Sensory Processing What?

We had a busy, busy summer being introduced into the world of childhood development experts.  For my family that had never been to anything more than an annual pediatrician appointment, with a side of naturopathy to tackle a food intolerance this was a whole new world.  We started down this path, when we were looking for some reasons for why our smart, happy boy continued to struggle with reading, despite lots and lots of school & home interventions.  We started with one small appointment — an “occupational therapy evaluation”…. our knowledge, our list of appointments and our monthly delivery with new books from Amazon grew from there.

As I write the post (my notes in parenthesis) are either the example that’s relevant to my kids, or the way I asked the dr/therapist explain it to me in plain and easy language.

Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Disorder ~ we’ve come to learn that kids (and adults) can find just about any of the 5 senses a challenge.  Could be your sense of taste is under (eating wildly spicy food) or over developed (chicken and rice).  Or it could be your sense of touch is over developed (can’t stand labels on clothes, won’t stay under a scratchy blanket, that seems just fine to others in the family).  But it also extends into senses I don’t think a lot about such as:

  •  Proprioceptive Processing – having to do with our understanding of where we are in space.  There’s nothing like watching a occupational therapist ask your child to close their eyes and touch their nose… and learning that that’s an impossible task
  • Vestibular Processing – fancy way to say balance.  Some groups think of this as it’s own disorder all on its very own.

With sensory integration issues, there are a wide range of symptoms (depending on your child), and a millions different ways to address them.  We started our quest of knowledge on the disorder with:

I needed these foundational materials to being the process of understanding what sensory processing issues were all about.  For us it explained a lot of weird symptoms — lots of bruised shins, falling out chairs, running into other kids and being surprised they were knocked down.  There’s a great mom blogger over at Growing Up Gish; she describes it this way: “We were so relieved to finally have some answers, and the more we learned about SPD the more it all made sense.”   If you read her description of her family’s journey to the world of SPD, it’s completely different from our family’s.  But that’s the nature of the disorder, and words she expressed were exactly what ran through my mind: relief, finally, it all makes sense.

So our first occupational therapy appointment introduced me to a lot of new words (common you’re trying to tell me that you know what proprioceptive is?), and was a good starting point to figure out what’s going on with my son.  As thorough as the OT evaluation was, it didn’t cover everything.

One of the other ‘odd’ things we’ve run into at our house is the complete inability to catch a ball — tennis ball, baseball, basketball, you name it.  But it turns out that issue is for another day and another post:  the developmental optometrist.

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Amazon Fresh vs CSA?

Updating this post — now that we have had a chance to trial a couple of services. First — I love, love, love Amazon Fresh:

  • Service is great — drivers courteous, always on time, super neat
  • It’s beyond convenient — I can order from my phone or PC; arrange for groceries to be delivered while I’m away from work (so DH doesn’t have to run out for fruit/yogurt/whatever mid-week), or when I’m headed home from vacation;
  • Quality is good — very happy with the produce

So why update the post?  Well…we’re not made of money.  After 3 months of Amazon Fresh, my grocery bill was 1.5x my usual bill.  The theory that I wouldn’t buy any “extras” and that would even out the price…. did not come true at all.  There are all kinds of “extras” to buy on Amazon, and the price delta didn’t help. So other options:

  • Milk Delivery (and cheese, and other dairy) : Not a great fit for us, I’m not trying to increase our dairy intake…
  • Full Circle Produce Delivery — used for 3 months.  Closer to a traditional CSA, when you get a “box of produce” and the choice is based on size of box, not content of the box.  Easy to use website; flexible — easy to start and stop.  Produce was good (not great, but better than Safeway).  Price was reasonable.
    • It wasn’t “local” the fruit was mostly from California.  That was good because I didn’t get stuck with a bunch of root vegetables all fall.  At the same time, if I’m not supporting local business, then I kind of want my pick of produce.

All that to say, I’m back shopping at PCC.  Love that 10% members discount every month. Wonder when they will start a delivery service?


