Sunday, May 20, 2012

Updated Coconut Milk Banana Ice Cream Recipe

I updated the Dairy Free Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Recipe with a custard style version for those who don't want to eat raw/frozen eggs. :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

They took all the trees
And put 'em in a tree museum 
And they charged the people 
A dollar and a half to seem 'em 
Counting Crows - Big Yellow Taxi

That song kept running through my head when we visited Humboldt Redwoods State Park in California.  The redwood trees were probably my number one sightseeing destination on our trip.  We drove up Highway 101 on our way back home so we could see them.  They were big.  We have Douglas Firs and cedars around here.  Both are big trees, but compared to the redwoods they now seem almost piddling.

The girls were really excited.  The first redwood we saw was the Chandelier Tree which was the only redwood tree that you can drive your car through that is still alive, or so the local gas station attendant told us.  The gas station was really funny.  The owner came out and pumped our gas for us and was very chatty.  Then a guy drives up in a pick-up.  He had long hair and an unbuttoned flannel shirt.  I guiltily admit I had a fairly unsavory first impression of him.  Floyd hollers for me to come over and take a look at his truck.  Apparently he had installed some sort of hydrogen generator in his truck to improve its fuel efficiency.  He wasn't a hick, but a hippy chemist doing experiments on his vehicle.

Anyway the girls were really excited about the redwoods and were yelling "Big trees, big trees" and running around like crazies.  After that Selena asked what else we were going to do.
I said, "See more big trees."
She said, "Can I climb them."
Me, "I don't think so."
Selena, "That sounds boring."

Fortunately we did find some old gigantic stumps for her to climb.  We drove through most of the Avenue of Giants.  It was impressive.  We stopped and walked around some.  I did a small jog.  I wish I had been able to go on a real run, but a lack of a shower for a couple of days made that idea seem like not such a good idea.  I think if I ran a race through those trees I could run really fast.  Their smell, and age, and massiveness just made me feel really energized.

We also saw the Dyerville Giant a fallen redwood that was the tallest tree in the world till it fell in 1991.  The root system on that tree was huge.  The trunk was gigantic.  Crazy.  I really would like to go back and spend a couple days camping there.

After the readwoods we headed up through Crescent City on our way home and saw a huge elk herd that apparently hangs out there.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Allie Has Tummy Problems

Allie is almost three and is starting to act like a three year old.  She has been struggling with sharing, taking turns, and being nice.  She's been pinching, hitting, kicking, and plotting revenge.  She whines and cries often.  It is pretty frustrating.  Floyd yelled at her the other day for throwing rocks from Selena's rock collection in the house.  Upset, she takes the remote for the TV and tries to hide it from him.  Devious.

But the poor girl may have an excuse for all her grumpiness.  Her tummy hurts pretty much constantly and she has reflux often.  Per the awesome book, What's Eating Your Child, I figured it was probably milk.  I switched to goat's milk and her reflux went away and she said her tummy didn't hurt.  Great!!  She still could eat cheese and butter.  Goat's milk is an easy substitute.  I thought we were all good.  Then we ran out of goat's milk and I gave her some cow milk, and then she got a cold.  She had another incident of her chronic early morning vomiting followed by a nap and then fine.  I removed all dairy, except when I forgot, and her tummy still hurt.  It has be over a month and her tummy still hurts.  When we did give her dairy, for random reasons, she had reflux.  She has been completely dairy free for about a week and still has a tummy ache but the reflux is gone.  I've been giving her a probiotic as well.  I've half-heartedly tried eliminating eggs, but she loves them, and insists they don't hurt her tummy.  Really gluten is the next thing to try, but it seems like such a hard one.  I really need to just buckle down and do it, and really I should do it with both girls.  My biggest problem is what is a good on-the-go sandwich replacement?

On the positive side, Allie is getting to be a good climber and is starting to follow her sister monkeying around.  Here is a picture of her days before her first birthday.  When most babies are just learning to walk she was climbing box mountains.  When she got to be around two, she started realizing that what she was doing was kind of scary, and she became a bit reticent and asked for help a lot.  It seems like now she's getting her courage back and venturing out a bit more.

