Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside!

Today is the only day of this week that I have off work – my next day off isn’t until Tuesday and by that time Michael will be back at work so I decided that we’d head down the coast to Barwon Heads for the day.

The kids and I came here very briefly with Linda about three years ago but Michael and Larry had never been before.

We do love to be by the seaside!!mt macedon and barwon heads 018

It’s a really beautiful spot and it’s only about an hour from our house.  There are miles and miles of sandy beaches and shallow warm waters.mt macedon and barwon heads 019And even today when it was warm and sunny, the beach was nowhere near busy!mt macedon and barwon heads 020

Alexander has spent much of the holidays so far in front of a screen of some description being grumpy whenever we force him to leave his room.  However, just a little bit of this …mt macedon and barwon heads 024

gave us a boy like this …mt macedon and barwon heads 023(He designed his hat by himself and apparently it will make sense to people who play minecraft)

A local ranger approached us and told us that dogs are not allowed on the part of the beach we were currently enjoying so we had to walk over a big, rocky hill to get to the dog friendly beach.  This was not a great prospect until we climbed up there and were treated to some lovely views.mt macedon and barwon heads 033

mt macedon and barwon heads 037This is our customary ‘Mum was here too’ picture – just to be sure that there are some pictures of me in our family chronicles!

When we rounded the corner, we could see the dog beach in the distance and there was no stopping us!mt macedon and barwon heads 039

This was the sign for the first dog beach – beach 30W – and providing we can keep Larry under effective control he is welcome on this beach.  Hmm, effective control.  Generally he is pretty good and doesn’t stray too far from us, but if he sees something he REALLY wants then he’s off like Fenton the Labrador and there’s no getting him back!!mt macedon and barwon heads 042

We decided to take the risk 😉 and it was well worth it because Larry LOVES the beach as much as we do!  (Dogs shaking water off their coats just cracks me up!!)

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There’s something about being at the beach that just gets everyone to drop their guard and let loose.mt macedon and barwon heads 045

Children who have spent the last couple of days sniping at each other are suddenly working together and their laughter can be heard right up the length of the beach.mt macedon and barwon heads 061

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Michael soon joined in while I retreated to the rocks with the camera.

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Ruby came to join me to dry off while the boys kept going back for more!mt macedon and barwon heads 077

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The boys stuck at it and they were all totally soaked but having a great time!

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We tried to get them to run around for a while to dry off.mt macedon and barwon heads 064

But the pull of the water was too great and they just couldn’t help themselves!mt macedon and barwon heads 068

Larry was the most sensible and sat with me while the boys went back for more.mt macedon and barwon heads 098

And Ruby took to guddling about in the sand to dry off some more.mt macedon and barwon heads 114

Just popping back when she found a shell or a rock that she thought was interesting.mt macedon and barwon heads 116

When it was time to go, Alexander went and lay in the sea instead.mt macedon and barwon heads 101

And Larry looked devastated (but handsome!)mt macedon and barwon heads 082

So Michael and Alexander recreated some movie scenes … here is Peeta hiding in The Hunger Gamesmt macedon and barwon heads 118 and Chariots of Fire – you’re humming the tune in your head aren’t you?!

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Then it really was time to go so we called Larry back …mt macedon and barwon heads 093

and head off home until next time.mt macedon and barwon heads 095

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Seven weeks on …

Seven weeks ago we saw an allergist to see if we could find the cause of Ruby’s eczema flare ups. We had tried to treat it with creams and by avoiding foods that we thought might trigger it but still she was left with regular flare ups. She had patches on her arms, legs, round her eyes and mouth.

The allergist gave her three different inhalers to use and put her on a low salicylate diet which would eliminate all salicylate from her system. Salicylate is a naturally occurring chemical which is present in most foods we eat every day – foods that we generally consider to be really healthy – and for some people their body doesn’t tolerate it well and this intolerance can manifest as stomach pain, joint pain, migraine, behavioural disturbance, sleep disturbance or eczema.

