Summers Stories: Scared of the Meanies

Summers Stories Scared of the Meanies

I just had 11 days off from work in a row, and in that time I never once plugged in my computer or other electronics, only turned on the computer once (for my last post), and made almost no progress on straightening out the house from the last few months of crazy work schedules.

With the men in the family bouncing back from stomach bugs, and me being flat out exhausted from work, there just wasn’t much energy leftover for very much else.

However, Darrel and I did teach Jed how to play “Go Fish”, which he loves, and I got some good playing and reading time in with the boys, so it was actually a pretty enjoyable week.

Meanwhile, Darrel and Zac bounced back 100% from their latest stomach bugs. (My Mom got better, too, though now Dad has the same stomach bug. Ick.)

By mid-week, Zac had improved so much we decided to call goat milk safe again! If he had been having an FPIES issue with the milk, he would not have shown constant improvements, even from a stomach bug. Thank goodness!

So we decided to begin a beef re-trial.

The first few days were concerning; no typical FPIES symptoms, but he kept showing up with an allergy ring, and one day had a small diaper rash. Those are usually signs the food is bothering him.

Saturday morning, though, his heinie was as lily-white as the rest of him, and he started talking more. He regresses in his speech every time he’s sick, whether stomach bug or FPIES, so him using more words is a fabulous sign that he’s doing well.

Darrel and I are pretty confident that beef is going to continue to be safe for him, and that all the weirdness that happened over the last 5 weeks is attributed to stomach bugs and viruses.

Zac Eating a Hamburger

Enjoying a hamburger with quinoa pizza crust as the bun.

I hate that we “wasted” so much time, but it was vitally important to be 100% sure before moving on. Having to fall back like this is frustrating, but not nearly as frustrating as it would be if we had to pull 5 or 6 foods and re-trial them all because of confusing signs.

As a friend of mine says, “FPIES is a marathon, not a sprint”. Hard to remember sometimes, but it’s very true.

Now we can – finally – pick out a new food to trial for him!

Zac wasn’t the only one going through food trials last week, either.

I don’t know if I wrote about it, but a few weeks ago, while I was at work, Jed nagged my Mom to insanity for a bit of the chocolate she was using in a recipe for my Dad.

She caved just to shut him up, and gave him a tiny bit of the regular, plain, Ghiradelli chocolate.

You know, the kind with sugar and DAIRY in it.

I was NOT happy.

Even though she assured me it was a minute amount of chocolate, Jed was always very sensitive to dairy. We were not quite ready to start a dairy trial on Jed yet; it hasn’t been 24 months since his last exposure to dairy, and I wanted to give him the full 24 months before trying again.

However, it turned out to be one of those occasions that makes FPIES and MSPI Moms crazy: that little bit of chocolate caused ZERO reactions in Jed.

I was glad for it, and also exasperated – people won’t take me seriously if he doesn’t react to things I say not to give him!

In any event, Darrel and I decided to go ahead with a full-fledged dairy trial.

This time, we gave Jed cheese.

Oh, cheese, how do I love thee? How do I MISS thee? There aren’t enough words. I LOVE cheese.

It was a little tricky for us because Jed is now old enough to understand that some foods hurt his body, and that he has to eat them on occasion to see if his body can tolerate them now. We wanted to make him a little excited to try the cheese, but not talk it up so much that he would be devastated if it turns out he can’t actually tolerate it yet.

I think we did a pretty good job of making cheese out to be a yummy treat without making it sound like life is hardly worth living without it.

He was very excited to try it! I bought several different kinds of cheese for him to try, and he wasn’t thrilled with Swiss, mild cheddar, or the Babybel cheese rounds (though he really enjoyed unwrapping those!).

Jed Eating a Sandwich

Eating a few bites of a turkey and swiss sandwich with quinoa pizza crust as the bread.

The mozzarella was a bigger hit, as evidenced by the night I made Jed’s first ever dairy-laden pizza, but after one and a half slices he wanted to scrape the toppings off and just eat the crust.

Jed Eating Pizza

A gluten-free pizza for Jed!

Unfortunately, unlike his brother, Jed didn’t seem to do as well on his food trials. Two days after we started the cheese trial, he lost his appetite. For four days he hardly ate at all. He kept saying his tummy hurt.

When he did eat, it was things like crackers, rice cereal, and plain potatos.

He also had some diarrhea, and asked to sit and cuddle on the couch with me. While an affectionate child, he’s usually far too busy bouncing, running and playing to voluntarily sit with me on the couch, so that’s not a good sign for how he is feeling.

We pulled the cheese.

On the off chance he’s just having a very mild stomach bug issue, we’ll re-try it again in a few weeks.

The good news is that it took at least four cheese exposures before he had any disturbing signs, and even those were incredibly mild compared to what he used to experience when exposed to dairy.

He may not have outgrown his MSPI yet, but it looks like he’s outgrowing it.


One thing happened this week that made me incredibly sad. 

Thursday night I served up some fresh spaghetti for dinner, since that’s an ideal way to trial Parmesan cheese.

Jed had been telling us he was hungry. When he saw the spaghetti, though, he suddenly announced he wasn’t hungry and didn’t take a single bite.

He didn’t even want anything else to eat.

We attributed it to the cheese, and decided to pull the cheese based on that experience. (The diarrhea came the next day, confirming our decision.)

The next night, however, he made a little comment that led me to question him a little further.

Turns out, Jed didn’t want to eat the spaghetti because the last time he ate spaghetti he got the Meanies. He didn’t understand that the last spaghetti we fed him had been frozen and reheated, and that the spaghetti I served the night before was fresh made and safe for him.

The child would rather go hungry than risk getting the Meanies. 

Darrel and I have been very careful to present our food issues in a very matter-of-fact manner to the boys. Other than the IgE allergies, which we’re understandably a little more anxious about, we strive to make reactions and the Meanies not a scary thing in any way. We don’t want the kids to develop “issues” on top of their food issues.

Jed even confirmed that we haven’t made him feel afraid of food. The Meanies are just so scary for him to experience, he will choose to go hungry rather than eat anything that might give him the Meanies.

If that doesn’t break a Mama’s heart, I just don’t know what will. 

