Where I am with food, these days

February 21, 2011

So I’m still doing a restricted diet here due to Ramona’s potential allergies to wheat, dairy, egg, and peanut. We did take her to an allergist in December, who did a skin test, which did say she’s allergic to those things. Now, I don’t want to dismiss food allergies, especially when it’s my own kid, but I gave up those things between the blood test and the allergist, and she still had bad eczema (which was the reason they thought she might have allergies). The allergist recommended a different lotion — I had been using Aquaphor, which didn’t do anything except make us all greasy, but the allergist recommended CeraVe. Switching moisturizers made a bigger difference than any dietary changes, and all but eliminated her eczema. So I don’t know what to think. I’m still avoiding those foods, and she has another allergist appointment in May, where they may do a “food challenge” (when they give her a tiny bit of the potential allergen) with wheat. Meanwhile, she did her own personal mini food challenge the other day by stealing a Cheerio from Zuzu (nothing happened).

I would really love to go back to eating wheat.

I haven’t really gone fully into any kind of wheat-free baking or anything. I make cookies with the kids and just don’t eat any. I know there are all kinds of wheat-free baking mixes, and allergen-free baking methods, but honestly I still think that she’s going to outgrow these allergies (at least the ones that affect baking — wheat, dairy, and egg), and I don’t really need to go too crazy with alternative flours in the meantime.

And as you can see, she’s hardly wasting away, and doesn’t worry about food at all, but instead works hard at being adorable. (By the way, that finger she has going into her mouth in the photo — her right index finger — is the one she sucks on. Very cute.)

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CATEGORIES: Julie, Ramona

Children’s Book of the Week: The Hiccupotamus

February 21, 2011

The Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz

Let’s just jump right in to this one. Here’s how it starts: “There was a hippopotamus/Who hiccuped quite-a-lotamus/And every time he got’emus/He’d fall upon his bottomus.” Now, you are either thinking this sounds like the most annoying book ever, or, like me, you’re thinking, “Why hasn’t this been done before?” And I mean that in a good way. We love this super silly, very rhymey, easily memorizable hiccup story. And why on earth has there never been another children’s book that rhymes “rhinoceros” with “minty dental flosserous”? It seems so obvious. But I never have seen it before, nor any of the other ridiculous and straightforward rhymes in here. Henry has taken to breaking into random stanzas from this book whenever he pleases, and we are all getting great joy from pretending Ramona is Hip Hop Rapper Baby, rapping out this entire book (which makes me think of the Flight of the Conchords’ Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros every time we do it).

There is a kind of odd thing at the end where the author pretends that, I don’t know, the whole book is a movie or something, and gives bios for all the “actors” who play the various parts in the book. It strikes me a little as, “see, I can be funny in more than one way!” and it doesn’t really go with the rest of the book. But we have just been ignoring that part, and enjoying the hiccup part.

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Thinking about possibly one day acquiring some kind of updated music format

February 14, 2011

So today I was lamenting how trashed all our kids CDs are (scratched and skipping), but also how much the kids love playing CDs, and how much better it is that they can skip from song to song, versus our minivan situation, which involves me fast forwarding or rewinding through cassette tapes to get to the requested song, while driving (yes, yes, I know, I should just tell them to be quiet and listen, that they’re lucky they get to hear anything at all, but sometimes I give in).

And I actually had this thought: “CDs are so great, so much easier for kids than cassettes or vinyl, I guess that’s why music hasn’t progressed past that at all. I wonder what the next format will be.” And then I was embarrassed, even though I was all by myself and these thoughts were in my own head. Where have I been? Um, yeah, I think there’s something newer out there, Julie.

So my question is, what format do you have for your kids’ music? Do you still have CDs? I often will download songs for them, and then I have to burn them on a CD, because we don’t have an MP3 player (which is why I forgot they exist). But is there some kind of giant, child-friendly MP3 player that I could put all their music on, and they could find the songs they want to listen to without help? Does everyone except for me skip the CD burn entirely, and just plug their MP3 player into some kind of speaker system? Thoughts, please!

CATEGORIES: Julie
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Children’s Book of the Week: Cabin on Trouble Creek

February 14, 2011

Cabin on Trouble Creek by Jean Van Leeuwen

I have no idea how I stumbled upon this book…somewhere I saw a description of the plot and something about it being nonstop action (and since we’ve read a few too many no-action dreary books lately, it seemed worth a try). Daniel and Will go to Ohio with their Pa to find some land and build a cabin, and then Pa goes Back East to get the rest of the family and bring them to the cabin. Except…he doesn’t come back. So Daniel and Will are left alone, wondering, and trying to figure out how to survive, especially as winter begins to descend. One comment Eli had was, “I liked this book because there weren’t any bad people in it,” which is true. They saw wolves and bears, they had to figure out how to catch fish and rabbits, and how to make cups and bowls and mittens and snowshoes. They get some life-saving help from a Native American named Solomon, which also helps to positively influence their view of Native Americans (and of people in general). But there’s no evil villain, and it was kind of nice not to have a big meanie to worry about. The whole time I was feeling like I wished the Little House series was this fast-paced. It just seemed like so many of those books focused on, you know, sewing petticoats or reading in the candlelight or just dreary existence (I’m looking at you, Long Winter), and not enough on action.

