A New Way to Fail a Food Trial

A New Way to Fail A Food Trial CradleRockingMama.com

Last time I updated, I said that we had started a green bean trial on Zac. It looked so promising that first day (after we convinced him to try one).

Sadly, the green bean trial has flopped.

The second day of the trial, I couldn’t get him to eat any green beans at all. The third day, he only ate a few beans. The fourth day, again, he wouldn’t eat any.

The fifth day, he told us he didn’t like green beans.

I showed him how he can take a bite of something he likes along with the green bean, and then he won’t have to taste the green bean. That trick worked to get him to eat some of his beans, but the next day Darrel and I questioned whether it was worth pursuing the trial any longer.

On each day after eating green beans, his poop was mucousy and soft. Like thick, less watery diarrhea. There were no signs of visible blood, but the mucous and consistency weren’t good signs.

We asked him all week if his tummy hurt, and he kept saying “no”. I can’t help but wonder, though, if he was being literal. Maybe his tummy didn’t hurt, exactly, but maybe it felt “off”, and he doesn’t know how to explain that feeling.

Other than the diapers, there were no concerning signs. But is it worth it to pursue a trial with a food the child says he doesn’t like, and therefore will not eat?

Darrel and I decided that no, it is not. There’s no sense in pushing to make green beans safe if every time we serve them we will have to battle to get him to eat any of them!

So we gave up on the trial.

That’s a weird feeling for an FPIES mama who has pushed so hard to find foods for her child. To give up is just…well, NOT what we do in this house!

This is an entirely new way to “fail” a food trial in our world.

On the plus side, we had learned through Jed’s schooling that with stringent ‘immediate hand washing’ rules Zac can handle many arts and crafts supplies with no reactions!

Except for markers. They end up all over him, either by him drawing on himself or just residue from overenthusiastic coloring, and he was definitely having a mild reaction to something in those markers. We had to yank markers away from Jed to get Zac back to baseline before we dcould even attempt the green bean trial.

Did I  mention that markers just happen to be Jed’s FAVORITE thing to draw with! Ugh!

The other FPIES moms turned me on to DiscountSchoolSupplies.com, saying you could search for allergy-free art supplies by allergen there. I’d found that the art supplies Zac most often reacted to had soy in them, so I ordered some soy-free markers for Jed and Zac to try out. A few days after we gave up on green beans, Jed’s new markers arrived in the mail.

We decided that since I was going to work, and the green bean trial had flopped, a pseudo-marker trial was in order. His reactions to the other markers were very mild; though not something we wanted to continue, trialing these new markers was something I felt comfortable doing while I was out of town. (We don’t start food trials when I’m going to be gone.)

It’s our first non-food deliberate trial ever. So weird, but necessary, since arts and crafts supplies will now be front and center in our house from now on.

So far, so good on the new markers!

Maybe my kids will finally get to create the way normal kids do! Wouldn’t that be nice!

While all this marker and green bean trialing was going on, I also decided to accept a little reality: Zac’s hair was getting far too long.

I’ve never cut his hair, because I just couldn’t imagine cutting off all those amazing curls! Even I had to admit, though, that his hair was hanging in his eyes too much.

Fortunately, our speech therapist told me about a place called Pigtails and Crewcuts, which specializes in cutting children’s hair.

The lady that cut his hair was amazing; she asked me what I wanted done and when I said “Nothing, but I can see it needs trimming. I just don’t want to lose those awesome curls!” she said “Yeah, they’re pretty great. I think I’ll do this (explaining what she was going to do). Then he won’t look like a little girl. It’ll be more of a Surfer Dude look.”

I love that! My little Surfer Dude!

Zac handled the hair cut really well. Very little squirming at all. In the end, he looked just like he did before…only his hair wasn’t falling in his eyes and the back doesn’t “dread” up as easily as it did prior to the cut.

Zac has randomly announced “I love my hair cut” at least 6 times since it happened, so I think it was a good thing to do.

Zac's First Haircut CradleRockingMama.com

With Zac’s curly locks, I’m unfortunately not going to be unable to save money by cutting his hair at home as I do with Jed. Even worse, since Zac looks so well-groomed, Jed’s hair definitely looks like he had a homemade hair cut! So now both boys will be getting hair cuts at Pigtails and Crewcuts.

Oh well. They’re more expensive than a barber but less expensive than an adult salon, so I guess it’s worth it. Maybe I can start cutting Darrel’s hair to save some money?

The boys also had their first gymnastics class last week. We were so excited for it!

Sadly, it was horrendous. When they got there, both of my boys forgot every single thing I’ve ever  taught them about behaving in public. They didn’t stand in line, they didn’t wait their turn, they didn’t listen to the instructor…they acted like wild animals!

It was mortifying.

However, while Jed has some experience with being in a classroom, thanks to martial arts, Zac has never had the privilege.  This was an entirely new experience for him, so it’s not unbelievable that he wouldn’t behave properly. That’s why there are instructors there, right? To instruct them not only on what they are teaching, but to enforce the rules of behavior in the class, too, right?

Apparently that isn’t the belief of these instructors. Other than calling the kids (my two and another little boy who was just as ill-behaved) back over when they wandered off, they never once said anything about how the kids needed to stand in line and wait their turn with no cutting.