Overall, though, things are actually doing pretty well right now for the boys. Fingers crossed we stay stomach bug free from now on, so we can get going on food trials again!

Have your kids ever shown such determination to stay reaction free? 

Summers Stories: Kids Are Downright Adorable

Summers Stories Kids Are Downright Adorable

I had a big old post written for today, and when I went to edit and re-read, I depressed myself.

Sure, huge parts of our lives suck right now, but geez! If I’m getting tired of writing about it, I know you all are tired of reading it!

The short version of what’s happened this week:

Zac got another stomach bug. While I was away at work. While he was snowed/iced in at my parents. In the country. Running fevers and being sick. (THAT helped my stress and anxiety levels.)

Darrel got the same stomach bug while he was snowed/iced in at home.

The boys almost got stuck for good at my parents house. This would have been very bad, since my parents had almost completely run out of food for them. Miraculously, my parents were finally able to leave their house long enough to bring the boys home before we got more ice and snow, though I had entertained the thought of having Darrel drop me as close to their house as he could so I could hike in with supplies and get snowed in with them. Thankfully, my parents even made it home safely.

After Zac got better, my mom got the same stomach bug. (Apparently we’ve just passed the same stomach bug back and forth for the last few weeks. Fun fun.)

Remember when Jed had Mesenteric Lymphadenitis? That was in December of 2013. We JUST got a bill from the hospital dated February 3 of this year for the amount of $823.31. Yeah. 13 months for insurance to pay their part so the hospital could bill us. And you know we’ve got $823.31 just sitting around. Ouch.

Somehow Darrel’s parking sticker for work got misplaced in all the car shuffling we do when I go to work, and the University charged him $80 for a replacement. Yay.

All in all, we’ve had a crappy week. Tack this week on to the last two months and I wanted to crawl under the covers and not come out for a few days.

But you know what? I’m not nearly as dejected and depressed as I might have been from all of this. Jed saved me from sinking in to a pit of gloom bigger than the ocean. 

On Monday, he just melted me in a zillion different ways, and my heart got so full of love, pride, and sheer awe of his sweetness and goodness that when I re-read my original, whiny, post, I rolled my eyes at myself and re-wrote it.

Instead I wanted to share how downright adorable kids can be, and how, if you let them, your kids can unwittingly pull you out of the darkest emotional holes.

For starters, Jed apparently saw a commercial for vacations in the Virgin Islands around the same time as I told him I had to ship a package to Virginia. Now he has combined the two and is making up imaginary stories about his Thomas trains leaving the Island of Sodor and traveling to the “Virginia Islands”, which tickles me to no end.

He wrapped up Monday night by ad-libbing a bedtime prayer where he thanked God for trains, Santa Claus, and told God “good job, God, for keeping Mommy safe when she was in bad weather”…an event that happened almost three weeks ago that he and Mom prayed for. I nearly cried when he said that.

But the biggest bout of adorableness came yesterday when we were running errands in town, and it happened at two different times and places.

Our bank has a bowl of lollipops on the counter for their customers. As a food allergy mom, I do my best to ignore the bowl and not call any attention to the free treats my kids simply cannot have.

Jed noticed it anyway.

He started begging me to let him have a lollipop, and when I reminded him that he couldn’t have one because of the Meanies he retorted, “Not for me! I want to give it to someone!”

Well. I picked him up so he could get a lollipop, which he promptly ran over to give to a lady standing in line behind us.

Then he gave a lollipop to the bank teller who’d been helping me.

When we left, he waved broadly and screamed out “Bye bye, everyone!” And everyone in the bank smiled, waved, and told him “goodbye” in response.

A little later, we were at the post office shipping an Etsy sale to Virginia. They also have a bowl of candy sitting on the counter, and once again, Jed wanted to give the candies away.

There was a considerably longer line at the post office than at the bank, but Jed gave a piece of candy or a lollipop to every single person before he was done.

After telling them the candy was for them, most of these folks tried to give the candy back to Jed.

Every time, Jed responded by saying “I can’t have it because it has BAD ingredients in it!”

I about fell on the floor wanting to laugh! Can you imagine what these people were thinking? “Gee, thanks, kid. You can’t have crap but you’re giving it to me??”

I restrained myself from laughing and explained more clearly to these folks. “He has food allergies and intolerances, so he can’t have them. He just really wants other people to enjoy treats.”

To their credit (and probably because they’d seen him get the candy from the basket on the counter), most people ate the candies right there.

Jed was thrilled! He had a huge grin on his face and was so happy to make everyone else happy.

By the time we left both the bank and the post office, you couldn’t find a frown or bad attitude in either business if you tried: everyone was smiling, laughing, and happy.

And that is why I’m not nearly as bummed as I have been, even though last week was challenging and hard.

My son has the sweetest heart, the kindest spirit, and the most natural charm and joie de vivre of anyone I’ve ever met.

Who could be cross in the presence of that?

What’s the most adorable thing your kiddos have done?

Homemade Gummy Treats

All Natural Gummy Treats CradleRockingMama.comAbout two years ago I made some gummy treats for Jed. The recipe I used was simple and delicious, and since I didn’t change a thing about it I only shared the link, not the whole recipe.

We loved those gummy treats! There were only two things I wanted to be different about them: one, they were a little too  gummy…almost tough to chew, and two, they were opaque. I wanted to give Jed something that more resembled a traditional gummy bear.

So I tweaked that original recipe, and the results earned a HUGE double thumbs up from both Darrel and Jed!

It’s very simple to make, but I didn’t take step by step photos; you’ll have to use your imagination.

Other homemade gummy recipes I found online said to either juice your fruit or use store-bought fruit juice. We don’t have a juicer, so that option was out, and we don’t use store-bought fruit juices since pretty much all of them have added sweeteners or are a mix of fruits.

Instead, I took two cups of frozen raspberries and two cups of water and put them in a sauce pan. Decide which fruit is safe for you and your kiddos, and use that for this recipe. Bring the fruit and water to a low simmer and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

The result will be a fruit-flavored liquid. (I made raspberry.) Pour the mixture through a strainer into a measuring cup, collecting 2 cups worth of fruit-flavored liquid.

