Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hello again!

It's been longer than a year since I have posted to this blog, but once you discover the reason, I am sure you will forgive me.

Despite working all kinds of crazy hours last summer at two separate places of employment, with some days starting at 8 a.m. and ending after 12 a.m. that morning/evening, somehow we found the time and were blessed with conceiving our second child! If you'll remember, our first child was nearly 12 last summer! This was certainly a result of years of prayers, said by ourselves, our families, and quite a few good friends, even a few strangers. Due to my type 1 diabetes, this pregnancy required my full concentration, and I put my blog-writing on hold, knowing I could bring you up to speed after our baby was safely delivered and we were both home and sleeping better! :)

So, in the next many posts, be warned that I'll be writing about these awesome life experiences as well as the latest on our son's eosinophilic disorder and battles with food allergies. I am looking forward to bringing you up to speed- please feel free to leave any questions you would like specifically answered and I will do my best to get to them first!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod


Thursday, July 15, 2010

New Book Button

I stumbled upon the movie Twilight when it was shown during our satellite provider's free Showtime weekend.  I watched it, and thought the acting was a bit hokey and stumbling, but liked the plot enough to borrow the paperback from a friend.  I read through the book in one day- all 544 pages, and couldn't wait to keep reading through the series.  I enjoy Stephenie's writing, even if she is a smidgen "cliche'-ish", and had the whole series of 4 books done in a week and a half.  Yes, all while working 35+ hours per week.  I neglected my family a little (read:lot) during this time, but we all got through it just fine thanks to sandwiches and chocolate milk.   I am usually an avid reader- although usually single novels, country living magazines and do-it-yourself articles.  It's been quite a while since I've been as taken with a story line, and even longer since it had anything to do with vampires.  (I used to read Stephen King quite a lot during high school.)  
After reading and re-reading the Twilight Saga many times (I believe I've read each book at least 4 times completely through, and watched Twilight and New Moon dozens of times each) I found a post on a forum that suggested the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, also published by Little, Brown and Company (same publisher as the Twilight Saga).  I looked it up on (why leave your house to shop when it's delivered to your door in a day or two? Besides, it was the beginning of softball season and practices hindered my shopping excursions!)  and ordered it immediately.  I LOVED this book.  While I deeply appreciated and related to Twilight and it's successors, I absolutely am enamored with Beautiful Creatures.  I can't wait for the next addition to the series to come out (Beautiful Darkness will be released on October 12, 2010) and you can bet I'll be getting it as soon as possible (and not sleeping/eating, etc. until it's finished!).  I have heard and seen that Beautiful Creatures has been purchased by Warner Bros. to possibly become a movie.  Movies don't do books' stories justice, in my opinion, for the most part, but I'm looking forward to the film, as well. I don't have a subscription to see all the content on IMDB, but they have listed that the film will be out sometime in 2011.  
So- if you have a little time for reading- check out a book or two from the library, purchase them from your favorite bookseller, and sit down for some summer relaxing reading.  Have you read them already?  Do you have any others to suggest to me?  I'd love to know your thoughts on your favorite reads.  

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Independence Day Weekend!

Happy 4th of July Weekend, everyone!  I am lucky enough to work this weekend, but beggars can't be choosers, so I am not complaining.  I'll still have enough time to enjoy some time with family and friends:  we're going to get to see the Wentzel side at Cory's sister's house on Saturday or Sunday (still not sure which day, but we're ready for both, I think?) and Sunday evening we're going to my parents to walk to their town's park to watch their fireworks display.  My mom is a photographer and loves the 4th of July- she loves taking photos of the fireworks.  We sit in the cemetery with about 1/2 of the town's population and watch as they set off the 'works over a small lake.  I usually get to see people I knew from school and when I used to live in that town, too.  I only live about 25 miles away from there now, but it's funny how I just don't see anyone until I go back into town for a holiday like this. 

Izzy's bi-yearly gastroenterologist appointment is due to be scheduled- another trip down to Milwaukee for a short visit and prescription refill.  I just had an eye dr. appointment today, and had my eyes dilated so he could see if they're still healthy.  Everything checked out fine, and my vision hasn't worsened or changed in the past 3 years now.  I must be done growing. ;)  Izzy was very nice and "gentlemanly" about the whole thing- he ran around the car to open my door, took my arm and led me into the house (step up here, Mom, ooh, watch out for the step, etc.) so I didn't have to open my eyes in the bright sunlight.  We played our latest video game purchase all afternoon & evening- Lego Harry Potter on the PS3.  I love summer.  

I hope everyone stays safe and has fun this weekend.  Hooray for the USA! 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Baby kitties, the lack of a stove, and making bread...

