Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GAPS Intro Day 4: Stage 2-mostly reflecting on why we are doing this.

We ate basically the same today as yesterday except DD5 asked for a glass of kraut juice instead of a spoonful. DH got the opportunity to help feed them. He was quite annoyed. The minute the kitchen was done with the meal the children wanted more. They ate a full pound of ground beef between the two of them. It was boiled in broth. DD5 is mostly eating squash fries. Broth isn't going any better today than any other day. I am bored. I don't know whether to add a new food, which would take us to Stage 3, or to hang out here. The book is relatively vague when it comes to this. We aren't having any noticeable symptoms except fatigue. DD5 still has the same under eye circles and by afternoon, she is as emotional as she typically would be if she were tired. Maybe I just don't know how to recognize the signs. I am waiting for my new copy of the book to arrive to see if any helpful details are included.

While reflecting on Day 3, I had moments of wanting to quit this crazy, restrictive diet. Not because it is hard, but because it just doesn't seem intuitive to eat like this...or to make children eat like this. I pulled out DD5's IgG results and the rest of her blood test results. Only in reading these do I see the clear picture... the IgG will only show a reaction to foods recently eaten if the proteins are floating around in the blood stream. This is an abnormal function of proteins. DD5 reacted to ALL of the foods she had eaten recently. All of her favorite foods, except for crab, appeared to cause a moderate to nearly severe reaction. We didn't test her for IgE responses but based on her symptoms, it would seem she doesn't have any physical allergies to specific foods. Another blogger's experience on IgG results that are interesting to read are found here.

How can a child be reacting to ALL the foods they eat? The answer: they can't! Yes, her body is exhibiting signs of intolerance but they are erroneous. If she stopped these five foods and started eating five new ones, she would show up as having reactions to those as well. This is what brought us to GAPS.

 We could eliminate the foods for 21 days and test them back in. Most likely she would't exhibit any symptoms since she really only has low level irritation from the foods. Or, we could go to the extreme and just try to heal her gut...if this GAPS healing thing really works. Thankfully, GAPS is a temporary lifestyle change. Some people sit on Intro for weeks...months even (and goodness gracious, I think my brain has ignored anyone who said they have been on intro for a year or more). At this time, I don't have enough evidence to believe this is healthy nor beneficial for a child. I do think a fair 4-6 weeks of the strict introduction diet seems reasonable. We should either see results that prove it is working or we will see nothing change and just feel hungry and miserable at the end. 

Components of GAPS that I believe (either based on logic or research or a combination of both) focus on how a person simply can't react to so many foods...the food reactions *must* be a symptom of an underlying issue. Whether or not you believe in Creation--humans were not put on earth with a bunch of natural foods that they should have to avoid. We eat the cleanest foods we can find with an occasional conventional food item thrown in when we are outside of the house. Thus, the argument that only chemical-laden or improperly raised foods cause food allergies is negated. My DD5's gut really must be leaking. It must be allowing food proteins to enter the blood stream where they are attacked by the immune system like any other foreign agent...like an infectious organism. If she persisted like this, what types of illnesses might she develop and how many of them would be chronic? I hate to even ponder that question. Her start in life was not ideal with antibiotics given to me in labor, a cesarean delivery, a fair handful of childhood immunizations early in life and 2-3 doses of antibiotics for various issues between ages 1 and 3.

Monday, December 30, 2013

GAPS Intro Day 3: Stage 2

While handling vomiting kids the other night I read a blog post that called GAPS a kitty that bites....and I would say that is pretty true and funny. However, I don't think anyone NOT on GAPS Intro would find it funny enough to laugh for a solid minute. Delirious? Quite possibly. Something else no one not on GAPS Intro will not find funny- I have coined my latest meal "Soup Suicides". Remember making "suicides" at the soda fountain....mixing cola with lemon-lime soda and a shot of fruit punch if you were brave... Yep I'm basically tossing leftover butternut squash soup in with pureed broccoli and chicken and onion soup plus leftover boiled roast. I may actually be eating chicken skin, cartilage and tons of fat...and I would never know it. It only takes three days people.. three days... Breakfast] So thankful I had the genius idea of starting a fresh crock pot of broth, carrots onions, broccoli, cauliflower and a cut of steak (no really, a super nice tenderloin cut went straight into the crock pot). DD3 woke up at 4am begging for food...in a really nice way. So I poured a cup out of the crock and fed it to her in my bed. She asked for another one...so I fed her that and she fell asleep until almost 8am! DD5 woke up at about 8 and wasn't as keen on the soup- but they were fishing "onion rings" out for each other and eating them. I had to go outside to see if pigs were flying... Lessons On Shopping....DO NOT DO IT! Don't take the kids. Really, just don't even optimistically say you will run in and out real fast to grab some green beans. Horrible idea. DD3 was throwing herself down so hard on the ground she was sliding across the floor--please let me have an apple, a banana...and a bunch of other really healthy foods that I'm pretty sure everyone around me was thinking they wished their child would throw tantrums for raw spinach and salad dressing. Also, make sure you remove your emergency stash of organic peanut butter crackers for road trips from the car. When extracting those from your "starving" child's hand you will feel as if you just put the family dog down with your bare hands. Aside from those fun lessons...the rest of the day went fairly well. Lunch The same breakfast soup, boiled green beans (they ate a full pound between them), squash fries (probably not fully GAPS legal on intro since they are supposed to be "well boiled" but they are sustaining the kids and their carb levels). Neither of them really felt like eating beef or chicken. Snacks and Dinner We snacked on green beans all day...and boiled onions. We also added ghee. I was surprised the kids were not that interested in it... they would rather pour on the salt. I, on the other hand, am rather enjoying some butter flavor on top of my Suicide Soup. By the way- making ghee is extremely easy. Just bake your unsalted, pasture butter/grassfed butter in the oven on 350 for about 45 minutes. Carefully strain all the milk solids and pour the liquid into a glass storage container and refrigerate. Someone without any dairy issues could eat the milk solids but I just tossed them. Frozen organic peas were a great snack! I hope they are legal. I need to confirm but the kids really enjoyed those. I think they replaced the honey. We didn't need honey and coconut oil cream as much today. They did put a spoon of it in their mint tea for an afternoon snack. It was a pretty genius idea...the DD5 came up with that. DD3 is craving sugar so terribly. She's begging for it. She crawled into my lap and said- "You remember cookies? You can make them." I had no idea she would be as impacted as she has been. DD5 is a little moody but not as bad as she normally is after eating a food we know bothers her. Her under eye circles aren't as dark but she definitely looks tired and a little dehydrated. I am not craving anything except coffee...oddly. I have been waking up in the middle of the night absolutely starving. I have had a nut milk shake each night while the kids are soaking too. I hope the ghee and the crispy nuts I have been sneaking when the kids aren't around (Full GAPS legal/pregnancy necessity at this time)will take the night time hunger away. I'm definitely eating more meat than I ever eat...plus fat and plenty of carbs. Preparation Tomorrow will be another day just like today. I did boil beets tonight. I'm not sure what they will taste like mixed in with the other stuff or maybe we'll puree it and add ghee. I set a crock full of broth and squash to make a puree for breakfast... I do want to point out that the "What Can I Eat Now? 30 day Guide" is a little off on the introduction of foods. In case you are curious, here is a link to the Stages. We'll stay on Stage 2 for a while as we have several foods to introduce. Stay tuned- it is about to get exciting as I talk about IgG results, food intolerance and adding them in on GAPS or not...