If you have a juicer, do whatever you have to do to get 2 cups of juice and warm it in the stove before the next step.

To that, add the maple syrup and lemon juice and stir. Then add the gelatin and stir. Immediately pour into your molds.

I had a silicone pan with 24 heart-shaped mold spots to use for this Valentine’s Day treat (like this one). However, any silicone mold will work beautifully for this. If you don’t have a silicone mold, just use a cake pan lined with parchment paper.

Place the pan in the refrigerator and let set for at least three hours. Once it has set completely, remove the gummy treats from the mold and dig in!

Yummy Hearts

If you’ve used a cake pan lined with parchment paper, lift the whole thing out of the pan using the edges of the parchment paper and cut the gummy treats into squares.

Yummy Gummies

Jed ate ALL of these gummy treats in one day, so I have no idea how long they’ll keep. I’d recommend storing them in the fridge, though, just to make sure they stay fresh.

These are truly reminiscent of regular gummy bears, only made with real food ingredients and just about as healthy as a treat can be. Enjoy! Jed certainly did!

Jed showing off his gummy heart

Homemade Gummy Treats
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Real food, sugar-free, simple and delicious - you'll love eating these gummy treats and feeding them to your kids!
Recipe type: dessert, snack
Serves: 2 cups
  • 2 c. frozen fruit
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 T. gelatin
  • 3 T. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  1. Put the frozen fruit and water in a sauce pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Pour through a strainer into a measuring cup, collecting 2 cups of liquid.
  3. Add the maple syrup and lemon juice and stir together.
  4. Add the gelatin and mix together well.
  5. Pour the liquid into a silicone mold and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  6. Remove the gummies from the mold and store in the fridge.
  7. Enjoy your healthier gummy treat!

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Summers Stories: Running on Fumes

Summers Stories: Running on Fumes

After last weeks stomach bug, things settled down somewhat on the kiddo front. Both boys bounced back fairly quickly, though none of our tummies were at 100% by the end of the week.

Still, no more vomiting or diarrhea, so it’s a step in the right direction.

We didn’t have any choice but to begin a re-trial of goat milk, though. Our second regular supplier of goat milk called with another gallon available for us, and since we KNOW Zac has been safe on her milk before all the tummy troubles started, we had to give it another shot. He used up about half the breastmilk stash I had stockpiled in the freezer the last time I went to work. We didn’t have enough to get through another work trip.

So far, so good. He asks for milk to drink, and hasn’t shown any problem signs. He’ll continue to receive the “safe” goat milk until we run out, and then we’ll begin trialing the new goat milk (in the Crystal Geyser bottles, not the plastic jugs she provides) to see if he continues to do well with that.

God willing, he does fine.

Beef and art supplies are still off the table for now, though. Even though he’s doing okay, we’re giving him a good long stretch before we will be ready to move on. We need to be 100% sure before trying anything else.

Meanwhile, Zac is doing beautifully in speech therapy; so good, in fact, that our previous order of “don’t push him to talk at home so we don’t stress him out” has been rescinded! Now we are to be just as demanding as Miss K. It’s time for the family to start “outstubborning the mule“.

That’s going to take some getting used to; we’ve spent the last 8 months tip-toeing around his speech limitations. However, in one week we’ve managed to get him to say “ba na” for banana when he wants one, which is the first real word he’s used to specify which food he wants. Score!

Jed is doing well. He loves going to martial arts, and is getting downright good at following directions (for the most part).

I made some conversation heart candies for him for Valentine’s Day, and some raspberry gummy treats, and he loved them (recipes to come). Unfortunately, he was incredibly wired up on Sunday after eating them all weekend.

I don’t think it was a fructose reaction, though it might have been a little much for him salicylate-wise. He’s gotten very good at spotting when he has the Meanies, and he didn’t say anything about Meanies when we spoke. He said he was “banging bashing baddy”, which probably means something specific in 4 year old Jed-speak. I interpret that to mean he was having a plain old sugar rush from getting so much sweet stuff in one fell swoop!

So maybe next time I make him treats, we need to ration them a bit better.

As for me, though, I have to confess I’m sinking into a serious pit. Beyond wanting to de-ice, I realize now that I am absolutely running on fumes…and the fumes are almost gone.

After getting home from work last Monday, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in a total lethargic slump. I got nothing accomplished those days. Nothing. I’m not sure if I even cleaned the kitchen. I simply didn’t have the energy.

Thursday I had to run around town with the boys all day at speech therapy and martial arts, and that night I fell asleep at – I kid you not – 7:00 p.m.

In the boys bed.

I woke about 1:00 a.m. and moved to my own bed, but the boys woke me up at 6:30 a.m. After quick scrambling some eggs for Zac and pouring some cereal for Jed, I passed out on the couch again until NOON.

Friday I slept like a normal person at night, but Saturday afternoon found me passed out on the couch again for three hours in the middle of the day.

I. Am. Exhausted.

And I think I’m getting a little depressed.

All the weird reactions and stomach bugs in our family have had me tied up in knots for the last two months.

Work is draining, and I’ve had to do far too much of it for far too long.

The house is a disaster and it feels like I will never, ever make any headway with getting it in shape.

Taxes are looming and I’m feeling stressed about trying to get all the paperwork together for that.

Our money situation has started to improve, and that’s a welcome relief…but then I remembered that our union and company are required to present us with a new contract proposal in July. If it is ratified, the merger my company began so long ago will finally integrate the flight attendants. Depending on the proposal and how the seniority lists go, it could be okay…or it could mean I have no option but to quit my job. Quitting my job would absolutely trash our finances beyond compare. We’d have to declare bankruptcy. So I’m still stressed about money.

A while ago, I said that it was clearly good for my mental health to write every day, whether I posted anything or not. Not writing is not good for me, and I’ve had no choice but to cut back on my writing these last two months.

Beyond writing providing some mental clarity, I have a couple of things I have wanted to write about for a LONG TIME that I think could actually be published. These project ideas of mine could not only potentially help lots of people, but could also earn some money for my family. And for over a year now, I have not been able to sit down and work on them.

The frustration is beyond description; I feel like I’m going to erupt. Especially in light of the fact that I look at my life and can see even the most mundane tasks slipping through my fingers like sand.

