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Friday, October 05, 2012

Peachy Applesauce or Yes, I Would Peel a Boiling Hot Peach for You, My Love

Giving Ellie whole foods is a passion and an emotional precedent of mine.  It's one of the things I can do to help her body heal and be healthy. She has had a long journey to eating filled with starts and stops.  She has been on whole foods since she was 18 months - which took some doing as I have written about in earlier posts.  She has not progressed beyond purees.  However, in typical special needs, preemie parent style, I say, "I'll take it!"  After all, eating purees by mouth is better than no eating by mouth at all.  Additionally, a great many of her food sensitivities have abated and she is able to handle more fat and variety.

As such, I happily face the challenge of making her more, and more interesting purees. I know some of you out there may be thinking - why don't I just puree whatever it is we are eating. I have seen parents do that - the most interesting case where they were feeding their kid pureed bear claws (a calorie rich pastry), which resulted in huge blood sugar spikes and other unpleasant sequelae....not good.  Also, some things when you puree them are gross. I recently did it with a meatball and that was fine. Ellie has had Italian wedding soup pureed and that was fine too - but she eats things like that rarely and in small doses because of her reflux that is still a force in all our lives.  Simple foods that have great flavor and don't upset her stomach are the order of the day.  Like most working moms convenience is a necessity and the whole process took me about an hour.  However, I think the time I spent making her applesauce was well worth it.

We have been buying jars, and jars, and jars of applesauce for Ellie for years now. It was one of the only off the shelf foods she could eat - that and baby cereal and eventually coconut yogurt - so you see it's been a very short list.  However, two years ago I got a food mill because of the power outages from the hurricanes.  It's apple picking season in New England and a coworker talked about how she made applesauce. It sounded easy.  Though as a kid I used to churn applesauce out by the gallon using a food mill - I had forgotten all the other steps. Store bought applesauce is OK but its got a taste I just can't attribute to the ingredients listed on the jar - even the organic stuff. Store bought applesauce can also run you $5 for a small glass jar.

In short it was time to remember/relearn how to make homemade applesauce. The good news is, it's really easy. 

The equipment you need is a food mill, a big soup pot, a big bowl, and a slotted spoon.

Here is the recipe for Peachy Applesauce:

(I used 2/3 apples and 1/3 peaches)

Step 1: Wash the apples then cut out their stems and quarter them. Put them in a big pot with water 3/4s of the way to the top.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until apples are soft - about 20 minutes.
Step 2: While the apples are simmering - put the whole washed peaches into a separate pot of boiling water. After 15 - 20 minutes extract the peaches and put them in a bowl.
Step 3: Gingerly with your fingers peel off the peach skins.
Step 4: Put peeled and pitted peaches and all the apple pieces in batches through the food mill that is positioned over a big bowl.

Step 5: Churn away.

Step 6: Eat lovely warm, potassium rich peachy applesauce. 

The peaches I used got so sweet and syrupy all on their own I didn't need to add any sugar. When I made applesauce with strawberries (cut off the stems of the berries before you throw them in with the simmering apples) I added some sugar to cut the tartness.

Ellie is enjoying the homemade stuff! 

I filled up one of the empty jars that I had been paying $5+ dollars for and there was still a vat of applesauce left over. I could calculate ounces and figure out precisely how much I saved buying apples at the farm and then making my own sauce - but suffice to say - I am saving a good bit of money and that taste I can't place with the store bought stuff is not present. Best of all, I have improved the flavor of Ellie's food. The flavor of food is what keeps her interested in eating it - which is a good thing.

Picture from top to bottom:
1. Boiled peaches cooling a little before peeling
2. The food mill filled with peach pieces
3. The big bowl of peachy applesauce
4. A smaller portion that Ellie consumed happily.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Ellie's first poem

Dave just reminded me about this.  He was reading Tug and Teeny - a really cute book with Ellie and in the book Teeny writes a poem and even gets critique from her forest friends.  After reading it Ellie wanted to write a poem.  This is what she wrote.  I call it:

Ode to My Fijits

"Sage dances,
Sarafina tells jokes,
Lola is purple,
Logan sings,
Fijits are Fun!
Ahoy thar!"

