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Category: Planning

Low FODMAP-ing in a Pandemic

2020 has definitely been THE YEAR for all the weird stuff to happen – last year’s concussion bonanza wasn’t nearly as bad in retrospect. Grocery shopping already was a weird time, and I was recently diagnosed with a medical condition that has me eating a low FODMAP diet in order to properly control my symptoms.

FODMAPs stand for Fermentable Oligo, Di, Mono saccharides and Polyols. Essentially short-chain carbohydrates make my innards exceptionally mad and the results are not fun. It explains why I have felt somewhat better when I ate gluten-free (gluten has fructan which I was reacting to) and keto (knocks out a lot of those carbs). A low FODMAP diet is best undertaken with a registered dietitian, and has three parts – elimination, reintroduction/challenge, and integration.

It is not for weight loss but rather for managing GI disorders. FODMAPs are found things like wheat, garlic, onion, cow milk, beans, mushrooms, apples, etc. Monash University in Australia has been the leader in FODMAP research, and has designed and extensively studied the diet.

With things still spotty in the grocery stores and a rather hefty list of things to avoid (short-term), you can imagine the fun I’ve been having lately in the food department.

I am 1) not working with a FODMAP informed dietitian (con of living in a rural state) and 2) marching through reintroduction stage so please feel free to take this with a grain of salt and always consult your doctor, this is not medical advice, etc.

But here’s what I’ve been doing lately to make sure I stay low FODMAP.

1. Get Monash’s FODMAP App. It’s $9 (one-time payment) and 10000% worth it. Monash is always testing foods for their FODMAP-iness and updating the app with their results. In addition to the list of foods and their level of FODMAP-iness and serving size (because that’s important too), there’s also a bunch of other information including a walk-through of reintroduction for people like me including how to do it, which foods to use for each group of FODMAPs, and a diary to track symptoms. I use the app constantly.

2. Make menu plans. If you don’t plan your menus already, you should start now. And since FODMAPs are beneficial for everyone, my family shouldn’t eat low FODMAP with me and I should also eat some level of FODMAPs (just not enough to make me sick). Each week I make 2 plans – they’re often the same foods, but meals that I can adapt for me. Like stir-fry. Same with tacos, chili (no beans which is an abomination), and spaghetti.

3. Thrive Market Membership! Since I live in the land that time forgot, we have hardly any low FODMAP items beyond Kellogg’s cereals. Fody Foods makes low FODMAP condiments, which I buy through Thrive Market. I also buy things like gluten-free noodles, since those typically are sold out locally.

4. Have a backup plan. When we have busy nights and I don’t want to cook but can’t eat Pizza Hut, I need to have a backup plan of something. Anything. I’ve found quick things like egg and ham scrambles work, or Costco’s rotisserie chicken in a pinch. I’ve found I need to have backup plans for meals, because sometimes the store won’t have something like GF noodles that I need, or the GF noodles they do have have something FODMAP-y in them, or – as I recently discovered – chickpeas destroy me so anything from them is not happening. I’m trying to build a little stockpile of GF noodles that I can tolerate because GUESS WHAT – the fructan in wheat also destroys me (but not as bad as chickpeas).

5. Get comfortable with low FODMAP recipes. I’m starting to be able to adjust recipes into low FODMAP, but still need a lot of help, especially since I’m still working out my triggers and trigger amounts. Some blogs that I’ve found exceptionally helpful are:

6. Read all! The! Labels! Seriously, read everything meticulously. It gets old and shopping takes forever (when I don’t do grocery pickup) but it’s so needed because things that you don’t expect are FODMAP-y can have them. My chili powder – it’s JUST chili powder on the front label, but the ingredient label shows that it has garlic and onion powder as well as chili powder. Just because it says it’s “chili powder” doesn’t mean it is. (I also found garlic and onion powder in my peanuts which were just sold as “roasted peanuts” – not flavored with anything). I’ve been trying to eat non-processed foods whenever possible and just keep it as easy as I can since while the grocery stores are starting to stay better stocked, it really is a hit and miss game.


I still have a ways to go through before I hit integration but the relief I’ve felt already has been immense and it is so worth it to have to do all this, even in the midst of a pandemic and essentially making two different dinners. But I will be ecstatic when I hit integration and I know what I can and can’t eat and in what quantity, and hopefully meals become a bit easier to manage!

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2019 = Dumpster Fire

Time for a monthly update! 😀

At the beginning of December I had surgery to remove the rogue organ. Happily, the surgery was successful and everything came back benign. We have spent most of December recovering, working on celebrating the holidays, and just decompressing.

