Friday, July 12, 2013

Imagination, Fun, and Meal Planning

The past couple of weeks we have actually been relaxing and enjoying ourselves here at home.  I am constantly amazed by Amber's creativity and imagination.  Her latest invented game is Pet University, where you can adopt a stuffed animal to learn about that animal and then return it for another one.  Amber even setup a "mailbox" for Pet University in our loft room, so that we can request specific animals or contact the university for any other reason.  This child is simply so much fun to be around.

Back in June, Amber got a new Build-A-Bear Small Fry octopus that she named Swish-Swish.  For some reason, she really loves this stuffy!  We've spent quite a bit of time turning a Build-A-Bear box into a home for Swish-Swish, along with hand sewing bedding and clothes for the octopus.  It may seem like fun play time to Amber, but it's great practical arts learning for her and wonderful memories for me.

Pet University's mailbox & adoption forms
Sewing for Swish-Swish (the pink octopus)
We've also branched back out into playing some of Amber's board games since we completely finished LEGO Lord of the Rings for the PS3!!!! When I say completely, I mean 100% on the game plus ALL the trophies.  We are too cool, LOL!  But not to leave out the LEGOs entirely, we've been playing quite a bit of Minotaurus, while having a pretend tea party.  It's the best way to play.  To be honest though, we are both anxiously awaiting the new LEGO Marvel Super Heroes PS3 game due out this fall.  We can play with Thor, Captain America, Ironman, Hawkeye, and Wolverine.  Spiderman is in it too, but we aren't huge fans. 

Amber has been dutifully, if not excitedly, continuing with her two summer subjects.  Latin is *almost* complete.  Shockingly, we might be able to start the next level of Latin in August, whoo!  Biology is plodding along, but getting to use the microscope for this week's experiment really helped boost the interest.  Amber's narrations for biology have definitely been improving over the summer and I'm thankful to see at least one positive out of the not-so-enjoyed subject.

The second summer dance session began this week, however this is very low key dance.  Amber only has ballet technique and pointe twice a week.  It's more muscle toning and training than anything else.

"One Ring to build them all" - We have all the trophies for LEGO LOTR
Tea party while playing LEGO Minotaurus
Biology is so much better on days we play with the microscope

Unfortunately, Amber's intestinal and stomach problems came back the first week of July.  She started feeling poorly on July 1st, and by the 5th she couldn't eat as the cramps hurt too much and she was constantly nauseated.  On Saturday the 6th I called her GI doctor's exchange for help. I was *this* close to taking the child to the ER.  Fortunately, they recommended we try the colon cleanse again since it worked last time.  Sadly for Amber this was not a pleasant process, however it did work and by Tuesday the 9th she felt entirely better with no stomach or intestinal complaints.  She has another GI appointment today, so we will see what our next step might be.

We have no concrete ideas what could have caused Amber's problems to return.  It is possible she ate some gluten, since something we thought to be gluten free turned out to be cross contaminated.  I got sick from it, but didn't realize it was this item until eating it a second time. (Big forehead-slap there on my part). Amber ate it right before her issues returned.  Amber also had chocolate milk right before her issues returned, and it is something she normally doesn't have.  Lately, she has been very resistant to drinking milk which she has loved since being a baby.  Amber can't explain why she doesn't want milk either.  So, along with the gluten-free diet, Amber is also on a milk free diet for the time being.  Food is not our friend right now.

Scootering on a good tummy day.  She needs a new scooter too.
An actual sandwich at a restaurant! It's a gluten-free bakery / cafe about half an hour from us, called New Day.  We loved it there.

I want to give a big shout out and thank you to Mary at Homegrown Learners. In my desperation to feed Amber post colon cleanse,  I remembered a recipe from Mary's blog for a Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie that uses almond milk, so we gave it a try.  Amber absolutely LOVES this smoothie that happens to be gluten-free and milk free.  She looks forward to her healthy afternoon smoothie snack each day.

I've also been trying out Plan to Eat that Mary recommends, and it's been a life-saver helping me organize our gluten-free meals and plan dinners.  Our previous modus operandi was to prepare whatever dinner came to mind or go to whatever restaurant sounded appealing, usually deciding around 5:30pm. Sadly, more often than not it was a restaurant.  With Amber's (and my own) dietary restrictions, our list of restaurants is extremely limited and usually it's a little risky.  Plan to Eat is wonderfully efficient, and the shopping list is surprisingly a very useful feature.  I normally make so many random grocery trips each week.

Cooking is indescribably easier if I already know what gluten-free meal I'm making for dinner, instead of trying to think of something when we are all hungry.  I've even made dinner now for a near record four nights in a row! (I managed 5 consecutive nights once last summer when Fred was ill... if you count warming food people brought us). We've only been using Plan to Eat this week, yet it's already pinned on my iPad and iPhone home screens. I LOVE that I can use my iPad for meal planning and recipes all within Plan to Eat.  I don't mean to gush (and nobody is paying me to), but seriously this is the best meal / recipe tool I've used.  If I was designing the software, this is how I'd do it, except I didn't have to write the code! Even though I'm still in the free trial month, Plan to Eat is a keeper and absolutely worth the $5 per month.

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie, Yum!  It makes a tummy feel good and is good for you.

As for my projects around the house, Fred and I managed to move our queen bed over to the guest bedroom on the 4th of July and give that room an entire makeover.  Our new king bed came on the 5th, and it is everything I hoped it would be.  Now, on the project list is making the quilt for the new bed.  I purchased, a while ago, authentic 1800's reproduction fabric to redecorate our bedroom.  I've not done anything with the fabric, but now it's time to start cutting, sewing, and generally praying I don't screw up this fabric.  

Today is Amber's half birthday and we are having a fun lunch and shopping outing with my mother after the GI appointment.  My dad started the tradition of celebrating Amber's half birthday since her actual birthday was too close to Christmas for his liking.  Even though Dad isn't here anymore, Mom is carrying on with the tradition.  It looks to be a happy day for us all.

Happy Weekend!

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  1. Congrats on finishing Lego Lord of the Rings!!! My son is close to just such an accomplishment with Plants vs. Zombies on his DS. He tells me it's just in time for him to get the 2nd Plants vs Zombies when it releases :-) I'm glad Amber's feeling better and hope you guys get some good direction from the GI appointment.

  2. I'm so sorry about Amber's tummy issues. We are GF, too and it is difficult. I hope the GI figures out what happened. Awesome for finishing the LEGO games!

  3. I'm sorry Amber got sick again. How discouraging that must have been. Plan to Eat sounds great! I didn't realize it was only $5 a month! Since I hate making dinner maybe I'll give it a try!

    1. The first month of Plan to Eat is entirely free and you don't even have to give them a credit card. If you pay by the year instead of by the month it is even cheaper than $5 / month. Assuming I keep it up for the free month, I'm buying a whole year.

  4. Good job Amber on completing the Latin so quickly. I love all she is doing with her stuffed animals. How creative.
    Blessings. Dawn

  5. Wow great job on the Latin! I am so sorry she had to go thru that again 8(. Poor girl. I pray she grows out of the condition or at least can be free of these episodes. Enjoy your week and tell he to keep that smile going!

  6. Stomach issues are the PITS! I have one with lactose intolerance and IBS issues. And now another with recurring severe stomach pain that can't be identified. We are now watching pre-packaged foods and fats. They seem to trigger. Almond milk is now a family staple!

    1. I can sympathize. I have IBS with both lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance. I'm fun to eat with.

      I hope you can figure out your one with stomach pain. That's awful in little ones