Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Allergy: I Can Still Eat Good Food!

I thought having a magnitude of food allergies would doom me to blah, cardboard-tasting meals. Not so! Bryan made me a delicious meal yesterday. He ran black beans through the food processor until they looked like chocolate frosting. Then he added lime juice and cumin. Mmm...this is a must-try recipe. We dipped our chicken strips in it. Kalen loved it so much, she hardly ate any of her chicken. You can also dip tortilla chips in it. Or bake it in the oven with cheese on top.

Tonight, I made "restaurant quality" home fries. I chopped up red potatoes. Then I browned garlic in garlic oil. I removed the garlic and fried the potatoes until they were crisp and golden on the outside, but still soft inside. Then I tossed them with salt and oregano. I think the olive oil had a lot to do with the wonderful taste.

And, I discovered Ghiradelli's 100% Cocoa bar. I melted a chunk and mixed it with goat milk and sugar. Mmm...I ate it straight because I wanted chocolate so badly. But it would have made a delicious dip for bananas (my original intent).

And, I've discovered Utz's Gourmet Medley Potato Chips. It's a medley of dark russet, regular, sweet, and blue potatoes. They are fried in sunflower oil and the only other ingredient is salt.

So, I can't eat everything, but it's possible that everything I eat will still be good.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Raising a Signing Baby: 10 months old


In the first few months of signing, Kalen only learned one or two signs a month. When she was 10 months old, she began signing ALL DONE/FINISHED. We used this sign whenever she was eating or drinking to find out if she was done eating or not. She still uses this sign at the end of meals, but now she adds FULL and, after prompting, EXCUSE (may I be EXCUSED). I love that Kalen is learning manners before she can talk!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Recipe: Pancakes - Egg-free, milk-free, wheat-free, and gluten-free

I made my first allergen-free pancakes for supper tonight. I tested out millet flour, Ener-G Egg Replacement Powder, and Arrowroot Starch.

Here's my recipe, adapted from The Yeast Connection Cookbook. I'm bold--adapting a recipe before I've even used the products!

Millet Pancakes
1 1/4 c. millet flour
1 T arrowroot starch
1/4 t salt
1 c. water (or milk)
1 T oil
3 t Ener-G Egg Replacement Powder and 1/4 c. warm water (or 2 eggs)

Mix egg replacement powder with warm water. Mix together all remaining ingredients. Batter will be a medium-thin consistency. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto a hot skillet. Brown and flip.

These pancakes are fine. They have a good start and finish with a slightly bitter aftertaste. I'm not sure which product causes the aftertaste, so I will continue to experiment. But, I realized that I'm not allergic to sugar or cinnamon, so I added them. The pancakes were definitely tastier. But, since I will be using pancakes as bread, I won't do this all the time.

Extra pancakes can be reheated in the toaster.

Allergy: Bob's Red Mill Products

So I started on my adventure with new food choices today. It's excitement and discouragement wrapped in a unfamiliar plastic wrapper with a distinctive red label. Bob's Red Mill products will be a staple in my new diet. Millet flour, arrowroot flour, potato starch...all new and unexplored products. They offer my the chance to eat, rather than starve to death as I previously expected. However, I am a little concerned with the taste. Because really, if millet flour tasted amazing, there would be millet crackers, millet cereal flakes, millet pizza crust, and millet chocolate chip cookies in every grocery store. And, even though my husband does the grocery shopping, I'm pretty sure you won't find them.

But, still, it was amazing to find such a wide selection of alternative flours at my regular grocery store. And the experience probably would have been less overwhelming if my 21-month-old daughter (hyped up on sugar from a birthday party) hadn't been crawling out of the race car grocery cart and indiscriminately throwing soy flour (I'm allergic), rice flour (ditto), and oatmeal cereal (again, allergic) into the basket. I even found an egg replacement powder by Ener-G.

I struck out on the milk alternative, though. The grocery store had soy milk, rice milk, soy-rice milk, and almond milk. I'm allergic to all those appealing options. Actually, I prefer soy milk to regular. I've known I had a milk intolerance for years, so I switched to soy (Silk and 8th Continent are the best). My husband turned up his nose, but after a year or two, he converted to the soy side. When I found out I was more allergic to soy than to cow milk, I switched to rice milk. It is sweeter than soy, but somehow, grainy with a bitter aftertaste. Maybe I've just not had the right brand of rice milk. I tried a lot of bad soy milk before I found the good stuff. Now almond milk sounds good. I'm imagining a creamy, sweet concoction. Something like a liquified Almond Joy. But, I guess I will never know. And it probably tastes better in my imagination, anyway. I sent the clerk to search the store for goat milk (I had a crazy child to deal with, remember?). He came back empty handed, so I'm still on the hunt for milk.