I feel like I’m stuck in a rut that I will never escape from, and it’s starting to grind me down.

So, I’m sorry I’m such a downer lately. For your sake as much as mine, I hope things change soon.

On the plus side, I have a couple of good recipes to share (when I get the chance to write them), and the boys do seem to be on the upswing from all the craziness that’s been going on with them lately.

So there are a few silver linings in my grey little world.

Spring just needs to come again. Soon.

Homemade Sea Salt Hand Scrub

Homemade Sea Salt Hand Scrub

This winter is being particularly rough on my hands. They’re cracking and severely dry, no matter how much hand cream I slather on.

Long before I delved into the food allergy world, I made my own sea salt hand scrub. With my hands so dry and icky lately, I remembered this scrub and raced to my bathroom for a little spa treatment. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was completely out!

Taking care of the kids preoccupied my time so much I haven’t replenished my jar since it ran out over a year ago! Ack!

Well, I had to rectify that immediately, and I am so glad I did! After just one scrub down, my hands felt almost completely normal again.

I bet in another couple of days my hands will be completely healed. This stuff is awesome!

Surely I’m not the only person suffering with dry, icky hands this winter, right?

It’s very simple to do.

Start with sea salt. For this, I actually prefer the pure white, slightly processed sea salt. It isn’t quite as abrasive on your hands. Hain’s makes a nice version for this.

Dump the sea salt into a bowl and add your oil. I’ve used almond oil in the past, but this time I used Jojoba oil. Pretty much any liquid oil will work, though; it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Using a spoon, mix the salt and oil together.

That’s it!

Sea Salt Scrub 1

One little note: I’ve noticed over the years that the amount of oil necessary varies depending on which carrier oil I use. For that reason, I recommend starting with 3 T. of oil and adding more as necessary. You may find you need to add more salt, too, depending on the oil choice. In the end, you want the texture to resemble damp sand.

If you want it to smell nice, you can add some essential oils when you add the carrier oil, but that isn’t necessary.

If you want it to smell nice but can’t use essential oils, you can infuse the salt with scent the old-fashioned way. Just put some vanilla beans, orange peels, or herbs in a jar and fill with sea salt. After a few weeks, the salt will take on some of the scent and you can use that in your hand scrub.

I have a jar with a cork lid that I’ve used for my scrubs for years. My Mom taught me to make this when I was still a teenager, and she always stuck a seashell in the scrub to use as a dipping device.

Turns out, a small seashell scoops up just the right amount of scrub for a single use!

Sea Salt Scrub 2

Plus, it just makes it seem fancier and more spa-like.

In fact, jars of this salt scrub make lovely gifts for almost any occasion. Wrap a pretty bow around the jar and give someone a “spa in a jar”!

Right now is an ideal time to try this, in my opinion. Valentine’s Day is this weekend and nobody wants dry, cracking hands on a romantic evening!

Give it a shot; your hands will thank you for it! 

Homemade Sea Salt Hand Scrub
Prep time
Total time
A soothing, healing hand scrub perfect for dry, winter skin.
Recipe type: personal care
Serves: 1 jar
  • 1 c. sea salt
  • 3-5 T. carrier oil (jojoba or almond work well for this)
  • 10-15 drops of essential oil (optional, personal preference)
  1. Pour the salt in a bowl.
  2. Add 3 T. of carrier oil and essential oils and mix together.
  3. Add more carrier oil (or salt) until the texture resembles damp sand.
  4. Scoop into a jar and add a seashell.
  5. Enjoy your pampering!

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Summers Stories: Mystery Reactions Solved?

Summers Stories Mystery Reactions Solved CradleRockingMama.comLast Monday I woke up in Boston, just as another major snowstorm began.

My flight was scheduled to depart at 6:45 a.m. We finally took off at almost 1:00 p.m. We were lucky, though; we were one of 4 flights that my airline was actually able to get in the air that morning. The rest were cancelled.

After arriving back in Chicago, I was relieved to discover the rest of my trip had cancelled as well…I could go straight home!

While waiting for my flight home, I called my Mom to see how the kiddos were doing.

That’s when I learned that while I was trudging through a small blizzard to the airport that morning, Zac had vomited.

While I spent hours sitting on an airplane going no where, Zac had endured extreme stomach pain that made him clench his body so tightly he was immobile as he cried and screamed. This happened about every ten minutes for over four hours.

While I anxiously sat in limbo, uncertain when or even whether  I could get home to my family, my little Zac sat at home refusing to eat all day and having frequent liquid diarrhea diapers.

There was nothing I could do; I was almost a thousand miles away.

But when I landed, I raced home as fast as I could.

The boys weren’t asleep yet; I arrived home just at bedtime. So I went straight to the boys.

When I said “hello” to them, they both lit up to see me. When I said to Zac “Hi, honey. Grandma said you didn’t feel good today. Does your tummy hurt?” He looked at me with a sad face and said “uh-huh” in the saddest little voice ever.

My heart hurt.

Darrel and I decided to pull goat milk. Goat milk is still safe for Zac, I believe, but I’m suspicious of the new supplier of goat milk. So we had to pull it to see if that is the cause of the last two weeks of problems and the acute reaction he had on Monday.

Tuesday morning he had a rotten, awful diaper fairly early in the day, but he regained his appetite and when asked, confirmed that his tummy did NOT hurt that day. Whew!

Then Jed went to the potty. Despite being perfectly capable of wiping himself, he occasionally insists that we do it for him. This was one of those occasions. When I wiped him, a glob of mucousy blood came with the poop.

The poop itself was layered in the toilet. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, there were at least three major problems with that poop, not even counting the bloody mucous.

Later that afternoon, Jed decided to make cookies and dumped my colored dextrose all over the dining room. During clean-up, I found residue of blue finger paints on the table. (Don’t ask me how; we’re usually obsessive about cleaning up.)

Despite reporting that he felt fine all day, that night Zac woke up in the middle of the night and came to our bed. Wednesday morning he woke me up…by vomiting on me. Twice.

We went to take a bath while Darrel stripped the bed, and after that, he seemed perfectly fine. His attitude was good and he was playing and energetic. He didn’t have much of an appetite, but he did eat. His poop wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either.

