Thursday, June 28, 2012

Scallywhompis No More

For those who know me best (or anyone who has met me for five minutes) they know that my memory, focus and organization have never been a strong suit of mine.
I have made no effort in hiding that I am still diagnosed with ADD and when not pregnant or breast feeding, I have medication that makes my life SO much easier- well makes my memory, focus and organizational skills closer to that of a typical human.

With the combination of pregnancy brain, two crazy critters and lack of chemical assistance- keeping bills, appointments and daily to-do's in line had been a challenge.

When we moved into the new house I decided I would find practical and efficient ways to keep my life running smoothly- a few months in and my two favorite pieces have kept me sane, bills sent in on time, and not a-one appointment missed.

The BIG calendar:

Keeping this central in our house has been key for me keeping track of all of our to-do's and meal planning.
I also keep an on-going grocery list, via post it, on the calendar so when I run out of the house to the grocery store, I can just grab my post-it without even thinking.
And my favorite piece...

Our BILL Folder:

I used to hoard all of the mail (un-opened) in a super cute basket- but the cute-ness of the basket never opened my mail and paid bills on time for me (crazy, right?).
Now, the moment we bring the mail in, I open each piece and write down on the binder calendar how much is due, and on what date. I then put the bill in the binder, waiting for the pay date.

Once the pay day comes around, I go online to our bill pay, pay it, and write on the bill how much I paid and when. I then three hole punch it and put it into it's slot.

Being able to see where our money is at each month has made it possible to live on such a tight budget- if I am hoping to buy a book on Amazon (one I had not budgeted for) I can turn to the calendar page and see when during the month we could afford to do so. I never thought paying bills and budgeting would be fun- until I found this binder technique and ran with it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Aspergers: A Dual Diagnosis

We got word today that after a year and a half, five therapists and a dedicated Pediatric Neurologist putting all of Lou's puzzle pieces together, we have a dual diagnosis:

Aspergers (autism spectrum disorder) with Sensory Processing Disorder.

I can't describe the relief, excitement, hopefull-ness Jake and I felt when we were handed this information: confirmation of what we had been feeling and thinking for a few years now.

While it does seem odd for parents to be "excited" when reaching a label that has, normally, negative connotations associated with it- for us it gives Quinny and our family, a community to grab a hold of, peers for Quinny to relate to, and many more answers for our journey we have been down, and will continue to paddle on.

A label is just a quick way to explain behaviors that are already in place- it gives Quinny a foundation to hold onto when her quirks are being questioned by those around her; many could see this as her ball and chain, we see it as her compass with the promise to empower.

It explains the wiring of Q's brain and how and why she does what she does that sets her apart from the typical child.

We start even more therapies soon, and will be organizing peer play groups- finding other critters in surrounding areas that are on the spectrum. Giving Quinny the opportunity to feel "normal"- to connect with peers who get her gig, will be vital to her self worth and neuro-developmental growth. SO much on the horizon.

So excited to watch this incredible kid do her thing- SO proud to be her Mommy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Let the Projects Begin

Since I only have about two months of cooking left before Mr. Finnegan joins us, I thought I ought to find some time to get my 'project' list started.
This weekend I tackled burp cloths and prototype pants for all three critters.

The burp cloths were/ are super simple- I have never had a pattern for them, just sew them right on up- this time, I got to use boy flannel (thanks Amber!).

I found adorable kid's pants at a while back and have been dying to make them for the ladies. Now with Finn coming, I thought funky fabulous pants would be much more fun than the normal boy stuff.
I did a prototype today in Muslin, so if I screwed up royally (which I did...a few times) I wouldn't waste too much money. Now that I have worked out the kinks (and more importantly, reminded myself I am capable of doing stuff) I will be making them in many different fabrics and sizes (jersey, denim, cotton, flannel, etc.).

I asked Quinny Lou to model the new duds (for those of you who know Lou well, you know she is NOT one for picture taking- you won't even believe these pics I got of her! GFCF YOU'RE AMAZING! As is Lou, of course):

And lastly, for anyone who has received a sewn gift from me in the past year or so, and noticed the hems and seams being a bit cock-eyed here is why:

My Elf Helpers!
Since I do the baking and cooking while they sleep, I have to find time to sew and craft when they are awake- they get bored of their special projects and want to help Mommy.

No one expect perfectly made, created goodies until the third is three.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekend To Do's

We had a ridiculously busy weekend- seems as weeks go by, the calm Saturdays and Sundays fade further from relaxing and climb into chaos.
Time to reboot and reorganize.

