Share with us @tryverima or comment below fun ways your family is staying fit!
Zoom physical education is not the same, and seeing our kids apathetically jog in place in front of the computer can be disheartening. According to the CDC, children between the ages of 6 to 17 should be exercising for 60 minutes per day, and we’re lucky if they get half of that. I see this especially with my middle-schooler who deems himself too old to play on the playground, yet sports are cancelled and he doesn’t even have to get up to get to school or change classes. The temptation during a break is to lounge on the sofa with a phone or tablet. This sedentary behavior can negatively impact our children’s physical and mental health, which may be a factor in why depression in adolescents may be on the rise.
The science shows the importance of moving, with active physical exercise tied to mental health. It’s difficult for parents who are juggling careers, childcare, school and meals to then get the kids to exercise more. One fun and inexpensive solution for our family has been jumping roping. For $10 or less, you can get a simple jump rope, and it’s all you need. Sometimes we even do a hundred jumps without the actual rope to get the blood pumping before we sit for the next Zoom meet, or meal.
Jumping is fun for our kids, and something they can do together (vs. running/biking where 3 different ages make for very different speeds) and they don’t realize that they are exercising and getting their heart rates up. Jumping rope is very effective since all of the major muscle groups are moving at the same time. According to WebMD, you can burn some serious calories, and you’d have to run an eight-minute mile to work off more calories than you’d burn jumping rope. “It’s certainly good for the heart,” says Peter Schulman, MD, associate professor, Cardiology/Pulmonary Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. “It strengthens the upper and lower body and burns a lot of calories in a short time.”
Building Bone Density
2015 research published from Brigham Young University shows one exercise offers greater benefit to bone density than to others and that is jumping. Additionally, a 2017 study published in the Public Library of Science found that girls aged 11 to 14 who participated in weekly jump roping had higher bone density than those who did not jump rope. Jumping rope stresses the bones in the lower extremities with impact and the body responds by making those bones stronger and denser. Running does help with increases in BMD (bone mass density) but not at the same effective rate as jumping. And by contrast, elite cyclists have been shown to be more susceptible to bone loss perhaps due to the lack of impact in combination with calcium loss when sweating profusely. Considering both men and women begin losing bone density in their 40’s, it makes sense to encourage our kids (and ourselves!) to build up our BMD while we still can.
Jumping rope increases coordination because it requires the brain to communicate the different muscle groups to work together just to complete one movement. The arms have to swing the rope, and then then we must get the timing and rhythm to jump over the rope at precisely the right moment to successfully complete one movement. We then have to link all of those movements together. A 2015 study in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine showed that 8 weeks of jumping rope enhanced balance and general motor coordination in pre-adolescent soccer players.
Have a Contest
For our kids, who are still growing, we’re trying to get everyone to do 500 jump ropes in a day (100 at a time). It’s a low-cost fun way to get the heart beating, all the muscles moving and the kids laughing. Sometimes my kids compete with each other, other times they work on their personal bests, and still other days, we just turn on the music and jump. We have a prize in our family for the most creative way to do 500 jump ropes. The winner gets to do 100 jumping jacks! Look at #jumprope on TikTok. It’s amazing what some kids are doing with a simple rope.
Share with us @tryverima or comment below about your journey with an autoimmune condition
Pediatric autoimmune disorders are on the rise here in the US as well as around the globe. In our son’s case, we saw the debilitating symptoms take hold of his life seemingly overnight. The motor tics, the sleep disturbances, the OCD, angry outbursts, school refusal and the anxiety became a part of our everyday life.After misdiagnosis, tests and more tests, it was (no surprises here) my mom network that pointed me in the right direction to Dr. Trifiletti a pediatric neurologist in NJ. Our son was diagnosed with PANS/PANDAS and though at that time, the path was murky at best, I was relieved to have a diagnosis and a treatment plan.
Even after a diagnosis, PANS was still relatively new in 2012 and I had to endure pediatricians, neurologists, developmental psychologists, specialists and even the school tell me they “didn’t believe PANDAS was a real diagnosis”. Admittedly, I myself had never even heard of PANS/PANDAs (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with the Streptococcal Infections), and I too was initially skeptical, but my son presented with the “typical” streptococcal diagnosis which meant that the blood test revealed high strep antibodies months after a confirmed strep exposure and within days of antibiotics and Advil (anti-inflammatory) as quickly as it appeared, the OCD just vanished.I was a believer.
