May 24, 2015

Sprouting—I've Been Growing Actual Food On My Countertop!

bean sprouts

I've been sprouting! And not just that one persistent hair on my chin. Thank you hormones. I'm sprouting beans. I am growing actual food like a farmer, only my field is my kitchen counter.

While perusing the The Green Living Show in Toronto a few months ago, I came across the Sprouting World booth. I had no idea sprouting was even a thing. I'd never really thought about where bean sprouts came from. I just assumed they came from Whole Foods.

Of course you can buy sprouts and sprouted salads from a variety of quality grocery stores, but you'll pay mega beans. Sprouting dried organic beans at home is a much more economical option. Plus, it's fast food (in a good way), totally easy to do, and the kids love watching the beans sprout. It's like a science project on our counter 24/7.

Since our family started following a veganish diet, we've bean (pun intended) enjoying having this fresh and nutritious bounty at our fingertips. Blended in a smoothie, added to a sandwich, sprinkled on top of soup, in a salad or simply eaten by the handful (sprouted green peas taste like fresh peas from the pod) there are lots of ways to enjoy sprouted beans and seeds.

After learning about the benefits of these nutrient packed little superfood sprouts, I was sold. I bought a sprouter and a starter pack of mung beans.

I have something sprouting on my counter every single day. So far I have "harvested" mung beans, lentils, adzukis beans, chick peas, green peas, kamut, alfalfa, and radish seeds.
Image via Sprouting World

The process is VERY simple. To sprout your own beans and seeds, simply follow these instructions.

1.  Put about 2-4 tablespoons of beans into the mesh tray.
2.  Rinse the beans under the tap and put about 1 cup of water into the base.
4.  Put the mesh tray into the base so the bottom of the tray is just touching the water and place the lid loosely on top—the gases produced during germination need to escape.
5.  Place the sprouter on your countertop—somewhere that is not sunny.
6.  After 12 hours, rinse the beans well under the tap and change the water in the base. The first time you do this the water will be brownish—this is the by-product of germination. Use this to water your houseplants. They love it!
7.  Every 12 hours rinse the beans under the tap and put fresh water in the base.
8.  The sprouts are ready to eat when you see a shoot growing out of the bean about half the length of the bean. If you leave the sprouts (continue to rinse and change the water every 12 hours) the shoots will keep growing, eventually with leaves.
9.  Your sprouted beans can be rinsed, dried with a clean tea towel or paper towel and stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Sprouting is spectacular. Try it! I know you'll love it

sprouting photo sprouting_zpsyz8oakvc.gif

FYI—this post is not sponsored. I paid for this product with my own moola. I loved it so much I had to share because sprouting is, well, cool beans. 

May 22, 2015

Four Photo Friday

If you write or read blogs you’re probably familiar with Wordless Wednesday—a post comprised of a title and a photo intended to evoke a feeling or a mood.

I have a hard time with wordless. Shocking, I know.

I enjoy looking at posts with more photos than words some days. Especially at the end of the week when my attention span is a done bun. So how about a weekly post called Four Photo Friday? Four photos and a word or two to sum up the little (or big) moments that made up the week.

Here's my first Four Photo Friday post... 

Posted something for Four Photo Friday? 
I'd love to see your pics!
 Add your link to the comments.

May 18, 2015

Is It Time For A Puntervention?

I appreciate a good pun, but not everyone feels the same. Some shun the pun and quietly seethe in the punner's general direction.

Sure this type of word play may not be the most sophisticated form of literature, but if one finds joy in a simple turn of phrase, what's the harm?

I once had a three week twitter convo flinging shoe puns back and forth with a fellow punster. A few people piped up to tell us to hold our tongues, but alas we chose not to tread lightly and instead ran ahead and even amped it up a bit to boot. 

If puns make you want to pun-ch a wall, then move along.

But if a silly string of puns makes you smile, take a few minutes to listen to this recent skit from CBC's "Irrelevant Show." It's only a matter of time before my family does this to me. Well, after they take care of my mother (the matriarchal punner of our family) first.

Check out this "puntervention." Puns—hate them or love them, this skit is for you! Listen Here.

As a pun-lover and a photoshop addict, this image brings me ever so much joy. 

May 15, 2015

Decisions—Growing Pains Update

When I wrote about recent Growing Pains with our daughter so many of you jumped in to offer support, compassion and some kick ass advice. We all know it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes that same village to support a family who's spinning in circles, not knowing what to do. Thank you village. Sincerely.

We've stopped spinning. For now at least.

We met with a wonderful pediatric endocrinologist yesterday at Sick Kids. I can't say often enough how lucky we are to live just a short drive away from this world class children's hospital.

With the support of a wonderful doctor and her team, we have decided to put off Avery's impending human growth hormone treatment for at least six months. Pheeeeeee-ew.

We learned the injections are nothing to fear. After the learning curve, they will become just another part of our daily routine. I can live with this. It's the fear of the C word that has temporarily stopped us in our tracks.