GAPS Intro Day 2: Stage 1

So I went to bed feeling like Day 1 went...fairly well. I was awakened by the sounnd of liquid hitting the hardwood floor from the top of DD5's loft bed. I instantly knew it was vomit. Thankfully it was just clear liquid with no odor- a type of vomit I have yet to ever encounter. After cleaning her up and putting her in DD3's bed (because DD3 had already woken a few times and come to my bed)I just barely got covered up and DD3 vomits on my blanket. The same clear, odorless liquid. Only DD3 will refuse to vomit...she holds it in. This poor little one continued vomiting for the next 4 hours with empty tummy wretching. When I got breaks from her vomiting I quickly put Google to use trying to figure out what was going on. Apparetly this is a common symptom of detox. The GAPS book is kind of disappointing in this scenario. I read the book twice and never once felt like vomiting was something I should expect--especially not in children. Breakfast Boiled meat patties in broth with squash, broccoli and cauliflower. DD5 ate the patties up like crazy and refused broth or veggies. From my research on the vomit/low blood sugar/detox situation, I learned to increaes carbohydrate vegetables (less of the green ones and more of the orange/squash variety). I had no luck with more blended squash soup so I went for the "Treat" of coconut oil whipped with honey. A spoon of that instantly perked up both kids. DD3 didn't eat much of the meat patties. She actually developed the first rash I have ever seen on her face- just a faint pink patchy rash. We went off to church with little tins of the gummies to use in place of the crackers they get at snack time. Leaving church was quite the experience...one I actually did anticipate! DD3 was a mess...she really, really wants crackers. She threw herself down on the ground and had her Bible school teachers feeling pretty badly for her. We got home and I immediately gave all three of us a spoon of "cream" as they are calling it...the honey and coconut oil. Lunch More boiled meat patties and I had an epiphany in church--make squash fries! Technically the foods are supposed to be well-boiled but at this point- the kids need some carbs! DD3 wanted nothing to do with them but DD5 said, "My new favorite food besides crab and steak is squash fries". Yay for that win. DD3 continued to deteriorate. Stumbling, muttering and generally looking ill. DD5 went off to ride her bike with DH and DD3 snacked on some boiled vegetables and another meat patty. She tried lying down a few times but wasn't quite settled enough to sleep. Dinner I don't even know what we had for dinner-- probably the leftovers of everything in the fridge- I just dumped them all in the pot and scooped it out. I roasted a pumpkin and tried getting them to eat that with some coconut oil and honey but they didn't like it. More "cream", a little tea and a detox bath. Both kids were asleep extremely fast around 6:30pm. It usually takes them both some time to settle. Lessons learned Uhh--carbs! The kids must eat more carbs. The honey and coconut oil trick is extremely clever and I don't see how we could continue on without it. I have remixed it with 3/4 coconut oil to 1//4 parts honey. It is more creamy than sweet so the fat will help them with feeling full...not that a small tsp of it is enough but every little bit counts. Second lesson: The "What can I eat now?" (WCIEN)eBook is fairly flawed. The food introduction order may not be correct. I did roast a package of pasture butter and strained the milk fat out to make ghee. I tasted it on some squash- it is heavenly! I hope the kids appreciate the new food tomorrow. Preparation Soaking walnuts over night for stage 3. Yes, I'm being optimistic in that we will be on Stage 3 in the next 4 days or so? I'm also going to get green beans and frozen peas. Another flaw of the WCIEN is it doesn't mention these lovely vegetables. They are totally Stage 1 legal so I don't know why she only rotates squash, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower for 30 freaking days. Ahhhh! This is going to be more tolerable with more vegetables.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

GAPS Intro Day 1.25

Ahhh it is mid afternoon and I'm hiding in my office. Anyone who knows me would agree that I am not one to use TV as a distractor for my kids. I'd rather pull my own hair out for hours than actually give in and turn on a film. I know...it is kinda ridiculous but that's just the way I am. My kids turn into mush heads after even 15 minutes...but anyway. DD3 is watching The Sound of Music. DD5 is off riding her new Strider with papa.