Have you had any luck with Amazon Fresh?  What about a full service CSA (that lasts through the winter).  When we first moved, I started a running tally of CSAs in Redmond/Bellevue.  But I never carried through with the research to find someone that fit our requirements.   Here are my working mom’s requirements for a grocery service: 1) You deliver:  I’m doing this to save myself time.  I can’t be driving for 30-45 minutes to go and pick up groceries.   Added to delivery — I’d clarify that you must deliver consistently, don’t charge an arm & leg for delivery & don’t skip weeks 3) You have a wide variety of products:  Alternatively, I’d be happy with a network of CSAs.  If you could also point me to local farmers for milk, eggs, etc.  I could make that work, but to continue to search for one provider for mushrooms, one for lamb, another from root vegetables…well that’s not going to work 4) You operate year round.  I know this cuts out lots of local farmers… but support of local business is only one reason I want to do this.  The other is health ingredients for my family and saving time on the weekends. 5 ) Wide variety of organic produce: it doesn’t have to be 100% organic — but the heavy hitters — peppers, grapes, lettuce, berries, etc.  The produce that has the worst record for holding on to pesticides needs to have an organic option. 6) Now I’m getting picky — but I would prefer the meat, eggs and even produce to come from small family farms.  No factory farm meat for my boys. Does such a thing exist?  Am I going to be doomed to giving money to the machine and order from Amazon Fresh?  Please share your suggestions.

Review | Low Carb, High Protein Bars

Without a doubt, my favorite bars are “The Simply Bar“.  They have a 1:1 ration of protein to carbs, they range from 150-160 caloires.  Perfect for a snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Becuase i’m based in the west coast, I have to order them online and have to pay for shipping ($14…ouch!).  This means I have to be more organized than I often am and that I have to be at the tipping point of frustration wiht my locally available options.  As I’m not yet at that tipping point, I thought I’d try a few other protein bar options.

My criteria:

  • Less than 200 calories
  • Close to 1:1 ratio of protein to carbs
  • Not too many ingredients i can’t pronounce
  • No aspartame
  • More fiber is preferable to less

Here’s what I’ve tried out so far:

  • NuGO Slim – Brownie Crunch
    • OK.  Innoffensive, didn’t taste like a brownie, or chocolate…. but also didn’t taste like chemicals (a frequent complaint)
    • 190 calories (bit on the high side); 16g protein (good, not great), 19g carbs… higher than i’d like, but the 7g fiber but this into ‘ok’ territory for me
    • Added bonus — Gluten free
  • Atkins — any flavour
    • Couldn’t do it… the ingredient list was too chemically oriented for me.  What’s the deal with all the sugar alcohol?

I have a stockpile of options in my suitcase for the week… stay tuned for other otpions.

Family Dinners?

Do you have them? Do you have them every day? Every week?

Here’s an episode of The Current on the topic from last week. The interviewee is Laurie David (Larry David’s wife) and she’s a huge advocate of family dinners and how to get your family back to the table, and why you should want to put forward the effort. No surprise she’s on the show to promote her new book: The Family Dinner: Great ways to connect with your kids one meal at a time. Laurie’s discourse on the radio reminded me of an episode of Oprah from a season or two ago in which she spent time with families to reform their dinner times. Oprah saw families that were ordering takeout and each taking their food to a separate part of the house to eat on their own with their digital device of choice (texting, TV, laptop, whatever). The Oprah episode horrified me, but even Laurie’s interview seemed to indicate that the family dinner is a challenge.

More nights than note, we have dinner as a family. My kids are 2 and 5… so I can’t really imagine how they would get fed if we didn’t sit down with them. That said, we have friends whose nanny feed the kids before the parents get home from work, or whose kids get a big snack at daycare and don’t eat dinner, or who simply don’t enjoy the toddler meal and have a husband/wife dinner after the kids go to bed. I’m inclined to think that the latter is a great idea for us to try, at least once or twice a week.

But for now, we’re still the old fashioned four of us sitting down for dinner. It might not be fancy – in fact it’s definitely not fancy, but we’re there. I’ve been warned that this will get harder and harder to do as the kids get older. We’ll see. For now, Monday’s are definitely a challenge, as both boys have classes as 6pm. So we usually have eggs and crudités at 5:15. When the boys are older, I expect they’ll have more activities, but I’m also hoping we can push our dinner time back to 6:30 or so. Now if we have dinner at 6:30 the boys are falling asleep by the time we finish at 7pm.

I would love to hear success stories of how you’ve managed family dinners? Who’s able to get their 7/9 or teenage kids to the table for dinner more nights that not and how did you do it?