Needless to say we were very proud. And Ellie was very proud to tell me her poem and we read it several times over the course of a couple of days.  Today she agreed we should send it into school to show her teachers.  When she wrote it on Saturday she wasn't ready to share it with anyone else. But since then she has decided it's ok to release it to the world - it's ready - which is why I get to share it with you.

Ellie loves the Fijits (and still loves the lingo of pirates) toys themselves and all the youtube videos of them. If you buy them, get them from Toys-R-Us because they are really more expensive on Amazon.  AND Toys-R-Us offers a life time insurance policy if they break you just bring it in and they will replace it.  The policy costs a one time fee of $8 which I know sounds like a lot but it covers all Fijits you buy.  Since they cost $50 and they do break - this is a good deal. We are on our third version of Lola (who is actually their Willa - but Ellie renamed her) and third Logan and second of the other two.  Also, get some rechargeable batteries. The AA batteries burn out after about 48 hours and it takes 5 of them.  Since getting the rechargeables we have reduced our footprint and saved considerably. Let's Fijit, Fijit!

This is a link to one of Ellie's favorite Fijit videos here!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Blog-sanity and the Stories We Share.

Picture: Ellie at age 9 playing with"Logan" who is a Fijit.

I'm going to try to blog more because this blog offers perspective - for me when I write  - and from you when you comment. I learn stuff.  Ryn Tales has also served as a centering force on this uncharted path.  I  have been feeling self conscious though about how much to share about Ellie. She is growing older and it's her story just as much as my own.  From your comments, sharing parts of that story has seemed to help - serve a purpose - help others.  And I am still learning about disability and how to navigate its ever changing face every day.  The extroverted part of me wants to share every bit of that learning here to have help in making meaning of it.  But like I said, it's Ellie's story, so some things I can't share.

Time is also an issue. I remember reading Biz Stone's Who Let the Blogs Out.  It's a great book for anyone out there thinking about blogging and what to do. He really lays it all out for you.  One of the things he says though, is that unemployment is the best thing for a blogger.  Simply put - you have time to write and more importantly  - time to reflect on life. Time to take the wisps of inspiration and commit them to the small screen.  He was right.

Since I finished my dissertation, nothing slowed down. Instead I just got more busy with work and family and catching up with the long list of things I needed/still need to do for Ellie.  Also upon finishing instead of feeling relieved I just feel restless and wound up - like all the things I put off for 18 months should not get done right away.  Instead of feeling accomplished, I am more keenly aware of all the things I want to do that I now can with the letters. In that sense it's been a decade of waiting.  Hence the restlessness.

What's in order however, is renewal and perspective and being centered. Sadly, none of that is coming naturally and is proving something I need to create myself with discipline and practice and acts. Blogging is one act. This blog is also something wholly mine versus being a thing I produce with my mind and creativity for other people and as such, not to be neglected.  If anything I hope it continues to serve some small corner of humanity.

Last, I heard about this book on NPR today. I just ordered it so will let you know what I think.  However, I hope more is written on this topic - disability. It's always on my mind.  The love I feel for Ellie and the joy she brings me every day is something I always appreciate and am grateful for. AND a book like this that tells how various societies viewed disability differently may offer some proof that disability has been appreciated.  Go see the Neanderthal skeleton in the Smithsonian where the note reads that the person lived and died of old age despite an obvious massive skull fracture injury.  So if the Neanderthals valued their disabled enough to expend limited resources to keep them alive and treat them as a valuable member of the tribe, why not us? Or more specifically, why not all of us?

A History of Disability (Corporealities: Discourses of Disability)

Henri-Jacques Stiker (Author), William Sayers (Translator)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


I passed my dissertation defense today  - May 1st, 2012.  I did it! I earned my PhD. ;-)
Thanks to everyone for their support and kindness about this.  It was a looooonnnnnggg haul.   So D-Day turned into May Day but no may-day needed! ;-)

I am a bit punchy at the moment as I didn't really sleep before the defense and I am on Boston time in Los Angeles where my school is.   Ellie made me a card to take with me.  She used her voice to tell her teacher what to write.  Here is what she wrote, "Hi Mommy, I love you. Wow!  Love Ellie"

I love it, "Wow! "   As usual Ellie get's it totally right.  She's such a great kid.