The kids were too hungry to start with water, so no gold star for me there. Something went wrong with my crockpot butternut squash soup. The squash was still firm when we woke up at 9am. We never sleep in that late but that is when we got up. The kids were starving...so I had 6 slices of beef bacon (gluten, casein and preservative free...grassfed and organic). So I cooked that up. They each ate 1.5 slices and the husband finished off the rest. I ate the last of the chicken/salmon broth and veggies from dinner.

Two Hours Later: 
I have a feeling this is a new meal time while on intro. I guess I could call it Breakfast Two? DD5 started bawling (not something she does often) about egg and cheese on Ciabatta bread and could she please have homemade pumpkin pancakes...or almond butter....or a smoothie? Ugh. It was not fun. I gave her a gummy while I put together some food. I had the butternut in the crock with a beef roast. Things were finally soft so I served her some straight beef. That is all she would touch. DD3 ate a bunch of beef and took off to play.

In between- some mint tea and 1/4 tsp of honey for both kids.

3pm--The Witching Hour: 
DD3 bawling like mad for a banana, cashews, apple, smoothie...oatmeal...any simple carb she could think of. "Mama, I'll eat it all, please!" Ugh. I gave her two of the gummies and she finally was ready to eat food. She ate 3/4 of a head of boiled broccoli and a deck of cards serving of beef....a few spoons of the butternut squash broth/soup. Then she rested on my bed.

Shredded chicken and beef (gave them each the choice), the rest of the boiled broccoli and cauliflower and the butternut squash soup. They picked at it...not much was eaten. I'm anticipating a bad bedtime when they are too hungry to sleep. I put them both in the bath with the Epsom salt and a pinch of vitamin C dechlorination.

I have ground beef thawed for meat patties tomorrow (DD5 is super excited to have these before church), plenty of beef broth and a fair amount of chicken broth. I will probably have to cook chicken and beef bones by tomorrow night for Monday. If things are going this well (yes, I would consider this going well!) by the end of the day, we will start Monday off on Phase 2.

For myself, I am blending coconut oil with homemade almond milk and a heaping scoop of cashew butter while the kids are bathing! Must keep the pregnancy weight going upwards. ;)

I found this link while wondering what other cheats families may have made on GAPS. I highly recommend reading it and bookmarking it for the future!

Friday, December 27, 2013

"Soft" Start: GAPS Dinner

Today was supposed to be Day 1 on Intro for us. I opted to push it out a day due to having a midwife appointment that I had to take both children to... hungry kids in a small room for an hour would have been a disaster!

Because I am absolutely anxious to get started...we began with dinner.

The recipe:
Shredded chicken from whole chicken used to make broth
2-4 cups of bone broth
2 delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 huge carrot, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 salmon filet (for pregnant mama)
Salt and pepper
A few pinches of fresh thyme and oregano
1/4 lemon squeezed (big mistake!)

I just baked it all with the veggies completely on top of the salmon. I added an extra ladle of broth and the pre-cooked shredded chicken for the last few minutes to warm that up.

I strained some broth into fancy handled soup bowls for the girls (they chose their own colors). The chicken was served separated from the veggies. I included a steel straw for both to use if they preferred. I also offered a bribe- a tiny gummy and a regular sized gummy if you drink all the broth. I only filled the cup 1/4 full to make this an easy challenge.

The broth was pretty tangy due to the lemon. This was my mistake. DD3 said she didn't like it but slurped it up entirely. She even tried the delicata squash (I called it yellow pumpkin). Chicken is never hard for her to eat.

The Results: 
DD5 seemed adventurous and set out to drink her broth, but stopped. She started dipping chicken in the broth, but stopped. She even tasted the delicata, but stopped after it caused her to dry heave. She hardly ate.

DD3 got her tiny and regular sized gummy made with lime juice, raw honey and Great Lakes Unflavored Gelatin, Kosher, 16-Ounce Can (Single) I cut the raw honey down by 1/3 and added a little water. I didn't want them to be too sour with extra juice. They turned out great! We have two sizes of silicon trays. The smaller ones allow for more of a true gummy bear taste and texture like these Freshware 30-Cavity Silicone Chocolate, Jelly and Candy Mold or I just cover the bottom on this size Wilton 2105-4889 Easy Flex Silicone 24-Cavity Bite Daisy Pan  The kids do not seem to care which size, but I prefer the smaller size...it makes the gelatin flavor less obvious. This may not be noticeable to others but I have a serious addiction to the old-fashioned gummy bears...so I notice even subtle differences in the healthier ones!

Dinner was over. Bed time started with an Epsom and vitamin C detox bath....pjs on and that is when all hell broke loose. Both children were in shambles asking for snacks. I had nothing- so I heated up some of the shredded chicken in a pan with broth. They both ate a good amount of that and finally went to bed. DD3 was asking for a dozen other things--cashews, apples, almond butter, STEAK! Ha ha.

We shall see how breakfast goes--we are having the intro butternut squash soup from Healthy, Home & Happiness. 

Preparation for Tomorrow: 
Full Circle arrives in the morning. I finished peeling every piece of garlic I could find in my cupboard and froze them. My garlic press will crush frozen garlic so it shouldn't change anything to freeze them. I need to start making my kraut and pickles as soon as the delivery arrives. I filled the crock pot with a roast, half my sliced onions, 2 butternut squashes cubed/sliced and some chicken broth. I am thawing ground beef, another small tenderloin steak cut and beef bones. I can see why GAPS bloggers all say they have to have endless broth! We only did dinner and no one really drank much of it and we are already low! I had 2 Ball Mason Jars 1/2 Gal. full to start!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Preparing for GAPS

So far I have read the book once and am working on it again.

