Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Essential Oils 101: The Benefits

Hello! It's the week we've all been waiting for. We've discussed the basics of essential oils, the various types of oils and the production process. Now, it's time to learn about the awesome benefits of using these oils.

Essential oils have physical and emotional benefits. The essential molecules of the oils help our bodies fight infection and disease, support hormonal/inter cellular processes, repair our bodies and help us 'run' better. Because of their unique properties, essential oils are not only vital to plant life; they contribute to the well-being of  humans. This is why essential oils were medicinally utilized throughout history to kill viruses, bacteria and fungi.

Physically - Nearly all essential oils are:
  • Antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antiseptic, etc.
  • Many have anti-inflammatory properties
  • Antioxidant - Working against free radicals
  • Process through the body easily
  • Adaptogenic towards homeostasis (ability of an organism to adapt to environmental factors to avoid being damaged)
  • Immune stimulants
  • Hormone supporting and balancing
  • Oxygenating to the blood (i.e. enables the blood to carry more oxygen)
  • Can pass the blood brain barrier for brain benefits - Can pass through cell walls too!
  • Many are anti-tumor
  • Detoxifying - that is able to break down toxins in the body
  • Beneficial to ALL systems
  • Complimentary and supportive to alternative health therapies (i.e. reflexology, chiropractic, acupuncture/acupressure, nutritional therapy)
  • Positively supporting to emotions
  • Many are grounding
  • Many (especially floral and citrus essential oils) provide relief to depression, anxiety, anger and agitation
  • Supports intuitive thinking
  • Are able to uniquely touch and support the subconscious
  • Aid to clear and resolve negative emotional memories
  • Aid to help release, forgive, accept, move-on, etc.
So why should you use Essential Oils?
  • Essential Oils compliment a Whole Foods/Vegetarian/Vegan/Raw Food Diet
  • Essential Oils offer very powerful solutions to support and recover your health
  • Essential Oils support Physical AND Emotional health
  • Essential Oils are an effective and economical option to take health care back into your own hands
Join Young Living Essential Oils today! Simply follow these steps:
2) Click on the 'Sign-Up' Link
3) Use Member Number - 1349625

This is just a brief overview of the amazing benefits of Essential Oils. Although this mini blog series is finished, I cannot wait to share more about Essential Oils in the future. What are you waiting for? Get started today!

All the best,

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Essential Oils 101: The Production Process

Hello! Thank you for joining in on week 3 of the essential oils (EO's) blog series! This week we're going to be discussing how the oils are produced. It's a very detailed process so let's get started. 

First, let's start with a perfect seed that experts have identified as the correct species. A properly defined botanical definition includes the Latin name of the genus, followed by a species, then by a particular chemo-type or variety of that species if such varieties exist. The botanical definition looks like: "Genus Species Chemo-Type".

Genus: The genus is the collection of species. General members of species that have strong relation to each other - many similar characteristics - classified at this basic level. For example, humans are 'homo' in genus terms.

Species: The species refer to the individual organism under a subdivision of genus (sub-genus). This separates each living organism classified under the same genus and given its own unique species name. For example, humans are the species names 'sapiens'.

Chemotypes: Subdivision of species if other types exists

Let's look at a plant example:
Genus: Mentha (Genus of a flowering plant)
Species: Piperita (Cross between wintermint and spearmint)
Common Names: Peppermint, mint, menta, menth, etc.

Next, let's look at the three plant oil classifications (Non-Seed Oils): Food, Fragrance and Therapeutic/Medicinal Grade.

  • It is estimated that 95% of all the oils produced are food and fragrance grade.
  • There are hundreds of natural chemical constituents that make up medicinal grade oil; the vast majority lack healing ability.
Food Grade Oils: The industry removes chemicals from plants that are responsible for the flavor. For example, mint cinnamon, wintergreen, etc. They fractionate, synthesize and then add these chemicals to flavor gum, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc. all while labeling the product as natural.

Fragrance Grade Oils: The perfume industry removes these constituents and uses them in their lotions, perfumes, make-up, etc. They will use extraction and fractionation techniques to pull important components outs. This includes creating new molecules not found in nature. 

High Quality Medicinal Grade Essential Oils: The following steps are specific to the production of a medicinal and therapeutic grade essential oils.

