Thursday, January 24, 2013

Food Storage to the Rescue

So the last couple days have proved the importance of food storage to me. As a Mormon I was raised with food storage and taught the benefits of always having a little extra on hand. Even in AmeriCorps where all my meals were provided my roommate and I kept a few snacks, microwave meals, and drinks in our room. So of course the older and more space I've had the more food storage I've tried to keep.

A few months back while trying to buy the high calorie snacks for Squeaker I started really getting into couponing. Squeaker really preferred the name brand items and would eat more of them. So with coupons and sales I was able to keep the foods she liked in the house. Once I got a handle on it I started saving 30%-50% on our grocery bill. So I started putting money into our food storage building.  We acquired a couple of shelving units from Lowes. Then we spray painted them some wonderfully bright colors since I don't have a closet or basement to hid them in. Once they were painted, and built I filled them with food.

This picture is actually a few months old but it gives you an idea of how much you can store on these shelves. Recently I've even put more food on there. I would take a new picture but today one shelf and it's contents were moved to the new house. I also have a small freezer as part of our food storage system. It's a major part of what I can store. I can store meat, pizza, frozen juice. All sorts of fun things.

Now how it has saved us recently. Firstly was yesterday our water was unexpectedly shut off. Our complex didn't realize our building was on the water line that was being fixed so they we didn't get a notice. Because we had food storage and water storage we did just fine. Plenty of food that didn't need water and what we did need water for we had a about 4 gallons on hand. So no water from 9-4 was not a big deal.

Then today hit. ACK!!!! There was a mess up in payroll and our gross pay was a little less than half. So once you took out taxes, insurance, FSA, and other things we ended up with one tenth of our normal take home deposited into our account. Someone made a big boo boo, but even by notifying them today it will be next week at the earliest before we get the rest of our check. But guess what I don't have to buy food. :) YAY!!!

What about milk you ask? Well we had 1/2 a gallon of whole milk (that what we drink). And no that won't last a week. So I took my Dry Nonfat Milk and reconstituted half a gallon and mixed it with my whole milk. Now it's like 2% milk WAHOO! Much better than skim in my opinion. Then when that runs out I'll make more Nonfat Milk and add the Half and Half I keep on hand for ice cream making. So I have enough to make nearly two gallons on milk.

I have pizza already in the freezer for pizza night, everything I need for my fabulous tuna casserole, and Lasagna. Plus I have salmon, chicken, ground beef, hamburger helpers, other skillet meals. Lots of pasta, soup, mac and cheese and hot dogs. Oh and lets not forget frozen/canned veggies and fruits. I will need eggs and bread soon but there is a store in town where I can get each of those items for about $1 each. I have a few dollars in change just for situations like this.

So with a little planning and keeping things on hand that we eat I don't have to worry about food. Bills maybe late but my family wont starve and in the grand scheme of things that's far more important.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dinner Tonight

Burger Sandwiches and Homemade French Fries

Burger Sandwich
--Sandwich Bread
--Burger Patti

Honestly it's just a burger how ever you want it on regular sandwich bread. Here are my reasons for choosing sandwich bread. 1) I had it on hand. 2) They are not as tall so it's easier for little hands to hold 3) Cheaper.

Homemade French Fries
--Aluminum Foil
--Cooking Spray
--Baking Sheet
--Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F

Wash your potatoes, peal if desired (I don't). Then cut the potatoes in the desired shape. I use the Pampered Chef Fry Cutter. In my opinion if you use it more than once it is well worth the price. 

On your baking sheet lay down the aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. You don't have to use the foil it just makes for a much easier clean up. Once your baking sheet is ready to go place your potato slices on in a single layer. Lightly salt and pepper. Put baking sheet in preheated oven. Set timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes increase heat to 450, turn fries, and bake another 10 minutes. 

The same process works for sweet potatoes to make sweet potato fries, which are yummy with cinnamon instead of salt and pepper.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A New Challenge

Squeaker has had a full set of baby teeth for a little over a year now. Which has be awesome as I hear all the continuing teething stories from my friends. I've just been able to sit back and smile knowing Squeaker was done teething for a long time. Then today we very given our own teeth issues, rotten teeth.