My son went into remission, but I knew any exposure to strep (which is extremely prevalent in school aged children) could send him back into a downward spiral.Our move to California tasked me with the mission to find him a new medical team.I knew all of 2 people living in California at the time, so I joined an online moms group and once again the moms pulled through and identified Dr. Elisa Song as the pediatrician to have for kids with PANS/PANDAS. I can not emphasize enough the importance of finding a supportive pediatrician who is knowledgeable about your child’s condition.I hear way too many stories of desperate moms trying to find answers and then having to educate or convince their pediatricians of what the problem is.
We’ve had several flares since then, but Dr. Song is always prepared to execute a treatment plan for him and together we are able to get the flares under control.His strep antibody levels consistently remained high, so after 4 years when he was in the third grade, we had his distinctly enlarged tonsils and adenoids removed.This reduced the overall number of flares, but not the intensity of them.During one particularly taxing flare, I read about CBD on a post in my (where else) mom’s group.I asked Dr. Song about it and she said she had several patients on the oil and the children were benefitting from its powerful anti-inflammatory effects.I delved into researching the right product that day and wow, was I overwhelmed. It took months of research, trial and error, and many dollars wasted before I honed in on why I didn’t want to use full-spectrum CBD (contains some THC) but CBD isolate was not effective for my son. Additional questions were how could I trust which companies guaranteed that what they said they were selling me was indeed in the container and how could I ensure the safety of the product?
I saw the opportunity to create a brand where quality, transparency and education could come together so consumers know exactly what they are getting.I would never sell anything I wouldn’t buy myself, so with every step in the journey, I considered what decision-making points were important to me.
Organically grown hemp from Oregon, Colorado and Kentucky.Hemp is an amazing plant in that it will absorb heavy metals through its roots and actually leave the soil cleaner than before; which is great for the planet, but not so great if you want to consume the flower and leaves. Our farmers know the history of their land and carefully cultivate our hemp organically.
Broad Spectrum CBD. Hemp has approximately 113 different cannabinoids in it which work synergistically together in what we in the industry call the entourage effect.Hemp has small amounts of naturally occurring THC which is the cannabinoid in marijuana responsible for producing the “high”. Simply extracting CBD from the hemp would give you Full-spectrum CBD. However, I didn’t feel comfortable using a product everyday that had THC in it for either myself nor for my son.We take an extra step to remove the THC hence leaving us with Broad Spectrum CBD which still has the benefits of the entourage effect.Many companies use CBD isolate because it is odorless, tasteless, inexpensive and easy to mix into products.Please know, the products with isolate gave zero relief to either me or my son.
Tested for both safety and for content.We third party test our CBD at three different points during the formulation process.We test for heavy metals and microbial levels, and we also test to make sure that all of our products have the amount of CBD we promise on the label.Inside each box, there is a card with a QR code.We encourage our consumers to scan the code with their phone, and they will be taken to their product batch’s lab results.
No garbage. Our original tincture uses only Broad Spectrum CBD and fractionated coconut oil.Fractionated refers to the process which removes the long-train fatty acids from the oil, leaving only the medium chain triglyceride.This is beneficial because it keeps the oil in liquid form even in cooler temps and also removes the coconut taste and smell.The MCT oil then acts as a carrier oil allowing for high absorption into our bloodstream.
Paraben, fragrance, dye, gluten, sugar, cruelty FREE.ALL of our products are free of these harmful ingredients.We use essential oils to give our topicals a pleasant aromatic experience.
Minimal plastic.I tried to minimize the amount of plastic that came in contact with our products.This means glass jars and glass droppers.
Giving Back. Please know, that we are a privately-owned, mom founded business.We also want to give back to our community.A percentage of all purchases will be donated back to PANS/PANDAS research and support.