And I had to get packed to fly back to work. That day.

Based on what Zac ate on Tuesday, Darrel made the decision to also pull beef from Zac’s diet. We also decided to lock away all art supplies for the time being.

In two days, my son lost goat milk, beef, and art supplies. And vomited. And had diarrhea. And intense pain.

And I had to leave him in the middle of all of that.

If someone had sucker punched me on Wednesday on my drive to the airport, it couldn’t have hurt any worse than knowing I was leaving my boys when they aren’t doing well.

A friend pointed out that some viruses cause bloody stool, which could explain some of what we’re experiencing.

But with FPIES and food intolerances, it’s foolish to assume a normal childhood malady until evidence clearly points to such. You have to assume it’s the food and act quickly, just in case.

We were left with mystery food reactions. Is it the goat milk? The beef? The art supply residue?

And what about Jed? What caused him to suddenly, after over a year, have bloody poop? (He also had red “slapped cheeks” on Wednesday, though we didn’t go outside. A typical problem sign.)

You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? I decided to give a little pictoral reference for how this sort of thing makes a food allergy/FPIES parent feel.

Here is a normal person.

Normal Person

Freedom! Space around them to go wherever they want, do whatever they want to do.

Here is a food allergy/FPIES parent.

Allergy Parent

Just because their child can be hurt by food, half of their freedom is gone already. They are backed into a corner. But it’s tolerable, because there is still some freedom and movement available to them.

Now you’ve got an allergy parent dealing with food reactions – especially mystery reactions. This is what that feels  like.

Trapped on all Sides Allergy Parent

That little bit of freedom is gone, and in it’s place are monsters attacking.

You feel cornered and trapped. It’s fight or flight time.

This kind of stress is usually akin to dark alleys at night.

We live it daily, never knowing when the monsters will attack.

I had to leave my babies when they weren’t feeling well, and it absolutely killed me.

Then Thursday came, and I suddenly began to feel…off. Not sick. Just not well. Friday I spoke with my Mom early in the day and heard that Jed had vomited twice and had a nasty poop in the morning. By the end of the day, he’d vomited again.

Zac, meanwhile, was feeling and acting like a perfectly healthy little boy.

Darrel, like me, was not feeling 100%.

So when I left, we were suspicious of the milk, the beef, or the art supplies, aware that a slim chance existed that a virus was to blame but not daring to hope for it, but by Saturday morning it was clear that the Summer’s have been hit by a very strange, very mild stomach bug of some sort.

Thanks to FPIES, I consider a stomach bug to be some of the best news in the world!

But what a rotten week.

We’ve kept beef, milk and art supplies pulled from Zac’s life, however, just in case one of those was actually causing a problem in conjunction with the stomach bug. We will reintroduce them one at a time to make absolutely sure they’re safe before moving on to more food trials.


Remember when I said this year started off with an inauspicious start? I really hope it starts to improve soon. So far 2015 has been exhausting.

Has anyone heard of a weird stomach bug that hits slowly and last for days going around? This is a new type of stomach bug for me.

Quinoa Roll Out Cookies

Quinoa Roll Out Cookies

Right off the bat I will tell you that this recipe does NOT taste like manna from Heaven. Unlike the “sugar” cookies I created for Jed, these cookies taste like a dry cracker. After all, there isn’t any sweetener in them at all!

But for people on a restricted diet, with limited ingredients and limited options, these can at least satisfy the urge to participate in holiday cookie creating, if nothing else. 

They certainly did that for Zac!

My sweet boy finally, after two and a half years of life, got to actively participate in a festive kitchen activity that resulted in something he could eat.

That’s worth it in my book. Maybe this will serve the same purpose for you!

This roll out cookie uses only 4 ingredients, and it rolls and cuts out perfectly fine. The end texture is spot on for a roll out cookie, and when I sprinkled some stevia on my cookie it tasted pretty good! 

Without the stevia, well…dry cracker. Not bad, but certainly not a cookie!

You can also make these dairy free, if you prefer. Just use an alternative milk and a vegetable shortening, tallow, or lard instead of butter.

I didn’t try it with an egg replacer, but if you try it that way, you could even make these vegan, gluten-free, and top 8 allergy free. (No promises that it will work out at all with that many substitutions, though!)

Anyway, it’s insanely simple to make. 

Put all your ingredients in a bowl. Mix well until combined.


Ta-da! Batter!

I made both these cookies and Jed’s “sugar” cookies on the same day, basically simultaneously. So, just as with Jed’s cookies, I wrapped this dough in plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge to chill.

Dough Wrapped Up

And just as with Jed’s cookies, I’ll tell you to skip that step. This dough, when chilled, didn’t want to roll out easily and crumbled into a mess. At room temperature, it handled much better.

So no wrapping and chilling required!

Rolling Out Dough

Then the fun part! Call in your kitchen helpers, lightly flour your work surface, and let them roll out some dough. 

Zac has never had a chance to do this before in his life, and he loved every minute of it!

Cutting Out Cookies

Once the dough is rolled out, grab your cookie cutters. Again, these pictures are from Christmas, so just imagine using heart shapes instead for your Valentine’s Day cookies.

This was another task Zac adored. If I even tried to help him with placing the cookie cutter on the dough, he became highly indignant. If he had the words, he’d have been saying “Mommy, back off! ME do it!”

No problem. I just rolled out the dough more frequently than I had planned to.

Cookies Ready to Bake

Once the dough is rolled and cut, use a spatula to move the cookies to a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Beautiful Quinoa Roll Out Cookies

Bake at 375 for 8-12 minutes, and voila! Totally tasteless cookies!

But cookies that will make your food intolerant/allergic child feel like they’re part of the festivities, which makes them the most delicious things in the whole danged world. 

If stevia is safe for you, I’d strongly encourage you to add some stevia to this recipe. It will make them taste like an actual cookie. As stevia varies greatly in strength, I hesitate to suggest an amount. I use KAL stevia, and with that brand, I would use 6 scoops of stevia to start with.

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope all your loved ones get to feel included in the festivities. Hopefully this recipe will help!