I purchased this 30 day guide which, to be honest, makes the first few weeks seem totally feasible. Now the length of each phase in this 30 day guide is short- like 5 days. So that may not work for everyone but my plan is to have the food for the 30 days prepared or at least on my grocery list for the future so we are ready to move up a phase at any time. If we need to stay on one phase longer, I will have to start looking for more resources at that point. I will update this post with more GAPS prep links as I find them. Obviously you can Google and find tons, but most are not detailed enough (in my opinion). I want to take as much brain work out of this as possible but not cheat/hack the program.

So far I have done these things:

1. Printed the 30 day guide, specifically pages 11-13, 17-37. I made multiple copies of page 57 for each person in my family (this is the symptom log...it is helpful because it has a list of things that we may not attribute to food but are quite possibly related to our GAP syndrome). I honestly think this is a *must have* unless you like re-inventing the wheel. It is on sale for $20 right now too.

2. I ordered 2 weeks worth of food per the 30 day guide. I want to be sure we have TOO MUCH food the first week so that I am not scrambling if we need more boiled cauliflower or something. (List of what I ordered below).

3. Made gummies to use as bribes for my children (GASP!) This is the third recipe I have tried and so far the best- small batch though so I'm making 3 batches to be fully prepared.

4. Sliced up all the veggies I have on hand that are Intro approved. This means: Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and several varieties of squash and pumpkin. I have placed them all in the freezer until the day before we start.

5. Made 2 gallons of beef broth.

6. Working on 2 whole chickens (for meat and for broth).

7. Eaten or given away anything that is not GAPS legal that I feel we might be tempted to eat in a pinch.

8. Started a batch of pickles.

9. Will start kimchi and sauerkraut on Wed when our produce delivery arrives.

10. Purchased handled soup bowls in colors my girls picked out (another bribe!)

11. Rounded up detox bath supplies- Epsom Salts, kelp, baking soda and dulce flakes. I plan to order more of these items in 2 weeks from Mountain Rose Herbs.

That is basically it for now. I will be getting a soup container for the husband that he can insert a spoon into

12. Because I am pregnant I am starting to soak and dehydrate nuts to make nut milks and to have nuts to snack on. More later about how I might add in foods for myself due to my condition.

My grocery order looks like this:
3 broccoli
3 cauliflower
2 whole chickens
4 bone in skin on chicken breasts
4 lbs of ground beef
4 packs of beef bones
JalapeƱo peppers
Full Circle $69.93
Tacoma Food Co-op $22.74
Pride and Joy (Beef) $45

Things I already have on hand:
Roasts (several varieties)
Grassfed butter to make Ghee for Stage 2
Veggies from Zestful CSA- approximately $200 worth on hand (wont all be used this week)
Pride and Joy (roasts) $75 (amount left on hand, wont all be used this week)
Azure Butter order $8.00 (amount left on hand)

Why the GAPS diet?

I'm not a popular blogger and have no aspirations of being one. I'm simply cataloging our journey in case it might be helpful to another family...and to keep a "journal" of sorts.

The short answer to "Why are you doing GAPS?" is: because I want to heal my child's gut so she can choose all or most all of the foods on earth and eat them without having negative consequences. She recently had a series of tests done with our naturopath that suggest she is highly reactive to the 5 main foods she eats every day. I found this to be suspicious. We could do the generic elimination diet he suggested--but I have a feeling she would no longer be reactive to the eliminated foods and will then be reactive to 5 new foods. The US Biotech tests aren't exactly cheap so instead of proving my theory with one more test in 30 days- I'd rather do something (more labor intensive) to heal those suspected intolerances.

After reading Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia I can trace DD5's history and see where a true healing diet may benefit her.

I heavily debated a raw vegan diet vs. GAPS. There are many people who heal by going grain free, vegan/gluten free, raw vegan etc. While I personally would choose raw vegan for myself--I don't feel it is my right to choose raw vegan for my daughter. I want to heal her gut so she can make her own choices about food for the rest of her life. GAPS promises to do this... at the "end" she should be able to eat just about any properly raised/prepared food that God put on this earth (key point here, food God put on earth, not a box of cereal). She may still maintain a few intolerances at the end but at least we can be certain they are real and not an immune miscommunication.

Anyway, our family stats are below for people looking for someone similar to them. In the next post I will detail our preparation steps as we are starting "Intro" in the next 3-5 days depending on when everything we have purchased gets into the house.

DD5- Known Symptoms: dark eye circles, fidgety ticks like chronic nose rubbing and partial yawning, red eyes, itchy eyes, excess mucus, significant mood swings, supreme pickiness and major texture aversion. Will not eat foods mixed together. Low B12 and low D.

DD3- No real symptoms. Of the 4 of us, she is the healthiest. She rarely holds onto a cold. She will eat any real food. She is currently begging for sugar post adenoid/tongue and lip tie surgery. But this is new for her.

Me- 31 y/o pregnant mama. I'm irritable (situational or food related--only GAPS will tell, right?), sluggish digestion (again, could be pregnancy related), some suspected nutrient deficiencies including D and B12...possibly iron since last check 12 months ago.

DH-33-Trouble sleeping, confirmed issues with sugar and milk (raw milk is more tolerable), trouble maintaining blood sugar levels between meals, weakened teeth enamel, chronic sinus problems, excess mucus and excessive fatigue (some combo of work and food related in my opinion).