I spent the entire class on the sidelines calling the kids names and pointing to where they needed to go, and twice pulling them aside and informing them that they needed to straighten up, pay attention, and behave.

It didn’t work, obviously.

Darrel and I debated on taking the boys back this week. While we are interested in letting the boys learn tumbling and have fun burning off energy, a good part of why we (and I think many parents) chose to enroll them in this activity was to help them also learn how to follow rules and instruction.

If the instructors won’t make them follow any rules, is it worth it to go back?

I debated on it all week before finally deciding to give it another try. Maybe they were having an off day last week. Maybe my boys got it out of their system, so to speak, and will behave better this week.

On the way to gymnastics, I informed the kids that I had some instructions for them. I went over the rules: stay in line, wait your turn, no cutting, and do what the instructor says. I told them I didn’t care what the other kids were doing, and I didn’t care if the instructor ever reminded them of the rules. THIS was what I expected of them, and they WOULD follow MY rules or we would stop going to gymnastics.

You know what? They were a lot better this week!

All “not great” behavior came after about 45 minutes in class, when all  of the students got a little wild, not just my boys!

The instructors still didn’t do any guidance on rules, but this week one of the other mom’s came over and helped out with trying to corral the kids.

I’m still not sure if this is a good place for us to be, if it takes the mother’s who are paying for the class to help keep the class in line.

But my boys sure do love going!

Have you ever ended a food trial simply because your child didn’t like the food? Have you ever trialed art supplies?

Our First Month As Homeschoolers

Our First Month As Homeschoolers CradleRockingMama.com

At 9:00 a.m. on August 4th, the boys and I went to Jed’s first day of school.

I really love the commute; we just walked across the house and into our new classroom!

That was my first week ever as a homeschooling Mom, and I had no idea how it was going to go.

So many questions: Will I be up to the task? Will Jed love it or hate it? Will he actually learn anything? Is this going to be the best decision we ever made, or a monumental disaster?

Now that a month has passed I have to say: HOMESCHOOLING IS AWESOME!

Jed loves school.

Let me clarify that: Jed loves, loves, LOVES school!!

Every morning he wakes up saying he wants to start school NOW. At one point, Darrel planned to take the boys swimming after school, and Jed told him he did not want to go swimming; he wanted to do more school!

And check out this little beauty…

Yes, Jed actually complained he had a stomach ache and knew the only thing that would fix it was more school.

I’m beside myself with joy. 

Now for some logistics. Some might wonder how we are handling school with my work schedule. As a Flight Attendant, I’m gone for days at a time, after all.

My intention was to school Jed on days that I was home and let him have days off when I’m at work. On that schedule, he might have school 12 days straight, and then have 5 days off.

My Mom was persistent in her belief that Jed needed to do some schoolwork more consistently than that. She wanted to continue teaching him when I was gone.

I am not – yet – comfortable with that. In these early days of establishing our homeschool “routine”, I knew that I would go crazy trying to make sure his education stayed on track when I was away.

I’m kind of a control freak on some things.

Still, Mom had a good point. Days and even weeks off with no school might lead Jed to stop taking school seriously, and leave us battling when I returned from work.

My compromise was simple: I create “homework packets” for either my parents or Darrel to go through with the kids when I’m gone.

I had originally intended to give Jed weekends off, but that quickly became an impossibility because Jed begs for schoolwork every day!

So far, he has either had school or done homework packets every single morning since August 4th, and is ecstatic to head to the classroom every single time. Some mornings he even goes to the classroom before I do; I find him digging through my desk to find his assignments for the day.

While technically Jed is of Kindergarten age, when Darrel and I flipped through Kindergarten curriculum at the homeschooling convention we attended back in May, we realized something: Jed was not ready for that.

I’m a firm believer in the concept that the best “education” for small children is to play. That, combined with our complicated food issues, meant that Jed never attended Pre-school.

Apparently, nowadays children are being taught in Kindergarten what my generation learned in First Grade. Which means they are taught in Pre-school what I learned in Kindergarten. (Yet somehow America’s high school seniors rank terribly low according to international standards. Hmm.) Insane!

The lady at Alpha and Omega suggested we begin with Preschool curriculum to help Jed bridge the gap between what he already knows, and what he will need to know to begin Kindergarten.

Flipping through the Horizons Preschool texts, we realized that Jed already knows 50-60% of what it covers; the remaining lessons will bridge the gap.

Since he knows so much of it already, I’m making my life more complicated by re-writing the lesson plans to combine 2-3 lessons per day. At this rate, we should be able to finish Pre-school by the end of December, allowing us to begin Kindergarten curriculum in January.

(Although we can all agree that my life just needed more complications, right?)

For the “homework packets” I put together, I take small projects from the daily lessons I have with Jed and set those aside for my parents or Darrel to do with him when I’m gone.

I also have myriad little activity books for Pre-K and K levels that we’ve purchased over the last few years, and I simply copy pages from those to add to the stack.

If, in our school that week, we covered letters A and B and the number 1, I assemble pages from those activity books that cover that information so Jed gets more practice at writing those letters and learning the phonics behind them.

That keeps the curriculum firmly in my hands, while keeping Jed on task, on routine, and eager to learn more.

It’s working, for now.

