Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Before Pictures...

Here are some pictures of our current filing "system". I am using the word system very loosely here.

This little corner of the kitchen is our kitchen office area. Right now it's known as the chaos counter. The coutertop actually looks pretty good in this picture.

I clean it off periodically and then the next thing I know there is stuff all over it again. This is were about 90% of our papers end up so this is where I'm planning to store all the active files. Our permanent documents and completed tax returns will be stored upstairs in one of the closets.

On the bright side, any sytsem we manage to implement will be better than what we have now.

Friday, January 29, 2010

No Noodle Lasagna

A couple of years ago, before I developed Celiac, I was trying to reduce the amount of refined flour and sugar in my diet. Since it was summer and zuchini was plentiful I decided to try to use it in place of noodles in lasagna. Much to my suprise, it worked! I really never missed the noodles and the zuchini blends in nicely with the tomatos and cheeses. Now that I can't have traditional lasagna noodles this has become a staple in my kitchen.

I do need to warn you that this gluten free lasagna does not cut into neat little squares. When it it hot and the lasanga is cut up it will spread over your plate. If you like it to be a little neater cook it the day before you need it. The leftovers always taste better and look better than the day it is served.

No Noodle Lasagna

1 lb ground beef (also works well with 1/2 lb ground beef and 1/2 lb ground pork)
¾ cup chopped onion
Cooking spray
1 can tomatoes
2 small cans tomato paste
½ cup water
1 T parsley
2 t salt
1 T sugar
1 T garlic powder
½ t pepper
½ t oregano
2-3 small zucchini
1 lb cottage cheese
4 cups mozzarella cheese

Cut zucchini into thin rounds and steam cook in the microwave for 2-3 min. Brown ground beef together with onion. Mix together with rest of ingredients except zucchini and mozzarella cheese. Layer a little sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Add a layer of zucchini rounds, cheese then sauce. Repeat until you have 2-3 layers ending with mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350°for 40-50 min.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Doodlebug!

Since today is Doodlebug's birthday it seemed appropriate to tell the story of his birth.

We arrived at the hospital on January 26th shortly after midnight for a scheduled induction. Since I had gestational diabetes my midwives would not let me go past my due date. We spent our first hour getting settled in the room, getting IV's started and finding out what to expect. Once we were settled the nurse checked my blood sugar, put in my IV, started my Cytotec and hooked me up to the monitors. I was given some Ambien and we settled in to try to get some rest. Ha! Everytime I would move so would Doodlebug and alarms would go off. I don't think we got more than an hour or two of sleep all night.

Around 7:00 AM my midwife came in to check my progress. I was still dilated to 1 cm(which is where I had been the night before) and she started me on Pictocin. Marilyn, our nurse, came in to meet us and discuss our birthing preferences. A lot of them had already been ruled out since I was induced but we told here that we were using Hypnobabies. Although she had never worked with anyone using Hypnobabies before, but had heard of it and seemed really interested in the whole process.

Soon my contractions were coming on a more regular basis and becoming increasingly uncomfortable. The Hypnobabies relaxation scripts were irritating me so I asked my husband to put on the relaxation music without words. I got up and into the rocking chair. When a contraction would start I would take a deep breath, drop my head and stop rocking. I would just sit in the chair breathing deeply and relaxing until it was over and then I would pick my head up and continue rocking. About 1:00 I started having a more difficult time relaxing through the contractions as they increased in intensity and requested an epidural. As we waited for the anesthesiologist the contractions became so intense I started repeating over and over "Help me, help me, help me..." Chris would rub my lower back, remind me to breathe and tell me to relax my hands, my shoulders, my arms etc.

The anesthesiologist was delayed due to a baby on the floor that was in trouble. Since we did not know when he would be able to come in to give me the epidural Marilyn gave me a narcotic to take the edge off the contractions. We continued to prep me for the epidural so I would be ready as soon as the doctor walked in the door. No sooner than the medicine got in my IV and we got me seated on the edge of the bed than the anesthesiologist walked in. Once everything was in I just laid in bed listening to my Hypnobabies music and relaxing. I didn't sleep but I did manage to doze in and out as I rested up so I could birth my baby. Not much later my midwife came in to check me told me I was at 5 cm and she broke my water.