1. Plant these seeds without any chemicals: Organic, Organic, Organic!
What organic should mean for consumer products is that there are no synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilizers, and no GMO's (genetically modified organisms) involved in the process at any stage from the agricultural level to the finished product.

2. Harvest the plant at the peak of oil producing capability
Picked and Harvested to Ensure Optimal Therapeutic Profiles: The timing of the harvest is one of the most important factors in the production of High Quality Medicinal Grade EO's. If a plant is harvested at the wrong time of the season, or even at the incorrect time of the day, the result is a substandard essential oil. In some cases, changing harvest time by even a few hours can make a huge difference. For example, German chamomile harvested in the morning will produce oil with far azulene (the healing property) than chamomile harvested late in the afternoon.

Other harvesting factors include the amount of dew on the leaves, the percentage of plants in bloom and the weather conditions during the two weeks prior to harvest.

3. Distill the plant oil material at low temperatures and pressure or cold-press for specific plants (typically citrus)
Long extraction times, with low pressure and temperature: Essential oils can be extracted from the plant by a variety of methods, including solvent extraction, carbon dioxide extraction, steam distillation and cold-pressed. Steam distillation is the most common and effective to maintain its properties and produce the highest quality essential oil.

  • The temperature and pressure during distillation: The fragile aromatic molecules of an essential oil are easily destroyed or altered by high temperatures and high pressure; causing harsher oil - less therapeutic because it is pH and energetic levels are imbalanced. Therefore, a high-quality distillation process will operate at low-temperature and low-pressure methods. For example, the distilling process for lavender should not exceed 245 degrees Fahrenheit and the pressure should not exceed three pounds. Versus cypress, which should be distilled at 245 degrees Fahrenheit with a pressure set to five pounds.
  • The length of time taken for distillation: For lavender, the time required for distillation is about an hour and half. On the other hand, cypress requires 24 hours of distillation to extract all of its ingredients. If distillation is shortened by only two hours, 18 to 20 of the essential oils's chemical constituents will be missing.
  • Most essential oils are obtained by steam distillation but the heat of this process breaks down the acids in citrus fruits and diminished the citral-content of the fresh oils. As a result the citrus oils that are steam distilled often have a sharp, harsh, bittersweet aroma. It is a far less efficient method, yielding only about 1.5 pounds instead of about 25 pounds of oil for every ton of fresh fruit but the result is a light, subtle, fresh aroma reminiscent of the fresh peel.
4. Testing and Independent Testing: Employed experts and independent analysts test each batch for authenticity and purity.

5. The oil is placed in dark colored glass bottles to protect from polymerization. The oil molecules begin merging with each other causing a change in the natural chemistry of the oil. This negatively affects the absorption level and healing properties.

6. Finally, the bottle is labeled to show Genus and Species (not all companies do this).
Orange Essential Oil Example:

  • Cold Pressed
  • Has hundreds of components including: alcohols, esters, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids and terpenes
  • There are also compounds that have not been identified.
  • All of this contributes to the therapeutic action of the essential oil.
  • It takes thousands of oranges to make a single kilo of essential oil.
Phew, that's quite a bit of AWESOME information, isn't it? Essential Oils are great! Tune in next week to hear about the benefits of using them. Have an awesome week!

All the best,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Essential Oils 101: Types of Plant Oils

Welcome to week two of Essential Oils 101! This week I am sharing the types of plant oils. Plants have two oils: seed and essential. Let's get started.

Seed Oils, which are peanut, corn, almond, etc. are known as fatty oils. Here are some quick facts about seed oils:
  • Processed from seeds
  • Necessary foods for seeds to germinate/sprout
  • Not essential to the life processes of the plant
  • Large Molecules (long carbon chains)
  • Non-Aromatic and Non-Volatile
  • Do not circulate in plants or human body
  • Do not pass through tissues/cell walls
  • Greasy to touch
  • Can spoil or turn rancid
  • Not antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral or antiseptic
Therapeutic and Authentic Essential Oils (EO'S) stem from distilled flower, roots, leaves, twigs and bark. Here are some quick facts about EO's: 
  • Distilled from plant parts
  • Not involved in seed germination/early growth
  • Essential to plant life processes
  • Tiny molecules, which are aromatic and volatile
  • Built from rings and short chains
  • Circulate through the plant and in the human body
  • Can pass through cell membranes
  • Not greasy
  • Do not spoil or turn rancid
  • Stimulate nerves and help regenerate tissues
  • Antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic anti-parasitic and antimicrobial
Next week, we'll discuss how the oils are produced and the following week we'll get into the amazing benefits! Have a wonderful week!