One thing we did differently this year was to celebrate the winter solstice, or at least pause and note that the days will gradually be getting longer. I tend to have seasonal depression each winter and the post Christmas/New Year’s let down typically is the hardest on me. January 2019 was full of snow and we all went stir-crazy in a way; and I’m hoping that shifting our focus mentally from “each day is a slightly longer day” as opposed to “each day is another day closer to insanity” will help make the seasonal depression not as bad. We’ll see if January 2020 also brings us a plethora of snow.

For the solstice we lit a metric ton of candles and ate dinner by candlelight. The kids adored it and it was a lovely little nod to the return of the sunlight.


From now until we resume school in January, I’m working on the schedule and reflecting on the last six months. One thing I have wanted to do for a while is shift our schooling focus from the traditional school calendar (August – May) to align with the regular calendar (January – December). I have this fever dream of working from January – Thanksgiving, then spending Thanksgiving to New Year’s resting, planning, reflecting, and so on. January would start a new “grade” for the kids in terms of work and books, but they would get a new “grade” with their traditionally schooled counterparts in the fall to make it easier for things like 4H and swimming lessons, or anything else that tends to be grouped by grade.

Montana requires us a specific amount of hours to be completed per year, which the law defines as basically the fiscal year. So as long as I hit my hours in the correct time frame; I can school whenever and however I want, follow whatever schedule I want and so on.

I haven’t fully committed to this idea yet but it definitely is appealing. New books and a fresh beginning to align with the New Year may also help us all from going bonkers during the winters as well.


Circling around to the surgery, I’m finally starting to feel much more normal. I’m still tired a lot and still haven’t been cleared to return to ALL of my activities; but I can drive, my incisions have healed enough that I can stop wearing jammie pants everywhere, and I feel much less brain fog from the anesthesia. I still have lingering concussion symptoms, mostly in the form of headaches (which I can tell are from the concussion as I have to take acetaminophen and ibuprofen to stop the pain), but hopefully 2020 will be the year I get my brain back to mostly normal.


I hope everyone has had a good holidays and that 2020 brings in a lot of good changes and whatever else is needed to be a happy, healthy human.

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2019-2020 Curriculum Choices

It’s been a few months, which means I should work on regularly posting how our homeschooling adventures are going.

I came to a nice happy place of blending Wildwood Curriculum with a DIY approach, which provided us with a very nice first week of school. It was a little hectic, but I attributed that to the general “we’re still trying to find our groove” sense. We were looking forward to slightly redesigned schedule for week 2.

Then we were the victims of a hit-and-run car accident.

Happily, we only had our youngest in the car with us and his carseat protected him so well. My husband and I have some injuries, but nothing severe. We tried to do week 2, but the constant phone calls with our auto insurance, the police, the doctor, imaging done to check for broken bones; and the fatigue that comes with being in pain – I decided to reboot our entire school to account for my fatigue and pain (hopefully both of which will be short-lived). I decided to combine all the kids! into all the subjects! and using my 6th grader’s subjects as the template to follow.

Here’s my selections for Term 1 of our 2019-2020 school year. Links to Amazon are affiliate links, thank you for your support!

Language Arts

  • Spelling: copywork and Phonetic Zoo (sixth grader), copywork and spelling lists I find online (everyone else)
  • Handwriting: copywork and Harry Potter cursive (sixth grader), and a cursive workbook for my second grader. My fourth grader will keep working on refining his printing.
  • Reading: all kids have read-aloud time with me each day so I can monitor what they’re getting stuck on. My dyslexic child has some gaps to fill with regards to reading, so we’ll be using the “whatever works for us at this time” method. I have at my disposal: Progressive Phonics, Phonics Pathways, MCP Plaid Phonics, and lots of easy readers and graphic novels.
  • Grammar: everyone is getting focused grammar. In addition to reading well-written material, we’re using grammar workbooks from Amazon for my sixth grader.

Math

Literature

History

World Religions, Logic, and Philosophy

Science

Geography


I’ll post what we’re doing for Afternoon Rest once I finalize what exactly we’re doing! I have some ideas but I need some uninterrupted time to think and figure out if I’m overloading everyone or not.

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Grades 2,4, and 6: Wildwood Curriculum

After lots of thought and research, I’ve decided not write my own curricula this school year. While I thoroughly enjoy writing my own, this is not the season for me to do so. Some factors that weighed in my decision:

  • the newly diagnosed learning disabilities
  • the number of appointments each week for therapies + regular checkups (vision, dental, medical)
  • my health
  • my goals for the kids for the upcoming school year
  • what worked and what didn’t work from the previous school year
  • where the kids are at in terms of age
  • what I’m expecting the upcoming year to be like
  • and so on

I decided to definitely go with Wildwood Curriculum as much as possible, substituting books that we already have read as needed. I’m not expecting too much modification, except for my 9 year old who isn’t quite ready for Form 2 but has done most of their Form 1 readings. For him I’ll be making a combination Form 1/Form 2 transition year.

