If you are like me, the never ending hamster wheel of meal planning is one of the more constant on going challenging tasks that I struggle with. With so many other practical and emotional tasks that come with being in and parenting in an exceptional family - planning what we eat often gets pushed back to the last minute. With so many asynchronous needs, parts, and pieces moving through out our day, meal time can be a mama or daddy's weakest battle front.
But in the spirit of seeking more of a flow in our life, today I took a bit of time to give our family a guided focus meal plan. Our family is at the season, when our daughters can begin to take more responsibility and ownership of meals and my partner and I are in zones when we have more and more responsibilities that don't allow for us to be in 24/7 participation mode with our girls. My intention and hope is that with this template I can give this to them and ask them to make a meal plan and a grocery list for the week or month. Or my husband and I can take turns making the plans - and we have a shared nutrition plan focus. The idea is that the more we can streamline the communication and the options to select - the more successful we will be at making a meal plan for the week or the month.
I am taking a couple of hours out of our Saturday to think and put the guide together - with the hopes that the meal planning, shopping, preparation, and enjoyment can be more of a shared responsibility and process. Constant questions of what's for breakfast or dinner can be extinguished or answered quickly. I wanted to share the template I made for us and share the location of where you can grab the meal plan pdf and make one for your family morewithlessmom.com/2012/10/23/weekly-meal-plan-free-printable-template/
If you are more of a digital kind of planner, be sure to check out Plan To Eat. I've used it in the past and I am thinking that it will be a great complimentary tool to the basic meal template I made to day. Check it out.
vimeo.com/70831771 If you want to know more, go to their website www.plantoeat.com So if the combination of food and details can be devilish for you, like me, - a few simple tools can give us the power we need to be freed. From one mama to another, wishing you a simple, easy meal planning process.
What tools are you using or practices have you nurtured to open your family flow around meal times?
Today was our family day at the San Jose Tech Museum, right near the heart of Silicon Valley. It was phenomenal - from half dome IMAX movies of the National Parks and music across America, to hands on designing DNA experiments, to cyber detective work, to augmented reality tours through the human body ~ we were experiencing a present that seemed to be so much the future. But it is wasn’t.
If iit sounds like I am talking straddling time travel, it’s because I am. We were literally intersecting with data and machine through the whole museum. It is as if I was having visions of the material realities of this earthly and human experience being suctioned up into the cloud of data. There was a sense of vortex between human and machine as we walked through the museum. Granted, the immersion and intersection of data in the human experience was presented in beignin if not miraculous ways. And yet as our eyes traveled through the majesty of the national parks in the IMAX movie, I could not help but wonder how much greater the dissonance between life in the natural world and life in the artificial world will become? My thought wonderings did not stop there.
Even more so, I wonder, as we parents race to prepare our children to learn the languages of computer science and machine learning, do we not realize that we are launching them into a world without us. I am not talking about the generational shift that come with time and adulthood. I am referring to the individualized experience of artificial intelligence and the lack of integrated relationship and interaction that occurs between human and machine and between humans when machines are in the picture. In other words, how do we parents through the experience of machine learning and artificial intelligence? What happens when the data our children and put into the machines provides more knowledge and or interaction between them and the machine then in between them and us?
This is an issue that is so much more than protecting them from accessing harmful materials. This is us redefining and modeling human for them. The now cliche lament from “the former” generation of kids not looking up from their screens, is a much broader indictment of our individualized emmersion into machines and artificial intelligence. The definition of humanity in the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning is evolving and it is a shared conversation with those at every point along the age spectrum.
However, I believe that we would all be at a loss if the paradigm and function of parenting in the age of artificial intelligence is not more highly valued and nurtured, If not the concept of human interaction and relationship and most of all parenting is likely to eventually disappear. In some regards these thoughts take us to the extreme, but these questions also allow us to consider some extremely critical points as humans and as parents.
We are no longer in the space of just sitting in front of screens. We are in an era of humanity when human and machine are going to be forever intersected. Before it is too late to consider, our children and all of society will benefit if we take the effort and time to authentically assess what being human means and how we preserve humanity and the natural world as we move forward into the data cloud and into artificial intelligence.
there is so much more to unpack here.......
Friends, there is no better time than now than to take our talk and our time and put our money in their place. I am so proud to join with a fabulous organization that is doing the work of racial justice and racial reconciliation - Be the Bridge. Be the Bridge is a non-profit organization that is providing tools, resources, and opportunities for every day people to listen, lean, and walk into the work of healing from racially based traumas and injustices.... No easy talk or tasks.... But these leaders are bold and they are inviting us to join them! Let's take our hopes and turn them into action.