All the best,

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Essential Oils 101

Hello! It has been an extremely busy few weeks and I have been major slacking on blogging. But I'm back and I'm back with something I'm very passionate about, Essential Oils! Over the next few weeks, I am going to be sharing information about various Essential Oils, how they are produced and the benefits of using them.

Before we get started, I want to note that the FDA has not evaluated this information. Please do not misconstrue these words as a guarantee or claim of absoluteness that essential oils will prevent or cure disease. Ailments can be very complex. Please consult professional advice and care for wisdom and insight as to the approach you should use to optimize your health.

Let's begin with a brief history lesson on plants. Plants play a vital role in the ecological balance of our planet and are therefore, linked to the well-being of people physically, emotionally and spiritually since the beginning of time. The plant kingdom continues to be the subject of an enormous amount of research and discovery.

Approximately 25% of prescription drugs in the U.S. are based on naturally occurring compounds from plants. Each year, millions of dollars are allocated to universities searching for new therapeutic agencies that lie undiscovered in the bark, roots, flower seeds and foliage of the jungle canopies, river bottoms, forests, hillsides and vast wilderness regions throughout the world. The following summarizes what is an Essential Oil.  

Essential Oils are concentrated, aromatic, volatile liquids distilled from flowers, shrubs, trees, bushes and seeds. The chemistry of essential oils is very complex. Each one may consist of hundreds of different and chemically unique compounds and yet are very safe to use. EO's are highly concentrated and far more potent than dried herbs. It often requires an entire plant or more to produce a single drop of essential oil. These oils differ from vegetable oils such as corn, peanut and olive oils. They are not greasy; they absorb through the skin, and are powerful antimicrobial agents.

Next week, we'll discuss the two types of plant oils: seed oils and essential oils. Have a great week!

All the best,

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Here's to Hope

This week I have decided to share an article called "13 Examples of People Being Awesome After the Attack On The Boston Marathon." The article says it better than I ever could and I strongly encourage you to read it. Here are a few images from the article:

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

View image on Deadspin website

Despite all that is happening, I believe there is far more good in this world than bad. The light will always outshine the darkness. Take a moment to reflect today and say a prayer for Boston and a prayer for hope.

All the best,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Time Out!

Time out! Hold up! Wait a minute! As you can see, that's what I did with the blog last week. I took a time out. Last week was a whirlwind and it never really seemed to slow down. Is that an excuse? Maybe but I think it's more so an important lesson we could all use. Sometimes we just need to take a time out from our crazy, hectic, over-committed lives

If you're like me, I'm sure you're thinking there is no way you could hit the pause button. You have kids, work, soccer games, laundry, grocery shopping, committee meetings, church events and list goes on and on and on. But the truth is taking time out for yourself is not only healthy, but can lead to a more productive you.

If you continue to run on empty, your fuse will become shorter. Your patience will wear thin and you'll be extremely irritable. So I encourage you to take a look at what is on your plate. This can be as simple as getting a piece of paper (or a paper plate!) and writing everything that is currently on your plate.

What on your plate surprised you? What would you like to add to your plate? What would you like to delete from your plate? Truly think about your goals, interests and the opportunities at hand. Once you identify the unnecessary things on your plate, you can begin to fill your plate with little things for you!

Your time out can be as simple as a relaxing yoga class, date night with your husband or an afternoon curled up with a good book. It can be a girls weekend with old friends, a lavish spa day or winery trip. Whatever it is, do it for you! You deserve it!

All the best,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Where's My Happily Ever After?

Tips for Singles

Happy Wednesday! This week, I will be sharing tips for singles. Most of these tips come from an article by Joleen Watson at Imagine Hope Counseling. Let's dive right in single friends!