Now that I have my bearings for all the kids, the fun part begins: selecting books and writing out the weekly plans!

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Pre-K: Blossom and Root Early Years

While I figure out what I’m doing with the older kids, I figured I could at least write out the general plan for my younger kids. The toddler will continue to blow through life as usual, although he is starting to be more and more interested in listening to stories be read to him.

My next youngest, who turns five this summer; has been itching to learn how to read and write. She isn’t quite ready for formal lessons or learning the basics of reading, but she’s not content to listen from the sidelines or play when the older kids are doing school.

I decided to use Blossom and Root’s Early Years curriculum for her. I like its approach: gentle, interesting, varied topics of learning, affordable, and actually implementable. I don’t follow it to the tee, but I use it as a backbone for the week. Amazingly, my library has a lot of the books used in Volume 1 (which is what we’re working through now), so I can just pick them up when I’m in that area. She’s enjoying the activities, and nothing we’ve run into thus far seems to be “too young” for her.

It scratches the itch for her to “do school” and I don’t have to really stress or worry about what I should be doing with her. Print off the plans, open it up to the correct place, pick out our activities, and sprinkle them throughout the week. It reduces my decision fatigue, and that’s always a help. (If I’m especially on top of things, I’ll have the library reserve 2-3 books from the plans for me so I can just go for 3 weeks before I have to go back to the library for the next batch of books.)

We aren’t too far into Volume 1 but right now it’s definitely a great fit for my daughter.

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DIY Curriculum or Someone Else’s?

It’s hard to believe that my oldest will be in sixth grade this fall. I’m busy thinking and researching about what exactly to do with her. I’m also trying to keep an eye on the overall picture – what will our upcoming school year look like with regards to appointments (autism therapies plus standard human maintenance, 4H, etc)? When will we take vacations? Are there any places we can visit to supplement our history learning?

This last school year, I transitioned from using a pre-written curriculum to writing my own. It worked well, although it was a lot of work for me. This year, I had intended to continue with writing our own curriculum, but given the state of Everything right now; I’m wondering if I should go back to using a pre-written curriculum and adjusting as needed (which is still work, but less).

My oldest had a look at Wildwood Curriculum’s Form 2 curriculum. She was impressed with Form 2A upper using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for a reading selection. I’m not entirely convinced she’s ready for 2A upper though, and would probably put her in 2A lower to start with. If it proves to be not enough challenge for her, I can always move her up as needed.

This past school year was probably the hardest I’ve ever schooled through – a variety of new diagnoses, new therapies, new changes in routine, a death in the family, health issues, a surgery, Never-Ending Winter, and more. Before I figure out which path to take, I need to take stock of what our goals are for the next school year, where we are now, what we can expect in terms of life, and how can we “reset” in terms of atmosphere and as a family?

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It’s Planning Season!

With the end of the school year just two weeks away, it’s time to start planning the next school year. This upcoming school year will be VERY interesting as we navigate the new-to-us world of learning disabilities. Additionally, I’ll be adding my fourth child to the homeschool in a pre-K/K level.

In order to keep everything straight, I plan on using the following:

  • A scope and sequence from the Charlotte Mason Institute (PDF link here). As we interact with a wide variety of autism-related professionals on a daily basis, sometimes they want or need to know what we’re doing in our school. This scope and sequence from CMI is the best thing I’ve come across to “translate” what we’re doing in a way that is accessible and familiar to non-CM people. It’s helpful for me to have a roadmap of sorts, especially as we get into the middle and high school years for my oldest.
  • Forms 1 and 2 planning guides from the Charlotte Mason Plenary. I love these guides so much, because I don’t feel overwhelmed with the plethora of subjects that each grade has. It’s easy to use, thorough, and it just makes sense to me.
  • Notebooks. So many notebooks.
  • Binders. One for each grade, to house what I’m writing in the notebooks.
  • Pens. I like the Pilot G-2s, smooth ink and smear-proof for my left-handed ways.

My overall planning process is shaping up to be much more streamlined than in years past:

  • Use the appropriate planning guide to select subjects for each grade
  • Use the Plenary’s resource page, the SCM Bookfinder, various CM groups on social media, Googling, and the Internet in general to find books, movies, apps, and other resources for each subject
  • Figure out our schedules (term > weekly > daily)
  • Finalize booklists after sitting on it for a while, finding books in the library, etc
  • Buy said books!

Typically I try to start planning in February, but this year has been so weird that I couldn’t handle planning in February. I’m looking forward to getting back into planning mode!

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