Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Allergy free diet update

Here we are, 10 days in. Thank you all for your comments on my original allergy post last week.

Daniel's skin is looking great!  It cleared up around the one-week mark and has only continued to improve.

Just today I can begin to notice his little nose not being snotty, and he seems to cough less.  But when he does cough he still sounds a little congested.

I haven't seen the poop results I am looking for, but it's still early.

As far as the concerns I had for myself:

Yes, I miss cheese and all things dairy.  And peanut butter.  I miss peanut butter more than I thought I would!

Yes, I get hungry often.  But I snack often, too, so I don't think I've lost any weight.  I've eaten a lot of chips & salsa, bean dip (made my own), and hummus (made my own of that, too).  I'm on my second batch of granola. :)

The only 'cheats' have been a little bit of mayo (made with eggs) and tonight I floured my meat before I fried it.  I'm so certain dairy is the culprit I didn't see those cheats as a big deal.  The biggest hurdle was our monthly fellowship meal at church Sunday.  

Breakfast hasn't been as hard as I thought.  I did eat beans one day, because I was going out and didn't want to be snacking and hungry later.  The other days I've been eating (instant) oatmeal.  I discovered cooking it with a tablespoon or so of pumpkin helps make it nice and creamy. :)  I prefer making my own oatmeal instead of using instant but since I'm already making the boys breakfast every morning it's so much easier to just use the instant.

For a chocolate fix I discovered that chocolate syrup (the kind for ice cream and chocolate milk) is dairy free.  Not bad poured over bananas with a spoon. :)

But even better than that was a recipe for dairy free fudge I had saved!  Woohoo!  Mine didn't set up, but I didn't really care.  It was chocolate!

And every mama needs chocolate, right?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

4 Months

Yay! Four months is a celebration to me, of making it past the first 3 months.  Those first 3 months are a doozy, but once you are good and clear of those there are more fun & games than tears.  And even if you aren't quite there yet there is usually the promise of better sleep on the horizon. :)

We are all enjoying baby smiles and chuckles (we call them courtesy laughs).  Dale and Alan both love helping take care of Daniel, and he is definitely still Brooklyn's favorite baby doll. 

As I posted earlier this week, he's had some trouble that we attributed to allergies.  I've made some changes in my diet hoping to get him some relief asap.

Some of our babies have started solids this early, but Daniel doesn't seem the least bit interested, so the plan is just to continue nursing for now.  Most nights he still wakes up every 3 or 4 hours, but some nights he'll surprise me with a 5 or 6 hour stretch.  Naps are fairly predictable (with a morning, afternoon, and usually an evening) and (maybe? fingers crossed!) getting a little longer.

Happy baby days!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Quackin' Up: Science Day

Whoever decided to remove regular school work and make our Tuesdays science/art/extra day is a genius. Oh wait, that was me.  
The only thing is I didn't come up with that on my own; I've seen it done in lots of homeschooling families.  Genius points removed. Carry on.

Today was all science, and involved 3 quick and easy projects, all from

First up was a lesson in vibrations and sound, demonstrated with "duck calls" made from straws.  This was a huge hit with my noise-making, Duck Dynasty loving boys.

Later we calmed (and quieted) things down by experimenting with static electricity.  The boys took turns combing their hair several times and then holding the comb near the water to see the water bend toward the comb.

Finally we made miniature "lava lamps" by filling a glass over half full of water, coloring it (just for fun) and then adding a layer of vegetable oil.

Then we plopped bits of salt (and later tried sugar) onto the oil.

The salt would sink to the bottom, bringing some of the oil with it.  The salt would then stay, while the oil rose back to the top.  Fun!

Do you have a science or art project to suggest for us?  Tuesday seems to come around fairly often!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chicken. Fruit. Veggies.

I was talking with a friend this weekend that having 5 kids doesn't mean we've got everything all figured out.  We haven't cracked some parenting formula that makes it easy.  

