Perfect Homemade Dry Shampoo for Brunettes

Perfect Homemade Dry Shampoo For Brunettes CradleRockingMama.com

The lifestyle and duties of a Flight Attendant have changed enormously since the 1960’s.

Back then, stick thin single gals (and a few fellas, too) happily catered to wealthy customers who preferred to travel in style.

I hear there were some AWESOME parties, too.

Nowadays, Flight Attendants are more likely to wear support hose than Go-Go Boots, and are far more likely to be able to rattle off a list of makeshift weapons they could create or find on the aircraft than they could list an extensive wine selection offered on board.

Despite the decided lack of glamour present in my job today, one thing is still consistent with Stewardesses of old: appearance standards.

While no longer required to look like a model (airlines once regulated what color lipstick their attendants wore and told them what hairstyle they needed to wear), we modern Flight Attendants are required to look professional and as pleasant and attractive as we can.

Sadly, our job differs from the 1960’s stews in another way: we bust our butts now in a way that wasn’t typical back then.

Today, I frequently work a 12-16 hour work day followed by a brief 10 hours on the ground.

“10 hours on the ground” breaks down like this:

  • 1 hour for deplaning the last flight and boarding the next flight
  • 30 minutes – 1 hour for travel to and from the hotel
  • 1 hour for getting dressed in the morning
  • 30 minutes – 1 hour for eating something on the layover
  • Leaving 6-7 hours for sleep (that’s if you can go to sleep as soon as you hit the room!)

For me, it’s worse. I have to pump at least twice during that time, so subtract another 1 hour from potential sleep. And since I have to cook my food, I usually need 1.5-2 hours for eating.

So I’m left with 4-5 hours to sleep before another 14 hour day.

All work and no sleep makes for a very grumpy Flight Attendant, so something has to give!

I do everything as quickly as I can on my layovers, but even at my best I’ll only get 5.5 hours of sleep a night…unless I cut my grooming time short. But I can’t look a disheveled mess!

What I’m about to share has saved my cookies in uncountable ways since I started using it: dry shampoo.

Oh, sure, dry shampoo has been around for ages, and is even making a bit of a comeback of late. However, the canned dry shampoos you can buy in stores have three big drawbacks for me:

  1. They’re expensive
  2. They’re made of nasty chemicals and cornstarch
  3. I’ve yet to find one geared towards Brunettes (I’m sure they exist, I’ve just never found one)

Food allergy and intolerance people, I’ve noticed, tend to start looking for fewer chemicals in their lives. Many start making their own personal care items (like their own hand creams), so I figured this might be a useful share.

After all, you don’t have to be a Flight Attendant to want to look human and presentable while faced with restrictions on how often and how long you can bathe.

Any mama of a little one will vouch for that!

After a full two months of using it, I can say without exaggeration that this stuff works!

Plus, it’s cheap, has no chemicals, no cornstarch, and is insanely simple to make and use.

Here’s all you have to do:

Find some nifty jar or container to hold your dry shampoo. Some people use a cleaned spice jar; I’ve been using a small apothecary jar.

Dump 1 T of arrowroot starch in a bowl.

Add 1 T of cocoa powder.

Drop in a few drops of essential oil, if you feel so inclined. I added some peppermint to mine; I’m sure there are better EO’s for hair care…I picked peppermint because peppermint+cocoa just smells yummy, you know?

Use a fork and mix it up well.

Store it in your jar.

Ta-da! You’ve made yourself an awesome dry shampoo that could add half an hour to your sleep routine!

As for how to best use it, you’ll want to get a cheap powder brush. Seriously – the $1 deals at the cheapest store work great for this.

Thirty More Minutes of Sleep CradleRockingMama.com

  1. Dip the brush in the powder and dab it anywhere your hair looks a little lank and oily, usually at the roots.
  2. Let it sit for a bit. I usually do my dry shampoo bit as the first thing after I wake up, and let it sit while I pump and put on my makeup. It does not work very well if you don’t give it time to sit, but it works beautifully if you do!
  3. When you’re ready to do something with your hair, for best results first brush it out as much as possible…then use a blow dryer to fluff your hair.
  4. Brush and style as desired.

You’ll look gorgeous!

(You can skip the blow dryer; it just looks better if you zap your hair for 30 seconds or so.)

Lovely Dry Shampoo CradleRockingMama.com

So that’s it. Instead of spending half an hour making your hair look decent for the day, spend a grand total of five minutes to refresh the ‘do you had the day before…and still look fabulous!

And never fear, my blonde friends. You can do this, too! Simply omit the cocoa powder and you’re good to go.

Perfect Homemade Dry Shampoo for Brunettes
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Use this dry shampoo recipe to look fabulous on the fly! No chemicals, no corn, plus cheap and easy.
Author:
Recipe type: personal care
Serves: 2 T.
Ingredients
  • 1 T. arrowroot starch
  • 1 T. cocoa powder
  • a few drops of essential oils (optional, to preference)
Instructions
  1. Dump the Arrowroot starch, cocoa powder, and optional essential oil into a small bowl.
  2. Mix together well with a fork.
  3. Store in a dry, sealed container.
  4. To use, dab powder on hair at roots (or wherever lank and oily looking) with a small makeup powder brush. Let sit for a while.
  5. Brush out, blow out with a hair dryer for a minute, then style as usual.
  6. Enjoy your corn free, chemical free, cheap dry shampoo!

What’s your favorite time saving beauty routine?


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Summers Stories: Normal Baby versus FPIES

Summers Stories Normal Baby versus FPIES CradleRockingMama.com

When you start blogging, one of the first big recommendations is to have a schedule for your posts. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but a general guideline really helps keep your blog on track.

For Cradle Rocking Mama, I generally write one post per week (usually Monday) that is basically just an update on my family: how the boys are doing, food trials, work issues, parenting stories, etc.

The rest of the week I post recipes, insights into living with food allergies, or a series like Frugal Fridays or Brown Thumb Gardener.

While there are many of you who love reading our weekly family post (thank you!), a high proportion of my readers come here just for the recipes and other postings I share.

That makes sense, of course; people want to learn new things and benefit from what they read on the internet. Reading about my family may offer some insights into other peoples situations, but not necessarily. Reading a recipe, tip, or insight about living with food issues almost certainly will benefit my average reader far more than my family updates.

Still, I have no intention of ceasing the family update. It helps me keep my own situation straight and on path, and offers reference and perspective on the other things I share.

Knowing, though, that many of you aren’t terribly interested in those stories, I want to try something new with the blog to help encourage my average reader to subscribe.

From now on, my “family update” stories will be titled as “Summers Stories”. That should make it easy for my subscribers to easily skip reading the family stories they aren’t particularly interested in but still benefit from the recipes and tips shared the rest of the week.