Now that this burden that I have lived with for so long is gone I can move forward. The huge thorn in my side is gone.  This was a big dream for me - I can't quite wrap my head around it that I did it?!  The defense went nothing like I thought it would be either. I was prepared for really hard technical questions about the statistics or the research design, etc. But it was fine and fun and and my committee spent almost one hour talking to me about how I could publish and venues to present the results. Great coaching session. Having the degree opens up a lot of opportunities - which is a really good thing considering how I will have to work until I die because I want to make sure Ellie is taken care of.

But right now I just want to go to sleep because I am so tired after the last few months of being up until 2am most days working on my dissertation.  Which is now done?! It's amazing. ;-)

Sunday, April 01, 2012

End Game

It's been a little while since I have been here. This is a quick update. Ellie is not sleeping but growing fast, fast, fast. Her room is built but we are fighting with insurance to get a lift. That part of it all is awful and draining. Ellie says she likes her new room but we have also been struggling with Home Depot get her black out blinds. We ordered them, paid for them, they took three weeks to send the wrong ones that let a ton of light in and then have been not getting back to us for another three weeks. I thought they were supposed to be customer friendly but I seriously wonder if I will ever shop there again. Ellie is not sleeping in her new room though she loves to play in it. However, she is up EVERY night. The room is bright, small but with lots of windows and my Lady Muck is a light sleeper. However, this morning she had breakfast in bed which is a particular thing she likes to do when I am the one getting her up. She is as sweet as ever.

Additionally, every little tiny extra thing to do feels colossal. My dissertation journey is in the end game. I just sent off a completed draft of the entire thing - 278 pages to my committee....
I am tired. Dave is sick and tired of me and my dissertation too. And I am sure Ellie is sick of me being away from her having to work on it every day after working at my job. Thank god I have found amazing people to cover her afternoons. But still, this whole thing, going back and fighting to have this dream of getting my degree feels a bit overwhelming at the moment. Maybe I am just tired but it also feels like a bitter pill that I didn't get this 10 years ago. I wish I had the sanity at that point to fight the school for what my committee did back then. But then again, it was all about Ellie for a long, long time which I am sure saved her life and mine too.

It's just a hard night. Instead of celebrating I am worried about my discussion section - the last chapter where you say what it all means and what it was all for. I am looking forward to feedback. And I wonder if Dave will ever forgive me for taking up so much time. We always feel like we have no time and yet we have things we both want to do and accomplish. Right now those things are at odds with each other and that is a hard place to be. I wonder if our life will ever get any easier. If Ellie will ever sleep, if we will ever get the things we need for her like the bloody lift, her new chair because she has out grown hers, etc.

Not happy at the moment. Am wondering what it's all for and what the end game will turn out to be. I am defending it on May 1. Any good luck or mojo or good vibes you can send me on that day will be much appreciated.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A person is a person no matter how small...

There have been some disturbing events recently that I have discovered via my Twitter account. The first involves "dwarf throwing". I am disgusted by this in general. It's amazing that there has been, to date, no prosecution. Even in the writing of this article about it you see the violent offender called a "prankster". Really? Someone who throws another HUMAN BEING (who is not bothering them in the slightest I might add) down on hard ground resulting in them being paralyzed is a "prankster"???? What is unbelievable about this and so disturbing are many things including the obvious a) that this takes place at all, but also b) the reporting of it is almost conspiratorial with the violent psychopathic act itself by naming the perpetrator as a "prankster". Just plain wrong on so many levels.

Secondly, this case made me very sad for Amelia, her family, for all people with physical differences in general, and our society. I hope Ellie doesn't need any organ transplants because apparently people with developmental delays are not worthy to be on the list, not worthy of doctors time to operate (even with a family donor) and just plain not worth saving. Shame on Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)! Things like this fuel my fear for Ellie's future when I am no longer breathing or for that matter even when I am. I hope this mother finds some medical help for her daughter elsewhere. Grrrrrr!

If you are interested in chiming in, in a proactive way, sign the petition. They are looking to get 100,000 signatures and were at 21,000 plus at the time of this post.

Picture Description: Ellie playing with new found Fijit friends. Santa was very good to her this year!