Mar 162013

Recently, there was a segment on Doctor Oz which made me aware of a food blogger named Vani Hari. She, along with another North Carolina blogger named Lisa Leake are taking Kraft Foods to task over their use of dyes in their products, such as their popular mac & cheese. Did you know food dye is banned in most European countries? Why does the United States think it’s ok to use them here?

Food dyes are man-made in a lab with chemicals derived from petroleum (a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar). Why is it okay for the FDA to put them in our food? The answer is, it’s not.

Our Story:

My son Ian is 9 years old, and was diagnosed ADHD in March of 2010. It was wonderful to finally have SOMETHING to label his inattentive behavior with. Once we knew what we were “fighting” we could do something about it to help him. We went through an insane time with finding the right medication for him. Ritalin was a train wreck, and made him physically aggressive to the point that I was afraid he was going to hurt himself or someone else. When we finally had him responding positively to Concerta, it was like a totally different little boy moved into my whirlwind. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a high-energy goofball, but he can finally focus and learn - and he loves learning.

In my travels on the internet researching support groups and resources, I found the Feingold Diet in April 2010. After reading all of the positive comments I figured we didn’t have anything to lose. It would either work or it wouldn’t, and if it didn’t we wouldn’t be in any worse of a position than we already were. So, we ran with it.

The Feingold Diet eliminates food dyes and salicylates from the diet. I will be honest, it was completely overwhelming at first to have to read every single ingredient on every box, bottle or package that went into our shopping cart. However, I stuck with it, and the results were amazing.

It’s not so much what happened when we removed the food dye, so much as what happened when he accidentally ingested some weeks or months later. You can think I’m crazy if you want, but I have witnesses to the entire situation - including parents and grandparents who thought I was completely off my rocker suggesting food dyes were the problem. They’ve seen the angry out-of-control child he becomes when he accidentally gets Red 40. They’ve seen the teary-eyed puddle of emotional crash-and-burn when he got Yellow 6. These effects have not varied over the years. We don’t get too overwhelming a reaction with blues, but I don’t push the issue. Our household has been dye-free for 3 years, and it will stay that way.

I have always been somewhat vocal about my findings, but again, I think people put me in the catagory of Avon and Tupperware salespeople. As in, “yes, how lovely for you, stop talking about it.” I’m glad to see some other moms are bringing awareness to this. Please support them by signing their petition, following their blogs, and helping raise awareness of this health issue. This is our children we’re talking about.

What do you think about artificial dyes? Do you believe they cause behavioral and/or health issues?


Photo credit: Nomadic Lass / / CC BY-SA
Mar 122013

Oaty Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Some weeks my kids can’t get enough bananas. We’ve been known to buy 3-4 bunches in a 7 day span. Then suddenly, I buy bananas and nobody wants to even look at them, let alone eat them.  It reminds me of when the Doctor regenerates and can’t remember what his favorite food is and is throwing stuff all over the kitchen saying “ew, no!”  Errr… sorry, I nerded out there.

Sometimes I just have to put those last couple of browning bananas out of their misery.

Oaty Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cups white flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1 egg (beaten)
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 mashed bananas

In a large bowl, combine everything but flour, oats and chocolate chips. Mix well. Carefully add in oats, chocolate chips and finally the flour, folding gently to combine. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease lightly. Divide batter between the cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes for regular sized muffins, or 20-25 minutes for “mega” muffins - test after 20 minutes with a toothpick to make sure they’re not getting overdone.

This makes 12 standard muffins or 6 “mega” muffins. You can also sprinkle the tops with raw sugar before you bake them, but I forgot this time. :)

Mar 112013

People seem to be under the misconception that I’m cooler than I actually am. I don’t mean that I have a Coach purse and Manolo Blahnik strappy heels, or that I’m a statuesque model with a charmed life or anything like that… but just that I’m superwoman or something. Here’s the truth: I just wing it.

I don’t know if it was me having my first child at the age of 20 (I still can’t believe they just let us take her home!) or being an Army wife and suddenly left alone for 18 months at a clip. Maybe it’s just always been my personality since I was a child. If I don’t know how to do something, I just make it up as I go along.

I cook, I bake, I sew purses and clothing and quilts, I play massively multiplayer online games (aka: World of Warcrack and more recently Guild Wars 2), I parent (and homeschool) three very different and difficult in their own way children, I make resin jewelry, I embroider, I do vinyl cutting… I do a lot of stuff.  Uhm, most of it, to begin with at least, I have no clue.

I’ve had people say to me “oh, I could never homeschool my kids!” or “wow, I could never bake bread, yeast is scary!” or even, “that quilt is awesome, mine would never come out that good!” People, let me repeat this — you will never know what you are capable of unless you get out there and try it. Stop being afraid of failure and just DO IT.

When my kids first started at home, I did everything by the book. Then I realized, that wasn’t optimal for them. My middle child has ADHD (as do I) and if I wanted him being taught by the book I would send him to public school. (I have to insert here, I do not have a problem with public school. I have a problem with the public school district WE live in. I am not against my children at some point in the future going off on the big yellow bus. In fact, some days I feel like running after that bus and sneaking them on it.) Where was I? Oh, figuring out what works. Schooling middle child is not the same as schooling oldest or youngest child. They’re different kids, and we figure out what works for them. Same as parenting, really.

When I made my first quilt, I had a vision in my mind. I sat down with a bunch of squares and started sewing. When I got to the end of that part, I Googled. It might not be perfect, it might not be “stitched in the ditch” with astounding accuracy, and the binding corners aren’t mitered. However, if I waited around until I could do beautiful heirloom quilting (is that a thing? I’m not even sure!) my daughter wouldn’t have that quilt keeping her snuggy warm at night.

Things don’t always turn out well, and I’m not above rage quitting and/or crying. I’ve trashed more handmade purses in the last ten years than I can shake a stick at. I sew zippers in backwards or crooked and have no patience in following pattern seam allowances. I make my own patterns because I can’t focus long enough to follow the steps on a Simplicity or a Butterick.

I break things around the house. Oooooh do I break things. I can still clearly see myself standing in the middle of the basement crying my eyes out while I called my best friend and asked to borrow her husband and their Shop Vac. You see, my husband was deployed and I thought I could fix a “minor” plumbing issue, which in turn flooded my laundry room with poopy water. It ultimately required Mr. Rooter and the promise that I will never ever pick up a pipe wrench again. Thank goodness for friends.

So, next time you see something that you want to try, stop letting fear get in the way. What’s the worst thing that happens? Your husband or SO will just have to rearrange the furniture you didn’t measure for that won’t fit in the space it belongs in.  He’ll get over it.

Just wing it.

 Posted by at 11:08 pm
Mar 112013

Kids are expensive. Everyone knows that. Even after they’ve outgrown diapers and sippy cups, and the proverbial pile of “baby crap” jammed into your too-small living room, they still have all these “hidden costs” you don’t think about pre-parenthood. Like, who thinks about how many pairs of shoes you’re going to have to buy over a child’s lifetime? They grow like weeds, and it seems like the smaller and cuter the shoe is, the more expensive it is. And forget keeping this winter’s boots for next year, they won’t fit. Same with clothing - that $30 licensed t-shirt your tween wants is NOT going to be cool in six months and she will act like it physically hurts her if she HAS to wear it.

Beyond all the material things, kids want to DO stuff. Doing stuff also costs money (well, not always but a lot of the really cool stuff does.) However, I’ve found that just a little bit of research can save some bucks when it comes to doing stuff.

We live somewhere between-ish Philadelphia, PA and NYC. It’s roughly the same amount of time in either direction, which makes it a great place for day trips. The kids know this, and in the spring and fall we’re inundated with requests to hit zoos and museums. As a family of five, we even avoid going to the movies more than a few times a year because of the way it adds up. Attractions like museums can do the same thing - unless you’re smart about it.

Most museums and zoos have a membership program!

What does that mean? Well, as an example, the Philadelphia Zoo (which is awsome, btw) ticket costs are $20 for an adult (children 11+ are adults) and $18 for each child 2-11. For our family that comes to $96, plus another $12 for parking — $108 for the day (yikes!). To join the zoo as a family, it costs $115 for the entire year, which includes free parking. That’s an entire year of llamas and lizards and elephants for only $7 more. Annnnnndddd…. they have a reciprocal deal with our local game preserve (and many other places), which means we can get in free there all year as well.

Obviously this wouldn’t be a great deal for every family, but it’s worth checking out if your crew likes “doing stuff.” Which, we should enjoy.. because pretty soon they’ll be way too cool to spend time with us.

 Posted by at 12:38 pm