Starting with a splash. Our Homeschool Ocean Unit

I was actually not planning on starting school quite so soon into September. I wanted time to settle down after summer and get organized. However my girls were so excited and eager to start and I didn’t want to lose that momentum, so we dove in. What a splash! Over the summer the girls really enjoyed the Disney character Moana, with her bravery and independence. We also listened to Island of The Blue Dolphins on our long drive. This also featured a strong courageous girl. Seeing they both were set in the sparkling blue waters of the ocean, I decided to kick off our school with an ocean themed unit study.

It was a lot of work pulling ideas and plans off the internet (THANK YOU PINTEREST!). But it was so much fun.

One of the things I think I will love most about homeschooling, is watching the girls play together. I especially loved the three of them giggling together at lunch time. I will cherish these times when it gets tough, and it will remind me of why I’m doing this.

We colored the world oceans and learned a song naming all of them. We found numerous books from the library on our theme. We went to the spray park on one of the last hot days of the year. We learned about dolphins and the dangers they face from fishing nets, making sure to check our tuna cans for the dolphin friendly lable. we enjoyed making artwork.

 

 

With a crayon resist project and a ocean layers in-a-bottle experiement we learned about oil and water repelling and density of liquids. We watched a Magic School Bus episode on sinking and floating. The girls enjoyed free play in sand and water with shells, coral and animals.

We created a “lap-book” compiling some of the facts we learned on animals, ocean layers and names of the world cceans. The girls both became very interested in dolphins, so we finished our unit with the films Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2, about a true story dolphin named Winter that was rescued after being caught in a fishing net and fitted with a prosthetic tail.  We visited Winter’s website where we could watch live-feed video of her swimming around at the aquarium she lives at in Flordia.

One of our favorite activities was measuring. Outside we measured out the length of a Sperm whale. Miss B is standing at the tail and Miss S is sitting near the tip of the head. It really brought some perspective. We figured the whale was pretty much the length of our house and garage. We also traced the girls’ bodies and compared them to giant clams, shells and jellyfish.  Later Miss S found a box of sand dollars downstairs, so we watched a you-tube video explaining where they come from. We also learned that when broken, you will find tiny bones inside that look like doves. We learned of the Sand Dollar Legend where the markings and structure of the Sand Dollar represent the life of Jesus Christ. This lead to a great discussion on what a symbol is and other symbols we know of.

It was a super fun unit to kick off our homeschooling. Great memories made!

Oct 14 is FPIES Day

It’s Global FPIES Day.

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Today I am reminded about the screaming and arching, vomiting and diarrhea, sleepless nights, horrible bum rashes, and awful mucous filled diapers with specks of blood that have been a part of Miss A’s first year. However I am choosing to think about how I’m grateful we received an early diagnosis and a helpful knowledgeable and supportive medical team.

I think about how much time I spend cleaning the floor and scanning for crumbs, at home and especially outside the home. I’m nervous to take my girl to other houses and buildings not knowing is she will find food she will react to. However I am so thankful for family that understands and watches out for her, and big sisters that try their hardest and are carefully taking care of their baby sister.  I am also so thankful that she has not had a violent vomiting reaction since her diagnosis.

I think about how I have been hungry and extremely tired and bored with my limited diet, but yet so thankful that I have food to eat and the ability to make life sustaining milk for Miss A.  I have a new appreciation for the depth, variety and flavors of our foods.

I think about how Miss A is currently limited to 8 foods, yet I’m so thankful that she is excited to eat and happily chows down a tonne of food, oblivious to the variety she is missing. I adore how she stands up next to her high chair yelling to be put in, or how she yells loudly when she finishes all her potatoes, wanting more.

I think about how in 4 months she has gained less than 1lb. At one year she is sitting at 16lbs, approx in the 3rd percentile. However I am thankful that she is not losing weight, that she is still soft and squishy, she is still happy and otherwise healthy and developing well.  She is a busy, talkative girl learning new words all the time. This week she now says, “All done” after eating and “Sit down” while daringly standing up on her chair.

