Inside Voices

shutterstock_59901991One aspect of parenting with which I still struggle is the sheer chaos of getting ready for things… school, bedtime, swim lessons, pretty much any place we need to be by a specific time. From what I can tell, I’m not alone in this struggle. I’ve got checklists, modified checklists, egg timers, iPhone alerts, all that… and they do help to some degree, especially for older kids.  But they are still kids, and kids have a completely different sense of time than we do. They largely (and hopefully) live in the present. Yes, that’s the goal of many adults as well, but schools, creditors, etc, don’t really work on that principle. Adults have to live in a blended world of present and future, and we often bring the past in there with us as well. When I feel myself getting very frustrated – for me, that’s tightness in my chest, neck, and shoulders – I have need to stop and think about my voice. Not the tone I’m using with the kids, although the goal is to modulate that, but my own inside voice. How to I calm my inside voices to prevent using my – ahem – outside voice with the kids? Here’s how I get myself back on track when I’m starting to let the frustration boil over, without stopping everything and being even later. Continue reading

Reflecting on ourselves as parents, and our kids as kids

reflectingThis past weekend I went on a retreat with approximately 20 fabulous women, who also happen to be wonderful mothers – lots of relaxing, some reading, and much, much laughter! (Strangely, it’s harder to meditate when there’s uproarious laughter in the house than even whining & tantrums.) There was also a lot of delicious food. All in all, a very restorative weekend – and my first time away from both girls for a full 24 hours. I missed them and was thrilled to see them on Sunday afternoon. The time away also reminded how very much more present I can be with my kids when I am able to put all the housework, etc, that needs doing into perspective. I think we all need time to reflect on where we are as parents, how our kids are responding to our actions & the world at large, and reassess what our relationships with our kids need.

It’s admittedly a challenge to find the time, space, and opportunity to be calm… and sometimes it’s also just hard to do on our own. I believe that we’re all trying to do our best, and sometimes become frustrated when those efforts seem to lead … nowhere. Or worse, seem to exacerbate the behavior. That’s why I think that seeing the assumptions that shape our own behavior and beliefs reflected back to us can be such a potent catalyst for change. It’s hard to see when our strengths and coping mechanisms may be sabotaging our best efforts. Letting someone else turn the mirror to a different angle can provide a new view of ourselves and our relationships with our kids (and spouses, and co-workers, etc). Even if we are coping well, we can also learn new approaches, attitudes, and tools. In addition to friends and other peers, sometimes the reflection we need to see is the one that our kids are holding up. Here’s an activity that can help see that reflection calmly. Continue reading

More quick grain salads for breakfast, or anytime

103531903_4In  food-related news, it’s been awhile… who’d like some grain salad recipes? (It’s been so long, in fact, that the second suggestion may be a repeat!) I went on a fabulous retreat this weekend (more on that soon), and was a member of the magnificent Saturday morning breakfast crew. Obviously, I decided to bring along two grain dishes. They went over pretty well, and are vegan and wheat-flour free. (Quinoa is gluten-free as well. Some people with gluten sensitivity can handle farro, others can’t – YMMV.) Without further ado, here are the grain salads that I shared with the group.

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Any frog in a storm

lumpy frog


This week I’m going to have a (hopefully minor) surgery on my ear. I do know it’s going to be painful – as this isn’t the first time, and I’m not kidding myself about that. And, due to the location, it’s going to be uncomfortable to manage during recovery. And the simple fact is… I don’t want to do it. I feel angry, irritated, and annoyed. And times like these make me incredibly sympathetic to my children.

Because what’s beneath all that pumped up emotion? Fear. I’m afraid of the pain, and going to the procedure alone, and all the unknowns. Fear is the wind… and it is stirring up a big storm of emotions. Big emotions are what being a small child is all about. But sometimes there’s just nothing to be done. So how do we help ourselves, and our kids, to understand sometimes doing nothing – sitting like a frog on a log – is the only thing to do.

Guiding kids through anxiety and fear fundamentally requires two things: validating the emotion, while guiding them to a still center. One technique for centering younger kids (toddler to early elementary) is what I call the lumpy toad frog. This one is going to require you to kick off your shoes and get down on the ground. Continue reading

Serenity now…NOW!

The smallest of the little ones appears to be in the midst of the dreaded 18 month sleep regression. True fact: I initially thought sleep regressions were total bullshit, until Q went through her 4 month sleep regression, which left me crying into my pint of ice cream & glass(es) of wine night after night. And then – poof. It ends.

Well, Trix is only 16 months, but I took a look at the 18 month developmental milestones and bingo. Pro: advanced development; con: she is particularly advanced at screaming her head off FOR HOURS. Rock, rock – scream. Pat, pat – scream. You get the idea. Oh – separation anxiety. To think that I so desperately wanted to be popular in my youth!

