Life with a 2 year old Riverbug

Well, my Riverbug turned 2 years old this month. I have to say that 2 year old River is even more fun than 1 year old River.

Language:

Some of her recent “isms”:

“Sunshine! It smells GOOD!”

“I sleep [in] a toddler bed!”

“I get you another one” (talking to her “Miss Spider” stuffed toy as she tucked the critter into bed and got her a second blanket).

“I remember your dogs” (to our friend who has 3 adorable, tiny dogs that River fell in love with).

“I DON’T like it!” (this is said more often than I’d like, but she says it SO clearly that it’s still hilarious).

“In a Grandma-house!” (whenever we visit my mom).

“Hands are grubby! I need to wash them!”

And I love, love, LOVE how she’s starting to quote her favorite lines from Dr. Seuss and other books. And yes, we still read loads of books on a daily basis.

Physical:

We have liftoff! Yes, indeed we have TWO-FOOTED, unassisted jumping! She regularly jumps up and down, multiple times in a row, and has jumped off of a slightly elevated surface twice. The funny thing is that her very first jump (at 23 months) was the result of being mad at me for not picking her up. She had asked to be picked up while I was doing something in the kitchen, so I said “Not right now.” She got annoyed at being turned down and loudly said, “Up UP with MAMA!!!”, swung her arms up above her head and completed her first successful, both-feet-off the ground jump. We were so excited that we started clapping, and she forgot to be mad and started practicing her jumps. :)

She’s also getting much taller and actually wears size 2Tclothes! And they don’t fall off! I’m not sure how heavy she is, but we have found 4 children her age that are either her size or smaller, so she’s definitely catching up to her peers in weight and height.

We’re hoping to start swim and dance lessons this month.

Art:

She enjoys coloring and drawing circles, lines, and “dots”. We made some lovely Christmas presents for the relatives this year using her art (tutorial to come after the holidays, as we don’t want to spoil the surprise!!). My goal is to do more playdough and gluing projects with her in the near future.

Food:

She’s finally starting to eat more like an 18-20 month old. Although she’s still behind her full-term peers, she now eats more solid food than pureed food, and she’s finally able to chew and swallow animal protein like chicken and turkey. She still takes a bottle 2-4 times a day, but we’ve transitioned to a mixture of formula, coconut oil,  and milk and are moving toward eliminating the formula. I found some organic, lactose free milk (FINALLY!) at the supermarket of all places, and she seems to enjoy the taste of it and hasn’t had a negative reaction to it just yet. I’m being very, very careful to introduce it slowly, as the last few times I’ve tried to give her milk, her tummy did not appreciate it.

She also loves whole-milk yogurt and organic cheese, edamame, broccoli, pasta, corn, pickles, crackers, rice, eggs (only from Dad’s plate), deli turkey (depending on the day), ice cream, peanut butter (but only from a spoon), and my pureed carrot soup. She’s also still an adventurous “taster” and will try anything off of our plates. I’m taking the “big picture” approach to her diet, making sure that I look at what she eats on a weekly basis rather than freaking out if when she eats almost nothing or a barely varied diet on a particular day.

Social:

She’s definitely more accustomed to adults than to kids her age. She’s slowly getting better at being friendly with other toddlers and babies and is FINALLY interested in playing with them. I find that “neutral territory” (e.g., a location that is NOT one of the toddler’s homes) is much better for conflict-free play dates. She really enjoys playing with other children when they’re not playing with her toys (and this holds true in reverse for the other toddlers we’ve visited). Obviously, she needs to work on sharing, but it’s nice to know that she can be friendly and sweet to other kids.

She’s going through a LOVELY independent phase and is letting lots of other people hold her, hug her, play with, and read to her. This is SO nice when we visit friends since it means that I don’t have her begging me to hold her the entire time.