I recently read a staggering statistic that parents with a child diagnosed with PANS/PANDAS have a divorce rate of 80%.Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me.Hear me out please in a judgment-free zone. When my PANDAS child is sick in bed listless and weak, my heart automatically feels empathetic and sympathetic towards my child.But when that same child is having a flare, screaming through the night with sleep disturbances, having outbursts and fits throughout the day, and constantly moving due to the motor-tics and OCD, even though my rational brain knows he isn’t doing it on purpose, hour after hour, day after day for weeks at a time (and for some parents, months or years), the empathy can run dry and my primal brain kicks in and responds in ways I wish it didn’t.I have gotten very good at separating the behavior from the child, but even after 7 years of practice, I still fall short.And when parents are sleep deprived and running on empty, there is little left to give to anyone else.I urge all PANS parents to seek support.Start with an excellent PANS/PANDAS support group.There are quite a few on Facebook, and it will bring you to tears when you have found your people.They will help you know what to look for in order to assemble an excellent medical team for your child, and the hive’s wisdom and experience will help you along your journey.If nothing else, you will not feel so alone.
CBD is not a miracle pill.It doesn’t cure PANS, it doesn’t miraculously give you your child back.But it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and used in conjunction with our pediatrician’s protocol, it helps my child enormously.When he is mid-flare, it helps him sleep at night.I use our pain relief salve which we formulated with a Stanford physician to massage into his neck and shoulders at night. When the anxiety builds, the tincture calms him just enough to take the edge off.And as any mom of a PANS/PANDAS kid knows, every little bit counts.Just some good nights of sleep (for the both of us) can be the difference between a day spent at each other’s throats vs. a day where our reserves are full enough to cope with what PANS will throw at us.
Don’t forget the self care.We do so much for our children and for our families.But we have to remember that if we are not taking care of our own emotional and physical well-being, then we are not able to be our best for our families.As a former ballet dancer, I still take class for both the exercise and the mental stimulation.When plantar fasciitis in both feet sidelined me, I entered a downward spiral of not sleeping well at night, having less energy, thus eating more sugar, which contributed to weight gain and even greater drop in energy levels.Weight gain then led to even more pain in the feet as well as a drop in confidence levels. On and on it continues and you can see how the spiral pulls you lower and lower.After months of pain, I started massaging CBD into my feet, and after a few weeks, I could walk painlessly again, which allowed me to slowly return back to dance.Again, it wasn’t a miracle drug, but rather brought down the inflammation enough to turn the tide so I could then do the physical therapy and eventually return to the studio.Many of my moms also use the CBD to alleviate their anxiety/stress levels and/or aid with sleeplessness. A good night’s sleep, an exercise class, art, music, whatever feeds your soul is vital for all moms, but especially PANS/PANDAS moms. Because this is not a short, acute illness that you fight and win. No, this is a marathon that requires vigilance and endurance and we need to be our best selves if we’re going to be the mama our kids need.
Verima was started to help overwhelmed moms and their families be their best selves. Our story is personal and I set out to help other moms and to give back to our community.Please reach out to me if you have any questions, comments or concerns.I would love to hear back from you about your journey with an autoimmune disease in your family.
Share with us @tryverima or comment below if you have had to leave the workforce or scale back your hours.
If work-life balance was a challenge for moms everywhere pre-pandemic, it comes as no surprise that seven months into the pandemic, a staggering 800,000 women dropped out of the workforce from August to September.The labor department published data that four times as many women dropped out compared to the 216,000 men.With children in full distance or hybrid learning and wanting to limit after-school activity to reduce exposure, parents are pressed for childcare.In such households, it makes sense that the lower earner be the one to leave their job.Unfortunately the majority of the time, it is the woman who earns less than her male partner.This number however, doesn’t even address the number of women scaling back on their careers, working part-time or putting business ideas/entrepreneurship on the back burner.
As a mom of young kids and founder of an even younger company, stepping away from Verima is not an option, but the balancing act has me constantly wrestling between bringing less than 100% to either my family or to my company. Literally as I typed that last sentence, my daughter banged her knee on the table and when I didn’t look up right away she became irate at my lack of a reaction. I heard her bump and saw it peripherally and my mom-instinct knew she was not physically hurt.But clearly her mom’s-attention-bucket is running on empty for her (an extraordinarily easy-going child) to get angry at what she perceived as my not caring.Additionally, today my son had to scrounge for supplies to build a homemade catapult because I didn’t have time and then later forgot to swing by his school to pick up the science supply pack.All these seemingly inconsequential moments add up and are slowly breaking my heart.
