Friday, February 26, 2010


For years, we have had pencil problems. We = Nicolas. It's just another one of those things that would be odd in someone else's home. Here, it's the usual. Notice I didn't say it was the norm!
This is my dream pencil sharpener! Just look at this - it's a thing of beauty. Ahhh...

There is not a day that goes by without a pencil getting broken. Usually it's just the lead, or should I say it is always the lead.

Every single day - Nicolas breaks the lead in his pencils. It has been driving me crazy for the last 2 years. Still is.

I have decided to break down, and buy a new pencil sharpener. Electric... maybe.

We have gone through 3 in the last few years and they're not a cheap item! The good sharpeners are upwards around $80.

I seriously am considering a manual design for $15. Either way, I will have to listen to it make a noise while it is sharpening. Maybe the arm exercise would be good for Nick?

This may sound silly, but - it is just one of the "things' that adds to our created chaos. Broken pencil leads. Sharpening pencils...

Maybe I'll check out some of the office supply stores online ads and find out if they have any on sale?

No matter what I do, we need a new pencil sharpener asap. It's really hard to do schoolwork without a sharp pencil.

We did try mechanical pencils earlier this schoolyear. Nope. No can do. Too thin and went through all the lead in about a day... Hey - I tried!

Can't wait for garage sales so that I can stock up on pencils again. Seriously. This pencil lead thing has been going on for long, it's part of "normal". Ha.

Wish me luck! Pencil sharpers here I come.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Food Label Lies

More food label advice - for all of us, not just our affected kiddos. Same stuff I've been squawking about... imagine that.

I've been thinking about adding more fresh and raw foods in our diets again. Thinking and doing -- not the same thing though...

Can You Trust That the Ingredients are What They Say They are?

You need to realize that some foods, particularly those making low-fat, low-carb or no-sugar claims, can contain drastically different nutrients than are listed on the label, and food products that say they contain milk, fruit or vegetables may not contain the real McCoy at all.

For example, some blueberry muffins do not contain actual blueberries, but rather artificial blueberry-flavored bits. Other products that list milk on their label may actually contain non-fat powdered milk, palm oil, sugar and additives, instead – the chemical “equivalent” of milk.

There is also the potentially daunting task of deciphering what certain ingredients really are. For instance, if you were trying to avoid corn (which is genetically modified in most cases these days), you would have to avoid not only anything listed as “corn,” but also:

Malt Baking powder
Malt extract and syrup Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Sorbitol Maltodextrin
Food starch Starch
Dextrin Confectioner’s sugar
Fructose and fructose syrup

All of these items could potentially be made from corn, but unless you are specifically aware of what to look for it would be easy to overlook these items when looking for corn on an ingredient label.

Here's the article from Dr. Mercola.

Can't Sleep

I can't sleep.

Found a video that I have never seen before... I see quite a few.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Haircuts, Dark Circles and Grumpy

I need to complain.

Not about the CDC, FDA or vaccines. Not about GMO's or crappy HMO's. Not about food labels, chemicals or ingredients... or any of the other negative things I deal with on a daily basis.

Haircuts. I took Nicolas to get a cool little new hair style. He needed one and although he is 8 years old, he has only had 2 other haircuts in his life that I didn't cut. Being a former cosmetologist, I can give him a decent haircut, but - the other day I was feeling kind of happy and decided to splurge and get him a professional salon cut. She did an awful job, didn't listen to me and I hate Nick's bald head! I'm mad he has a crappy hair style and a poor cut for his head size, hair texture, etc.

Nick has very dark circles under his eyes again. We saw his DAN! doctor last week...all is progressing; however, I am still discouraged about the raccoon resemblance though.

And lastly, I think I sometimes feel mad that I am mad. And that's makes me even more mad.

What I mean to say is that sometimes, most times - lately, I catch myself feeling discouraged. That's all - I am just tired this week. Maybe it's because it snows every other day around here? Or maybe not.

I am pretty mad about the haircut. I can't say I have never messed up a haircut in the last 25 years, but - dang... Nick doesn't need to look goofy.