Weekend To Do's and Dones:
Bob's Red Mill with the wee ones and Mom in Law
Laundry- dried almost entire laundry piles outside
Early morning Daddy surprise on sunday
Strawberry Picking
Jam making with Mama Jo (24 jars of strawberry)
Bread baking
Dinner at dear friends

Carter Frances

18 months old and full of love, life and gusto!
Carter came to us (very) unexpectedly, with the mission to prove that everything happens for a reason. She is the easiest kid, sweetest sister and most patient toddler I have ever met.

So thankful.

So proud.

So blessed, she is ours.

Our Clan

I'm a pretty lucky lady.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

GFCF Pizza To-Die

Made the best pizza tonight for the fam.
GFCF, of course, and full of flavor!

I used the GFCF pizza crust recipe from my fav. cookbook- it certintly looked prettier in the book, but it tasted fantastic!

2 cups GF all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 egg whites
1 tbsp yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp oil

While the pizza crust was rising, I prepared the toppings. Kept it simple by choosing two different pizzas but crossed the same toppings- cutting back on prep time, a lot!

First Pizza- Taco:

Refried beans (homemade this afternoon)
Chicken (left overs from roasted chickens the other day)
Salsa (made in blender yesterday)
Lettuce (added after cooking)
Olives (added after cooking)
This was a HUGE hit with the critters (literally, they ate the whole pizza).

Second Pizza- BBQ Chicken:

Annie's GFCF BBQ Sauce
Chicken (left over from our roasted chickens the other day)
Red pepper flakes
Olive Oil drizzled on top.


Garden is a Bloomin'

The garden is looking good!
The girls spend a bit of time each day, weeding, worming and wishing for our veggies to come.
We have some tomatoes popping through and our edible lavender is already filling the yard with the most incredible aroma.

Fresh produce- here we come!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chicken and Date Night

For the past few weeks I have been making two roasting chickens at a time- one to eat for dinner, and the other to pull apart and use for lunch meat.
I also use the carcasses for proper chicken broth (allow to simmer the next day for a few hours with spices, veggies and water).
I rubbed the chickens with olive oil, stuck carrots, celery, garlic cloves and onions in their middles and added a spice rub (salt, ground pepper, basil).

Mashed taters were boiled with two garlic cloves- and then mashed up with salt, rice milk and some FABULOUS Earths Best 'Butter'. Delicious.
Peas (frozen organic) were easy and fast as I had a date to get ready for! Well, my Grandma's 90th birthday bash, but Jake and I will both be there with no kids, so I am going all out (and by all out I mean makeup, jewelry and hair product).

Success! The ladies loved it- note Lou feeding herself...truly unreal!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Food Budget Mission 2012

Changing our whole family to gluten free and casein free is no easy task- for a crave-y pregnant chick and our budget. The last two weeks I have spent over $400 on food...yes, FOOD!
So I made it my mission to make this gfcf diet fit into the pockets of middle america- aka. the Snell's.

First, I created this coming week's menu for dinner, snacks and breakfasts. For lunches the girls and I tend to munch through, so no menu was needed for that (and Jake always takes left overs from dinner the night before).
Here is the Game Plan:

BBQ, taters and corn on the cob
Potato belgium waffles
Bean soup
Roasted chicken and mashed taters
Pot roast


Nuts (no peanuts in this house though)
Dried fruit
Chips and salsa
Rice cakes and jelly
Banana bread
Frozen fruit bars
Hard boiled eggs (for Jake, Jill and Q...this is a no no for Carter- sorry Chick).

To keep the menu gfcf everything will be made from scratch, from the soup bases to the baked goods. I will be sure to bring you along on the prep. journey- as there is a lot of cooking, baking, peeling, washing, little wasting involved!

Note: Carter is allergic to eggs, peanuts, soy as well as dairy and wheat- SO everything we do is also soy free, peanut free and mostly egg free. She is allowed BAKED eggs only, so I will include these in our baked goods. We only eat hard boiled eggs when she is napping so she won't have hurt feelings OR anaphylactic shock.

I spent $76.00 at the grocery store today (everything we will need for the week), AND I got everything I needed from Winco- yes a discount grocery store!

Can we do this??

Wait and see.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Breakfast Success

I wish I could catalog and shout out all of the differences we are seeing with Quinny's Brain and Carter's skin- going GFCF is life changing for this clan- I mean that, life changing.

When we first started (a week back) I was a wee sad about altering my baking recipes I had come to love- every week home baking our breads, cinnamon rolls, cakes, muffins, scones, bagels...oh the good old days.

