work from home, if you can.  Putter around the house.  Go for an easy walk outside.  But lay low for an extra day to avoid delaying proper healing.

So there you go!  That’s what we do to beat infections in our home.  Hopefully this helps you discover what works best for your family.