She really, really likes computers.  Physical movement and outdoor play is probably my biggest soap box as what is important for young children (or really everyone), but at the same time its dark, cold, and rainy around here for the majority of the year.  I like computers.  I am a computer programmer.  I write apps for kids.  Really I think there is a lot of positive benefits to using a computer, just as long as it doesn't come at the expense of running around and playing.  One day I was not letting her play and she was whining.  I said she couldn't just sit at the computer and play all day and she said, "but you do."  Touche.  Really?  How can you make logical and rational argument like that, but insist that their is nothing wrong with you pinching your sister for no reason.   I just have to remember to lock the computer once I'm done with it, so that she has to ask before she gets on.  I'm just waiting for one of them to figure out the password by watching me type it.  Selena keeps thinking it is p-a-s-s-w-o-r-d because that's what the prompt says.  But really I think Allie will be my kid that I can groom into a top-notch developer. ;)  

She loves singing and dancing and unlike her father or I she seems to be able to carry a tune.  Now that she is almost three she is eligible for classes at the Y.  I think I'm going to try and get her in some ballet or gymnastics.  She also likes babies.  She likes her baby doll and she likes looking at pictures of babies.  There is a little boy that we have playgroup with, and she really likes him, except he tries to take her toys often, so she wants his mom to hold him.  I asked her if she made any friends at the daycare at the Y and she said, "A little boy in a green shirt was following me around.  He really loves me."

I've signed her up for preschool.  I really wish there was a super awesome reasonably priced outdoor preschool nearby, or that we lived in Seattle and could go to Teacher Tom's school, but I hate driving, so I am all about proximity.  The preschool Selena goes to doesn't have an afternoon program for Allie's age group so I signed Allie up for the big church preschool that is right in the neighborhood.  I like Selena's school because they have a great outdoor, nature play area that has lots of trees to climb and bugs to find, but I think the curriculum there is pretty underwhelming.   The church school is more definitively play based and I think I will like the curriculum more, but their playground is pretty barren--plastic toys on bark.   Allie says she isn't ready to go to preschool yet, because she isn't old enough, but soon she will be old enough.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Surprise Selena is Five!

Selena had her fifth birthday almost two months ago.  We threw her a surprise party.  She knew she was having a party, but she didn't know when or where.  She helped pick out the decorations and make a pinata (boy was that an ordeal) but she didn't know when or where the party was.  The day after her birthday I claimed that I was going out to meet with some friends and Floyd said that he was taking the girls to Costco.  Then he said I called and I locked my keys in my car and they needed to stop at Nana and Papa's to give me my keys.  Obviously our stories didn't match up too well.  I hadn't said I was going to Nana and Papa's, but Selena didn't notice.  Floyd brought Selena and Allie in, and Nana told her that she had a birthday present for her downstairs.  When she came down we were all hiding behind a corner and we jumped out and yelled, "Surprise."  She was very surprised.  For a moment it looked like we scared her and she was going to cry.  But she was able to take a deep breath and control herself.  Then she had a lot of fun.

It has been wonderful because lately she has been really helpful cleaning up and organizing around the house.  Sometimes she can even convince Allie to help.  It is wonderful because her helping is real help, not I'm pretending to help, but really just making it worse.  She sweeps, picks up, unloads the dishwasher.  It is wonderful!

She isn't really into anything at the moment.  She spends a lot of time coloring, drawing, writing, and playing pretend.  Her and Allie are dogs, cats, bad guys, good guys, etc, etc.  They play well together as long as Allie does what Selena says.

She's getting pretty good at writing.  She can spell Selena, Allie, Nana, Papa, dog, and probably a few other words without any help.  Her vocabulary is expanding too.  She sprinkles words like randomly, assume, and stressed in her speech.

