Parenting

Fun for Creative Kids

July 9, 2015
IMG_4049 (2)

I love finding activities that keep Jonas engaged creatively. He’s always telling me stories and writing them, and more recently, he decided that he should make his stories into movies.

After being introduced to the concept of Stop Motion in one of his recent Tinker Crates* (super fun kits with hands-on science, engineering, and technology experiments) he was even more determined to make a movie.

So, I pulled up the App Store on my phone and downloaded this awesome Stop Motion app.

Thanks to one of his Aunts and Uncles (he has quite a few awesome ones) he even had cool set supplies with these paper Minecraft blocks.**

And then throw in a few of his little brother’s toys, and my Doctor Who figures (yes, they’re MINE), and we had a super fun way to spend an afternoon.

Or two.

Or three.

He is hooked.

And I’m not gonna lie. I’m enjoying it, too.

 *if you are interested in trying out a Tinker Crate, the link above will get you $10 off your first crate
**for the crafty types, there are all sorts of instructables online for making your own Minecraft blocks

Natural Remedies, Parenting, SPD

SPD: The One Where I’m Not a Doctor

July 7, 2015
jonasbw

Before I get into anything here, I’m going to repeat something I’ve mentioned before, but just want to be absolutely clear on:

I am not a doctor. I am not a medical professional. My experiences are limited to my kid. Any mention of things I’ve done for my child are not to be taken as recommendations for yours. Do your research. Consult the trusted medical professional in your life. 

Phew. Now that we’ve got that out of a way…

Kids with sensory issues tend to be pickier eaters, and with the MTHFR issues with folic acid, I felt that our little guy might need a little help in the area of supplementation.

Yes, it would be awesome if I could load the kid up on kale and spinach and all those dark green goodies, but I can barely get him to eat the most innocuous-looking kid foods half the time, so making sure he is getting what he needs elsewhere seemed like a good idea.

Sadly, not all supplements are created equal. Ingredients are one factor, and quality is another.

Currently, there are two supplements that have definitely been making a difference for him.

The Multivitamin

Seeking out a good all around vitamin took a bit of work, since a lot of them contain folic acid, which my research into MTHFR has made me aware isn’t great for me or the kid. Seeking Health’s Kid’s Optimal Multi is what I went with as it contains:

  • active forms of folate (so our MTHFR selves can process it properly)
  • chelated minerals – these are minerals that are attached to amino acids; there is research that suggests that chelated minerals are easier for the body to absorb
  • lack of allergenic ingredients (milk/casein, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and wheat/gluten)

We use the capsules as Jonas prefers swallowing over the texture and flavor of the chewable.

DHA

In my reading, I’ve encountered a lot about the importance of DHA in brain development and visual function, and it seems to be a common go-to for kids with sensory issues of all kind. In addition, I’ve seen it used often with kids who have ADHD, as it seems to assist with focus.

We’ve been using Nordic Naturals Children’s DHA. They taste okay if chewed, but are meant to be swallowed, so they work both ways.

We went with Nordic Naturals as they are third party tested for toxicity (a concern with fish oil) and freshness. No fishy burps here!

Other

While he isn’t currently taking one, I’ve also noted improvement when I have him taking a probiotic. Gut health is hugely important, but I’m still doing my research on what probiotic is best for him.

We also use a liquid melatonin to aid his sleep issues – but I definitely advise doing your own research AND talking with a health care professional. While it does help us a lot here, there’s been concern about the use of melatonin in children where there is a history of seizure (not applicable for us), so I don’t advise taking the use of it lightly.

 

The Results

While we aren’t 100% done with figuring out the best way to supplement our kid’s “diet” (if you can call it that) we definitely see a difference when he is taking this combo and when he’s not. Recently, we ran out of the multi and I didn’t have it for about two weeks.

Three days of no multi and we had the first meltdown we’d had in a long time. He was extra sensitive (clothes were itchy, easily upset, etc) and needed a lot of extra attention. Once the vitamins were back in, three days of being back on them and he was calm and back to his usual five year old self.

