Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Who says Gluten-Free can't be delicious? Breakfast Bars you simply MUST try!

I was writing this JUST before that tornado hit...just hadn't added pictures and hit publish yet. But here it is now. The yummiest thing I've eaten in quite a while!

I made a new gluten-free dish the other day. It sounded good, the picture on the website looked good, and I hoped it would be good. You just never know... But oh man, it exceeded my expectations by...well, a LOT.

And I even left out the chocolate.

Goodness. That's what this is.

I linked to this recipe in last week's menu plan, but I wanted to devote a whole post to it. If you eat a gluten-free diet, you HAVE to try this. Actually, regardless of eating GF or not, you should have this. I'm not sure how many non-GF folks have things like xanthan gum in their house, though. The ingredients in it are easy to find at a local health food store, like Whole Foods, but xanthan gum isn't the cheapest thing to get, esp for just one dish. Just being realistic... If you have it, though, or don't mind forking over the $8 or $10 for it, then make this. [Edited to add...Just rechecked the price for xanthan gum at Whole Foods. Here it was $11.99. So...if it's something you won't use otherwise, find someone who already has it in their pantry instead of buying it for this recipe. It only takes a teaspoon.]


I followed directions exactly, being the first time I made this. With a few modifications....so it wasn't exactly followed, I guess. I did use eggs. I did not use chocolate because we wanted Aiden to be able to enjoy this, too. (We aren't giving Aiden chocolate yet. Go on, tell us we're depriving our child. Like he won't have YEARS to eat the stuff. Children's taste buds and food habits are formed mostly in those first few years. So, we're trying to make them the most healthy possible. Trust me, he gets sweets. Just ones we decide are ok. We ARE the parents, after all. And he is not deprived, I assure you.) :) Plus, this is a breakfast dish, and I'm not too keen on regularly giving the kids chocolate for breakfast. Me, on the other hand... We used dried cranberries and chopped walnuts instead, which were great. I don't have vanilla powder; she says you can use whatever vanilla you want in the same amount as called for, so I used vanilla bean paste, which was also gluten-free. It does have a bit more sugar than I would like, but I think using a bit less would be fine. I'll use a little less each time I try it to see how low I can take it.

The baking pan I used, a gift from my wonderful mother-in-law
And I don't have an 11x9 pan, so I used a 13x9. I did have to cook it a bit longer, but I'm not sure if that was pan size or what (I would have expected to cook it a bit less when considering the different pan size, so it must have been some other factor). I was worried the edges would burn when I kept having to cook it longer after so many times checking the middle, but it came out *perfect* and did not last long at all...due to being so ridiculously yummy.

Taken out of the oven at 9pm Thursday night; this is what was left by 2pm Friday...
For the recipe and directions/tips/etc, please visit the original post from Gluten-Free Goddess, found HERE.Check out some of her other recipes while there - she has LOTS, and they all look incredible! I intend on trying out loads of them, especially after this success.

Not only did this exceed my expectations, but I couldn't believe how moist and soft it was. It wasn't dense or grainy or gummy, like some gluten-free goods can be. It didn't have that tell-tale taste of most gluten-free flours. Really, you cannot tell this is gluten-free at all! I will be making it again very soon. I would have made it again this week if it hadn't been for no power. It's back on by now, of course (every time I open the fridge, Aiden exclaims, "Look! We have POWER!"), and I will be enjoying this again before the next week is over. This or maybe the banana bread recipe from the same website... I hope you try it, too!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I'm not sure how much news everyone has seen about the tornadoes in North Carolina... I can't write much at the moment; we're at Ryan's office to access some electricity so we can check email and charge our cell phones. Plus, I really don't know much. We're trying to catch up on the news while we're here. We've been out of power since 3:30 Saturday and aren't sure when it will be back on. I think I just read they'll try to have it on sometime Monday. The lines are down just a mile from our house.

And yes, a tornado did hit our area. Our subdivision was hit at 3:30 yesterday. We were extremely lucky with just a tree broken and the basketball goal being knocked over. Ironically, when the wind was picking up, Ryan moved the cars to the side of the road in case the basketball goal fell, so it wouldn't damage the cars. The goal did fall but in the other direction. And the tree that broke and fell...was right next to where he moved the cars. It also happened to fall away from the cars. Others in our neighborhood did not fare as well. A lot of houses with siding torn off, some with a little more. Lots of trees uprooted, etc, etc.