So I thought today I’d share three things:

  1. All things will pass. I mean, they’ll be replaced by other crap, but the things that nag you most right now will fade with time.
  2. Since there will always be muck, whenever possible, keeping an eye out for blossoms & tiny flashes of newly growing things does help one’s sanity. At least it does for me. Hindsight may help me see that the muck wasn’t quite as sucking as it felt, but for the moment, I’ll try to save the new words and fierce love.
  3. I have my own version of the serenity prayer for my secular self, which I’ve shared below. I try to pause each morning & repeat it before my feet touch the floor, and think for a minute about which of the gifts I seem to need most lately:



Sugah, sugah…

I ate a lot of Halloween candy this year. A LOT. Obviously this is not my fault… it rained and we had lots of candy leftover, and the candy made me eat it. <Sigh> Halloween is actually the one time of year when we just let the whole HCFS thing go… in theory, however, that’s for Q’s benefit, not ours. Well, anyway… now I find myself in serious sugar-snack withdrawal. I forced the candy on a friend generously donated the remaining candy to a party, but am needing to wean myself off of a sweets craving. It seems I’m not the only one with an oversized sweet tooth lately, so today’s breakfast gave the craving a little healthy love: a mix of farro, roasted sugar dumpling squash, and diced red pepper. In truth, I should have gone with diced apple, but the brightness of the red pepper lured me in, and the extra vitamins put it over the top. I added in the farro to a) add more protein, and b) use up leftover grains from two days ago. (Guess what I’m having for lunch as well?)

  • 1/2 cup cooked farro (heated)
  • 1/2 medium sugar dumpling squash (roasted w olive oil & salt, then reheated)
  • 1/3 cup diced fresh red pepper

What’s a sugar dumpling squash? Sweet & creamy, very similar to a delicata squash. (Ours came from the local farmers’ market.) The added farro makes it like a porridge. Mmmm… a good warm breakfast option on these chilly mornings. The whole thing took about 5 minutes to put together – 7 if you count in the extra minutes I needed to stop & spell words for my 6 yo.

Guess what? It’s farro… and a girl!

Well, hi.

It’s been… a few years. And holy smokes, my own eating habits have become… less than mindful. You see, I had a pregnancy, and then a baby, and now a toddler. And life with two little girls has been hectic. I’m sure you know how that can be. In fact, mornings have been a giant pain in the tuckus. Last year – oh my FSM – last year was a clusterpuff (kids, you know… trying not to curse so fking much) in the morning. Every. Morning. Not surprisingly, my own health has gone by the wayside.

Lately, though, I’ve begun to miss my healthy breakfasts, especially veggies, and I definitely missed writing about them. So here we go…

Today’s breakfast was farro – prepared the night before, topped with shredded & lightly dressed red cabbage, diced apple, and cashews. I microwaved the farro with some of the cooking liquid, which kept it moist & reduced the need for olive oil. (See above mentioned post-partum thing.) Crisp, delicious, and seasonal – at least here in New England – it was loaded with fiber and protein. Farro is a low-gluten food, so not appropriate for those with celiac or significant sensitivities, but it has 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup dry! Look what this guy says:

Let’s say you are the type that had a baby nearly 16 months ago in your forties and perhaps you do not have nanny, cook, and personal trainer, i.e., you are not Halle Berry by any means. Here’s my portion size… some day I’ll figure out the WW points, when I have a free calculator again.

  • 1/2 cup cooked farro (heated)
  • 1/3 Crispin apple
  • 1/3 cup (or so) shredded red cabbage, v lightly dressed with olive oil, salt & lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup cashews

Okay – off to rally the children for school & daycare! May your short week be long on happiness.

A Little Zip for Your Lunch

Ah, real life… it has a way of slogging down the best intentions. In the past month, I wrote a blog post about self-care preparations during the holiday season for, and then left home on not one, but two, trips… once to Texas, and then to New York. On the plus side, I did a lot of thinking about nourishing ourselves while on the road and all its challenges; on the downside, none of that thinking has yet written itself. I might need an amanuensis. (Perhaps I had been secretly hoping that SIRI would do the writing for me – maybe that’ll be the iPhone 5.) Anyway, the excitement of Back to School is long over, and with all the traveling, I’m feeling pretty uninspired to come up with meal ideas. It’s times like these when having some quick go-to meals can provide not only options, but spark other ideas. I grabbed the 10 Treats for the School Lunch Box handout from the last Parents’ Night presentation, and started pulling together a shopping list. Continue reading

Five Power Breakfasts with Make-ahead Grains & PFFT

Got that rice cooker up and running? Have some leftover brown rice or quinoa from last night? By popular request, here’s a quick post with five power breakfasts to be made with prepared grains. As a recap – what are the primary elements you should be including in your breakfast besides deliciousness? PFF… Protein. Fiber. Fat. Add in some fruits and/or vegetables… and you’re starting the day with a breakfast that will help keep you focused until lunchtime. Let’s start with some basic whole grain fiber, protein, and fat options. Continue reading

My buddy Buddha

I am fairly terrible at yoga. Let me amend that… while not as terrible as I used to be, my yogi destiny will likely have more to do with a pic-a-nic basket than bakasana. Yet I keep trying. In fact, I’m not particularly athletic at all – all of my exercise activities involve endurance, and not speed nor grace. (And don’t get me started on my complete inability to follow along in an aerobics class.) This used to discourage me and I pretty much avoided sports or anything requiring much physical exertion – I focused instead on strengthening my mind, and just neglected my body’s needs, as I saw my body as almost separate from the real me. In truth, what prevented me from being active wasn’t my lack of strength, speed, flexibility, or agility, it was fear. I was frightened of doing something poorly, after a lifetime of being praised and valued for what I did well. But a yoga class changed that for me – one day I fell (hard) out of pose, and began to laugh. Continue reading