I lost track of time at that point. I remember telling Chris and Marilyn that I was feeling queasy later in the day. Chris got a washcloth for my head and gave me my Hypnobabies "No nausea" CD to listen to. When Marilyn checked my progress she told me I was at 7 cm. I told her, "Yep, I'm in transition." Some time later the midwife came back in and inserted a catheter through my cervix to better monitor my contractions. Since Nathan was still squirming around and the monitor kept losing track of his heartbeat, a lead was placed in his head to better monitor his heart rate.

Sometime later I started to feel mild urges to push. Since I wanted a little more time for the urges to grow stronger before I had to start pushing I didn't say anything. Soon after Marilyn checked me, told me I was at 10 cm and asked me to give a little push to see if the baby would move. She told me I was only 5 or 6 good pushes away from meeting my little guy. My husband and Marilyn started to reposition me in the bed. They had me sitting up, on each side and finally on my back with Marilyn telling me to push. I got really vocal at this point repeating that I did not want to lie flat on my back to push but she told me that “The baby is getting tired and needs to come out.” I heard something in her tone of voice that made me realize something was not right so I shut up and pushed as hard as I could. A minute later she told me to stop pushing and went to the phone to call the midwife. My midwife was delivering another baby at that time and I heard Marilyn say that she needed a doctor, any doctor, to come in now. I did not know exactly why she was saying this with such urgency, but I remember thinking that this could not be good.

Things started moving very fast and the room started filling up with people. Someone gave Chris scrubs and told him to go and change in case we had to go to the OR. As soon as the doctor got there they put me on my back and told me to push again. The doctor explained that the baby’s heart rate was dropping into the 40’s each time I pushed and she thought we needed to do a c-section.

A few minutes later we were in the OR and I was being prepped for surgery. I could feel people pushing on my belly and knew that the medical team was preparing for the c-section. A few minutes later I heard Marilyn say “We have a head…we have shoulders” and then I heard Doodlebug cry. I looked at Chris and said, “Oh my God, I didn’t even know they started.” Doodlebug was born at 7:55 PM on January 26, 2009. He was a little peanut at 6 lbs 2 oz and 18 ¾ inches long. And of course, the absolute cutest baby I have ever seen.

Happy birthday Doodlebug, I love you!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One step forward, two steps back

I've been potty training Doodlebug since November, when he was about 9 months old. Actually what we are doing is really more a form of elimination communication (EC). Basically I am watching him for signs of when he needs to use the potty and then just take him there. He's pretty predictable so we usually go after meals and naptimes.

Although every time we went potty his diaper was already wet, I was really encouraged that he seemed to understand what to do on the potty, and if he had to go when I set him on it, he went. He was using the potty about 80% of the time, and I hadn't washed a poopy diaper in weeks.

And then we hit a wall. Three days of missing every single time. Then one success. Then several more misses. Several poopy diapers to wash.

I don't know what's changed. I guess it's just going to be one step forward and two steps back.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's baaaack!

Here are the links to the other two posts about the leg lamp as a Christmas gag gift, for those of you who don't know the whole story.

Last night I was putting some stuff away in our guest room closet when I noticed an odd looking box.

Now the only question is, do we set the lamp up in their front window when they go on vacation? Or is our Christmas shopping done for them for next year?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Personality Change

My sweet little baby is no longer my sweet little baby.

When Doodlebug was born we noticed he was a very laid back baby. He rarely cries unless he needed something, always goes to other people easily and is generally pretty happy.

For the first couple of weeks we waited cautiously and held our breath. Is this really his personality? Could we really have gotten this lucky? Yep. We really did hit the jackpot. People who watch him in the church nursery or at the YMCA comment on how good he is. He watches the other kids, plays contentedly and is so pleasant to be around.

December was a really rough month. Almost as soon as we got home from Thanksgiving he got a supervirus. He ran a fever for a week and was sick for at least ten days straight. Poor little guy. Then he caught a cold. Then we went away for Christmas and he got really sleep deprived. Then his top tooth came in. This was a 5-6 day ordeal that involved very little eating, lots of fussing and Motrin every six hours. I was so ready for December to end.

When it did I noticed that Doodlebug was yelling a lot. Not screaming, not crying, but yelling. Or maybe bellowing. Hmm.

And he started throwing stuff on the floor. Not dropping, throwing. Hmm.

And then he started kicking at me. Not waving his feet in the air and trying to get his shoelaces. Hmm.

I thought that maybe another tooth was coming in. Or he was getting another virus. Maybe he's still not caught up on his sleep. Because this just isn't my sweet baby.