When I got home, I searched Bob's Red Mill website for recipes. I figured if they had products I could eat, they would have recipes I could eat, right? I was overly optimistic. I only searched for a couple minutes, but every recipe contained allergens.

Fortunately, I have the Yeast Connection Cookbook, and I was able to quickly find a recipe for pancakes/flatbread to make with my new ingredients. And I have cashew butter to spread on them. I'll be eating good tonight!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Raising a Signing Baby: 9 months old


Kalen loved to sign DOG. She signed about dogs all day. And I mean all day. Of course, she only knew a couple signs at this point, so I guess DOG was the most interesting one to talk about. But, I did get tired of saying, "Yes, that's our dog." "Yes, that's Franklin." "Where's Franklin? I think he's sleeping." "I see the dogs outside, too." And on and on. But, it was very fun communicating with her. And as you can see, signing was very fun for her. She was very animated in her signing, using a full body slap instead of a pat on the thigh when she was really excited.

Kalen's babysitter didn't believe that Kalen really knew what she was saying when she signed DOG. She told me that Kalen signed it all day, and they didn't have a dog. But I knew Kalen only signed DOG when there was a dog, somewhere. It might be a tiny little picture on a child's shirt, but if you looked hard enough, you would find a dog. Well, a week or two later, Kalen's sitter found out her neighbors had a dog--and it barked all day. She was amazed when she realized that Kalen signed DOG when she heard it barking, not only when she saw a dog.

Awww...wasn't she smart?

Raising a Signing Baby: 8 months old

More Pictures Please!

Ok, I don't really know that my daughter was signing MORE in this picture. But, she could have been. Kalen signed MORE for the first time when she was 7.5 months old. I started signing with her when she started eating solid foods at 5.5 months. At 7 months, she hadn't signed yet, and I was feeling a little less enthusiastic, but I was still determinedly signing away.

Kalen must have been waiting for an audience. I was feeding her lunch at my parent's home during Christmas. The cousins were there, my friends were there. And right in front of everyone, she signed MORE!

It was great to have everyone there for her first sign, but it was even better to have several independent verifications that she actually had signed. Several people yelled out at the same time, "She signed MORE!"

From that moment on, I was completely hooked on sign language. I had started out with the intent to teach her a few basics, but when she started communicating through sign, I couldn't stop. I wanted to know all she could possibly tell me.

Friday, February 22, 2008

So Many Food Allergies! Would it be better to starve to death or die of anaphylactic shock?

Perhaps I'm being a tad dramatic, but I just received my allergy results from my recent visit to the ENT. I had both the skin-prick and the blood-draw tests done. And here are my results:

Food Allergies

  • IgE type (The kind that can make your throat swell-shut and kill you, although mine aren't that severe. IgE allergies are true allergies, not sensitivities and they cause a reaction in the individual in a short period of time.)
    • Peanut
    • Hazelnut
    • Almond
    • Pistachio
    • Walnut
    • Coconut
    • Wheat
    • Corn
    • Egg White
  • I Don't Know What Type (I need to clear this up with my doctor. I'm not sure if these are IgE or IgG (IgG allergies are actually sensitivities and you don't die from them. They just make you feel bad. It could take up to three days after you eat the food before you have a reaction.).
    • Lima Beans (I don't have a problem with that!)
    • Pinto Beans
    • Cheddar Cheese
    • Cottage Cheese
    • Coconut
    • Gluten
    • Malt
    • Milk (Cow's)
    • Peas
    • Pear
    • Chili Pepper
    • Rice
    • Sesame
    • Soy
    • Black Tea
    • Wheat
    • Baker's Yeast
    • Brewer's Yeast
    • Yogurt
    • Rye (?)
    • Barley (?)
No, I'm not crying, my eyes are just watering from my environmental allergies. You know, dust, dogs, cats, mold, pollen, etc. That's my short list. I won't bore you with those details.

