Friday, January 1, 2016

Healthy Eating Challenge

The Avison fam is doing a healthy eating challenge starting today, for the month of January. Last year JJ and I completed The Whole 30 in January, but that just seemed pretty extreme for including the kids and plus, wine. 

This year we are challenging our family to eat more produce and protein and less of our fall back foods (like yogurt, bread and fast food). 

On Christmas Eve, we ran out of yogurt and I don't think Remy ate more than 200 calories in three days (I called it my "starve out" sure that she'd eventually eat something when she was hungry enough and she did!). Four days ago we ran out of juice and much to my great surprise, Remy has slept through the night every night since (she must have been drinking so much during the day and wetting too much at night, at least that is my best guess). 

Basically, we are cutting out gluten, dairy and sugar (except for some exceptions: they can have whatever their snack is at school and church and also the snack that is offered after Finn's basketball games). We also have a chart on the refrigerator where the kids can earn points, that turn into dollars, for eating fruits and veggies that they currently think they don't like. 

I'm not really a huge New Years resolution person, but am excited to focus on eating a little healthier as a family. Plus I made gluten free breakfast cookies this morning, so there's that. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Bonanza

For the last six weeks or so, I've been on a reading spree of great books. One after another, I've been so happy with my picks lately. Here are the best of the best I've read lately: 

I started this book around 8:30pm one evening after the kids went to bed and didn't go to sleep until I finished shortly before 3am.  And I didn't even regret it the next morning. This book is a fictional account of a college student who ends up interviewing a convicted rapist and murderer who is on the edge of death. It's a pretty commercial mystery, but I found Eskens writing style to be very beautiful at times, the descriptions he uses bring the various settings to life. I was hooked after the first paragraph.

Apparently everyone has read this but me. I honestly hadn't even heard of it until it popped up on one of my list recommendations on Amazon. "The Light Between Oceans" tells the story of a lightkeeper and his wife, who live alone on a remote island in Australia, only getting to visit the mainland and civilization every three years or so. Days after having a stillborn baby boy, following multiple miscarriages, a baby and her dead father wash up on shore in a boat. The couple decide to keep the baby, telling the mainland that their birth was successful. Upon returning to shore two years later, they discover that the mother of the baby is not only still living, but has driven herself crazy wondering what happened. This book is equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful. I absolutely loved it. 

I just finished this one yesterday. I read the whole thing basically straight through (sorry, kids, mom is back from her book exile). I've never read a Krakauer book that hasn't grabbed my interest immediately. This was no different. The book is a non-fiction account of four or five rapes that occurred over a two year period in Missoula by members of the beloved Griz, the college football team. Krakauer delves into these crimes, specifically looking at the way it appears the district attorneys refused to take them to trial because of "lack of evidence" even when the police had obtained legally recorded confessions and eye-witness accounts. The theme of the book, really, is the fact that our nation is allowing our successful athletes to cover up their wrong-doings (not just sexual deviancy) to keep them playing on our teams. Warning, I wouldn't read this if you've faced a sexual crime. It is very graphic in describing what was done to these young women. Don't read it without being prepared to witness some ugly brutality. 

Ah, probably my favorite of the bunch. This fiction book profiles a family of two teenage girls and their grandmother living in extreme poverty in the 1960s in North Carolina. During that time period (and about 50 odd years surrounding it) North Carolina had a huge system of sterilizing anyone they felt shouldn't reproduce (not healthy enough, too poor, mentally ill). This book jumps back and forth between this family doing their best to survive and the social worker wrestling with a Eugenics policy that she disagrees with but is require to enforce. I couldn't start another book for a week or so after reading this because I just wasn't ready to let these characters go yet. It's such an awful slice of our country's history that most of us know very little about.

This could battle "Necessary Lies" as my favorite book of the summer. This novel chronicles the life of Claire, a young woman in the 1920s, who is institutionalized by her father when he is unhappy with the man she decides to marry. The book tells the horrors of how the mentally ill (or not, but accused by whoever holds the purse strings) were treated in our country for a long time. This book is pretty much just one heartbreaking event after another, and yet you continue to love Claire and root for her to come up on top. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finn's Project- Part 2

The kids and I hit Walmart this morning and $50 later (gasp!) we had our craft supplies and some snacks. 

Finn's idea was to make paper hats. It didn't exactly happen. The kids all painted plates but then ended up playing together most of the morning. 

Finn did have a bit of a meltdown when everyone started leaving because he had thought they would go in and finish after playing, but at that point it was closing in on 1:00 and everyone needed to go home for lunch and naps. It passed quickly and I think overall, they all had a good time. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Finn's Project

We had dinner with our friends the Kurtz fam tonight and on the drive home, Finn had an idea. 

"Can we have some friends over for a surprise project tomorrow?"

After I asked a few questions, he told me that he had an idea for a craft project and wanted to invite some friends over to do it with him. 

I really tried to get him to let me help, but he was confident that he could figure it out by himself. He very seriously found some scratch paper and had me write out his list. 

