Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to School Night = Back to School. OYE!

Back to school night was the other evening at Quinny's new preschool.

We coordinated to show up a bit early so Lou could mingle with her teacher and the classroom without the extra stimuli.

This year's set up gets us a bit jazzed when cataloging all of the positives:
her classroom is about a 3 minute walk from our house, featured in the main Yamhill Carlton School House, fastened with a super loving, well educated and ridiculously calm teacher.
They also allow crazy moms (such as myself) to volunteer in the classroom whenever we can/ want/ need to (which allows me to see Q in action in her school setting to know what areas of development we need to keep chippin' away at).

Prior to Back to School Night, I had been dreading the start of school. The memories of her broken heart from last year, the cruelty of (some) of the children and the un-caring-ness of the parents.

With the world's expectations for Lou that keeps on growing as her years keep climbing- mix that with her neurological wiring system that short circuits with that additional stress of those expectations and this year was looking more and more challenging.

But there is a LIGHT:

A few days ago I was at our favorite health food/ gluten free store in McMinnville (Parkway Foods- truly, if you're in Mac and need a fabulous small town store with nothing but wonderful food...hit it up!) and I was asking the store clerk about Autism Parent Support Groups in the surrounding area, when this woman walked up to me and said she was over hearing my convo and had some insight.
Turns out this woman is not only a Mama to a 15 year old Aspie, but she also lives in Yamhill!
The picture she painted of this town, with regards to being a supportive community, was amazing.
The parents in the Yamhill/ Carlton School Dist. had been nothing but understanding and kind to her son and their clan. Her son had numerous friends and was thriving in the academic and extracurricular arenas.

Of course their journey wasn't all peaches and pice cream, but the jist: fabulous!
I left her (and the store) with a hug (of course) and a kick to my (swollen) feet.

My light is that we live in this town where it seems as though people CARE about one another, and about the welfare of the younger generations.

My light is that while buying beautiful groceries I can meet a local parent who embraces me with wisdom, kindness and hope.

My light is seeing the excitement Quinn had when leaving her school room and asking us when she gets to go back and play with her teacher.

Back to school night (and my angel Mama from the grocery store) restored my hope and excitement for our stormy todays and our sunny tomorrows.

Back to school?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stocking the Fridge

Been preparing and freezing gfcf meals for the weeks after baby comes.

My Mom in law found a fabulous freezer off Craigslist that I'm happily filling up- best $50 we've spent in a while.

It is a little cray cray that I am still pregnant at 38 weeks! Let's get this show on the road!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rad GFCF Products

A benefit for having me be a wee bit less ambitious the past few weeks (in the kitchen) was that I started to venture out and try some pre-made GFCF food items.
I have found four go-to's for our family:

UDI's Gluten Free Food Products:

This bread is super good toasted- reminds me of a nice artisan bread (crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle).
The cinnamon raisin version is one of Quinny's favorite breakfast snacks- and it is super low in sugar for the flavor it packs in.

Applegate Naturals:
I have become a HUGE fan of this company. We buy the bacon (gfcf) the lunch meat (for the times I don't have chicken in our fridge) and these AWESOME nuggets.

These little nuggets are delicious, crisp, and totally worth the price tag (around $7 depending on where we go shopping).
I try and keep these in my freezer at all times now for a quick lunch or dinner.

Amy's GF dairy free Burritos:

Quinny is not too keen on these bad boys, but Carter, Jake and I are in love!

It is amazing how adding a few pre-made foods to our closet takes away a bit of stress and pressure for those afternoons and evenings where I am just not feeling it.

I would LOVE for those who have their favorite GFCF/ GF Vegan/ GF Dairy Free pre bought food items to leave it in the comments- let's catalog this stuff, eh?

Gfcf Doughnuts

The girls were begging for doughnuts- so doughnuts I made.
"Cooking for Isaiah" was my road map:
turned out 'ok', needing more moisture next time. I'll be working on this.

I added a 1/4 cup of apple sauce and they came out perfect!

