Friday, 28 February 2014

Sewing and Cooking Again - Yeah!

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted on a Friday. That's because last Friday I was busy getting ready for my husband's 50th birthday party the next day. We kept it simple, but even simple requires planning and preparation. The party went so wonderfully. My husband said it was the best birthday he had ever had.
This week has been so nice to get back to a normal routine. Healthy family and no parties to plan for. I've been able to do extra work in the kitchen and some sewing.
My middle daughter had a birthday as well recently. She wanted a cape. I found a pattern online. I went to the dollar store and bought a fleece blanket for $3. I had flannel left over from another sewing project for lining the hood. I used this pattern and it went very smoothly. My daughter was thrilled with her cape.

In the kitchen I made roasted chick peas for a diet snack. It's nice to have something savory and crunchy. As well, I made up some instant oatmeal. You know the packets you get at the store? Well, I followed these instructions and made up some homemade instant oatmeal. Now if we need a quick breakfast for someone or snack (I love oatmeal so much I would eat it as a snack), we have it. We can add fruit to it as desired or not. I didn't not package it individually. I put it in a big glass jar with the instructions for how to make a serving written on the lid with a sharpie. Finally I made some apple oat cakes that are also diet and tasted so good.
Last week I made a birthday gift for a little boy in our church. Ever since I saw the pattern for a pillow shaped like a shield I knew I had to make it for someone. Isaiah is the fourth of five boys. I'm sure he can use something for defense. ☺


Today I finally figured out how to make a cloth cover for a small box that we use for toys in our living room. I want to cover it in fabric that matches our curtains just to dress it up a little since it's in our living room. For weeks I've puzzled over how to do this so I could remove it to wash it if necessary. In the middle of reading a book to my children I had a brainstorm about how to do this. It's funny how your brain can handle two things at once...reading to the children and thinking again, "How can I cover that box?". I hope to do it soon and make a tutorial.
How did your week go? Do you ever think of ever things while reading a book to your children?

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

More Lists

The post I was going to write wasn't working out so instead I though I'd share some more lists with you. If you remember, I joined a Facebook group this year called 52 Lists. Every week we write a different assigned list. It's been fun, and you can still join the group if you are so inclined. I shared my first four lists in this post. Here are my next four.

What lists have you been writing lately?