Well that is us and the short version of why we are doing GAPS. I was really excited to learn more by reading the full book and will work in some of the things I learned throughout the posts. I don't want to bore you too much...go read that book!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tog+Porter Box #6

After a few months of CrossFit at Tacoma Strength I decided to get back in touch with my stylist, Emily at Tog+Porter. I really enjoyed my monthly boxes but our cross country travels left us without a solid address up until recently...and we are moving yet again! Oy! If you have no idea what I am talking about- you can read my original write-up on Tog+Porter here.

Anyway- CrossFit has changed my body shape...he he he. Sorta. So don't make any rude comments about how much larger I am these days...it is only going to get worse. Again (he he he).

Despite my change in shape- I know that come sometime next summer, I will be back to normal. Some of these clothes I may actually be able to wear while I maintain my hibernation layers...he he he. (if you have no idea why I am he he he-ing...sorry...top secret, classified).

So here are the photos and items. I will update with prices and brands later.

Outfit #1 I almost liked the lace skirt and was going to keep it but my husband said no way- he didn't like how wide it made me look. I can't really tell how wide it makes me in the photo but I will trust him since he has way better fashion sense than I do. The belt and shirt seem like good staples so I will keep them.
Lace skirt, tan belt, denim shirt. 
Blue blouse Skirt from previous box

 Outfit #2- a blue blouse that would look nice if I were wearing a bra and ironed it. I am not entirely sure what to wear it with just yet but I will figure it out. Seems like a nice staple shirt. The skirt came from box #4.

Item #3- striped sweater. This is a really super duper comfy sweater. It is light but warm and I want to keep it...but Stephen wasn't a fan. I do kind of look like my dad in the photo...not that this is a bad thing but we'll see. I need to think about it. What do you think? It may actually be a sweater I can wear through the winter despite any changes in shape I may experience. (wink wink).

Striped sweater
Navy dress, tan belt. 
Item #4- navy dress, thin tan/mustard belt. I love this dress and am keeping it. It has some fun strap stuff going on in the back. I am wearing a super tight bandeau that is definitely not flattering in this photo...not the dress' fault. 
Alternative Apparel tank
Item #5 Alternative Apparel tank- you know I am keeping this one. I love this brand. I would probably buy everything they made if it weren't exceptionally thin and easy to snag...but this one matches my favorite flowy brown skirt so I'm keeping it.

Item #6 and #7 (two photos) a simple white shirt. I think it is a wee bit tight in the armpits-but maybe I can have it let out. I really like the material and the overall fit...especially since it does not have a collar. Thinking I'm keeping that. And that really colorful scarf is so cute! I still have no idea how to wear a scarf. If I keep this one- it will mean I have two and I have got to start wearing them!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Meal Planning Services Part 2: Nourished Kitchen and Holistic Squid

Why did I continue trying different meal planning services after falling in love with TheFresh20? Just to see if something better exists...and because I was intrigued by a few friends who "swear" by the Weston A. Price based "traditional" style of eating. Trying to figure out that "diet" was extremely overwhelming. I'm not really one to do things half-way. I did buy the book Nourishing Traditions and found it helpful but to come up with "approved" meals on my own with my limited "traditional" eating experience wasn't appealing. Enter: Nourished Kitchen and Holistic Squid.

Contender A: Nourished Kitchen 

Pros: This is a really good plan. It fits the traditional way of life quite well and is well laid out. It offers tips on how to save time (make ahead, freeze and store options).
Best Feature: The substitutions for people on GAPS or with other dietary sensitivities.
Cons: Pretty time-consuming to make even with it laid out so well. If you are new to this style of eating--you may hate the menu. (See Family Approval Rating). There's no easing into it...and for me, it was really hard to make a complimentary vegetarian meal along with it when I wasn't feeling up to choking down some weird meats.
Affordability: The plan is a little more expensive than others but it is really well laid out. If you are currently a WAPF fanatic...this plan will save you serious time and brain power.
Family Approval Rating: Eh...too traditional for us. Some things like Italian wedding soup, bison and far too many meatloaf/meatball recipes for our taste...not enough vegetables either! We felt like we were just eating meat with broth...more similar to GAPS.
Conclusion: Great for the WAPF lover. Not the place to start for the "new to WAPF" family.

Contender B: Holistic Squid

Pros: Similar to Nourished Kitchen, this plan is based on the WAPF/traditional way of eating. This lady has her kitchen routine down. You will not waste time following this plan yet you will render lard, make tons of yogurt, culture your own cheese and many other traditional things that may be new to you. And no, you will not spend all your life in the kitchen...  Oh and the recipes are AMAZING...some of the best food I have ever cooked in my own kitchen came from this meal plan...my husband agrees!

Best Feature: Time saving tips--this meal plan comes with fairy dust because you will truly feel proud at the end of the week when you serve your family everything from scratch in fewer than 4 hours per week.

Cons: There are some errors in the instructions and missing ingredients here and there. They could stand to be copy edited. The recipes do produce large amounts of food...too much for our family of 4.

Affordability: The year is only $72...so still very affordable. The food per week is a bit pricey but I don't think it would be more than a normal weekly bill for a family following this plan.

Family Approval Rating: Overall my husband and I really enjoyed the plan but only one of our children consistently finished her dinner. It was really hard to make a complimentary meal for my oldest daughter who prefers to eat her food completely separated from other foods.

Conclusion: Totally worth trying...you wont be sorry!

While I have enjoyed using Holistic Squid's meal plans for over 30 days...I have experienced some undesirable side effects of following a traditional diet. I can't blame the meal plan as much as I blame the diet. I'll cover this topic in greater detail in another post.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Meal Planning Services Part 1: Relish!Relish!, Nourished Network and TheFresh20

How did I ever survive without a meal planning service before? It has been over 3 years now that I have been trying various meal planning services across the web. Even the ones that have room for improvement make my life easier than "winging it" or making up my own meal plan. For the sake of brevity I will break the reviews up into multiple posts (yep, I have tried *that* many plans!). 