We decided to follow the diet as a family rather than have wee Ruby watching us all tucking into pizza while she has her bland chicken and green beans!

If you know our family or have followed my blog for any length of time then I am sure you can imagine how this went down with certain young, male, opinionated members of the household but we did it and I think it was good for all of us and know it was helpful for Ruby.

We went back today and the allergist was DELIGHTED with the progress Ruby has made and her dedication to her treatment. The skin on her arms is 95% better with most patches that have been present for years totally gone. There have previously been times when she was not in the middle of a flare up but the patches of damaged skin were always bumpy and rough – now you wouldn’t know that she ever had these areas on her arms. Her legs are probably about 60% better. There are still some visible patches there but none of the red, angry skin she had before. Her eyes are still a little flaky but not too bad. Best of all, her mouth hasn’t been red at all. This is the area that most bothers Ruby as everyone has an opinion on how to fix it and feels the need to comment or tell her to stop licking her lips.

So the upshot is – drumroll please – we can start adding different foods back in!!!! Hurrah!!!!

We have to add things one at a time and wait a week in between each addition but this is our plan – week one = apples, week two = carrots, week three = milk, week four = watermelon, week five = sweetcorn and then we’ll see where we go from there if she tolerates all that ok.

We celebrated this great news by going to a fancy schmancy cafe for an apple danish and some lemonade.

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What I am spending my wages on this year :)

As well as our limited diet to aid Ruby’s skin, we have been undertaking another project. It all started when we were referred to a ENT specialist because Ruby keeps getting tonsillitis. While we were there he expressed concerns about Ruby’s teeny weeny mouth and the resulting iddy biddy airway that she has. Removing her tonsils and adenoids will help with this a little (and will stop her getting the recurring infections) but the fact is that her jaw is dinky so he suggested that we take her along to a chap who does interceptive orthodontics. I said that Alexander is even smaller of face and he told us to get him there ASAP!

I didn’t really know what interceptive orthodontics were but I thought it was worth a look so I booked appointments for both kids. We went along and received a full consultation on both children. Without knowing ANYTHING about their history the orthodontist told me how they sleep (that Alexander finds it difficult to fall asleep but once he does he is very still and that Ruby moves around a lot and snores). He told me that A gets migraines but Ruby doesn’t (true). He knew that Ruby suffers a lot with tonsillitis. They both had full cranial scans which showed the massive overcrowding of teeth due to their lack of room for eruption. Alexander already has teeth in three rows like a shark! The scans also showed the extent of the restriction in Ruby’s airway – it is only a few millimetres wide for over three centimetres. This is ok while she’s awake and healthy, but when she’s asleep then her tongue falls backwards as her mouth is too small to accommodate it (she has a nine year old sized teeth and tongue in a six year old sized mouth) and blocks her airway and if she’s in the middle of a bout of tonsillitis then she has no chance!!

The program of interceptive orthodontics takes around 18 months and is done with removable plates which fit inside the mouth and gently, over time stretch the jaw creating space for the teeth to align and allowing the airways in the nose and throat to open when more space is created.

This is quite different from the orthodontic treatment I received (for which I am still incredibly grateful!). I had baby teeth removed when they refused to give way to the adult teeth and then when there wasn’t enough space for all my adult teeth, some of them were removed too! After that there were fixed braces to pull all those naughty teeth into line. My teeth are indeed straight and I’m really grateful that my parents made the commitment to getting me sorted. It was a pretty invasive process though and has left me with less teeth than I am designed for which means that I have a recessive jaw, partially erupted wisdom teeth with nowhere to go and a smaller than optimal airway. Somehow I have struggled through to the grand old age of 35 and I’m just as gorgeous as I need to be 😉

As part of their treatment, Alexander and Ruby took part in a sleep study. Having watched them sleep since day one, there weren’t many many surprises. I know that Ruby wriggles about like an octopus in bed and that Alexander never sleeps on his left hand side – the study agreed! What I wasn’t expecting was the fact that Ruby wakes 90 times per night – not just slips into light sleep but wakes up, gets her breath back and then goes back to sleep. We all do it a bit apparently but at her age, this level of disturbance is classed as moderate obstructive sleep apnoea. The reason that she has always been my ‘good sleeper’ is that her wee brain is so used to having to go STRAIGHT to sleep in order to get enough in!! Apparently a snoring baby is not normal and should always be investigated. This was news to me and I felt terribly guilty that I had left it until she is nine years old to do anything about it!