Quinoa Roll Out Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These simple and plain roll-out cookies are ideal if you're on a restricted diet!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2-3 dozen
  • 1¼ c. quinoa flour
  • 4 T. goat milk butter (regular butter, shortening, lard or tallow would also work)
  • 2 T. milk (goat, cow, almond, hemp, etc.)
  • 1 egg
  • Stevia (optional, to taste)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Put all your ingredients in a bowl; mix until well combined.
  3. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough in small batches.
  4. Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies.
  5. Lift the cookies with a spatula and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  6. Continue re-rolling the dough, cutting out shapes, and traying the cookies until you run out of dough.
  7. Bake for 8-12 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool on the counter.
  9. Enjoy your totally bland, but totally inclusive roll-out cookies!

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Fructose Friendly Sugar Cookie Roll Outs

Fructose Friendly Sugar Cookie Roll Outs CradleRockingMama.comThis recipe makes me so happy. It also happens to thrill my 4 year old son, who had never experienced a “sugar” cookie roll-out in his life until I created this cookie for him.

While Jed can now have goat milk, he still has to avoid eggs, wheat, sugar, and anything “fructose-y”.

That pretty much rules out almost every sugar cookie roll-out recipe I have ever read!

With just a little bit of tweaking and playing around, though, I found a way to provide an authentic tasting, completely roll-able and cut-able, wheat-free, sugar-free, and egg-free cookie for my excited little boy.

Before I share the how-to, there are a few notes about the ingredients.

As-is, this recipe is NOT top 8 allergy free or Vegan. However…

  • This recipe can be made top 8 allergy free by simply using egg replacer instead of egg (as I did) and eliminating the almond extract. (If you don’t have any nut concerns, though, I recommend keeping the almond extract in the recipe; it really makes the cookie pop!)
  • You can also make this recipe entirely vegan by using egg replacer instead of egg, non-dairy milk instead of milk, and palm or vegetable shortening instead of tallow (though I’d encourage you to look in to alternatives to both, since neither are very good to use).
  • Being wheat-free doesn’t necessarily mean gluten-free, but this recipe does happen to be gluten-free…as long as you make sure to use gluten-free flours.

With all that said, let’s move on to how to make these delicious little gems!

Start by measuring all the dry ingredients and sifting together in a bowl: millet flour, quinoa flour, baking powder, and salt. I’m treating the dextrose just like sugar, which is typically considered a “wet” ingredient.

If using an egg replacer, go ahead and get that ready. (Actual egg replacer requires mixing and letting sit for a few minutes before using.)

When I used to make traditional cookies, it was common to “cream” the butter before adding other ingredients. I decided to do the same with the tallow, mostly to make sure it was fluffy and would incorporate well. So go ahead and toss the tallow (or shortening) in the mixer and beat it until loose and “fluffy”.

Add the rest of the wet ingredients: the egg replacer, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and dextrose. Turn the mixer on until all ingredients are blended together fairly well.

Slowly add the dry ingredients a bit at a time until fully incorporated.

Ta-da! You’ve got cookie dough!

Cookie Dough CradleRockingMama.comWith traditional sugar cookies, the dough works best when wrapped up and chilled before rolling. So I wrapped up this dough…

Dough Rolled Up CradleRockingMama.comand chilled it in the fridge for half an hour before rolling it out.

Let me just say one thing about that: don’t waste your time! When this dough was chilled, it was incredibly crumbly and did NOT want to hold together when being rolled. After it had warmed up a bit on the counter, though, it rolled beautifully and acted just like regular sugar cookie dough.

So don’t bother wrapping and chilling; just lightly flour your work surface and begin rolling the dough out in small batches.

Now the fun begins!

It’s always good fun in involve the kids in any kitchen activities, but for roll-out cookies it is absolutely a requirement. Bring in the kiddos!

Jed LOVED rolling out the dough, and had a blast cutting out shapes, too.

Cutting out cookies CradleRockingMama.comJust like regular roll-out cookies, simply use a spatula to lift the cut out cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Then you’ve got a nice blank canvas for your kiddos to decorate with safe cookie sprinkles (click here for a fructose-free and food dye-free sprinkle decoration). Jed really brought out his creative side during this part!

Jed decorating his sugar cookies

Here’s the cookies covered in sprinkles, ready to pop in the oven:

Cookies ready to cook

If you read the post about the sugar free dessert decoration, you’ll know that these photos are (obviously) from Christmas. Just imagine hearts instead of gingerbread men, and you’ll be able to see what will happen when you make these for Valentine’s Day!

You’ll also know that I commented that the colors came out a lot more pale and delicate than I hoped they would be. HOWEVER. While the green all but disappeared on the cookies when baked, the red sprinkles did something awesome:

Cooked cookies

It melted and got darker in the oven! So, yay! The red colored sprinkles work beautifully to decorate the cookies. (These were Jed’s works of art. Quite good for a 4 year old who has never been able to do this before!)

Decorating aside, these cookies just need to be tossed in the oven for 8-12 minutes to come out flaky, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and absolutely perfect in your mouth!

If you have to avoid dairy, eggs, wheat, sugar, and thought you were destined to spend the rest of your life “sugar cookie roll-out denied”, I hope you’ll try this recipe and discover the solution to being able to have “sugar” cookies on holidays again!

Happy Baking!

Fructose Friendly Sugar Cookie Roll Outs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These "sugar" cookies are dairy free, egg free, wheat free, and fructose friendly...but they taste fantastic! An absolutely necessary addition to your allergy friendly holiday recipe collection.
Recipe type: dessert, holiday cookie
Serves: 2 dozen
  • 1¼ c. dextrose
  • ¾ c. tallow (or shortening)
  • ¼ c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. almond
  • 1 egg or 1 egg replacer
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1½ c. millet flour
  • ¾ c. quinoa flour
  1. Add the millet flour, quinoa flour, salt and baking powder to a bowl. Sift together.
  2. Put the tallow (or shortening) in a mixer and blend for a minute or so until loose and "fluffy".
  3. Add the rest of the wet ingredients to the tallow and mix until combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture until the dough comes together.
  5. Lightly flour a large work area; portion out small batches of dough and roll out gently on the floured workspace.
  6. Using cookie cutters, cut out the dough into shapes.
  7. Use a spatula to lift the cut cookies and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Continue rolling out and cutting the dough until you run out of dough.
  9. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  10. Let your kids decorate the cookies!
  11. Pop the trays of cookies into the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges.
  12. Remove trays from the oven and let cool completely.
  13. Enjoy your allergy and fructose friendly, delicious roll out cookies!