So, obviously, I'll be doing a lot of research on allergies and special diets. I'm also going to visit a dietitian. But if you have any recipes that don't involve these foods, I'd love to have them!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

QuickZip Sheets are Easy to Change

My doctor told me that I would only be able to hold my children until they weighed 15 lbs. and I should only lift items up to 5 lbs. Well, my crib mattress was heavy! I knew I could not wrestle that thing in and out of the crib to change the sheets without causing myself a lot of unnecessary pain. I started looking around for options, and found these great QuickZip Sheets by Clouds and Stars.

The bottom-sheet goes underneath the mattress and wraps up over the sides of the mattress. The top sheet zips off and on easily. Since babies sleep mainly in the middle of the bed, the bottom sheet does not need to be changed often.

I also like these sheets because they do not come off and get tangled up when my daughter moves around in the crib. That made me feel much safer when she was young and I was concerned about SIDS. They even offer organic sheets if you are a green mom.

The QuickZip Sheet comes in two sizes: crib (which also fits toddler beds) and twin. The mom-owned company also sells sheets for pack-n-plays. I wish they had these sheets in Queen!

Right now, Cloud and Stars is having a "BOGO sale." Buy one zipper sheet; get one zipper sheet at 50% off with the purchase of a set (Blue Gingham, Green Gingham and Ecru only). The BOGO discount lasts through the end of February and you don't need a coupon code.

I purchased two starter sets and two extra top sheets. That seemed like too many--until my daughter got the flu.

Read another blog review at Growing Your Baby.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Squeaky Shoes--They're Cute, Encourage Walking, and Keep Kids from Sneaking Away

My daughter is rambunctious and she loves to run. Quite often, she gets a mischievous gleam in her eye and dashes away from me. Squeaky shoes prevent her from sneaking away when I don't have both eyes on her. But that's not really why I love these shoes.

They are just so cute! They come in a multitude of styles and are very comfortable. They are easy to slip on and off, which is a plus on a busy work morning. And, they give my daughter a sense of independence because she can almost put them on all by herself. (She's not quite two.)

I rationalized my purchase of so many pairs of squeakers by saying they helped keep her safe, that they were cheaper than Target shoes, and that the flexible, wide-toed shoes gave her more growing room. But really, I love the squeaking. My daughter "walks happy," and hearing the tiny squeaks accentuate her bouncy stride makes Mom happy.

The tiny squeakers can be easily removed by an adult for occasions when somber walking is more appropriate, or for those times when you just want serene peace.

Squeaky shoes run from $8-$30. You can find them up to size 8 easily, but if you look hard enough, they do go up to size 12.

Squeaky Shoes Brand Names:
Pippytoes or Pipsqueakers
Mooshu Trainers
Squeak Street Shoes
Wee Squeak
Foot Kinetics
Itzy Bitzy

Some Websites – there are lots of them!

www.chinadirectstore.com (I’ve had great service from them)
www.littlemonkeytoes.com – carries a large variety of brand name squeaky shoes
(donates portion of profits to orphans)
www.squeakyshoemom.com (Use Coupon Code 0987654321 to save 15% before shipping!)


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why Do I Gain Weight When I Go on a Diet?

It is inevitable, every time I decide I'm going to get in shape and lose a little weight, I gain 5 pounds! Of course, the fact that I tell myself, "I'm starting tomorrow, so I better have one last carmel macchiato, and one last bag of Reese's Pieces, and a few chocolate chips, and, mmmmm.....some nacho cheese dip," probably is most of the problem.

I am confident that I have gained at least 3 pounds since I started the 12-Second Sequence diet. Of course, I only worked out twice in the time and probably quadrupled my calorie intake. Can you explain to me why my pants are getting tight?

But yesterday I read a quote by Oprah's personal trainer. It was something to the effect that, you have to have a goal bigger than losing weight if you want to succeed. And he's right. Because honestly, in my list of priorities, spending time with my husband and daughter is more important than the size of my jeans.

There was only one time in my life when I was successful at maintaining a workout schedule. And my main reason for working out was to prove to my doctor that I would be able to carry more than 15 lbs. I have TMJ which causes me a lot of pain. My doctor told me that if I had a child, I would have to stop carrying her around when she reached 15 lbs. Well, I worked hard! And I gradually increased my strength without increasing my pain. And I still carry my daughter around--and she's 30 lbs.