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Monday, 24 February 2014

On Being a Trim Healthy Mama

Finally we all seem to be well again. Last week was spent preparing for my husband's 50th birthday. We had a great party for him Saturday night. Now my life can hopefully resume it's normal craziness instead of the crazy craziness.
I've been getting quite a few questions lately about the Trim Healthy Mama diet so I thought I would take a post to explain how it works. I was so done with diets before I bought the book. I was so afraid this would be another diet I would follow for a while and then hate. However, I soon found it has got to be the simplest, most delicious diet I have ever followed. I've stayed with it more or less for almost a year now which is a record for me.
It's based on two simple principles. First, have some form of protein with every snack or meal you eat. That can be as simple as a teaspoon of peanut butter spread on half of an apple. Or it can be as big as having steak and salad for supper. This was easy for me to grasp because I love meat. A diet that doesn't include meat just isn't going to work for me. I also loves eggs for breakfast so I didn't have to make a huge change in my breakfast - big bonus.
Secondly, our bodies run on two types of fuel - fats and carbohydrates. Never mix the two. This does not mean you can't have butter and pancakes. It does mean you have to change the ingredients in your pancakes. There are many recipes for pancakes made with almond flour and/or coconut flour. Almonds and coconuts are high in fat so obviously the flour made from them is as well. So you could have a breakfast of almond flour pancakes, eggs and bacon. Skip the maple syrup and top your pancakes with berries and whip cream or yogurt or cottage cheese. You won't feel deprived, trust me.
For supper you could have lean chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces and rolled in oat flour (you can make this in a coffee grinder with regular oatmeal) and garlic salt and baked in the oven. Add a salad with low-fat dressing and a sweet potato topped with laughing cow cheese and you'll be laughing. You've just had a delicious high carbohydrate meal.
At first it takes a little effort to think through your menu and figure out how to tweak it so that you are not mixing fats and carbohydrates but before long it will be second nature. Allow three meals between fuel types. So if your breakfast was high fat you can change to carbs for lunch if it's been three hours.
Sometimes I can't go between meals without snacking - the joys of being a nursing mom. Then I have a snack that's low in fat and carbohydrates so that it doesn't matter what I've just finished or what I'm going to have next. For me  that's usually a protein shake made with almond milk.
The book lists several "special" foods, but many are easy to obtain and some of the more "exotic" ones you can get along without if you don't want to get them. My shopping list has changed very little. I do highly recommend that you get the book. It includes the science behind why this diet works, scriptural reasons for using this diet, food lists and menu ideas, hundreds of recipes and extra information on balancing hormones and exercise.
I have lost twenty-five pounds on this diet and beyond that I have seen my headaches, depression, sugar/carb cravings all leave. I have more energy, and when I'm faithful to the diet my body feels "clean" for lack of a better word. Every night I have a piece of my fudge - guilt free - before I go to bed.
Lots of men are using this diet as well to lose weight.  For years my husband's weight had been steadily climbing. Just by eating this way part-time we have seen the upward climb stop. He's struggling to lose weight but I know that's because he doesn't follow the diet much. I'm just happy he's stopped putting on weight.
This diet in its variations is safe for pregnant and nursing moms as well. For most of my baby's life I've been eating this way, and he's gone from ten pounds at birth to nearly thirty pounds thirteen months later. I have never felt deprived on this diet. I wake up hungry, of course, after nursing all night long, but then I have a huge, plan-approved breakfast starting the day off right.
My teenage daughter has joined me off and on and enjoyed the diet as well. She's learned new ways of cooking/baking and new ways of thinking about food and food groups. Unfortunately, she loves the fudge as much as I do. It's hard to share.
Check out their Facebook page. There are also group pages on  Facebook where you can get support. The book in all of its various forms can be purchased here. I originally bought the PDF, but eventually  knew I needed the paper copy. There's just something about being able to read a book whether or not your computer is on - just saying.
If you have any further questions,  please ask and I'll do my best to answer.

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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Is My Baby Malnourished?

A little over a week ago I ended up in the E.R. of our local hospital because my baby had croup. We're not a family who goes to the doctor for every little sniffle, and I tend to second guess myself when we have to go to Emergency. Well, it looks like I made the right call this time because he didn't respond to the first medication. The second medication didn't work much better so we were admitted overnight while they treated his croup very aggressively. The poor thing got so used to the mask he had to wear that he just gave in and didn't fight it after awhile. We were released the next day with an appointment to see a pediatrician in the hospital two days later for follow-up.
Now to the heart of why I'm writing. At the appointment while taking my baby's history I told the doctor that he still nurses about 85% of his calories (that's conservative - it's probably 90% or more). I told her that he sits at the table with us for every meal, and we offer him what we're eating. Most of the time he takes a few bites. If we're really lucky and he really likes what we're having he may even eat a quarter cup's worth. So I explained all of this, and then she told me my milk isn't nutritious enough and I need to start weaning him. Let's just say I was speechless for a bit.
Okay - is she not even looking at this baby in my lap? I know he was still recovering from being quite ill, but his illness had nothing to do with malnourishment. We're talking a little guy who nearly tripled his birth weight of ten pounds in one year - all on my breastmilk. I was so upset. She told me to stop giving him one of his feeds and when he is hungry he'll eat.
How do you make a baby go hungry? I was very upset. I came home and called one of my local La Leche League leaders. I didn't agree with the doctor at all and needed confirmation. Doctors, especially if they don't know you, don't always know best. They did a great job at helping Jonah recover from the croup. However, on this issue she was so clearly wrong. The thing that bothers me the most is that if Jonah had been my first I probably would have believed I was starving my baby in spite of evidence to the contrary sitting in my lap.
My point - please see a doctor when you need one, but also, please, remember they don't know everything. A baby can be malnourished while milking, but only if his mother is malnourished. A mother's body will deprive her of nutrients in order to given them to the baby. I have seen this first hand. While on a mission's trip in the jungles of Venezuela it was clear which women were mothers -they had no teeth and the babies were chubby and sweet. Their diet was low in calcium so their bodies took the calcium from the mother's bodies to give to the babies. 
My baby is developing normally, and I know that one of these days he's going to start eating solids all the time and there will be no holding him back.


