Sugar

Have you ever noticed that disclaimer on your bag of sugar, the one that says “100% pure cane — contains No Beet.”  I never really thought about it until the beginning of this year.   We had my son tested for food allergies in December.  His results came back in January with IgE reactions for Milk & Beef, and IgG reactions for all dairy and sugar cane.

The beginning of this year marked a change in our diets.  We stopped eating out and started reading food labels.  I studied the FARE website on Milk Allergies.  I still review it.  I went through our cupboards and read all the labels on the food we had.  I found a new bullion to use that didn’t have whey in it.  I stopped using our taco seasoning which had milk in it and made my own.  I was surprised by the many places I found Milk.  I read blogs about others who had milk allergies.  I talked with a local mom who has an amazing allergy story for her children.  I learned about Nucoa buttery sticks and that most margarine products have a form of milk in them.

At first I was overwhelmed by all the changes but now we are settling in to a new food routine.  I’m lucky that my son is old enough to understand that the food he’s allergic to make his body sick and he plays an active roll in asking people if there is milk in the food they offer him.  He’s also a reader, so when he asks for a type of food at the store I ask him to read the label.  Often milk products are highlighted, so he knows right away if it’s a food he can eat or not.

Cutting out beef was not as hard as milk.  It has been easy to substitute pork, chicken, or turkey for beef.  My son loves fish sticks and he learned he loves pork chops too!

After we had a handle on eliminating milk and pork from his diet, I started trying to figure out what I could use as a sugar substitute.  I like baking him cookies and I’ve always used regular sugar that boasts “100% cane.”  After searching locally I came across beet sugar on Amazon.  I was going to make my own brown sugar with molasses, but it turns out that molasses is made from cane sugar too.  One of the things I read online was that coconut sugar has a brown sugar like taste.  I could find coconut sugar in my local grocery stores, but it was $6-7 a pound.  I found a 3 pack of coconut sugar on Amazon for just over $4 a pound.  Yay!  Now I bake cookies with Nucoa, beet, and coconut sugars.  They don’t taste the same, but they are still yummy.

A LEGO Birthday

Turbo's 5th LEGO Birthday PartyI feel like my son’s 5th birthday snuck up on me.  I was so busy worrying about our costumes that I completely forgot his birthday is soon after Halloween.  Last year he was sick with the croup twice in a row so we canceled his birthday party.  It was two months later when he asked me if he was going to have a birthday party.  Ouch.  This year, I wanted to make sure he had a super birthday party.

Turbo said he wanted to have a LEGO Hero Factory party.  I wasn’t quite sure where to go with that so we sat down and searched Pinterest for ‘LEGO Hero Factory party’ ideas.  As you can imagine nothing came up.  I asked him if it would be okay if we narrowed our search to ‘LEGO Party’ and he agreed.  So many cool ideas for LEGO parties have been pinned.  Turbo sat with me and pointed out ideas he liked and wanted to have at his party.  The first thing he pointed out was a race car ramp.  We checked out cakes and cookies.  When I asked him if he wanted a cake or cupcakes he knew he wanted a cake.  I’m not much of an artisan with cakes.  I offered to make him a LEGO Brick cake and he thought that would be cool.  *whew*  We found a cool LEGO Bingo game that he said he’d like to play.

Pin the LEGO PieceI did come up with one of my own ideas, a Pin the LEGO Piece game.  My mom always made a pin the piece game for parties.  The one I remember the best was a Wonder Woman she made for my sister’s party.  She free handed all the pieces.  I’m much better with technology and I’ve been dying to find a reason to have a large engineering print made.

