Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trying New Things: Red Brick Pizza

Dennis and I used to eat at Red Brick Pizza pre-Celiac.  There was one in Addison close to where we lived, and it was good.  We found out recently that Red Brick has a gluten-free menu, and unlike many restaurants who offer a gluten-free menu but don’t know anything about how to avoid cross-contamination, Red Brick has been recognized by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the Celiac Disease Foundation  When I called the one in Colleyville, the closest one to us since the one in Addison closed, they answered my questions about cross contamination without being prompted.  They know what they are doing.

We took the kids after riding Thomas the Train in Grapevine since we were close to Colleyville.  It was fun to eat out, and no one got sick.  The pizza was good, but we have found frozen gluten-free pizzas at Whole Foods that are just as good that cost about the same.  The only size you can order a gluten-free pizza in at Red Brick is small, which is true at most places that offer them.  Maybe the kids were tired from the whole day at the train, or maybe it's just not as exciting as going to Tu-lu's and seeing rows of cupcakes; either way, it wasn't as awe-inspiring of an experience as we thought it would be for the kids.  They are used to not eating out, so it pretty much has to be gluten-free sugar covered dessert items to excite them.  

Chowing down

Overall:  It's a nice option to have but not one we will probably drive that far to take part in much.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A New Adventure

Bedrest keeps me from going to church.  I hate missing helping teach the kids, getting to fellowship with other believers.  However, a bigger problem presented itself:  How would Wren go to church?

D and I help out with the kids’ classes at church with D staying in Sammy’s class and me teaching Wren’s.  It probably sounds like overkill, but the Celiac diagnosis changed a lot of things in our lives we didn’t anticipate.  How do you teach young kids about cross-contamination, that they can’t touch playdough, that their friends’ animal crackers, which are served for snack, will increase their risk of cancer for the next four years if they get even a crumb into their system?  And how do you put that kind of responsibility on another  adult while they are also managing 14-16 other kids?  We just couldn’t figure it out, and our church was kind enough to let us step in and deal with this our own way until the kids are old enough.  We’re hoping to see signs of that soon.

My bedrest threw a kink into a plan that had been working flawlessly for the last year.  D and I did not want Wren missing out on Sunday School, the fellowship with her friends, the songs she gets to learn with Mr. Mike, and the lessons she learns and repeats to us every week.  Plus, this seemed like a good time for her to have some time away from me and D, for her to get to establish some personal space and patterns without being under our watchful eye.  We are homeschooling, and I think the family being the ones to influence children more than their friends is important. (I also think that can happen regardless of a homeschool or public school choice).  However, it’s good for everyone to know they can function as autonomous creatures.  Wren needs that.

So, the new plan our church has generously agreed to is that Wren goes to class on her own.  Since snack time is at the end of class, one of the class helpers walks her to D and Sammy’s classroom where she has snack with them before heading home.  This was the first week, and it was awesome! 

It’s a small thing, but it feels kind of huge.

Also, if you wonder why a group of 3 and 4 year olds can’t break bread, or animal crackers, together without cross contamination being an issue, let me present you with an image:  Cookie Monster ingesting a whole box of animal crackers and then sprinkling what isn’t already on the floor or table everywhere else.  Even when everyone eats in a fairly graceful manner, there have been many times where people have been curious about Wren’s food, so with a handful of animal crackers in their hands, they have reached out and grabbed her apple or banana or whatever she has brought.  Still hard to understand?  Check out the visual and information from The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center:

A safe limit of gluten intake for most Celiacs is less than 100mg per day, though some do react with as little as 10mg.

Friday, April 26, 2013

What We Eat

I've been meaning for a long time to really spruce up the blog with links to different areas and a more organized presentation.  Maybe I will get that done during bedrest; maybe not.  What I am going to try is adding posts about food.  Food, what we do and don't eat, is a big part of our lives.  I get questions about it pretty often.  While I doubt you will see a ton of original recipes on here, I would love to share places we find recipes, what snacks for the kids look like on a daily basis when you remove gluten, dairy, corn, and processed packaged snacks, and what our go-to meals are.  