Skills:

We’re working on potty training. I haven’t really done a full-court press on this, but I need to. Ugh. I’m just not looking forward to the messes I’ll be cleaning up. She uses the potty several times a day, sometimes before she’s gone in her diaper and other times right after. So, her awareness is definitely there.

She can feed herself using a spoon, fork, or her hands and she can also drink from a small cup, all with reasonable accuracy. SWEET! She can also sort-of blow out birthday-cake candles and LOVES to assist any birthday girl/boy with their candles too. I have the sweetest picture of her “helping Dada” blow out the candles on his cake.

She’s getting better at washing her hands and just this week started to turn the kitchen sink faucet on and off by herself (THANK GOODNESS–I was getting tired of the back and forth). She loves to brush her teeth and wash her hair and body in the shower (not bath–shower). She also dusts the floor with a dustmop and can mist plants with a small spray bottle, and water plants with a small watering can.

Mushy Stuff:

Her smile is absolutely electric–I can actually feel mischief and energy radiating from those sparkling eyes. And I love that she’ll occasionally grab my face and kiss my cheek or hug me in a giant outburst of affection, as if she just can’t contain her feelings anymore. And while I look forward to the whiny phase ending, I love the outpouring of verbal expression that comes with this developmental phase. YAY for the terrific twos! :)

 

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Gluten Free, (mostly) Soy-Free, and Low-Sugar Update

I’ve been very blessed recently with reasonable energy (not needing naps daily) and with a growing toddler who can do a bit of sustained, independent play, meaning that I can get more labor-intensive food preparation done with less distraction!

After doing some more reading on going gluten-free to combat the thyroid destruction that comes with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I’ve realized that some people recommend going TOTALLY GF…as in, eating as if you have Celiac Disease and striving to remove every molecule of gluten from your diet.

Honestly, at this point in my life, that just sounds insane. I enjoy eating out at restaurants with friends and at other people’s houses. Eating is a very social, emotional, meaningful activity, and I don’t want to complicate it even more than going GF already has.So, for now I’m going to do my best, meaning that I’m going as GF/Soy Free as possible while staying sane and not thinking about food all the time.

A WONDERFUL (with one caveat) resource that I’ve found? A cookbook titled Gluten Free Artisan Cooking, by Kelli and Peter Bronski.They have a lovely blog on which they share some of their recipes and their most important discovery–their whole grain, artisan, GF flour blend. It was such a relief to run across this blend–it’s made of brown rice flour, sorghum flour (a wonderful, nutrient-rich seed), corn starch, 2 kinds of potato flour, and xanthan gum. I am now on my second 12-cup batch of this flour (I mix it up in advance so that it’s easier to make their recipes), and have made the following from their book: Yellow Cake, Pie Crust for apple pie, Waffles, Pizza, and Corn Bread.

Their recipes are designed to taste delicious and have beautiful textures. They’re both hardcore foodies (she’s a baker and he’s Italian), so they really care about the appearance, texture and taste of their foods. I haven’t been disappointed with any of the recipes.My favorite so far has been the cornbread–it was fluffy, light, deliciously nutty with a pleasantly distinct cornmeal flavor, and not too dry. All of my non-GF tasters loved it, and I had no trouble finishing off what was left the next day.

The only caveat is that their flour mixture takes a while to get used to. The cake I made gave me and my taster tummy aches (admittedly, we both ate 3 servings of it)–I think that sorghum is so foreign to our guts that our tummies reacted by getting gas-y, which caused some pain. I experienced the same thing with the pizza. However, the Corn Bread didn’t do this to me, probably b/c it has a lot of cornmeal and just a small amount of the flour blend. It took me about 2 weeks of eating recipes made with this flour blend to get to a point where my tummy isn’t surprised by the blend.

Looking at some of the reviews of the book on amazon, at least one person professed to be unable to digest sorghum, and thus returned the book. So, I’m not alone in having a reaction to the sorghum.