One thing I hadn’t counted on was how time consuming being a teacher would be!

Even if I were not re-writing the lesson plans, the prep work for a day of teaching would still take a good half hour.

The lesson plan re-writes take me at least half an hour per to complete.

Assembling the homework packets takes 1-2 hours.

The planning time for each class is almost as long as the actual class!

I may have only 1.5 students (Zac wants to “go to school” each day, too), but becoming a teacher is truly an adjustment! Suddenly I have even more respect for teachers than I already had.

We are still in the early days of homeschooling, but I’m already seeing clear learning styles from Jed. This child simply thrives with hands-on, interactive activities, and loves challenges and “tests” he can be the best with.

Talking to him? Quickly involves our lessons being hijacked by a squirming, squiggly, wiggle-worm of a distracted child. It takes many minutes of our lessons to get him back on track whenever I try to teach via explanation.

Still, our daily school takes only about 2 hours per day of class time, even with flying through multiple lessons each class…and Jed is just sucking information up like a sponge.

We’ve already covered letters A-J, both upper and lower case:

Jed Writes His Upper Case Letters CradleRockingMama.com

Jed Writes His Lower Case Letters CradleRockingMama.com

In a month he has memorized 4 Bible verses, plus shown that he knows all his colors, most of his shapes, has counted to 78 (though he’s only really comfortable with numbers 1-20), recognizes letters we haven’t officially covered in class yet, and begged to learn to read. I’m truly amazed.

Thanks to all our reading together, he even earned a free book from Barnes & Noble from their Summer Reading Program! When he learned he had earned that book for all his hard work, he got so excited he could hardly see straight! Immediately, he begged me to teach him to read so he could read even more. Love. It.

Jed Earned A Book CradleRockingMama.com

Plus, this is just flat-out fun!

Already, we’ve stayed up late to watch a meteor shower (school assignment!), started a mural, done more arts and crafts in a month than we did in the entire preceding 5 years, tackled an obstacle course (pretending to be worms digging through the soil), played BINGO for shapes, colors and letters, and (my favorite) played with a parachute.

Parachuting CradleRockingMama.com

Homeschooling is turning out to be a fabulous fit for our family, even if I’m experiencing a few growing pains along the way trying to figure out how to juggle all these balls. Jed is learning a ton, and so am I. Turns out? I’m pretty good at this teaching thing.

Guess I knew what I was meant to do back in college before my life trajectory changed.

Well, I didn’t end up teaching for a living, but now, I’m teaching for my son’s life. I think that’s much better.

How long did it take you to get the hang of homeschooling? Is it typical for kids to get this excited about school?

We Love Potatos!!

We Love Potatos CradleRockingMama.com

On Thursday, August 13th, Darrel and I declared russet potatos a safe food for Zac. It’s his 18th safe food, and we couldn’t be happier!

For his part, Zac adores potatos. He gets excited by mashed potatos, thrilled with hamburger hash, and ecstatic over French fries.

For our part, life is So. Much. Easier. Now. 

In fact, I’ve come dangerously close to “burning us out” on potatos and beef due to my overjoyed slacking off in the kitchen. One day last week I realized I’d made some version of beef and potatos for every single meal  over the previous 4 days.

I think I lost my mind a bit over the sudden cooking ease I was experiencing!

Beyond that, though, we discovered Zac’s first PACKAGED food! 

As Darrel and I mentally created the packing list for our picnic lunch one day, I said “…I’ll grab some potato chips for you, me and Jed, and I guess I can make some cookies or muffins for Zac.”

Darrel suddenly sat up and responded excitedly, “Why not give the chips to Zac, too?”

I was dumbfounded. The idea of feeding Zac something that wasn’t made completely from scratch just…did not compute!

But the potato chips in question have only three ingredients: potatos, olive oil, and sea salt. All safe ingredients for Zac!

So we took the leap and, well, Zac loves him some potato chips!

And they seem to love him right back.

And I love having a pre-prepared snack food for in-town errand running emergency food backup.

Ahh…it’s a nice step on our journey towards some kind of normality. 

(The photo for this post is of Zac eating his first ever potato chip. He loved it!)

Mr. Zac is doing incredibly well all across the board. We just learned that his speech therapist thinks he might be released from therapy soon! The last 5 weeks or so has seen Zac blossom from a nearly mute child to a veritable chatter-box!

Not only that, but it turns out Zac is quite the little manipulator. I guess three years of watching how things play out has taught him all the right buttons to push.

Now, instead of just falling on the floor and crying when he’s upset, I get to hear him cry, stick out his lower lip so far he might trip on it, and tell me “You hurt my feelings, Mommy!” through his tears.

The first time it happened? Oh, yeah. Mama felt some guilt. I hugged on him and loved on him and tried to make him feel better, apologizing all the while, and came up with a compromise that made me look weak…just to make up for hurting his feelings.

Yesterday might have been about the 45th time he’s said that to me over the last two weeks. 

It’s kind of lost its effect, much to his chagrin. 

Now I just nonchalantly say “Yeah, well, you’ll get over it.” Then I remind him to do whatever it is that I told him to do that “hurt his feelings”. He’s not happy with my quick ‘catching on’ to his game!

Kids. Ah. Such fun.

