Birthday and a Recipe

One year ago today I became a mama, and I am so thankful for my sweet girl who teaches me something new each day.  
The past year went much differently than I imagined it would one year ago.  Things weren’t as carefree as I would have hoped, and there was more sadness than there should have been. But.

There has been so much good, and while it’s true that being a parent stretches you in ways you didn’t think were possible, the good is so good. 
We had a fun party for J yesterday.  She had her first bite of cake, got great gifts, and got to see family from far away, and I think I managed to absorb the actual moments, and be present. 
Last night when I was putting her to bed, I told her how the next morning she would be one year old, and how happy I am to get to be her mama.  I think she understood, because she woke up in the middle of the night and would not go back to sleep anywhere other than lying on my chest.  As if to say, ‘it’s okay mama, don’t worry, I’m still your little baby for a while longer yet.’

Now for a little recipe...

I searched for literally months for the right first birthday cake for Juniper.  I went back and forth about whether to make it from coconut flour, or from soaked flour, and I had a really hard time finding something that didn't have nut flour, sugar, honey, or a bunch of semi-complicated steps.   A few weeks ago she had coconut flour pancakes and loved them.  That sealed the deal.  For her special day I thought including her old standby favorite, banana, would be a good call.  The recipe I used is technically a banana bread recipe, but, really, banana bread is just cake without frosting, so with a cream cheese frosting, sweetened with maple syrup, we had a cake that was enjoyed by all.  This is the lightest, most 'normal' flour tasting recipe I've had using coconut flour.  Sifting is a KEY step!

Paleo First Birthday Banana Cake
Adapted from mygutsy.com
I got one (thin) 6 inch cake and 9 cupcakes
3/4 c coconut flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
4 pastured eggs
6 T melted butter (or coconut oil)
3 really ripe bananas
5 T grade B maple syrup
1 T vanilla

Preheat the oven to 300.  Line pans with parchment, -or- butter and flour your pans (using regular flour.  Obviously this is not paleo, but I don't think coconut flour would work to release the cake from the pans).  Sift flour. Whisk together dry ingredients.  Beat bananas until smooth, add butter until combined, add eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Stir in dry ingredients until just evenly moist.  Pour batter into pans.  This batter does not rise or even out during baking, so smooth the top of the batter as best you can.  Bake for about an hour, until edges are brown and coming away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for at least 15 minutes, then allow to cool completely out of pans on a rack.  Refrigerating before frosting would probably be easiest.  

12 oz organic, cultured, cream cheese, room temp
9 T butter, room temp
2 T organic raw sugar (or to taste)
1/4- 1/3 grade B maple syrup
1 tsp no alcohol vanilla (I use TJs brand)

Combine all ingredients and beat until well combined and a little fluffy.  Check for sweetness and add more sugar or maple syrup if desired.  I like a tangy cream cheese frosting, but you might like it sweeter. You could probably do the maple syrup on its own, but I was worried about it thinning the frosting too much, and overall there is a very small amount of cane sugar in the recipe.

For this cake, I recommend doing a thin 'crumb layer' of frosting, refrigerating cake until cold, and then adding your final layer of frosting. 


Do what you love, love what you do

This day, one year ago, we went to our town earth fair and the stars aligned and I went into labor that night. I finally wrote Juniper's birth story, which I had planned to share today. We got some sad news in our little town, however, so for today I will just say: love what you do and hold those dear to you close, because you just never know.



Today I will officially turn into one of 'those' mothers when I take my baby to the ER parking lot to feed her peanuts for the first time. I mean, we are already going to be at the medical complex area to get J measured for her first compression stocking, so it's not like we're making a special trip or anything. Totally not crazy at all.


Sea of Love

I know there’s been radio silence around here lately.  It’s not that things aren’t going on.  There are definitely t h i n g s happening.  Some of them not so great, but I haven’t really found a way to write them down or talk about them in a way that is productive.  But, since the whole point of this little blog is to try and help someone who might be in our shoes in the future, here goes. 
We had actually started seeing some progress in the reduction of swelling in Juniper’s leg using the Tribute.  I think I mentioned on here that I wasn’t really that impressed with it, but that changed and we are pretty much only using the Tribute now.  so.much.easier than wrapping.  Anyway.  For a couple of days in a row, things were looking great in the morning and I started getting excited, like light at the end of the tunnel excited.  Then one morning, we noticed that her left hand was a little swollen.  Now, in all honesty, her left hand had been slightly swollen a couple of times before, but it always went away so quickly so that I doubted what I saw.  This time, it didn’t go away.  The tunnel pretty much started closing in on me at this point.  My mind raced through all of the things she wouldn’t be able to do now if the lymphedema was in her hand.  Sew? Play piano? Pick up sticks and play in a sandbox?
You get a good idea of the swelling from this shot.  It is not too noticeable normally, but when she has both hands flat, you notice you can't see her little knuckle dimples in the left hand.  The swelling is really just limited to her hand.  Yes, both wrists are that deliciously plump.  Brain food, as the bouncer at the brewery told us last week.  
We went to the pediatrician, we went to our O.T., the answer was the same: we have no idea what is going on.  Though multiple extremity primary lymphedema seems to be fairly common from what I’ve heard from parents I am in touch with, it is out of the realm of ‘textbook.’  Fear, frustration, going over the myriad of what-ifs swirled around in my mind.  I felt like if I had been on the brink of a mental breakdown before, this would surely push me over the edge.  But, it didn’t.  I guess we always have the capacity to handle just a little bit more. 

Ultimately, it motivated me.  I had been tossing the idea of taking Juniper to the lymphatic disorders clinic at Stanford, but I’d always pushed it aside thinking I didn’t need to go across the whole state to have them tell me what I already know: massage, wrapping, skin care, that’s it.  Suddenly though, things were different, and I decided we needed to do more.  We needed to explore every possibility, every chance that there is something we are overlooking.  So now we are in the process of getting insurance approval to go see the specialist at Stanford.  We are also in the process of trying to get Juniper fit for a daytime compression stocking, which is proving to be much more challenging than I thought it would be. 

I am somewhat of an obsessive researcher, I think a lot of folks are now in the age of google.  I don’t look up one lasagna recipe, I look up five and overanalyze compare and contrast to see which one will be best.  I’ve tried to rein in this tendency with the lymphedema stuff because, I guess, it feels like I’m grasping at straws sometimes.  Everyone else seems so resigned that this is just how it is, that there is no rhyme or reason to it, it just happened, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  I realize there is nothing I can do to magically repair her lymph system, but I feel like there is more going on here, and I want to know as much about it as I can.  There were a couple of months where I just had to kind of ignore it for awhile.  We were in our routine, I think we had kind of come to terms with it, so I just let it be.  Then her hand started to swell, and I guess it was a game-changer.  I realized that no one else was going to do anything to help us, so we had to help ourselves. 

In other news, since we last spoke, Juniper started crawling, eating three meals (and a snack) a day, pulling up on everything, still eats dirt at every opportunity, and remains my angel straight from Heaven.