In addition to the changes in behavior, we saw a change in his daily bathroom habits. Our little guy has suffered with issues in the poop department for a very long time – it even resulted in an emergency room visit when he was younger. Getting him to poop every day had been a struggle.

A struggle that sometimes ended with both him and I in tears.

The daily supplementation has completely eliminated the issue. He goes regularly, without being forced, without being afraid, without resistance. That, by itself, is an incredibly huge win for us. No more fear of number two for him, and no more crying on the bathroom floor for me.

It takes more than supplementation, of course, to assist with his sensory issues, but for us, they have been a huge piece of the puzzle.

I’m sure we’ll make adjustments as we convince him to eat more foods that offer what he needs, but until he starts loving mackerel and kale, the above one-two punch is definitely helping us out.

Do you have any go-to’s in your house for your kid’s health and well being? 

 

Parenting, SPD

When Good Genes Go Bad – The MTHFR Connection

July 1, 2015
Cute little mutants.

Ready for some SCIIIIENCE??

::puts on my best Bill Nye voice::

Some time back, I had testing done to find out more about my genetic makeup. I had the hubs tested as well, since our combined info would give me a window into our child (and now, children).

The results were full of data that led to quite the spiral of reading lots of super science-y papers.

A LOT.

My focus was on one genetic variant in particular.

Enter the MTHFR gene.

MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. Now that you’ve made several attempts to pronounce that, what is it?

The MTHFR gene is responsible for making the enzyme that allows your body to properly process the vitamin B9. In order for your body to use B9 you take in (from food or supplements) it needs to be able to convert it.

Why does that matter? What does B9 do for you?

There’s quite a list of benefits (and issues if you are deficient) but in the context of SPD issues, one of the biggest benefits is B9’s role in proper brain function, especially in the maintenance of emotional and mental health.

That’s not all this little enzyme does.

It’s also important in the process of converting homocysteine into methionine — an amino acid the body needs for growth and metabolism. Methionine is also responsible for creating the body’s primary antioxidant, and methionine is used by the liver to create a chemical that helps metabolize brain chemicals dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin.

Those things are are hugely important factors in our mood and sleep – things that are a huge deal in this house.

So that did this little genetic test tell me?

I have a genetic mutation. On the MTHFR gene. 

There are two major areas of the gene that are getting attention – C677T and A1298C. If you think of the gene as a neighborhood, those are simply the addresses.

Things are going great at C677T – no mutations for me there. But at A1298C, Professor Xavier is setting up a new academy for the gifted. Or, in more scientific terms, I have the homozygous mutation. That means that I received a mutation from both parents, rather than just one.

My husband, oddly enough, has no mutations on A1289C, but C667T he’s homozygous.

That means, both of our children are automatically heterozygous for both. (Yay for Freshman Biology!)

What does all of that mean?

Well, in the most basic, simplified terms, I bring you this crudely constructed drawing:

MTHFR Sciencey Stuff

 

If you were to imagine the conversion process as a path, people with no mutations would have a clear one.

At one address, I have a nice clear path. But when you get to the A1298C address, there’s a bit of an obstacle in the way. It doesn’t make it impossible for my body to do what’s needed, but it does impede things. My husband has the same issue, but in a different place.

My kids, while they may not have the same “block” in the road as their father or myself, they have roadblocks at both addresses.

There’s still much research being done in how much or at what level these “roadblocks” impede the body from converting B9 and creating a host of things it needs, but the studies are showing that it does have a marked effect. (Estimates range from 20%-70% impairment, sometimes more.)

That impairment affects a lot of things.

  • The proper interaction of methylfolate and Methyl-B12 (things that are part of the process that MTHFR either helps or impedes) which drives your body’s ability to fuel cells with energy.
  • The production of Methyl-B12 which regulates certain T-cells that may play a role in autoimmune diseases.
  • Improper methylation (the conversion process) can increase your risks for heart disease, stroke, dementia and even some cancers.
  • It impedes your ability to make glutathione the body’s master antioxidant, which is thought to play a major role in autism treatments, chronic Lyme disease and some tic disorders.
  • Processing of certain B vitamins alters the body’s absorption of other things, including magnesium and calcium.

