Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recipe Pile Up

Well, I thought I'd have time to post a few recipes last week, but somehow that all slipped away from me and I ended up posting absolutely nothing!

These first two are more ideas for quick and easy meals and not so much a recipe, but I wanted to share.

Toads in a Hole
First, we'll cover breakfast. Toads in a hole is what we have been calling these.

A bear and 2 pumpkins

I got this idea from another friend and have also heard them called "bird's nests." Basically it's a fried egg in the middle of a piece of toast. Our twist that the boys really love? We use shaped cookie cutters to cut the piece out of the middle of the bread. Makes for some cute eggs. Here's how to do it:

Take a piece of bread and spread a thin layer of butter on each side. You can skip this step and just add enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan, but you'll get one really crisp side of the toast and one less crisp side as the first side will soak up most of the butter. Still tastes great and is a lot faster (this is actually my method of choice lately).

Use a cookie cutter to remove the center of the bread. Place bread in a heated pan (or place in pan and let the pan heat) and add the egg into the hole (the pan needs to be warm enough so the egg doesn't run out under the bread). Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Cook and then flip and cook to desired doneness. Serve! Tastes great with a sprouted wheat bread or a bread like Ezekiel 4:9 bread.

Tortilla Wrap Lunch

My good friend introduced me to what my kids like to call "turkey rollers." Yeah, I'd had the Costco version before, but never did think about making my own successfully. So I picked her brain and still frequently make the kids their favorite version - turkey, cheese, and a little cream cheese to seal it with. I've also done salami, turkey, and mustard with greens as well as sunflower butter (you could use peanut butter if you don't have nut allergies), honey, and a banana (terrific for breakfast!). Roll and slice and you're done. However, I wanted to make a more "grown up" version for me for lunch as well as make them vegetarian/vegan to go along with my reduce my consumption of animal products attempt. Note that I said attempt. It's a slow process, but one I'm determined to work toward to help lower my cholesterol. 

I decided to share the two pictured above because they were so good (so good that I ate almost half of the first one before I remembered I hadn't taken a photo!), easy, and healthy. I usually prefer flour tortillas, but this particular week I tried out some small taco sized corn tortillas. They don't "roll" as well as flour and often crack, so I ate most of these as "tacos" instead of rolls. Eh, they still tasted just as good!

The top is corn tortilla spread with a very thin layer of tofutti (tofu version of cream cheese - you could use cream cheese if you prefer) and a thin layer of roasted red pepper hummus. A very small sprinkle of feta cheese (obviously not my vegan one), a row of kalamata olives and some arugula. Yum!

The bottom is tofutti and roasted red pepper hummus topped with an avocado (I think it was an entire half of an avocado. Big Monkey ate the other half; Baby Monkey hates avocado) and arugula. Simple and oh so good!

I also discovered a great tofu coconut curry recipe this week, but I don't have the photo on my computer, so that post will have to come later! Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

H is for Hippo and K is for Kite

Today is a two for one post - you get two weeks smooshed into one post. 

Two weeks ago we did H is for hippo. I didn't take very many photos, so this first week will be short. I had hoped to take the boys to the zoo where the hippo is, but it rained on the day we had planned to go. We've been before, so they've seen the hippo. He mostly sleeps in the water by the fence. That's about it. Instead of the zoo, we opted to watch hippo UTube videos on the iPad. Strangely, the boys enjoyed the video of the hippo chasing a reserve ranger in Africa the most. Sigh, boys... 

While Big Monkey practiced cutting, Baby Monkey tried cutting an old gumball craft from last week. He wants to do everything big brother does, which gets interesting when it involves scissors, glue, paint, or push pins.  


We fed the hippos! Each hippo got fed the number of beads that corresponded to the number on his belly. We had a good time with this. Best counting activity we have done in a long time.

We moved on to some fine motor skills practice by lacing beads onto pipe cleaners. Baby Monkey went from beads to trying to stick the measuring cup to his face.

Which then turned in to putting the bead container on his head...

 And of course, Big Monkey had to join in. They actually ran around the room with these on their heads for quite awhile.

Color puzzles this week involved words. Big Monkey had to match the colored hippos to the right word, which were also colored the same color. He really matched color to color, but it allowed him to see what the words look like as well.

