Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Enzo's IFSP Update

Today Enzo had his IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) report, basically a review of how he is doing with his therapy. In all categories he scored in the 12-15 month range. This is great, since he is only thirteen months old. He had met every goal and surpassed some goals that his teacher had for him. The main thing she is concerned about is his speech development. In the next six months he should be able to say 15-20 words. I am going to have to work with him more on his speech. In every other aspect he is doing fantastic. I am so happy to hear what I already knew. Enzo is such a trooper, he is constantly trying to improve. In the last couple days he has been putting small pieces of food into his left hand and trying to grasp it. This is a fabulous development. This helps me feel good about moving and that he is developing correctly. Thank you Jesus.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Frugal Cooking Carnival

I was encouraged to do the Frugal Cooking Carnival from Owlhaven blog. It happened on the 25th and I did not start reading her blog until the 29th, so this is my version.

First off we are mainly vegetarian and believe that eating a high alkaline-forming diet is so important for optimal health. Eating this way may be a little more expensive but in the long run it will save us on medical bills. After reading Perfect Health; The Natural Way by Mary-Ann Shearer I discovered the solution to all of my food allergies, constant exhaustion, hormonal issues, and my husband and daughters gluten intolerance.

Her basic principles are as followed:
*Eat at least one fruit meal per day.
*Snack only on fresh or dried fruit or vegetables.
*Do not eat protein more than once a day.
*Start all cooked meals with raw vegetables.
*Keep meals simple by not eating concentrated protein with a concentrated starch.

We try to eat foods high in essential fatty acids. Like raw nuts and seed, and cold pressed vegetable oils. I try not to cook with oil, if I do need oil I use coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or butter in that order. I will often dry cook veggies and then add olive oil after and it gives the meal such a great taste. I try not to combine starches and proteins. We get our protein from raw nuts and seeds. There are small amounts of protein in veggies and fruit too. The average person eats too much protein. We try to eat about 25 grams a day. That is us in a nutshell, well not really in a nutshell :)

What's on the menu

Day 1
Breakfast: Smoothies
Lunch: Bean Burritos, Cantaloupe and Veggie Chips
Dinner: Potato, Leek, Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup, Salad and Corn Tortillas
Snacks: Raisins and Raw Cashews

Day 2
Breakfasts: Blueberry Rice Waffles with Whipped Cream
Lunch: Avocado Sandwich and Roasted Corn Salad
Dinner: Potato Leek Soup, Salad and Corn Tortillas
Snack: Pear and Muesli bars

Day 3
Breakfast: Smoothies
Lunch: Potato Leek soup and Roasted Corn Salad
Dinner: Potato Tacos and Roasted Corn Salad
Snacks: Banana, Muesli bars

Day 1 Breakfast

1 cup orange juice $.25
1/4 cup raw cashews $.33
1/2 cup frozen pineapple $.25
1/2 cup frozen strawberries $.43
4-5 ice cubes

Blend until creamy consistency. I have a Vita-Mix blender so my cashews get blended nicely. If you have a regular blender you might try to blend the juice and cashew together first then add the rest of the fruit. This is for one smoothie so just adjust for how many you need. This is a little expensive for some but we get our protein from raw nuts and seeds, so it evens out since a one pound bag of cashews are about $5.oo and we eat roughly three pounds a week.
$5.04 for four people
Another way to make the smoothies with less juice is to peel an orange and use a half cup of juice and blend.

Day 1 Snack
1/2 cup Raisins $.40 and 1/8 cup raw cashews $.17
Total $.57

Day 1 Lunch
Bean Burritos, Cantaloupe and Veggie Chips
Refried Beans

2 1/2 cups of dry pinto beans (about 1 lb or 450gm) $.99
3 quarts of water
1/2 cup chopped onion (optional) $.89
1-2 Tbsp Coconut oil (for vegetarian option) $.44
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste

1 Rinse the beans in water and remove any small stones, pieces of dirt, or bad beans.

2 Cook the beans in water.
Pressure Cooker method Put beans into a 4 quart pressure cooker with a 15 lb weight. Fill up the pressure cooker with water, up to the line that indicates the capacity for the pot. Cook for 30-35 minutes - until the beans are soft and the skins are barely breaking open.