I'll be over this in a few months, once my bald child has grown his hair out... I hope. Maybe I should just cut his hair for the rest of our lives. Yup - that's it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Peking Acrobats

Earlier this week, we went to see the Peking Acrobats, in the city. As always, it was entertaining and the announcer told the audience, of mostly children - to be sure to NOT try any of these tricks at home.

Last year, we had great seats! Second row, to be exact.

This year... ugh - the top row. Way up in the back...

The girl never minds waiting. She's happy just being with me!

Back to the announcer's warning about being a Peking Acrobat... and not trying to do the stunts at home.

At home? My kids didn't even get out of the building before trying!

After messing around in the building for a while, with some friends, we headed over to their house for lunch and we got to meet their pets. One of which is named "Beardy", a bearded dragon. Nicolas was thrilled and I have to admit, holding a beardy on my bosom is not the same as holding a fussy, warm-blooded little rodent, like our hamsters.

All in all, it was a fun day. Nicolas plays well with kids both his age and younger. He doesn't really have any friends who are older, so I don't know how that dynamic would work. But - on some days, it's a real gamble as to whether or not he is going to "behave". He did pretty good on this particular day... for Nicolas, that is. I really love having the freedom to homeschool and take field trips... we needed it this week.

And yes, I know that my nails are getting too long again. Makes typing a lot of fun.

Monday, February 8, 2010

GF CF Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I gave up trying to find affordable granola bars without corn syrup. Sometimes I would find gluten free bars, and sometimes even gluten free and dairy free... but - the CO$T was a bit staggering, for me - especially considering how much an 8 year old boy can eat!

So, we now make our own. I have 2 different recipes, but - this sweet, crunchy one is our preferred granola bar these days.

Don't they look yummy? Ok - you have to get over the fact that these do NOT have frosting. Your heart and butt will thank you later...

Yup - they're peanut butter and chocolate, but you can substitute ANY nut butter.

The girl even likes then when they're warm! Mmm...

This one is mine!

It took a couple of attempts... but - we succeeded and now have this very yummy granola bar recipe that we make almost weekly. Best part if that it is gluten free, casein free and corn free and not too expensive to make at all. I would also call it "forgiving", meaning that it's pretty adjustable/tweak-able" too. Plus -- it makes a wonderful aroma coming out of the oven and the house will smell great.

I think the idea is to cut them in long rectangular bar shapes, but - we don't. We cut them as if they were brownies, but - any shape will do. They're granola bars, for goodness sakes and they don't last long...

There's basically 2 parts: the dry base and the goo base. Easy enough, right?

We never use the same exact ingredients in our dry base mixture, but - have found that the following seem to please our palette:

Flax seeds
Raw almonds
Raw cashews
Raw sunflower seeds
Raw pumpkin seeds
GF CF chocolate chips
Organic dried cranberries
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oatmeal
Gluten free cereal - we used Arrowhead Mills Maple Buckwheat Flakes

If you've never made granola before, you must know that it makes all the difference in a nummy, nutty toasted crunch flavor if you lightly toast your nuts, seeds and oatmeal before using in the recipe. It's about as easy as it gets too... just place your dry base without the cereal on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 6-8 minutes at 400F, or until you see the oats turning light golden brown.

While the dry base is in the oven, we make the "goo". It times out perfect and this recipe is quick to make, bake and clean up. Win - win, win!

If we have these little morsels in the pantry, we add these over the top, just before placing in the oven.

The recipe goes like this:

1. Using Spectrum Shortening, grease 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish very well.

2. Preheat the oven to 350˚.

3. In a saucepan, on the stove - over medium heat, combine: 1/2 cup GF brown rice syrup OR raw honey and 1/4 cup brown sugar

4. Stir until sugar is dissolved and it begins to bubble, about 5-8 minutes, depending on how hot your medium is... Then stir in: 1/2 teaspoon or up to 1 teaspoon glycerin based GF vanilla.

5. Turn heat off and stir in: 1/2 cup Better N Peanut Butter (more stirring)

6. After it's stirred well, pour it over the dry base (still warm), which should total 4 to 4 1/2 cups. Stir to cover and coat all the warm oats, nuts and seeds, fruit - then "pour" into that baking dish.

