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Easter with a side of keto

5 Apr

Holidays can be challenging when someone in the family has food restrictions, but this Easter Sunday was one of the loveliest family days we’ve had in a long time.  Jade was quite excited in the lead-up to Easter.  Every day she wanted to make more decorations.

We started out with classic Easter egg dyeing; my mom had sent us some neat stickers and special transfers that made some of our finished eggs quite spectacular.  Jade loved directing me to pour the hot water and vinegar into containers and then proudly put the food colouring in herself, dunking the eggs, and fishing them out again all on her own.

Another morning we made an Easter tree.  Small trees decorated with Easter eggs are a tradition in Germany, but I’ve never had one before.  I’m quite proud of myself because the project only cost about $2.50, but was easy and fun to do with Jade, since there was table time and outdoor adventure time.  We were able to stretch the activity for several days by making new decorations for it.  Plus I think it turned out really cute.  As you can see, Halia was delighted with it; she loved batting the little bunny ornaments (also sent from my mom!) and would squeal with delight in watching them swing madly to and fro.

Saturday night Michael and I cleaned like mad (the house is in chaos because we are in the middle of replacing our furnace, which meant cutting new holes in floors and walls for cold-air returns, plus emptying out the front-hall closet to make way for the new chimney) and decided Monday would do for an egg hunt.  But Sunday morning I couldn’t bear it and “hid” the eggs (I use the term loosely, as you can see…) all over the living room while Michael kept the girls distracted.  Since Jade can’t have chocolate, we did plastic eggs.  Which are way more fun, if you ask me.

Jade got to crack open her eggs as she ate her breakfast.  (Here you can see she’s having chicken thigh, banana, and a vanilla coconut smoothie; this is her most-requested meal these days.)

We actually got all this activity done early enough that I could wash my hair and get out of pajamas so we could all go to church together.  I haven’t been to church at all lately because of Michael’s constant travelling, and was happy to see a lot of friends I hadn’t seen since Christmas. We tried to go to the after-church coffee get-together, but Jade got upset about not being allowed to have any of the Easter treats out on the table, so we made a quick exit and headed for home.  Happily, the forbidden treats were quickly forgotten in light of more Easter surprises.

Gran’s Easter surprise for the girls was a bag full of craft supplies and some very cool 3D alphabet flashcards, which was a huge hit.  (Check out Halia taking off with Michael’s car keys AND the glitter glue.  We should have named her Trouble.)

The girls also got some homemade gifts from our friend Linda.

After lunch and nap/quiet time, the sunshine beckoned, and Halia made it known that she wanted to get out into it.  Michael obliged the girls (after I made them change into play clothes, of course).  I stayed in and roasted ducks and chopped vegetables and read some blog posts in blissful quiet.

And we finished off the day with Easter dinner, complete with lashings of rich gravy and a Skype chat with Michael’s family.  Jade insisted on getting back into her “fancy clothes” for supper.  She got to have duck like the rest of us, and she chose a side of tangerine.  Duck a l’orange: the girl has taste.

Just a simple day with family, but the togetherness and good humour (almost no whining all day!) and break from computer work and yummy food and sunshine… yes, it was simple, but perfect.

Hypoallergenic Christmas

29 Dec

So, how was your Christmas?  Did Santa bring you everything you wished for?  Did you get to stuff yourself with turkey, gravy, potatoes, and your favourite veggies?

(We had a great day, overall, thanks for asking.  My dad joined us for Christmas this year — while my mom is now off visiting her family in Taiwan — and he even put in an appearance as Santa Claus first thing Christmas morning.  You should see the bruise where my jaw hit the floor when I heard he had brought a Santa suit.   Seriously, grandparenthood changes everything.)

But speaking of Christmas dinner, we had a delicious meal, if I do say so myself.  I was frequently stressed during the cooking, sometimes because of howling children who absolutely-needed-mama-rightthisverysecond.  But mostly because I wasn’t sure how long some of my dishes were going to take and there hadn’t been time to do advance prep.  I ventured into new territory this year, mostly to make the meal Michael-friendly.

Y’see it turns out Michael has a whole schwack of food allergies/sensitivities (most likely a result of a chronic yeast imbalance that we discovered just a few months ago).  So suddenly we are cooking gluten-, dairy-, egg-, {and a whole lotta other stuff}- free.  (I won’t give any more away, or you’ll have an unfair advantage on his Villainous Vittles contest.)

Yeah it sucks.  But it’s also good.

It sucks for the obvious reasons: the foods we have to cut out, more time and trouble preparing meals, not being able to eat out.  But there have been some happy side effects.