You know why?  Because every child really is different.  Child two is different from child one.  Child three is different from children two and one.  Child four is different from three, two, and one.

Not surprisingly, Child five is different from all four that came before him.

After making our own observations (two months of a stuffy nose and skin problems), discussing them with a trusted family friend (and nurse), and doing a little bit of internet reading, we're convinced Daniel has allergy trouble.

He's exclusively breastfed, so that means whatever is causing his trouble has to be eliminated from my diet to be eliminated from his.

For the greatest chances of quick relief for Daniel, I have decided to eliminate all of the biggest triggers: dairy, eggs, wheat, and nuts.

This course of action certainly doesn't make me feel like super mom.  In fact, I've felt rather sorry for myself!  Self-pity will only make things worse, so I'm taking the first course of action that comes to mind with any of life's little happenings: blog about it!

Y'all have been with me for a liver transplant and all that entailed, the announcement and birth of 3 children, homeschooling, getting a dog, and countless tales of daily life.  Why not share this little adventure as well?

Starting today, I have completely cut all dairy, eggs, wheat and nuts.  Hopefully we'll see a difference soon in Daniel.  In a few weeks I will add each category back one at a time.

The wheat and nuts will be a pain (hello! no pbj's!) but I can work around it. 

I'll miss the eggs and will be a little challenged cooking some things without them, but again, I can deal with it.

But the dairy?  Ohhhh dairy how I will miss you.  Cheese, chocolate, sour cream, cheese, milk, butter, chocolate... the loss of dairy is where the whining rears its ugly head!

I love cheese. I really love cheese.  And chocolate.


And here's the real kicker: I'm 95% certain it's the dairy causing sweet baby boy's problems.

I am hoping he will do great after I eliminate these things.  Then I fully expect to add back wheat, nuts, and eggs with no problems.  If that's how it goes down, I won't even bother testing the dairy.  

The good news is he won't be nursing forever, and he should outgrow this little allergy in a few years. I cooked dairy-free for over a year around 2009-2010 for other reasons, so for our main meal each day I'm not too worried about coming up with a plan.
As far as the blogging, I don't plan on whining and complaining.  But I thought we could  share some food ideas.

My biggest concerns are: 
1. being hungry
2. losing weight
3. what to eat for breakfast

I figure I'll manage to take of #1 just fine: Eat.  All the time, if necessary. :)
#2.... I'm looking for other fat sources besides dairy fats.  Plus I figure #1 will help too.
#3.  Breakfast.  I have always enjoyed savory for breakfast just as much as sweet.  Even though eggs are off-limits for now I am intrigued by the idea of beans for breakfast.  I've heard the idea several times and it's always sounded appealing.  So I'm picturing corn tortillas and beans for some mornings.  Oatmeal is another option.  And green smoothies with rice milk.

Do you have allergy experience?  Do tell!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Daddy Buffalo!

We love any excuse for a party around here.  Everyone should have a big family if for no other reason than to celebrate birthdays more often! ;)  In our household, we start a run at the end of August with Dale, followed by 1 in September, 2 in October, 1 in November, 1 in January, and 1 in February.

We celebrated Daddy's day with a fish fry!
Followed up with presents....
...and a lemon jello cake:
Depending on where you start counting, Daddy Buffalo is either halfway to 40 or halfway to 70.  ;)

But watching our little celebration tonight I thought to myself it doesn't matter what age you are, anyone celebrating surrounded by his children is a blessed man!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Party!

When it was decided a few days ago that our homeschool Valentine's party would be at our house, Alan immediately got busy decorating, and I got busy looking for some games and activities.

The first thing we did when guests arrived today was make Valentine mailboxes.
A whole paper plate for the back, a half for the front, decorated, hole-punched and laced together with yarn.  I wish I had gotten a pic of everyone's lined up waiting for Valentines, but here are my kiddos':

When everyone's mailbox was done and lined up the post office was open for business!  I think delivering their Valentines might have been their favorite part.