1) Before dating and working on a relationship, begin working on yourself.
One of the biggest pieces of advice I could ever give you is to know yourself before you try to get know someone else. You won't know what you're looking for in another person if you don't know what you're looking for in your own life. Figure out what makes you happy and what you want out of your life. Become confident in yourself in and you will exude confidence to everyone you meet.

When you've figured out what you want, here's some ways to find a potential partner:

2) Go to places of common interest.
Consider the things you like to do. Whether that be working out, going to the dog park or hitting up local wine tastings. Get involved in community groups tailored to your interest. And next time you're enjoying one of your favorite activities, look around and see who else is enjoying that activity too. Strike up a conversation, you already know you have something in common.

3) Networking - Ask friends, family, relatives, etc.
What better way to meet someone than through mutual friends? Ask your friends if they know of anyone interesting who is single. If it doesn't work out, no big deal! Perhaps you'll meet someone interesting through the person it didn't work out with.

4) Never turn down an invitation to something social.
Social events such as wedding and parties are a great way to meet other singles. Everyone is in good spirit and you're sure to have a great time!

5) Volunteer for a cause you're passionate about.
Yet another wonderful way to do something good and potentially meet someone while doing it. Many singles volunteer at local shelters, the Humane Society or Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Whether you meet someone or not, you'll leave feeling great!

6) Take a class.
It can be a spinning class, painting class or even a course at your local community college. You'll learn something new and potentially meet a great study partner!

I encourage you to try one of the above tips. If not to meet someone, for yourself. Whether you're single, dating or married, don't ever lose sight of you. You are great so share your awesomeness with others!

All the best,


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Love Makes The World Go Round: Part 2

Tips for New Relationships, Marrieds & Married with Children

Happy 1st day of Spring! We're in the midst of our blog series: Spring Into Love and I must admit, I am having the best time writing this series. It has made me reflect on my own relationship and my hope is that you have done the same.

If you're in a new relationship, married or married with kids, this week is for you! Let's jump right in with our tips.

Tips for New Relationships

1) Send him or her a copy of your resume. Attach a note saying, "I'd like you to get to know me better."
*Disclaimer: Do not do this if you're applying for a job! HAHA!

2) Listen for "Pings" in your relationship. Pings are any action or habit your partner has that you just know you couldn't live with for the rest of your life. For example: You're in the car and a rap song comes on. You cringe because you hate rap music and he squeals, I LOVE RAP! (Ping!)

3) Keep the communication flowing.

4) Evaluate your relationship with the following formula:
                                 60%  + Spark = A
In other words, if a person has at least 60% of the qualities you want in your ideal partner, plus you have "spark" (passion and romance) - go for it!

5) Guys when giving jewelry, never, never, never, package it in a ring box, unless . . . it's an engagement ring. You may not know this but those little black boxes spell one word M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E! Ask the jeweler for a different box or present it in a fun, creative way.

Tips for Marrieds Only

1) "Re-frame" your relationship:
  • She is not your wife - she's your lover.
  • He's not your husband - he's that handsome devil that you just feel head-over-heels in love with, remember?!
2) Re-frame (literally) your wedding invitation. Hang it on the wall. Or have your wedding vows penned in beautiful calligraphy.

3) Turn to her in public and whisper, "I'm glad I married you."

4) Go on a second honeymoon. Go on a third honeymoon.

5) Save your "Just Married" sign (or make a new one). Tape it to the back windshield of your car before taking off on a Sunday afternoon drive. People will honk and wave. You'll feel like a newlywed again!

Tips for Married with Kids

1) Send your kids to summer camp. It just might revitalize your marriage unlike any specific romantic gesture ever could!

2) Instead of having the babysitter come in while you're out, have the babysitter take the kids out! Send them to a double movie and enjoy the peace and quiet. 

3) Guys: Add Mother's Day to your list of Obligatory Romance dates to observe. Mark it on your calendar now!

4) Make special "Love Coupons" to help each other deal with the kids:
  • "I'll get up in the middle of the night with the baby."
  • "It's my turn to stay at home with the sick kid."
  • "Five taxi trips - hauling the kids the practice."
  • "I'll cook the kids dinner."
5) Create a neighborhood "Child-Sharing Program." Arrange entire weekends when one family on the block plays host to the slumber party, while the rest of you get romantic.