LEGO Batman thank you cardI set up a LEGO piece photo shoot.  I shot the image for his invitations and a close up of a standard LEGO man for the pin the piece game.  Then I took super close up shots of as many tiny LEGO accessories as I could find; hats, fish, cups, flasks, stars, hair, and a diamond to name a few.  I sent the LEGO man photo to Abadan, our local print store, to be printed as a 2×3 foot engineering print.  It looked so cool!  I printed out the accessory pieces at home, trying to make them the right size for our large engineering print out.  Little was a good helper.  She grabbed the print outs and brought them to me as I was printing them.  She loves retrieving paper from the printer.  Turbo was super excited about his party and carried around the printed LEGO pieces until I put them up so they would be ready for the party.  I found a LEGO font to use for the invitations and thank you cards.  I had the images to be printed as photos.  I stuck the invitations in envelopes as they were.  Turbo helped me glue the thank you photos to cards so he could write in them.

Playing LEGO BingoTurbo was keen on the LEGO Minifigure Bingo game.  As I scrolled through the call cards and boards I thought about replacing some of the Minifigure images with ones my son would know and his favorites like Batman.  I have Adobe Acrobat, so switching out a few images and text wouldn’t be a big deal.  Well, after I had added Turbo’s favorites, reorganized the board layout to be more like traditional Bingo, and added letters to the call cards it might have been less work for me to have started new!  I found most of the Minifigure images from the LEGO website and searched the web for some too.  Here’s my version of LEGO Minifigure Bingo (.pdf 3.2Mb) call cards and boards.  I printed the call cards full size and the boards 2 to a page on card stock.  Then I laminated the boards and we used dry erase markers with them.  It was a hit at the party and we ended up playing the game for several rounds two different times.

engineering print of LEGO man on wall with LEGO bumpsMy sister and I were chatting the day before the party and she asked if there was anything she could do.  “Yes! Do you have any colorful paper at your disposal?” I asked.  I really wanted to print out the LEGO Bumps from Deliacreates, but was running out of time to get things done before the party.  Thanks to my sister we had a great colorful wall of LEGO bumps.  Turbo enjoyed helping us hang the brick bumps on the wall.  We used the bumps to wrap the juice boxes like bricks too.

racing LEGO cars down a press board rampWhen the kids arrived they could build a crown with the LEGO bump paper, race LEGO cars down a ramp, and free play with the LEGO bricks we set out.  I sorted out wheels and axle type pieces from the majority of the bricks so they could build their own vehicle creations easily.  There were a few pre-built LEGO cars ready for racing.  We used a piece of press board for the race ramp.  It wasn’t nearly as big as the table ramp we saw on Pinterest, but if fit our space and Turbo was pleased with it.

There are so many cool ideas for putting together the gift bags.  I’d nearly run out of time for putting the party together, so for the gift bags we splurged.  I bought the bagged LEGO sets I found by Target’s checkouts.  This was our biggest expense.  If only I had bought a bunch of those box sets I found on clearance for $2.50 a while back; oh well right?  I printed out activity pages from the LEGO website, two on a page, and made a little activity booklet to include with the building sets.  You have to search within each LEGO product line website to find their printable stuff;  LEGO City had the most.

framed engineering print of LEGO manOne of the hardest parts of planning the party was deciding on a guest list.  I’ve always had this idea in my head that you should only invite as many guests as you are old.  Turbo was turning 5 and he has more than 5 friends.  It was hard not to invite all his friends.  Even after we sent the invitations I kept worrying that we should invite more people.  I think it was okay that we didn’t invite a ton of kids.  The party size was good and it was enjoyable, not overwhelming.

I framed the engineering print and hung it in my son’s room.  It’s a nice reminder of all the fun he had at “the best birthday party ever!”

Water for Christmas

This morning when I got up, I took a quick, for me,  15 minute shower in clean drinkable water.  The USGS estimates that showers use 2.5 gallons of water a minute.  What a blessing it is to live where I can luxuriate* every morning in 40 gallons of clean drinkable water.

Water has been on my mind.  Joy’s Hope reminds me.  Whatever reminds me, and my facebook friends remind me.  I’ve been thinking a lot about water.

Water for Christmas.

Living Water International.

charity: water.

I cannot imagine having to walk more than a mile to collect 5 gallons of dirty water for my family to use for the whole day.  I cannot imagine.

Cannot fathom.

 

 

I have water, physical and living water. Thank you God.