The road that our subdivision turns off of has a lot of damage. We've heard the subdivision next to us is REALLY bad, but roads are blocked off, so we can't see any of it.

We are realizing how lucky we were. We didn't even know there was a tornado until after it happened... We were watching the news, and just as they were telling that the storm was heading toward Holly Springs, the electricity went out. We went upstairs to get the flashlight and could hear the wind outside. We got the light and came back downstairs to get in the closet under the stairs, but it was already over by then. The thing that scares me is how much we didn't know until after the fact. After seeing the damage in our area, that is really scary to me and I'm very thankful we're ok! We will post some pictures once we get electricity back and are able to get onto our computer.

And trust me...we'll have things ready for next time so we don't have to go upstairs for a flashlight. On our way home, we're going to buy a small battery-operated radio to keep in the hall closet and will hang a flashlight in there, as well. It scares me to know that in the time we went upstairs, where we weren't as safe, just to get a flashlight and then come back down...in that extremely short amount of time the tornado came and went. We got lucky. Very lucky.

We won't be here too long at his office, so we won't have internet access to check email, etc for much longer. If anyone wants to reach us, just text my or Ryan's phone. We're trying to save battery power, so we're not talking on the phones much, since we can't charge them. We've just gotten to read a bit of the news, and I think I saw they are trying to get power on by Monday maybe.

I hope everyone else that was around any of the tornadoes is fine!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Potty Time?

One day this week, Aiden needed a diaper change. (Ok, so that doesn't mean he needed a change only one day this week. He gets changed several times each day.... Haha!) I needed to put the clean diaper on him, and he was trying to get away. Here's how it went down...

Mommy: Aiden, you need to either put on a diaper or go on the potty. (When he complains about having to put on a diaper, we tell him that sure - he can go without...once he starts using the potty. So, he gets reminded about it often. It's his choice!)

Aiden: I don't like those choices! Go potty or put on a diaper... I don't want to.

Mommy, trying not to laugh at what the little thing just said: Well, then what will you do when you need to go pee?

Aiden: I just want to stand up.

So, he doesn't always make sense.

I waited a little bit, which means I let him go without anything on for a while, and then returned to the conversation. He decided he wanted to wear underwear (he knew he had some in his room...for when he starts going potty) and that he would pee on the potty if he needed to go. We gave it a shot. He waltzed around in underwear for a couple of hours, never peeing in them. He thinks underwear is the coolest thing ever right now. I put him on the potty before naptime, and he peed!

This isn't the first time. A few weeks ago, twice he peed on the potty...times he was trying to put off bedtime, really. But the thing we noticed was that he was controlling it. He would watch as he used his stomach muscles to make himself pee. And he did that again this time. This week, he's spent a good amount of time many days in underwear. Not more than a few hours at a time, and he certainly doesn't sleep in underwear. If he says he won't pee on the potty, he's choosing to wear a diaper. He hasn't asked to go potty, but just about any time we put him on it, he will pee. One night at dinnertime, he didn't want to put on a diaper, so he came to the table with underwear on. At one point he stopped eating, looked up, and said "I peed" as if he was a little worried. I checked...no pee. So, off to the potty we went, where he did go.

Kind of exciting!

Who knows if this means anything about potty training. And I don't think we could even call it "training" because we're letting Aiden take the lead here. (Actually, in some circles now, it's called potty learning, which does tend to make more sense. It's about them learning, not so much about them being trained.) We're taking a very relaxed approach to this. Aiden will be ready for using the potty when he's ready. And he'll know more about when that is than we will. So...if he wants to go, great. If not, that's ok. We will not push it. Besides, this is one of those things toddlers will control if you try to push too much...there's no point trying too hard when it could just backfire on us. And since we use cloth diapers, we're not in a hurry to get rid of a diaper expense (because there really isn't one!). Sure, we have to do a couple extra loads of laundry a week, but that's really not a big deal.

So, yeah, it's kind of exciting. We'll see how it goes, though. It's totally up to the little guy. It is really cute to see him running around in underwear, though. He prefers to be in ONLY underwear, of course. I need to get a picture to post... ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Meal Plan

Finally getting back into this...
I haven't really planned lunches out for specific days this week. I'm making some chicken broth in the next day or two, so I'll use some of the chicken to make some chicken salad. We'll have some pasta and peas for another day. Some avocado to go along with whatever else another day... And then there are leftovers. Etc, etc. Oh, another favorite of Aiden's is a "regular sandwich." The boy who doesn't really even like sandwiches... One day he said he wanted a "regular sandwich" for lunch. We weren't sure what in the heck he meant by that, so we went through a list of all the types we would normally offer him. He finally said yes to a turkey and cheese sandwich. What makes this so funny is that he NEVER eats turkey and cheese. So, it's not really "regular." Toddlers...