On that note, here’s the first official Summers Story Family Update. The question of the day is: is this a normal baby thing or FPIES? (Which might wind up being a regular, non-family update post all on its own!)

For about a month now, Zac has begun acting like a chipmunk; he takes a bite of food, chews it, and holds it in his mouth. At least once he held the food in his mouth for an hour before anyone noticed!

It drives my parents crazy. When I speak to them from work, I regularly hear one or both of them telling Zac “Swallow it! Here! Take a drink!”

None of us could figure out why he’s doing this. He still eats; it’s just that towards the end of his meal, he suddenly decides to ‘chipmunk’ his food.

I’ve mentioned working quite a lot since mid-December. That makes it super hard to keep up with food trials and reactions. As a response, we’ve been doing a lot of gut rest time for Zac because of a couple of strange vomits that he has had recently.

More recently, he had a strange poop day (a total constipation poop followed by a diarrhea poop).

We had no explanation for any of these oddities; we thought it was perhaps a reaction to some water or trace food he picked up somewhere, but had no true answer.

Last week my Mom called me to report on how Zac did at speech therapy. Excitedly, she told me how she asked Miss L if she had any possible explanations for Zac’s ‘chipmunking’.

Miss L offered a few ideas, and her final suggestion proposed that he might be teething.

Teething? TEETHING!

OMG I can’t believe I forgot about teething!

My Mom felt the same way. (Hence the excitement.) Zac is still due for his last back molars. Maybe, just maybe, he’s been teething the last month and THAT could explain some of the oddities we’ve experienced!

Sorry, I can’t remember where I found this teething chart. 

My Mom took it a step further. “Remember those strange, one time vomits he’s done? Maybe they weren’t vomits at all! Maybe it was just that he chipmunked his food for so long, the wad of food and saliva got too big to hold in his mouth and he just spit it out wherever he was?”

So I asked Darrel (who was the one who found the vomits both times). “Honey, did you actually see him vomit, or did you just find the vomit after the fact?”

Both times he just found the vomit. He never SAW Zac vomit.

Eureka!!!

Mom felt around in the back of his mouth, and said there is absolutely some swelling and tooth activity going on in there.

So it appears that Mr. Zac is not having a rough FPIES month. It appears he is doing exactly what he should be doing as a normal young boy, and getting some more teeth into his head.

I’m relieved beyond belief; his weird appetite, the vomit, the strange diapers, the occasional strange sleep that doesn’t relate to any food trials, all of it has a perfectly logical and (for once) absolutely NORMAL explanation!

Whew!

On that note, we began the beef trial again. So far, so good. I will be shocked if beef turns out to be unsafe for Zac. By next week we will know for sure.

The question now is what to trial next.

He and I both need some veggies in our diets, but veggies have proven problematic so far. According to my food intolerance apps, these are the ‘probably safe’ veggies for us as far as fructose and salicylates go:

  • cassava
  • celeriac
  • chantarelles
  • chard (which he had a weird reaction to)
  • chinese cabbage
  • cucumber (already a safe)
  • fennel
  • honey fungus
  • iceberg lettuce
  • kohlrabi
  • lotus root
  • mung bean sprouts
  • pak choi (bok choy)
  • parsnip
  • potatos
  • pascal celery
  • rocket
  • seaweed
  • yam
  • zucchini

Aside from cucumber, iceberg lettice, parsnip, potatos, yam and zucchini, I have no idea what the other veggies taste like or how to prepare them!

Even with the stuff I know about, I don’t really know how to make it appealing to a toddler. Zucchini and parsnip are the easiest ones for me to figure out what to do with, but otherwise, I’m at a loss.

Much as I’d like to serve him all of these veggies, I’m clueless: how do I make them appealing to a 2 year old? If anyone has any suggestions, I’d appreciate the input!

Other than that bit of extraordinarily good teething news, Darrel and I are having a rather rough month.

He is currently on pager duty (a rotating responsibility that he has twice a year), and for whatever reason this month the computers at work have decided to have a total nervous breakdown. Normally he gets 1-2 pages the entire month when he has pager duty; this month, he’s gotten as many as 10 pages per DAY.

So even when Darrel is at home, he’s often in the office working. Weekends, holidays, middle of the night, it doesn’t matter.

Meanwhile, I’m working my tail-feathers off, and between the time I’m actually gone for work, my exhaustion when I’m home, and Darrel’s insane work schedule this month, well…let’s just say my house is a disaster.

A total, complete, embarrassing disaster.

I have no idea how I’m going to keep up the house with my work schedule being what it is. Hopefully, once Darrel hands that dratted pager off to the next poor sucker co-worker on pager duty, he’ll have more time to do housework and next month won’t be as bad.

That’s my biggest hope and prayer right now, because otherwise, we’re quickly going to start looking as if we belong on “Hoarders” due to the mess that is our house. It’s bad, y’all.

Well, at least we’ve got good news with Zac! And hopefully February will be a little easier on us in other ways.


Have you ever gotten completely confused about whether your kiddo was doing a normal toddler thing or an FPIES thing?

Desperate to De-Ice

Desperate to De-Ice CradleRockingMama.com

Last week I worked Thursday through Sunday, at which point in was snowing in Chicago and the only way to get anywhere remotely near home was to fly to Little Rock, spend the night in the airport, and rent a car to drive home.

When I walked through my front door Monday evening, I had been awake for 36 hours straight and been in Atlanta, GA, Houston, TX, Boston, Mass, Chicago, IL, and Little Rock in that time.

I was exhausted and stressed out, so it was beyond a relief to have the homecoming I did: Darrel had done some great work around the house while I was gone, Jed told me he wanted to be my big helper (“Mommy! I will help you. I will help you fast, fast, fast! So fast!”), and Zac was thrilled to see me and had shown no signs of a reaction to the beef while I was gone.

Ah. Sweet.

Even better was the news that Zac advanced leaps and bounds in speech while I was gone!

Last week Miss K, our speech therapist, gave him a new workbook with – ironically – speech apraxia flash cards. Each flash card is a picture, and underneath each picture Miss K wrote the word or words she wants him to say.

Mom and Darrel updated me about Zac’s speech while I was gone, of course, but actually hearing the difference between when I left and when I came back a mere five and a half days later was astounding.

For the first time ever, I got to hear Zac say “Bye-bye!” as we left therapy. He said every word in his workbook, and it was music to my ears. I didn’t get to hear it, but apparently he even finally referred to Grandma by name – “Gama”. (So cute!)

It is such a relief to see he’s turning a corner in therapy, and makes all this time away from my family a little more bearable.

