Monday, September 28, 2015

Pre K 3 at home

August 24th
 First day of school with friends

Sept 9th
Don't have to get dressed, not going anywhere!

Sept 10
Good thing mom works from home and can make my lunch!  Dad's napping with the baby.

Sept 17th
Parents decided to have lunch at the C&O canal, nature walk included!!

Sept 23
Phone time!  Games, games, games and no one to argue with!

Sept. 24th
Mom made mini muffins after the big kids went to school.  Yes!

Sept. 24th
Another park day!

Sept 28
Just hanging out on the porch, wondering when winter is coming.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Brain Fruit

We found these at the city park and called them brains.  The real name is "Osage Orange".

The Brain fruit has lead to some wonderful conversations with our son.  

"Can I take my brain to school today?"
"My brain is covered in ants!"
"Oh look, I've dropped my brain and its rolling down a hill"
"Charlotte took my brain and now I can't find it!" followed by dad saying "I lost my marbles once"
Sam again "Can someone help me find my brain?"

I love nature walks!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Squash Casserole Recipe Update - Single and Double Batch

I've blogged this recipe before and now after making it for a year, I'd like to update with a few tweaks that I've made to make it more user friendly.  I find that I never have heavy cream on hand so it's just become easier to make with evaporated milk.  I also made some small measurement changes to make it easier to cut in half.

The main ingredients are very flexible in that it tastes very similar regardless of what combination you use but my mother in law hates sweet potato so for her taste we make sure it has only squash.  Here are some of the combo's we've done:
  • Sweet Potato and Acorn Squash
  • Pumpkin and Acorn Squash
  • Butternut and Acorn Squash
Double recipe (serves 8-10)
Main Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pureed sweet potato (or Pumpkin)
  • 2 cups pureed acorn squash (or Butternut)
  • 1/2 cup butter melted (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup evaporated milk (8 ounces)
Topping Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter cut in small pieces so it blends better
Topping can be combined in a small food processor; I have a little 3 cup that does the job nicely.

Pour the main ingredients into a 9 x 13" baking dish and drop the topping by small spoonful's over the top.  Bake for 30 minutes covered, 15 uncovered at 350. 

Single recipe (serves 4-5)
Main Ingredients:

  • 1 cups pureed sweet potato (or Pumpkin)
  • 1 cups pureed acorn squash (or Butternut)
  • 1/4 cup butter melted (1/2 stick)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk (4 ounces)
I skip the topping when making this for an evening meal for our family.  When it's for a crowd I add the topping because it's pretty and adds an extra layer of sugar goodness but I can attest that it taste really good without the topping and the kids will still eat it.

Pour the main ingredients into an 8.5 x 8.5" baking dish.  Bake for 25 minutes uncovered at 350.  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Talk Like A Pirate Day - 2015

This is our 7th year of celebrating "Talk Like A Pirate Day" and it's become a BIG DEAL!  Costumes were pulled out the night before and I believe there was talk of sleeping in pirate gear. 

At 7:10am this morning I was woken by the middle children who whispered to me "Mama!  Wake up, it's PIRATE DAY"! 

This year we invited friends and upon arrival our little friend announced "I'm ready for the epic play date to begin"!

The first adventure began with a treasure hunt and this way cool map that my husband made.

The mountains are the house and the ships are setting sail from our back porch.  First my husband had all the kids sit at a table and review the map.  One little friend suggested we take a shortcut to get to the X but they discussed how that line in front of the X was a bottomless pit so we could not possibly go that way!

Next we tried to get everyone to walk the plank into the kiddie pool of water.  One little friend did not want to walk the plank so we made it optional but later she was doing it with the big kids.

"ARG!  I shall make my sisters walk the plank", said pirate Sam!

After the plank they wandered around looking for Dead Man's Cave.

Next we walked past Dead Man's Cave, where a skeleton from our Halloween collection was hanging in a shed.

Shipwreck cove was the driveway with "wrecked ships" as cars.

The Desert oasis was our bird bath.  We had planned a stop to drink water out of a cooler but ran out of time to set up a cooler and in hindsight the kids were getting insane with excitement at reaching the treasure.