Other than the emotional blackmail, I couldn’t be more thrilled with Zac these days. The only thing that is a little sad is the fact that he has now told me twice that he doesn’t get any milk when he nurses. He admitted that he just wants to nurse so he can have one-on-one alone, snuggle time with me. (Sibling rivalry, much?)

I’m not sure whether to believe that completely, though, since every time he is hungry he immediately starts screaming to nurse. Is it just habit that has him wanting to nurse when he’s hungry? Or is he still actually getting a little milk and knows boobie is faster than me cooking him food?

I don’t know the answer to that, yet; I will say that I won’t be surprised in the slightest if Zac is weaned by the end of September. <sniff sniff>

We started a green bean trial last night. Actually, we tried to start it on Sunday, but he ended up taking a late nap and was very cranky at dinner. Consequently, he refused to even try a green bean.

Last night, though, we managed to talk him in to it with the help of Daniel Tiger.

All I have to say is GOD BLESS the writers of Daniel Tiger! They have an episode where the kids go to a garden to see all the yummy foods growing there and to taste them. Katarina Ballerina doesn’t want to try one of the veggies, but Teacher Harriet convinces her that “You’ve got to try new foods ’cause it might taste good!”

Now, whenever one of our kids turns up their nose at a food? All we have to do is say “Remember what you learned from Daniel Tiger and Katarina Ballerina? You have to try new things at least once – you might like it!” and they give it a try.

Many times they do NOT like the food, but every now and again, they do. Last night with green beans was one of those times.

After reminding him of Daniel Tiger, Zac ate one single green bean. Suddenly, he was “Yummy, mommy! I like this!” and very proud of himself that he tried it. “Me tried new food! It’s good!”

We shall see how the rest of the trial goes.

Oh, and you may have noticed my total absence here lately. Well, I may have finally bitten off more than I can chew.

We started homeschooling on August 4th. It’s going incredibly  well, but it’s quite time consuming for me! My work schedule may be a tad reduced, but it is still not anything resembling part time. So working full time, juggling regular life, food issues, and now homeschooling on top of it? Might be one ball too many.

It’s infuriating, because I have SO many things I want to write about! I keep making “draft” posts with topic ideas; right now I have about 30 draft posts that are just waiting to be written.

Well, I’ll keep trying. Hopefully after a few more weeks I’ll have a better balance for my new ‘job’ and can start picking up balls again. Namely, blogging.

Oh, and I’m very excited! Tonight is the boys first gymnastics class!

I’ve mentioned living way out in the country before, so you can imagine my joy to discover there is a bona fide, award winning gymnastics/dance studio about ten minutes from my house! Even better, enrolling both boys in a weekly tumbling class costs less than just having Jed in martial arts!

I’m praying they both like it and that it isn’t “too loud” for Jed.

How have you been lately? I miss you guys!

Three Years on a TED

Three Years On A TED CradleRockingMama.com

On August 8, 2015, I celebrated three years on a TED (Total Elimination Diet).

If you had told me my TED would last three years back in August of 2012, I wouldn’t have believed you. If I did finally believe you, I would have curled up in a ball and cried.

Nonetheless, three years later I am still eating the highly restrictive diet necessary to keep my son alive in those early days.

Few TED’s are perfect from the get-go; mine has undergone changes over those years. At first, I was eating 12 items. That was quickly reduced to 10 items. Eventually, it dropped to 6 items. (Grass-fed beef, organic russet potatos, olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, and stevia, in case anyone wonders what finally allowed Zac to start finding safe foods!)

Now I eat those 6 things, plus all of Zac’s new safe foods, which means that while my diet is still small, it is actually quite easy to maintain. I can finally make anything from appetizer to dessert with the limited items I have to eat.

I still carry all my food with me to work…and all my water, too. Honestly, there are times I would love to be able to simply call for room service rather than deal with cooking my own, safe food on the road; then, though, I think about where the chicken or beef or vegetables would come from in that dreamed-of room service meal and, suddenly? The effort involved is worth it again.

Never again will I eat as I did pre-FPIES. 

For starters, I lost 63 pounds I desperately needed to lose by going on such a restrictive diet. Though my weight has fluctuated a bit since spring, when Zac began to wean, and I’ve put back on about 6 of those lost pounds, I’m still healthier and more trim and active than I had been my entire adult life. I won’t lose that.

Secondly, I discovered I have food intolerances along with my boys. While my health isn’t perfect since the onset of the TED (I have had a few infections and general sicknesses along the way), I no longer suffer from constant, debilitating sinus infections as I always did prior to the TED. I no longer have any symptoms of IBS, which I’m sure I would have been diagnosed with had I ever bothered to pursue a diagnosis. My sleep, sporadic though it may be, is far better; I fall asleep easier and faster, and sleep better when I am asleep than I ever did pre-TED.

I never want to return to my life of general malaise and feeling “run-down” all the time.

Third, my  knowledge of our food supply is FAR greater than it was back when I ate the SAD (Standard American Diet). I don’t have the time or energy to devote fully to it, but I’ve become a bit of a food activist over the last 3 years. It’s appalling to me how corrupt and wicked our food supply is, and even more disheartening to know that so many Americans spare that issue so little thought or concern.