Jed followed through on his promise to help me “fast fast fast”. The first thing he did when we came home was to try and clean the four little dishes in the sink.

The next morning he went straight from bed to the kitchen and took it upon himself to unpack the 50 pounds of potatos laying in the middle of the kitchen, without any prompting by me.

We keep our potatos in one large and two small baskets in a cabinet. Jed pulled the baskets out of the cabinet to fill them, but then discovered that putting the full baskets back in the cabinet wasn’t as easy as expected.

So my clever son enlisted his brothers aid. They put the filled, smaller baskets in the cabinet, then emptied the potatos out of the large basket and simply piled potatos all over the cabinet.

The Way Little Boys Help Put Away Potatos CradleRockingMama.com

Even though it’s a bit of a mess and not at all the way I would store them normally, this was genius; total logic and problem solving skill usage. I was quite impressed!

They even thoughtfully put the empty large basket on the other side of the cabinet. Jed was so proud of himself, Zac was grinning, and I honestly felt like the Grinch on Christmas. Not that my heart was two sizes too small to begin with, just that I felt it swell with love when I saw my boys working so hard to help me.

I wish my brief time at home had sustained such a high note. Unfortunately, we had a couple of little problems put a damper on my high spirits.

Monday night, 5 hours after I first nursed Zac upon my return home, he had a poopy diaper that was a little off. It smelled bad, and while the texture was good, he had a bright red allergy ring.

That night he fought going to bed quite a bit, but so did Jed. My returning home from work always riles them up, so we blamed it on that. Especially since Zac slept really well all night long.

Tuesday morning the allergy ring was gone, but his first poop of the day was hard little constipated pellets that made his heinie bleed a little. Nine hours later he had a straight up diarrhea diaper: pure liquid.

His appetite was a bit off all day, too.

Beyond his tushie issues, he also spent a good hour of the afternoon screaming and crying at me because of this:

Band Aid Reaction CradleRockingMama.com

He’d gotten a teeny tiny little boo-boo on his cheek, but, as 2 year olds are wont to do, would not be satisfied with anything less than the full medical treatment: peroxide, neosporin, and a band-aid from Grandma.

Unfortunately, by Tuesday afternoon his sweet little face was so aggravated by the adhesive on the band-aid, he was in pain and his face was lightly blistered.

Poor baby!

So…what caused the bad poops? Did he suddenly have a reaction to the beef? Did he pick up some trace from therapy or generally being in public? Or was it the water I drank on Sunday?

Honestly, I’m leaning towards the water.

So here’s the deal: it’s hard to find safe water to drink when I’m on the road. I typically carry no less than 5 liters of water with me at all times (imagine carrying the weight of all your typical luggage PLUS the weight of 5 liters of water for days on end!), but occasionally, I run out.

When that happens, I either go without until I can find some safe water or I filter tap water to drink.

Sunday morning, I was nearly out of water. Lo and behold, the newsstand in the Atlanta airport just happened to sell this:

Bad Water CradleRockingMama.com

Which, according to the corn free list I’ve referred to over the years, is a safe brand of drinking water. What a thrilling discovery! It’s almost impossible to find safe drinking water on the road!

My crew actually made fun of me for how excited I was to find safe drinking water. 

I bought 4 bottles, knowing that would be more than enough to carry me over until I found more Crystal Geyser. In the end, I drank 3 of them.

Sadly, despite the brand being on the list, that water may not have been safe. I apparently misunderstood the listing; most of the folks who drink Absopure drink the large, refrigerator sized bottles, which have an almost non-existent reaction record, but the smaller bottles are suspect.

Since the water/nursing Zac fits perfectly to the timeline, I’m guessing it’s the water. Sigh.

Even better? I’m already back at work. In case anyone is keeping track, I got home Monday afternoon and had to return to work Wednesday morning.

Y’all, I want to go home. 

Fortunately, Zac seems to have bounced back already and is doing just fine. Still, we’re beginning the three day break for beef, just to give him a little rest time, and will resume the beef trial on Tuesday (two days after I get home, since I’m not willing to start food trials the day I return any more). That should give him a little tummy break.

Do you know why airplanes are consistently de-iced in the winter? Because while a little ice doesn’t seem like that big a deal, the weight of the ice on the wings makes it unsafe for the airplane to fly.

It can make it harder for the plane to take off, and if it does, the aerodynamics are thrown off and the plane is more prone to erratic behavior, up to and including crashing.

With returning to work last May, I’ve been feeling extra weight. With my latest budget revision at the end of the year requiring more work than I’d previously done, I felt more weight piled on.

The transfer to Chicago helped me feel lighter; theoretically the commute will be easier, thus making my time away at work less than before.

With the latest news from speech therapy about early intervention running out of money, I now have to work basically a full time schedule at work, when what I was aiming for was about a 75% schedule.

Add to the work scheduling stress my sweet kiddos continually demanding food needs, my need to carry everything I eat to work, the need to pump every 5-6 hours (the only feasible schedule when at work) while I’m gone, the ongoing demands of keeping my household running, and all the other little things I’m responsible for and suddenly, I feel as though my wings are covered in ice.

I’m desperate to de-ice my wings, but that would involve cutting something out. There’s only one problem with that:

How can you cut anything out of your life when it’s all important?

In case you hadn’t noticed, my blogging schedule has become erratic since Thanksgiving. Some days I just don’t have time, so I don’t post. That’s what I cut out on those days.

Beyond blogging, though, there’s really nothing else I do that can be eliminated. And I’m loathe to eliminate blogging completely, since it’s one of the few things I do that help keep me centered and inspired.

So I’m desperate to de-ice, but absolutely incapable of doing it now.

Let’s hope my life doesn’t crash around me before things get easier on their own.

I just want to go home.


What do you do when you need to “de-ice” your life?

Warm Drinks for Cold Days

Warm Drinks for Cold Days CradleRockingMama.com

Aside from a small group of Americans who live in Southern California and Florida, the rest of the country is freezing this week!

Being that cold brings to my mind steaming cups of hot cocoa or other yummy beverages to warm my tummy  – and my spirits.

It seemed a good idea, then, to reshare some of the best warm beverages I’ve ever made so you might enjoy them, too!

Sadly, we can no longer enjoy most of these. Jed now has reactions to cocoa powder (and even carob powder), so all he can savor this winter is the Sorta Horchata served incorrectly (it’s typically a cold drink).

Oh, well. I hope you can enjoy at least one of these in your own home! They’re all delicious!

Just click on the photos to go straight to the recipe.

First up is the absolute best hot cocoa I’ve ever tasted in my life, and it’s dairy free. If you can eat coconut, by all means make this for your family. They’ll love you for it!