We are a forever work in progress in the food department.  I have added dairy to my diet while pregnant for some extra fat, but I will be removing it promptly when Asher and Eowyn are born.  Wren and Sammy both took part in eating a "packaged treat" yesterday:  a Larabar, something neither of their guts could tolerate months ago due to the dates.  The concrete rule for us is no gluten, ever.  Other than that, we try to consume whole foods over processed.  In all honestly, Dennis and I "cheat" with junky gluten-free food as adults, but we don't give them to our kids.  They have a low tolerance for junky things, and they don't crave it since they haven't been introduced to it.  I aspire to desire the "treats" my kids beg for which are generally fruit, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower (Wren's new obsession).

To get started, here's a not-so-great picture of a very yummy, protein-packed lunch I had this week.  Protein is huge during pregnancy, but I find I must consume it with something else to digest it right now.  Veggies are a good choice.  I call this the Protein Taco.  I guess it's an original recipe because I didn't get it from anywhere else.  However, I'm pretty sure I'm not the first one to think of it. 

You need organic romaine lettuce, an egg cooked how you like it, and chicken.  We cook our chicken in coconut oil and add basil, thyme, sea salt and pepper.  Then we cook the egg, throw it in the lettuce with the chicken, roll it, and eat.  My kids ate these as well yesterday.  It's quick and yummy.

Here's a link that will also help as we share our food journey.  It's the 2013 dirty dozen and clean 15 list.  It's why we buy some foods organic always, and others we might not to save money.  Lettuce was on the dirty dozen for awhile but looks to be off it this year unless I missed something.  Still, we usually eat organic lettuce.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My 14th Little Thing

Recap:  Putting Montessori guidelines in place was perfect for where we are right now.  I am dealing with a lot less arguments over toys, the kids are sharing their most prized toys voluntarily, and it’s made this transition to bed rest much easier.  Sammy is still having issues sharing with anyone who’s not Wren, but it’s a work in progress. 

Week 14:  Relax

The modified bedrest came as a surprise to me, but after a couple of days, I think I’m going to be okay with it.  The main reason is I don’t have contractions when I rest and I do have contractions when I don’t.  That makes resting the obvious choice.

I am going to spend this week learning how to not push my limits.  I went to work Tuesday night and was only supposed to be there to turn in my paperwork to take leave and maybe work a very short time if needed.  That’s what the doctor strongly recommended. I stayed for two hours because I doubted I needed bedrest despite Monday’s memorable hospital visit.  My contractions were 10 minutes apart by the time I made it home from work to hit the couch and chug about 50 gallons of water.  The next day I still doubted the absolute necessity of this resting thing.  Then I had contractions upon taking too long to shower.  I get it now. 

I’ve already wiped the calendar clean of everything but doctor’s appointments.  I’ve given up any and all responsibilities that I can.  Right now, it’s not hard.  I just need to try to remember there is a reason I’m being asked to do this so I can keep it up for the time I need to.  Hopefully, that time will be around two months. 

Here are some pictures from bedrest time.  As weird as it is, it’s been fun.  The kids have enjoyed having me only focused on lounging on the couch doing whatever they ask instead of trying to do laundry, keep things tidy, get us ready to head out the door.  And as you can tell from the background in these pictures, I'm definitely not keeping anything tidy.

Sammy as Batman

Wren looking way cool

29 weeks and still baking

The naked crime fighting team!

Daddy as Bane getting beaten down by Batman

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My 13th Little Thing

Recap:  I've done okay on perspective this week.  I have now entered the third trimester and asked Dennis to remind me that every day Asher and Eowyn are in the womb is a day they are not in the NICU.  I will have to keep repeating that since discomfort is now a daily thing, but it's worth it. 

Week 13:  Set up Montessori guidelines

We have started on this, but I have not been as consistent as I'd like.  The major guidelines I want to set up and enforce, especially before the twins arrive, are:

If you take out toys, you put them up before you take out anything else;
If someone wants to share what they are playing with, great.  However, once a child chooses an activity, they have ownership of it until they are finished.

My goal in all of this is to lighten my load and teach the kids to manage things on their own.  Honestly, they are already pretty good at this in many areas, but possession issues end up being where I spend most of my time feeling like a dictating nag.  The only toy anyone wants is the one someone else is playing with.  Making one child share after a certain amount of time does not solve the problem; the sharer feels slighted and the person who ends up with the toy doesn't want it anymore because it's no longer off limits.  I'm done with this game. 