Will I avoid restaurants and convenience food forever? I really can’t say. With my lifestyle as a Flight Attendant, I can’t guarantee I won’t “cave” once in a while on the road and simply grab a salad somewhere. Honestly, though, based on my food intolerances and the fact that I don’t want to ever feel so badly again, my options for “caving” will be rather limited. Odds are, I’ll be carrying everything I eat with me to work for the rest of my career.

I simply prefer to eat real  food these days.

After three years on a TED, I considered what I might say to someone just embarking on one.

Honestly, at this point I’ve come to the conclusion that TED’s are miraculous, wonderful things that I believe every person on earth should seize as a personal health discovery aid. So many people are probably unaware of food intolerances that manifest in symptoms that make them feel terrible and are hard to treat or fix; finding the cause in their diet would alleviate much of that discomfort and/or harm.

However, for Mama’s doing a TED for their FPIES or food allergic child, it gets a little trickier. I’ve heard of so many women who went on a TED for their child only to find their own health got WORSE. Women who were already healthy and fit lost a distressing amount of weight until they were malnourished and sickly. Women who suddenly had alarming health issues pop up once they changed their diet.

I believe I got very lucky with my TED.

Still, in the beginning I didn’t think I would be so lucky. I thought it was a certainty that I was absolutely wrecking my health completely in order to keep Zac alive…and I still jumped in to my TED 100%.

I would do the same today, even if the outcome had been different. My sons health was – and is – worth it to me.

Further, I would encourage any Mama with an FPIES child to pursue a TED. Mine has lasted a long time; in fact, while I’m not completely sure, I think it may be one of the longest breastfeeding TED’s in the FPIES world. (I know some who have done it longer, but it seems most manage to end their TED within 2 years.) So while two years of poor health is NOT a good thing, NOT advisable, and NOT recommended…if the alternative is your precious baby suffering intense pain, how could you not at least give it a try?

If it’s too much for a Mama’s body to handle, well, then she at least knows she gave it a good try. She at least knows she did the best she could for her baby by leaving no option unexplored. That’s motivation enough for me – and for most of the other FPIES TED mama’s I’ve spoken with!

While I think TED’s are a little known and potentially powerful diagnostic tool for the general population, I know FPIES TED’s are a different animal. For me, my TED for Zac turned into a TED for me, as well. Other FPIES mama’s aren’t in that situation.

Their TED is strictly for their child, and it may prove disastrous to their own health. I’ve said it before: Mama’s have to water their own roots so they can take care of their family properly.

It’s a terrible position to be in when you realize the TED that is helping your child is almost killing you. I have no great advice for the Mama’s in that situation, except to say that you have to do what is right for you and your child.

Usually the FPIES mama’s recommend a woman on a TED who is in such a position do formula trials for her child BEFORE she weans, simply because there are far too many examples of our ‘rare’ children reacting to even elemental formulas. Eliminating your child’s only safe nutrition before knowing you have a backup could prove disastrous in the long run.

Many of those trials do end up with safe formulas, which means a TED Mama can wean with the sure knowledge that she did every single thing in her power to keep her child healthy and alive.

For those unfortunate Mama’s whose formula trials end in reactions, well, there are still options. She can continue to nurse on her TED, knowing that her health is suffering but it IS temporary; by keeping her baby non-reactive, she can sooner discover safe foods that lessen the breastmilk dependence and speed up the time frame on weaning.

Some Mama’s have delved into the world of homemade formulas. I’ve heard of some made with hemp milk, and some that use liver as a base. There are options out there; though, having not used any of them myself I have no additional information about them.

In the end, after three years on a TED and three years in the world of FPIES, I still believe that TED’s are a worthwhile endeavor for FPIES Mama’s. Even if it proves unsuccessful, the knowledge that you tried carries a lot of weight.

Besides, whether successful or unsuccessful, any TED done for a nursing baby will be temporary. My three year TED is a long one, but it won’t last forever.

Yours won’t either.

Have you done a TED for your FPIES baby? How long did it last? 

What Every New FPIES Parent Should Know (On Our 3 Year Anniversary)

What Every New FPIES Parent Should Know On Our Three Year Anniversary CradleRockingMama.com

Three years ago, on August 1, 2012, while standing in the hallway of the doctors office, we received our FPIES diagnosis.

Three years.

It seems like an eternity and a blink simultaneously.

In honor of this dubious anniversary, I’ve been re-reading the early posts I wrote about our journey. Remembering those early days is quite an emotional roller coaster for me; I’m amazed at how much has changed, and how much hasn’t changed at all.

A Bad Day, written on August 10, 2012, really shook me. Re-reading that story, I can clearly see that as a life-changing day for me. It’s a little unnerving to look back and see the fundamental change in my perspective at that moment, when I know at the time I didn’t really realize what I was experiencing.

Well, that post and My New Reality, actually, were the two posts that truly amaze me from that time. Both were astonishingly prophetic, and both clearly show a new FPIES mom transitioning into a new way of looking at life…adjusting to a world tipped on its side, thrown into a tailspin, and reversed from everything she had known before.

As for prophetic, I found myself laughing at the fact that, three years ago, I predicted that my salary would not help us handle the copious financial challenges presented by FPIES, which I wrote about only recently when sharing the solution we found to that problem.