Regular method Put beans into a pot and cover beans with at least 3 inches of water - about 3 quarts for 2 1/2 cups of dry beans. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours. The cooking time will vary depending on the batch of beans you have. The beans are done when they are soft and the skin is just beginning to break open.

Strain the beans from the cooking water.

3 Add the onions and coconut oil to a wide, sturdy (not with a flimsy stick-free lining) frying pan on medium high heat. Cook onions until translucent. Add the strained beans and about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Using a potato masher, mash the beans in the pan, while you are cooking them, until they are a rough purée. Add more water if necessary to keep the fried beans from getting too dried out. Add salt to taste. When beans are heated through the beans are ready to serve.

Rice Tortillas

1 1/2 cups rice flour $.75
1 tsp salt
4-6 Tbsp butter $.38-$.56
about 1 1/4 cups warm water

Mix together salt and flour and cut in butter. Mix until somewhat mushy consistency.
Cut out two pieces of wax paper, one a large square and the other a circle about 8-9 inches in diameter. Place about a 1/4 cup of mixture on the large piece of wax paper. Place the circle wax paper on top. Use a rolling pin to smooth out the mixture to a fairly thin tortilla. Place your hand under the large wax paper piece then place your other hand on top and flip it over. Carefully peal away large wax paper. Get your skillet hot and place your tortilla side down on the skillet. Wait a second and carefully peal away the circle wax paper it will start to separate. If when you took the paper off and there are holes in the tortilla, use a rubber spatula and gently spread more of the mixture to fill in the holes. Cook on medium-high for about 30 seconds to a minute. and flip. Place in a plastic bag while cooking the others in order to keep warm or a tortilla holder.
Makes about 10 tortillas

Put beans on the tortilla and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with cantaloupe slices $.75 and some veggie chips $.33
$2.11/person enough for lunch and two more meals

If you do not want to make your own tortillas you can use pita bread or corn tortillas too
We try to be as gluten free as possible as my husband and daughter are gluten intolerant. In general gluten is not good for anyone.

Day 1 Snack

Muesli Bars

2 cups Quinoa Flakes/Oats $2.60
2-3 cups Organic Gluten free Crispy Rice $.90
1/2 cup Coconut $1.33
1/2 Fruit- your preference raisins, cranberries, carob chips etc. $.40
1/2 cup Butter$ .75
1/2 cup Brown Rice Syrup/ Brown Sugar $.95
1/2 cup Honey $.66
1/2 cup Tahini or Cashew butter $1.32

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Start out with 2 cups of oats and crispy rice. Melt butter, syrup/sugar, honey and tahini/cashew butter in a saucepan. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. If needed add more cereal or oats. Should be a sticky consistency. Press into a baking pan, cover and refrigerate over night. Cut into bars and serve. Keep refrigerated for best results. Make approx. one dozen big bars. They are pretty sweet so you could get away with a half of a bar.

Total $8.90
$ .75/person
or $ .37/ person for half bars
Served with a half of a banana $.10

Day 1 Dinner
Potato, Leek, Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup
4-5 russet potatoes cubed $1.99
1 large organic leek chopped$.99
1 1/2 cup cauliflower florets $1.99
8 oz. basket mushrooms sliced $1.69
1/2 cup organic cream $.85
Mary-Ann's Seasoning salt
Mary-Ann's Herb salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil $.44

Saute leek and cauliflower in coconut oil over medium heat until leek is soft. Add potatoes and cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat until potatoes are soft about 20-30 minutes. Blend everything in the blender. Be careful as ingredients are hot. Pour back into pot and add cream and herb and seasoning salts to taste. Let simmer on low heat. Meanwhile saute mushrooms and sprinkle with seasoning salt. If you do not have the seasoning salt use sea salt and a dash of nutmeg. Nutmeg brings out the flavor of mushrooms...but just a dash. Add mushrooms to soup and serve with warm corn tortillas.

We always start our meals with raw before cooked food. So we would have a salad before and then eat soup and tortillas.