Another thing that I LOVE about this cookbook is its focus on whole, “real” ingredients, as well as recreating comfort foods. The only unusual ingredients that they use are their flours–everything else is easy to find and tastes great. I’m looking forward to trying their cinnamon roll recipe, as well as their recipe for soft, chewy GF chocolate chip cookies.

Some people on amazon complained about the fact that the Bronski’s include recipes that are “naturally” GF (e.g., a few rice recipes, several ethnic recipes, sweet potato recipes, oven-fry recipes, etc). I actually liked this inclusion b/c it’s a good reminder that many cultures’ foods are naturally GF (Hispanic, Asian, African), so eating GF doesn’t mean that one has to modify every single recipe.

Some other resources: A Facebook friend of mine recommended these two recipe blogs:

Oh She Glows (tasty, nutrient rich, vegan and frequently GF recipes)

and

MELOMEALS, a vegan, frugal recipe site maintained by a chef. If you click on the link, you’ll get to my current fave recipe on her site–the Chunky Monkey Mug Cake with Banana Pecan Ice Cream. :)

Happy Gluten Free Munching!

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Workout #2

Did a repeat of the 20/20 Workout from Blogilates. Subbed squats for Burpees and only did 5 Elbow Pushups (arms were super weak from the tricep dips).

Time: 24 minutes

Overall feeling–my core feels a bit more stable and my back is less sore while exercising. Feeling more in tune with my body–e.g., when I was doing crunches, I focused on not straining my neck by noting how much of my upper back was coming off of the floor with each crunch and trying to get a little more of it off the floor with the next crunch.

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Workout #1

So, as a way of keeping track of my progress and which workouts I enjoy, I’m chronicling my workouts here! Sorry if it’s boring. However, if you’re like me and aren’t naturally athletic but want to be in shape, perhaps you’ll enjoy the workouts I discover on this journey.

Stats:

Weight: 131.8 (first thing in the morning)

Height: 5’3″

Today’s workout:

The 20/20 Workout (substituted crunches for Burpees)–here’s the video demo of all the included exercises.

Time to complete: 25 minutes (I know, I know)…

and the “Muffin Top Meltdown“, both from Cassie at Blogilates.

I was able to do these during River’s naptime and I worked up quite a sweat! Since my core strength is something I want to build up, this Pilates-based workout is perfect for me. :) It was embarrassing to slowly huff and puff my way through these, but I completed them with good form, which is what counts at this point.

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7 Quick Takes

1) Now that she can speak clearly and eloquently about almost anything she wants, River has begun the timeless, elongate-the-bed-time-routine quest that all toddlers embark on. Tonight’s attempt was so cute and funny that I thought I’d share. She called me in about 15 minutes after she went to bed, then proceeded to ask for: “blanket”. Then, “2 blankets?” then “Wee Pooh again sing” (Musical Winnie the Pooh that was mine when I was a tot), “hug”, and then for “milk”. Pretty impressive for a first attempt! :)

2) We’re getting so close to having the house fully liveable. It’s clean, pretty, neat (!!), and massively decluttered. Our next huge project is to reorganize the garage, and we also have tons of those little, annoying, outrageously time consuming projects that come up when you’re a homeowner. Still, it’s nice to not be buried in boxes, clutter and a year’s worth of dust.

3) I’m experimenting with gluten free baking. Thus far I’ve had 1 unqualified success (Hot & Spicy Brownies), 1 delicious but hideous looking success (Incredible Hulk Bread), and am looking forward to seeing how these Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes with Cashew Creme turn out (I’m waiting to make them until I’ve eaten the Hulk bread). I’m extremely impressed with how much better my whole grain, homemade, from-scratch, gluten free products are when compared to commercially available items. Sadly, most gluten free breads and desserts sold in stores are designed to mimic food made with white flour, so they’re bland, overly sweet, have awful texture AND are unhealthy. Not something I want to eat or spend money on! Thank goodness for the internet community of GF health nuts! :)

4) I’m extremely homesick for the East Coast Autumn weather. The Fall season was so stunningly beautiful (and fleeting!) last year that it I’m pining for it this year. Experiencing it once was NOT enough, and there are so many fun crafts that require real autumn leaves and dried plants… ::sigh:: Also, I’m realizing that I was too tired from our cross country move, River being 11 months old and waking up 4 times a night, the wunderhusband working insane hours, and adjusting to living somewhere unfamiliar to fully experience my first (and only!) East Coast fall.