I also predicted that Zac would be a very corn-sensitive child, which scared me to death – and has also proven very true.

Those early days of our diagnosis were some of the most stressful and frightening of my life, and re-reading that part of our journey made me consider some things I wish I had known then.

I’ve already written a couple of “tip” posts that are still good. If you are new to FPIES (or severe food allergies and intolerances), you should absolutely read Ten Things I Wish I Had Known When My Kids Were Diagnosed With Food Allergies, and Tips to Thrive at Complex Child Magazine.

But there are a few more things I’ve thought of in this anniversary re-reading that I want to share. So here it is:

What Every New FPIES Parent Should Know

  1. FPIES Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint. An incredible FPIES mom told me that at the beginning of our journey, and repeating that mantra has helped enormously over the years. She’s right; there is no quick fix for FPIES, and the only way through it is inch by inch, day by day. You can’t speed up the process of your child outgrowing FPIES by fervent prayers and wishes, or by anything you do (other than avoiding trigger foods). The only thing you can do is to settle in for the long haul and pace yourself. Which brings me to…
  2. The Panic Doesn’t Last Forever. When they first get the diagnosis, it’s common for FPIES parents to, well, freak out! “What next? What’s going to happen? OMG How do I feed my child? Will we end up in the hospital again? Why doesn’t the doctor seem to know what to tell me? Why does all the information seem to contradict? HELP!!” It doesn’t feel like it, but that panic doesn’t last forever. Over time, whether days, weeks, or months, as you read and learn more about FPIES, you will get your feet back underneath you and grow more confident about how to cope with this rare disease. Panic isn’t sustainable, and knowledge is the antidote to fear.
  3. Don’t Be Surprised if Your Child Has MORE Than FPIES Going On. It seems that many parents with FPIES children discover concurrent rare diseases in their children, like MCAD, MTHFR, or other food intolerances like Fructose Malabsorption or Histamine Intolerance. Of course, many FPIES kiddos simply have just FPIES, but if you are struggling to find baseline and not seeming to make any progress, keep in mind that some other issue may be causing the problem. Don’t look at your childs health strictly through FPIES Eyes.
  4. Pay Attention to Your Marriage. On the day you get your diagnosis, you may have a marriage made in heaven or a marriage on the rocks. Either way, and despite how terrified you may be at that moment, make a concerted effort to start putting some serious time and attention in to your marriage. FPIES, just like any chronic health condition, WILL put a serious strain on your relationship. Make the effort to make time for your spouse, keep the spark alive, and keep your bond strong. Darrel and I have a great  marriage, but for the last year we have struggled heartily. Thanks to FPIES, we had developed bad habits and had small miscommunications and hurts that had never been dealt with. It has taken concerted effort to get us back on track; far easier would have been to not assume our marriage was strong enough that it could survive without any TLC for the last 3 years and to have put a little effort into our marriage consistently over that time frame.
  5. You’re Still A Normal Parent. It is easy to become so mentally caught up in FPIES and other food issues that you can start to feel like medical personnel – and not a parent! It gets easier to balance those two roles, but at first, try not to forget that you are a special needs parent. Specifically, don’t forget to implement discipline. Many times a childs reactions involve uncontrollable bad behavior; Jed is especially prone to this. It’s tricky, but I have to balance the knowledge that he isn’t truly being ‘bad’ of his own volition with the need to impress on him proper behavior and self-control. I don’t always get it right, but I am always aware of the fact that I can’t let bad behavior go unnoticed and condoned, no matter the cause. Whether my kiddos outgrow their food issues or not, eventually, they will be adults; they need to know how to be the best adults they can be. Sometimes I simply have a conversation with him about what he did and how he might react next time (leave the room when he feels the Meanies coming on, etc.), and sometimes I actually have to implement some sort of punishment (time out, etc.). Don’t worry, though; it’s not all bad stuff to be parents, which is why you should…
  6. Take LOTS of Photos and Videos! So many FPIES moms have commented, a few years into the journey, that the first year or two of their childs lives are a blur in their mind. Such stress and anxiety, combined with the all-too-common lack of sleep, means new FPIES parents often end up somewhat forgetting those precious baby days. Keep your camera handy, and any time your baby does something cute, record a video or snap a photo! Cute faces in the grocery store cart? SNAP! Silly babbles in the living room? RECORD! One day, your child will (likely) have outgrown FPIES, and you can resume being a 100% normal parent. When that happens, it’s good to be able to look back and remember that even during the darkest days, there was still joy to be had with your sweet baby. Photos and videos will help you remember those sweet, tender, NORMAL moments. I know most parents these days are shutter-happy, but as an FPIES parent, it’s all too easy to stop doing things you were doing while coping with this new reality. Don’t stop taking pictures. They’ll be more precious than gold in just a few years. (And don’t forget to BACK THOSE PHOTOS UP in at least two places, no matter how busy you get!!!)

This is by no means a comprehensive list of things I wish I had known in those early days, but these are the things that often don’t get mentioned.

For all those new parents staggered by their recent FPIES diagnosis, let me close with these thoughts: take a deep breath, hug your children, hug your spouse, plan something fun (no matter how hard it is to arrange it), and never forget that you are NOT alone. Us FPIES veteran parents are still here, sometimes still dealing with it, and still remember exactly how we felt in those early days.