So, I've changed my motivation for working out from looking like I did when I was 20, to becoming healthy and strong enough to be able to play sports with my daughter as she grows older. Hmmmm....that's a much better incentive. And I don't even feel like going out and buying a large Meat Lover's Pizza and a bag of Cheetos!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Baby Bargains is a Must-Have Book for Expecting Moms

Even if you've already had a child, you need to check out Baby Bargains. Baby Bargains reviews products from every major category of baby items: bottles, pacifiers, cribs, breast pumps, clothes, etc. And, they update their reviews every year. This book was constantly by my side as I selected items for my daughter-in-the making.

Baby Bargains made registering for items easy. Before I registered, I highlighted all the items I wanted. Then I simply chose that item at the store. Instead of choosing items based on the cuteness of the print, I was able to look at the product's track record. The authors of Baby Bargains research the company--product recalls, durability of products they sell, etc. They also get reviews from parents who are using the products. They give each item a grade of A - F and give a brief rationale for grade. At the end of each section they give three "best" options. One for the tight budget, one for the medium budget, and one for the "who cares how much I spend" budget.

For a list of topics covered, click visit http://www.windsorpeak.com/babybargains/inside.html

Check out the Baby Bargains Blog!

For another more indepth review, visit http://lizzykristine.blogspot.com/2008/01/dewey-decimal-baby-bargains-amelia.html
I had forgotten that Baby Bargains tells you things like what size baby fits into Carter's 0-3 months clothes and what (entirely different) size baby fits into Little Me 0-3 months. Lizzy Kristine included it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Signs Baby Sign Language DVD Review

Happy Signs Day and Night DVDs are a little cheesy and definitely not Disney quality, but my daughter loved them when she was 11-12 months old. Most importantly, she learned from them. The DVDs feature Maurice the Monkey, an animated character, who learns to sign. The ultra-repetitive format is great for a baby learning their first few signs. Maurice practices the signs many times in the cartoon, then he teaches his friend the Hippo the sign. Then real babies and children practice the signs with the shows' host and with their parents. Like I said - repetitive.

My daughter watched these for about a month, until I found Baby Signing Time. She signed her first sentence "MONKEY SLEEP" while watching Maurice crawl into bed. The videos are effective, but I don't know how much longer my daughter would have watched them. Probably forever, but I couldn't take much more of them.

These videos use slightly different signs than the Signing Time DVDs. Since there are 25+ videos in the Signing Time series, I would choose Baby Signing Time to purchase. If you want to take a look at these videos (Maurice is cute the first couple of times), check them out from the library and skip over signs that vary from what you are teaching your child.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Children: 4-year-old leaves house unnoticed

In Florida, a 4-year-old girl walked out the front door of her house while her father slept. She was looking for her mother. She walked down a busy road, until a woman stopped her and took her to a fire station. Read the full story here or watch the video . Both stories were reported by First Coast News.

I don't know the situation with this family, but I can see how it could happen to anyone. So take precautions and install child-safety knobs on all your outside doors. They will take you a week or two to get used to, but they protect you and your child. Child-safety knobs are cheap. You can get them at Babies'R'Us, Lowe's, Wal-mart, Target, Babycenter.com, etc. Many times, they come in a child-proofing kit with electric socket protectors and drawer latches.

That said, I have to install two more of these. I installed one on the back door months ago, but not on the front door or the garage door. Who knows why.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Children: Chicco Night Light Soother

I love the Chicco Night Light Soother. It is a voice-activated night-light. When your baby cries, it turns on. It calms your baby when they need it and turns off shortly after they settle. It has given my 21-month-old control over the dark. Instead of crying she now turns it on by kicking the crib slats once. The noise is enought to turn it on.

But what I like best about this night light is the voice-record feature. We calm our to sleep by saying "SHHHHH SHHHH." This night light allowed us to record our voices saying "SHHHHH SHHHHH." When she would stir in the night, she would immediately hear my reassuring voice. The Soother also has buttons and toys your older child can entertain themselves with. And, if you don't want to record your voice, you can set the Soother to play music or nature sounds.

You and your baby will love this night light/crib toy/white noise machine.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Children: Guilt-Free Parenting

Last night my daughter refused to sleep. She screamed and cried and yelled and complained she needed "Water," "Gilk," and "Crackers." She also screamed that she had "Boogies" in her nose. After about 1.5 of rocking, holding, standing firm, mollifying, etc. I had had it. I was tired and frustrated and my husband was still at work.

At 10:30 p.m. I got my daughter up and let her run around. She was crazy! But happy. I was tired, but not angry.