5) I AM, however, thrilled to be back in the land of fabulous and easily accessible Mexican food and frozen yogurt!! I didn’t really crave fro yo in CT b/c it was virtually non-existent. However, now that it’s around every corner, I’ve had it FIVE TIMES in 2 weeks! And I’ve lost count how many times I’ve eaten Mexican food. :) Mmmm. Good stuff.

6) The wunderhub and I actually agree on the arrangement of River’s playroom. We tend to have pretty divergent aesthetic preferences, but we both love how her play space has turned out. I will post “before and after” pictures soon!

7) I REALLY miss having a finished attic like we did in CT. That small, dust-free, easily accessed room was such a wonderful place to store seasonal items or things used once a week….I think about it wistfully at least once a day! Makes me realize how important it is to have a well designed house. Even though I’ve radically pared down my non-essential items, there are still so many things that I’d like to have easy (non-garage) access to but don’t want in my main living space. A walk-up attic is the PERFECT solution for that (things like seasonal decorations, clothes that River isn’t quite ready for but that I don’t want to forget about, giant winter coats that aren’t necessary yet, or even things like my gift-wrapping station). Our next house needs to have a good attic! :)

Blessings to you, and have a lovely weekend.

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Why Go Gluten/Soy/mostly-Sugar Free?

It’s funny. For YEARS now–at least ten years–I’ve been toying with the idea of eliminating refined sugar, eating vegan, or eliminating processed foods.

I generally love vegan and raw foods, enjoy whole foods, and feel better when I avoid lots of processed items.

However, my weakness has been–and probably always will be–sugar and sweet baked goods. I LOVE me a perfect cupcake, buttery-crusted berry pie, or meltingly-fresh-from-the-oven, made-from-scratch, chocolate-chip cookie. Take me to a restaurant with a twenty page wine list, and I’d rather see their dessert menu.

Also, I love artisan breads, muffins, pastries, etc.

In this first-world, American society in which I live, wheat and refined-grain products are omnipresent. It’s so easy to eat a bowl of wheat-based cereal for breakfast, have a whole wheat-bread sandwich for lunch, snack on cookies or crackers (wheat flour), and then have a dinner that includes–you guessed it–some sort of wheat-based item (bread, pasta, tortillas, pita, croutons).

These things are all relatively low calorie, often tout their “whole grain goodness”, and are easy and cheap to obtain.

So, I needed an extremely compelling reason to make the radical shift to push wheat and gluten out of my life.

And that reason came in the form of my thyroid. I’ve recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an extremely common form of hypothyroidism. When I read that 1) there’s no cure (once the gene that carries it “activates”, there’s no way to turn it off) and 2) it creates antibodies that systematically destroy your thyroid, I went on a researching rampage.

There was NO way that I was going to NOT find a way to at least slow the destruction of my thyroid.  What I discovered was that there’s a link between gluten sensitivity/intolerance and Hashimoto’s. It’s theorized that both are an autoimmune response and that if you eliminate the aggravation caused by the gluten, you can reduce the antibodies that are attacking your thyroid.

Similarly, eliminating refined sugar has a similar effect.

Finally, consumption of soy products has been found to be less-than-ideal for people with impaired thyroid function, hence my elimination of soy (actually harder to do than gluten!).

So, every time I’m faced with a choice to eat something with gluten, soy or refined sugar, I ask myself: is this worth promoting the destruction of my thyroid? I almost always come up with “No!” as an answer.