For one, we’ve both become a lot more creative about coming up with our meals.  We’re trying new foods and ingredients cooking methods and liking it.  For another, having to cook everything from scratch using fresh ingredients and emphasizing lean meat and veggies means we’ve been eating a much healthier menu. 

And the extra bonus on top of that?  I’ve lost weight without even trying.

Actually, it’s a wee bit problematic, as my clothes aren’t fitting so well these days.  I gave away my smaller clothes long ago, thinking I’d never see 135 again.  But, oh well, I guess that’s a problem I can live with. 

And anyway, it makes me feel a little better about scarfing, um, (Michael don’t read this) 20 Toffiffee candies in one sitting on Christmas night.  (Did you know those buggers are 45 calories each???!  Please don’t do the math on that one…)

A family sailing day

5 Sep

Sailing Collage

I defy you not to laugh

24 Aug

I have been feeling a lot of negativity lately and I’ve decided that I have to find a way to dig myself out of this hole.  I think a big part of the problem is lack of sleep, since Halia has been waking up three or four times every night for, oh, forever.  It’s just repayment from dragging her all over the world and messing with her sleep all summer.  Le sigh.

There’s not a lot I can do about lack of sleep right now (other than give up blogging/reading blogs, but that would just set off a whole other chain of crazy) but I can try to find a way to carve out some independent time, and I can try to adjust my mindset by giving myself a mental slap in the face when the pity party or frustration sets in. 

Also, writing run-on sentences helps.

Also, this:

Halia figured out how to do this last week and she’s been practicing every day since then.  If you want to get a real sense of what can change in 6 months, get a load of this video that I intended to post back in February:

There’s lots a-brewing behind the scenes these days; I’ll find a way to connect my fingers to the keyboard soon.  I promise hope.

The things that change in two weeks

30 Jul

They grow up so fast!

We hear it all the time, but it’s hard to truly appreciate it until a baby comes into your life.

Since I was gone in Germany for two weeks, it was interesting for me to see the changes in Jade when I got home, and for Michael to see the changes in Halia in the same time.

Some of the tricks Halia learned while in Germany:

  • Assisted walking
  • Standing unassisted for periods ranging from 2 seconds to 15 seconds
  • Clapping her hands
  • Moving around a room by pitching forward onto her hands and one knee (she can’t do all fours yet), sitting back, and then repeating the move until she can “skooch” her way somewhere far away from where I left her
  • And the one that really melts my heart, learning to say, “Mamamamam, mummmmm.”  At first she did this only when she was upset, but it’s become more generalized since coming home.

As for Jade, she is suddenly able to:

  • Jump with both feet at the same time
  • Cut long lines with her scissors instead of just small snips
  • Colour pictures in the general boundaries of the rather than simply scribbling all over the page
  • String together seven or eight words, talk about her feelings, tell us things she remembers, ask why and how come

That may not seem like huge things for a three-and-a-half-year-old, but they were all things we were working on with her in her therapy sessions before the Child Development Centre went on summer break.  What astonishes me is the way she seems to be able to do these things all of a sudden, sometimes (as with the scissors), without having even practiced the skill.

I’ll close with another heartwarmer.  Michael told me that Jade missed us while we were away.  I was really looking forward to coming home and seeing her again, especially as she’d been asking for me constantly in the last few days before we got home.

I got off the plane and wheeled Halia in her stroller into the airport lobby.  Jade and Michael were chatting with some friends who were also there.  When they turned and saw us, Jade’s face lit up in a huge smile.  She ran towards us and said gleefully, “Hayla!  My baby sister!  Hayla  home!” and proceeded to kiss and laugh into Halia’s face, much to their mutual delight.  I was completely left out of the homecoming love-fest for a few minutes, and yet I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.

Freunde und familie

26 Jul

We’re back!  And of the two suitcases I came home with (which is one more than I left with…) one of them is actually fully unpacked.  Less than a week later!  An achievement, indeed.

Next time I go to a family reunion, please remind me to travel to Germany at least a week in advance.  I thought that arriving on a Wednesday for an event that didn’t start until Friday night would be enough time to recuperate, but losing 9 hours takes more than a day to recover from… especially when there’s a baby who won’t let you just sleep it off. 

Also, it took at least a week for me to recover some semblance of fluency in German. The first night of the reunion, I felt uncomfortably limited and unable to communicate.  Halia took some of the pressure off, although she also presented a kind of barrier.  I’ve observed in the past how a baby can completely captivate a room full of adults, often bringing conversation to a stand-still.  Or is that just me?  (I’m not complaining, though.  Halia made the very long trip from Whitehorse to Lüchow with little fuss, thank goodness.)