Salad consists of one head of lettuce $.99, one avocado $.70, 1/8 red onion .20, one medium tomato $.50. Tossed with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with Mary-Ann's Herb and Seasoning salt.

Salad $2.39 serves four ~$.60/person
Soup $7.95 serving size 1 1/2 cups approx 8 servings ~$.99/person
10 Corn Tortillas $.99 ~$.09/person
Total $1.68/person

Day 2 Breakfast
Blueberry Rice Flour Waffles with Whipped Cream

2 cups Rice Flour
1/8 tsp salt
5 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp oil
2 cups water

Sift dry ingredients together. Mix in honey, oil and water. Grease waffle iron really good and pour in batter and close.

You can either add the blueberries in the mix or on top. I used about 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries and microwaved them for about 45 seconds. I topped the waffle with half of the berries and mashed the rest to make syrup and drizzled it on top.

Whipped Cream
1/2 cup Organic Whipping Cream
1 tsp Organic Maple Syrup

Using a hand mixer whip the cream adding the maple syrup.

Day 2 Lunch
Avocado and Sandwiches with Roasted Corn Salad

2 Slices of Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Bread $.30
1/2 avocado $.40
tomato slices $.12
red onion slices $.11
lettuce leaf $.25
1 tsp Vegannaise $.07
Mary-Ann's Seasoning salt

Toast the bread lightly and spread mashed avocado
on one side and sprinkle seasoning salt on top. Spread vegannaise on the other slice and layer tomato, red onion and lettuce on top of avocado. Serve with Roasted Corn salad.

Roasted Corn, Red Bell Pepper and Broccoli Salad

1 Bag of Trader Joe's Frozen Roasted Corn $2.29
1-2 Red Bell Peppers diced $1.89
1/2 bag of Broccoli Florets (1 cup) chopped $.99
2 Green onions chopped $.20
Olive oil
Juice from one lemon
Mary-Ann's Seasoning salt to taste
Mary-Ann's Herb salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients and serve when corn is thawed
Or keep it in your refrigerator and and snack on it, just add a little olive oil each time to your portion to refresh it. Serving size about 1 cup and serves 8
Sandwich $1.25/person
Roasted corn salad $.67
Total $1.92/person

Day 2 Snack
Muesli bar and half of a banana

Day 2 Dinner
Leftover Potato, Leek and Cauliflower soup, salad and tortillas

Day 3 Breakfast

Day 3 Lunch
Leftover Potato soup, salad and tortillas

Day 3 Dinner
Potato Tacos and Corn Salad

Rolled Potato Tacos
2-3 baked potatoes $.99
Corn tortillas $.99 for 10
1/2 cup Organic sour cream $.57
2-3 Tbsp cold pressed coconut oil $.44
I usually bake four or five potatoes for the week to use in soup, tacos, or as hash browns. Or you microwave a couple potatoes.
Take the baked potatoes and mash them in a bowl with the skin. Warm your corn tortillas on the skillet or in the microwave so that it does not break when you roll it. Get about 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil hot in a small saute pan. Add about 1/4 cup of potatoes on the tortilla and roll it up like a taco. When the oil is hot place the taco with the loose edge down. This will help keep the taco together. Brown and turn and place on a paper towel when brown all around.

Serve with roasted corn salad first and refried beans.
Makes about six tacos $.41 each

My daughter loves these with sour cream.
We usually give the kids avocado for their raw since they tend to not like salad and the avocado gives them essential fatty acids.

This was fun but definitely time consuming.

Why Going Kiwi?

Why going kiwi? Why would a Southern California girl want to move to New Zealand? Leave all the wonderful conveniences, family, friends. We are planning on moving to NZ to have a better quality of life. My sister and her family moved there five years ago and we have been wanting to go since. They started a Calvary Chapel in Rotorua, in the middle of the north island. They said the hardest part of living there was not having family near. We feel God is calling us to move there to minister to them and the people of Rotorua. We just got back from a two week trip visiting with family and scouting out the area. The country is in need of skilled craftsmen and Eric is a fantastic carpenter. In order to move there we need to get rid of debt and save some too.We are selling almost everything we own except for the basics-clothes, dishes, books, toys, linens and pictures. Most of our family think we are nuts to sell everything. However, when you decide to buy on credit it is not really yours anyway!