Come back soon for a 4 ingredient quinoa roll-out cookie recipe!

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Summers Stories: Step Forward, Step Back

Summers Stories Step Forward Step Back

You know the old saying “Two steps forward, one step back”?

I wish we were so lucky. For us, it’s more like “one step forward, one step back”.

Okay, occasionally we just have to step to the side, but still. It’s not exactly the forward momentum we prefer, even when we get to occasionally step forward.

Last week we felt pretty hopeful in our house, but then things went a little awry.

For starters, Jed.

Ah, Jed.

Though we spent all of last week eating completely safely for him and his Meanies went away, he behaved horribly the entire time.

Remember when I wrote about FPIES baby versus Normal Baby issues? The same theory applies to Jed: is it a Meanie thing or a normal 4 year old thing?

At first I wondered if maybe Jed had picked up bad habits from having the Meanies for a week. Then I wondered if maybe he was trying to figure out if he could get away with bad behavior if we *thought* he had the Meanies.

Then I thought about the things he did this week.

  • One morning he got down the tempura paints without asking and he and Zac made a huge mess before I found them. We had a discussion about asking permission to use messy art supplies.
  • Another night he got down a different paint set without asking. He got blue paint on one of my tan couch cushions while he was playing. We had a discussion about not taking Mommy’s couch cushions out of the living room.
  • He decided to heat up some food for himself and used the microwave all by himself. He turned the food into a charcoal briquette, melted the cover, and broke the glass bowl. We had a discussion about asking for help when using the microwave.
  • He put on his hat and shoes and went outside to play without asking permission. Since it was almost freezing outside, he came back in pretty quickly, and we had a discussion about not going outside without telling Mommy or Daddy first.
  • He has started unstrapping himself from his car seat and opening the car door! We’ve had many discussions about car safety and staying buckled in until an adult says he can get out.

After considering his actions, I came to the conclusion that Jed is simply going through a large independent streak. He’s trying desperately to assert his independence from me and his Daddy, and tripping over his own feet with each attempt.

Consequently he gets in trouble, and gets more frustrated at his actual dependence.

Darrel and I will have to figure out how to grant Jed more independence within structural boundaries, and hopefully that will help fix some of these crazy-making behaviors.

Zac, meanwhile, was doing beautifully. We were all set to begin a new food trial.

Then, he gave us two things to worry about.

It started two Thursdays ago when he complained that it hurt to go pee-pee. The second time he did it, he could hardly walk and was crying. I called the doctor and she wanted to see him right away.

It took until Monday to get an actual urine sample from him, and I took it to the doctor to be tested for an infection. Nope. No infection.


Then, last Wednesday, he absolutely fought every diaper change I tried to give him…and while I’ll spare you the long, convoluted ‘conversation’ we had, the gist of it is that his penis wasn’t the source of the pain. Nope, it was his testicles.

Another call to the doctor, and again she wanted to see him right away. So off to the doctor we went again.

While I waited for the call back from the doctor, I looked for some general explanations for why his testicles might hurt. It seems like there are 4 possible explanations:

  1. he’s discovered his penis and is freaked out by the, um, sensations boys have
  2. a hernia
  3. testicular torsion
  4. testicular cancer

Obviously, I was hoping for options #1 or #2; #3 at the worst.

However, the doctor didn’t find any hernias, and didn’t see any obvious signs of testicular torsion. Now we wait for another week or two and see if he’s still complaining of pain. If he is, she’ll do an ultrasound. If he isn’t, then he probably just “discovered he has a penis”.

Waiting is not my favorite thing to do.

While all this was going on, he started up with the bad diapers. For almost a week now he has had nothing but loose, sometimes diarrhea diapers that smell foul.

No allergy ring, no acidic diaper rashes, no other symptoms at all. Just the bad diapers.

At this point it’s clear something isn’t right.

Maybe his whole “testicles/penis hurting” is actually just an indication he has pain in his lower body, and is confusing the location of the pain.

Or it could be the tail end of teething causing his bad diapers, and he actually is having a problem with his genitals.

But we’re leaning towards it being a reaction to the new goat milk.

I wrote a while ago about how we didn’t have enough goat milk to last the winter. Well, our stash finally ran out and we had to go buy milk from the new goat milk lady 3 hours away.

Darrel picked up the new milk on January 17th, and within two days that was all the milk the boys drank.

On the 23rd Zac first complained of penis pain. The next Tuesday, the 28th, he started having nasty diapers.

When I called the new goat lady, we talked about goat feeding and handling, and her feeding and handling practices sounded just like what our current, local goat lady does.

However, she puts her milk in plastic milk jugs. Our local goat lady used glass jars or empty Crystal Geyser water bottles that we provided her.

We’ve since given the long-distance goat milk lady some Crystal Geyser water bottles, but we didn’t have any of her milk in those until yesterday.

So now we wait and see. Yesterday at 1:00 a.m. Zac drank the first of the milk from the Crystal Geyser bottles. The rest of the day he had really excellent looking, normal poops.

Mystery reactions and mystery clear-ups are just so…mysterious! We hope he continues to have normal poops and stops complaining of pain in his privates, so we can go on with our next food trial.

But seriously. Both boys suddenly going from excellent to “what the what?” in a moment is not much fun.

Because it’s been a mildly stressful week, I need a little reminder that my boys aren’t all mischief and mayhem. So here are a few cute moments from the last week that help make the first-ever gray hair I yanked out of my head two days ago all worth while!

I gave Jed a hair cut. He looks like such a little man when he gets his hair trimmed!

Jed's New Haircut

We tagged along with my parents to a Sam’s Club shopping trip to pick up some prosciutto for Jed (since bacon is “Meanie bacon” to Jed now), and the boys had a great time in the store.

First, they decided to ride under the cart.