As always, comment below with your own tips. We'd love to hear from you.

Single ladies and guys, be here next week because the post will be for you. Have a wonderful week!

All the best,


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Love Makes The World Go Round

Tips for Men & Women 

Hello and Welcome! I am so excited for week 2 of our blog series: Spring Into Love! I hope each of you took the time to take the 5 Languages of Love Test and hopefully began utilizing some of what you learned. This week we are going to discuss creative, unusual and wonderful  ways to be romantic.

It's no surprise to any of us that men and women are very different. For that reason, we're going to break this up into categories. We'll give tips for Men Only and Women Only. Next week we'll dive into tips for Singles Only, Marrieds Only and Married with Children. Let's get started!

Tips for Men Only

1) A shopping trip for men. Buy one item from each store. Giftwrap in separate boxes and give!
- Crabtree & Evelyn
- Victoria's Secret
- Hallmark Card Shop
- A local liquor store
- A neighborhood flower shop
- A quality jewelry store

2) Make her a cup of coffee to-go

3) Plant a bed of flowers in early spring without her knowing. When the flowers begin to bloom she'll be completely surprised!

4) Don't equate romance with sex. It's one of the quickest ways to foster resentment and miscommunication. However, romance sometimes - but not always - leads to sex. Romance is always above love, but only sometimes about sex. Got it?!

5) Do a household chore that's usually one of "her" jobs:
- Cook dinner
- Clean the bathroom
- Do the grocery shopping
- Take the kids to baseball practice

6) Purchase her an entire outfit. Place it on the bed when she gets home with a sweet note saying, "Put this on and meet me at (insert restaurant of choice here) at 7!" She'll LOVE it!

7) Buy her a giftcard to her favorite coffee shop or store

8) Take her to the movies

9) Leave her a sweet note

10) Listen to her! Just listen!

Tips for Women Only

1) Organize a messy drawer for him

2) Make a specialty pizza with their favorite toppings

3) Send him a letter sealed with a kiss (Use your reddest lipstick!)

4) Don't position yourself against his passion. Don't force him to choose between you and his golf/football/basketball/cars/fishing! Read a book about his favorite hobby so you can join in or at least understand what's going on.

5) Greet him at the door wearing sexy lingerie

6) Do something with him that you hate to do (and do it cheerfully without complaint!)

7) Do something for him that you hate doing. For example, iron his shirt, wash his car, cut the lawn.

8) Make his favorite dessert

9) Send him a perfumed love letter

10) Take a quick look through Penthouse or Playboy - see for yourself what men find sexy. Ask him what he likes and doesn't like. You might be surprised by what you learn about him!

Do you have any tips for the man or woman in your life? If so, comment below. We'd love to hear from you.

Tune in next week for more tips and have a wonderful week!

All the best,


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring into Love

Hello and Welcome! I am beyond excited to introduce our newest blog series: Spring into Love! For the next 4 weeks as we prepare for Spring, we're going to focus on blooming our love life, which may have fallen asleep in the cold of winter.

Spring is about a fresh start with a new spirit and new connections. It's a time to rekindle all relationships, including those with our children, family, friends and our significant other. However, this blog series will focus on rekindling our intimate relationships.

Before we can understand how to renew those relationships, we need to understand our love language and the love language of others.

"The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman is a fabulous book and I highly recommend it. The first step in this blog series is to go to the 5 love languages website and take the test.

Often times, we want to give of ourselves but we're not always sure how. Because of this we become scared and guarded. The love languages test gives us the tools we need to give and receive love with confidence and understanding.

I hope you take the love languages test and you encourage your significant other to do the same. Have a lovely week!

All the best,


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Hello & Welcome! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! I will be the first to say I don't know everything there is to know about blogging. While I enjoy sharing my expertise and posting weekly, I have a lot to learn. To learn more, I've been doing some digging and connecting with some great bloggers!

This week, I am sharing a blog post called "Ways for More Happiness at Work." It's from an awesome blog called the Six Simple Rules. I highly recommend checking it out.

Here are a few of the tips

  • Make Stress a Game
  • Create Work Fun and Events
  • Plan Before and After Work
The entire article is wonderful and you can read it here.

As I continue to learn more about the blog  world, I wish each and every one of you happiness in all that you do.