So they were fitted for their braces. Another change from the days I had mine, the kids could choose any colour, have pictures or their name on their plates. Ruby chose a rainbow brace with her name AND a giraffe on it!!!20131114-221252.jpg

Alexander, on the other hand, just asked for a plain white one!! He was never one for gimmicks!

They had some pictures taken for before and after comparisons …
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Ruby’s bottom jaw is fairly small but her top jaw is tiny which gives her face a bottom-heavy appearance, means there is not much space in her nasal cavity for breathing and leaves her tongue with nowhere to go and so she breathes through her mouth which in turn slows down the natural expansion of the top jaw (the repeated pressure of the tongue against the hard palate is one factor of helping the top jaw expand).

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Alexander’s teeth (check out that overbite!!! He does have lower teeth in there somewhere!!)

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Closed mouth smile

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As usual, my kids are chalk and cheese!! In Alexander’s case, it’s the bottom jaw which is tiny giving him a recessive, pointy chin (like mine :)) and leaving him no space for six teeth jostling for position! This results in a sore and clicky and restricted movement of the jaw (see how few teeth you can see when he smiles?)

Smile with teeth showing

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At the end of all this, they may or may not need fixed braces for cosmetic reasons but I am fully confident that their long term health will be improved. These pictures were taken six weeks ago and in that time their teeth have already moved dramatically. I find the process rather fascinating (as you may be able to tell!) and think that the whole idea of treating the whole body rather than just the cosmetic appearance of the mouth makes total sense.

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Marshmallow Toasting Upgrade!

So at the end of my last post I said that me might fancy getting a fire pit.  It just so happened that they were on special at a shop here in town so off I trollied and bought one!

It had it’s first outing tonight.Fire Pit 001What a difference a week makes – last time we were outside in fleeces and it was dark – hooray for daylight savings!Fire Pit 008Living in a place where even the tiniest spark can cause millions of dollars worth of damage as well as loss of life due to bushfires, there are some rules we have to abide by if we want to light a fire.Fire Pit 005Fires cant be lit on ‘Total Fire Ban’ days – in Victoria we won’t get these until summer, and even then there may only be a few.  They are announced on hot, windy days and that’s when everyone gets a bit twitchy.Fire Pit 020Fires have to be three metres from anything – luckily this means that we have room for our fire pit right in the middle of our garden as it runs along the length of our house and is about seven metres deep.Fire Pit 024We keep water close by the fire just in case and it’s always used to totally extinguish the fire when it’s done.  We can’t just leave the embers to cool, they have to be soaked.Fire Pit 029But as those are all pretty easy rules to live by, we can still enjoy our fire pit.Fire Pit 040A time without technology, just us hanging out together.Fire Pit 003

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Marshmallow Fun at Park Towers

As marshmallows are pretty much the only sweetie we can have now, we decided to make the most of them and have a little impromptu backyard bonfire. I say ‘impromptu’ but in actual fact I suggested it early in the day and then Ruby asked approximately every five minutes if it was time to build the fire.

Both kids are loving their time at Guides and Scouts and have learned how to make fires this term. At guides, we practise our fire building in aluminium pie tins so Ruby and I went to buy a big roasting dish. The kids went to the park and collected sticks from the ground – there were lots because there have been really high winds recently and the trees here just give up when it’s windy!!

Finally, when it was dark, we went out to build our fire. It took a while to get going but once Michael snapped THE ONLY skewers we had, which were carefully placed on top of the packet of marshmallows – well away from all the wood we were using, and threw them on the fire it all started going nicely!!