Hot Cocoa Rock the Universe Version cradlerockingmama

Next are two very simple, almost instant hot cocoas. One uses a pre-made powder mix:

Dairy & Fructose Free Instant Hot Cocoa cradlerockingmama

And one uses a pre-made syrup:

Hot Cocoa Syrup Version - Dairy, Soy, Sugar-Free cradlerockingmama.com

They’re both excellent, and being fast makes them even better in my book!

Last, but by no means least, is the Sorta Horchata. As I said, Horchata is typically a cold beverage for summer. Last year, though, when I first made it, my taste testers wanted to try it both warm and cold, and some liked it better warm!

Sorta Horchata cradlerockingmama

So if you can’t do cocoa, carob, or dairy, and want a warm beverage on a cold day, give this a try. You may like it!

Other than the Sorta Horchata, I’m going to try making just warmed goat milk with cinnamon, maple syrup, and vanilla for Jed and see if that hits the spot for him. Zac will just get plain warmed goat milk when it’s especially cold. Same for me, unfortunately, though I can add a little stevia to mine to – perhaps – make it a little tastier. (We’ll see how that works out.)

Hopefully, by next winter, Zac be able to safely consume at least vanilla and cinnamon so both boys can have the same treat at once! (And I can drink some, too!)

Oh, and I forgot coffee! Jed has adored coffee for years now. I can dress some coffee up with copious amounts of goat milk, some dextrose and vanilla for a special cold weather treat. (Don’t judge; it’s decaf coffee. He started begging for sips of his Daddy’s coffee when he was 2 years old, and it’s almost impossible to keep him away from it when he really wants some! So we give him half cups when he asks for some.  It’s better than soda, that’s for sure!)

Enjoy a nice, warm beverage, and stay warm out there!

Oh, and if anyone has any recommendations for an awesome winter hat that the wind doesn’t blow right through, please share! Preferably one that covers the ears, neck, and forehead, too. My head is freezing in Chicago! 


What’s your favorite warm winter drink? Any great suggestions for how to make warm goat milk more “special”? 


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How to Preserve Potatos for Long Term Use (Part Two)

How to Preserve Potatos for Long Term Use Part Two CradleRockingMama.com

Once upon a time, long, long ago, I promised a second post describing how to preserve Potatos for long term storage.

I bet y’all thought I’d forgotten, right?

Well, I didn’t forget. I’m just slow. I didn’t immediately sit down to preserve more potatos, and then we had a very hectic summer!

Finally, though, the task is done and I’m ready to share the results.

Last time I made french fries and hash browns. This time, it’s very, very simple: mashed potatos!

I honestly have to say that if you’re looking to set potatos by in large quantities, the easiest way to do that is to make mashed potatos. You can store bags  worth of potatos with hardly any effort and in hardly any time.

Might not be as tasty as the Amazing French Fries I made last time, but they’re mashed potatos…those are pretty good, and can easily be doctored up with butter, cheese, or spices once rehydrated.

In my reading about how to dehydrate mashed potatos, I saw two guidelines on how to do so. Both were identical up to the point where the potatos are boiled in the water.

At that point one instructed me to drain off all the water and mash the potatos up with no added liquid before pressing on to the dehydrator trays.

The other one instructed me to leave ALL the liquid in and make a very runny “liquid potato soup” looking batch of mashed potatos before dehyrating.

I figured that each would net me mashed potatos in the end, the question for me was which one was easier to make, rehydrate, and eat.

So I tried it both ways and discovered a clear winner in this race: liquid, runny potatos rehydrate the best!

So here’s all you have to do:

Slice up however many potatos you want to store into smallish slices or cubes. Dump them into a soup pot and cover with water. Boil until fork tender.

Ready to Mash CradleRockingMama.com

Leaving ALL the water in the pot, either use an immersion blender or a regular potato masher to turn it into a nice potato liquid (the immersion blender works best). Make sure you use a pot large enough to allow for liquid swishing…otherwise, you’ll end up with potato liquid all down the sides of your pan and on your stove. Not. Fun.

Mashed Potatos CradleRockingMama.com

Once everything is liquified, use a soup ladle and ladle the potatos onto the silpat sheets of your dehydrator.

Spread on the dehydrator sheets CradleRockingMama.com

Turn the dehydrator on to 125 and let it run for about 8 hours. In the end, you’ll have this:

 Dried Mashed Potato CradleRockingMama.com

The first time I did this, I just broke the crunchy potatos up and rehydrated that way. The next time, I tried grinding the crunchy potato in a clean coffee grinder. It really didn’t seem to make much difference in the rehydrated potatos, so I’m not going to waste the time doing it in the future.

Crumbled Up CradleRockingMama.com

To rehydrate, just measure out one serving of dried potatos, cover with boiling water (maybe add about another 1/8-1/4 inch of water over the top) and cover. Let sit for a few minutes, then every so often stir the potatos around.

Covered in water CradleRockingMama.com

In no time, you’ll have mashed potatos!

Rehydrated Mashed Potatos CradleRockingMama.com

You may need to add a tad more liquid to make them the consistency you prefer, just as with making regular mashed potatos from scratch. And you can always use boiling water initially to rehydrate, then add milk to make them creamier if you need more liquid.

This is seriously easy, and they taste exactly like fresh, homemade mashed potatos made that day.

The only thing I noticed was that just as with freshly made mashed potatos, these will have to be slightly mashed when rehydrated. I just use a fork and gently mash them as I stir, and they come out really good!

Use a kitchen scale to measure out 1 1/4 ounce (by weight) of dried potatos. That equals one potatos worth of rehydrated mashed potatos, on average. 

Most of the time I rehydrate my mashed potatos at work, using the ovens on the plane.

I just pour the dried potatos in a large coffee cup, cover with water, top with foil, and put in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Halfway through I’ll stir them (if I can). They come out beautifully that way, so there’s another method of rehydration for you!

So that’s how to dehydrate (and rehydrate) mashed potatos. It’s easy. It’s fast. They don’t require electricity to store. And you won’t have potatos going bad in your cabinet and stinking things up.

WIN!


Have you ever dehydrated potatos? How do you do it? 


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Cornbread – Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Fructose Friendly!

Cornbread Gluten Free Vegan Fructose Friendly CradleRockingMama.com

I suspect that if you’re born in the South it is somehow genetically implanted in your DNA to have a love of cornbread.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it is undeniable that Southerners are fond of cornbread!

Even being born and raised in the South, I’ll admit to having “cheated” on my cornbread in my single days. I used the Jiffy mix.

I know. It’s awful. But it tasted so good! 

And all I had to do was add an egg and some milk to make myself a delicious pan of cornbread.