Planning for 2011

And here I thought maybe my blogging days were over. When I went back to work after mat-leave there was quite a hiatus from my wonderings and ponderings. But I’m still an Ottawa based mom who’s trying to raise her family of boys to be healthy, happy, well-adjusted boys and eventually men.

A friend sent me a note a while back asking if it was her. Was she the only mom who found that there was no ‘me’ time? She’s resorted to getting up at 5am to have a moment of piece and is quickly finding the kids hear her rustling in the house and are now getting up even earlier. It’s not her, it’s moms. Regardless of the age of your children or whether you’re at home or in the office – it’s busy, and the list of things to do is way too long. As soon as you cross 2 or 3 things off your list, another 4 or 5 seem to get added.

Last year I decided there were too many things to keep track of – aerobic exercise, weight training, yoga, family hiking, core strengthening, eat veggies, eat fruit, get enough fibre, don’t get too much saturated fat, get enough protein, no whites, take your multi-vitamin, and your vitamin D. Wait isn’t using a sauna supposed to be good for you? The list of do/don’ts was too long, and this was just the health oriented stuff. I divided my good intentions into a series of monthly ‘to-do’s. My premise was that if I did something for a month, there was a chance that I’d be able to a carry the habit forward So January was take your vitamin every day month, and February was daily exercise (as opposed to a couple of times a week), etc. Well I had fun making the list, but I don’t think I got very far with it. I found the schedule while cleaning up some office paperwork the other day, and am now working on the revised 2011 version.

This version I’ll share with you, my family and friends. I’m also trying to make it less serious: incorporating new activities– perhaps kickboxing or latin dancing, or date night ideas into the mix. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

 

 

Lent: A season of change for everyone?

Time for a change?
Time for a change?

Forgive what is undoubtedly a blasphemous topic for this post…

I’ve been thinking about Lent. My particular brand of church doesn’t have any strong traditions with respect to Lent as a season, apart from the sermons, the liturgy surrounding Lent is a pretty tamed affair. When I was at University, a good chunk of the student body was Catholic. At the time I became accustomed to hearing “can’t do it… I gave it up for Lent” or “no dessert for me, I gave it up for Lent.” In school the give ups were mostly: beer, cigarettes, dessert, chocolate and occasionally meat.

Long out of school, the phrase “gave up for lent” doesn’t come up very often. When a friend of family member mentions it, I assumed that: a) They were catholic, and b )more religious than I had originally realized. But other than that, I gave it not much thought. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

In the save way I’ve adopted Chinese New Year as my own personal holiday and set of traditions (in spite of not having been to China), my friends are adopting some of the Lenten traditions, because they resonate with them. These friends view it as an opportunity to :

  • Make a break from any bad habits that have crept up over the past year (or 10!)
  • Introduce positive lifestyle change
  • Put a halt to the consumption of all baked goods… in case that didn’t end at New Year’s
  • Introduce a new habit (or kill an old one). 60 days (or there about) is plenty of time for the change to take hold
  • Even if you don’t make a permanent change, 60 days without “pick your poison” is better than 60 days with it.

Yet another variation on this same theme is to not only “give up” something for Lent, but also to “add” something positive. This is akin to the Oprah style of management – if you want to bring something new into your house, you have to give up something. Now the big question is what to pick:

Give Up Add
  • Meat
  • Whites (flour, sugar, salt)
  • Wine (that wouldn’t be much fun)
  • TV
  • Bad TV
  • Dessert
  • Starbucks
  • Takeout
  • On-line shopping
  • Saunas
  • Yoga
  • Early bed time
  • Packing my lunch
  • Meditation
  • Supper prep (this has lapsed of late)
  • Exercise (daily, not ad hoc)

An update on chocolate pudding

A friend sent me this recipe the other week.  There is no reason why this shouldn’t be fantastic.  We’re having it as soon as the avocados on my counter soften.  Whether you’re looking for an alternative that’s healthier, or a dairy free pudding, or a vegan pudding, this recipe fits the bill.

Chocolate pudding:

1 avocado, smashed
1 banana, smashed
4-6 pitted dated, chop and boil with just enough water to soften
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup water

Blend ’til super smooth – refrigerate 1 hour.  Enjoy