Monday, August 27, 2012

GFCF Pumpkin Muffins

Found this recipe on (one of my favorite websites for recipes).

It is a "normal" recipe, but was able to easily turn it into GFCF with some substitutions.
(GF all purpose flour,egg substitute and of course GFCF spices and vanilla).

3 1/3 cp GF AP flour
2 1/3 cp sugar
1/3 cup veg. oil
1 15 oz GF can pumpkin puree
4 eggs (used egg sub.)
2/3 cp. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. all spice
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Mix the wet.
Mix the dry.
Mix together.

Makes two bread loaves or one bread loaf and a dozen muffins.
350 until done (about an hour).

Best pumpkin muffins yet.

confession time and re-start

It has been a rough few weeks at the Snell compound.
Between the up's and down's with the pregnancy and surrounding folk's health, Little Lou's behavior has been beyond challenging- it is like we were back at square one.
So frustrating. and heart breaking.

The past few weeks there were times where I wasn't paying as close attention to the food I (or more so, others) were feeding her. I have been so pre-occupied (slash exhausted) that as long as it was kind of 'ok' we would gamble; and I kept finding really clever ways to justify the short cuts:
I gave her turkey that wasn't GFCF (but we were at my parents, so options were limited and I was too tired to go to the store and she was starving!)
We stopped and got her Burgerville fries (cause she was starving and what harm could the gluten-y oil do?)
She was begging for cereal so I gave her some Rice Krispies (maybe the malt in it was small enough it wouldn't effect her?)

I just couldn't get it together anymore- being 100% was kicking my ass.
Waking up at 5:45a to stand on my feet (baking) with Mr. Finn pressing down on the pelvis.
Preparing and cooking dinners during naps, when all I could do was fall asleep with the kids.
Preparing meals and snacks to go, when each day was throwing us with so many curve balls I never knew what to pack or how much.

Slowly but surely, there went Quinn and out came the autism and SPD barriers.

Confession time:
I was so caught up in the challenging day to day cycles that I couldn't muster up the energy to step aside, breathe, and make changes.
I was watching this life get harder and harder and just praying that tomorrow would be different. That we would wake up and Quinn's neurological system had healed itself...I was doing everything 75% right, why couldn't that be good enough?

Praying, hoping.
But not doing.

I don't expect miracles out of this body and mind, but I do expect myself to rise to the occasion when I am cognitively aware of some short comings.

We can do this.

Back to the basics it is:
planning, support group finding, prepping, learning and reading.
The priority in our life is health and wellness for our family- 100% may not be in my grasp right now, but if I aim for 95%, give myself some slack, and breathe a lot more...I think we'll get closer to the zen we pray and hope for.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pickin' Time: Peaches

We love us some peaches!
Grammy was finally well enough to go out and play with us- so we took her out to Jossy Farms for some peach pickin'.

Today we canned our 65 pounds of peaches: jammed, quartered, pie filling galore.
So thankful my mom is back in business- we missed her!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Art Therapy

Giving the girls time each day to express through creation has been a big priority of mine for a few years now.
The rhythm they find, the still-ness they have and the creativity they express is crucial for their little developing brains and self expression.

It also gives me some time, during the crazies of our days, to sit, breathe, play and just enjoy my kids.

Today: trees.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Bunch of Sick-ies

Been a rough summer for sickness:

21 day virus for baby ladies
Pre eclampsia kicking in
Diabetes (full on and scary) started for my mom
Kidney failure for my mom
Pre eclampsia getting worse
Baby ladies have a summer cold

My mom's kidney failure. She spent two days in ICU at St. Vincent's Hospital- then was sent upstairs for another few days.
So, I spent 2 days in ICU and a few days munching on hospital food and napping bed side. (best 'bed rest' I ever had actually).
She is healing now, and although her future kidney function is yet to be determined, I could not be more grateful for having my mom near, alive, and on her way to healthy.

(A HUGE special thank you to the friends and family who helped our family during this scary time- watching the girls, making dinners, supporting, visiting, loving).