Camden's away visiting family over his track-out, so we're having some meals we like that he might (haha - he WOULD) normally complain about. ;) Here's what's on the menu this week.

Lunch: Leftovers - Choose from taco soup or lasagna toss. Thanks to my friend, Becky, for sharing the lasagna toss recipe. It was a big hit, especially with Camden!
Dinner: cheese burgers on the grill, roasted potatoes and beets, and yellow mango. YUM.

Beef and lentils, roasted broccoli (we tried this recipe while my mom was visiting, thinking the kids would like it...not so much, but us adults LOVED it; to be fair, I don't think Aiden even tried it. Camden said it was better than regular broccoli but that he still didn't really like it.), and corn (because you've gotta have something you KNOW the little kid likes, though he usually does just fine with the beef and lentils dish, but you really never know). 

Beef and lentils leftovers

Bean Soup and cornbread - trying a new recipe that uses white beans, lots of carrots, and turkey sausage. We want to see if we think Camden might like this version better than the other we usually make...which is a very basic bean soup.

Deconstructed broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken breasts (using chicken left over from making broth, so they're not breasts but chunks of chicken - I like it better this way, anyway, and it's actually a lot easier to make!) and sweet potatoes.

Leftover bean soup.

Lunch: whatever is in the fridge, leftovers, sandwiches... I'll actually be at a friend's baby shower having brunch, so the boys get to fend for themselves. :)
Dinner: leftover broccoli/cheese/chicken, sweet potatoes

AND I'm now, once again, on a gluten-free diet, so we're making adjustments for that... We're trying to keep it easy and plan *around* gluten so we don't have to rely on a lot of substitutions (or so we don't have to buy a lot of extra flours, etc, just yet). BUT....oh, but we ARE going to make THIS. It just looks so good. We got the ingredients we didn't already have today. For some reason, silly girl that I am, sent my mom back home with a lot of my gluten-free things, which actually included some of the necessary ingredients for this dish. Yes, very silly. Oh well. Monday happens to be my birthday, and since Whole Foods didn't have this incredibly awesome gluten-free cake that my mom and I got while she was in, I'm making these babies. By the way, if you are ever at WF and see in their bakery section...where they keep the cakes...and they happen to have their gluten-free chocolate carrot cake - GET IT! It in no way tastes gluten-free, and whoever thought of making a chocolate carrot cake?! OMGoodness it is the best thing ever! But hopefully the quinoa breakfast brownies will be good, too...

Then later we're calling WF to try to reach that bakery buyer to see if she'll order a cake for us. Maybe they'll have it in time for Ryan's birthday. We're exactly a week apart, so that would work. :)

Oh wait....I just did a search to see if I could at least link up to this awesome gluten-free chocolate carrot cake..and I found it! You can order it from their site, too. And looks like they're in Asheville, NC. Now, we bought a much smaller cake at WF, so it wasn't this big or expensive. Ours...you could just barely (maybe) wrap your two hands around it - that's how small it was. And they also had some regular g-f carrot cakes. I want to get one of each next time to compare. But if you want to check it out, HERE is the "World's Best Carrot Cake"...and it might just be. Really.

They grow up so fast

The other day, Aiden made me laugh a number of times... (Ok, I wrote most of this almost three weeks ago and just saved it for some reason. Then we had company, etc, and then I just forgot about it. So, this was more than just the other day, but still.)

While playing outside, this child of mine came running up to the porch, smacking his hands together the way you do when you're trying to brush dirt off of your hands. He made a "pbth" noise and said, matter-of-factly, "I don't like dirt." And then he walked over to the little girl I watch a couple days a week; she's a year younger than Aiden. He got really close, leaned down and in a bit so his face was right next to hers, and said in a cutesty voice, "Look at you! Aren't you CUTE!"

While we were outside, he also came and got me at one point and said, "I made an A!" He took me by the hand up to the porch, where he had in fact written the letter "A" with sidewalk chalk. What?! I was shocked. And quite proud. This was a first for him, and he wasn't prompted, either, making it an even bigger deal.