Anyway, when there are 30 people in one place, five years since the last meeting, and just a little over a day to visit, it’s no wonder it doesn’t feel like I got a chance to really see everyone.  The great thing is, every time we have a family reunion I get to know someone in the family better.  I grew up far away and not speaking the language (I didn’t learn German until I was 16) so there are quite a few people in the family with whom I haven’t got much of a relationship at all.

This time around, I was particularly looking forward to seeing a cousin I’d hardly ever talked to before.  My sister and I were very close to his older sister Heidi because she lived with us for a year when we were kids.  Udo was always just her bratty younger brother. Of course, twenty odd years can change a person.  And technology can change a relationship.  Other people grow up with their cousins; for me it took the Internet and a faulty alternator to get to know this cousin.  This past year, I connected with Udo a few times on Skype chats, but it was his car troubles (which forced him to stay in town for an extra day after the reunion) that really gave us a chance to visit.  What a pleasure to discover new friends within one’s own family!

Besides the family reunion, there were visits to old haunts, a trip with my parents to the Harz region for hiking and sight-seeing, and, of course, plenty of good, rich German food, as well as my mom’s homemade Chinese delicacies.  There were friends right in town that I didn’t get a chance to visit because my time there somehow just slipped through my fingers.

Time is continuing to slip through my fingers now that I’m home.  Strange, after getting my 9 hours back, you’d think I’d have plenty of time to spare, wouldn’t you?  Ah, it’s lovely to travel… but it’s oh so wonderful to be home.

Tornado weekend

22 Feb

“Tornado” seems like the theme for the weekend.

For one thing, it looks like one hit the kitchen. Despite the fact that someone came and helped me wash all the dishes on Friday, the dishwasher is full and both sinks and counters are overflowing.

For another, we had quite an action-packed couple of days.

Saturday afternoon we went to the annual Rendezvous Sourdough Festival.  We went to enter Nanuq in the dog-howling competition, but though we arrived a few minutes before its advertised 4 o’clock start, we missed it because the organizers were not running on Yukon time and it was already over.  (There were a lot of people who were disappointed because of missing the event… I hope the organizers have learned a lesson!)  However, we did get to enter Nanuq in the last dog event, the dog tricks competition.  He won second prize with his dancing, his verrrrry slow death (Michael points a finger at him and says “bang” and he lies down but takes many promptings of a finger across the throat to actually “play dead”), and barking on command.  His prize was a fancy medal and some dog treats, which luckily contain no ingredients to which he is allergic.

I had Halia in my amauti, and I’d forgotten how much attention it can generate.  Three or four people asked to take my picture, and a bunch more asked curiously about where I got it, where it comes from, whether it’s a traditional design, and so on.  Several excited moms pointed at me and explained to their kids that there was an actual baby in there.  The kids loved it when I’d kneel down to show them the real baby inside.  Anyone who wants to feel like a superstar for a short time should just go to a large gathering carrying a sleeping baby in an amauti.

Today, we all went for a ride in an honest-to-goodness one-horse open sleigh, pulled by a gigantic horse named Rocky and driven by our intrepid next-door neighbour, Atlatl Mike.  Michael will have a full post on that adventure soon, I’m sure, complete with pictures.  (Incidentally, I think it rather ironic that I am really not comfortable around horses — am, in fact, allergic to them, so I’m also physically uncomfortable — considering I was born in the Year of the Horse.)

The other tornado of the weekend was Miss Jade herself.  I’ve re-tooled her keto recipes to conform to her new ration and found that the meals are still okay, at least the ones I’ve tried so far.  Since we often had trouble getting her to finish her meals and the new ratio actually makes them smaller, it hasn’t been such a bad change.  And holy smokes, I’m not sure if it’s the diet change or just a zooming recovery from her cold, but she was an incredible ball of energy these last two days!  Yesterday and today she played outside for over and hour after coming back from our outdoor adventures, and her energy never flagged once.  This is huge for her!  And aside from bad pre-breakfast seizure activity (the norm), she’s been having great days, seizure-wise, too.  And talking up a storm, too!

I actually have slightly mixed feelings on all this.  Today Jade was bouncing around from one activity to the next with very short attention span (hence the tornado moniker) something we normally see when she’s coming out of a bunch of seizures.  It’s hard to decide if this is “normal” three-year-old behaviour for Jade or just her body getting adjusted to its new higher level of fuel or what.

But, what the hell, I’ll take it!