My poor husband had no debt going into our marriage. I had a car payment, a credit card and student loans. Since then we have traded in cars and gone more upside down. How do you stop the cycle?? Debt is a vicious cycle. We used new 0% interest cards to "payoff" old ones but then they gave us a higher limit. We would buy little things here and there and next thing you know we are maxed out on the new card and the 0% interest has gone up to 9 -15%. Oh great, what was supposed to be a good thing just turned into a nightmare.

We feel that the only way to get out from underneath the debt is to sell the majority of our belongings and pay off our debt. We do not have the luxury of getting a container and shipping our belongings to NZ because we really do not own them. We are giving our notice for our apartment as of the first. We will have a series of estate sales in the course of this next month. Hopefully we will be able to sell everything. I am excited to purge myself from all the "stuff" everyone thinks you need to have, especially in Orange County. I know this a process and probably a long one, so I need to remember to be patient. Most people think we are leaving tomorrow, but probably not for a while. It is funny when you announce you are doing something a bit radical how the phone lines get busy. You tell people hoping they will pray for you and your journey but it doesn't always happen that way. We keep getting emails wondering when we are leaving. What do you tell them? We don't know ourselves, if they find out would they fill us in.

We are especially being sensitive to our son Enzo. He has so much therapy right now with his CP. We go to PT/OT appointments on Tuesday and Thursday for a hour. Wednesdays we have In-Home therapy to make sure he does not fall behind educationally. Thursdays we have Acupuncture- Brain therapy too. He will be evaluated tomorrow with In-Home therapy and in June for PT/OT. We are excited to see his progression since starting in January with California Children's Services (CCS). We know he is doing exceptionally well, but to see their goals and how he has met them is incredible. We want to make sure he has all the possible care and therapy he needs in this next year, since the first two years the brain is changing and is able to rewire itself.

Until we feel he is doing well enough to move and God gives us peace about the timing, we are just going to concentrate on selling and consolidating our belongings and paying off debt. What a marvelous season we are in. Most people would never even think to do what we are doing but I hope we can encourage others to get out of debt too. Maybe not to the extreme we are taking but in other ways. Have a garage sale and get rid of the excess. We have two sets of dishes, flatware, glassware and more, do you really need that much stuff.... no. I hope people will stop and think about making purchases when they do not have the means to buy with cash. I wish we would have done that. I am thrilled to be able to start over in a sense and make purchases based upon if we have the cash to buy it or save for it. How much more rewarding is buying something and paying for it all at once. Have you ever saved for a big purchase and gave the clerk cash, they sometimes do not know what to think. It is refreshing. Or better yet make your own. We are planning on making our own sofa and dining room table. With Eric's abilities in woodworking and my sewing knowledge, it will be fun and what an accomplishment. What do you think our great grandparents did. Their way of life was hard but what a wonderful feeling knowing you built, sewed and made most of what you owned. It is refreshing. I want to enjoy life without the constraints of being owned by my things.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Enzo's Dr. Appt.

At four months we noticed that Enzo was not using his left hand as much as his right. The pediatrician referred us to a neurologist. After two months of insurance paperwork, we saw the neurologist in September 2007 and she confirmed that he had Spastic Hemiparesis Cerebral Palsy with only 10-20% impairment.

Spastic- the muscles are in constant spasm or tightness.

Hemiparesis- weakening of one side

Cerebral Palsy- an umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non-contagious conditions that cause physical disability in human development.

He had a MRI and it confirmed the stroke occurred in utero and there was no tumor. He started physical therapy and acupuncture right away. He is now thirteen months old and doing fantastic. He is taking about five to ten steps at a time. He is opening his left hand and hold objects pretty good. It has been a crazy journey but we know he is in God's hands.

Today we saw the Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon for Enzo. Great News, he does not need any surgery! The doctor said his right side bowing of his leg has nothing to do with his CP. He said Enzo should outgrow it by four or five years old. This is great news. He might need a brace later on but for now.