We are blessed to have had 3 new babies join our family this summer. We have many outdoor barn cats, which keep our mouse population confined to OUTSIDE the house, and at times they can be prolific. This year it has been quite manageable- we had 2 kittens born in one litter, and another born by itself. You can imagine that these little balls of fur are magnets to my animal-loving Izzy!

We recently gave our stove away to a friend who needed it for one of their apartments (they own homes that they rent). We didn't do this without thought, though- we have had a very nice gas stove with convection oven sitting in our enclosed porch for the past 4 years, and I was hoping that the give-away of the old stove might prompt the men in my house to install the new stove! Until that happens, we have a microwave, toaster oven, electric frying pan, George Foreman grill, and outdoor charcoal grill to use, as well as an outdoor propane single burner camp stove. I think we'll get by, considering we also have crock pots galore, rice cookers, and a bread machine.

I really don't know how I would have gotten by with Izzy's first few years after diagnosis of EE without the bread machine. When we found out he was allergic to corn, we strictly avoided EVERYTHING that contained anything corn-related: corn starch, corn syrup (although technically syrup and oil don't contain corn protein, we avoided it anyway), dextrose, maltodextrin, malt syrup, caramel color, sorbitol, glycerine, and more. It was nearly impossible to find economically-priced bread that was safe for him to eat. Our grocery store, located 25 miles away, carried a brand that is safe, but cost $3.50 per loaf, and that just wasn't very reasonable. I made many, many loaves of bread at a much less expensive price and even upgraded my bread machine a few times through the years to be able to make more types of bread (and bigger loaf sizes) to feed the whole family. I found a good basic bread recipe, and beefed it up a little. I adapted it to make sweet breads, too. A bread machine is the easiest way to make gluten-free breads, too. (And much less messy, too- gluten-free breads don't stick together as well as regular breads- with a bread machine, you don't have to touch the dough at all.)

So, with all that being said, I'll list my favorite bread recipe: regular (yeast-raised) 1/2 wheat & 1/2 white flour bread. I have a 1 1/2 lb. bread maker, and use the medium crust setting for all yeast-raised breads. Let me know if you like the recipe and if you made any changes of your own! I'll be happy to post the other 2 recipes if you are interested- just let me know by leaving a comment for me. Have a great weekend!

Wheat/White Bread

1 cup lukewarm water (90 degrees)

1 1/4 teaspoons sugar (use brown or raw sugar for better flavor)

1 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup white bread flour

2 tablespoons butter

(cut up in small pieces and place around the sides of pan)

1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

(make sure it doesn't touch sugar or water; place in center of flour) 

Add ingredients to bread machine pan as directed by the manufacturer. If desired, add a couple of tablespoons of vital wheat gluten, dry milk powder, or flax seeds for a nutritional boost. Let the bread cool in the pan, outside the bread machine, for 20-30 minutes, then let cool on a wire rack, slice, spread on the butter, and enjoy!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chocolate Pudding

A lot of Izzy's favorite things, that he misses the most, use cornstarch.  He begs for things he used to love- pop tarts, pudding, pies, "kid" yogurt, and more.  I have been able to find good, and sometimes even organic, substitutes for these cravings, but one that I haven't found is pudding.  The majority of recipes that I have or have found include eggs- another "no-no" in  his EE diet.  My grandma gave me some great ideas and a recipe for homemade chocolate pudding without cornstarch, and I'll post it here.  I hope some families reading this blog will be able to use it to make their kids happy, too. :) 

Homemade Chocolate Pudding
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • whipped topping (optional)

Directions:  In a 2 quart heavy saucepan, combine the first four ingredients. Stir in milk until smooth. Cook on low-medium, stir frequently . Cook until thickened, continuing to stir frequently, until thickened. Stir in vanilla. Allow to cool somewhat in the pot before pouring into individual serving dishes; cover each dish with plastic wrap, refrigerate to cool completely. Garnish with whipped topping (Cool Whip, whipped cream, etc.)  if desired. 


In case you didn't realize it, cornstarch and potato starch can be substituted for each other 1:1 in recipes, and I haven't noticed a taste or texture difference.  Corn starch does give a little clearer gel when cooked alone, but in puddings and pies you'll never notice and I am sure your taste buds won't care about that difference, anyway!  