Obviously, Jiffy was one of the first thing to go when Jed turned up with egg and milk allergies.

Fortunately, I found a lovely recipe for egg and dairy free cornbread that we all adored, and the three of us ate that for two wondrous years.

Then we learned about Jed’s fructose issues, and  once again, I lost a delicious recipe from my cookbooks.

New Year’s Day tradition requires eating cornbread and black-eyed peas in our family, so I decided to put some effort in to making a cornbread safe for Jed: no dairy, no egg, no wheat, no sugar.

Let me tell you – no one will ever know this is an “alternative” cornbread! My Mom, Dad, Darrel and Jed all chowed down on this and loved it! 

Jed loves it so much, in fact, that I’ve had to make a second pan of it just for him.

Being corn-free for Zac isn’t really that hard for me, most of the time…but I have to admit I stared longingly at this cornbread and prayed for a safe corn trial outcome in the future. Mama wants to eat some cornbread!

Sigh. I’ll restrain myself. But there’s no reason why you should!

So here’s all you have to do to have an allergy safe, fructose friendly cornbread on your own dinner table:

Start by greasing and flouring an 8 inch cake pan. I used a paper towel with some olive oil to wipe down the inside of the pan, and dumped a few T. of millet flour on top. A few shakes and taps, and the pan was ready to go.

Get your oven heated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then dump your dry ingredients into a bowl. I used millet and buckwheat flour for this recipe, but I’m fairly sure you could sub out any other gluten-free flour in their place. (Let me know if you try and how it turns out!)

The second time I made this, I ran out of cornmeal. Ack! I only had half a cup. So I used half a cup of polenta to finish off the required amounts of cornmeal. It worked just fine! The taste was perfect, but I did notice it was a little thicker and heavier than with just plain cornmeal. Try to use straight cornmeal, but don’t worry if you have to pull off a substitution like I did. It will still work.

If you don’t have to worry about fructose, you can use regular white sugar instead of dextrose. (Or honey, or maple syrup…) If you do that, you’ll need to adjust your sweetener down to 1/4 c.

Add your wet ingredients (oil and water) and mix together quickly. The baking powder will make the batter rise fairly quickly, and it just works better if it does most of its rising in the pan. So work fast! But make sure you get all the dry ingredients incorporated.

Scoop all that lovely cornbread batter into the prepped cake pan, and pop it in the oven.

Cornbread Ready to Bake CradleRockingMama.com

20 to 25 minutes later, when the top of the cornbread just starts to get a little golden brown-ness to the crust, take it out of the oven to let cool on the counter.

Baked and Cooling CradleRockingMama.com

I usually let it cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

You can remove the cornbread from the cake pan by putting a plate on top of the pan and flipping the whole thing over (if you want to make it pretty for your dinner table), or you can just cut and serve straight from the pan. Whichever floats your boat.

Beautiful Cornbread CradleRockingMama.com

Either way, it’s delicious as-is.

Sliced Cornbread CradleRockingMama.com

But it’s especially good with some black-eyed peas on top!

Pinto Beans And Cornbread Yum CradleRockingMama.com

Or pinto beans. Whatever you can tolerate. 

Yum!

Enjoy your cornbread!

Cornbread - Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Fructose Friendly!
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
No one will ever know this is allergy-free, vegan, gluten-free and fructose-friendly! Bring delicious cornbread back in to your allergy restricted kitchen!
Author:
Recipe type: side dish, bread
Serves: 8 wedges
Ingredients
  • 1 c. cornmeal
  • ½ c. buckwheat flour
  • ¼ c. + 2 T. millet flour
  • 2 T. arrowroot starch
  • ⅓ c. dextrose (or ¼ c. sugar)
  • 5 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 c. + 2 T. water
  • ⅓ c. oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake pan; set aside.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the water and oil and mix quickly.
  4. Pour into the prepared cake pan.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool on counter for at least 10 minutes before cutting.
  7. Enjoy your delicious cornbread!

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Zac Speaks!

Zac Speaks CradleRockingMama.com

A month ago I shared the scary proposition that Zac may have CAS (Childhood Apraxia of Speech).

Shortly after that post, our beloved speech therapist was in a session with Zac and, hitting another brick wall of progress, called her boss in to observe. 

Our therapist, Miss K, is amazing! The good news is that her boss, Miss L, is amazing, too…and has a few more years of experience under her belt. So Miss K thought maybe Miss L might have some suggestions she hadn’t thought of yet.

(For the record, the two amazing ladies had been conferring and brainstorming about Zac prior to this, but Miss L hadn’t observed a session in a while.)

After watching for a bit, Miss L conceded that Zac was a tough case. However, she mentioned that she had ONE patient a few years ago that was very similar to Zac. It’s the only other patient she’s ever had that is like this, and in the end it turned out this other little boy did not  have CAS.

Nope. In the end, it turned out this other little boy was just incredibly stubborn.

Since Zac isn’t speaking enough to get a CAS diagnosis yet, they decided there was no harm in trying a new therapy method for a while. In fact, they decided it would be a good thing to do, because if it didn’t work it would eliminate “stubbornness” as an explanation for his speech delays, thereby increasing the likelihood that he would receive a CAS diagnosis.

Miss K described the new therapy approach to me, calling it “tough love”.

I call it “out-stubborning the mule”.

Basically, they put Zac in a high chair, strapped in so he couldn’t run around and play. Then Miss K held two toys that she KNOWS he has a sound or a word for in front of him and asked which toy he wanted.

Of course Zac simply grinned and pointed.

No dice. Miss K refused to give him a toy until he made his sound or word for it. (She chose a ball and a train. He was saying “ba” and “o-hoo” for those at the time.)

He screamed. He cried. He pitched a fit. He wailed. He put on an Oscar winning performance.

And the first time she did it with him, he refused to say a single sound. Not even the ones he always  says at therapy!

When my Mom picked him up from therapy that day, though, he DID wave good-bye to Miss K and say – clear as a bell, and for the first time ever – “Bye-bye!”

Hmm.

The second time she did her “tough love” therapy with him, I was waiting to pick him up at the end of the session. When Miss K came out to meet me, her face was ecstatic!

In that session, Zac had fought speaking for the first half hour just as he had before. But after 30 minutes, he suddenly decided he wanted the stinking toy and was willing to do whatever he had to do to get it.

He asked for the toy by name!

He then spent the last 15 minutes of the session making lots of noises…some she had never heard him say before.

Since then, every session comes complete with a wrap-up report of all the new sounds Zac has made. He has now, finally, made all his vowel sounds. He will even repeat words she asks him to say.

We are seeing a difference at home, too.