My meal planning service started in 2010 with Relish!Relish

Pros: Hands down, the best use of technology of all the services I have tried. Drag and drop, phone app for grocery list, create your very own meal plan with more than 5 meals per week. 

Best Feature: Freezer meals each month! 

Cons: Uses some processed foods, you purchase a LOT of groceries because none of the meals compliment each other. 

Affordability: The service is totally affordable but we spent the most using this plan out of any others...even the ones focused on whole chickens, bone broth and making everything from scratch--including raw milk yogurt! 

Family Approval Rating: Some meals were excellent (usually the ethnic ones) but many were bland. Desserts were amazing. 

Conclusion: Ehh- it has a lot of room to grow. If I could, I would mesh their technology with any of the other meal planning services I have tried. The freezer meals are hard to beat though... 

The next one Nourish Network 

Pros: Beautiful menu plan. Well laid out and fewer pages to print. Gourmet tasting meals. 

Best Feature: Beauty! 

Cons: Used less common meats (mussels, lamb, etc) without offering a complimentary substitution. Very restricted--5 meals so you either make them or you don't. She stopped offering new meal plans over a year ago and never came back it seems? I had just gotten started and it quit. 

Affordability: Rather pricey--the  recipes were gourmet-ish but still affordable. 

Family Approval Rating: I skipped at least 1 meal per week because I knew my family wouldn't like it. 

Conclusion: It is better for a 1-2 person adult only household...fun to try with a spouse or a boyfriend/girlfriend to woo them with stellar cooking. Unfortunately, it seems like you can't even sign up anymore. 

Third trial: TheFresh20

Pros: Seasonal, nothing is canned, focused on 20 ingredients per week, easy to substitute gluten free and make it vegetarian (you can choose the vegetarian meal plan too but I found them bland), uses very few grains--I can hardly recall using any grains actually!

Best Feature: Continuity of planning! Love that it uses up 20 ingredients each week. Huge cost savings with that and you can shop at the local farmers market and know that the ingredients you find will match your shopping list for the week. 

Cons: Hard to find a con here- sometimes the portions are really small. This works for my family but I am sure it wouldn't if I had a husband who ate more than I do! 

Affordability: Extremely affordable plan pricing and we save a ton of money following this plan. We use their 4 week lunch plan and rotate it. We can buy entirely organic/local produce and ingredients and still not break our food budget. 

Family Approval Rating: Very rarely did we find a recipe we didn't like. A few were just "meh" and we wouldn't make them again but overall, this one is a keeper!

Conclusion: Probably my top pick. It is really hard to beat. 

In the next post I will cover two "traditional" eating style services!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

48 days....

Holy ravioli- living in a hotel has made me crazy...and both my children too!

Last night I started labeling the polka dots on the ugly couch as things we have done since leaving our house Jan 30...technically we started sleeping in a strange bed on Jan 25.

Here's my list:
Jan 25-Jan 29 we slept at a friend's house while emptying out our house and attempting to maintain our normal routine of school and dance.

Jan 30 we entered the vessel that would contain us for 102 hours and 4308 miles.

Day 1 Blog Post
Day 2 Post
Day 3-5 Post
Day 6 & 7 Post

Fell off the grid...teething Ainsley returned!

Day 11 Post
Day 16 Post

And here we are at day 48...

Thank God Washington is so freaking amazing! You would think that after having seen Big Sur, Point Mugu, staying on the Monterey Peninsula, lunching at a beautiful creek in San Luis Obispo and viewing numerous other places from a van with a screaming child, that hanging out in a regular place like Washington would not be so cool. But it is! And that is the only thing keeping me going. I'm setting my mind to taking the rest of our hotel time to explore the nooks and crannies of this area so that when we move in we can just LIVE. Just...set down the couch, hang up some curtains and LIVE. I have drawn a diagram of the house and have penciled in where the movers can put our stuff. I have also drawn a picture of our homeschool room. I pick up garden boxes next week from a local Boy Scout group who is making them for a fundraiser. We planted our starter seeds according to SproutRobot.com.
This is the Ainsley we picked up somewhere in Oklahoma

Making our own path at Point Defiance near red tape

Since arriving in Washington these are the things we have done: hiked at Point Defiance park, joined the zoo, joined the children's museum, drove to the Olympic Peninsula, took a ferry to south Seattle, walked Lincoln park in Seattle, visited downtown Seattle including the Pike Place Market and have managed to visit most of the popular kid places in town!

Do I sound crazy yet? I feel it. Both of my kids are crazy now too...which makes me crazier. I can't decide if sitting in the hotel for a few days and letting everyone cry is better than go-go-going all over the place. I tried a little of both this week and the results were terrible in both instances. Here's to 16 more nights in the hotel!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Day 16! Seriously 16 days on the road!

We have been at Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe since Feb 13- so 3 days so far. We check out tomorrow and start our short 10 hour drive to Portland. I really do mean short because by comparison- 10 hours to get to Portland is short!

Ainsley's teething madness hit its peak once we got here. She's thrown herself down face first into just about every hard surface around--ice, snow, mud, sand, pavers, concrete, marble and some carpet. I've tried letting her sleep whenever she wants but she wakes up screaming and bloody. Poor kid. She's made most parts of the trip disappointing for me--if I am totally honest. I am extremely grateful that Avery has been able to get out and do some fun stuff with Stephen though.

From our travels Stephen and I have discussed starting a blog that rates places for their kid-friendliness (or unfriendliness). The internet, even as overwhelming as it is, just does not make it easy to find the best places to visit for young kids. Kid-friendly ratings seem to mean kids who are old enough to be without their parents. Surely families with young children can maintain some of their favorite hobbies and include their children...or are we wishing for too much?