Be sure to check back next week for a big announcement about our next blog series.

All the best,


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Four A's

Happy Wednesday my dear friends! Can you believe we are closing in on another month and another season? Soon, we'll say goodbye to winter and hello to green trees, vibrant plants and warm sunshine. I'm excited just thinking about it!

This week I'm going to share the four A's for dealing with stressful situations. The four A's come from, which is a non-profit resource with a lot of great articles on health challenges.

When it comes to stress, it may seem like there is not a lot you can do. You can't stop going to work, the bills won't stop piling up, you'll never get more hours in a day and your family will always rely on you. The way in which you manage and cope with your stress, however, is completely in your control.

Stress Management Strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress
Not all stress can be avoided, however, some can be eliminated:
  • Learn to say no
  • Avoid people who stress you out
  • Take control of your environment
  • Avoid hot-button topics
  • Pare down your to-do list
Stress Management Strategy #2: Alter the situation
If you can't avoid a situation, try to alter it. Find ways you can make changes so the problem doesn't occur in the future.
  • Express your feelings instead of bottling them up
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Be more assertive
  • Manage your time better
Stress Management Strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor
If you can't change the stressor, regain your control by changing your expectations and attitude. 
  • Reframe problems
  • Look at the bigger picture
  • Adjust your standards
  • Focus on the positive
Stress Management Strategy #4: Accept the things you cannot change
Some stressors simply cannot be changed. Although acceptance is difficult and challenging, it's easier than rallying against a situation that is completely out of your hands.
  • Don't try to control the uncontrollable
  • Look for the upside
  • Share your feelings
  • Learn to forgive

I also encourage you to make time for fun and relaxation. Activities as simple as going for a walk, calling a friend or playing with a pet can help you relax and recharge. As we prepare to enter a new season, I challenge you to leave your stress behind and start utilizing these stress management strategies.

"You can't stop the future, you can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the to press play." - Jay Asher

All the best,


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Short & Sweet

Welcome to another wonderful week! I have to admit, I greatly enjoyed the blog series on ADHD. I knew what I was going to write about every week for five weeks. So when today rolled around, I blanked! I had no idea what I was going to write about. Several topics crossed my mind but ultimately, I decided to keep it short and sweet.

This week I've decided to share some great quotes and peaceful pictures. My goal is that through this post, you can take a minute out to enjoy the short, sweet and simple things in life.

"The greatest ideas are the simplest."
William Golding

"Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside of you greater than any obstacle."
Christian D. Larson

"If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up."
Booker T. Washington

"Give yourself entirely to those around you. Be generous with your blessings. A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal."
Steve Maraboli

And last but certainly not least, one of my favorite reminders:

Tiffany Denise

All the best,


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

ADHD - Week 4

Welcome to the final week of our blog series on ADHD! I have enjoyed writing about this topic and providing tips for families and parents. I hope you all have learned from this as well and are implementing some of the suggested positive changes in your households.

In our final lesson today, we are going to discuss classroom environment and homework. A student with ADHD can present unique challenges in the classroom. Inattention, hyperactivity or impulsive behavior can be the source of frustration for both teachers and parents, but there are ways to improve the educational experience of students with ADHD.

A few suggestions when working in a classroom setting are:
  • Work on the most difficult concepts early in the day
  • Give directions to one assignment at a time instead of directions to multiple tasks all at once
  • Vary the pace and type of activity to maximize the students attention
  • Structure the student's environment to accommodate his or her special needs
Tailoring the environment can be as simple as seating the student away from potentially distracting areas (such as doors, windows, computers, etc.) or pairing them with another student who is working on a shared assignment.

When it comes to homework, it's important to set reasonable goals for student. It's also important to reward the student for their good behavior. Whether that is a trip to the treasure chest, a pretty sticker or a high-five, it's a recognition that they did what they were supposed to do. Set simple goals like these:
  • Bring completed homework to class
  • Write homework in assignment book with X or fewer reminders
  • Return homework the next day signed by parent
  • Have all needed materials for homework in backpack at the end of the day
Again, these are simple yet important tasks that reinforce the importance of structure within the classroom. For more information, check out It's a non-profit resource with a lot of great tips on ADD/ADHD and School.