Zac now clearly says “go” all the time. In fact, I am getting worn out from the piggy back rides I’ve been giving him the last four days. Every time I get him on my back, I won’t go anywhere until he tells me what he wants me to do. So I get to hear him say “GO!” every time I give him a piggy back ride…which is worth the exhaustion, in my book.

Two days ago he attempted to say “egg”. I’ve heard him attempt “car” and “book” as well.

Miss K says he has attempted “rabbit”, “puppy”, and quite a few other words or animal sounds with her.

So maybe, just maybe, he doesn’t have CAS.

Maybe he’s just a mule-headed, stubborn kid.

Sigh.

That’s the good news. (The exceptionally good news, in my opinion!)

The bad news came yesterday when I dropped him off for his session.

Zac receives speech therapy through Early Intervention, a government program set up to offer therapy to children under 3 years of age (though they will continue providing it after 3 if still necessary).

As with many government programs, it isn’t run well at times. This is one of those times.

EI receives its funding every three years. They are due to receive new funding in July of this year, which means we are in the final 6 months of their previous 3 year funding allotment.

And they didn’t budget well. At all.

If Zac continues to receive the two sessions per week he needs, he will be out of funding for his therapy at the end of January.

If she reduces his schedule to once per week, he can continue to receive therapy through the end of February.

ALL the children in EI in our area are currently being either discharged or drastically reduced in scheduling due to this horrible budgeting mess. Many of these children will not be able to receive therapy after January (or February) until July, when the new funding kicks in.

So I spent yesterday trying to get our application for TEFRA together. Miss L assures me that as soon as I send her verification that we are being considered for TEFRA, she will continue his therapy at 2-3 sessions per week.

Between when EI funding runs out and TEFRA kicks in (which could be months, for all I know), our only other option to keep him in therapy is to pay out of pocket.

Today Miss L showed me how much that will cost. It’s really not bad.

Just a tad under $500 per month for two sessions per week.

So we have no choice but to cut back on the whole, and for me to work more.

I was going to get a crash pad in Chicago so I had a cheap place to stay at work. Now, though, we can’t spare the $150 a month for that. I’ll just have to sleep in the airport.

I’d planned to hire a maid service to come in and spruce the place up as an Anniversary present to myself later this month. Nix that!

We were also planning to start Jed in martial arts classes this month, which are $100 a month. Now I have to weigh whether his need for socialization and experience with the outside world is worth it.

There’s no way we can swing this without me working many extra hours per month. If Jed doesn’t do martial arts, that’s 2 hours less I need to work to make up the difference.

Ah…who am I kidding? It’s 2 hours of flight time. I’ll do it for him.

After all, I’m the Mama. I’ll sleep in the airport instead of in a comfortable bed 5 or 6 times per month, but I’ll make sure my kids get the therapy and experiences they need.

Sigh.

Well, at least we seem to be turning a corner with Zac. He really is using his voice a lot more, and for that I’m grateful. I’m just heartbroken at the thought that he might lose therapy now, when it’s finally starting to all come together for him.

So look for me in the skies more often. Someone’s gotta pay for this.

I’m just going to record Zac saying “go” and listen to it over and over again when I’m at work, so I remember exactly what I’m doing it for.


Anyone else have an incredibly stubborn kiddo? How do you get through to them?

Christmas Stories

Christmas Stories CradleRockingMama.com

The end of the year was so busy around here I didn’t write much. Just to keep the story-telling flow going, I figured I’d fill in the gaps for the last few weeks.

When I last updated about the boys, Zac had vomited and we didn’t know why.

We still really don’t know why; only that salmon proved to be safe after a few days, so our likely candidate is some unknown trace that he picked up or a baby virus. He bounced back and was just fine in short order.

With that scary experience under our belt, and facing two or three weeks of holiday mayhem, though, we decided to halt all food trials and simply sit back and punt, waiting for baseline and gut rest.

The week before Christmas week, I worked the whole time. After arriving back home on Sunday night, I had a mere 3 days of Christmas prep time to do far too many things with the boys, but we managed to get almost everything done.


We baked cookies. LOTS of cookies! (Though not nearly enough to satisfy Jed, who is STILL asking for more sugar cookies to this day.) In fact, I managed to tweak my Wannabe Snickerdoodle recipe to be even better (though I haven’t yet updated the recipe online…I’ll let you know as soon as I do) AND created two roll out cookie recipes.

One is a bare-bones, 4 ingredient quinoa recipe that is absolutely boring and bland. That’s because it’s FPIES safe for Zac, of course; with some stevia or some additional tweaking, it could easily be made delicious! (Remember that Zac has  no safe sweeteners as yet for me to play with.) However, as boring as it is, it IS a bonafide, roll it out and cut out fun shapes with cookie cutters cookie, and that is something I’m immensely proud of.

Beautiful Quinoa Roll Out Cookies CradleRockingMama.com

The other is a dairy free, egg free, fructose free roll out cookie that tastes awesome! Jed couldn’t get enough of them, and I had to do a little “wine tasting” taste test to verify (take a bite, chew for a minute, then spit it out and rinse my mouth like crazy). This little jewel tastes JUST like the sugar cookies I remember from my youth…and it’s completely allergy safe!

Beautiful Fructose Free Sugar Cookie Roll Outs CradleRockingMama.com

I even figured out how to make a safe cookie decorating “sugar” for Jed, too!

It was a very satisfying week in the kitchen, let  me tell you. 

Since I didn’t have time to write and share those recipes before Christmas, I’m planning to get them all ready to share in the weeks prior to Valentine’s Day…another holiday that often has sugar cookie roll-outs. So stay tuned – and bookmark those recipes for next Christmas!


We also paid a visit to Santa. 

This is the first year Jed has really understood about the whole Santa/Christmas thing. He was very excited at the prospect of meeting Santa Claus! His excitement transferred to Zac, who really had no idea what was going on but was giggling and bouncing all the same.

They couldn’t wait! I had to constantly restrain them from running up to Santa before it was our turn. Finally, after this photo was taken…

Peeking at Santa CradleRockingMama.com

and I once again told the boys to get back, Jed informed me that “Mommy, we just HAVE to PEEK!”

So as long as they stayed on our side of the column, I let them peek. I love seeing them so excited.

Our local mall has had an awesome Santa for as long as Jed has been alive, so that’s who I expected to see again this year. It was quite a surprise to see a NEW Santa sitting in the place of honor…but it turned out to be a good thing.

This new Santa is the type of Santa who lets the kids sit on his lap, take their picture, and then TALKS to them! Jed got to actually TELL Santa in person how good he had been all year (cough cough) and what he wanted for Christmas. The prior Santa was awesome looking, but the kids never got to talk to him. So this was a welcome treat!