Today was Squeaker's first dentist appointment. Trey and I decided to put off the dentist for so long because of her anxiety with doctors that no dentist could get in that mouth. We also talked about it with her doctors and our dentist and everyone agreed that it's not that big of a deal to wait. Most kids don't really need their teeth cleaned until 3 or 3 1/2. But after we found out about Squeaker's immune deficiency, I felt it was time to take her in. So I looked for a pediatric dentist that if needed could use nitrous oxide. I thankfully found Alabama Pediatric Dental Associates. 

This morning we went in and Squeaker loved playing out front and we just fine out back until people started putting on gloves. So the hygienist didn't trying cleaning but the doctor did have to look inside. Very quickly the dentist noticed the black on Squeaker's teeth. Mostly it's on the front four teeth and a few little spots on the molars.We had all hoped that it was just discoloration from all the medications that Squeaker has been on and still takes. Sadly we were very wrong. All that black is decay. So those four front teeth have to come out, the other ones can just be filled. My heart just sank. On some level I felt like I failed.

The dentist told me that due to her medications and drinking habits (juice and milk during the overnight) there just wasn't much we could do to prevent this. The dentist suggested switching to water if Squeaker had to drink at night. Which really doesn't do any good because it's the calories she needs. But if we keep it up we could be looking at a toothless child. So we will have to talk to the doctors about it. Maybe medicate to sleep so Squeaker won't wake up at all, who knows. I just know it's a conundrum.

So now that I've had to pause twice to write this, once to clean up and comfort a vomiting Squeaker and then again when she was finally ready to sleep, it's time for me to get some sleep. For the first time this week I don't have anywhere to be before 10am. WAHOO!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Doctors Today

Today was a pretty stinky yet good day.

It was a long hard drive to Brimingham. It was raining, I have a head cold and Squeaker's doctors appointment was right at nap time. The appointment itself wasn't so bad. Squeaker was a little fussy but overall well behaved. I was very nervous because we were talking about long term treatment for the almost non-existent immune system Squeaker has. It's not too bad. For the next three months Squeaker has to have antibiotic twice a day. And no day care, nursery, large group play dates, pretty much anytime there are a lot of kids around, until at least April. And of course we have to keep up on being rather germ-a phobic.

If Squeaker can stay decently healthy from now until her next appointment in April-May (I can't remember which month and I'm too tired to look it up) then that's it. Every year from about November to March Squeaker will have to take antibiotics everyday. For how many years who knows but that's not too bad.

If the antibiotics don't keep Squeaker healthy then we are probably looking at IgA therapy. Which is where every month Squeaker would have an IV of synthetic immuglobulins (building blocks to the immune system). This is not a very fun treatment option so we are using as a last resort.

So we will see what the next few months hold.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Extra Calories Part I

A friend of a cousin was looking for ideas to increase their "petite" child's calories. I was going to write and e-mail with everything I could think of then I remembered I have an awesome blog I can put the information on :) For this post I'm sticking mostly to high calorie foods. There is a little too much information for my brain to write in one post.

Of course a good place to start by getting extra calories is buying high calorie snacks. I'm listing name brands so everyone knows what I'm talking about. Most store brands tend to be very close in calorie count. 
Here are some decently healthy options. Most of calories come from carbs or protein not all fat.
Cheez-It Crackers- 27 Crackers (~1/2 cup) 150 calories
Keebler Club Crackers- 4 Crackers (~1/3 cup) 70 calories
Triscuit Crackers- 13 Crackers (~1/2 cup) 120 calories
Wheat Thins- 15 Crackers (~1/4 cup) 140 calories
Cheddar Cheese- 2 Tbsp (1/4 cup) 80 calories
Plain Hummus- 2 Tbsp (1/4 cup) 80 calories
         -Homemade hummus is about the same calories 

This make some great snacks and the crackers of course toss into a bag for outings. I prefer to put out snacks in container instead of a bag. That way the crackers don't get smashed or I end up with crumbs everywhere.

You can also take several of the these items and make a mini meal. Ya know a little bigger than a snack but not quite a meal. And you can make a couple of slightly different mini meals so with the same items. Based on what your child likes, or simply to use the same items but not the same meal.