I know there is a whole genre of books like Cabin on Trouble Creek (My Side of the Mountain, Hatchet, The Sign of the Beaver) but this was the first one we’ve read as a bedtime book, and we loved it (also, this one skews to a younger audience than those other ones do). I appreciated the opportunities to talk about perseverance and self-reliance in a realistic manner (i.e., not in the context of dragon fighting or fantasy, which seems to be the other genre our bedtime reading is heavy in). This is the most-discussed-afterward book I can remember in a long time — it helps that it’s currently winter, and there is 4 feet of snow outside, so we can say, “Hey, can you imagine if you were Daniel or Will and you had to figure out how to find food in this?”

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Plunder the Influence

February 11, 2011

Hi all! Make sure you check out my awesome neighbor Adriane‘s contribution to the new show, The Storytellers, at the Glickman library. If you’re not in Portland (and even if you are), explore the blog for her project, Plunder the Influence. She asked all kinds of people in her life to submit photos of their books and describe something about them: either how they live with them, or specific important books, or even books they have loaned and wished they hadn’t. I’m totally mesmerized by all the book photos. So many different ways that books are in our homes! And make sure you check out the books of yours truly.

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CATEGORIES: clutter, housekeeping, Julie

Children’s Book of the Week: Five Minutes’ Peace

February 7, 2011

Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy

This is one of those rare books that totally understands the trials of both children and parents, humorously appeals to those purported difficulties, and makes everyone feel happy and jolly and like they’ve been heard. Mrs. Large (an elephant) tries to sneak off to the bath so she can get away from her adorable, meddlesome children. They, of course, want to know what she’s doing, and follow her right up the stairs. Mrs. Large tells them to go back downstairs, that she only wants “Five minutes’ peace from you lot.” They give her all of one minutes’ peace and then descend on her and know how to push all her buttons (the older boy, Lester, wants to play a tune for her on his recorder, and points out that he’s been practicing, like “you told me to!”).

They all end up climbing into the bathtub with her, which makes her get out, and try to escape to the kitchen (which is a mess, due to the children’s sloppy eating habits, which is what she was trying to escape from in the first place). She gets “three minutes and forty-five seconds of peace before they all come and find her.”

My Aunt Sandra sent us this book last summer, and we really read it all the time. I read it and feel glad that I’m not the only one who wants to escape from my children and just be all by myself for a while, and the kids feel like they’re not the only children who can’t understand why on earth their parents would ever want to leave the room that they’re in. Oh! And the best part of this book is that it comes with a CD, which my children might like listening to even more than hearing me read it, so I actually get five minutes’ peace thanks to this book.

I’m looking forward to other Large Family books based on my life, like maybe Mrs. Large Tries to Get Winter Gear on Her Children and Get Out the Door in Under an Hour or perhapsĀ  Mrs. Large Explains to Her Screaming Child that Show and Tell Objects are Not Her Responsibility, and it is Not Actually Her Fault that It Was Left Behind by the Back Door.

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The Language of Zuzu

February 4, 2011

Now offering classes in Zuzu 101, Conversational Zuzu, and Advanced Conversational Zuzu. Note that I am still a beginning speaker myself. Um, and note also that Iris’s house is clearly a lot cooler than our house.

CATEGORIES: Zuzu

Reusable Produce Bags

February 4, 2011

I am so embarrassed by how long it took me to buy reusable produce bags. I’ve had reusable grocery bags for years now, so why was it only this month that it dawned on me to get produce bags too? Maybe I was waiting for the market to be full of options. Seriously, how many plastic produce bags have I put oranges in, paid for, brought home, and immediately recycled? I used it for, what, an hour?

I got two different kinds. I got a five-pack of fine-mesh bags from Flip and Tumble, and a two-pack of large bags from Blue Avocado. I’m glad I got all of them, since sometimes the bags live in the fridge with produce in them, and the large ones are good for holding things like the six billion apples my children go through on a weekly basis. The Flip and Tumble bags will hold about eight apples, and the Blue Avocado bags will hold about twenty apples. The Blue Avocado ones are also good for big things like kale. I am glad I got the smaller bags too, though, because they’re less bulky, so they fit a little better in the produce drawer in the fridge.

Now, you go be green about your greens too!

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CATEGORIES: Food, housekeeping, Julie