Avery's pituitary does not produce enough HGH. The answer to why is hidden somewhere deep within her unique genetic make-up. But also lurking there in the shadows are other unthinkable possibilities.

In this modern medical age we have a fairly comprehensive, albeit rudimentary, picture of Avery's DNA which includes the names and (some) functions of missing and duplicated genes. As well, we have snippets of information about diseases that may potentially crop up.

Will these diseases occur? Maybe yes. Maybe no. God, hopefully no. According solely to her genetic profile, Avery by all accounts should be showing signs of Limb Girdle Muscular Distrophy. She is not. Because we know that the gene responsible for this disease is one of damaged genes in Avery's DNA, we spent months worrying about the onset of this devastating disease that has never actually and thankfully, come to be. The neurologist says if there aren't yet signs of this disease now, there never will be. And...exhale...

The world of genetics is a wild and unpredictable place. So many factors combine to make us who we are. Though our child has a faulty chromosome 3, she also has a fully intact copy. That, along with her unique personality, environment and all of her other genes, including one damaged copy of chromosome 9, make Avery completely unique—all of these factors interplay to create the unexpected.

Recent research involving chromosome 9 suggests that one of the duplicated genes in Avery's damaged section of C9 is responsible for a form of leukemia. Will this disease manifest itself in Avery's lifetime? We certainly hope not, but nobody can say for sure.

Human growth hormone does not cause cancer. It is a very safe form of hormone therapy. But when a cancer is present, the introduction of HGH can trigger its onset and accelerate cancer growth.

It's a risk—small, but one we're not ready to take right now.

Avery's height, if her DNA was "normal" was predicted to have been in the area of 5'9. Yes, she was destined to be a statuesque Thornbury woman. Without HGH treatment she will likely reach a height just shy of 5ft. But, with treatment doctors predict (it's kind of a crap shoot to be honest) she will reach a height somewhere around 5'2ish—thus making adult life somewhat easier in terms of clothing, driving a car, riding the big roller coasters. All the really important things. ;)

There are just too many unknowns and more research to do before we can confidently proceed with any treatment. Thankfully, we have lots of time before the onset of puberty begins to fuse growth plates and the window of growth opportunity closes.

We're going to ask more questions, weigh the pros and cons, and most importantly, take this reprieve to enjoy every inch of our little girl without worrying about the what ifs because... is short. And so is Avery. :) But short is also sweet and beautiful and healthy and perfection.

May 13, 2015

Growing Pains

large houseplant

When I say our daughter is our little girl, I mean to say that she’s our little girl and she’s a little girl. She’s been following her own curve on the growth chart since she was born—way down at the bottom, around the 3rd percentile. Sometimes lower.

Her adult height has been predicted to be around the 5ft mark give or take. Our main concern when she was younger was always her weight. A bony baby who refuses to nurse or eat even the tiniest meal is not for the faint of heart.

We worked extremely hard to put weight on her (it's still a struggle most days), only narrowly avoiding G-tube surgery. There was no secret bullet, only patience, persistence and possibly a deal with the devil. With our focus on all things high fat, nutrition packed, appropriate texture, etc. we didn’t worry much about her height. Until recently.

We were sent for a consultation with a pediatric endocrinologist upon the recommendation of our pediatric neurologist who had concerns about her overall growth.

After a bone age test—a simple x-ray of the growth plate in one hand—we learned that Avery’s growth measures at age four (she is eight). She then underwent growth hormone testing at Sick Kids Hospital to find out how much HGH she produces. Although her body makes growth hormone, it's not nearly enough. Where most people produce a level 5, her production falls somewhere in the range of 0.2 - 3.5.

Tomorrow we visit Sick Kids once more to learn how to administer growth hormone injections. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m afraid. I have a list of questions and concerns as long as my arm. Side-effects, cancer risks, other risks? And do the benefits outweigh those risks?

And did I mention the injections? INJECTIONS. Pardon my French but fark moi. I have to jab my baby in the abdomen every day for the better part of the next decade? The idea makes me sick.

What will I tell her tomorrow??

Avery has been in and out of the hospital often over the past eight years—sometimes to stay, but mostly just for specialist appointments. In the early days, she had no concept of pain and there was no fear. But since having blood drawn last year, and the I.V. they used to steadily administer the HGH during the recent testing, she has started questioning doctor’s visits. “Will it hurt mommy? No hurting right? Just talking, right?” Because mostly, it is just talking and it doesn't hurt a bit. 

Tomorrow might hurt. Or at least in the days to follow. And the thought of me doing the hurting? I can’t even… Mamas aren’t supposed to inflict pain on their children.

*I know there are worse things to deal with. This will be a mere blip in the history of our family. I know. And I also understand how fortunate we are to have this medical opportunity to make our daughter's life better. This treatment can cost upwards of $40,000 per year making it unaffordable for so many. But since Avery has a solid diagnosis that indicates HGH will be beneficial, it is covered under our provincial health insurance. We are lucky. I know.