A few days back, I picked up a book from Barnes and Noble (choose it due to the pretty pictures inside...yes I am 8).

'Cooking for Isaiah' by Silvana Nardone.

So far I am beyond impressed with the recipes (literally DE-Lious)- as are me ladies and me Jakers.

This morning I made the Berry Corn Muffins:

3/4 cup Cornmeal
1 cup AP GF flour (I used Bob's R.M.)
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup mixed berries
2 lg. eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice milk
1/2 cup veggie oil
375 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes a dozen.

These will be a staple in this house!

Note Quinn feeding herself a bite- FEEDING HERSELF BREAKFAST! One of the massive changes.
Second Note- could Carter be any damn cuter?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Teaching: tolerance. love. acceptance.

We have always known that Quinny's largest barrier stands in the way of her social interaction with peers. Her anxiety of kid's unpredictable (and unforgiving) behavior paralyzes her abilities and highlights her disabilities- although we have seen her interact (and struggle) with youngsters (mostly close friend's kids) numerous times, and have been aware of these hurdles, it was a recent birthday party of one of her classmates, that I saw the onslaught of intolerance presented to her by her peers.

Within minutes of arriving to this bash, Quinny started to approach a few different kids, asking if she too could join in on their game. She was met with, "Go away. We don't like you Quinn." "You're weird." and other heart BREAKING verbiage. I immediately jumped in to facilitate kindness and compassion- soon realizing I needed to focus more on inclusion with Quinny than parenting other's kids. Carter and I became Lou's entourage: playing, laughing, encouraging. Reminding Lou how rad she is, and how lucky Carter and I are to be her friend.

Even so, Q continued to try and engage her classmates- the more she tried, the more rejection was sent her way, the more Mr. Anxiety built up her barriers. Soon our positive reinforcements meant nothing and Lou was left with shame, hurt and a bundle of quirks (flapping of arms, animal noises, negative language)- it was time to go home.

Not one time, at this shin dig, did another parent talk to their child, correct ill behaviors, educate on differences- it was Lou against the Lions (with her side kicks, Mom and Sis trying to compensate). When we got home, the kids went to bed and I cried my eyes out to Jake- I can't even describe the pain I had/have watching our precious daughter be treated so horribly. I knew we had an up-hill battle with friendship building, but I had no idea how painful the process was going to be.
I was so angry at the children.
More so:
I was so angry at the children's parents.
A few weeks later I picked Quinny up from school and asked her how her day went, our convo went as followed:
Me- Did you have fun today baby?
Q- The boys pushed me over again Mom.
Me- Oh honey, did you tell teacher Lisa? Adults are there to protect you and make you feel safe.
Q- Teacher Lisa helped me mom.
Me- oh good. Which friends did you play with today?
Q- No friends mom.
Me- Hows come Lou?
Q- Because it hurts less to not have friends (EXACT quote...and one I will never forget).
CRIED my eyes out.
Oh. My. God.
That was it. No more.
I was going to do everything in my power to teach the world about differences. To educate parents about disabilities, so they, in turn, can educate their kids. I was going to be that crazy mom who spent her life advocating tirelessly for kindness and TOLERANCE.
Of course we intervene as opportunities arise.
Of course we are in constant contact with her teachers and therapists but we need to do more- prevent more.

I intend this blog to be a platform for that. To remind the greater community of the simplicity of teaching kindness to their children. To remind their kids that not everyone is the same, and it is in those differences that we can find beauty and love.

That to change the world, we must offer those in need a safe place to grow, thrive and be filled with self worth.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Crazy Walker

Yes. I am THAT crazy walker. Arms pumping. Hips flying. Cows (and horses) totally judging. But that is the best bit you see- the only ones out on my walking path are the cows and horses (and cute little barn kitties who were just born). Every morning I am reminded how blessed I am: wonderful family, healthy pregnancy, amazing new little town to dwell in. Thought I'd share some of my favorite views from the North side of Olive St.

Project Olive St.

Our first project on 140 S. Olive St. I was desperate for a fabulous craft area where I could get back to business! One of the commitments Jake and I made to one another, as we signed our life away for our mortgage: If we could afford to do something, lets find a way to do it even cheaper. So when I requested my craft area to be constructed, we looked around the house for pieces of furniture that we could re-purpose, hit up a few garage sales to find some fabulous containers, Habitat for Humanity REstore for peg board paraphernalia, and gathered up a few coupons for Mr. Lowes! Our grand total: $18.86! I Still need to add more of my crafting bits, peg board bits and lighting bit- but so far, I am one happy crafting Mama!