Sometimes a little compromise is the best thing for sanity. When my husband got home at midnight, he got to put her to sleep. :-)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Technology: Cyber Loneliness and Broken Tracking Code

If you have web analytics or site tracking on your website, be careful about changing your blog template. It will erase any customizations you have made to the template HTML code--like site tracking.

I have been a little sad the last two days. Google Analytics showed that nobody visited my site. After several days of people telling me they did visit my site, I checked the status of my links in Google Analytics (choose Edit on the Settings tab). It said it wasn't working. And then I realized...that's what the Blogger message about being careful about changing templates meant!

"Note: Before switching to a new template, it's a good idea to back up your current one (if you've made changes to it)—go to the Template Edit HTML tab, and copy and paste the template code to a text file on your computer."

Hopefully, this post will save you from the days of dejected cyberloneliness I experienced.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Sign Language Improved My Memory

I have been signing with my daughter since she was 5 months old. It's been great! She knows over 250+ signs at 20 months. She speaks in 3-5 word sentences. She knows most of the alphabet. She counts to 5. She knows her basic colors. I think a lot of this is due to the physical nature of sign language. It helps make abstract items concrete.

I've started using sign language to help me remember people's names. I finger spell the person's name several times and if I know a sign that fits, I visualize myself signing it. This works much better than asking the person their name the next three times I see them!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Evenflo Safety Seat Recall

Evenflo recalled Discovery child safety seat models 390, 391, 534 and 552 made between April 2005 and January 29, 2008. Find out more at http://www.parentdish.com/2008/02/03/product-recall-evenflo-car-seats/.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fitness: 12 Second Sequence Update

It's two days after my first 12 Second workout. My triceps are sore. Not just in the typical spot you think of, but the whole length of the back of my arm has been worked! It's unlike anything I've felt after working out before. I'm excited about this program. After I figure out the best weights for each exercise, I think I'll be feeling it all over.

Beauty: What Do Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, and Jessica Simpson Wear Under There?

They all have expensive tastes. But can you imagine Jennifer picking a wedgie on the red carpet? And Oprah can't be shifting uncomfortably on national TV. So what do they wear? Underwear that run $14-$30 a pair.

Jennifer Aniston wears Cosebello Soire Thong - a bargain at $16 a pair. The were voted "most comfy" by InStyle magazine.

Jessica Simpson likes Honeydew Mesh Boy Shorts - only $14 a pair.

Oprah Winfrey wears Hanro Simply Satin Full Brief - the most expensive at $30 a pair.

Have you tried any of these? Are they worth the money? Let me know.

Beauty: Wedgy-Free All Day!

I'm still looking for the Ultimate Underware. I tried Maidenform The Smooth Bikini ($9). Amazingly, I didn't tug or pull at them once all day. I didn't have panty lines and the fabric of my pants slid easily over them. However, after wearing them once or twice the glued-on hem is starting to separate. It could easily be repaired...but, who wants to do that?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Fitness: 12 Second Sequence Workout and Diet by Jorge Cruise

I started the 12 Second Sequence workout yesterday. So far, I'm optimistic and intrigued. The basic premise of the workout is that by doing very slow repetitions while lifting weights, you will actually build more muscle than with traditional weight-lifting techniques. It will also reduce the likelihood of injury. The 12 Second Sequence workout is a 20-minute circuit training workout. Each exercise is done 4 times. Four times doesn't seem like enough, until you throw in Jorge's new technique--the 12 Second Sequence. Using the heaviest weight you can manage, you lift for a 10 second count, hold the weight and the hardest part of the lift for 2 seconds, and then lower for 10 seconds. Sure, this is really a 22 Second Sequence, but I'm giving Jorge a break on the name--12 Second Sequence is a lot catchier.

I did the first workout yesterday. And I enjoyed it. I have back and jaw problems, so too much jerking and bouncing and straining puts me in a lot of pain. With Jorge's workout, everything is smooth, controlled, and tough! Think pilates meets weight lifting. I definitely got warm doing this workout. Next time, I will increase my weights. I wasn't quite fatigued after the 4 repetitions. And to make this workout succeed, you need to be fatigued at 4 reps.
Good news, you don't have to buy the book to do the workout. Visit http://www.12second.com/member_workouts2/ The site has a neat workout tracker. You'll have to sign on for a free membership. It also has a weight/measurement tracker. If you want to see my stats, search for user:hollmil. The coolest feature? It asks you if you have overcome your temptation today (mine is late night chocolate. Can I say I've overcome if I only eat chocolate during the day?)
Start the 12 Second Sequence Diet with me!