We can help.

What do you wish you had known in the early days of your diagnosis?

For more tips on living with FPIES, Fructose Malabsorption, and Food Allergies, plus some great recipes, please subscribe here!

SoFi.com Saved Our Bacon

SoFi.com Saved Our Bacon CradleRockingMama.com

I hate credit card debt.

It makes my skin crawl. It makes me feel like I have a boulder sitting on my head.

For a long time now, Darrel and I have been drowning in credit card debt.

How could people who despise debt end up owing so much to credit cards that even with a very high annual income they can barely breathe?

Kids. But mostly medical expenses and the high costs of allergy foods.

FPIES happened, ladies and gents, and it dragged Darrel and I down into the depths of credit card debt.

FPIES reared its ugly head by sending us to the hospital when Zac was 7 weeks old. Not just a visit to the hospital, oh no. This was admitted to one hospital, then an Angel Flight helicopter ride in dire straights to Little Rock, and a week in the second hospital with myriad tests and multiple doctors attending our child. Oh, and then Jed was admitted to the hospital back home at the same time. (Boy, those were fun days…)

In case you don’t know, all that hospitalization is EXPENSIVE; at least 6K.

Then there was flying the kids to Atlanta to see specialists (which, even with free flights and free lodging was still a good 2K in medical costs and expenses).

All of this while I was out on maternity leave, not earning any money. Darrel’s poor paycheck begged for mercy. We just didn’t have the money to pay for these things.

Hello, VISA.

It wasn’t our first choice, but it was our only option.

From the beginning, every time we tried to get on any sort of public assistance, we were denied. Apparently we earned enough money to not qualify for help, but were poor enough to be nearly bankrupted by the cost of keeping our sons healthy and alive.

(I’m not kidding; we were denied for one program because we made $100 too much per year. Argh!)

Adding to the problem was the fact that Zac didn’t have any safe foods until 17 months old and my breastmilk was all that was keeping him alive. I had to take continued leave of absences from work to keep Zac’s food source near him 24/7. We couldn’t afford those leaves, but what choice did I have? It was either go to work and kill my son, or stay home for Zac but maybe lose our house (or at least go into severe debt).

I’ve already done a breakdown of how expensive food allergic grocery shopping is, and those expenses hit us every month without fail whether I was bringing home money or not (on top of the medical bills just sitting on the credit card).

The VISA card was smoking from all the bananas, quinoa, and other specialty food we had to buy.

Then we had to buy a new freezer because all that expensive food must be stored somehow, and we had no more room. More credit card debt.

Now I’ve been back to work full time for over a year. Between the two of us, Darrel and I are earning…well, let’s just say VERY good money.

And we literally cannot afford to get a squeaky belt fixed on my car.

We can’t breathe from the credit card debt we are now having to pay off.

One card alone costs us $515 a month – just to keep the balance from going UP! That doesn’t pay off a single dime of the balance.

Darrel and I have been paying approximately $1,700 per month on debt, and have not made a dent in that debt in over a year.

We. Are. Drowning.

We’re GOOD at paying off debt, folks! We wiped out almost 20K in debt within the first 3 years of marriage alone! But we can’t seem to pull ourselves out of our current hole.

I’ve gone to one of our banks and one of our credit unions, applying for a loan to pay off all the debt. Despite the fact that I was back at work and we were bringing home a lot of money, regardless of the fact that both of our credit scores are very high, nevermind the fact that I informed them this was to pay off  the credit card debt – and I’d even close out the credit card accounts (affecting my credit score negatively)…we were denied both times.

Our debt to income ratio was too high, they said.

“Yes, but using this money to pay off the expensive debt will mean the debt stays the same, right?” I asked.

“Yes,” they said. “But it doesn’t matter. We have a formula, and you don’t qualify.”


I’d resigned myself to working 80-90 hours of flight time per month (in the real world, that translates to a traditional 160-180 monthly work schedule) and maybe getting our debt payed off in another 5-10 years, while stressing constantly about how we were going to pay for needed car repairs, how we would pay for a new car when the time comes (a 2004 car isn’t going to last much longer, especially since we have to keep deferring needed repairs), and how we would pay for any emergencies that came up.

While never going out to have any fun or going on vacations, of course. Even with free flights and discounted lodging.

Not a fun way to live. But, you know, we had no choice at the time, and this is the price of being able to cope with FPIES effectively for our family. I’ll gladly live this way for as long as necessary in exchange for my happy, healthy little boy!

Still. Couldn’t there ever be a break for us? A way out?

It sure didn’t seem that way…until I got a piece of mail one day. I didn’t recognize the sender, so I didn’t throw it away as junk mail. I opened it.

Then  I thought it was junk mail! It was one of those fake checks that said “You’ve been approved for $100,000!” Yeah, right. Another credit card ad. Trash!

Just as I was about to chunk it, though, I registered that this said “loan”…not credit card. Intrigued, I looked more closely.

The information in the letter seemed clear enough, but I’d never heard of this company before and frankly, it seemed too good to be true. So I did a little research.

By the time I was done with my online research, I’d shared the news with Darrel and we were applying for a loan.

Two weeks later, we were approved!