Monday I go to my perinatologist to have another non stress test on Mr. Finn- game plan to be determined for his delivery. Blood pressure has steadily been climbing, and protein in urine is nearing the tipping point.
SO, so, so crazy to think in a week, or two we will be a family of five- just in time for Quinny to go back to school, and for me to start on Halloween costumes (yes, I start two months in advanced making and planning their costumes).

All in all, we are hanging in (almost didn't make it through this last heat wave- Jesus can be cruel sometimes!)- and looking forward to a healthy, fabulous future.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Love. Kindness. Friendship.

Two days ago I started to go into labor- after dialating to a two, the doctor was able to calm down contractions and put me on modified bed rest for the next week and a half (until I am considered "full term").
Last night my contractions started back up, so back in to Labor and Delivery we went.

(Side Bar: One of the main reasons we moved to Yamhill was the desire to be apart of a community. To feel connected to our neighbors, be a voice in the schools and to feel like we could make an impact on other's lives. Some of our dearest friends (Eric, Amber, and their three kids) also live in Yamhill, and make that community SO much sweeter).

Last night, without hesitation, Amber jumped over to our house to hold down the fort while we were hospital hoppin'. She stayed there until 10p until her AMAZING 15 year old daughter, Taylor, came over and stayed until 1 A.M. when we got home. (Super sweet coming home to Taylor sleeping SO hard on our couch, all cuddled up in blankets- I almost didn't wake her, she looked so cozy).

Today- I stayed at my parents house and when I got home, I found I had had a little visit from that same friend fairy.
In my fridge there were meals that were pre-cooked for us.


That wonderful, thoughtful, strong willed, loyal, fun, generous friend Amber was at it again.
I didn't even ask for help- she just gave it.

To Amber, Eric, Tay Tay and the rest of that crazy clan:
Thank you, for loving us, supporting us, and being such a consistent form of community.
We love and appreciate you all.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Project: for a Friend

The same wonderful friend, who is moving in a few weeks, needed a proper "be seeing you" gift.
Without fail, I am the worst gift giver, ever. I seem to panic, and my brain turns to mush when I try to put thought into the process. Especially when the intent of the gift is to be thoughtful- just real real tough.
In this case, I wanted to make something that every time she would use, she would think of us and think of love.

The other day Lou, Roo and I were doing an art project and Quinny made the most incredible picture (I cut out shapes with paper and told her to create- she choice to make flowers):

Wonderful, right?

This picture inspired me: what if I took Lou's vision and turned it into a tote bag!

First off: The Tote Bag.
I had no pattern, but I looked at my Lands End tote, and had an idea of what to do.
It took me a nap time (1.5 hours) and I was super happy with the results.

Second: Felt Flower Pieces.
I used Bamboo/ Rayon felt, and found colors that were close to Lou's picture.
I pinned them on, one by one and then sewed with my machine.

Final Tote:

The cotton fabric and felt was around $7, it took about 3 hours total, and it is full of love.

PS- a big thanks to my Mom for letting me bring my machine and crazy kids to her house so I could keep working after the kids woke up from a nap. Luxury.

A Letter for a Friend.

One of my dearest friends (ever) will be leaving the Portland area, and moving down South- to Ashland Oregon. She was accepted into OHSU nursing school, and I could not be more proud of her.

You're lovely.
You've been by my side through all our major life's events- first loves, graduations, Backstreet Boys, room-mating, fights, make ups, weddings, 10k's, puking after 10k's, marathons, babies, break ups, forever loves, and acceptance letters into our dreams.
I could not be more proud of the woman you have become, and the path you have worked so hard to walk on.
I hold your abilities and achievements to the greatest of respect- knowing you are changing this world by being the best Lyndsey you can be.
You're move to Ashland is beyond bitter sweet- but do know, every day you're gone, studying, reading, learning, growing; I will be thinking of you, and continually cheering you on, supporting you, loving you, missing you.