I'm hoping this method will encourage patience and sharing when it's internally motivated.  I am also hoping I will never again step on a Lego because they will all be in their appropriate bin.  A woman can dream. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Trying New Things: Adopting Internationally, sort of

We didn’t really adopt a child, but we did offer to help support one this week. This is the second time we’ve done this, and it’s the first time with the Hands and Feet Project.

D and I have started to take the taking care of the orphans and needy thing seriously since our time spent reading the Bible puts it very high on the priorities list. Jesus wants us to help people. It’s what He’s about.

We still aren’t 100% sure what that looks like.  Maybe taking in foster kids, adopting within the states, adopting internationally.  Right now we are in the midst of already huge transitions, but we feel uncomfortable not doing anything.

We already help a child in Bangladesh through Compassion International.  It’s rewarding and the kids help make and send him crafts as well as pray for him daily. Still we thought, is there a way we can do more?

Then Dennis discovered the Hands and Feet Project.  The Hands and Feet Project offers individuals and families the opportunity to sponsor orphans in Haiti.  It’s $30 a month, and 10 sponsors are needed for each child.  It’s kind of like buying shares; we bought two shares for a sweet little one named Rachelle, and there are four shares that still need to be purchased for her.  It is more expensive to sponsor orphans than just to supplement and assist children with families in financial distress.  If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can read why.

So now we have Gopal in Bangladesh and Rachelle in Haiti.  I feel our family is getting very international, and it’s awesome. It’s also helped us deal with the overwhelmed feeling of not knowing where to start when wanting to help.  Sure, it’s not huge, but it’s a step.  We know God will lead us to what’s next.

Here’s the link for the Hands and Feet Project.  Be warned, when you see Rachelle’s face you will want to pinch cheeks and cuddle her.  It’s impossible not to.  And if you choose to get involved, this project is perfect for introducing young kids to the needs of others.  Wren chose both our Compassion child and our Hands and Feet Project child.  The Hands and Feet Project offers a Family Room on Facebook when you help a child so you can see pictures and find out about their specific needs.  We spent quite a bit of time looking at those yesterday with Wren and Sammy.

Overall result: One of my favorite new things so far!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Countdown

There are still a few things we need to do before the babies get here: 
  • purchase a car that holds four kids
  • purchase a new car seat for Wren
  • prepare "presents" from the twins for Sammy and Wren to soften the blow of mommy breastfeeding 24/7
There are other tasks on the list, but I accomplished one of my favorites yesterday:  ordering this.  That's right, a Weego Twin is headed my way, and I am irrationally excited about this.  In the Weego Twin, I see the first sign that I may one day leave my house with four kids, not lose any, and possibly have a half-way happy trip to wherever we go.  I'm dreaming, sure, but the Weego Twin looks like opportunity to me.  I can't help it.

My kids hated strollers until the age of one because they couldn't smell breastmilk from the stroller.  They couldn't see me, hold me, or spit up on me from a stroller, so they basically called it child abandonment and refused to ride in one until they were capable of walking.  Then, for some reason, the stroller was fine. 

The Moby saved my life with Sam (I had no idea about the Moby or other wraps or carriers with Wren, so I just held her all the time and had awesome biceps).  I am hoping the Weego Twin will be the happiness for the twins that the Moby was for Sammy.  I am sure you are on the edge of your seat wondering things like:

Will she ever get both kids in there properly?
How is she going to ensure she doesn't lose Sammy and Wren?
Why is she so excited about a twin carrier?

I'll keep you posted!

Sidenote:  I told Dennis the Weego was being shipped from Deutschland and then just smiled.  He asked, "You know Deutschland is German for Germany, right?"

Me:  I thought Germany was German for Germany. 

D:  Giving me his I love you anyway look.

Me:  I am so very  knocked up, and it does affect the brain.  You knocked me up, so don't look at me like that.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My 12th Little Thing

Recap:  I have the names of the people to contact for school.  Now I just need to get motivated enough to drop out  Right now, I'm really just motivated to nap, which leads to...

Week 12:  Get perspective

I had my first ever pregnancy, hormone-induced semi-breakdown this week.  It was Monday and a monumental first for me.  My singleton pregnancies left me scratching my head saying, “What’s with all the complaining about being pregnant? You get big boobs, people always smile at you, and you have a constant companion. It’s awesome!”  Apparently, God is using this pregnancy to make sure Dennis and I don’t end up with Duggar family amounts of children, because I get it now.