I spoke with other moms who are similarly balancing careers and children in midst of the pandemic and asked how they were managing, coping and making it work.Answers ranged from one mom’s, “I’m just trying to do enough to not get fired”, to another’s, “I work from 4am-7am, then 9am-noon and then again from 8-10pm.Whatever doesn’t get done is pushed to the weekend. “ A third friend sent her eldest to his grandparent’s in Michigan so that her mother-in-law could handle all the distance learning.
The luck(ier) moms have family nearby to help out or the funds to hire pod-teachers/tutors/nannies. But still others have had no choice but to leave the workforce altogether. This pandemic induced exit from the workforce has more far-reaching ramifications than a year of lost income.As one mom confessed to me, “At my age (40’s) leaving the work force in my industry means saying goodbye to your career. No one will hire you after a year. “
These were not the conversations I was hoping to have. I wanted to hear from someone who was slaying it. . . or at the very least felt she had a handle on things. If you find her, or even better: If you ARE her, I would love to buy you a socially-distanced cup of coffee and pick your brain.In what perhaps is never a good idea, I looked to my Facebook and Instagram feeds to try and find some uplifting articles or examples of other moms doing great.Instead I found endless columns of memes and quotes in colorful fonts telling moms “we’re blessed because we opened our eyes today” or “eliminate stress by loving what you do. “Yes, all very true, and anyone who knows me, or who has read any of my blogs knows I am big on gratitude.I know that folks are just trying to put a *positive spin* on things. However, to the moms who feel like they are drowning, telling them “Yes, but you’re doing great!” is not helpful.
There is something called toxic positivity, and yes, it is a real thing.I recently read Allyson Chiu’s article in the Washington Post on toxic positivity. In her article, she quotes Professor Debra Kaysen from Stanford University, “There’s nothing wrong with trying to make the best of it, but making the best of it is different from toxic positivity. Making the best of it is accepting the situation as it is and doing the best you can with it, whereas toxic positivity is avoidance of the fact that we’re in a really bad situation. Using the appropriate language is equally critical to steering clear of toxic positivity, especially when trying to be supportive of others. ”
And so moms, here I am telling you that this is hard.It’s okay to not be okay. And it’s even more important to acknowledge that, because it’s the only way we can move forward.
Share with us @tryverima or comment below what your Halloween plans are!
As if moms needed another “Mommy Wars” battle in 2020, Halloween is brewing disagreements on what is safe and what is risky.The important takeaway is that all moms are coming from a place of love and we all are just trying to keep our children safe and happy.
The CDC released guidelines placing various Halloween activities in either a lower, moderate or high risk category.And unfortunately, to no one’s surprise, traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating is higher risk.Also unfortunately, this running from door to door is my kids’ favorite part of Halloween. It’s not even about the candy, as each year they pick out maybe 20 pieces and donate the rest and of those 20 pieces remaining, maybe half get tossed out in December. So it saddens me that my kiddos won’t be engaging in one activity that they so look forward to each year.In my attempt to not have to cancel Halloween this year, I’ve been looking around for some ideas to still make Halloween special for my kids this year and thought I would share them here.
While I like to think I have always given my children free-reign over their costume choices, admittedly there were several litmus tests the costumes had to pass. Ihad to consider if the costume weather appropriate/warm enough for Oct. 31? Could my child safely walk in the costume (sorry about the ax on the mermaid tail)? No to mention costumes had to adhere to the school’s rules which meant nothing violent/bloody and no masks obstructing the face (oh the irony!), and no weapons.
Well, guess what? This year anything goes. . . call it mom guilt, but I didn’t blink when my kiddo asked for $40 web-shooters to accessorize his Spiderman costume.I didn’t rush my daughter along as she made me navigate shop after Etsy shop looking for the perfect angel halo, and I didn’t skip a beat when that search didn’t result in an *acceptable* halo. And I certainly didn’t even pause before I offered to make one for her and went material hunting online to create what she was envisioning. Additionally, the too-thin/cold, flowy, tripping-hazard of a dress this angel picked out is just fine for the festivities we have planned at home. So there WILL be costumes and each kiddo will be especially proud to wear theirs this year.