I especially loved it when Santa reached for my hand when I gathered up the kids and told me what a good job I was doing with the boys, that they were sweet and adorable. I’ll take that Christmas gift any day!

I’m thrilled that I got a great photo of the boys!

Sitting with Santa CradleRockingMama.com

For the record, our version of the Santa story is that Santa was so inspired by all the love and charity taught by Christ that he decided to make it his life’s work to spread love, cheer, and gift-giving to children as a celebration of Christ’s birth. To me, it’s the best of both worlds: we keep the true meaning of Christmas alive and well, but still allow the kids to participate in the fantasy of Santa Claus.


Later on, the boys helped me make gifts to give to their grandmothers and my aunt (and me!):

Handprint Christmas Tree Artwork CradleRockingMama.com

I saw the idea on Pinterest and the boys had SO MUCH FUN making these trees! My sole contribution to these canvases is the tree trunk painted at the bottom and the star at the top. Oh, and their names and date written in the bottom. Jed and Zac did all the rest by themselves (with guidance, of course). Even the fingerprint ornaments!

Jed did one tree all by himself, and Zac did one by himself. Those I kept. The other three I helped Jed do the bottom half and Zac do the top half for a joint effort painting; those were the gifts to grandma’s and my aunt.

I’ve really enjoyed looking at those prints on my wall for the last couple of weeks!


One of Jed’s favorite Christmas movies is a Veggie Tales story, “Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas”. Larry the cucumber sings a funny song halfway through the movie about “wrapping himself up for Christmas”, where he shows up completely wrapped, head to toe, in wrapping paper.

So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that when I pulled out the wrapping paper to wrap the gifts for grandparents, Jed jumped up and down and begged to be wrapped up for Christmas!

Wrapping up for Christmas CradleRockingMama.com

He had a blast being wrapped, but once it was finished, he wasn’t quite convinced it was a good idea…

Wrapped up for Christmas CradleRockingMama.com

I thought it was funny, though!


Christmas morning dawned bright and early, and found the entire Summer’s Family still abed. My parents and aunt showed up and had to wake us up! None of us had gotten to bed early the night before, and we were all plum tuckered out.

When we all finally roused, this was the sight of the Christmas over-abundance we faced:

Christmas Went Berserk CradleRockingMama.com

I have one word for you: RIDICULOUS.

There were so many gifts, the boys didn’t even want to open them all! At one point I looked down and saw this:

Sad Little Unopened Gifts CradleRockingMama.com

A sad little pile of gifts that the boys flat refused to open. They had too much to play with already and didn’t want to stop playing to open more gifts!

Eventually they did, but still. Ridiculous. (More about the lessons from that one later.)

I know I’ve mentioned severe money troubles here before, so I bet you’re all wondering how I managed to obtain such a ridiculous amount of presents, right?

Well, part of the pile is from my parents and aunt, so I’m not to blame for all  of the abundance. The majority of our gifts under the tree were actually purchased TWO YEARS AGO at a going out of business sale Darrel and I found at a local toy store. Everything they had in the store was 75% off – including the wooden Thomas the train stuff! (Mama’s of Thomas fans will appreciate how expensive those toys are and how heart-thumping a 75% sale is on those things!)

We bought a bunch of stuff, stuck it in a closet, and planned to give it last year for Christmas. Then Zac had so many reactions to the wood and paint on all of Jed’s wooden toys that we had to put them all in storage, and there everything has sat all this time.

This year, finally, Zac is no longer eating everything in the world that he finds, so we decided to give back all the trains we took away and go ahead and give all the stuff we bought at that sale two years ago. 

Which is how Christmas got totally and completely out of hand faster than some runaway troublesome trucks!

It was actually pretty cute; Darrel overheard Jed telling another little boy that “We had to send all my wooden trains to Santa because they made my brother sick, but Santa is going to bring them back to me this year!” All together now…AW!

Even with our accidental largesse for the kids, our money situation really isn’t all that great right now. So I’ll let you in on a little secret, ladies. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make your husband happy! This is a typically G-rated blog, but I’ll share with you what I got Darrel for Christmas:

Coupon Book Gift CradleRockingMama.com

Yep. A coupon book made Darrel smile bigger than I’ve seen in a long time. And even with the copying and binding costs, it was still under $10. (Feel free to borrow this idea if you’re broke. I got the idea from my Mom!)


Just for amusement, here’s a shot of the Christmas tree the day I put it up and the day we took it down:

Christmas Tree Before and After CradleRockingMama.com

Yes, a Christmas tree is no match for two determined small boys. Angel askew, garlands drooping, lights broken, tree skirt removed due to too many broken ornaments caught in it’s folds, ornaments rearranged, birds hanging upside down…I’d say this tree was well loved this year!


With Christmas behind us, we’re moving back into normal life (or as normal as it gets). Zac had a weird moment on New Year’s Day but has been perfectly fine ever since, so we resumed the beef trial on Saturday night.

He had a little bit of weird sleep that night, and a little bit of mucous in a couple poops the next day, but nothing else at all concerning. In fact, Sunday afternoon he ate his hamburger patty and proceeded to LICK THE PLATE before running to me, screaming for more!

So beef is looking pretty good, at the moment. 

Poor Jed, though…since he’s had some strange reactions to cocoa in the past, I bought some carob powder to trial on him. After the first cup of hot carob (with goat milk, vanilla, and maple syrup), he seemed okay…but after the second day of drinking two cups per day he was definitely  reacting.

To test it out and see if it might be the maple syrup causing the problem, I made his next days carob with dextrose powder instead.

Nope, it was the carob. 

Sad as that is, the good news is that we had a bit of a breakthrough as a result!

As he once again completely lost his cool and had a tantrum that went from zero to volcanic explosion level in an instant, I managed to stay calm.

I went to him, picked him up and held him, trying to comfort and calm him. When he finally stopped yelling and crying, I leaned back and spoke gently with him. I told him that I knew EXACTLY how he was feeling, because I have problems with my food, just like him, and when I eat some foods I get really mad, too.

So I explained that the carob was making him feel this way, and that I knew just what he was experiencing, and that it was awful.

He listened to me, then, as if trying to make sure I really understood what he was feeling, said, “I’m just MEAN.” Usually, when he’s angry, my dedicated Thomas the train fan tells me “I’m very cross” (a la Sir Topham Hatt). So saying “I’m just MEAN” is something different.

He recognized that what he was feeling was NOT typical angry. 

I latched on to that; I said, “I know, honey. When you eat some foods, they give you the Meanies. It’s lousy to have the Meanies. Everyone makes you mad, right? Everything frustrates you, right?” He nodded his head after every question.