7. "Spread" as well as you can - it will be a bit sticky and "press" down in to the bottom of the pan, even if it seems like it should be more condensed or stuck-down, it' s ok. Do your best and try to press the granola together without crushing it to crumbs. Every time we make these, we think that they're not pressed enough, but - they always are. Bonus! Easy-peasy... If you use chocolate chips, sprinkle them on top now, before baking.

8. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.

Let them sit out and cool down a bit before cutting, but - not too long. Most recipes will tell you to let them cool completely before cutting. I have no idea why! It's like chiseling a tree if you let them cool. Then you end up with granola, not bars. Cut them while they are still warm - ok? They come out of the pan very nice while warm!

Nicolas says he likes the brown rice syrup much better than raw honey, but - we have made these with raw honey too.

I happen to be out of raw honey because we use it all the time, and have cut way back on using Agave Nectar, thus we use a lot of raw honey. There's a little natural food store about an hour from here I really want to go shop at!! They have a natural meats farm and I'd love to grab a couple of roasts! Oh, and jam without corn syrup... and soaps without chemicals... and lots of cool stuff! Yes, I do make my own, but - it's winter... and I am tired. Winter lasts so long... Maybe I will try to get there later in the week and blog about it... I love the products I have bought from them at trade shows. We'll see. There's 8 - 10 inches of snow forecast for tonight and tomorrow... ain't gonna be any road trips for raw honey happening!

Back to the bars...

I'd like to try them with blueberries sometime... pistachios and maybe pecans. Walnuts left a "bitter-ish" flavor in the bars when I tried using them a couple weeks ago... so I would suggest a different nut, unless you are a sold-out walnut lover!

Speaking of nuts, I have a new carrot muffin recipe I am trying tomorrow. I'll let you know if they turn out. Ok?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Keeping the Love Happenin'

It's February - love month.

Hubs and I went to a truly wonderful marriage seminar last weekend.

Oh don't choke! It's wasn't boring at all... in fact, I laughed my face off!! I didn't realize how much we needed to laugh. There's a fair amount of "bad" stuff in our lives: reading labels, looking for "bad" ingredients, a.k.a. chemicals Nicolas is allergic to... and we've realized that many of the things that are bad for Nicolas, aren't good for us either. Anyway, it was good to get away, laugh and get some perspective.

I think I will focus on positive "stuff and junk" this month... with all the love in the air!

Here's a sample from Laugh Your Way to A Better Marriage.

I Can Fix A Lot of Things...

It's true - I can fix a lot of things. I am pretty versatile (if I don’t say so myself).

And it is true: I can fix a crooked haircut, a broken fingernail, broken toys, lots of broken or imperfect items. As a parent, I am always fixing and maintaining THINGS. I can put air in my tires, mow the lawn, weed the gardens, groom the dogs, clean the windows, put salt in the water softener; and even make my wrinkles and gray hair disappear (with software).

I remember the first time I heard,
"I can fix a lot of things, but - I can't fix stupid". I thought it was a little crass or insensitive. Do I still? Well... I kinda like that little saying now, actually - especially when I consider that most people are ignorant of just what vaccines can do to their children. Their ignorance is what keeps them "safe"; but - are they? ((Sigh))

People want to save the whales...

They want to save the seals...

Save whatever is cute and squeals.

But - delay immunizations?

((Deer in the headlight look...))

Or, consider that there might be a connection to food and your child's behavior?

Yeah - right. ((Oh, I feel some attitude coming on... don't you?))

It's never important until it happens to you...

More than ever before, my need to pray is great. It is time-consuming and most of all... it is absolutely necessary. No matter how hard I work or manipulate situations, I cannot make things work out. And, it's tough.

It's been well over a couple of years since Nicolas' "change" and 15 months since our intervention. I am encouraged by his progress and as much as it hurts to look back at what has happened to him, I look forward to getting him even healthier this year. With God's help, we continue to go forward and heal. For today, I will only worry about the things I can control and fix. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.