Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dairy Free

Remember that cough I told you about months ago?

Well...it's still around.

Cassandra responded great to the 2 meds (Singulair and Nasonex) at first. Then we tried weaning her off and it's been a nightmare since. We cut out the Singulair and the coughing started right back up. So we put her back on it....but she didn't respond to it.  Back to the allergist we went (in April) and she was kept on those 2 and they also added in 2 inhalers for her as well. One to do twice daily and once as a "rescue" inhaler for her coughing "fits".  

She responded well to those so we were told to keep her on them for a month. We stopped in mid-May and she was ok for about 2-3 weeks.  Then the cough returned. We went to the allergist again in June and he told us to keep her as she is for about 6mos. Basically 3-4 meds a day for the poor girl.

I've also been talking to my chiropractor a lot about it (she has a degree in nutrition as well) and she strongly feels that the inflammation causing her asthma is tied to food and an unbalanced "gut". She suggested trying going dairy free for awhile because I guess dairy is a big trigger for inflammation in a lot of kids. That along with adding in some probiotics and Vitamin D should help clean her gut out.

Well...about 2 weeks ago or so we had another really bad night of her coughing so we decided to bite the bullet and give it a shot. So on Friday 7/11 we started her on a dairy free diet. 

I'm not going to lie....it's hard.

Some days have been easy and some have been challenging. I've had moments in Wegman's where I want to cry because everything I normally buy has dairy in it. I've also had moments in Wegman's where I'm thanking God that something doesn't have dairy in it.

The hardest part has been milk (to drink) and yogurt and mac-n-cheese. Thankfully most of the other stuff we feed the kids doesn't have dairy in it. I've tried a few different yogurts for her and she's not really thrilled with them. I found one mac-n-cheese that she ate-if she will again who knows! But the drinking milk is very hard. I tried almond milk first since it seems a lot of people like it. Nope-she knew right away it was different and drank a few gulps and that was it. Every meal I gave it to her and every meal it sat there. This week I bought rice milk and she's not thrilled with that either. She'll take 1-2 sips at a meal and that's it. And it's only because I sort of make her drink a sip. She doesn't do it on her own. I might try coconut milk this weekend and see how that goes. Beyond that, I'm stumped.

We haven't had the challenge of going out to dinner yet or going to a party, etc. I know those will be hard. I found a bakery that makes dairy free cupcakes so I think I'm going to stock up on those for when we have a party to go to. At least she won't feel left out!

And it's really hard telling her she can't have something, especially if she sees someone else eating it. We always will say "no" and she'll ask why. Our answer? "It has milk in it." Lately she'll just say "ok."  At first, many tears were shed when we said no, but I think she's starting to catch on. And it's funny because now Avery will ask "does that have milk in it?" before we give something to Cassandra. So she's looking out for her too.

I could see this being easier if your child had a life threatening allergy to something and you had to cut it out of their diet. But doing it by choice is hard for some reason. And like Gabe said, I never imagined we'd be one of those families that has to read every label before feeding it to our child. I'm not sure how long we'll do this for. Ideally 3-6months, but really we're just taking it one day at a time.

If any of you have any suggestions for us, we'll take all of the help we can get!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups

I've had this recipe around for awhile and even had it written on here awhile. And I'm finally getting to posting it now! I got this from the same Rachael Ray magazine as I did the stromboli recipe-they were on the same page to be exact! Just like the stromboli, this is another winner!

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp oil
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 scallions-whites and greens separated and chopped
1 large head of butter lettuce, leaves separated

1. In small bowl, combine the hoisin sauce and soy sauce with 1/3 cup water.
2. In large skillet or wok, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add chicken and cook, breaking apart until browned.
3. Reduce heat to medium and add the carrot and 1tbsp oil-cook 2mins. Add garlic and scallion whites and cook 1min. Stir in hoisin mixture and cook until sauce thickens, 1-2min.
4. Divide the lettuce leaves among 4 plates. Top each leaf with chicken mixture, sprinkle with scallion greens.

(Notes: I used ground chicken for ours. And I didn't sprinkle the scallion greens on-I just threw them in the pan at the end instead! I can't remember if this suggested a dipping sauce at all-I know we didn't use one, but it might be a good addition to the recipe.)