So I went on. “That’s why Daddy and I are so careful to feed you food that is safe for you, so you don’t ever have to have the Meanies.”

He actually leaned forward and hugged me after I told him that!

Within a few minutes, he was back to normal Jed mode, smiling and happily helping me in the kitchen. We talked about how even when we have the Meanies, we still don’t hit other people, and we try not to say things that will hurt other peoples feelings.

That part is still a work in progress, I’m sure! But I’m just SO relieved to have finally made the breakthrough to Jed that he is allergic to some foods, sure, and if he eats them he has to go to the doctor and “get poked”, but that there are more foods out there that he can’t eat because they’ll give him the Meanies.

He finally connects his emotional state to his diet, and that is something I’ve been struggling to figure out how to teach him. So, yay for the breakthrough!

And boo for the fact that my sweet boy can’t have ANY rich, chocolate-y type drink at winter. Boo.


So that’s our last few weeks. Thanks for staying with me through the many empty days of no posting – and the lengthy update to share what happened in that time!

I have some new recipes coming up soon, plus some other kiddo updates that I think you might find interesting.


How did you make the connection between emotions and food with your kiddos? Do you have a phrase like “the Meanies”? How was your Christmas?


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An Inauspicious Beginning

An Inauspicious Beginning CradleRockingMama.com

Being Southern, there are certain traditions and superstitions attached to New Year’s Day. For traditions, you must eat greens and black-eyed peas. For superstitions, it’s traditionally believed that whatever you do on the first day of the year is a sign of what the rest of the year has in store for your life.

Having lived 37 years on this planet, I can vouch for the fact that the superstition is more hope than truth. Very few of my years have followed the pattern of what I chose to make happen on New Year’s Day.

Still, childhood traditions and superstitions cling harder than we’d like to admit sometimes, which is why I find myself praying really hard right now that the Southern superstition is as unfounded as my experience would prove. Our New Year’s Day was anything but  an auspicious beginning to the year.

I arrived home from work on New Year’s Eve at 10:00 p.m., utterly, to my bones, exhausted. This last work trip was a combination of three assignments in two different bases (as I received a base transfer beginning December 30th) that began when I left last Friday.

Six days on the road, away from my family, and only three of the flights I worked actually went as scheduled. In fact, my last two day assignment was deemed by my fellow crewmembers as “the trip from hell”. Their words, not mine…though I scarcely disagree. It was awful.

So when I came trudging home, later than I’d planned (my last work flight was delayed, making me miss my original flight home), I wanted to curl up in a ball and disappear for a few days.

New Year’s Day was looming, though, and I felt compelled to ensure that the day went beautifully to ensure a successful 2015. That whole superstition thing, you know.

Darrel did let me sleep in a bit in the morning, and when I woke, it was to my sweet boys bouncing on me in the bed. Jed saw I was awake and made his first words to me “Zac got my yellow chips (corn chips) and ate them! But then Daddy took them away. And Zac got sick.”

Good morning, anyone?

Darrel filled me in when I walked into the kitchen. Apparently, Zac had vomited in the living room. Why, no one knows. AFTER he vomited, Darrel caught him eating some of Jed’s pork rinds (not corn chips), and took those away.

Hello, 2015, right?

Zac honestly seemed fine after that. I relaxed, thinking maybe it was just a small reaction, though still perturbed that our planned gut rest will now need to last longer before resuming food trials.

Unfortunately, the rest of the day wasn’t really all that great.

While making sweet potato-banana ice cream for Zac, my food processor went berserk and exploded the lid in my face, throwing bananas and sweet potato all over the kitchen.

It’s ruined and must be replaced. And Zac was very upset that he couldn’t have any ice cream.

The boys played really hard in the living room today, and it looked like it, too! Toys were everywhere! Since my parents were coming over for dinner, and no one could walk in the living room, I informed the boys that they needed to tidy up.

I tried to make it fun! I challenged them to a “pick-up game”. I tried to make it into a race. I did everything but hop on one foot while patting my head and rubbing my belly.

No dice. They refused to pick up a single toy.

Finally, I made it an order. “I’m setting the timer. When it goes off, if you haven’t picked up the trains and put them away (see? I’m being nice! I only demanded they pick up the trains – not all  the toys!) you will lose all TV watching for a day.” I set the timer for 15 minutes, and even picked up a few toys to encourage them to do the same.

When I saw one minute left on the timer, I told Jed he’d better hurry. I even sweetened the deal! “Jed, I have picked up 7 toys. If you can JUST pick up 7 toys in the next minute, I’ll give you more time to clean the living room without losing the TV.”

Jed just looked at me, sat down on his new play workbench, and said “I can’t. I’m so out of breath from playing.”

This kid has some serious cheek!

Needless to say, the boys don’t get to watch any TV, play with either of our phones, or play their Thomas computer game for a whole day. I even turned the whole entertainment setup completely off, to avoid Jed turning it on by changing out a DVD. (He hasn’t discovered the power button yet, but knows how to make it “come to life” by opening and closing the DVD player.)

And they still picked up all the toys in the living room. It just took a grand total of almost an hour to get the job done…when it should have taken a mere 4 minutes at most.

Frustrated at that, I went to finish cooking dinner.

Remember my awesome pantry solution? Well, the top slide out shelf of my baking section wouldn’t pull out. When I looked closer, I saw that one of the slides had completely collapsed in the back!

All my baking stuff is now covering my counter until the drawer is fixed. THAT makes cooking so much easier, don’t you know!

Right about then Zac had a poopy diaper, which was not a great one. It stunk badly and had some mucous. A couple of hours later he had another one. This time, he presented us with a bright red allergy ring and a bright red heinie where the poop had touched, squirmed to get away from being wiped, and the poop smelled awful…but at least it looked a little better.

Sigh. A food reaction, willfully stubborn kiddos, a broken kitchen, total exhaustion and a couple other things I’m leaving out that stunk. This is NOT what I had planned for New Year’s Day!

To be completely fair, the day wasn’t all bad. I did get to read to the boys quite a bit today, which is always fun. We played a lot, and I built a really cool train layout for the boys that they loved. Zac said two new words that I’d never heard before. The boys both went to bed right on time without a fight. My Mom and Darrel cleaned up the kitchen for me after dinner, which was glorious. And my Dad managed to fix the most-used-electrical outlet in my kitchen that had been inop since before Thanksgiving.

Still, this wasn’t what I would call an auspicious beginning to the New Year.

Let’s hope the Southern superstition doesn’t ring true for us. I don’t think I could handle a whole year of this (unless it was just the good things!)


Hopefully your New Year’s Day was better than mine! Do you have any New Year’s traditions/superstitions in your family?