From the Archives: Photos from our September 2011 San Diego Trip

I will email myself post titles and photos for later dates but this collection of pictures has been languishing and I wanted to give them a home.  I hope these snippets are of interest, but if not it is fun for me to revisit fond memories.

This is a photo of some of the “fast food” we packed for the trip – I did a lot of cooking (see here for two posts on the subject, Traveling with food allergies Part 1 and 2) but you never know if stores will have shelf stable staples you run to multiple stores to get when you’re even just at home.  Of course the caveat is always that you have to decide based on labels whether products are safe for your family but we’ve had luck with a few boxed rices (yes, I do use them when I’m in a hurry!) and some gluten free vegan breads.

Some roses from R’s and my almost daily walks near our hotel, I just loved them.  I really need to walk with the kids more while the weather is nice here, I have been toying with the idea of trying to train for a 5k but I will need to get some air into the jogger tires before I get much further in my armchair planning.

The last of some photos that didn’t make it into my vacation recap posts, this was the centerpiece of the table in the hotel lobby area where people would gather on weeknights for free dinner.  With allergy considerations we brought our own food to the area and ate at the table (though my husband and mother in law did get to eat dinner and I grabbed some fresh veggies for myself and the kids).  E loved this centerpiece, it had tiny baby birds in the center and was so simple but pretty that I had to snap a picture with my cellphone camera to remember to recreate it someday.  Not that there’ll ever be a time when breakables are a good idea as decor but you never know!

Pattern Teaching Tip: “Taking Turns”

About two months ago (yes, I am very behind on my posting queue!) I was trying to turn making a paper chain into a learning experience for my daughter E.  I’d laid out colored strips and done a few iterations of a pattern with her (A, B, C) but when I’d say, “what comes next?” she just would pick whatever struck her fancy.  Which is fine except that I wanted her to try to mimic the pattern in this instance.  I decided to turn it into a little story.  Each strip of paper (red, green, and yellow) wanted to go down the (imaginary) slide, I said, and she had to help me make certain they took turns.  Right away she was the arbiter of fairness, telling red it wasn’t their turn yet, etc.  So I think that something that was clear to me, saying here’s a pattern, can you continue it, was not communicating to E what I really had in mind.  Making the strips of paper take turns (and try to sneak extra turns before their time) really helped.

(I debated whether or not to share this but if one of my favorite sites, Parent Hacks, taught me anything, it is that it is good to share your “aha” moments in case they’ll help someone else.  I’ve shared this post on another favorite site of mine, No Time For Flashcards’ Weekly Link & Learn.)

Hidden Falls Park

Henderson has been kicking it into high gear with new park openings, Hidden Falls Park had a grand opening on January 7, 2012 and though we skipped the official opening day, several days later we visited the park with some friends.

I have to say, it is a hard park to find.  The official address is 281 W. Horizon Ridge Drive but using Google Maps navigation I was guided to an empty lot near a Vons Supermarket.  When you exit the US 95 heading south you’ll turn right onto Horizon on that exit of the same name and follow the road until it winds up what looks like a dead end but what is instead a hill.  Pass the dog park and you’ll see the playground on the right.

There are also trails that we’d love to return and explore but I understand that they are not for strollers, they are pretty much walking trails.  They have a dedicated dog park which is nice since E is allergic to dogs and it is best they are in their own area but we saw dogs on the main playground anyway (not that they’re disallowed, they just have to be on leashes and I’d assumed with a dog park people would keep their dogs over there).

The playground equipment is nice for toddlers but what I love is that there are hills near the play equipment and the kids loved running up and down even more than they loved swinging on the swings (isn’t that always the way?).

Hopefully some of these photos from my cellphone give you an idea of the scenery and offerings of the park, it is out of the way for us (as most Henderson Parks are) but I think if you are driving anyway it is worth the trip.  Also, I have tried two Las Vegas parks recently with the children and one we had to leave because it was broken and dirty and the other was okay but also had signs of vandalism.  I opted not to feature them because I like the idea of giving positive park options for those looking for free outings in and around Las Vegas.

Vegan and Allergen Free Carrot Ginger Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream Frosting Photos

The name is a mouthful but these cupcakes (Carrot Ginger Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream Frosting) need many descriptors for all the great flavors involved.  I made these for the year-end birthday of my mother in law, I let her decide what she’d like to have as a treat (though she doesn’t need to eat allergy free, she does when she is visiting).  Carrot cake is a favorite of hers and she loved these!  In the Allergen Free Baker’s Handbook (amazon affiliate link), Cybele Pascal writes that these are her favorite cupcakes in the book and they are truly tasty.

I have made these before but never with fresh ginger (which I had on hand because we have been buying it to make Mama Pea’s green juice) and fresh orange juice.  If you’re shredding carrots and end up with too many you can use the rest for cole slaw, which reminds me I should share that recipe soon.  I do want to share more original recipes but still continue with my goal of testing (and sharing the results) of other recipes.

We’ve been eating this way for two years now, January is a weird time to remember the shock of the initial diagnosis.  It is also time to refill our epi-pen prescription.  However, I wrote a post called “On the Bright Side…” that I submitted to “Circle of Moms” (a link repository of sorts) that you can read here, if interested.  It wasn’t selected by them to be featured but 20 days after submission I am allowed to post a link to it.  I think it is timely to share; here’s the excerpt about her:

Did you know family can be awesome?  I kid you not!  When we got the full diagnosis of my daughter’s extensive allergies I did the only thing I could think of: I took every single allergen out of the house that I could.  Food, makeup, lotion, you name it.  I was not left with much but my mother in law was in the trenches with me, combing store shelves for “safe” food.  Then she started pulling out our bowls and combined sugar, quinoa flour, and some other odds and ends.  I was not sure what to make of it but when the quinoa cookies came out of the oven I ate six.  She spent three days making “tohu” (tofu out of garbanzo beans) & then adapted a vegan cheesecake for me.  She perfected a pancake recipe, a tortilla recipe, a biscuit recipe.  I’d say I missed baked beans and suddenly she was at work.  So next time you read of family acting like allergies are made up, think of Ma Liz (as my daughter calls her) being a chemist in the kitchen and a sleuth in the stores for her granddaughter and for the mom breastfeeding her. (read more here)

Oh, and she let E help her blow out the candle.  E’s wish?  “To blow out the candle.”

Ethel M Chocolates 18th Annual Cactus Garden Lights

We’ve been a few years now and you can’t beat this for a winter activity in Las Vegas.  It is free and the lights are beautiful.  I have yet to see the garden during the day time, it is on my to-do list for spring though.  We did also go to the Springs Preserve Holiday Spectacular this year as I had won free tickets on Twitter but the lights at the Preserve were nothing like at the Ethel M Chocolates Cactus Garden.

There’s also a factory tour and a shop where they sell chocolates (Ethel M is one of the “M”s in “M&M”s) but food allergy families will want to steer clear of that detour.  You just walk from the parking lot to the garden.  They have pictures with Santa as well if you are interested in that sort of thing.  We go a little before 5pm on a weekday and have never had trouble with parking, it does get busier as the night goes on though.  The gardens are becoming a family tradition for us, seeing them each year never gets old.  I especially loved that this year R was not prone to fits of crying in the car.  He was really great the whole time.  So appreciative of that aspect of babies growing into toddlers.

I suppose this makes for an odd New Year post but I have found, upon reflection, that my most loved moments this year were out of doors.  Swimming in the ocean with my husband, playing in the snow with my family, or just playing out in our yard on long summer evenings.  Here’s to even more being together and being outside in 2012.  Happy New Year!