This was very good, but to me it wasn't very filling. It's meant to serve 4 people and I think Gabe and I split the recipe and I was still on the hungry side. I probably should have made a side of veggies or something. It would also make for a great appetizer as well! We'll be making this again for sure!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Frozen Birthday-Party 2

This year Avery really wanted a birthday party for her friends at school (aka daycare). We figured since she's starting real school in the fall, she could have a party since it would be one of her last time seeing some of these friends.

The party was the week after her family party so the decorations were the same and were kept up between parties. (I hate to admit that a month later, they are still up! There might be some serious meltdowns if they come down. Just sayin')

For this party, I decided to do cupcakes instead of a cake. They're just easier with kids!  And I found a Pillsbury cake mix that was the perfect shade of blue! Add on some homemade buttercream, some white sugar and some snowflakes and voila....frozen cupcakes!
And here are the rest of the treats-candy sticks, blue gumballs, swirl suckers, mints, white M&M's and some white chocolate covered snack mix.
We set up the bounce house for the kids and again we lucked out with the weather. It was hot and muggy out and I think it rained an hour or two after the party ended....yep, we totally got lucky!  The kids loved the bounce house though!

We also filled up a ton of water balloons-I'm not sure how many but there was a lot-probably close to 50 or more! And they went through them in about 5mins!

We kept the food simple-pizza and the rainbow fruit tray along with the snacks we did at the family party too.
Kathryn, Avery, and Gina
After lunch, it was present time!


Little stinker!
Then we did cake and ice cream!

Before the kids left, they did the scavenger hunt and found their goodies to take home.

The party went pretty well for our first "kid" party. It went from 11:30-2 which was perfect. I think she had a lot of fun and so did the guests! I'm sure there will plenty more friend parties in our future...just maybe not at the house! Haha!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Jodi and Tony

Still playing catch up from the past few weeks...

Last Friday (also Avery's birthday), we had my cousin's wedding in Buffalo.  It was at 5pm so Gabe worked a half day and then we dropped off the kids at my in-laws for a sleepover (they were so excited!).  Then off to Buffalo we went!

They had the ceremony right at the reception site, but it was held outside. It was such a beautiful day out too!
Tony with the Mom and Stepmom of the Bride

My cousin Jessica and escort

Jessica's kids-Cayden and Madyson

Jodi with her Stepdad and Dad

Vows

Exchanging rings

The kiss!

The new Mr. and Mrs.!
After the ceremony, we went inside for the reception.


Family photo:
Aunt Pat, cousin Rachel and her family
They had a buffet dinner which was good and shortly after, the fun began!
First Dance

Father-Daughter dance
Of course we had to get a pic of us together since it doesn't happen too often!
We stayed probably until about 10-10:30 since we had to drive back home. We had a really great time! It was the first family wedding since ours and my cousin's back in 2008!  Congrats Jodi and Tony!! Beautiful day!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Seabreeze 2014

When Avery's birthday comes around, we let her choose what she wants to do for the day.

This year she chose Seabreeze again! It's typically a family affair when we go-we all take the day off of work and my in-laws' join us as well. This year, we had a wedding on Avery's actual birthday, so we did Seabreeze the day before. Lucky for us-she has no clue!

It was a perfect day-mid to upper 70s and sunny. Not the best for the waterpark, but come on-my kids are not water kids anyways so it probably works out best for us that way.

We got there right when they opened at 11am and hit the rides!
Avery and Bianca
This was the first ride they went on and Cassie was a little unsure of it (can you see her death gripping the sides?!). She ended up loving it, but I think she forgot what this was from last year!
Love this pic:
Cassie, Avery, Bianca

Cassie, Avery, Bianca
We ended up running into a few friends there as well which was really fun! Of course they all had to argue over who got to sit with who! But it was still a great time!
Bianca, Avery, Ellie, Cassie, Clayton

Cassie, Bianca, Avery, Ellie
My friend Kristin was nice enough to take my nephew on the pirate ship. None of us are really into it (that was my Mom's job last year!) so she took one for the team!
Owen, Kristin, Ellie
We did go in the water park for maybe an hour. I was very proud of Avery who went on a baby waterslide for the first time! Most kids go on it when they're super young (one girl I saw was barely a year old!), but for my water-phobic girl, I was so happy she finally did it! And guess what? She loved it! I knew she would! I was surprised that Cassandra wouldn't go down any of the water slides. She does really well in water but had no interest.

