Spring Treats

 

So a couple days ago I decided to make some “spa water.” I was chopping fruit for the dehydrator anyway. This is the flavor combination I came up with. Cucumber watermelon strawberry lime and mint. Decided we needed something without sugar  but less boring to drink around the house. I also decided to order some water kefir grains on Amazon. My SIL is in love with fermenting things and she suggested I try it after we talked about how I needed to get started with kombucha again. She’s mailing me another SCOBY, and last night I got a shipping notice for the kefir.

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Dehydrate all the things! Here’s my beautiful dehydrator full of apples, strawberries and watermelon. The apples are destined for other places (snack mix) but the watermelon is for eating plain like candy. The strawberries already ended up being eaten along with some yogurt, but I originally planned to use them for granola bars.

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And here’s the finished product:

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That’s all for the “pretty” stuff. Bright and early my MIL texted my husband that the goats (and she herself) have cryptospiridiosis. Ok, so not so bright, considering it was before sunrise, but definitely early. She’s VERY concerned. Although in a healthy person, a few weeks (up to a few months) of diarrhea is inconvenient, it’s not really something to be too worried about. And eventually the parasite is expelled on its own. In an immunocompromised person (such as someone with Celiac or Autoimmune Heptatitis) or someone taking corticosteriods or immunosuppressants, the parasite can be quite persistent. It can be impossible to get rid of, and will eventually deprive them of nutrients and hydration to the point of death. On the bright side… K doesn’t seem infected. Although M does. So all the kids are being secluded from each other today. We need to pick up hydrogen peroxide and wormwood. Thankfully, we have a WCV scheduled for M tomorrow. So we’ll get everyone checked out then. And perhaps they’ll say it’s nothing?

Whole 30 Weekending

 

 

 

 

 

I occasionally enjoy reading other blogs. One of my favorites (although my husband doesn’t understand the appeal) is The Bloggess. And the other day I went into my kitchen to find this beautiful practical joke from my husband. I love that man.

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It’s been sunny here in Washington. We decided to make the most of our 3 day weekend. Friday we went to the dentist to get K’s cap put back on her tooth. Then we went up north to run a few errands and had lunch at Famous Dave’s. You can make this Whole30 by ordering what I did… The Cedar Plank Salmon (no sauce) with steamed broccoli and grilled pineapple. Just make sure not to get any bbq or honey. 😉 My middle son tore into his hunk of bone-in chicken like a real caveman.

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Picture above is Saturday’s “brunch.” Scrambled eggs with tarragon, smoked salmon and red onion. This was good. The kids really enjoyed it. Saturday we went out for a paleo picnic at the park. I brought more smoked salmon, mesquite smoked turkey, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, baby carrots, hummus, and the kids picked out their own drinks. VitaCoco (coconut water) in pineapple and lemonade flavors. Pictured below is an example of Whole30 stir-fry, in case you aren’t planning a picnic. Don’t use soy sauce. Because I haven’t dropped into Whole Foods for coconut aminos, I made this using thai fish sauce and balsamic vinegar. Sounds weird, but believe me. Top it with a little homemade chili garlic sauce and you wont even know the difference!

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After our picnic, we went to the mall and let the kids drive around on one of the “zoomers” that they rent out at a kiosk inside. They chose the dinosaur and had an absolute blast for the next 30 minutes. And we finished up the day by grocery shopping. And I’m pretty excited to make a few of the things I’ve got saved to my Pinterest boards. Strawberry banana granola bars, apple pie trail mix, fruit snacks… We didn’t pick up any processed goodies for the kids this month. I’m considering making the kids some paleo themed shirts. I’ve got some great ideas. I’ll post them up when I’m done, and of course, because I’m nice, I’ll be willing to make and ship some to anyone who is interested at cost. Because profit is lame. 😉

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Sunday morning we went to church. Which we do every week. It was Palm Sunday and our church was having baptisms. Pastor Kevin preached on The  Bystander Effect as part of his There Is More series. It was a good one. K decided to get baptised, and now I plan to sit down with her during our Bible lessons and make sure she truly understands the importance of her life decision. At only 7, it seems like a 50/50 chance she only did it because she knows Jesus did. After church, our goal was to have a relaxing day in. Our water heater, however, had other plans. And the stupid bottom rusted out at water shot out from anywhere it could possibly escape and has flooded my laundry room. I’m still waiting for a call from  the people who are supposed to replace it. Thankfully, this happened right after I had finished all my husband’s work laundry, and washed the dishes before dinner. The dinner dishes will just have to be done with boiled water (after I’m done with this post.) And I wanted to share one of the AMAZING paleo dinner discoveries I’ve had. Even my kids loved it. Bacon Beef Butternut Squash from The Civilized Caveman. I like this so much, I’m going to post the recipe right here with the modifications I made. DON’T use the cheap packaged bacon. It’ll be too greasy. Grab it from the butcher. Or a Applegate bacon will work. It’s usually reasonably priced at Fred Meyer.

Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Cut squash in half and scrape out the seeds
  3. Place face down in a pyrex dish with 1/2 inch of hot water and cook for 30 minutes
  4. While its in the oven, cook the bacon in a pan until crispy, set aside and leave the bacon fat in the pan
  5. Add 2 of the sliced onions and celery to the pan and then add the beef
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and your cinnamon
  7. Continue stirring until the beef is finished, remove from heat and place in a bowl
  8. Remove the squash from the oven, when you can handle it scrape out some of the guts, leaving ~1/4 inch of squash, add squash to bowl with meat
  9. Crumble your bacon and add that to the bowl as well
  10. Mix well and then stuff your squashes with the beef mixture and place back in the 350 degree oven for 20 minutes
  11. While your squash are baking, add your reserved onion to your sauté pan (drained, add 1 TBS olive oil… or keep just 1 TBS of animal fat) and cook them over low heat with your balsamic to caramelize them
  12. Remove squash from oven, top with caramelized onions and Enjoy!

Whole 9 Life

My SIL introduced me to Whole30 last year and it really worked wonders for our family. And I’m getting super excited to start our second one after we do our grocery shopping. Which will be next week some time. This weekend we’re going to have to go pick up some meds for K. That mail order stuff was so annoying I have honestly decided it is more worth it to drive up north once or twice a month. It’d be something else if her meds weren’t compounded or were more readily available at pharmacies in child-sized doses… or if her insurance would do more than one month supply at a time… But no. That would be too easy. The worst part being that now they’ve staggered our refill schedule by taking their sweet time filling and sending prescriptions. So I’m not even sure I’ll be able to pick them all up. I’m calling today so wish me luck. Tangent. Sorry. My point being… Since we’ll be up in a more metropolitan area, we’ll be stopping into Whole Foods and Uwajimaya to look for a few things I just can’t seem to find locally. And maybe hit TJs on the way home for some Kerry Gold. It’s seriously so much cheaper there that I’m questioning how grocery stores determine prices in the first place…

I’m stock piling Whole30 friendly recipes on Pinterest. Pinterest is my addiction. You know… besides coffee. And the scale. I admit it… I stepped on the scale again today. But it was down 5.5 lbs so I’m ok with that. I imagine it’s mostly water weight but whatever. Down is down! I don’t know if it is working out or my love of new foods but it’s improving my mood. I can’t wait to go shopping, stuff my fridge full of good food and just get cooking. Although I may have to resist the temptation to make Nom Nom Paleo Cracklin’ Chicken several times a month. I made roasted broccoli (or cauliflower) with Whole30 friendly homemade chili garlic sauce, olive oil and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt… Seriously. My favorite meal ever. The trick to softer oven roasted broccoli, btw, is to toss a TBS of water on the pan halfway through. My family doesn’t like their broccoli crunchy.

Anyway, because of this lifestyle change, I’ve been checking out prices on meat. I’ve looked at stores, farmer’s markets, farms, and butchers… And I’ve seriously decided I ought to raise my own meat. I’m currently working on getting my husband on board and just hoarding information on (you guessed it) Pinterest. Eventually I’d like to have a couple goats, ducks and chickens. Maybe a cow one day. But for now I’d like to start gardening and then raising some rabbits for meat. If you know me, you know I tend to just kill plants. So that’ll be the hard part. Rabbits will be easy. Not so much the killing. That’ll take some getting used to. I’m looking into New Zealand Whites. My daughter will be happy to have the breeders… as long as she doesn’t realize we’re killing the others.

I’m Back

I’m back. Probably. For now. I knew this would happen. I’m the least reliable blogger. I’ve been meaning to update since Christmas pretty much and just have NOT made the time. Since it is pump day, I should at least mention that I did get some awesome pumps for Christmas. Although I haven’t worn them out of the house yet for obvious reasons. My husband bought me Christian Louboutins. The Bianca. And since I live in the great wet PNW, I haven’t let them venture past my front door. I don’t want to get into a big update-y post. But I think there are a few things to note… K has gotten significantly better at reading. M is a math whiz with great hand writing. And A is picking up on some math and sight words along with his siblings. He’s still mostly interested in coloring and singing, but what can you expect? We are considering sending the older two to a Christian school next year.