Triscuts Crackers
Option One
Triscuit Nachos
6 Triscuit Crackers
2 Tablespoons Hummus
4 Tablespoons Cheddar Cheese

Place the Triscuits on a cookie sheet put the cheese on top of the crackers. Heat in oven (or toaster oven) at 400F (204C), just long enough to melt the cheese. Use the Hummus instead of sour cream as a dip.
Eat it all and you have a 300 calorie mini meal. 50 Calories per cracker with a little hummus.

Option Two
Triscuit Pizza
6 Truicuit Crackers (Plain works but Tomoato or Garlic ones are best)
4 Tablespoons Mozzerella Cheese
6 Slices of Pepperoni

Place the Triscuits on a cookie sheet put the cheese on top of the crackers. Place pepperoni on top of each cracker. Heat in oven (or toaster oven) at 400F (204C), just long enough to melt the cheese.

Eat it all and you have a 280 calorie mini meal. 47 Calories per cracker.

Club Crackers
Option One
Club Sandwich
8 Club Crackers
1/4 Cup Ham
4 Tablespoons Cheese
1 Tablespoon Hummus

Take a Club Cracker spread a little hummus on it then place cheese and ham. Top with another cracker. Makes 4 Sandwiches.

Eat it all and you have a 385 calorie mini meal. 96 Calories per sandwich.

Option Two
Club Straight Up
4 Club Crackers
2 Tablespoon Hummus

Dip Crackers in Hummus. This is a great time to try new flavor of hummus.

Eat it all and you have a 150 calorie mini meal. 38 Calories per cracker.

All of the books and people of the world will tell you that you have to push fruits, veggies, and a balanced diet on your children from very young. When you have a "low calorie" child like Squeaker you have to think about three things calories, variety, nutrition. And yes in that order.

Calories are the most important thing, if there aren't enough calories going into your child they can't grow, or fight off illness. Variety is the spice of life. Sure it maybe burgers, hotdogs, enchiladas, ice cream, mac and cheese, chili, eggs, plain pasta most of the time that is still a pretty good range. Keep trying new foods so that as calories become less important you won't have a child that is extremely fussy about what they eat. Lastly nutrition. You do have to make sure your child is getting enough electrolytes, fat, protein, and iron but you don't need to be forcing your child to eat fruits and veggies everyday. If they enjoy them great use them, just pair them with another high calorie food. Squeaker used to love strawberries and chicken nuggets together. As for iron and other vitamins we use juice, I know it can be filled with sugar and hard on the teeth but I'd rather risk some tooth decay than have a vitamin deficiency. Squeaker drinks diluted cranberry cocktail juice (half water half juice) almost exclusively. Mostly it's Cran-Raspeberry, but she will do Cran-Apple, Cran-Grape, and Cran-Pomagranate. She will take some milk and occasionally water but mostly it's juice. It's more calories than water and great for iron and vitamins.

Well if I don't get to bed I'm going to have a very hard time driving to Birmingham and back tomorrow. It's the big appointment that lets us know what the long term immunology plan is.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Vacation

Finally a break from our normal craziness. A whole week of seeing family, playing in the snow, and just having fun. Also Trey and I will be celebrating out 5th Wedding Anniversary. WAHOOO!!!

This also our first vacation since finding out about Squeaker's immune system issues. To boot Squeaker is sick on top of it all. She just finished a two week course of antibiotics, she is on a second round of steroids this month and taking Albuterol every 4 hours during the day. So all of this and being in a new area with different viruses, lots of people, and a messed up sleep schedule I'm just trying to do everything I can to help keep Squeaker as healthy as I can.

Mom and I sorted through the toys and took out what couldn't really be disinfected and put them away. All of the other toys were placed in a bleach bath for an hour. Then rinsed and dried. Those toys probably hadn't be cleaned in two or more years, and have been played with no less than 15 children. Who knows what was on those suckers, but no worries now. I just never thought I would be cleaning toys found in a really clean home. And when we go to see the other side of the family all toys must be cleaned. It's a little crazy but that's our new normal. 

Of course the fun out ways the cleaning. Especially when you see moments like this. Mando playing the piano and Squeaker dancing with Grumpa.