As always, thank you for reading. This blog series has been a lot of fun and I hope to do more in the future. Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions. Have a wonderful week!

All the best,


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ADHD 101 - Week 3

Welcome! This weeks lesson is focused on Responsibility. In order to understand children with ADHD and what can seem to be lack of responsibility, I think it's important to understand something called Executive Function Disorder.

What many of us may not realize is that children and adults living with ADHD have some form of Executive Function Disorder. Executive Function refers to a set of mental skills that are coordinated in the brain’s frontal lobe. Executive functions work together to help a person achieve goals. 

Executive functions include the ability to:
  • Remember details
  • Organize and plan
  • Manage time
  • Concentrate and focus
  • Control inappropriate speech and impulsive behavior
When individuals have problems with executive functioning, it effects their ability to:
  • Develop and maintain appropriate social relationships
  • Work or go to school
  • Indepently achieve the activities of daily life
  • Planning meals and taking time out to eat
  • Paying bills, scheduling and attending doctor's appointments, etc.
It's important to realize there is no 'magic pill' that fixes or improves executive weaknesses. Positive reward systems or behavior plans or consequences, etc. are not effective in this case. Diets, medication and other parenting techniques are very effective for other issues, including ADHD symptoms but not for Executive Function Disorder.

So what is out there to help kids with these issues? There two are basic approaches you can implement today that will help your child: Routine Consistency and Simplifying Multistep Tasks.

Routine Consistency helps children have smoother transitions - especially morning routines, after school and before bedtime. Without it, children with executive dysfunctions are easily distracted, lost and become overwhelmed. They feel as if they are spinning in circles and not accomplishing anything. They have difficulty seeing how the ‘small tasks’ are needed to help them achieve a goal or accomplish something.

Simplifying Multistep Tasks breaks down the routine into simple steps. This makes it easier for your child to follow a task as well as feel accomplished when completing a task. Children struggle with deciding on prioritizing tasks and completing the small steps necessary for accomplishing the bigger task.  To tell a child with executive function weakness to “Get ready for bed.” you probably meant for him/her to put on PJ’s, wash face, brush teeth and pick out clothes for school. However, the child may see it as there being so many steps and options to choose and he/she doesn't know where to begin. Simplifying the task makes it less overwhelming and easier to accomplish.

A key to successfully implementing these changes is preparation. It will take a lot of patience and at least three months to make these changes in your home. It's also important to identify the primary purpose of implementing these strategies. It’s not just about raising grades or stressing the importance of brushing teeth.

Ultimately, it's about building a stronger family connection by minimizing stress and frustration. It's about increasing the child’s executive functioning skill of organizing so he/she will have more success and improving his/her self-confidence. 

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.

All the best,


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ADHD 101 - Week 3

I'll Be the Biggest Fan of Your Life

Happy Wednesday! Thank you for attending another week of ADHD 101. You may be wondering what the title of this blog has to do with tips for school. Stay with me, we'll get there! Success in school begins at home by building an understanding and appreciation of what works for your child. By doing this, you can be his/her best advocate when discussing his/her needs with the school. 

When you're working with your child at home, remember these important points:

1) The more your child is told to focus, the less likely they are to respond.  It’s the way his/her mind is wired. Your frustration will keep growing until you embrace and love your child’s beautifully wired brain. The same brain that is going to keep you on the edge of your seat and blow your mind with its energy and/or random thoughts. 
Dr.Amen, physician, certified psychiatrist and teacher, is the author of a book entitled "Healing ADD." In his book, he goes into great detail about the neurology of ADHD and breaks the disorder down into six different types.  I highly recommend this book. The information is extremely important when it comes to fostering an environment that is most conducive to your child listening, processing and retaining information.

2) Discover how your child enjoys learning and his/her way of processing information. Have your child draw a picture, write a list, use playdough to sculpt, etc. to show their preferred method of learning. Take notes of the different ways he/she expresses their preferred method. 

You ask your child a math problem from his/her homework assignment: “What is 8+2?” 

By using play dough, ask your child to build (whatever he/she's into that week – Transformers, Trains, Shoes, Soccer, etc.) 8 objects from one of his/her interest groups.  

