Maximizing those stolen moments by nurturing mind, body, and soul.

I was reading an article from a link sent to my email by the Chopra Center. It was about meditating, which is something that I have long struggled with. This is quite possibly because I felt that I didn’t have the whole Mind Body Connection thing going on or that I just wasn’t feeling what I thought I was supposed to feel. I also didn’t perceive that I had the time to devote to meditating and stillness. How would I, what with a full work, commute, and mothering schedule?

This article actually got my mental wheels turning a bit as it discussed making and finding space for self reflection and care by identifying gaps in time to put toward this practice. I began to consider the transitions between one activity and another and how I might try to use those moments to actually do some good for myself since I feel that I don’t have a lot of free time.

For example, I love going to yoga class. I like being in the class environment because I feel that holds me accountable to actually honor my practice for a full 60 Minutes without interruption. I enjoy the studio I’ve been going to for the past 3 years quite a bit, but their schedule has changed recently and the classes that I favor no longer coincide with my post-work availability. What’s a busy mama yogi to do?

My practice began to wane as I was no longer attending yoga classes with any regularity. My body and mind felt the consequences of this infrequency. I went to my massage therapist due to increased tightness in my upper back and shoulders. I discussed the woes of my restrictive schedule and lack of time for yoga classes. My massage therapist then enlightened me about Yoga with Adriene, which is a YouTube channel that you can subscribe to. She gave accolades about what a great instructor Adriene was, and how you can practice at your own pace and on your own time for free by subscribing to the YouTube channel.

I went home and I did just that. What I love about the Yoga with Adriene channel is the variety of yoga programs available. There are yoga sequences to help with waking up or winding down. She has sequences that focus on different regions of the body. As someone confined to a desk at work, I appreciate yoga flows that help relax my upper back, shoulders, and neck. What is also great is that Adriene’s videos vary in length, with some sessions as long as 45 minutes, and others as short as 5 minutes. She even does 30 day yoga challenges, with daily guided flows to follow along to. I figure as busy as I am as a mom that works full-time and also spends an hour and a half in the car each day, surely I can carve out 5 to 10 minutes at least a few days a week to watch one of her videos and go along with the yoga postures. I can honestly say I’ve never felt worse after doing a yoga class.

As far as meditation goes, my massage therapist had an answer for me in that regard as well: Insight Timer. This app is available on Google Play and iTunes for free. I immediately felt the benefit of its use. Why it’s great: it has many meditation offerings ranging from just a few minutes to 30+ minutes. There are guided meditations and there are ones without words such as the sound of waves, rain, chimes, and assorted music. This has been, for me, the best way to reign myself in for some silence and reflection. Or just to help me tune down at bedtime!

I think as a busy parent (are you getting the sense that I feel occupied nearly all the time yet?), it can be easy to lose sight of the passions and interests that make a person uniquely him/her. It takes some conscious effort to reconnect. These are a couple of ways I have found to help me do just that!

The Road to Discovering Our Toddler’s Food Allergy.

Our child entered into toddlerhood as a full blown foodie. Do they all? Maybe. What I do know, as mother to my one, is that she began eating solid foods with a voracious appetite and without any obvious issues. She was all over avocados, peas, and pears by 10 months, downing cucumber/avocado sushi rolls at age one, and eating grilled chicken off of the drumstick at 17 months.

Yep, it was smooth sailing once we moved into solid foods.

Then came the first rash, which appeared on her upper right thigh at 18 months. We racked our brains. Was it a new food she ate or soap we bathed her with? She’d had shellfish, meats, fruits, and veggies before this, so we weren’t confident that it was food related. Google told me that rashes appear in children of her age for both specific and unexplained reasons. The bumps were raised and small, but not filled with fluid or red. Dr. Sears said if the child seemed happy and not bothered, then all should be okay and that the rash would eventually, after a matter of weeks, go away on its own. Which it did, eventually. Maybe the Aquaphor or anti-fungal cream accelerated the process, maybe not.

About 5 months later, a new rash developed. This one was on her face – on her cheeks, primarily. At first, just a few spots were scattered across each cheek. It was January 2017, which was a cool and wet month in San Diego. Perhaps the weather had triggered it, we reasoned. But then there was the day we dropped her at Grandma’s for a few hours so that we could go to brunch. When we returned to her, the spots had grown more red and it seemed that there were more. At that point came a question that we, as parents, frequently began asking aloud: “What did she eat?” On that particular day, Grandma had made a brunch spread of her own – eggs, bacon, pancakes, fruit, and juice. It was hard to know what the catalyst in making the rash worse might have been.

We went with strawberries or apple juice as the likely culprit. And so we eliminated both and began experimenting with coconut oil, Aquaphor, and anti-fungal cream to reduce the flare up. It seemed to work. Sort of. At her two year pediatrician visit, it was a topic of discussion that didn’t lead to much concern since the rash had largely faded by that time. We couldn’t think of any newly introduced foods that might be triggers, aside from the ones we were avoiding, so an allergy test wasn’t recommended. There may have been other factors at play. When symptoms resurfaced noticeably a couple of months later, the pediatrician had some new ideas on what the cause might be.

With the nature and appearance of the rash on her face, the pediatrician prescribed a steroid-free eczema medication. We gave it a try. There was not an overwhelming improvement. In fact, small bumps began to appear on her upper cheekbone and even closer to her forehead. The pediatrician then began to suspect impetigo. We tried a prescribed antibiotic cream for that. Again, with minimal improvement.

It didn’t click for us until a night when her father made a fried rice for dinner. Shortly after the meal, her spots became redder and more pronounced. It was then that we knew the trigger, though we weren’t sure why what started out as a food that she frequently ate and enjoyed without issue had become such a problem: Egg.

The following months brought a series of changes for us. We truly came to realize just how many everyday food items can include egg, or “may be processed in a facility with egg.” So on came a newly adopted process of pausing to read ingredients more carefully on packages, making smarter eating choices, and asking more questions in restaurants.

When we began our own research on this suspected allergy, we learned that egg related allergies are one of the most common for toddlers. The odds that she’ll outgrow her symptoms by adolescence is promising. She’s fortunate to only exhibit the most common symptom – the skin rash – vs. stomach cramping, congestion, vomiting, or anaphylactic shock.

At her 3 year pediatric check up, we shared our findings with the doctor. As the rash is localized primarily to the face when it occurs, the pediatrician advised that the allergic reaction was topical in nature – ie. egg products touching hands and then touching face and mouth – vs. something that could readily be detected with a blood analysis allergy test or skin test. While these tests were still offered for the purpose of ruling other things out/ peace of mind, we were told that they weren’t likely to generate results based on what we’d described.

So we move forward. We think of breakfast options that don’t involve her former staple. We make sure the pasta we make doesn’t contain egg. We make cookies and muffins with egg substitutes. We ask whether that birthday cake made by a friend’s mom contains egg. We bring options with us always, just in case.

We have started to allow small portions of food containing egg into her diet (pasta, the occasional “normal” cookie, etc). We gauge the severity of the skin reaction that does or does not ensue after consumption. And then we wait a while before we offer another meal containing that ingredient. Hopefully, we will be able to incorporate egg more freely with time. For now, I’m thankful that my daughter understands her situation and is such a great sport about it (thanks, Daniel Tiger for that peach allergy episode!).