I still don't know what the project is. I texted a bunch of his buddies' moms and we have a crew coming over tomorrow around 11:00. 

This was such a good reminder to let him run with his ideas! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Grain Free Breakfast Ideas

If you read my earlier post, you know that we are eating gluten free around our home these days.  I'm trying really hard though, to not just replace our regular food items with gluten free items, but to actually eat real, clean food.  I'm not perfect (right now Finn is eating a deli ham sandwich on gluten free bread) but I'm really making an effort towards eating whole food.

Breakfast is the hardest because none of us, the kids or JJ and I, really love eggs.  Go on Pinterest and search "Paleo Breakfasts" or "Primal Breakfasts" and basically everything is eggs.  Not our thing at all.  But, I've found a few recipes that are working great for us, so I thought I'd share.

(Side note: if you don't have "Eat Like a Dinosaur" and are trying to eat gluten free with your kids, go to Amazon and buy it right now.  Yum, yum and yum!)

Fluffy Paleo Pancakes (from "The Paleo Kid" cookbook)

2 under-ripe bananas
2 eggs
1.5 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla 
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth and bubbly. 

Frozen Waffles (from "Eat Like a Dinosaur")

1 banana
1 apple, peeled and cored
1 cup of almond or sunflower butter
2 eggs
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
almond or coconut milk, as needed

Puree apple and banana in blender or food processor.
Use the whisk attachment on your electric mixer and whip nut butter on high for 2-3 minutes until smooth.
Add puree to your nut butter and remaining ingredients and whip until combined.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (from "Eat Like a Dinosaur")

1 cup almond or sunflower butter
4 eggs
1 over ripe banana
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

In food processor or blender, puree all ingredients except chocolate chips.
Fold chocolate chips into batter.
Scoop 1/4 cup batter into each cup of greased muffin pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gluten Free

Finn is now eating gluten free.  I won't go into every little detail, but here is how we got there: Finn has always been a very passionate, opinionated kid.  He would often get really upset when something didn't go his way or didn't seem fair.  But in November, we started really noticing an upswing in the meltdowns.  He was having longer times of being upset, over what seemed like pretty minor things. Frankly, he felt out of control sometimes and what was worse to me, after it was over he couldn't explain what was going on.

For years, I had read about how a gluten free, dye free, low sugar diet can do wonders for kids with ADHD or on the Autism Spectrum.  I don't think Finn has any of these disorders, but I figured if it helps a lot with those, it might make a difference for Finn too.

At the end of November we decided to give it a shot. After about two days, we already saw a significant improvement in his ability to calm down and regulate himself.  He was still a kid, he would still get upset, but we weren't seeing those "raging" episodes (as I called them.)

We kept him pretty fully gluten free for a little over a month and then after the holidays, the kids both got tummy bugs.  Finn was actually doing fine with being sick, but my own memories of being sick as a kid pushed into my mind and I remembered my mom always giving me white toast.  I got a loaf and then, being the all or nothing person that I am, just basically stopped watching gluten at all with him.

At first nothing. I told everyone that I didn't think it was making a difference because we were seeing no change at all with adding gluten back in.  Then bam! About ten days after we reintroduced gluten, the meltdowns starting happening again, as bad as ever.  Both JJ and I, individually, experienced pretty big ones over a couple of days.  It was an easy decision to cut out the gluten again.

It's been a little over a week since we went off again and not one meltdown. He still gets upset about things, obviously, he's a normal kid, but he doesn't have that out of control feeling that he was getting pretty often before.  I'm convinced.

I'm not saying that he's never going to ever have anything again with gluten.  He will. But as much as we have control, we are going to keep him gluten free.

(And just a side note and an example of why I love Finn's preschool so much. They celebrated MLKs birthday and bought Finn a special gluten free cake.  Seriously, aren't they the best? If you are looking for a preschool, you have to check out Chemeketa's Child Development Center.  They are so great!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Our "Best Ever" Pancakes

About four of five months ago, Finn decided that the only thing he wanted for breakfast was pancakes. Really. We have pancakes for breakfast at least five mornings a week. 

I've been trying to perfect a recipe that's a little healthier than a typical white flour pancake. And ta-da! Today was the day. 

This recipe is VERY loosely based off the "Best Ever Pancakes" recipe on It makes a huge batch (the pic below is what was left after the kids and I ate our fill!). I freeze the leftovers in baggies of six; four for Finn and two for Remy. 

Finn's Best Ever Pancakes:
2 eggs, separated 
4 TB sugar
6 TB butter, melted
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Dash of salt
1 1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup Annie's cultured yogurt 

In small bowl, mix flours, wheat bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt. (If you don't have wheat bran, just use another 1/2 cup whole wheat flour.)

In Kitchenaid bowl, mix egg yolks and sugar. 

Add flour mixture until completely mixed. 

Add milk and yogurt. (You could also use buttermilk or sour cream in place of the yogurt. I've done both.)

Add butter and egg whites.