Eating is still a struggle.  Supplementing with zinc has greatly improved her eating, but she has lost the positive attitude about trying new things.  She still prefers to eat only her favorites.  So we've been having lots of arguments about food, and it is annoying.  At least now I can get her to eat a few bites, whereas before she wouldn't even be in the same room.  However I had fallen into the habit of giving the vitamin to her right before bed, and the last couple days I have given it to her in the morning and she has been better, so maybe that helps?  I'll have to continue to do so and see if I notice a difference.

Sleeping has been better too.  She is in bed and asleep before 10 most nights.  Still pretty late, but compared to 10:30 and 11 I'll take it.  When it is 9:30 I'm thrilled.  I've been occasionally giving her a small amount of melatonin (maybe .2 mg) when we're spending the night somewhere, or when she has a few nights in a row of having a hard time going to sleep and staying up too late.

The real bummer around here has been Selena's teeth.  She was brushing them one night and she said something was stuck in her tooth.  I tried to help her get it out, but it wouldn't come out.  I had the horrible realization that it wasn't something stuck, but a very large hole in her tooth.  I took the girls to the dentist and she had 10 cavities and needed two crowns.  I was crushed and felt horribly guilty.  I haven't been the most diligent role model of oral hygiene.  I never had a cavity till I was 25, so I didn't really I believe that that sort of decay could happen so quickly.  To add insult to injury we don't have dental insurance, so it was about $2000 worth of dental bills.  Normally I would have gotten a second opinion, but the dentist came highly referred by multiple mommy friends, one of whom is a former hygienist.  Selena is super tough and the office has been really great at making her feel comfortable, so overall I don't think it has been traumatizing at all.  Her and the neighbor boy were comparing their metal teeth so I guess it is all good.   In order to feel less guilty I'm blaming the zinc on the tooth decay as well.  It seems that tooth decay can be a symptom of deficiency.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dairy Free Ice Cream Recipe - Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip

Poor Allie seems to be intolerant of dairy. :( Since September she has had almost constant tummy aches and reflux. After reading What's Eating Your Child I thought it may be dairy causing her issues.  The reflux goes away when she doesn't eat any dairy, unfortunately we haven't been able to get rid of the tummy ache.  Anyway the poor girl can't eat the most delicious food in the world and that is very sad.  So I decided to try making a coconut milk ice cream and it turned out VERY good!  I don't typically like coconut, but I ended up eating more of it than Allie did.  Oops.  The other great thing about this recipe is that it is low in sugar because the banana makes it plenty sweet.  :)

Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Recipe

1 can of coconut milk
1 can of coconut cream
2 egg yolks
2 overripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1 chilled bar of free trade dark chocolate

In a blender mix the coconut milk, coconut cream, egg yolks, sugar, and bananas.  Pour into ice cream maker and churn according to the machines directions.  Chop the chocolate bar into tiny pieces.  A couple minutes before the ice cream is done pour the chocolate chips in.  Scoop and eat. :)  

If you don't want raw/frozen eggs here is a custard style recipe

Coconut Banana Chocolate Chip Custard Style Ice Cream Recipe

1 can of coconut milk
1 can of coconut cream
4 egg yolks
2 overripe bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1 chilled bar of free trade dark chocolate chopped into pieces

  • Warm coconut milk and sugar on the stove.
  • Stir egg yolks in a bowl
  • Slowly pour warm milk and sugar mixture into the eggs while constantly whisking.
  • Pour the milk, sugar, egg mixture back into pot and heat over medium heat while constantly stirring.
  • Pour cream into a bowl and place a fine colander/strainer over the bowl.
  • When the milk sugar egg mixture starts to thicken and when you can dip a scraper in the mixture, and it coats the scraper so that you can draw a line with your finger (here is a good picture of what I mean from Simply So Good) then remove the mixture from the heat and pour it through the strainer into the cream.
  • Put the whole mixture into a blender, or use an immersion blender and blend the bananas in.
  • Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours.  If you want to chill overnight you might want to wait and mix the bananas in the next day.  
  • Pour into ice cream maker according to the machine's directions.
  • A few minutes before it is completely churned pour the chocolate pieces in.
  • Scoop and eat!