Three more nights and we'll be staying in WA. We have a lot of great photos so we can at least say "we were here" but Stephen and I both know the trip was worthy of being an entire season of Survivor: Harding Family Van. Outwit. Outcry. Outlast.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Finished Day 11...

OK I have no idea how many miles we did each day or any of that because we never had solid internet service or an evening free since we left Champaign, IL. From Carroll, IA we went to Prescott, IA down through Kansas to Keota/Stigler/Blocker, Oklahoma. We stayed two nights and three days there. It was a lot of fun for all of us...especially Avery! She and her oldest cousin A. had a blast. They never squabbled and were so happy to be together that they even shared a chair at the dinner table. It was heart melting to hear A. say she was going to wait for Avery while she finished her snack...and that meant sitting in the same chair watching her with a big smile. Avy has a few really good friends in NC but there was something very different about the bond with her cousin. It was hard to leave them, especially knowing we will live so far away. In addition to meeting or hanging out with some of Stephen's family, we spent some time with Uncle Logan's horses. Avery was a little timid and Ainsley was "so cold" so she didn't enjoy the time too much. We left at bedtime to make it through the most boring part of our trip.

From Blocker, OK we took Interstate 40 all the way to Barstow, CA or somewhere about there. We were in the car for 27.5 hours before we finally arrived at Point Mugu, CA to stay on the Naval base's beach motel. The drive was atrocious. We tried to take turns sleeping but that didn't go well with Ainsley waking for me all night and then both of us struggling to actually sleep in the car. Around New Mexico through Arizona we ran into a terrible snow storm. in NM the interstate was solid ice for almost 2 hours. While I was driving a van ahead of me lost control and spun around towards us then slid into the ditch. While I let go of the accelerator to slow down we fish-tailed a bunch. I was SO sure we were going to hit the van. From that moment we traded and Stephen drove through the rest of the awfulness. This route was really dull. We saw all sorts of neat scenery but it was abundant. It was over 1500 miles on one interstate. We did get to see rock mountains, snowy mountains, the tundra and the CA desert lands...for hours and hours. I have absolutely no recollection of checking into the motel but I do recall seeing about 10 rabbits in the grass out the sliding door. At first I thought I just had a delirious moment but the next day they were all still hanging out.

We walked the beach at Point Mugu, headed to breakfast in Oxnard, CA then drove highway 1/the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara. While there we checked out three different beach areas plus the Stearns Wharf and artisan street flea market. So far Santa Barbara is the most interesting place we have visited on this trip. The downtown area is extremely creative looking and full of culture. There is no shortage of food or shopping.

We drove from Santa Barbara to Pismo Beach. The kids were trying to sleep in the car (4:30pm here but 7:30 at home). So we just checked in at The Cliffs resort. Everyone but me is asleep already. We reserved a room with a slider out to the hot tub/heated pool/beach. Hopefully we take advantage of that tomorrow since we paid $50 more *just* for the view!

From here we are headed up the Pacific Coast Highway towards San Francisco. We have hit over 2000 miles and 60 hours. I will check the van log tomorrow to confirm.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Day 6 and 7: Not Enough Time

We spent 3 nights in Des Moines and missed seeing so many of our friends. We had a nice 24 hour visit with grandma and grandpa. The grls didn't take any time to warm up with them. They were chatting away right from the start. We headed from Carroll, IA to Prescott, IA to see our family friend Nancy. This put our current total at 1609 miles 34 hours 28 minutes.

We got on the road at 8 this morning for Oklahoma. The girls are showing signs of travel fatigue. So far Stephen and I are handling it well. We keep getting more efficient with each stop. Today's trip is close to 450 miles.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Day 3, 4 and 5: Lounging in Des Moines

We had originally planned to stay another night in Champaign but Ainsley wasn't doing so well with the wind and staying in a small room. We checked out and drove to Iowa. We arrived a bit after 11pm. Driving that late was rough because we were already so tired. The wind was crazy and we saw so many semis and such in the ditch from a snow storm a few days prior.

We spent Saturday and Sunday doing a whole bunch of nothing except messing up our gracious hostess' house by throwing up on her kid's bed (poor Avy) and eating her marker tips (Ainsley). So far we have traveled 1302 miles and driven for 24 hours and 25 minutes. This was the short leg of or trip!

One not so great part about these short lay overs is not having enough time to see everyone. We hardly made the rounds this time and there isn't anything we can do about it. From missing a former business partner to a brand new baby- we missed some important people.

We will be heading for grandma and grandpa's in the morning.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 2: Three States 375 Miles

Thankfully today was a short day! We got up and out of Gallipolis, OH fairly early--7ish but I had been up since 5:15am hoping to get out of town really early. Stephen is kind of slow to get ready. :)

We drove through some really erratic weather--one moment it was snowing like mad and the next it was just windy and sunny. The worst snow was in Indianapolis as we were leaving. We made a quick 4  hours and some minutes trip to Indianapolis to see some of our "old" Des Moines friends who live there now. It was a short stop but really great to catch up and see their kids.

From Indy we made the 2 hour trip to Champaign, IL to meet up with Grandpa Harding. Overall a pretty lame day. The fuse blew in the plug in part of the DVD player (did you know it had a fuse? Neither did I!). So around the 3 hour mark when the girls were bored to tears I tested the DVD player out to find out it was not working. Yikes! Poor Avery is like her mama and gets car sick when reading, drawing or looking at ANYTHING while riding in the back seat. Poor kid. So we played several Kindermusik CDs, the girls told stories to each other with sock puppets and I read off every city or name I saw and they told me whether or not it was funny. Some funny words: Toledo, Keowee and Kickapoo. Some not funny words: Indianapolis, Xenia and Dayton.