Everyone had birthdays over the last month. We’re having a party Sunday at our house. It’s set up to be quite some fun for the kids. Though I don’t have anything in mind for entertaining the parents… Oh well. We’ll pick up some snacks and just hang out.

For Valentine’s Day, I entered a contest by my favorite bra maker… and won. Which was a bit of a surprise for me… Giveaways are not usually my thing. I enter them but I have the creative capacity of a teaspoon generally speaking so I wasn’t expecting to win a contest. I got my shipping notification the other day. And in a week or two, I will have a new bra. For free. Awesome, IMHO. I also decided to try a second Polish bra company, just based on options for variety and great reviews. This I’m less sure will end up being a good fit. New company, new style (plunge instead of my favored half cup) and European sizing… Let’s call this a little adventure. That shipped yesterday. If there’s any interest, I can review both bras (although I’m not one of the people you’re going to see on the internet in her bra) after they get here. Actually, considering I don’t have a consistent readership as far as I know… I shouldn’t probably ask for interest. I’ll just review them and maybe people will stumble across the post and it’ll be helpful…

And ending my post with prayer requests…

The brakes on our car went out. We need a solution for that. A speedy one, I mean.

My husband just had a job interview… I’d like them to offer it to him with a nice salary.

And K’s numbers were up after her last labs… Let’s hope for the increase in her cellcept to bring them back down. And for remissions, while we’re at it. Her next appt is complete with an ultrasound. Hopefully things look good. That’s not until May, but I’ll keep you all posted.

Pre-Thanksgiving Pump Day

Our whole household has caught a cold. So I’m forgoing the pumps today. Or real clothes in general. I’m totally in my pajamas and a robe I pilfered from my husband’s side of the closet. I’ve been plying the kids with tea with ginger, lemon and honey… and just hoping we’ll all feel much better tomorrow. We’re still on track with school. The kids have learned a couple of new songs and are getting better with some short sentences and phrases in Chinese. We found a cute little exercise song, and Xiao Tu Zi Guai Guai. They’re both immediate favorites.

I’ve started some baking in preparation for tomorrow’s feast. Right now I’ve got white chocolate-cranberry muffins baking in the oven. I’ve got an apple pie and a pumpkin pie to make today as well. I’ll be doing the turkey, ham, yams, green bean casserole, parmesan corn muffins, rolls, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy all fresh tomorrow.

And in closing, here’s a recipe for apple cranberry stuffing. I like to prepare mine outside the bird, but it can be done either way:

  • 4 cups cubed tapioca bread, (6 slices)
  • 4 cups rice (or brown rice) bread, (6 slices)
  • Giblets from 1 turkey, liver discarded
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried, rubbed
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries,
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine chicken broth and cranberries; let soak for 30 minutes.
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, giblets and celery; cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently or until tender. Add apples and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl. Stir in chicken broth mixture. Add toasted bread, thyme, and sage, stirring gently to combine. Spoon mixture into prepared dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until center is set.

Sick Day

We have a sick day going. The kids have been doing well up to this point. We found the 10 Commandment Boogie by Go Fish and have been working our way through memorizing them. And we added body parts and counting to 10 to the list of things the kids can do in Chinese. Plus a few more songs. A was singing Wo De Peng You Zai Na Li the other night in bed. I couldn’t figure out why he kept calling our number magnets “E” and “R” and then I realized he was just using them in Chinese. 1- Yi and 2- Er.

As far as our sick day goes, A woke up with a cold yesterday. Which isn’t particularly unusual. They are small kids. It happens. The unusual thing is that K is sick too. I know she has a chronic illness for which we keep her immune system suppressed… But she NEVER gets sick. I can count the number of times  she has had the sniffles in the last 6.5 years on one hand. I have to admit to a mild fear at the knowledge that she is sick. Migraine. Fever. Nausea. This is new territory with K. Honestly, our family hasn’t had the flu except when I got it while pregnant with A. We don’t do really sick. I’m hoping a little tylenol and a day in my bed will sort her out.

Health Background

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K is my oldest. She was born at 27 weeks. She weighed just 2lbs 6oz a birth. Which was actually big for her gestational age.

n 1% of premature babies are born before 28 weeks. But their odds of survival are getting surprisingly good. We had no complications and she was able to come home after just 10 weeks in the NICU. And I was able to breastfeed her until she was 2.