Later, while I was fixing dinner, the child discovered the vacuum cleaner was out. He's a big fan. No kidding. He rolled it over to the outlet, took the outlet cover off (what good are they now?!), plugged in the vacuum, turned it on (ok, so he needed some help with this. He could push the button to turn it on, just not hard enough for it to *stay* on), and then proceeded to vacuum the kitchen.

He's watching his reflection from the oven...

Then a bit later, when he was done with that, he was over near the stairs (where I couldn't see, since I was still in the kitchen). I can't remember what was said to begin with, but Camden said something to Aiden and was walking up the stairs. Aiden retorted...well, more like yelled, "You're not a parent, Camden!" (Something he's heard us tell Camden on more than one occasion.)

At dinner, he didn't want to try something. I asked him if he would try with his finger. This is his new way of accepting the challenge...if he can simply touch it with his finger and then taste that, whatever he actually got on his fingertip. So, he tries it that way. Then he says, "So, what do you think?" in a cute voice. Apparently I say that a lot, too... You never realize how much you say something until your children start repeating it, huh?

A different night, Aiden was drawing on some notepads, and he was explaining what he was drawing, when he looked up at me and asked, "Does that make sense?" (as in, "do you understand that?"). Another thing I say a lot and hadn't realized it.

This isn't meant to be a post on the things I say and Aiden repeats. I could go on and on about THAT! The whole point of this post is....how quickly our kids grow up! I realize it goes by quickly. Hello...I have an eleven-year-old! And as much as I have NOT rushed things with Aiden, he suddenly isn't a baby anymore. The other day, when most of the above happened, I couldn't help but think...where is my baby?? Just all these little things he does and says that reminds me he really is growing up. And then he was acting even older than he really is, too, which was really, really funny to watch and hear...but it also makes me want to tell him to slow down even more.

Oh, and he learns plenty of things from big brother that make him sound older, too. On the way to the grocery today he said something. I asked him to repeat it because I didn't hear him, so he said something again. I then turned the radio down even more (he had earlier asked us to "please turn it up a little" so he could hear it better), and I again asked him to repeat himself. He just sat there for a while. I started to think he either didn't hear me or was just not paying attention. "Aiden, what did you say? Can you tell me again because I didn't hear you?" Aiden's response? "Nothing."


Too fast. They really do grow up too fast.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dirt and sweat and sunshine

"I think kids should be kids and childhood should be filled with ... you know that smell, when your kids come in and they smell like dirt and sweat and sunshine? That's what I hope for my kids." ~ Julia Roberts

Aiden. Dirty feet. From playing outside. Barefoot. LOVE.
(Photo taken August 2011.)

I read that a few years ago, and it stuck with me because that's how I feel. Kids should smell like that because they should be out playing in the dirt and sunshine, getting sweaty, being kids. Doesn't dirt, sunshine, and sweat equal happiness??

The other day Aiden had been out playing for a while. We came in, and I took him upstairs to change his diaper. Normally shoes come off the second you come in the house (there are some things outside that shoes pick up that I do not want on my carpet, where my children play while inside - seriously), but I had carried him in and up the stairs, so he still had on his crocs when I put him on the changing table. When I took them off, there were all these little bits of grass and dirt on his feet. I just love that. Now, when he takes off his crocs and has stuff like that on his feet, he gets all "get it off!" (I think he gets this from his Daddy...) and takes time to pick each and every tiny piece off. It is cute and funny to watch him. That child doesn't like to get dirty. But as I was taking off his crocs and saw his dirty little feet, cute as they could be, I couldn't help but think of the quote above and smile.

I'm not that parent who doesn't want their children to go out and get dirty. Yes, play in the sand. Yes, sit on the chalk drawing you just drew (and get chalk on your clothes). Yes, help with the gardening and make more of a mess than is necessary (or I would make doing it all myself), getting dirt all over the sidewalk, yourself, and probably me, too. Yes, PLAY. If a little dirt gets dragged in the house when you come in (but please do remember to take off your shoes at the door!), we can sweep it up. If water droplets come in, as well, we have towels.