I am joining in a short crowd sourcing, fundraising campaign to give money to this important work. We have the chance to take our $5, $10 or $100 and turn it into meaningful social response and building bridges through the hurt and divide of racism. Be the Bridge meets us where we are, in our communities, and in our churches to look in the mirror and ask us who we are and what we can do to be the change?
I would be honored if you would join me with a few dollars to help us build more bridges across the divides!
She stood with her back to me, her hair gently waving down towards her shoulders. The purple-quickly-faded-ruby-red highlights in her hair called me to remember just how much effort she was exerting to be herself. As I stroked the brush through her hair, noticing that her hight was just about synonymous with mine, I could not help but feel a slight twinge. This was her last week of elementary school.
Technically, this was her last week of her most recent school semester where she spent her time in a same aged peer classroom. The previous four and a half years, she had not lived the linear school desks, cafeteria lunches, and spelling tests that millions of other children live every day. We lived in a jagged parallel to this. We lived a patch work of attempts to know, understand, and support the precious gift of a unique, twice-exceptional daughter we’d received as parents. We wove into play-based preschool, through to public elementary school, around to charter Montessori, out to homeschooling, up to private, micro unschooling, back out to homeschool, until we most recently found ourselves struggling under the awning of public school. In our years of elementary school, we learned just as much, if not more about the systems and supports around us (or more specifically, the lack thereof), than of our amazing girl.
It’s understandable that as a one who is not a parent of a gifted and disabled child, that our path would seem, at best, wonky. It would be understand able if one would misperceive our patchwork journey to be a fault of parenting or life circumstances. While it is true that we are by far, not perfect parents, and life has thrown our family some 21st century curve balls, the most clear truth is that there is a HUGE amount of work to be done in order create the essential opportunities for life and learning for students and families who are living the gifted/twice-exceptional experience. Literally, for students who are the more rare, highly gifted, but cognitively disabled (ADHD, ASD, OCD, NVLD, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, etc), schools and communities are NOT set up or prepared to include and serve them.
Our experience, in spite of the fact that we had a solid flow of financial resource and family support, was that we always had to choose between an either/or. Either she will get the individualized education she needs because we have paid for it with tens of thousands of dollars per year - to either litigate for it or pay private school for it (and we will forgo any financial security) OR she will not get her educational and disability needs met and supported, but she will be in a relatively inclusive, welcoming community. OR she can get the remediation support her disabilities deserve, but she will not get deep, accelerated learning her gifted verbal abilities require. Or we can financially and socially risk placing her in a strictly gifted program, with the risks that she will be highly strained to compensate and/or fail.
Literally, we have yearly, if not month to month, had to ask ourselves and her, what is the option that is going to require the least amount of strain and sacrifice? And from a family perspective, who is going to do the most sacrificing and straining in the coming days of decisions? These were not the kind of decisions like what to have for breakfast or who was going to be on today’s music play list. These were decisions of who can hold the most anxiety? Who can hold the most amount of frustration? Who can hold the most amount of confusion? Who can be the least/most socially isolated? Who can give the greatest effort? What’s more important, learning how to do math or learning how to explore the depth and breadth of your mind? Because the landscape for gifted and disabled students is so sparse, there is so much work to do, for my girl, and for all the girls and boys, here and yet to come.
So as I noticed her bright eyes staring directly into mine, as I finished brushing her hair, I knew the coming days, leaping from 5th grade to middle school, would not be just about training and preparing her for the world. It would also be for us to be training and preparing the world for her.
In thinking back over the past 6 years of her educational journey, in spite of the shifts and struggles, in spite of the opportunities missed, I am proud - of not only her, but also of us. As a family of twice exceptional students, we have attempted to connect with and share with those who come across our path, just about the beauty and grace that can come in each and every student - no matter how narrow or wide the deviations are in her abilities and experiences. We have sought to explain that it is NOT either/or, but BOTH/AND.
Learning and living Both/And has been the biggest accomplishment as our girl leaves elementary school. I am grateful for all of the growing and work that she has completed, and I am also grateful for all of the growth and work our family has done to understand, live, and love our BOTH/AND experience. No longer do we question is she gifted - yes. No longer do we question does she have ADHD, ASD impairments - yes. Can she be and accomplish everything she desires to be - yes. Will she do it differently, her way - yes. Will we walk with her through all frames of her life’s experience - yes. As crazy as it sounds, our girl leaves elementary school with all the given labels and acronyms that are necessary to claim her “socially labeled identity and resource”, and as she leaves elementary school, we recognize their power and their limits.