I finally asked my friend who has two kids older than Doodlebug, "Do kids have some kind of major personality change when they turn one?" Of course, I had to yell it pretty loud to be heard over the bellowing. Her eyes got bigger and she slowly nodded. And then I heard words I was dreading. "And it only gets worse."


And just like that, we entered the toddler years. I'm not ready. I miss my sweet baby boy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Daily Cleaning

If I’m going to have a hope of getting my home cleaned up in an hour or so a week, it takes some daily maintenance.

This is what I typically do in a day.

º One load of laundry. This means washed, dried folded and put away.
º Wipe down each bathroom daily. Spot clean mirrors, spray counters and toilet, swish a little soap in the toilet bowl and call it done.
º Spray down the bathtub and shower after each use. I hardly ever have to scrub it this way.
º Keep up with the dishes. If I unload the dishwasher as soon as it’s done I have a place for my dirty dishes and the counters stay clear. I just clean as I go on this one.
º Every night I do a five minute pick up of each floor. Put away toys, clear my nightstand, put away stray items, and clear off the surfaces that always seem to attract clutter in my house. If I keep up with it, it really doesn’t take long.
º Clean up messes as they happen. If my son drops his fruit on the floor I pick it up and spot mop it. It takes a lot less time to clean up most messes as they happen rather than waiting to do it all at once.

Some other things that have really helped me out.

º Declutter. This is the single most important thing. How can I put things away if they don’t have homes? Who wants to spend 5 minutes trying to close drawers that are so stuffed with clothes they won’t shut all the way? Why do I want to store, take care of and look at stuff I don’t need any more?
º Take it in small steps. If your house is a wreck, it will take longer to get in shape. But don’t just throw up your hands and collapse on the couch. Work on it for 10 minutes, 15 minutes or even 5 minutes. Even if it’s only 10 minutes a day for a week that’s over an hour. You can get a lot of cleaning done in an hour.
º My home is not a museum. I have cat hair on the couch, rumpled towels in the bathroom and dishes drying on the countertop. I do not need to vacuum under the couch every week. I want it clean enough that my family can enjoy it and basic tasks are done regularly. Good enough is good enough.
º Know when to stop. If you’ve been vacuuming for 10 minutes and that’s all the time you have, stop. It’s okay not to vacuum the whole house if you are running tight on time. Ten minutes in the high traffic areas will do a lot more good than nothing at all.
º Figure out how long it takes you to do each task. I know I can thoroughly clean my kitchen floor in 15 minutes. When I find myself with a few spare minutes I know what tasks I can get done since I know how long they take.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

How to Clean Your House in an Hour

If you know me in real life you would laugh at the idea I’m doing a post on house cleaning.

I hate to clean. Seriously hate it. I used to avoid it at all costs. My former roommate once told me I at least needed a path in my bedroom.

It was that bad.

I am somewhat reformed now. Not all the way, but a lot better. Our house is lived in, but we almost always have a pretty clean kitchen and clothes to wear. And the clothes usually come out of a drawer or the closet and not the dryer.

The first thing I learned was to make it easy on myself. I store basic cleaning supplies in each bathroom and the kitchen. Usually just a role of paper towels and some multi-purpose spray cleaner. If I leave to get those things I inevitably get distracted and forget I was cleaning the bathroom.

I have learned to clean fast. I don't want to spend my whole day cleaning, there are much more fun things to do. I wipe down the bathrooms every day. I try to do it while I'm in there anyway and since I do it daily it takes only a minute or two tops. I spray down any spots on the mirror, the counter tops, the toilet bowl and squirt a little soap in the toilet bowl. I swish the soapy water around the toilet, wipe up everything else and I'm done. Missing spots doesn't really concern me since I'm going to be back doing it tomorrow anyways.

You know the days you'd rather just sit on the couch rather than clean? I have those all the time and sometimes I totally give in. Usually I can get my butt up long enough to do something during the commercials. I can unload one rack in the dishwasher during one set of commercials. At the end of single TV show my kitchen is presentable.

I try to get all of my weekly cleaning done in one big spurt. The key is to get my husband and son out of the house for an hour or so. If I haven't been doing this regularly it takes longer.

The first thing I do is run pull my hair back, put on some running shoes turn on the music. I move when I clean.