I think about the time I spend reading labels, phoning companies for hidden ingredients, searching for how certain ingredients are made or sourced.  I am thankful that the information is out there, I am thankful for google (haha) and thankful for my FPIES support groups that a full of knowledge. I am very thankful for the increasing number of companies that are creating food products that are clean without cross contamination, that are non-gmo, organic, without additives and have helpful customer service. I’ve learned many new things, like cream of tar tar is a residue left over from fermenting wine, so it is sourced from grapes.

It has been a stressful and exhausting year. The constant awareness, hyper-vigilance and self restraint is draining. However I am thankful that we are making progress however slow it may be. I am thankful that Miss A’s sleep is drastically improving, which has done wonders for my mental health.

I am so very thankful for Miss A, FPIES and all.  My heart swells as I watch her play and learn. I love and adore her so much, I would do it all over again and not change a thing. Her challenges have given me a strength, determination, and discipline I never knew I had.

 

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Quinoa Sunbutter Pancakes: FPIES Recipies

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Pancakes! Though I cannot claim that they taste or feel anything like normal pancakes, ha! They are flat and oily and taste just like their name, sunbutter and quinoa. I added the sunbutter to improve the flavor from just quinoa.  Since being on a TED, I really enjoying having something a little different. I drizzle mine with pure maple syrup or cooked blueberries and maple syrup (with Tapioca startch if I want a thick sauce).

Again, I have no measurments for you, but I will try to measure it next time I make them and will update the post.

I mix sunbutter, coconut oil and honey together (Use maple syup if for baby under 1). Then I sprinkled the quinoa flour in till it had a smooth spreadable consistancy. If it gets too thick I add water, coconut milk or even pear juice.  Lastly fry them in a pan with a small amount of coconut oil.

Coconut Melties: FPIES Recipies

We recently introduced Miss A to coconut hoping it would be a great source of fats for her. She loves it! It also opens up a multitude of possibilities as there is coconut oil, shredded coconut, coconut flour, coconut milk, and coconut butter or manna. One of our challenges though is she refused puree. She wants to feed herself. But she only recently popped her first 2 teeth. So she has limited foods, that have to be in small soft chunks. Time to get creative. Enter the Coconut Meltie. IMG_7038

I’m afraid this isnt excatly a “recipe” as I never measure anything. But you can’t mess it up!

I took her safe foods, blended together and froze them in small plops. This way she can pick them up and feed herself, yet they melt fast into smooth soft puree.

I used pepared quinoa flakes, pears and coconut butter. Blend them together so they are a soft thick puree. Then make little plops into a freezer safe container.

Enjoy they melty goodness.

 

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Food Frustrations: An update on our FPIES journey 2 months later

Hello! I am still here!

Wow, what a crazy summer. I’ve been wanting to write but have just not found the time. Summer is always the busiest for my Hubby with work, often working evenings and weekends to make up for any vacation time as well as keep up with the demands of urgent projects. We were able to get away for some fun family time with both sides. Huge shout-out to all our family who have been so supportive, encouraging and diligant in keeping Miss A safe during our vacation. It was a source of anxiety to imagine all the hazards of food she could find and consume, but everyone was so careful and it all went well. I have also been incrediably thankful for the online support I have recieved from other FPIES parents who are full of knowledge, encouragement and a complete understanding of our frustrations. (So if you’re reading this, thank you!) I will be writing a bit more detailed on Miss A’s journey both to help answer questions from friends and family, and to hopefully help any other FPIES families finding themselves in the same place.

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We are starting to settle in for the fall and looking forward to getting into a routine, both with homeschool and more food trails.  In the last months we have had some huge successes in Miss A’s food trials, earned through some serious sacrafice on my part. Miss A has two different types of reaction to food, she can react “chronically,” typically through breastmilk, which is mucousy and/or bloody diapers, pain and discomfort, gas, sweaty skin and sleepless nights. An “acute” reaction is vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, dehydration. Her diagnosis was based on acute reactions to banana, avocado and rice. However as we learned more about this syndrome and kept a careful observation of her, we learned she was having chronic reactions through breast milk as well. Not all FPIES kids do, but we soon learned Miss A is quite sensitive to what I eat.