The gift of elementary school was not only that our girl would grow and thrive in all of the ways she could, but the gift of elementary school was also the knowledge that the assurance, support, and knowledge that we had assumed to come from the professionals and the experts, at it’s heart, ultimately comes from her and comes from us. Our girl is the one who defines who she is. Our girl is the one who defines what she can do. We are the authors of our own definitions, our own stories.
Now it is up to us to go write them.
Joining the voices to call for awareness and love for our highly creative, highly sensitive, brilliant, and beautiful souls who live with mental illness....
Morning Friends! Happy Friday! If you're like most, summer time is at our door step and for the gifted and twice exceptional families it brings a mix of joy and fright! Along with the extra outdoor time, more leisurely and free pace, one of my favorite things about summer is the chance to push the refresh, reset button. Summer is a chance to take a look at what has been working for the past 9 months, what hasn't and make some tweaks and adjustments to steady our course.
As a gifted, twice exceptional parent, this self observation and adjusting can be a bit different or more complex and this can make you feel a bit alone. From one mom to another, I can tell you that for me, I can tackle most any obstacle or project if I believe that I have others joining with me. For some of us, in some seasons, we are fortunate to have local, in living color tribe mates and friends, we can collaborate and commiserate with. And yet, for others of us, in other seasons, we truly are best met with friends and tribe mates from across the landscape of the internet and social media. Both can be great and it's important to cultivate and lean on this amazing gift.
In this spirit, I recently came across a great, FREE find from fellow advocate and tribe mate Tina Harlow. She gathered the voice and wisdom of over 25 of the most well known and loved gifted and twice exceptional professionals - to offer bits of insight and inspiration for us parents. Summer is a GREAT TIME to take advantage of their wisdom as you self reflect and tweak. Because the reality is, that no matter how spread out we are from each other, or what the season of life we are walking is, we are TRULY NOT ALONE in this journey. It make take some unexpected or adventurous turns for us to walk our path - but we have so much to enjoy and so much to share.
I'm deeply thankful to Tina for the labor of love she offered in creating this guide and even more so for the hundreds of hours of work and research from the highlighted professionals who are guiding and advocating for our gifted/twice exceptional community every day!
Enjoy the resource - and Happy Tweaking!
You all….. This article!!! I feel like it’s a bit of the Holy Grail! Of talking about the understanding and misconceptions of Autism and Girls……
Let me explain - as the Mom of two very wonderful, very verbal, very intelligent girls, who also happen to be neurodiverse and one who fits the criteria for an autism diagnosis, we have been living a misunderstood, in the shadow margins, kind of experience. The talk, understanding, and study of autism has been pre-dominantly focused on the verbal and social competence (or lack there of) of boys. Yet, as girls and women, there are hundreds who grow and live through the range of spectrum deficits, who suffer.
Both as a parent and as a woman, I have been lobbed with judgements of being “too intense,” “overly worried” “uncoordinated,” “too sensitive” “really quirky” “undisciplined” or “unorganized” by well intended professionals, family, and friends, who assume that if I would just get it together, everything would get better. Worst of all, these are judgements that I have fought throwing on myself. And yet the reality is that my neurodiverse wiring, my white brain matter literally stands in the way of being able to “just get it together” My neurodiverse experience is the reason for my difference and not a lack of personal care, faith, or morality. And this article explains some of the why….. [I am using some generalization here for myself, as I do not have a specific MRI of my brain or a specific neurodevelopmental diagnosis. But I don’t believe it is a far stretch, as I can often identify with some of the differences and challenges that my daughters do have.]
My girls and I can talk. We are verbal. In fact, our verbal abilities are some of our strongest gifts - and yet, the deficits of Autism - the CORE, NONVERBAL COGNITIVE deficits of of spectrum experiences have layered our experience with frequent misunderstanding, missed opportunity, high anxiety, accidents, injury, and just plain stress and isolation. I’m speaking broadly, in wide strokes about our experience - but consider: how would life be different, especially for those who struggle with Cognitive, Non-Verbal Impairments if we did not assume that WORDS were the only sign of a person’s ability and experience?