Soccer is the theme: “The coach is starting practice and asked you to go grab 8 soccer balls.”  Once he finishes the eight balls, then point to the plus sign and say, “The coach is really happy two more players just arrived.  He needs two more balls.”  Have the child physically count each ball and answer what is the total number of balls needed for this practice. 

This exercise can be carried over into school by helping your child modify the fun math activity. Have him use a scrap piece of paper to draw 8 soccer balls then two more.  I’m a big advocate for children having either scrap paper or journals as they mature to work through problems using images and examples their mind understands. It also allows them to capture their great random ideas that tend to come bursting out of the mouth while the teacher is trying to teach. 

I often tell all my little friends during sessions that their amazing ideas are worth keeping! That is why having scrap paper or a journal is so important. When those awesome ideas come to mind, I tell them to write them down, draw it out on a picture, etc. Then they can earn a couple minutes with the teacher at lunch time or at some point of the day to share that captured memory as opposed to bursting out during class. This will not only allow them to remember their wonderful ideas, it will keep them from the hurt and embarrassment of getting in trouble by the teacher during class.

So what do you take away from today's lesson? That having a child with ADHD is a gift! They  have beautifully crafted minds full of exciting and interesting thoughts and ideas. Instead of trying to control them become the biggest fan of their life! Love them, cherish them and understand them because when it comes to school, your positive influence and home environment can make all the difference.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions. Have a wonderful week!

All the best,


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ADHD 101 - Week 2

Tips for Home

Welcome back! I'm excited you've decided to join me for week 2 of the blog series, ADHD 101. This week I am going to focus on tips for the home.

As I said last week, caring for children with ADHD may be very challenging. It is critical that parents remember that some of their child's disruptive behavior is a manifestation of the disability and the challenge is finding ways to help them change their inappropriate behavior.  

Key: The key to this is remembering to focus on the need for structure and routine for your child's daily schedule and thereby reinforcing the importance of learning self-control and self-regulation.

The following are suggestions for parents:

  • Focus on discrete rewards and consequences for appropriate and inappropriate behavior such as:
  • Tangible rewards and treats;
  • Movie night for a good week at school;
  • Removal of privileges; and
  • Time-out from reinforcing activities: the child is essentially removed from situations that foster inappropriate behavior.
  • Set a daily routine and stick to it. Bedtime and preparation for school are much easier if there is a structure already in place.
  • Have tangible reminders:
  • A big clock in the bedroom; 
  • Chart for chores;
  • Assignment pad to record homework and a specific folder to put work in upon completion; and
  • Gain the child's attention before speaking to him or her. Have the child repeat back directions for things that are really important.
  • Avoid the following:
  • Repeating patterns on inappropriate behavior followed by ineffective punishment;
  • Administering consequences without prior warning or without the child understanding why he or she is receiving them; and
  • Responding inconsistently to appropriate behaviors
I know that's quite a bit of information and implementing all of these changes at once would be very overwhelming. I challenge you to implement 1-2 new tips a week and stick with them.

Be sure to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Have a great week!

All the best,


P.S. Next weeks topic: Tips for School

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ADHD 101

ADHD 101 - Syllabus Day

This week I am very excited to announce my first blog series: ADHD 101! While obtaining my Masters Degree, I began studying Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, most commonly referred to as ADHD. After obtaining my Masters, I continued studying ADHD through specialized education courses and have been working with clients with ADHD for four years.

Through my education and experiences, I learned several tips for caring for children with ADHD in both home and school environments. I will share these tips each Wednesday for the next 4 weeks. My hope is that by the end of our "course", you'll have a better understanding of how to effectively care for children with ADHD.

Since today is our first day, I will give your the syllabus for our course. The course will be structured as follows:

Instructor: Renee Keller
Office: Glen Carbon, IL 62o34
Phone: 618.407.0900

Office Hours: By Appointment Only

ADHD 101 - Blog Series
             New Content posted every Wednesday          
             Course Content available 24/7 online

Blog Series Outline:

Week 1: Syllabus Week
Week 2: Tips for Home
Week 3: Tips for School
Week 4: Responsibility for Belongings
Week 5: Homework

Course grade will be based upon participation. Comment below with questions, feedback or more topics you would like to see featured.

I look forward to working with all of you and teaching you effective ways to handle ADHD.

All the best,