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We got some forks to use instead and once the fire was going we set about toasting!

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Which is a very serious business, don’t you know?!

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It takes some work to get them exactly how you like them!

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Unless you are like Alexander and like to cremate them!!

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It was a fun thing to do on a Saturday night and has made us think that maybe we’d like to look into getting a fire pit …

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Day three in the Low Salicylate House

Today was a bit more of a rational day :). I had a realisation – part of the reason that I was losing perspective about this whole process was because I was making BRAND NEW STUFF that took ages without the guarantee of success. I thought that instead of making stuff from the recipe book I would adapt some recipes that I have been cooking for years.

I started with a big pot of Lentil soup – adapted from a recipe that we call Ruby’s 1, 2, 3 Lentil. Ruby made up the recipe when she was four and we were compiling a charity recipe book to raise money for a special needs facility devastated by the Boxing Day Tsunami. A low salicylate diet excludes onions and carrots, so these were out. Also, we had to use our own stock as commercial stocks are not allowed.

I chopped some leeks, potatoes and garlic and sautéed them in some olive oil and dairy free marg. when they had all softened I added the stock some more water and a couple of handfuls of red lentils. When they had softened up and it was all becoming mushy I blended it and added some shredded chicken. Dinner for tonight – DONE!

Next I moved on to sausage rolls. I put chopped up leeks, turnip, a tin of drained and rinsed kidney beans and a handful of green beans in the food processor. I tipped all of these into a bowl and then added some chicken thighs to the food processor, zapping them to make mince. This mixed into the veggie mixture and then I put big stripes of this mixture along some puff pastry, rolled them up then sealed and glazed them with beaten egg. They smelled really good while they were cooking and they looked like real sausage rolls!! They didn’t quite taste like my usual sausage rolls (I make these with courgette, apple and lemon mixed into the chicken mince) but I think they will pass!

After all this cooking, I had to dash off to work for the late shift and hope that Michael and the Parklets would like what I had left!

So today’s menu was
Breakfast – Porridge with rice milk for A, toast and pear jam for R
Lunch – vegetable strudel for A, leftover pasta for R – muffins with pear jam and a biscuit for both
Dinner – massive bowl of lentil soup with crusty bread for all – hurrah!!

I have a few more ‘recipe adaptations’ in the pipeline 🙂

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Day Two in the Low Salicylate House

It was another day of non-stop cooking. Now if you’d asked me a week ago if I liked cooking then the answer would be a resounding ‘yes’! I love trying new recipes and I am usually pretty happy with the results – as are at least 75% people in my house (you know the phrase ‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time’? Well, never is that more true than round the Park dinner table so I have come to realise that 75% is a win!)

Well today I lost every bit of that enjoyment!! I know very well what happens when you add yeast to water and how long it takes for onions to go translucent when sautéed in olive oil but I have no idea how rice flour or potato flour comes together in a dough or how long leeks take to sauté in dairy free margarine! Everything takes forever and doesn’t work how I expect it to!

I don’t react well to frustration. I am prone to catastrophising and I will readily admit that standing in the kitchen today, surrounded by every dish I own (dirty) and three not particularly appetising snacks I did think ‘We’re all going to die of scurvy’ and ‘#%*! this, she can just put cream on her skin!’.

And Michael couldn’t even talk me down with a chocolate biscuit and a cup of tea!!

So on the menu today –
Breakfast – porridge made with rice milk (Alexander liked it – Ruby not so much)
Lunch – Vegetable strudels (potato, turnip and green beans inside rice and potato flour pastry – meh)
Dinner – Pasta with green beans, celery and leeks with chicken and homemade chicken stock then rice pudding with tinned pears for afters. (Ruby loved the pasta but not the dessert, Alexander didn’t like the pasta but loved the pudding – see, 75%)

I also made some vanilla cookies and English muffins for lunch boxes through the week.

I hope this makes a huge difference to Ruby because at the moment I am not loving it!

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