Think about your assumption about WORDS….. If someone is verbal, if he or she knows and uses words, we most often make many assumptions. We assume that if one is verbally able, she is intelligent, can solve problems, can ask or advocate for what she needs, and can successfully function in the world around her. And yet, WORDS are only words…. They are the icing on the cake, so to speak, of neurological capabilities. They are what our bodies can take in through our ears and hearing and heavily rely on to determine some of what is going on in another’s brain and experience. Just because a girl can read and tell you about the chemical structures and nutritional benefits of milk, does not mean that she can safely or successfully walk to the kitchen refridgerator and pour and drink a glass of milk. Though most often when we hear someone using words to describe something of that complexity, we assume that the verbal skills and the academic intellect are the same maturity and capability as the whole picture of human development. But then, when you are the person who repeatedly spills the milk when pouring it, or leaves the open milk container on the counter and forgets to put it away, or are the parent who pleads at her daughter in frustration to “stop spilling the milk!” how do you think this might make your life? Your experience?
The IRONY that I am attempting to use a blog with WORDS to explain this concept is not lost on me. With my WORDS, I am trying to explain what a female on the neurodiverse spectrum is likely to struggle with. Through words, I want to point us away from the very concept of words and langauage to the other parts of our human experience - the core, non-verbal experience. The Core, Non-Verbal Cognitive deficits that an Autism diagnosis encompasses are foundational and profound to experience. One’s Sensory Processing, Executive Functioning, and Motor Skills are at the heart of her her ability to interact with her environment.
The intersection and integration of the multiple, cognitively experienced and regulated domains are the foundational bricks to one’s reality. The words we use are just the bridge that connect to each other’s realities. I believe that females with autism, often struggle less with words, and more with the underlying foundational “bricks” of experience. So asking a girl who is on the spectrum to just “get it together” or work harder, with out the appropriate understanding and accommodations is just plain impossible. My hope is that this article and blog post are just two more voices added to the expanding conversation and understanding of females, autism and neurodiversity. We must look beyond the words to the mind and heart of the females experience to uncover and understand the core of the matter - to invite more girls, women, and families on the Autism, Neurodiverse Spectrum, to the table.
What do you think about Girls, and Words, and Autism?
Hi! And Welcome!! I’m thrilled to connect with you here! It’s been a hearts passion and work to get to this point in my journey to be able to share and I’m so excited to be here! There are so many fun, exciting, and meaningful moments to share along the way of life’s journey.
But before we jump off into the topics dear to me, I would love to get to know each other better. In that spirit, here are top 20 random tid bits about Me.
20. If it’s on, the most likely show to be selected on the tv at 7 pm at our house is Big Bang Theory or Jeopardy
19. I enjoy cooking and making soups is one of my favorite things.
18. My familial tribe roots run through German, Irish, Scottish, British, Native American and other’s unknown, with parts of my family tree sinking back on North American soil to pre-revolutionary war days, and I am growing increasingly aware of the unfolding of what this did and does mean
17. My favorite drinks of choice are lattes of any make and a crisp, aromatic, and sweet glass of white wine.
16. I have clothes in my closet ranging from a size 16 to a size 22 depending on the weather season and my life’s “season.”
15. I still own and have every single school year book of my life - from kindergarden to 12th grade - yes, that’s 13 books I have lugged across mulptiple states and thousands of miles.
14. Though I’m more of a couch potato at my natural resting state kind of gal, I had a 4 year spurt when I was an active runner, including completing the 2004 Nike Women’s San Francisco Marathon (while I was living in Indiana), but I entered the parenting journey in 2006 and haven’t run a race since.
13. The first vinyl I ever owned was Whitney Houston (Whitney Houston) and the first cassette I ever owned was Purple Rain (Prince) - and it is way toooo sad that such musical genius are already gone.
12. I met my husband, an initial stranger, on a serendipitous moment that became a spontaneous dog walk.
11. I thought that I would be a much better parent than I am
10. I thought that I would be a much worse writer than I am
9. I can be my own worst critic
8. I can spend hours in thrift stores and farmers markets
7. Sarcasm is one of my favorite stress relievers
6. Speaking of stress relievers, nothing is better to relax than finding nature’s beautiful details
5. Did I say that I am a very stream of consciousness kind woman?
4. When I was in junior high, I thought that there “might” be a chance that those who swore would go to hell. Damn it! I was naieve.
3. People of all varieties, stripes, and dispositions are my jam. I’m an extrovert with a side of, silly, wanna-make-the-world-a-better-place.
2. I was “elected” Superintendent of Public Instruction at the 1991 Kentucky Girls State - a precursor to my heart for education for all.
1. Sacred space is something I am working on carving out more of in my life
What are the top tidbits to know about you?
Melinda is a recovering "normal" seeker, who is often distracted by unexpected moments of nature's beauty or questioning children