So began my quest for the illusive “baseline” diet, where I find the magic combination of food that does not result in any reactions. I had been dairy free since she was weeks old, recognizing her allergy to that early (thanks to my experience with middle child Miss B). After the FPIES diagnosis I switched to a Paleo diet. She was still reacting so I then bumped down to a Auto Immune Protocol Diet removing all inflammitory foods such as grains, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshade vegtables, sugar and sweetners, and processed foods.  There had been some improvement with her chronic reactions, but we still weren’t at baseline (no reactions). So like many other FPIES momma’s I cut out most foods going on a Total Elimmination Diet (TED). I chose one or two foods from each group in hopes that we could reach baseline and then slowly add foods back in. I scanned FPIES lists of most tolerated foods and went with lamb, pears, blueberries, quinoa, parsnips, zucchini, coconut and olive oil. This is where things changed. I was shocked and estatic at the change in our little girl. Surprisingly the difference happened overnight. We celebrated her first normal poop! Hallelujah!

 

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Keeping track of it all is serious business

 

From there the choice is to introduce new foods for myself, or her but not at the same time. It is a slow process. Miss A now has 3 safe foods, quinoa, pears and sunflower seed butter. We are currently trialing coconut with high hopes. I have since been able to add a few items to my diet as well, my most recent additions being grass-fed beef and russet potatoes. I have come to greatly appreciate the many flavors of food and highly anticipate being able to eat more. It has been a challenge, not being able to eat out or have easy snacks, and making separate meals for the rest of my family. I’m often hungry. Since this FPIES journey started I have lost about 30 lbs. One of my greatest struggles is finding the balance between keeping Miss A healthy, and keeping myself healthy with energy for the rest of my family. We have put much thought into starting Miss A on a highly specialized elemental formula and may be at the point of turning to that for extra nutrients. But it’s not a guarantee she will tolerate that either.  So this is where we are now.

 

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Gumming on a quinoa sunbutter pancake

 

With the leaves changing colors I am thinking I will have to introduce pumpkin next, as I am one of those crazy Pumpkin spice lovers, haha.  I hope to post some of the recipes I have found or created to help other TED mommas and FPIES babies.

I was originally planning on starting school a bit later, but the girls are so excited and eager that we will start tomorrow, coiniciding with the public school kids. I’m excited to share with you all how are first week goes and all the fun we have 🙂

Thanks for listening! Coming up next, recipies and starting school!

 

 

 

FPIES trials

It has been almost a month since Miss A received her diagnosis of Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis (FPIES). It has been a difficult month including many changes and struggles to form new habits.

We have had to focus intensely are making sure the floor is very clean, as if she eats a crumb, she could react. This has proven difficult with a 6 and 4 yr old in the house! I have changed my diet completely and am on a limited number of foods. I’ve been scouring the internet for new recipes, ideas, hoards of FPIES information, and alternative medicine. I feel like I have ventured down many deep rabbit holes of the world wide web. I inspect her diapers thoroughly, smell her diapers, talk about dirty diapers, and take pictures of all her dirty diapers, diapers, diapers.

We are currently on day 3 of her first food trial since her first reactions a few months ago. I am getting hopeful that apples are a safe food for her. We have a list of foods that are statistically lower to trigger an allergy. We pick one to trial and feed it to her, starting with approx 1/2 tsp, once a day, everyday, increasing the amount each day. The length to trial a food before deeming it safe varies greatly for each FPIES family. Some kids always react within 3 exposures to a new food. Other kids don’t react till the 7-1oth exposure. Some families have noted that if they don’t eat their safe food everyday, they could suddenly become allergic to it after taking a break from it.  Others might react from having it too much! It can all be so confusing. We have so much to learn about Miss A’s condition and how her body will respond to new foods. It is requiring an immense amount of focus for me to strictly concern myself with the present. I tend to get caught up in the “what ifs” and worries of what to do and how to manage in the future.