Now, if you're sweaty...while I might think kids should run around, play hard, and get sweaty...that doesn't mean I want you to come in and hug all over me, sharing said sweat. No thanks. (I kind of think it's gross to get it *on* me. I can hear Ryan laughing at me already. Apparently I think everything is gross, while he thinks none of it is. Of course, I also don't mind the messes that come with kids and outdoor activities, while he wants things a bit - or a lot - cleaner. Some of that kind of seems backward, doesn't it? Haha!) And I don't want you leaving your soccer socks on the stairs after you just came home from a game and they are filthy - it's not that hard to take them up the steps with you (you were going anyway!) and put them in the laundry basket, right?

I do love seeing those little toddler feet with sand and dirt and grass on them. I love seeing my too-close-to-being-a-teenage boy come in with red cheeks and sweaty hair sticking to his forehead, soccer ball under his arm, asking for his water bottle. It makes me happy. It reminds me that they're kids...being kids.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fun times...

I'll get back into this blog thing, I will. Got some updates to post, and I need to get back to those VBAC posts I said I would start... We've been battling allergies like crazy over here.

It started to get warmer two and a half weeks ago, which was really nice (but didn't last long), so our fans in the bedrooms turned on. They're set to automatically turn on when the rooms reach a certain temp. Overnight, Aiden and I both became sick. (We hadn't yet put him back on his allergy meds, either, after taking him off for the egg-challenge.) I don't know if it's coincidence, but it makes sense with the dust mite allergies. And we've just been sick ever since. It got cool right after that, so the fans have stayed off since. Aiden just has congestion and sneezing, etc. Maybe him being back on Zyrtec has made a bit of a difference. I get the whole deal with my sinuses and was pretty miserable the second week. Sunday I started feeling a bit better. And then the fans came on again the other night....and guess who was up all night coughing and congested that same night. Well, guess which two of us were. Ugh.

And yes, the fans were turned off. We need to figure out how to make this better b/c we rely on fans during the summer a lot, running them pretty much nonstop. 

Then to top it all off, I had an allergic reaction to one of the few things I can take while sick (nursing mama's are pretty limited when it comes to medications and all that jazz). That was fun. We're still not 100% sure what it was, but we think it might have been the cough drops. Cough drops? Yep. I CANNOT STAND regular cough drops. I mean, I really hate them. So my mama had recommended these others because they taste ok and work (I think she feels kind of bad now, though she shouldn't - who would've thought?! Not me.). They're natural ones called Thayers - made with slippery elm, and I read (after the fact) that if you are allergic to elm trees..... I don't know if I am, but hopefully we'll soon find out. I've used them a few times before with no problems at all, but it still could be the culprit. It's really a bummer, too, because they really do help. I also use Sinusalia, a homeopathic sinus pain/pressure treatment (which works really well as long as you don't actually have sinusitus...just the part leading up to it. If you actually have an infection, it won't cut it).

I woke up Saturday and noticed my palms, fingers, and wrists were really itchy and red. It started off strong and would come and go as the day went on. It was driving me nuts, though! That night the itching kept me up all night long. All night. By morning, my hands were really swollen, and so were my lips. Not cool. Benadryl helped with some of the itching, but it didn't do anything for the swelling, which was mostly down by evening. Ironically, that was the day my sinuses felt their best and I thought I was finally getting a bit better in that regard. The sinus pain is back now, abut I can't take anything... First, we're not entirely sure what caused the reaction (and with it getting worse on Sunday, we really don't want to push it). Secondly, we're waiting to hear from the allergist...well, our primary dr actually b/c they have to call...and I don't know how soon they can get me in, BUT I can't take anything that will help my sinuses because of the antihistamines, which would interfere with any testing. Blah, blah.

Now Camden's getting sick. Aiden's had night terrors the last couple nights (regardless of how naps have been). And Ryan has had some allergy stuff, too. His is from outside, like most folks around this time. Pollen has covered everything outside. Doesn't hurt that he's allergic to our grass, and he mowed this weekend....

Oh yeah, we've been having some fun times here lately. I'm hoping the fun doesn't keep up much longer.

PS - If anyone knows of anything else I CAN take to help with the allergies/sinus problems, that would be awesome. Currently, I'm just using the NetiPot multiple times a day and taking ibuprofen when the pain is really just too much. I'd love to get over this already, though. With no more allergic reactions. ;)

Another PS - For those reading this in facebook, remember I'm not on facebook during Lent, so if you want to comment, please follow the link to the actual blog post and comment there. Otherwise I won't get the comment and won't be able to respond until after Easter. Thanks!