Last year,during a day of fun in Seattle, we noticed that K looked yellow. Being that I am not particularly white, my kids have inherited my slight yellow undertone, and it wasn’t immediately evident. But I called Daddy over to come take a look at her eyes in the light. The whites were yellow. So we scooped up our crew and went straight to the Seattle Children’s Hospital ER. They couldnt tell us much of anything after the first round of tests. It wasn’t cancer. Her liver and surrounding organs were definitely swollen. Had she been vaccinated for hepatitis? Was she exposed? (Yes. No.) Had anyone been sick? The boys had had a cold the week prior… But how could that possibly matter? After a few hours, they could only send us home with a referral to their hepatologist.

A couple weeks later, we met one of the doctors. She ordered a round of blood tests on a suspicion. She said it might be an autoimmune disease and she needed to look for the markers. It came back positive. Autoimmune Hepatitis Type 1. Her AST and ALT were each about 2500. We would need a biopsy in a few weeks to confirm, before starting aggressive treatment. But if we were right, we caught it very early. Giving K the best possible chance to get healthy.

K was a champ for her biopsy. My mother bought her a bear which she still sleeps with and has dubbed Princess Beauty. Princess Beauty will likely be present in many pictures to come. Image

Autoimmune Hepatitis is a rare disease. It is thought that it MIGHT be related to genetics. The trigger is different from person to person. In our case, I’m pretty sure it was EBV. But it can be many things… Food allergies, vaccines, stress… The diagnosis normal comes after years of symptoms. Which include itching, flu-like symptoms, fatigue and jaundice. By the time  you get jaundice, you’ve normally experienced some cirrhosis and may need a liver transplant. K has no cirrhosis. She likely won’t need a transplant. At least as a child. Despite the overlapping Sclerosing Cholangitis. I do know more about both diseases, including statistics, but I imagine it is less interesting to people whose children don’t have it. Suffice it to say, it’s rare. All of it. And without treatment, K would be dead before the decade was out. Treatment include immunosuppressants, corticosteriods, and something called ursodiol for her bile ducts.

We started K out on 30 mg of Prednisone, 25 mg of Imuran, and Bactrim. At first the prednisone gave her stomach aches. And she even threw up once. I caught her a few times spitting her pills back out into her milk or hiding them under her pillow. (Yes, my children swallow pills early. Unlike their mother who didn’t until 12.) But I stressed the importance. And her AST and ALT began to come down a little at a time. Giving us the opportunity to lower her prednisone. It’s now 2.5mg a day. When her stomach aches continued to get worse, I called. And called. And called. And we finally realized she has PSC overlap. So we added the ursodiol. There is no curing PSC. But when it is caught this early, the ursodiol seems to keep it at bay. We went in for weekly bloodwork for a while. Then twice a week. Once a month. Now we just go before each follow up appt. Since she had one Tuesday, the next time wont be until November. K hates blood draws. Like, vehemently loathes them. You’d think she’d get used to it… Anyway, her GGT continued to rise. So in July of this year, they added something called Cellcept. Or MMF. It is a stonger immunosuppressant. There was immediate improvement. So they stopped the Imuran. Below are the most recent labs:

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K hasn’t really grown since we started the steroids. Not surprising to me because she wasn’t big on growing before… But her doctor is keen on getting her off the prednisone completely as soon as possible. So we don’t miss her opportunity to have a growth spurt that puts her at normal size for a human being. 🙂  Here are her most recent measurements (keep in mind that she’s 6.5):

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Yeah… We got her tall shoes for our trip to Disneyland for the kids’ birthdays this year. And they let her on all the big rides. Shhh. She’s old enough. And loved it. So that’s K.

Child number two… M. M was born at 33 weeks, after I started funneling at 28 weeks and got to spend 5 weeks laying in bed trying to keep him in. He was 5lbs 3oz at birth (also big for GA.) He was perfectly fine until he started eating solid food. And then when he stopped breastfeeding at 14 months, he stopped growing. He was 19lbs until he was nearly 2. I tried eliminating everything I could possibly think of from his diet. And still there was blood, and diarrhea and no growth. They diagnosed him with FTT. And we started a probiotic and pediasure. Eventually, a friend of mine went GF with her son and a lightbulb clicked for me. So we had him tested for celiac and immediately went gluten free too. Immediate improvement. I recently discovered Whole9 because of my sister-in-law, and have been flirting with the idea of going Paleo for the whole family.

A is healthy. Haha. I feel bad giving him the short story, but we sewed that kid in. He came out on time. And he is the little blond picture of health.