Virtual Costume Show
So now, if like me you just spent much more time and money on costumes than you ever thought you would, we need a venue to show off these costumes!Some have talked about organizing outdoor socially distanced parades, but ask any teacher, that getting kids to walk in some order 6 feet apart from each other will be a near-impossible feat.So why not set up a virtual fashion show? Each kid can be spotlighted to show off her costume and explain why they chose their costume. And the best part? Grandparents and extended family living afar can still join the festivities!
This year, I brought home some decorating supplies and my kids happily spent the entire weekend decorating and then iterating their decorations to add detail and improve their designs. We’re always told “it’s the journey not the destination” and this rings especially true for kiddos and decorating.While they certainly enjoy the end result, the process brings them far more giggles and laughs.Their eco-friendlier decorations included happily tied together yarn spiderwebs, cut and glued spiders, bats and jack-o-lanterns, and stuffed and dressed scarecrows.Next weekend we will go pick out our pumpkins and a week or so before Halloween we will carve them.
My daughter also started searching the internet for healthier Halloween food and snack ideas and they will get to spend a few days creating and enjoying those treats. It gives them something fun to look forward to as well as some ownership in finding healthy snacks they want to eat, putting items on the grocery list and then preparing their own snacks.
Halloween “Easter-egg hunt”
Each year for Easter I stuff and hide eggs for each kiddo and they LOVE hunting for them and then revealing what’s inside!
When my eldest was in pre-school, I started a new tradition for my candy-meh kids.I purchase a small lego kit for each child, and then have about 15 large plastic eggs (that I reuse every year) per child. NOTE: Each child is assigned one color, so s/he has 15 of the same colored eggs. I put a bunch of legos in each egg and hide them around the house and yard. Once each kid finds all 15 eggs, they get the box with the instructions (and any pieces that didn’t fit into the eggs) and mom and dad get at least an hour of peace while the three kids happily build their respective sets.
I have read that some folks plan to leave treats out on their driveways for kiddos to collect, but the jury is still out if this works/is safe in more high traffic/urban areas. And for my kids at least, it’s less about the candy and more about the decorating, the costumes, the social interactions and just having an afternoon and evening devoted to fun.
However you choose to celebrate Halloween this year, I wish you safety, laughter, and a happily memorable day.Stay Safe!
Tell us @tryverima or comment below the little blessings you’ve discovered during distance learning!
As if the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t enough, we now have fires raging in California and hurricanes and storms hitting the East and South. I’ve been writing about some pretty heavy topics lately and after weeks of bad news, I thought we could all use something more upbeat. As my kids settled into their first couple weeks of distance learning, I started to notice sweet moments throughout our days that I would jot down. For this week I decided to take a moment to reflect and compile all the positives that have come out of our less than ideal conditions. This is a great exercise for all of us and I encourage you to try it! Or add on to this list in the comments. Stay safe and stay well friends.
1. Our mornings are MUCH calmer. I no longer have to keep after the kids to get out the door on time. Gone are the screams of, “Where’s my shoe?!”, “Put on sunblock!”, “Hurry and eat your breakfast!”, “Where’s my jacket?!?”, “Come on, let’s GO!!!!” I know if the kids didn’t get a great breakfast, they’ll have a screen break in 45 minutes to eat a quick snack.
2. So long as they change out of their pajamas (per school rules) they are free to pick whatever outfit their hearts desire without my complaining of it being “too summery”, “too wintery”, “too small” or “too big”. Tops and bottoms no longer need to match, and who even needs socks?
3. They can fidget, giggle and talk to themselves as much as they need without disturbing the kids around them. Mark my words, these teachers sure are going to miss the “MUTE” button when kiddos return to the physical classroom!
4. My little guy gets to cozy up next to his big sister during the all-school assembly.
5. I get to be a fly on the wall and hear all the magical conversations that happen in Kindergarten.
6. I get to be a fly on the wall and listen to 10 year olds make sense of the world around them and discuss their emerging opinions about current events.
7. I know enough about middle schooler’s day to ask specific questions about the content he’s learning. (As opposed to the usual, “What did you learn today?”/”Nothing.” conversation we used to have.