I'm so proud of you.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

When a Quirk becomes a Disability

Swimming lessons started back up at our local pool. In Lou's class, last month, she had 3 kids (including herself) in the class. It took her a few days to feel comfortable, but eventually she got her groove and had a wonderful time.
She definitely had some quirky behaviors, but was able to learn and grow, building her skills and self worth.

This time around she is one of 9 (yes, 9) kids:

More kids.
More chaos.
More sensory sensations.
More touching.
More noise.
More unpredictability.

More Quirks.
More rejection.
More disabilities.

Such a crazy position to be in: watching your child struggle, assisting her (the best you know how) to get her through the program- feeling helpless and empowered, all at the same time.
How much I would pay to take away Quinny's barriers; to allow the world to see the little girl we get to see. As a parent you just want to make it better, easier...
I was given the opportunity today, to watch her brain in action, when her neurological system was short circuited. To see where we need to focus our therapies, to give more tools to Quinny, so that SHE can show the world what a rad chick she is.

It just shows us that kiddos with cataloged disabilities have all the abilities of a typical child- they just need the tools, creativity, patience and ambition of those around them, to thrive.

Quinny starts private swim lessons tomorrow with the teacher she adores and the pool she never wants to get out of. The proper environment for her to learn the skills and grow in her self worth.

This ain't no joke peeps- parenting is HARD.
But I am having the time of my life- learning and loving.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Beach Babes

Our Beach Babes

GFCF Apple Pie

This morning I had a bit of extra time- before kids woke up and after zucchini bread was in the oven- so I thought I could bake an apple pie to enjoy throughout the day.

I am loving the pie crust recipe from "Cooking for Isaiah":

2 3/4 cups AP GF flour
1/2 tsp. xanthum gum (if not in AP blend)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups chilled veggie shortening, cut into cubes
2/3 cup ice water

The book says to mix ingredients in food processor, but with mine out of commission, I opted for my hands and a wooden spoon- SUPER messy, but it works.
I then split the dough in half, threw each round in some plastic wrap and in the freezer it went. It takes about 15 minutes to harden the dough up, so this is when I make the filling of the pie.

The filling:
I just peeled and cored 5 granny smiths, threw in some cinnamon, brown sugar, lemon juice, and pie spice. Nothing was measured, just mixed to where it "looked right".

A few weeks back I was cleaning my mom's kitchen for her, when I found this vintage painter's cloth-type mat in her utensil drawer. Turns out it is used to roll out pie crusts, and what was even better- she didn't want it any longer!
Can I just say, if you like to bake pies- go buy yourself some painters cloth! This piece of fabric saved me SO much time and energy in flouring my counter top, re flouring and cleaning it all up. In LOVE.

Certainly not fancy, but a delicious apple pie went in the oven at 6am this morning (at 350 for 45 minutes) and in our bellies for lunch.

I had a bit of dough and filling left over, so I made some pocket pies for the girls too.

I folded them in half and popped them in the oven- 350 for about 15 minutes. Next time I will cut the apple pieces smaller for these little pies- they turned out tasty, but SUPER not cute.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Project Time: Re-Do the Glider

$15 glider from Goodwill.
$60 in upholstery.
Day and a half of sneaking in sewing (thank you nap time).

A $75, teal tweed, fabulous glider.


I didn't have a pattern, so I just copied and pasted, measured and guessed- fingers crossed the whole time.

A success!

We're Ready !

35 weeks.

Pre-eclampsia started showing its ugly head a few days back, but so far hanging in. I think it's clear that pregnancy and Jill are not a good combo.
The (mini) crib is set up, and with Big Sister's decorating skills it is ready with all needed accessories- we're ready to roll!

Farm Play

Jake's parents (Oma and Opa) live on 17 acres about 30 minutes from us.
There are endless adventures for the ladies to dive into, get dirty with, explore, uncover, and just have a fantastic childhood existence.

It is so incredible to have my two curious, energetic, creative, and HEALTHY critters back in action! They are both doing wonderful now- we still need to put 5 pounds back on Quinny Lou, but at the rate she is eating, this may happen by the end of tomorrow.

The River:

The Greenhouse (with indoor sprinklers):

The Berries: