Monday, January 29, 2007

Family photos

We had family photos done a couple of weeks ago, by Nadine Inkster, who's a local wahm. She's really good, and gets the kids all loosened up and happy to be photographed.

Andrew jumped over the stool again, like he did last year.
Geoff can't jump yet, so he just picked up the stool like the strong little kid he is.
And another family shot ... Nadine had so many good photos that it was hard to choose which one I liked best.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Readymech crafts

I just found these amazing cutout craft projects at Readymech. Andrew's almost ready for these. We did snowflakes over Christmas, and he's getting really great with scissors. (He's not ready for the 3D snowflakes yet, but maybe next Christmas ...)

My only problem will be with the tape. He loves tape. He loves to wrap it around the banisters, chairs, doorknobs, cupboard handles ... anything that will stay still long enough to be wrapped. So anything that involves tape is a high-supervision activity.

Monday, January 15, 2007

New allergies blog

Thanks, Hew, for your comment and links! I found two super new allergies blogs, plus an interesting Time article on how children and families struggle to deal with their allergies.

The Time article is particularly (ahem) timely because Andrew seems particularly sensitive these days to the fact that he has allergies and most other kids don't.

We were at my mom's house for dinner on Saturday night, and she'd baked some fish cakes which had dairy in the breading. I guess he wanted fish that night, because a few bites into his dinner, he put stopped eating, put his head down on the table and looked so sad. He finally said that he was hungry for fish, so my mom made him some safe fish-sticks and fries, which he ate happily. But his sadness was overwhelming for him -- he almost started wailing just thinking about it. Just thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes. I wish I could take away his allergies and let him lead a normal life which doesn't have all these food issues in it.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Commercial foods Andrew can eat

I'll be working on this list regularly, but if I don't get it posted now, I'll just keep on procrastinating on it.

We've got a reasonable list of commercial/processed foods that Andrew can eat, and I figured I'd share it to help others with allergic kids. There are lists out on the Internet, but most of them are American, and have brands that we can't get up here (like Sunbutter, a peanut butter substitute made from sunflower seeds).

This list fits Andrew's allergies: dairy (including the other names for dairy: whey, casein and lactose), nuts, and peanuts. Some of these things are egg-free. Andrew's got a pretty violent reaction to traces of dairy or nuts/peanuts -- he throws up within about 5 minutes -- so if he's eaten a food and not thrown up, I've added them to our "safe" list.

I haven't read the labels for soy content, so if you're also soy-allergic, then you'll have to check the labels out for yourself. And remember, always read the label for yourself, as ingredients can change over time.

  • McDonald's chicken nuggets (Edited to add: Patti just commented that this contains whey, so it's off-limits for dairy allergies. But Andrew's been eating this all along with no reactions, so I'm going to get him allergy-tested again to see if he's outgrown his allergy over the last year.)
  • McDonald's fries
  • McDonald's filet o'fish -- if you hold the cheese
  • Boston Pizza kids meal, chicken strips and fries
  • Japanese restaurants are pretty much dairy- and nut-free. Our kids won't eat sushi, but will eat tempura and udon noodles.
  • (We don't -- okay, we CAN'T -- eat out much, so this isn't a huge list)

Grocery store -- meats
  • Maple Leaf Top Dog hot dogs
  • Johnsonville Italian sausages
  • Maple Leaf Breakfast Grill (bacon substitute)
  • Most ham has been safe so far
  • Save On has amazing marinated meats (chicken, steaks, etc.). Most of their marinades are safe -- just don't get the maui.
  • Duso's Raviollini -- mini ravioli pastas, no dairy content, does contain whole eggs. I boil them up with some peas or broccoli, and it's a balanced meal in one pot. They're so small that they're a perfect toddler bite. Available at Save On, but you just have to stalk the Duso's section as it's only there every other week, as far as I can tell.

Grocery store -- breakfast
  • Save On's Western Family instant apple&cinnamon oatmeal (the Quaker oatmeals all have dairy added now)
  • New World organic raisin granola (available through, a home delivery service)
  • Cheerios
  • Life
  • Mini-Wheats
  • Shreddies
  • NoNuts Golden Peabutter -- made from peas, and tastes very much like peanut butter. Andrew loves this stuff.

Grocery store -- cookies & chips & snacks
  • Dare Simple Pleasures cookies, most brands (oatmeal is the tastiest). All are nut-free, some contain dairy.
  • Ritz crackers -- there are a few varieties that are safe, including the Ritz Sticks and the multigrain and whole wheat ones
  • Oreos -- just not the peanut butter ones. Mini Oreos are a real treat for him.
  • Country Choice organic sandwich creme cookie -- organic oreos, basically, and I like the flavour much more than oreos (plus I can actually pronounce most of the ingredients)
  • Robert's Veggie Booty -- these are tasty and you can pretend they're healthy because they contain spinach, kale, and other greens.
  • Superstore's President's Choice popcorn, organic or regular.
  • Fruit leathers have been safe so far
  • The socalled "fruit snacks" have been safe, but contain so much sugar that I try to save them for special treats.
  • Nature's Choice cereal bars (come in tons of fruit flavours)
  • No Nuttin granola bars (see the Nonuttin' website)
  • Nature's Path organic crispy rice bar -- cheetah berry.
  • Most brands of Pop Tarts (not the yogurt ones, obviously) are safe, but again, high in sugar, so saved for special occasions.

  • For toddlers: Gerber Graduates finger foods, shaped like stars, sweet potato, strawberry or apple flavour

Grocery store -- Bakery
  • Breads are about 50/50 on dairy content, so we read the labels very carefully. The McGavin's bread basket stores have lots of multigrain breads that are safe for him.
  • Two bite brownies are dairy-free -- and dangerous!
  • Fruit pies are usually safe, but again, we usually read all the ingredients just to be sure.

Grocery store -- dairy
  • VeganRella rice cheese, mozza or cheddar flavours. I don't like these plain, but they melt down really well in a grilled cheese sandwich with ham. (Most of the other soy cheeses contain casein, which is a dairy derivative.)
  • Fleishmann's margarine is the only widely-available margarine that's dairy-free.
  • Earth Balance Buttery Spread is dairy-free, available in health food stores, and tastes like butter
  • Calcium-fortified orange juice. Minute Maid's the usual brand we buy, but Superstore also has a President's Choice brand. Andrew doesn't get enough calcium in his diet, and he won't drink enough milk (since I tried to sneak some breastmilk into his rice dream), but he will drink juice
  • Rice Dream fortified milk
  • Rice Dream ice creams are pretty good
  • Superstore's President's Choice sherbets, non-fat, lemon or raspberry flavours. (And the cheap ice cream cones are safe.)

Grocery store -- freezer
  • McCain's Smiles potatoes -- couldn't get through a week without these!
  • Most hashbrowns and fries have been safe so far
  • Amy's Roasted Vegetable pizza -- I cut up some sausages or put ham on top for added protein. The irony of adding meat to a vegan pizza is not lost on me.
  • Highliner fish sticks and fish cakes. Again read the labels -- some highliner products have dairy in the breading
  • M&M Meat Shops' chicken strips are super tasty and dairy free
  • M&M cabbage rolls -- dairy free and if you get the large platter, it's a huge dinner plus two lunches the next day.
  • M&M had one brand of breaded fish that was dairy free and really tasty. (Can you tell we're doing an M&M run tomorrow?)

  • Hero Yummi Bears are his multi-vit, but they don't have a lot of calcium
  • For me: Lifetime liquid calcium/magnesium -- comes in pina colada, lemon, orange, and they're tasty
  • For Andrew: Swiss Calcium & Magnesium chewable
  • Sisu Kiddie Calcium, black cherry fizz flavour, chewable
  • Sisu also has a line of liquid calcium supplements. I don't like the flavour, but Andrew does. We sometimes add the liquid calcium to smoothies.
  • Sisu kiddie acidophilus is dairy-free
  • Flora bear chewable acidophilus is dairy free (Acidophilus is on here because one of the current theories about allergies is a lack of intestinal flora. So what the heck, it's the cure that can't harm.)
  • Superstore now carries a sour gummy bears calcium supplement that's not expensive and that Andrew likes to eat.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

And then there were two...

...imaginary sisters that is.

Apparently Indeger Patty has a sister too; her name is Kidsteer Motor, probably derived from the skidsteer machines that have been parked nearby. There's been some paving work going on at the local highschool (turning the gravel shoulder into paved parking), so there have been several pieces of construction equipment parked there for a few weeks as the paving has, no dobut, been delayed by the storms that have been hitting us.

We've had 14 storms since the beginning of December - some with 90+kph winds, all with 60+ kph, and each time we get wind, we get heavy rain (6" in 24 hours in one case) or snow.

(guest post by Tony, whose imaginary friends included Tomato Cherry, House Baloney and Ambulance Busdriver)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Yarn sale!

If you're a knitter and you haven't hit the Ram Wools 30% off sale, go now! They've got 30% off everything. I got up early this morning to place my order for Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, and they've already sold out of my first two colour choices (purple and blue), so I got red instead. (I was actually torn between the three colours, so it did help to have part of my decision made for me.)

I'm late onto the bandwagon, but I'm thinking that this would make a nice Rogue or Eris sweater. Or I might just buy one of the Viking Knits books and do one of those beautiful cabled designs. Oh, decisions, decisions. I bought 10 balls, so I should have enough to do a sweater and a couple of scarves. Or maybe design a nice long cabled skirt.

They also had sea silk on for 30% off, which worked out to about $25 Cdn. But all the really pretty colours were sold out as of this morning, and I'm not feeling brave enough to do my own dyeing, so I didn't get any sea silk.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Yummy cashmere socks

I don't think you can buy this kind of luxury — you have to make it for yourself.

I bought some cashmere yarn off ebay in early December, and barely restrained myself from knitting it up into a pair of socks right away. I had a ton of gift socks to finish up, plus four pairs of Fetching handwarmers for Andrew's preschool teachers. (I forgot to take photos of the Fetchings before I wrapped them up, unfortunately. Then my mom and sister in law had liked them so much that I had to knit up a couple more pairs just for them — and again, they were done at the last minute, so I didn't have time for photos.)

So I just kept the ball of cashmere by the keyboard, and fondled it a lot until I got to cast the socks on, which was December 25. I cast them off on December 31, and wore them on the first day of the new year. I'm hoping that's a good omen for the rest of this year — lots more handmade socks for me!

My current project is a pair of gift socks in Knitpicks Dancing for a friend's birthday gift. She wants knee socks, so I've got a ton of stockinette knitting ahead of me. But I'm doing most of my knitting on my commute to work, which makes my commute go pretty quickly. That, and I've finally mastered the art of balancing my new video ipod on my lap and knitting to the side of it, so I can watch a movie and knit at the same time.

Is it bad that I look forward to my commute to work as my "me" time?

Oh, and I should share some photos of the boys.

Richmond General Hospital's emergency room has a great kids playspace in it, with two pretend-airplane cockpits. (Richmond is home to the Vancouver International Airport, for those of you out-of-town readers.) I'm hoping this isn't part one of a series of "emergency rooms I have taken Andrew to". We just have to make sure he doesn't have any more allergic reactions.

The boys loved opening their Christmas stockings. Then the next day, Andrew wanted to get another stocking. Then the day after that, he wanted to know when it would be Christmas again.

Ah, to be three again.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Google pedometer

Okay, now I've got a new favourite toy: Google Pedometer.

Click away on your favourite walking route, and it'll tell you how many miles or kilometers you walk on that route.

Our usual route, from our house, down to the bog trail, over to 70th Street, and back, takes 2.6 miles/4.2 km.

So if I want to do the Walk 100 miles by April challenge, we'll have to do that walk 50 times. The walking part would be easy enough to do. It's getting the boys to cooperate that's the tough part. Andrew wants to walk, then he wants to be in the stroller, then he wants to go home, then he wants to collect "treasures", then he wants a snack ...

And Geoff now wants to walk part of the way, too, then he wants in the stroller, then he wants to be carried, then he wants to walk ... sigh.

Web magazines for thinking moms

I found a couple of very cool web magazines for thinking moms yesterday.

Literary Mama is subtitled "A Literary Magazine for the Maternally Inclined." It's got plenty to keep you thinking. If you're a mom, read the Sex in the Suburbs columns. Funny stuff. is another excellent site. I read a few articles yesterday, and had their words and images echoing around my head for the rest of the day.

So many websites, so little time!

Cool toys

A couple of neat toys ....

First up: A metal pen that will last forever because it has no ink. From the Grand Illusions website.

And this one's for Tony: a mileage calculator which uses Google Maps to figure out business travel mileage.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Allergic Living magazine and forums

If you're living with allergies, visit Allergic Living magazine's webforum. I've just added it to my sidebar so that it'll be a permanent link from this blog. (I've got a subscription to the magazine, but I'm a bit disappointed with it — the articles seem very superficial, and not detailed enough in the amount of information provided.)

The US-based POFAK forum is amazing for its members' depth of knowledge and experience, but it's nice to have this Canadian resource, with Canadian brands in the discussions of what's recommended (like President's Choice microwave popcorn, which I hadn't realized was dairy-free — I just assumed that they all had some dairy derivatives). And via this Allergic Living board, I've just found a get-together for lower mainland parents of allergic kids. They even meet in Surrey, which is close to us, and not somewhere in downtown Vancouver, as I'd have expected.

So little time, so much websurfing to do. Good thing I've got this new laptop!

PS. Also wanted to add a link to a great article about toddler (and preschooler) tantrums. Quote: "The human brain takes approx 7 years to lay down all the right tissue. This isn't 7 years to 'mature' - that's approx 25 years. That's 7 years for all the right bits to grow in and start talking to itself coherently." So for a lot of the big tantrums, the kid simply can't control what's happening in his brain.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Andrew's sister

I've got to blog this because it'll be a hoot to read in a few years. Andrew's got a sister. Her name is something like "Indeger Patty". Yes, she's an imaginary person, but she's sure active in this house these days.

She lives in a big house and gives peabutter away to anyone who needs it (we ran out of peabutter today; almost a disaster!). She has several brothers (but Andrew isn't one of her brothers). And she used to be allergic to dairy but now she isn't any more. In fact, she does a lot of things that Andrew's not allowed to do.

It's been fascinating watching him tell stories about his imaginary sister. She showed up in early December, and she's gotten more and more vivid as the weeks have gone by.

Apparently it's a good sign that he's got Patty around, as far as mental development is concerned. So we're just playing along with him.

I do get worried, however, when he talks about Patty and her allergies. I think that Patty is a way for him to deal with some of the things that are bothering him, so I can't help but read hidden messages into some of the things he says about her.

Happy New Year!

What a lot happened over the holidays. Some of the highlights and low points:

* I got a new macbook! Hopefully that will lead to more blogging — it's been tough to share a computer with Andrew now that he can play computer games. He's addicted to his Tonka Construction game. (Like parents, like kid -- I miss the days when I could play games for hours at a stretch.)

* we had to take Andrew to the emergency room just before Christmas. We'd had dinner at Boston Pizza, where he's eaten tons of times before. But this time, he lost his voice after dinner. The last time he lost his voice (last Christmas), he then proceeded to throw up and have an allergic reaction, so this time we weren't going to wait "just in case." He started getting his voice back about five minutes after we got to the hospital, and never complained of any scratchy throat, but they wanted to give him a full examination anyways. Our current theory is that he had a reaction to the pecans which were on Tony's salad. No, he didn't eat the pecans, just hopped on Tony's lap during part of dinner. That explains why he "only" lost his voice, and there was no gastro-intestinal reaction — that is, he didn't throw up.

* still haven't given Geoff any dairy directly. He's got a helluva diaper rash at the moment, so it's not the right time to try it out, since I won't be able to tell if he gets a mild reaction. I'm blaming either the marzipan that I ate (it was on top of some fruitcake, and I love fruitcake), the fact that he had a little more orange juice over the holidays, or his teething — he's got 7 teeth coming in, all at the same time!