After the water park, it was more rides, dinner and of course...popsicles!
Avery, Cassie, Bianca
I felt like the time went super fast when we were there. It wasn't overly crowded either but the time just flew. I felt like we didn't do much and it was already 3pm! And somehow I never went on the carousel (the kids did with Gabe a few times though) or the log ride! In fact, we didn't make it to the log ride until about 7pm...by that time I wasn't in the mood to get soaked! 
Molly, Bianca, Owen, Gabe
Once again, we had a really great time. We stayed until close to 8pm and Cassandra passed out in the car on the way home. Avery was still a little hesitant with rides this year. I think she only tried 1 or 2 new ones. She still has no interest in going on any of the kiddie roller coasters or anything. Cassandra of course wanted to go on everything and sister is so short that she's pretty much restricted to the kiddie area only. Hopefully she sprouts up over the next year so she can go on a few more things next summer!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Frozen Birthday-Party 1

This month is kicking my butt. Literally.

Every day during the week that I've had off has been filled with at least 1-2 commitments. And the weekends have been full of parties, weddings, and birthdays. Seriously my calendar for June is crazy-there isn't an open day on it. Which is why I've been MIA for awhile now.

So now I'm going to try and play catch up with you over the next few posts and show you just what we've been up to around here.

Last weekend was Avery's first (of two) birthday parties. This year we did our usual family party and we decided to add in a friend party for her school friends and some neighbors. So 2 parties it was!

And to show how crazy this day was...her party was at noon and Cassandra had swimming lessons that morning. She won't let Gabe take her so I did. We were gone from 9am-10:15. By the time I got home and showered, it was close to 11:20. Talk about running like a jackass to get everything done-yikes! Luckily I set most of it up Saturday night, but still!

Anyways....Our theme this year? Frozen! (which by the way is WAY better than the original theme she wanted-Barbie)

The problem? Frozen is so popular right now that you can't find anything in the stores for it. In fact, when I went to Party City to buy her invitations, the girl told me it was my lucky day-they just got them in that morning and she said they would be gone within hours. Yep, that's how this stuff is selling. So...it made buying decorations and supplies really hard. I ended up getting most stuff online (at Party City) and just ordered everything for both parties at once, without any type of head count. And yes, I ended up with extras, but I'll use them for something I guess. I couldn't find decorations at all though-everything Frozen or winter themed on Party City was sold out for weeks so I was stumped as to how to decorate for the party.

Gabe ended up buying the girls a Frozen posted at Michael's a few weeks back and I didn't hang them up just in case. They ended up being part of our decorations. I also found some balloons at Party City when I was there and bought them.  Add in some snowflakes, and boom-Frozen decor!


Cool snowflakes found here

I thought my favors turned out really cute. I hate getting "junk" for favors-ya know the stuff that goes in the garbage when you walk in the door? It's a waste of money and a waste of space-my kids won't let me throw them out, yet they don't use them either. I prefer something useful or something edible. Always goes over well. So, we did snowmen in a bag!
What's inside?  Three large marshmallows, pretzel sticks (for arms), chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips and an orange candy coated sunflower seed (I scoured bulk food for anything tiny and orange). On the back of the snowman paper I wrote to assemble them with frosting or stir them into cocoa.

Here are the girls ready to party!
I also made up some cute signs for some Frozen food....






This thing leaked so we ended up with a pitcher-bummed because it looks so nice!
Family photo before the chaos:
We ended up with a gorgeous day! Sunny and upper 70s so the bounce house came out and got used!

Little Sabrina wearing Avery's old dress!
We did a cookout for lunch-hamburgers, hotdogs, pasta salad, green salad, baked beans and my fruit rainbow (always a big hit by the way).
After we ate, some kids started on one of our activities-make your own Olaf. Gabe found this online somewhere so I don't have the link to it!
Carly, Avery, Noah making their Olafs

Bianca

Then Avery opened up her presents....
And it was time for cake! Here's my latest creation-vanilla cake with chocolate pudding filling and homemade buttercream! Avery's request!

Sweets table:

Blowing out the candles:

Carly, Avery, Bianca
After cake, we did a Frozen themed scavenger hunt. Again, Gabe found this online and it was super cute. Every clue was a song lyric with a missing word. That word took you to your next clue. Some were super easy, some were more challenging, but the kids thought it was cool! Their prize was the favors I made.
Scavenger hunt
After that, people just hung out and enjoyed the day. We started at noon and most people stayed until about 4-5ish. Some family stayed later until about 6:30 or so.
Todd and Leigha

It was a super busy day but lots of fun too! Thank you all who made it special!