We ended at the back of the house with a giant X over a window well cover that our oldest ripped out of the space and snatched the entire treasure box.  It took some convincing to get the entire box to the back porch for sorting treasure into everyone's buckets.

The treasure chest was found at Hobby Lobby for $12.95 and its paper mâché but it should last several years if we put it away.  We bought a few packs of paper money, spray painted gold nuggets and bought some cheap costume jewelry.  They loved it!  That's an understatement, they actually kinda obsessed over the stash.

Next we had lunch and calmed everyone down with a pirate movie.  This was semi-successful.  One child was too hyper to sit still so we took her for a walk, everyone else seemed happy to watch the movie but when we got back they were climbing everything in sight so we ended the movie and moved onto the treasure chest piñata. 

This part was hilarious, they wacked at it for a good five minutes before finally breaking it!  Afterwards we had snacks of homemade cookies, candy and root beer floats.
Finally, here is our youngest pirate.  She said Argh all day long!!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Chili Recipe - Regular and Quadruple Batch for Canning

My Texas born husband and I sure do love Chili - we like it spicy, with lots of beans and homemade cornbread.  My husband came up with this recipe as a quick Chili so it's mostly just opening cans and browning meat, in his words, a decent Chili would mean soaking beans overnight, quality meat, etc.  We never seem to have time for all that! 

We started making double batches and freezing it but the taste is never the same so last year we started canning it in quarts.  It gets pretty dark in color and dense so I find we need to dilute it with about 1 cup of water but taste is still great!  Here's our homemade Chili recipe in regular and quadruple batches:

Regular Recipe:
  • 28oz can crushed tomatoes (if using canned tomatoes you can use one quart which is 32oz but a little more won't hurt)
  • 2 cans red beans or Kidney
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1/2 lb ground meat, browned
  • 3 Tablespoons Chili powder
  • 1 Beef Bullion cube
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
We pretty much just dump everything in a pot and simmer for 2 hours.  You can add 1 chopped onion if you like it.  I think it got omitted over time because it added an extra step and this is meant to be done firecracker fast.

We eat this with homemade Cornbread and piles of cheese in the Chili! 

Quadruple Recipe: 
This can be a little flexible on the amounts depending on how you like to buy the ingredients.  We've replaced the 4 cans of red beans with one giant can of red beans which is 110oz whereas the 4 small cans total 62oz and it doesn't seem to affect the flavor at all. 
  • 4 cans 28oz crushed tomatoes which makes 112oz
    • or get the giant can at Costco or Sams Club with 105oz
    • or 3 quarts of canned tomatoes makes 96oz (a little less won't hurt)
  • 4 cans red beans or Kidney
  • 4 cans black beans
  • 2lbs ground meat
  • 3/4 cup chili powder
  • 4 Beef Bullion Cups
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
You really need a giant pot for this amount! 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Failure to Thrive ~ Part 3

Recap on our situation with Evie. 

6mo appt - she was 11.6lbs and the doctor expressed concern, wanted to see her back in a month. 

7 months 14 days appt - We traveled to Texas for 4 weeks so it took us a little longer to get her back to the doctor and she had not gained any weight, in fact she had lost .1 ounce so this put the doctor into panic mode where we were told to get her weight up in one week or she'd be hospitalized.

7 months 21 days appt - She went up to 11.8lbs so the doctor eased off the hospital threat and we agreed to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist and I continued to fed her every 2-3 hours and throughout the night.  We also took her to church and got her anointed and prayed for because that's what we do as Christians, ask God for help to fix our baby.  We also started feeding her a cookie at every meal and she seems to enjoy this new routine.  We buy the Gerber Arrowroot cookies and organic shortbread cookies that are 150 calories for two.  She refuses to take any bottles or sippy cups and nothing from a spoon. 

8 months 2 days - She went up to 12.2lbs.  The doctor was satisfied and said she didn't need to come back for a month.  This was a huge answer to prayer both in weight gain and in doctor backing off on making us come in every week.  We're also thankful we didn't need to subject her to tons of testing. 