8. My kids get to walk the dog together everyday during recess.
9. I get to feed my kids a hot lunch everyday and enforce that veggies get eaten and not just lugged back home.
10. No more digging through the school’s lost and found bins and having to inevitably replace said lunch boxes, water bottles, jackets, sun-hats and backpacks.
11. No one has caught the sniffles, the stomach bug, pink-eye, lice or strep throat!
12. I have not been late to pick-up a single time yet!
Tell us @tryverima your plans for the school year.
Parents, teachers, administrators, immunologists, epidemiologists and doctors on both sides are hotly debating the need for children to be in school for in-person learning versus the safety of students and teachers and the risks to their health. And like all hotly debated topics, it’s complicated and there is no one size fits all solution. Last month, our school district announced the plan for hybrid learning at the elementary schools and distance learning for the middle and high schools. Last week, in response to the continuous rising cases of the virus, the state said, schools can not open unless the county’s case numbers stop rising for 14 consecutive days. Some parents were livid, some despaired, some relieved, but regardless, many jumped into a tizzy to form their own cohorts, pods, find teachers, tutors and nannies because however we managed to muddle through last spring; it is neither sustainable nor desirable.
What we must understand is that zero risk of Covid-19 is not going to happen for a long while. So the debate then becomes, how do we move forward by mitigating the risk of infection/illness to levels we deem acceptable? I live in the Bay Area of California right near the San Andreas Fault, which means we get earthquakes. But, we make sure our homes are reinforced to code, we have emergency kits ready, we practice earthquake drills at schools and home, and it is a risk we accept. East coasters are all too familiar with the damage they face every year with hurricane season. We all take risks daily when we get in our cars, play sports, eat sushi or a medium-rare steak. But we take the necessary precautions to lessen those risks to levels where we feel comfortable. A dive joint’s sushi menu or football without a helmet are not good ideas. And neither is opening up schools when cases are surging. But let’s be clear, teachers are essential workers and similar to our frontline workers in hospitals, grocery stores and factories and plants, we need them to take on an acceptable amount of risk.
If a region’s numbers are low and stable, and schools are making the necessary accommodations to limit class sizes, form cohorts, increase ventilation/move classes outside, etc. Then yes, let’s give our children what they need. The key here is flexibility. We need to have a Plan A, B,C and D. And we need to manage our expectations that moving from Plan A to B,C or D WILL happen and that’s to be expected and it is okay. In other words, the plan is to be okay with changing the plan. We know all too well cases can surge within a couple weeks, and cases can also flatten and come down. We know that what is happening in LA is not what is happening in Omaha. We know in the Bay Area the numbers surged, then flattened, then decreased then surged. . . . If we know the plan is to shift, then we don’t feel disappointment when we have to shift. Our plans and expectations won’t come crashing down as schools switch from full-time to hybrid to distance and back to hybrid.
Similarly, we need to adjust our expectations for the length of time we will be on this roller coaster of change. People will wait patiently if they know how long they have to wait. It is the “indefinite” part that drives us nuts. We may gladly wait 30 minutes to eat at our favorite restaurant (pre-Covid), but if the host just shrugged and said, “I have no idea. . . hopefully 5 minutes, but maybe not at all tonight, “ then we would grow increasingly impatient as each minute past the 5 minute-mark ticked by, and most of us would probably not wait at all. If we thought this pandemic would be over and done with in a few months, we would be sorely disappointed and rightfully fatigued by now. We pace ourselves differently if we’re running a 5K versus a marathon. Where many moms I spoke with are struggling is with the indefiniteness of the current norm. It’s the not knowing for how much longer we need to be attempting to be successful at the impossible. The best we can do is going to have to be good enough. And the best we can do is to have several plans, be flexible enough to shift those plans and take each day as it comes.
We all know by now the importance of teaching our children the buzzwords of “grit”, “perseverance” and “resilience”. Well, here it is the (albeit unsolicited) real-world, months-long, teachable moment to model and talk about all these qualities as we model them for our children. And while we’re at it, let’s add “flexibility” to our list. It’s not going to be easy, but we never thought it would be, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Be smart, stay safe, wear a mask and plan to change the plan.