Next up we gathered 'round for some Valentine fishing.  Several years ago I glittered and laminated various sizes of red paper hearts.  I have no idea why, but they really came in handy for this game!

Before the party I taped a different activity assignment to the back of each heart and attached a paper clip.  The kids took turns fishing for a heart, then everyone would do the activity on the back.
"Hop like a bunny" and "hug 3 people" were crowd favorites.  Brooklyn thought "quack like a duck" was funny, even though she wasn't participating.

Even some of the youngest among us liked this game!

Then it was back to the table for games with conversation hearts.  First we stacked them:
Then, making sure each player had the same number of hearts (20), we sorted them into stacks by color to see who had the most of each color.  The player with the most of a color won a round of applause. :)
Finally, each player chose their favorite 5 hearts and got back on their feet to take turns dropping them into a jar.
I seriously lol'd when I ran across this next pic. I have no idea what these two see that is so shocking and disgusting!

After our games we snacked (or lunched? we couldn't decide.  Dale called it 'snunch'!) on bbq sausages, cheese sticks, cheese biscuits, crackers, cheese puffs, heart cookies, chocolate cupcakes, pink lemonade and black cherry koolaid.  What a feast! 
I loved what a group effort this was for all the mamas.  I hope it was as easy for them as they made it for me!  A fun time was had by all and you can be certain this group will be getting together again!

True Love

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:13

Jesus laid down his life for us to take our penalty for sin.  At the end of this fun day of hearts and candy, that is all that really matters.  Have you accepted the gift of Life?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Around the House

In the fridge:
Bacon. That I bought without a plan for, but was on sale.  Because who couldn't use more bacon, right?

In the schoolroom:
Dinosaur week for preschool, paragraph writing for Dale, and "They Were Strong and Good" for Alan's Five-in-a-Row.  And a half-day off Thursday for a Valentine's party with friends.

On the menu:
Ribs and greens
Roast chicken legs, sweet potatoes, mushroom rice, salad
Stir fry
Fried fish and fixins
BBQ ribs

In the book basket:
Read aloud: Little House on the Prairie
Me: I, II, III John


Tyler: Dinosaur books


Baby Days:Poor Daniel has had one cold or another for weeks, plus eczema, and then this weekend, a feverish bout with roseola.  I feel like anything I say about him would be complaining, because, frankly... it's been kind of hard lately!  But how can I complain to have such a bundle of sweetness in my very own house?  He's ours, and we all love 'im... in spite of hard days. He'll be 4 months old on Valentine's day.  Pics then!

From the Camera:
Those two.
A Christmas tin.
The remains of a bag of cereal.
Under the baby swing.
All on their own.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Brooklyn's Spiritual Side (is lacking)

We've recently gotten back into the habit of having a family devotion time most evenings.  

Like anything else that goes on around here, you never know what may happen. Lately Brooklyn has taken it upon herself to keep these times interesting.

Our bedtime prayers routine with the boys involves taking turns saying our "thank yous" and "please helps" from the youngest to the oldest: Tyler, Alan, Dale, Mama, Daddy.

Someone is usually bouncing Daniel and Brooklyn tends to roam free.  Did you catch that? Brooklyn roams free.  That explains a lot already, doesn't it?

One night last week we had each said our prayers and Daddy was finishing us up, when without warning Brooklyn turned on the nearby cd player.  Which was on the radio setting.  So in the middle of our talking-to-God thoughts, we are interrupted by the middle of a blaring.... Bohemian Rhapsody. 

 Which is, unfortunately, not nearly as funny in the retelling as it was at the time.

Trust me, it's tough to keep (and regain) your composure after that.

And speaking of composure, none of us even tried tonight with Brooklyn's second stunt.  Her timing in impeccable.  

Greg had read Psalm 24:1-2 about the earth being the Lord's and everything in it.  We were talking about contentment with what we have when Greg quoted Paul from I Timothy 6:8.