Meeting friends and then family threw us off our clean eating routine rather quickly. We did start off the day with our usual green smoothie thanks to Stephen's genius idea to bring along our Vitamix. So far that is going well. We found some bananas at the hotel and we had packed kale, blueberries, raspberries, coconut water and yogurt. We ended with Chipotle for dinner at 5pm and Stephen is off getting our "midnight" snack of a vegetarian salad bowl and his crunchy tacos. It is an hour earlier here so a second dinner at 8:58pm isn't that weird, right?

I did have a bit of a revelation when we first entered the good ole midwest (or nearly the midwest) the air is so much cleaner and crisper smelling... of course it is also socolditfreezesyoureyelidsopenmotherf@%!ingfreezing so maybe that cleanses the nasty from the air. HA. Either way- the cold felt great for a bit until I had to carry both of my children into Target for our midway walk around break!

We aren't driving anywhere tomorrow. Just hanging out at the hotel with Grandpa Harding. The wind is whistling right through the hotel windows and the forecast says it will be 8 degrees tonight. Still NO snow to play in so this cold isn't even the "Fun cold" Avery has been waiting for.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 1: Four States 490 Miles

The Route: We didn't get a very early start on our road trip...leaving at 10am. We did arrive at our planned destination- Gallipolis, OH around 7:45pm. On this leg of the trip we traveled through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and are just barely into Ohio at our hotel. It took only an hour of me driving the girls by myself before books and music were no longer entertaining. Thus, the DVD player was turned on. If only they could reach the activities more readily I think they would be happier longer. When we entered the mountains of West Virginia I just couldn't hand them new things or reach things they had dropped anymore. The fog was so thick we drove with our hazard lights on for over an hour. It was hard to see much more than a car in front of me and the semi trucks were going very slow in two lanes. Their large bodies made more overspray from the torrential rain so it was nerve-wracking driving beside them. It continued to pour the entire drive to the hotel. It was 74 when we left NC and it was 54 when we arrived in Ohio. I think we are finally out of the warm winter zone.

The Girls: Pistachios and the organic vitamin C lollipops seemed to offer the greatest entertainment. Ainsley ate more in the car than she normally eats in a week--"baby" apples from Trader Joe's, pistachios, dehydrated strawberries and organic animal crackers plus echinacea tea. Ainsley got pretty tired and goofy- she tried pulling her hair down to her mouth while pushing her lips up to her hair saying she wanted to bite her hair. Avery asked "when will we be there" every 15 minutes. Midway through the day they both cried for daddy off and on until we finally stopped for the night. They crashed after a bath at 8:30...hopefully they wake up extremely early so we can get going.

For Tomorrow: We have a long haul and the potential for hazardous roads ahead but the sweet reward of seeing some friends and one grandparent.

I'll update with photos later.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Marital Consequences When Moving

We just wrapped up the packing and loading part of our moving adventure. I have yet to decide if we will ever use a moving company again. Our move out here was absolutely terrible as far as our marital head-butting goes. We were downright evil to each other leading up to packing and loading and through the unloading. On top of that, we had so much work to do while managing a 2.5 month-old and a 2 year-old. It was a long and stressful 5 day drive as well.

We decided to use a moving company for this move. While it hasn't been without issues, our marital consequences have been null. In fact, we have been a team when faced with conflict. Instead of attacking each other we have been attacking others together! Between no-longer-neighborly neighbors and lackadaisical packers we have had to go toe-to-toe (literally in one instance) with people who threaten the success of this move. Our physical  effort has been greatly reduced. I can't say our time expenditure has been cut by much. So a DITY move (that is- do it yourself) vs. a moving company seems to be an even draw on the comparison chart. Perhaps the unloading segment will break the stalemate.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This is THE year 2013

Boy do I have plans for 2013! It will be the year that makes up for 2012, 2011 and at least half of 2010. There were plenty of good things that happened in those years. Well, maybe not plenty...but a few...like the birth of Ainsley and making new friends...but the rest was kinda crappy for the whole family.

We are oh so close to getting on the road to our major cross country road trip. I'm sure there are a lot of families out there who trek across 15 states in less than a month...but this is our first. It will be our first family vacation too with several days at Lake Tahoe.

I moved so much growing up that I absolutely detest moving. I get anxiety about it...I become a complete blubbering mess because no matter why I am moving--it always feels exactly as it did when I was little. That sucked worse than anything. A lot of crummy things happened to our family way back then but moving hurt the most...as did being the new kid every single year with buck teeth, caterpillar eyebrows, a horrible sense of fashion and long stick legs. But...

2013 will be different. I really can't wait to get out of New Bern, NC. I think everyone I have come in contact with in this town refers to me as "That negative lady who hates New Bern". Actually--they are probably too nice to think of me that way...because the people here really are nice times 1000. I've met some of the best families. Stephen and I like both the husband AND the wife in several households here. Leaving them and their adorable munchkins behind is going to be rough. I sure hope we can make friends like this again in the future.

Leaving behind Avery's amazing teacher and Montessori school will be the other extremely difficult thing about this move.

But the silver lining- there is so much to gain in heading to the heavenly state of Washington so we are focusing on that. Dad has promised his little girls (and me!) a dog. It may take us a year or two to find the right one--but just knowing that we have the "ok" to get one...is making the move extra exciting for the girls. Everything that we enjoy is there...and not just within the state but within a few miles of where we will be living. After living in New Bern...this will be so huge. SO HUGE.

The adventure begins on Jan 30. 2013 will be the best year yet...it just has to be.