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Monday, 17 February 2014

A Book List for Little Ones

A Book List for Little Ones
Because I have been asked more than once what books I would recommend for young children I thought I would do a post devoted to a few of my recommendations. Some of these are not readily available anymore so you'll have to keep your eyes open at garage sales, thrift stores, etc. I'm listing these in alphabetical order by the authors' last names not necessarily in order of favourites. Not all of the lists are a complete list of every book written by the author, but they are the ones we have read and enjoyed.

Jim Arnosky
Beautiful, realistic artwork. Simple stories – only one phrase or sentence per page. Some of his later books have more writing on each page. 

Grandfather BuffaloRabbits and Raindrops

Mary Calhoun
Most of these books are about a cat named Henry and his adventures. The story is told from Henry's point of view, and being a cat his view of himself is pretty high.

Cross-Country CatBlue-Ribbon Henry
Nancy White Carlstrom
Jesse Bear is a cute little bear that two to four-year-olds will especially relate to. The books are written in rhyme that easily trips along. He experiences what many little ones do and makes it all seem like fun.
Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear Better Not Get Wet, Jesse Bear

Barbara Cooney
This story follows the life of one boy Matthias from babyhood to grandfather and his life on an island on the eastern seacoast. Life was hard but simple and full of character.
Island Boy
Lee Davis
  • P. B. BEAR 
A series of books about a little teddy bear and his adventures. Pictures are realistically set up photos of real stuffed animals and their toys and etc. Little ones especially love these appealing stories and real and make-believe adventures.
P.B. Bear's Birthday PartyP.B. Bear's Treasure Hunt
Amy Hest
Baby Duck is a "preschooler" who is afraid of rain, swimming and the first day of school. Her parents don't understand her, but her grandpa does and always seems to say and do the right thing.
In the Rain with Baby DuckOff to School, Baby Duck

James Herriot
These are stories taken from James Herriot's books for adults and rewritten for children. The illustrations are gorgeous. Any child who loves animals will love these stories. These books can be bought individually or in one "Treasury" volume.
Only One WoofMoses the Kitten

Shirley Hughes
My children love the "Alfie" books. He's just like any average little boy and has adventures easily related to. His little sister Annie Rose is absolutely adorable and tags along on Alfie's adventures.
The Big Alfie and Annie Rose StorybookAlfie Gets in First

These books are written in a similar way to the Peter Rabbit books. They have sweet stories and beautiful illustrations to match. The stories are the tales/adventures of the animals who live at Blackberry Farm with a small, moral undertone. We love them. They are hard to find though. We've found most of our at thrift stores and used book stores.
Walter Duck and WinifredHide & Seek at Blackberry Farm

Brinton Turkle
These books record the troubles and triumphs of a little Quaker boy living on Nantucket Island around the time of the founding of America. My children (2 and 4) love these stories. In the first book Obadiah tells “stories” of adventures no one believes. Then he has a real adventure and cannot understand why no one believes him. In Obadiah the Bold a gift of a spyglass makes Obadiah want to grow up and become a pirate. A talk with Father finally helps him see what a truly “bold” man is. Finally, a seagull, much to Obadiah’s dismay, adopts him as a friend. In the end Obadiah comes to love the seagull.