The next thing is to run around the house and do a general pick up. Throw out magazines, put the toys away, get the dishes off the nightstand. Since we have two floors I finish one before going to the other. Instead of running every item up or down the stairs to its home I just throw stray items in a laundry basket and take them all up at once. I try to restrict picking up and putting away to 5 minutes upstairs and 5 downstairs.

Next I dust. This is does not mean getting out Pledge and polishing all the wood surfaces. I grab a feather duster and race around the house. My goal is to be done in 10 minutes or less.

Then I do the floors. I vacuum everything carpets, hardwoods and tile floors. I do not move any furniture, I just run it around the middle of the room. (The only exception is the kitchen.) My goal is 10 minutes or less.

Next comes mopping. I use a spray bottle and microfiber mop. I spray the microfiber cloth to dampen it, spot spray any stuck on dirt in the kitchen and then fly around the house with it. My kitchen takes 15 minutes total. (Move chairs, vacuum, mop, move chairs back.) The rest of the house is 5-10 minutes.

If I have some more time I vacuum the stairs, this only takes a couple of minutes.

All said and done my major cleaning is done in less than an hour a week and it doubles as a workout. In order to get it done that fast I have to focus only on cleaning and keep on moving. I also have to recognize that it won't be perfect, it's just going to be good enough.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas Photos

I don't have anything really inspiring to share today, so I'm just going to post some Christmas photos of our Christmas.

The wrapping paper is definately more fun than the presents!

Amazingly Doodlebug's firt Christmas was a white Christmas. And we live in the South. Too bad he wasn't big enough to enjoy playing in the snow.

Mommy getting sloppy Christmas kisses. Doodlebug now thinks it's funny to lick me while kissing me.

Daddy and Doodlebug. Aren't they sweet?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Gluten Free Bread that Tastes Good

Really Good Gluten Free Bread It sounds like a contradiction in terms. Good and gluten free bread doesn’t it? I haven’t eaten much bread in the past two years since I found out I have Celiac. Why spend $6.00 for a loaf of bread that tastes awful? Why spend my time making homemade bread with a dozen exotic flours for it to taste like cardboard?

But I really wanted garlic bread. And a grilled cheese sandwich. So I decided to try making bread at home. I like to bake. This could work.

My recipe requirements were only that it could not contain any flours that I did not already have in my kitchen. It is really frustrating to buy a box of flour for a recipe that I end up not liking anyway.

I found a bread recipe that looked promising here.

Of course, I don’t have a bread maker or all of the flours listed in this blogger’s all purpose flour. So I started making substitutions.

This is the recipe that I am using now, and I love it!

1 package (or 2 ¼ t) active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/3 c. water (105 degrees or a little less than hot)
2 ½ cups Jules Nearly Normal Flour Mix
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 ½ Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. white or rice wine vinegar

1. Combine yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Combine the flour mix, xanthan gum and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix well.

3. In a third bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and vinegar until the eggs are a bit frothy.

4. Check the yeast. By now, it should look a bit frothy on top. This is an indication your yeast is working well.

5. Pour both liquid mixtures into the flour mixture. Stir until all ingredients are well mixed. It’s important not to undermix the dough. I put my in my mixer and turn it on for at least three minutes.

6. At this point the dough will resemble a thick cake or brownie batter. It will not form into a loose ball like dough using gluten.

7. Pour dough into an oiled 2 cup bread pan and smooth the top.

8. Cover bread dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise until it just reaches the top of the bread pan.

9. Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes. The top of the bread will be a golden brown and will sound hollow when tapped.

10. Allow bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then place on a wire rack to finish cooling.

11. When fully cooled slice with a serrated bread knife.

Gluten free bread is much more tempermental than it’s gluten containing counterparts. Even the best bakers will occasionally have loaves that turn out hard or fall. Since gluten is what gives bread structure making gluten free bread often has some issues with shrinking or collapsing after coming out of the oven.
If your bread is collapsing and has large air pockets in it, this is a sign you are using too much liquid. Cut back on the liquid in the recipe until you have a more stable loaf with small even air pockets throughout. You can see in my picture above that I have some rather large air pockets and I may need to cut back slightly on my liquids.

Most gluten free cooks like to vary recipes. If you do this, take it one step at a time. It’s generally not a good idea to cut back on liquid, change the type of vinegar, use a different sized loaf pan and substitute guar gum for xantham gum all in the same recipe. If your loaf does not come out as you had hoped you have no idea what you need to change to get back on track.

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