Despite putting everything she finds on the floor in her mouth, she is not interested in the apple. I gave her purée and I gave her small chunks of cooked apple. She loves grabbing them, squishing them in her fists. She brought them to her mouth and promptly spit them out. (I’ll admit I even left the ones she dropped, hoping she would at least eat them off the floor!)  If this continues with other new foods we try, we may need to look into concerns like food aversion and tongue and lip ties. It seems one concern just leads to another, and my mind races away like a train.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement in our journey, it means a lot to us.

Miss A enjoys eating ice at meal times, to help her with her motor skills and “how to” eat. Hmmm, maybe I should give her frozen apples….

Kinney Lake, July 2017

After over a month of planning, writing lists, food prep and waves of nervous excitement, our backpacking trip finally arrived.

I started packing a week in advance, checking off my lists carefully.  Following a hearty breakfast, we loaded the car up and hit the road. In a couple of hours we were registered for the trail, unloading the car, loading up the deluxe chariot a friend lent us, and strapping on our packs.

Only a few minutes down the trail, Miss S had a spill. She had a cry, then was back on her feet ready to trudge on. We were hiking the Berg Lake trail, under the colossal Mt. Robson. We had a 7 km hike into the back-country campsite on the shore of Kinney Lake. The trail is a wide, even path with only one big hill and one section of switchbacks leading up the side of a mountain to get around a bay on the lake. The only unexpected issues were a giant puddle that soaked the bottom of the chariot, and a fallen tree we had to lift the chariot over.

One of the things I love about these trips is the sense of wonder and excitement that the kids radiate, and it is infectious. They were bubbling with joy as they discovered many tiny pebbly creeks with banks of moss and shadowed by ferns. They chatted excitedly about fairy homes and fairy lakes and fairy streams, naming each and every one. The forest was magical, even I felt it.

Arriving at the campsite, we were ready to set up our base camp and eat some supper. The girls had fun playing along the lake and helping set up. While Miss A and I slept in the tent, the older girls slept out “under the stars” with Ben. He had set up a tarp in case of rain. Unfortunately no stars could be seen through the haze from BC forest fires.

Early in the morning Ben took the older girls to fill up the water containers to start making breakfast, finding rabbits hopping along the trails. What a fun surprise! We had a relaxing morning and then headed further up the trail on a day hike. The next section rose up high onto the mountain, where the girls climbed over gigantic boulders covered in moss. Then the trail went down again to the river bed. We crossed tiny bridges over thundering white water. On the other side of the valley we spent some time relaxing in the shadow of the trees. My heart felt so full watching my family laughing, playing, connecting.  It was truly a gift to be together with no distractions. Out there I felt a soothing peace, and a quiet calm within. Despite these trips being so much work, for me, they are so worth it. I feel renewed and refreshed.

Making our way back to camp, we took the lower trail across the Kinney Lake flats where the rushing river spreads out over the rocks in to many little streams.  What a wonder to watch our girls. Miss S was like a wild pony racing across the flats, leaping over the streams. Miss B scrambled up every large boulder to stand triumphantly on top, hands on her hips.

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Wild. Free. It was refreshing.

The next day we slowly packed up our camp, lingering in the cool morning stillness. The sun came out as we started down the trail.

The hike back we tried to focus on the trail in front of us, the thundering river beside us, the towering cedars beside us, and on the wonderful experience we had. We pushed thoughts of the week to come and to-do list out of our heads, wanting to soak up the present.

It was a stunning retreat. Out family was renewed and strengthened. I am so proud of our strong mountain girls who hiked a total of 18km over the 3 days, all on their own, carrying their own water and snacks most of the time. One girl asked if we could return every year, to which the other excitedly exclaimed, “Or next weekend!”