The Kids Riding the Grocery Cart

I make the kids put their hands in their pockets after I wash their hands in public bathrooms so they don’t touch anything until we get out of the toilet area. Zac couldn’t get his hands out of his pockets when we left and made funny faces until he could! Plus, he just looks adorable with his little hands in his pockets!

Hands in Pockets

Jed asked for some raspberries, which he can tolerate, so I grabbed a container for him. He stuck raspberries on the ends of his fingers and said “Mommy! Look! I’m a Berry Finger Boy!”

Berry Finger Boy

Jed went “shopping” at Barnes & Noble. He only wants about $500 worth of wooden trains! I made him put them all back where he got them, and we discussed how he might earn the money to buy some of them. It’s VERY cute to hear him describe how he’s going to “bring his piggy bank to Barnes & Noble and put the money in the toy” so he can bring it home!

Shopping for Trains

No photos for this one, but it melts my heart. Last night on the phone Jed told me he loved me without any prompting, and Zac said “Bye bye Mama” at the end of the phone call. Aw…

They are really good kiddos. They’re just also really good at making me crazy!

Hopefully Jed begins behaving better the next few days, and Zac continues to have good poops and stops complaining about mystery pain. It would be nice to be able to take a step forward again.

Ah, motherhood. It’s not for the faint of heart!

How do you give your small child a sense of independence within boundaries?

Dextrose Dessert Decoration – Sugar & Food Dye Free

Dextrose Dessert Decoration Sugar & Food Dye Free

Valentine’s Day is just about two weeks away, and that means parties.

Oh, and romance, but I can’t help you with that!

For us food allergic families, it’s also a time to – once again – lament the fact that we can’t participate in so many yummy food traditions.

Take sugar cookies, for example.

Not only are the traditional sugar cookies found in almost every home and shop filled with butter, egg, wheat, and dairy (some major allergens there), but they’re also filled with sugar, a major no-no for a FructMal kiddo like my Jed.

He is 4 years old and had never seen a sugar cookie in his life…until last Christmas.

Last Christmas, I spent a whole day in the kitchen in a baking frenzy with the kiddos, determined to create safe roll out cookies for both of them.

By the end of the day, my little mama heart was happy dancing around the kitchen!

Not only did I make a traditional sugar cookie roll out for Jed free of egg, sugar, butter, and artificial food dyes, but I managed to make Zac a 4 ingredient roll out cookie as well!

Oh, and one other little thing I figured out: how to decorate Jed’s cookies safely, too.

As a child, we decorated our Christmas sugar cookies with sprinkles of colored sugar, waxy chocolate sprinkles, and silver edible balls. None of that is safe for Jed.

While it would probably be okay in the quantities used for sprinkle decorations, I still try to avoid sugar where I can.

The big one for me, though, is the food dyes.

I avoid food dyes for the kids like it’s Draino.

But I really didn’t want Jed’s first sugar cookies to be naked, so I decided to see if I could make my own colored “sugar” from scratch.

I knew it is possible to color your own sugar at home with traditional food coloring, and my Mom used to color coconut shreds that way.

Why wouldn’t it work with powdered dextrose, I wondered?

So I tried it, and…it does!

So here’s how you, too, can make a completely safe, fructose friendly powdery sprinkle for your kiddos sugar cookies this Valentine’s Day (and next year for Christmas)!

All you’ll need is some dextrose and food coloring. Obviously, I’m not talking about your standard grocery store food coloring, since those are nothing but artificial food dyes.

I used India Tree food coloring instead. (I wrote about these wonderful products back at Halloween.)

Since coloring sugar usually involves adding a few drops of food coloring to some sugar in a Ziploc Baggie and mushing it together, I tried that first with the dextrose.

Major fail.

These food colors don’t work like artificial food colors, and I wound up with a Baggie full of dextrose and food dye clumps.

So I poured each Baggie into a bowl and gave the boys whisks to break it all up and distribute it throughout the dextrose.

That was better, but still not doing what I had hoped.

Finally, I took the chance and used a coffee grinder to mix it all.

Dextrose and Food Coloring in the Coffee Grinder

There was a good chance I would be turning my dextrose into powdered sugar this way, which was not what I wanted. But, as I said, it wasn’t working anyway. I figured I would try it before I tossed the experiment into the trash.

Fortunately, it worked!

After processing

It did make the dextrose a bit finer than usual, but it wasn’t powdered sugar texture by any means.

(Sorry, but these photos are all from Christmas, hence the green and red coloring. For Valentine’s Day, obviously you could simply make red dextrose.)

To make the green color, I had to use some blue and yellow food coloring together. The red was easier.

Pink Red Dextrose Dessert Decoration

As I discovered on Halloween, though, these colors are much more delicate than standard food dye colors. It takes many  more drops of the India Tree colors to make a color with some depth than you might expect.

After the dextrose and food coloring are processed in the coffee grinder, I laid the dextrose out on a parchment lined cookie sheet as thinly layered as possible to dry. In short order, the dextrose was nicely dry and “shakeable”.

At that point I grabbed two empty travel spice jars I happened to have in my cabinet and filled them with the homemade dextrose dessert decoration for easy shaking and decorating.

In the Shaker

In the end, the red coloring came out looking a little pink, and the green was more of a lime green than a forest green, but I was running short on time and decided to just go with it. It was an experiment, after all!

Fortunately, it turned out much better than I expected once on the cookies (sort of – come back next week for the results)!

Dextrose Dessert Decorations

So there’s a way to make a fructose friendly, food dye free colored sprinkle for your desserts this year. Enjoy!

Dextrose Dessert Decoration - Sugar & Food Dye Free
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Fructose-friendly, food-dye free colored sprinkles for allergy and chemical free desserts. Delicious!
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 1 cup
  • 1 c. dextrose powder
  • 10-30 drops of India Tree (or other all-natural) food coloring
  1. Put the dextrose and food coloring in a coffee grinder.
  2. Process gently until just combined (try to avoid turning the dextrose into powdered texture).
  3. Lay the colored dextrose out on a parchment lined cookie sheet to dry.
  4. Stir the dextrose occasionally on the sheet until dry.
  5. Store in an airtight container.
  6. Enjoy decorating your cookies and other desserts with a safe sprinkle!

Come back next week for a “sugar” cookie that is fructose friendly – and potentially vegan!

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