Greg: "and having food and raiment let us therewith be content."

Lightening McQueen, quite enthusiastically: "that's what I"m talking about!!"
 (via a toy button pushed by Brooklyn)

You know how Lightening loves his meat & taters!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Links 2/9

My friend Karen has done Weekend Links posts for a long time now, and I always enjoy browsing through her weekly finds.

It finally occurred to me to join the party.  Maybe some of you will like some of these links as much as I like Karen's!

This week's links:
We've always used (and liked) the Bible coloring pages from Calvary Curriculum, but we're starting to wear them out! I was happy to find some new ones this week: Beginner's Bible coloring sheets

Loved the sound marriage advice and good reminder in  Start a Small Kitchen Fire.

As much as our boys love computer time (and we're moving on up in the technology world - a tablet coming soon!), I'm always looking for ways for keeping up with screen time.  We may try this method for a little while.

I love my crock pot. May have to try this crock pot peach cobbler soon!

For inspiration and help keeping up with deep cleaning projects 31 days to a clean house   is helpful. She includes a handy  printable in the post.

I loved the article Living Small.  Every so often I cycle through feeling all down on my blog or myself... falling for the comparison trap.  This is a great encouragement to serve well and find significance where you are.

More helpful admonition and encouragement, from a different angle: Are You an Angry Mom? from Amy @ Raising Arrows.

A few of my favorite Pins this week:

Ignore the goofy look.  This post has some great marriage do's and don'ts!
Source: via Amy on Pinterest

Sweet truth for Valentine's Day.

We are in love with these triple bunks! Maybe someday...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Boy-Friendly Valentine Art

My guys like doing all kinds of art and craft projects to go along with the current season or holiday.  Valentine's day, though, has always been challenging, what with all the hearts and pink and stuff.  This seems to be the case more so in recent years.  I don't know... maybe adding a sister to the mix has them drawing gender lines? 

At any rate, I loved how today's project celebrates the season of hearts and love without being frilly, and so did my boys!

First we cut and tore bits of colored tissue paper, ideally into roughly postage-stamp size pieces, but some people liked theirs bigger.

I added a few drops of water to our glue to thin it, and then we painted it onto plain white paper one section at a time, randomly sticking tissue bits down as we went.

When that was completely dry, we cut out as big a heart shape as we could.

Then sponge painted black around the edges.

And finished up with a few black splatters.  I thinned the paint with several drops of water for this step.

Our finished hearts:
I can just imagine how striking these would be in shades of pink and purple.  With maybe a little glitter sprinkled in? Mmm-mm!  Maybe in a year or two!

(Our hearts were inspired by this project)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Digging Holes

We've had a couple of crazy days around here, surrounded by a work crew repairing our house's foundation.  Day 1 was all outside, and today they worked inside, as well as finishing up outside.

Of course, we didn't even attempt school with all of this going on.  Even so, as much as the boys enjoyed watching all the action I could easily see by mid-day today the negative side effects of being out of routine.

But all's well that ends well, right?  And seeing those brick cracks disappear and not having to fight to open and close doors definitely counts as ending well in my book.

Fifteen holes like these were dug around the outside of the house:
Some in concrete, some in dirt. Metal poles as tall as me were driven down them underneath the house, and then jacked up to raise the foundation.

Inside, there were 8 dime-sized holes drilled into the floor and through the foundation.  In each of these holes the workmen sprayed some super-powerful, hot and steamy expanding foam, which lifted the foundation from underneath.
(My man tells me it's polyurethane.)

Not coincidentally, I've had "On Christ the Solid Rock I stand" in my head for a couple of days. "All other ground is sinking sand", right?
That and "He Lifted Me". :)

In other news, Brooklyn is still quite infatuated with Daniel.  He's her favorite person.  One morning recently we were setting the table for breakfast.  Brooklyn made sure Daniel was taken care of:
Isn't she a sweetie? 
Me & my girl:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Meal planning all day long

I have been menu planning our suppers for years.  I can't imagine buying groceries or feeding this family supper day after day without a plan!  But never thought I would like extending that plan to include breakfast and lunch.