After waking up somewhat refreshed Monday after spending half of Sunday in the fetal position in pain, I decided to organize everything.  In one day.  With two children in the house.  We had to cancel our zoo trip because of Braxton Hicks contractions, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t tear everything in the house apart and find a more efficient way to put it back.  Such proactive prepared thinking for the soon-to-be mother of four.

I’m sure I can just skip to the end of this for you because I am convinced I am the only person who didn’t see the holes in this plan.  It ended with half of my house still in the floor while Sammy and Wren ran around half-naked (Sammy was completely naked having taken off his undies, used them as a lasso, and then hidden them knowing I could not move from the chair to find them) and me in the recliner looking for any position where my back, side, head, legs, anything didn’t hurt.  I also attempted to throw up almost everything I ate on this particular day for no obvious reason.

Dennis found me in the recliner.  Upon seeing him, I immediately started weeping.  I whined about being uncomfortable, hungry, and unable to convince my son to keep his underwear on, ever.  I then complained because I was complaining when I should just be grateful everyone is tucked in safe and sound and trying to ride this pregnancy out to the end.

This week, I am going to try to keep perspective on both sides of this.  I do need to be grateful, despite the aches and pains, that I am still pregnant, not in the hospital on constant watch, and not on bedrest. We’re not dealing with a NICU situation, and I hope we don’t have to. I also need to stop letting the shame of saying anything negative about the way I feel keep me from venting when I need to, as long as it doesn’t get out of control.  Keeping a sense of humor and an attitude of gratefulness will probably help with some of the pain.  And at least I learned a valuable lesson this week: cleaning and organizing leads to evil.  I always had my suspicions.

P.S.  Despite the nudity, or maybe because of it, Wren and Sammy have really rocked it this week, as I have gotten up every morning not sure if I'd be able to move.  Pregnancy is worth it to have awesome kids.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Trying New Things: Homeschool Group

We have been searching for a group of people to hang out with who are also homeschooling so we can pick their brains, spend time with them, learn with them, and just start building a community of kids who won't somewhat disappear when they turn five because they're going to public school.  I've been hesitant to commit to anything right now with the pregnancy and all the changes to come, and most co-ops don't accomodate Wren's or Sammy's ages right now, though they will more soon.  Happily, I found a homeschool group on-line that I couldn't resist trying out, and we had our first playdate/homeschool activity with them today.

AWESOME!  It was two and a half hours of happy kids running, mommies chatting, and kids painting. Wren and Sammy played with bugs, water, mud, and a ton of friends they didn't want to leave. They consumed mass quantities of fruit. It was a win, and it reminded me it's okay to transition into new things even as we are waiting to transition into more new things.  Life with four kids will be transition on top of transition times about a thousand.  Though I am tired at times, I think continuing to try to add small things as we can handle them is probably better than waiting for the twins to get here.  I'm pretty sure nothing is giong to calm down upon their arrival!

Overall result:  Wonderful!

And I don't have pictures because I didn't bring my camera because of the mass quantities of fruit/peppers/hummus/salami/almonds/water I was lugging.  And my kids ate all of it.  Yeah, they are out of control, and still no one has hit 35 pounds.  Go figure. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My 11th Little Thing

Week 11:  Prepare for sunk cost

This is going to sound like less of a goal and more like a fail to most people, but I am preparing to very likely drop out of grad school and lose a substantial amount of credit hours in the process.  For a degree I want. For a degree I will more than likely go back and finish in the future.  After having taken quite a few classes in pursuit of this degree in the last five years.  And I am at complete peace with it.  I just need to get the grad school dropout process rolling.

A little backstory: I started my Masters of Library Science degree when I was pregnant with Wren in 2008, back in the days when I thought I would always work full-time. I just thought that’s the way it was. The world seems to be full of two income households, and I had no illusions about trading in full-time work for full-time mommyhood because it just didn’t seem doable. I also had no illusions about staying in a classroom for 30 years with hormonal, moody eighth graders, so I started my MLS in hopes of becoming a full-time school librarian.

Shortly after diving into my degree, the Lord started whispering “less” in my ear. I didn’t know what this meant then, but I had a feeling it meant we didn’t need as much as we thought, that we could live on less, that life in general would be better if less was our motto.  And that’s apparently what it meant, because by being provided the means to have less debt, accumulating less things, and going less places, I quit my full-time job after Sammy’s birth. 

At the same time, God started working on our hearts about homeschooling. That is obviously something I need to be home most of the time to do, and we have felt right about homeschooling since the idea was placed in our brains. I also have a part-time job that works perfectly with homeschooling, and it's, interestingly, at a library. 

My life is so different than it was when I started school in 2008, and that is more than okay with me.  I couldn't have predicted the path it would take when I made the decision to start my degree, but I'm more than happy with where the Lord has led us.

The question became do I finish my degree so I can apply for a librarian position (I am currently a LSR which does not require a Masters), most of which are full-time that I would hopefully not need nor desire for another 18 or so years, or do I enjoy the years of my kids being small without trying to marathon through a few more classes of grad school by my graduation cut-off date?

I contacted the school to see if I could receive an extension since I can’t see myself knocking out the required classes by my cut off next year. They said apply for extension, but try to keep taking classes because it probably wouldn’t happen.

For me, this is honestly an easy answer: I’m enjoying my kids. I’m somewhat goal oriented, and I like to finish things. However, I’m not na├»ve enough to think raising a preschooler, a toddler, and twins is going to be something I can just sort of half way do when I'm not writing grad school papers.  If I try to smash these classes in right after the girls are born, which is when I'll have to due to the time limit on my degree, I will be a crying wreck of leaking breast milk who ends up screaming, “Why am I doing this now? I don’t even need to do this right now!”

Dennis explained it even better when I said my only hesitation was the money and effort already spent.

Dennis: Those are sunk cost.

Me: I don’t speak whatever you are speaking.

Dennis: It’s an accounting term. It means you don’t base future decisions on decisions from the past if that would cause you to decide something that is not beneficial for the future. Write it off. Sunk cost. You know what feels better for the future already it sounds like.

I love that accounting nerd.

Anyway, this week I want to officially file for my extension. If the answer is no, sunk cost.  I may not receive my MLS anytime soon, but I'll have whatever degree you earn from keeping other people alive, somewhat clothed, and constantly fed.  I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Trying New Things: The Nosefrida

Piper, who has introduced me to many great products through the years, recommended the Nosefrida.  I had my doubts since, unlike a regular booger sucker, I have to actually involve my lungs in pulling snot out of my child’s nose. She still raved about the amazing results, and Dennis thought the concept was the coolest thing ever. We bought one at Buy Buy Baby.

God Bless Sammy.  He ended up being the experiment child on this one too.  See garlic if you want to know what I subjected him to the week before.  But with cutting molars apparently comes a load of snot, so he received the inaugural try of the Nosefrida.

Since Dennis thought this was an amazing invention, I was more than willing to give him the first shot at it. It’s not just that I’m unselfish; here’s what separates Sammy’s snot from my mouth.  Dennis explained that the snot was not supposed to be able to get through the filter, and I explained that the Titanic was not supposed to be able to sink.  Because of my astounding logic skills, he got to break the Nosefrida in.

What came out of Sammy’s nose was mind blowing. It was extremely effective. Here’s my pros and cons list.

  • You can see the snot coming out of the nose
  • It’s much easier to clean than a regular booger sucker, and you don’t have to worry about mold you can’t see growing inside.
  •  It doesn’t go all the way up a child’s nose, but it still grabs boogies hiding way up by their brains. Sammy likes it more than the original booger sucker because of this.
  • If you are charming like D, you can convince your child to participate by holding the bottom part up to his nose and then everyone can scream, “Look at those boogers!” and clap. I can’t pull this off. I don’t look at the boogers or I puke.
  • The design of the Nosefrida doesn’t allow you to inhale to the point you feel like you might dislodge your child’s eye ball; even if you try, only so much suction goes through.
  • you can see the snot coming out of the nose

Overall result:  If you absolutely must pull snot from your kid's nose, this is the way to go!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Weekend

We had a great weekend celebrating the Lord and spending time with family.  It was so great that I didn't have time to upload pics or blog.  We read the crucifixion part of the Easter story on Friday afternoon after making crosses out of twigs and rope.  The kids seemed to remember it and were so happy about Jesus being alive again that they were able to get through the crucifixion story okay because they already had their eyes on the future.

We read about the Resurrection on Sunday and spent Easter hanging out with family.  It was a wonderful weekend, a very full holiday.

Crosses we made to look at during the story of the crucifixion

All the kids

Okay, technically all the kids

Hope your Easter was blessed.