Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Grayson Highlands

Grayson Highlands from Brad Herring on Vimeo.

August in the Grayson Highlands of Virginia is about as good as it gets. The cool mountain breezes make it the perfect retreat from the hot dog days of summer in the Carolina lowlands. And to top it all off, the meadows are full of ripe huckleberries and blackberries to fill your bellies. But the berries are not the only thing that attracts us to these majestic highlands.

The meadows of the Grayson Highlands are located around 5,000 ft. elevation and are inhabited by wild ponies that are allowed to run free within the park boundaries. We hiked throughout the highlands for three days in search of these ponies until we finally came across this herd on our last day. They are obviously quite accustomed to hikers along the Appalachian Trail, and once this foal laid eyes on Maya, a friendship was struck. The two played and chased each other until the foal decided to accompany her mom down the trail and out of sight.

We moved on ourselves, imitating the ponies and picking berries until our bellies were full.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Flowers are Dying

My Flowers are Dying from Brad Herring on Vimeo.
Maya sitting at the table explaining what is happening to the monkey grass flowers she picked for the table's center piece.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Zane-head Groupie

Maya has been waiting for over a year for this night to come, and when it finally did, she could hardly contain herself. It's as if, at the ripe age of 3, she's already become a Zane-head groupie! She has been dancing to the Dan Zanes and Friends DVD, and even playing her own renditions, ever since seeing them over a year ago at the Museum of Art.

The afternoon was incredibly hot and the crowd was full of other young Zane-heads who were ready to begin the dance party! We managed to find a spot front and center on the stage and enjoyed all of our favorite songs, including the one Maya requested most! The look on her face was priceless when they played "Jump Up" and from that point on her afternoon was complete!

Although she was a little too starstruck to pose, we finished the evening taking a few pictures with the band. She's already looking forward to seeing them next year...unless she quits homeschooling and follows them on tour!

Maya admiring Sonia De Los Santos

We're not sure whose hair is crazier??
Colin Brooks, Drummer

Friday, August 13, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

We should have suspected something was wrong with the oatmeal when Maya refused to eat it for breakfast. She usually devours her morning bowl of oats but for some reason today was different. Maybe her eyesight is better than ours?

As we were finishing our last spoonful we began noticing what all of the extra crunches were from. Initially, we thought they were seeds from the blueberries we dumped over our oats, but in fact they were mealworms!

You see, mealworms are what you get when you leave oats in your pantry for an extended period of time. Since we've been on our detox diet we had to replace our morning bowl of oats with a fruit smoothie. Maya doesn't eat that much so our recent bulk purchase of oats has lasted longer than normal. And, as we just found out, leaving oats around for more than a month can only lead to one thing...mealworms for breakfast! At least it helps our protein count for the day!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Future Junior Gymnastic Champion?

Do we have a future junior gymnastic champion on our hands? Who knows, but she may have her first chance at competing soon. As you can see from the photo above, Maya is SUPER flexible. She can stretch her body in ways that leave our jaws on the floor. Several times she has almost made us throw up from the sight of her hyperextensible joints.

Maya has been seeing our chiropractor since the day she was born. She's a former gymnast and noticed right away that Maya was a little more than just flexible. She encouraged us to enter her into a gymnastic program and we did. Maya goes to gymnastics once a week at Superior Gymnastics and has one of the best young coaches this area has seen in a while. She's constantly coming home with new moves and always eager to show them off, unless asked to do so in front of people.

Her coaches have seen her ability and have selected her to compete in the Junior Gymnastics Championship later this year. We don't know very many details about this event, but we're excited nonetheless, and we'll be there to cheer her on regardless of whether or not she decides to preform on command.

Who knows where this will lead, only Maya can determine that. We will certainly not push her to do anything she doesn't want to do. But if she does compete, watch out!

p/s. you may remember watching this video several years ago. It was her first "routine"!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A New Beginning: Life After Detoxing

Weight Loss: Brad -9lbs, Tia -6lbs and Maya +1.5lbs
After 28 days of detoxing our bodies from processed foods, sugar, caffeine, dairy and wheat we find ourselves not at the end of this diet, but rather at the beginning. We are embarking on a new food adventure. One that will be difficult to become accustomed to, but if Tia can suppress her asthma and sinus issues with a restrictive diet then it will be worth its weight in gold.

We finished our detox a little over a week ago. As we slowly added in foods that we had avoided (legumes, gluten, flax seed oil, certain teas etc...) Tia's asthma and sinuses became more and more of an issue. It has become clear to us that food is the root cause of most of her health problems. Tia was at her best during week two (fruits, veggies, oils and spices only) so we have decided to extend week two for three more weeks. Yes, that includes both of us (minus Maya, of course). Brad will stay on board for moral support, ease of cooking one meal as opposed to two, and because we both felt so good while eating fresh whole foods.

After a little bit of research and consulting with other folks in similar situations it appears that Tia may have a syndrome called Leaky Gut. The name sounds a bit funny but it is by no means a laughing matter. Basically, small perforations form in the intestinal lining allowing partially digested proteins to leak out into the body eventually entering the blood stream. When these proteins leak out, the body does not recognize them and attacks them assuming they are invaders or allergens to the body. In short, Tia's body is reacting to these leaky undigested foods as allergens thus triggering an autoimmune reaction.  This reaction has resulted in her current food sensitivities, increased asthma problems and possibly even a gluten intolerance.

Over the next few months Tia will be consulting with Dr. Huber at the LaValle Metabolic Institute in Cincinnati, OH, as well as a dietitian to start the process of healing her body from the inside out. In some instances the gut can be repaired over time and foods that were previously intolerant could be ingested again in small quantities. Unfortunately, however, Tia does have a lot of classic allergies such as nuts and dairy and it remains to be seen as to whether or not she will ever be able to eat any of these foods again. The body is an incredible system and Tia's may have the power to heal itself from these ailments and diseases if given the chance. Only time will tell.

We already know that food is playing a role in Tia's asthma but it may not be the only factor. More and more studies are popping up everywhere suggesting that a vitamin D deficiency may lead to a whole list of serious health problems. One such book (OK, I must admit it's a shameless plug for my brother) discusses several studies where vitamin D has greatly improved lung function. The Vitamin D Council has a long list of studies on the positive effects on asthma with proper levels of vitamin D. At our current latitude and with a good majority of our bodies exposed to the sun, during the summer we should be able to receive the needed levels of vitamin D. However, during the winter months the angle of the sun's UV rays are too low in the sky leading to insufficient vitamin D absorption by our bodies.

With a new diet and an order of vitamin D3, Tia is on her way to a new beginning.

PS...Maya's weight gain is due to her eating what we couldn't! (See photo caption for weight loss totals)