I was so wrong!

One of the main things I thought I wouldn't like was not not being in the mood for a certain food (hasn't been an issue) or not being able to make something that wasn't on the plan (it finally occurred to me that if it's my plan I can deviate at any time, right?).

For about a month now the boys and I have had the same thing each week for breakfast and lunch and we all love it!  They like having a rotation and knowing what's coming.  I like not having to decide what to serve.

Here is our (for now) menu:

Sunday - Homemade Biscuits (cinnamon raisin or regular)
Monday - Cream of wheat cereal
Tuesday - Smoothies and toast (cinnamon or peanut butter)
Wednesday - Baked oatmeal
Thursday - Eggs (with toast, in a tortilla, or in a croissant)

Friday - Muffins
Saturday - Pancakes

Monday - Tomato Soup & Grilled cheese sandwiches
Tuesday - Loaded baked potatoes
Wednesday - Veggie soup with noodles
Thursday - PBJs
Friday - Mac&cheese (usually with tuna & peas added in)

Most meals have an added fruit or vegetable...whatever we have on hand at the time.

Our mealtimes have flowed so much smoother with this plan!  I can imagine even when the items on the menu change, the simple habit of having one will stick with us for a while.

Do you plan your meals?  What's on the menu?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


After a couple of over-filled and stressful Tuesdays (story-time at the library and other outings) ...
and getting tired of never being able to make the time for extras like science experiments, art projects, etc,...
 I decided to eliminate most of our regular school work from Tuesdays and fit in one or two of the fun things.

Today was the second week of such a Tuesday and I think it's going to work for us!

Not only did the day go more smoothly and pleasantly, we all enjoyed some hands-on work.

Alan is doing Five In a Row this semester, and both weeks our inspiration has come from the science section of his current book.

Last week was The Little Red Lighthouse (in which a big bridge is built), so we built bridges from index cards, made our predictions, and tested their strength with pennies.  (From this site.) (and I didn't take pictures! bad blogger. But fun Mama!)

This week's book is When I was Young in the Mountains, and one of the suggested science lessons was snakes.  We checked out several snake books from the library today and spent some time snuggled up on the couch reading through them together.  Later I had the boys give me some snake facts, which I wrote on our chalkboard door.  We then made a flip book and Dale and Alan wrote a fact on each page.

We also did a couple of water experiments today.  One was this displacement experiment from Kids Activities Blog.  We filled a cup to the brim with water and carefully added pennies, watching the water swell up to the top and finally spill over.  Tyler won the award for 'most improved' with this one; he started throwing them in like you would chunk a penny in a fountain, and ended up being just as careful  - or more so! - as the other boys.  

To finish up our science day we did one more water experiment.  If you look at kids' stuff at all on Pinterest you've probably seen this one.  

And it worked!  We have 1 blue paper towel, 1 yellow paper towel, and an inch of green water in that middle glass all sitting on our kitchen counter right now.  The boys wanted to leave it sitting over night to see what would happen next.  And I agreed. Ah, the life of a scientist!

Happy Tuesday! Just might be my new favorite weekday!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super-full Sunday

As we were sitting down to a quick Sunday morning breakfast, I got a text from Gramps: Think it's a good day for a picnic lunch?

Four hours and one church service later, we found ourselves here:

We ate, and then we did stuff.

Like take walks:

And dig in the dirt:

And read books:

And shoot the BB gun:

Can't forget to check on the sleeping baby:
And then....

We drug the boat out of the woods and launched it!

Go, Mimi, Go!

What's a day in the country without a big goober dog to share it with?

Go, Mama, go!

After all that we needed more cookies!

And a good time was had by all! :)

*Special thanks to Mimi for all of today's pics!*