Of course, we also have all the classic favourites: Winnie-the-Pooh, Peter Rabbit and friends, Madeline, Babar, Curious George, Richard Scary, Dr. Seuss. In case you haven't figured it out yet our home is full of books. We read all. the. time. What do you recommend that we add to our shelves?


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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Library Time 19

I read a romance novel this week that started out good but ended up so predictable that it was meh. I don't often read romance novels so I hate when that happens. This year for my birthday I was given a $25 gift card to a bookstore. So far I've only used $7 of it (I shop the clearance section) but have two books. I was shocked at the price when we took the books to cash because one of the books I chose had been reduced a further $5. So I am reading this excellent book about a German family's experience in WWII, and I only had to pay $2 for it. The book is Wolfram: The Boy Who Went to War. It is written by Wolfram's son-in-law. Wolfram's family was definitely not in line with Hitler's way of thinking. I enjoy reading biographies and memoirs. They are definitely my favourite genre.

15-year-old daughter - The Book Thief - She wrote an excellent review of it on her blog "Ramblings of a Janeite". I know I'm the proud mom, but you should give this review a read.
13-year-old son - Outcast of Redwall
11-year-old son - The Lost Treasure of Casa Loma by Eric Wilson. Eric Wilson is a Canadian author who writes mystery stories for ages 10-14. He uses well-known places in Canada as the settings for his stories.

9-year-old daughter - Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus. This is a series of books about a mouse detective who patterns his detecting after Sherlock Holmes. I think you can only find these used now so keep your eyes open for them because they're worth getting.

8-year-old daughter - Family Circus books

6-year-old son - Bear in a Chair by Tim Healy

2-year-old son - Little Penguin and Friends - This is a board book with things to feel.

Another good reading week for us. How has it been for your family?

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Friday, 14 February 2014

Snow Cream and Pictures

We are all starting to get back to normal health-wise. It feels so good and is a great reminder to me to never take my health for granted. Last night my three littlest guys slept all night without coughing - wonderful. We were able to start school again on Tuesday. We were off most of last week because everyone was so sick. This week we did about 50% of our normal work, and hopefully next week we'll be able to be back at school 100%. I love routine and have sorely missed it.
Today we had a treat - snow cream. I've seen a couple of blogs talking about this here and here so decided to try it today. The children loved it. I did a diet version for myself which totally underwhelmed me so I turned it into a protein shake. The children topped theirs with some homemade chocolate sauce and pronounced it wonderful.
Speaking of diet, after several months of playing around with the Trim Healthy Mama diet I decided to get serious with it again. I lost 22 pounds last year using it, and I would like to lose another 8. So on Monday I started up again and I've already lost two pounds...and this with very tempting foods being brought into the house by others - waffles, ice cream, muffins. My husband did take me out and I didn't follow the plan. One night I was up in the middle of the night with insomnia and ate off plan, but still I managed to lose two pounds in five days. I'm happy. I truly do enjoy this diet.
I've also been doing some organizing and purging this week. That feels good too. For a year now I've had some of the children's artwork on the wall in our entryway. The problem is that sooner or later one of the pieces would fall down. Then I would have to figure out what to do this time to make it stay up. The end of this story is that I took them all down, scanned them, and now I'll print them up and scrapbook them.
See what I mean? One down. I'm ready for this wall to be empty.

Please indulge me for a minute as a mother - the artwork I am so proud of...

Finally, I am gearing up for my husband's 50th birthday party next week. My mom has always taught me to see it big but keep it  simple. My decorations are going to be very simple but I think the winners are going to be 8x10 photos from various stages of my husband's life. I formatted them in my digital scrapbook program. Then when I had them printed someone made a mistake and I ended up paying only fifteen cents a print - bonus. I then bought frames at the dollar store so they can sit on the tables. Here's a sample...
It feels good to be productive again. How was your week? Have you ever eaten snow as a dessert? ☺

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