As it relates to SPD, these mutations seem to have a strong effect on mood and behavior, which is why there are pushes to look at the link between MTHFR and sensory issues.

This is actually a huge breakthrough for me, as I’ve always learned the importance of B vitamins in mood regulation, so I would have never thought twice about increasing my intake of B9. (As a matter of fact, when you are pregnant, you are specifically instructed to take lots of it – B9 is also known as folic acid).

Unfortunately for me, that folic acid is something my body doesn’t process properly, and apparently, my kids have the same issue. Armed with that information, I’m now able to look into better options for all of us (specifically, methylfolate, which I’ll discuss more when I talk supplementation).

Interestingly enough, MTHFR mutations are not uncommon.

How can you find out about your own genetic variations?

Personally, I used 23andme. A simple saliva test that I mailed in gave me access to a huge amount of raw data. I was able to download that data and plug it in to a report like GeneticGenie to get a breakdown.*

Do you know what’s going on with your genes? Do you, too, have X-Men potential?

 

*I’m fairly certain you should be able to request a similar test from your doctor, but given that I’m uncertain if insurance covers it, the direct route will likely be a less expensive option. If your doctor is up to date on the latest, you may be able to bring the results with you for discussion. There are also sites that help you find physicians who work specifically with MTHFR concerns.

**I’m hanging with family this week, so this will likely be the only post on the subject until next week. 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration

Friday Inspiration – Why Worry

June 26, 2015
Worry

I am a worrier.

I worry about what people think of me.

I obsess over things I’ve said or done. Completely innocuous things.

I watch my kid like a hawk when we are out. (That may not be accurate. Hawks have amazing vision and I’m blind as a bat. Except bats aren’t really blind and pretty much know everything that’s going on. Maybe I watch my kid like a bat?)

I have a hard time falling asleep at night sometimes because my brain kicks into overdrive thinking of all the things I might have forgotten.

I fret about the things I write. About it being good enough. About someone hating it.

I have a mental map of how to escape my house in case of fire or secret ninja attack.

Ok, maybe I don’t worry about ninjas.

But probably something equally silly.

Some of the worry I can’t help. Issues with anxiety aren’t that straightforward. It’s not always something you can control. (I worry about that. Ha.)

But some of it, some of the time, is in my control. Some of it is about letting go.

I was staring at this photo from a few years ago. It was a rare moment since having the first kid that I went for a stroll by myself. While on vacation with my parents I decided to take some photos at sunset.

Everyone else was settled in for the evening. I worried about leaving the kid with my parents and the hubs. Because that’s what I do when leaving my kid with perfectly capable people.

I worry.

But I ignored the irrational voice and the what-if’s and went for a walk.

As I walked toward the water and looked out at the horizon, I could see storms in the distance.

Oddly, I love storms. As much as they should make me worry, I find they have a calming effect on me.

I took my camera out and started snapping pics of the sunset, mostly blocked by the clouds.

In the water were two figures. I couldn’t make out anything more than their silhouettes, but they seemed absolutely unmoved by the oncoming storm, or the threat of darkness. They looked peaceful.

With rays streaming out above the clouds, and bold color peeking through underneath, why wouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t enjoy the serenity of sitting in the warm Gulf waters, watching the constantly changing painted sky above?

I don’t know anything about those two people, but I doubt in that moment they were plagued with worry.

They probably had stresses like anyone else. Things they could be obsessing over, reasonable or ridiculous. But they were enjoying that moment instead.

And I want to remember that. Whether it be the madness going on outside my doors, within my home, or inside my head, sometimes I need to let go of the “what if” and “what’s next” and enjoy the now.

 

To all my readers: May your weekend be one of enjoying the things in front of you, rather than worrying about what’s ahead. 

And welcome back. I missed it here.