Last week we did K is for kite. I had hoped for a breezy week in November when I scheduled this, but alas, we had rain on the day it was windy and calm weather the rest of the week. So we couldn't fly kites. We'll have to do that again soon.

It's tough to get photos where both boys look excited. Here Big Monkey looks happy and Baby Monkey looks a little less than happy, but not upset at least.

We practiced some size sorting with our triangle stand. The boys love that thing, although you can see that Baby Monkey has bent it from trying to use the triangle as a tunnel, step stool, and who knows what else. Mama Monkey says "don't do that..." a lot. 

It seems that we always have at least one rough day each week where Baby Monkey just does not want to cooperate. He'll want all my attention and likes to sit and pout. 

Big Monkey did prewriting practice with the dry erase markers.

And of course Baby Monkey had to do the same thing. I tried to pick a dry erase marker close to the color of his pajamas since he almost always ends up with at least one mark on his clothes somewhere. Dry erase markers may wipe off dry erase boards easily, but they do not easily wash out of clothes. 

Big Monkey practiced some fine motor control with the giant push pin.

Yup, so did Baby Monkey. This was his first experience using the big push pin. Usually I tell him, "ouchie, it will poke you." So when I gave him the pin he kept saying "ouchie" as he poked the paper. He did a really good job. He poked along the letter K three times before he decided to go postal and just start randomly poking everywhere on the page. No blood was shed though! 

 We read Curious George Flies a Kite. My boys love Curious George, but the original stories often make me chuckle or even cringe sometimes. I'll have to be sure to share the things I see as we read the stories. Flies a Kite has a part in it (the original 8 stories are long and often have 3-4 sub stories in them) where George sees a man with a fishing pole. George refers to him as "the fat man" twice. Needless to say, this has prompted conversations of how people come in all shapes and sizes and that typically we shouldn't refer to someone just by the way they look on the outside.

We tried using clothes pins on yarn for counting this week. Big Monkey was not as in to it as feeding the hippos last week.

I broke down and let Baby Monkey play some preschool apps on the iPad one day because he kept throwing everything Big Monkey was doing on the floor. This allowed Big Monkey and I to quietly work together, but of course it was also a bit of a distraction.

Yup, that is a red dot sticker on my kid's forehead. He stuck one to each of our foreheads that morning. Not sure why. We had fun with this project. It was color matching. Big Monkey had to match the same colored pipe cleaners to the kite. I thread them through a hole I punched in the bottom of the kite. Then he had to gather all the same color bows for the tail. I wrapped the pipe cleaner around each bow for him. He tried the wrapping part, but ended up bending the bows and getting frustrated. So now I have about 8 kites of different colors in my office on the floor as the boys wanted to play with them.

We are taking the entire week of Thanksgiving off from school. It's nice to have the break and allow us free mornings to play, explore, cook, and just be. So there probably won't be another post for about 2 weeks! 

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Be safe and enjoy the time with family and friends.

Friday, November 9, 2012

And the Winner is...

According to the random number generator I used, the winner of my Tiny Prints giveaway is #5 - Aaron! You will receive your coupon code directly from Tiny Prints!

See, sometimes my reviews and favorite things section can benefit my readers! Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

P is for Pumpkin!

I am a little behind this week, although I'm really not sure why. Some weeks I'm not sure what sucks up my time. Probably the kitchen sink... Anyway, last week we did P is for Pumpkin in celebration of Halloween. We had a lot of pumpkin themed things that we did during the week. Of course there was our regular school work, but we also spent a lot of time in the kitchen. The Monkeys had a good time, although doing anything in a kitchen with two monkeys is never an efficient process. So here is our week in a quick review!

Also don't forget that today is the last day to enter the Tiny Prints giveaway on my blog. I will randomly choose a winner tomorrow (Friday) morning to receive a $50 Tiny Prints credit! You can find that blog post here.

Well, as I went to upload photos for the post just now, I realized why I might have been procrastinating this post. Other than the following three photos, I have zero photos of us doing schoolwork for this week! Ooops, wonder what happened there. I was obviously in some other place in my head considering it's hard to believe this was all just last week!