Enjoy~ Bea

Past History- Part One

I stayed up late Wednesday night to read Stephenie Meyers' newest book, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.  It was short, as the title implies, and I finished it just before 2 a.m.  My sister was reading the book at the same time, so I am sure we'll be talking about it today somehow with each other.  Staying up late always makes me want to sleep in, so I did.  Izzy (our son) got up shortly before I did, but waited for me to come downstairs before he got breakfast.  Thursday's first meal was 2 slices of wheat toast with organic ricotta cheese and butter, followed by some fruit juice- sounds good, huh?  Izzy's meals are fairly simple- he has some pretty basic things on his "safe" list that are quick for him to prepare on his own, and some others that I always prepare for him, still.  I'll run down a list of his allergies (or- foods that bother his stomach enough to avoid- as it's not an "anaphylactic shock" type food allergy for most of his allergies) so you can see how interesting meal-planning can be:   He cannot eat peanuts or tree nuts of any kind, all kinds of fish (although he tolerated canned tuna for a long time- and was still eating it at the age of 5), eggs, corn, (he supposedly can have corn syrup and corn oil- but not corn starch, cellulose, and other corn products- they're hidden in most foods!) oranges, bananas, coconut, garlic, onion, legumes (beans, peas, soy, lentils, etc.), oats, and is also allergic to grass, our dog, and trees. 
We noticed he was allergic to something when he started getting eczema behind his knees and in the bends of his elbows when he started eating solid foods.  One of the first problem foods for him was bananas- and this was a tough one, because he really loved them.  He was about 7 months old when we began feeding him solid foods, and 8 months old when we noticed the eczema.  Being our first baby, and having no real food allergies in our immediate families, we just shrugged it off and put on some ointment and lotion to try to control it.  He was introduced to peanut butter at a younger than usual age, too- he was about 15 months  old, and this one was a mild anaphylactic reaction.  I should mention that he stopped gaining weight at about this time, too-in between 12 months and 24 months he did not gain a pound, but still grew taller.  He was just 22 pounds at 2 years old.  We were definitely concerned, as he had started out his life a bit heavier than the average baby and was pleasingly plump up through this point.  We saw the doctor every few months during his second and third years to monitor his weight gain.  His family doctor couldn't give us any real advise except to keep adding more fats and proteins to his diet, and keep up the higher quality carbohydrates.  
His next big reaction was to white bass at about 2 1/2 years- home caught, home cooked, but blister-producing nonetheless.  Both peanut and fish consumptions warranted and received trips to the ER.  The next allergies weren't discovered until his first visits with an allergist, who recommended and performed "scratch testing"- oranges, eggs, all nuts (which we had been avoiding anyway), coconut, and pineapple. We avoided these foods and he was still having problems gaining weight.  At 4 years old, he was about 30 lbs, and at 5, about 38 lbs.- a very thin little boy.  We still used a stroller for him for longer walking trips, and carried him if he got tired without the stroller.  
He was a reasonably healthy child, though- he nearly never was ill, except occasional colds, and never had stomach flu like other kids his age.  At Christmas time, though, when he was 5, he had a horrible night- he threw up every hour or more often.  We thought it was the stomach flu- we knew it would happen at one point in time or another.  He recovered, and then a few days later, relapsed and was sick again.  He continued this way for a week, and I consulted with our family doctor. We did tests for H-pylori and other stomach ailments, and all were negative.  Our doctor recommended Tums for upset stomach.  When his stomach upsets continued, we started carrying plastic shopping bags and small buckets with us in case they were needed.  We were at a loss for what was causing this problem, and decided to make an appointment for him to see a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children's Hospital.  
He has since then seen the gastroenterologist many times at offices in Green Bay and Milwaukee (his doctor used to travel, now we travel instead), and has had numerous stomach "scopings" (with a micro-camera to see what's going on in his belly) and some samples taken from various parts of his upper and lower digestive system to rule out or confirm different possibilities for his diagnosis.  He's done a barium swallow test, and many scratch tests and one round of patch testing.   None of these tests have been comfortable, but he is such a trooper and just goes through with it without complaint- I know he is looking for help from his sometimes daily misery more than we are, and knows that the tests he has to go through will bring us all a baby step closer to finding some answers. 
I think this post has gotten long enough- I'll let you "digest" it and post more about his history later.  I hope to be able to post some recipes that I want to try this summer, too.  Thanks for reading! 


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Beginning

Welcome to the beginning of our family blog.  My sister also blogs, and thought it would be fun and informative for others if I started blogging about our life, too.  We're very different- she lives in the city, I live in the country, she has many children, we have one...and the differences go on and on. 
The main reason I thought this blog might be interesting is our son's medical condition- he has an allergic disorder called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (also known as "EE" for short, which I often refer to it as, to save myself from saying the mouthful!), which limits his "safe" food list pretty severely at times.  I hope to help other parents of children with the same disorder by adding recipes, travel tips, and stories of life in general when all you can do is plan ahead.
Thanks for visiting my blog.  Please leave a comment on anything you'd like to see written about and I'll do my best to accommodate!  Blessings to you...