This is her chart:

In my experience babies hit a super active period around 8 months old and then they get really hungry.  With Violette, we had a similar situation where she 11.9lbs at 6 months, then 12.1 at 7 months with a big spike to 14.5 at 9 months.  In that two month period she was down on the floor playing, building muscle mass and she got really hungry.  We expect the same to happen with Evie.  Next update will be after her 9 month appointment on the 30th of September.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Failure to Thrive" Diagnoses at 7 months - Part 2

Now that our little one has been diagnosed with failure to thrive and we know she will not take bottles or solids, we need to make the best of our nursing relationship to get her to grow.

Here are the specific changes I'm making to help increase her weight:

Babies Eating Schedule and Supplementation: 
Prior to the diagnosis of last week, I had been feeding her every three hours and only at night if she woke up.  Since returning from our Texas trip she had been sleeping through the night for at least a week before the diagnosis.  She was getting 5-6 breast fed meals per day.

After the diagnosis we tried offering bottles and she surprised us by taking 5 two ounce bottles after every meal.  The next day she was constipated and took maybe 2 bottles and by the 3rd days she was so cranky she wouldn't touch a bottle.  She finally had a big poo and didn't take another bottle for the remainder of the week.  By Tuesday I was worried that I wasn't making enough impact so I spoke with a lactation consultant from the hospital who suggested that Evie was not staying on the breast for long enough and to work really hard with her to keep her on longer.  I realized that she was so distracted during the day that maybe she'd take longer feedings at night so I started waking her up every three hours to eat - even though she was sleeping through the night!  This got her to 7 breast fed meals per day.  By Wednesday she had gained 3 ounces which is normal weight gain for her age. 

We're not out of the woods yet.  She's supposed to be taking in 150% of a normal calorie intake so the doctor still wants us to do whatever we can to increase her calorie intake.   I've started feeding her more frequently than 3 hours.  If she sees me and howls at 2 hours I'll feed her.  If it's 2.5 hours I'll feed her.  I do work full time from home but have the flexibility most of the time to feed her regardless of what I'm doing and I've even fed her during conference calls because she really can't wait and her refusal to take a bottle just means she will cry and potentially lose weight from the stress of crying hard. 

We're supposed to give her solids and anything that she'll take but she really has no interest so far in solid foods.  We have given her a high chair and a place at the table to sit so she can get accustomed to our eating habits and we know that over time it will become more interesting for her.

My theory is this - between 7-9 months babies get really super active. They are on the floor learning to crawl and getting super jazzed about life.  All that movement burns calories and makes them really hungry so I think she will pick up an appetite just from having a more active life.  This is exactly what has happened with my other two ultra slim girls. 

My other girls took bottles early on because I went back to work at an office.  With this baby I've had the joy of working from home but it's also made it to where baby has never really had to take a bottle - with the exception of business trips and that's a story for a different post! 

This is really my first attempt at breast feeding a baby full time.  It requires an extensive amount of care for my own self which leads me to the next part.

Mama Eating Schedule:
I've researched what a breast feeding mom needs to eat and the general consensus seems to be eat about 300 to 500 calories more than normal, eat fish twice weekly and eat a well balanced diet.  I was concerned that I should be eating with every meal that baby takes throughout the night but I've found no evidence that this is necessary.  Therefore to keep up with the babies needs I'm eating a large breakfast when I wake up that is around 500 calories, lunch at noon with 500 calories, snack around 3pm that has around 300 calories and dinner usually has around 500 calories.  I drink a 20oz glass of water per day, one 15oz cup of coffee in the morning and an iced latte in the afternoon.  I considered reducing my coffee but this amount falls into LaLeche's standards of 4-5 cups per day so I think I'm okay.  I'm also drinking several cups of Mother's Milk tea per day with honey and decaf iced tea with lunch and dinner. 

Other research:
I found this article today "Healthy and Petite" that seems reflect many of the issues I've had with our little one.  I certainly don't want to rule out that there might be something wrong that's causing our baby to not gain weight but then again there does not appear to be any indicators that there is something wrong except for the fact that she doesn't fit into the doctor's growth chart.  I think it might be time to start looking for a more supportive doctor who knows more about FTT and it's relation to breastfeeding.  According to this page breast fed babies do grow slower then formula fed babies so its important to keep this in mind.

Finally I'd like to share this website, KellyMom, who has many articles on this issue and significant support for breastfeeding moms and there is always the awesome LaLeche website for advice on everything related to breastfeeding.