Prior to Halloween we carved pumpkins, roasted up pumpkin seeds (the monkeys tried them, but promptly spit them out due to texture), baked the 4 pumpkins from our garden (Big and Baby Monkeys each carved one pumpkin from the garden as well), made pumpkin puree from the pumpkins (sooo much better than the canned variety and sooo easy), made homemade veggie filled pizza dough, and baked pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies (which were not so great), rice krispy treats, and brownies. Whew, I'm tired just thinking about that all happening in one week.

Then we were the pirate family on Halloween. Here are the two little pirates practicing their sword fighting.

We had a day or two of rain after Halloween (might have been only a day, but remember I can't remember last week for some reason). So we spent some time indoors playing with legos and coloring. Baby Monkey thinks this is the best way to play with legos.

We attempted a new activity this week - tanagrams. Big Monkey didn't do too bad. He had a hard time getting the pieces to all line up once he got multiple pieces on his card, but he figured it out and completed his kite. Baby Monkey just thought throwing the pieces around the room was a better idea.

 So I guess that's it for the week! Might not have been worth the post even, but hey, at least I got to remind everyone about the giveaway tomorrow!

This week I hope to share a few easy and fun breakfast and lunch recipes that we've been trying out as well as our adventures with H is for Hippo. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A few OIT Corrections

Thanks to a woman very knowledgeable in the OIT process, it has been brought to my attention that a few details in my original post about our journey to OIT need to be correct or at least better explained. Hey, I warned you that I am new at this and don't have all the facts 100% right. I do my best to read up on as much as I can, but interpreting it and finding the time to do extended research while taking care of the monkeys is sometimes difficult. Anyway, on to the corrections! First, I should have been a bit more clear. The death I spoke of was not actually OIT, but an injection study. I knew this and even told me husband about it, so I'm not sure how I got the information all mixed up on the blog post. It was a clinical study where the patient was supposed to receive a placebo injection, but was accidentally administered the non placebo injection. You can see how that would be terrible. The injections were stopped for all after that. No one has died from OIT itself. Sorry for that mistake on my part - not a minor fact to make a boo boo on there. Second, I described one protocol for OIT. From my research it appears that this will be the closest to the protocol that WE would be following should we choose do start OIT with Big Monkey. Different doctors and different studies do different things. Straight from my friend's message to me: "Some use liquid with peanut extract or protein? Others use peanut flour and applesauce (DUKE STUDY PROTOCOL). Some dose once a day (DUKE) others twice a day. Some take over a year to reach maintenance. Some take 4-6 months." So my description is by far not the only way OIT is completed, but since this is our journey, I have decided to focus mostly on what we will be facing. Lastly, and something I didn't really know, reactions to treatment/side effects are not actually that common. I guess my bias comes from hearing mostly from families that are having reactions. That makes sense though. Those struggling the most with something are often the most verbal because they need more support to keep trucking forward. Those who breeze through a new journey with no struggles can often handle the journey on their own. Those that do have side effects usually have them at the earlier doses, which agrees with the study I read. I can't recall the exact percentage numbers for the risk of side effects done in the study, but it was less than 50% for most things. So we have a very good chance of not having side effects at all. It all depends on the person. So those are just a few corrections and I'm sure that more will come up in the future. Of course, most of what I post from here on out will be our own personal experiences rather than an overview, so maybe not. :) Unless I decide to try and explain the uKnow Peanut component test. I've been leaning toward not explaining in detail though and instead just linking interested individuals to the website. This may be a much easier way to avoid sounding like I don't actually know what I'm talking about. It's all good though as we all have to start somewhere in the learning process and have to learn from someone. Thank you to some amazing people for helping educate me in the topics of food allergy, testing, and OIT! We would not have this much hope of a more normal and stress free life without you. Unfortunately, I have to report that Baby Monkey seems to have had his first food related allergic reaction two nights ago. It was not a good night. He had a mild rash reaction to a food I have not yet identified (we had cashews that night, so I am praying as hard as I can that it was not to the cashews or we will next have to go tree nut free, which would not be easy for this household). That same night I found half a peanut in the dishwasher that had hitched a ride in Daddy Monkeys lunch box. As you can imagine, my anxiety that night and the next day was a little high. Here's to hoping Baby Monkey's rash was a fluke and that I won't be telling you all about a new challenge in our life. We need some simplicity.