However, when I went to Eataly in New York City last week, I enjoyed some gluten-free but by NO means low-sugar desserts. And since I will probably only be there once in my life and since the desserts were out-of-this-world awesome and unique, my answer came up, “Yes!” : )

Having eliminated wheat and sugar from my diet, I’ve experienced what I never thought possible. I don’t crave them! I’ve craved wheat and sugar for as long as I can remember (since I was about 9 years old). Now, I simply don’t.

It’s actually rather weird, and I keep expecting the cravings to return.

It’s not that I’m no longer interested in food–I’m as much of a foodie as ever. I just don’t have those cravings anymore.

What I *have* noticed, though, is that if I make something like a low-sugar, GF cake, I eat WAY too much of it and have a similar, addictive response to it as I used to have to wheat-based, baked goods. So, there’s still a grain dependency to be conquered.

I’ll keep you updated on further developments! :)

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New Food Endeavor

I’ve embarked on a New Endeavor: going gluten free and soy free. Also, eating as if I’m insulin resistant (no more than 30 carbs in any 2 hr period + linking carbs with protein when I eat). Oh! And eliminating 95% of refined sugar.

I’ve been doing this for 3 weeks and have been shocked at the difference in how I feel. I wasn’t expecting to feel any different. I chose the dietary changes as a long term means of combating my newly diagnosed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (more on this here).

Changes? No more bloating after meals. Ever.

I used to think that getting a bloated tummy after meals (of any size–tiny snacks or a big lunch) was just what happened whenever I ate something other than a smoothie. Apparently, I’ve had gluten sensitivity for quite some time now.

The Insulin Resistance method of eating is extremely simple to follow and is a gentle, effective reminder to avoid mindless eating and to maintain portion control of high carb/low nutrient foods.

I’ve also cut out 95% of refined sugar. I still eat some super-dark chocolate, and I use tiny bits of honey and agave as sweeteners when needed. I just can’t stand Stevia. I bought it in 2 forms–powdered and liquid, and not only does it not truly sweeten things that I put it in, it leaves the WORST, bitter, chemical-ly after taste. Disgusting. I’d rather have the calories and nutrients of honey.

My doctor wants to test for Celiac–if I end up testing positive, I’ll have to be a lot stricter about being gluten free. For now, I’m avoiding gluten and not eating anything with wheat. However, I’m eating foods that don’t contain gluten but that are processed in factories that also process wheat, etc. For someone with Celiac, it’s supposed to be important to avoid as much cross-contamination like that as possible.

I’m also surprised at how do-able it is to eat GF. When I go out, there’s virtually nothing I can eat at fast food places other than salads, but that’s OK. I almost never went to fast food places anyway.

At home, though, as long as I cook primarily Asian/Mexican (sans wheat tortillas, of course) or Indian, there are virtually no changes to be made other than an occasional substitution of arrowroot or cornstarch for flour as a thickener. And, I’m able to eat “whole” foods, not a bunch of processed, bizarre substitutions.

Giving up soy was a drag for me, but I’ve essentially replaced it with quinoa. While I haven’t attempted to make quinoa milk yet, I’m relying heavily on quinoa as my protein and iron rich “fast” food. It’s nice that River loves it too (she calls it “rice”), so we generally have a quinoa dish together at lunch.

There is a wealth of wonderful information online via GF bloggers. What I’m hoping to do now is to find a wonderful recipe for GF bread that I can make at home (I’m not much of a fan of Udi’s as the quality varies too much between batches).

At the top of my “TRY THIS!” list is “The Mother-loaf” from Open-Ended Question. It looks outrageously yummy. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

I’ve already been extremely happy with the “GF Berry Shortcake”  from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free that I made for our 4th of July dessert.

And, as always, Meghan Telpner of Making Love in the Kitchen remains my go-to girl for creative, whole-food, minimal-grain, gluten free, incredibly tasty goodness. :)

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