We will pay off all but our two smallest debts with this loan, and according to our current budget, everything but this new loan will be paid off by the spring. At that time, our monthly outlay for our debt will drop from $1,700 (without making a dent) to $550 (for a mere 7 years)!

Yes, it’s 7 years of paying on this debt, which sucks. Surely we could pay if off sooner without the loan, right?

Maybe not.

Especially not if we keep getting hit with random expensive stuff. An $823 medical bill from a year and a half ago that insurance just finished with. $510 in new tires because mine were so bald they were about to blow. That squeaky belt in my car that needs to be addressed after over a year of squeaking at me.

This way, we can pay off our debt responsibly, but we can also BREATHE while we do it. 

So what is this amazing company that saved our financial bacon?


It’s a completely new approach to financing. SoFi stands for “Social Financing”, and it started as a way for Stanford alumni to help fund the education of current Stanford students.

They expanded to service other universities with student loan options, and now are branching out into mortgages and personal loans.

This isn’t FICO based lending; it’s mostly based on whether they think you can pay it back or not (length of time at a job, income, college degree preferred, etc.). One really comprehensive overview of the company can be read here.

Everything is done strictly online. Even the document submission part was online (they suggested I take photos of my documents and submit the photos if I didn’t have a pdf available!).

Even with a completely online company, though, I experienced better customer service than I have EVER gotten from any brick and mortar finance institution! They have a nifty little “Chat Now” button that – surprise, surprise – actually connects you to a real human being instantly. No matter what time of day I had a question, the connection was instant and the conversation helpful and friendly. (Except for when they’re not actually open. Then I can leave a chat message and they get back as soon as they open for the day.)

When I’ve called on the phone, they were super easy to talk to and work with.

Even signing the loan documents was online.

Easy, easy, easy. 

Why am I telling you all about this great company? 

Well, because I know how expensive food allergic living is, and I know many of us in the FPIES/food allergy world have gone into extreme debt trying to keep our kids alive. Drowning in debt is an exchange we are all willing to make to keep our kids healthy, but living that way sucks.

This is a potential way out if you, like me, have exhausted all typical resources available.

If you have student loan debt, SoFi.com can refinance it for you! (Be careful, though; Darrel evaluated his student loan debt and realized he’s already got a better deal than what SoFi.com could offer. They’re awesome, but you still have to do the math!)

If you have credit card debt and a job, you may be able to get a personal loan to make those payments a little easier to bear!

If you need a house, look in to their mortgage options!

For older parents, they can even refinance student loans you’ve taken out for your children.

I can’t guarantee they will approve your loan application, of course. But it’s well worth investigating to see if they can help you breathe a little. 


Before I say anything else, let me just state for the record: DEBT SUCKS. DO NOT go into debt if you can help it. If you’re already in debt, though, and drowning in payments that don’t make a difference, I recommend looking into SoFi.com.


Rest assured, I’m so stinking happy about getting this loan I would have shouted SoFi.com’s praises for free! But, you know, they’re just giving away money for referrals…I certainly won’t say no!

If you’re interested in a student loan, visit THIS LINK

If you’re interested in a personal loan, visit THIS LINK

Yes, I will get $100 if you are qualified for a loan, but guess what? SO WILL YOU. IF you go through those links, you get $100, too!

Being rewarded while also being able to breathe again?

I love you, SoFi.com. 

With a little bit of breathing room in our budget, I have every confidence Darrel and I will easily avoid going in to any more credit card debt. This is easily the answer to many prayers. How about you? Have you gotten in such dire straights you’ve had to do a consolidation loan to survive? Would you be willing to try SoFi.com?

For more information on budgeting and debt reduction, check out my Frugal Friday series on the subject:

Where Are You Standing Financially?
Organize Your Debt
Make A Plan
Focus on the Details
Design Your Dream Life

The Wonderful World of Potatos

The Wonderful World of Potatos CradleRockingMama.com

Do you know what I dislike?


More specifically, working so much that I’m exhausted while AT work, and so exhausted when I get home that I’m almost comatose for two days after returning.

I took my computer to work with me last week, but, thanks to insane delays on every flight I worked I had neither the time, opportunity, or brain power to open the computer one single time to write. The computer stayed packed in my suitcase the entire time I was gone, which makes me mad for two reasons: one, I didn’t get a chance to write anything and two, that’s a lot of weight to haul around for no reason!

All told, for July I’m gone from home 16 days, netting me a grand total of 88 hours of paid flight time (plus the flight time for commuting).

I don’t know when I got old, but I’ll tell ya – I’m too old for this!


Anyway, I’m hoping things will ease up soon, but that explains my absolute silence here since last week.

Ever since the unfortunate Ritz cracker and Dasani exposure, we’ve been on a trial hiatus for Zac. We especially needed to give it some time to make sure he wasn’t having any mild reactions when we began our next food trial: potatos.

Tired as I am, when I returned from work Sunday night, we decided he was as “baselined” as possible, and yesterday morning Zac ate his first ever Russet potatos.

I made Potato Pancakes for breakfast and he ate 6 pancakes all by himself!

Later on he had some plain mashed potatos with steak for dinner, which he loved.

This morning, I made Hamburger Hash for breakfast, and he ate his serving, plus half of Jed’s!

So far, so good. He is potty training right now, so diapers are a thing of the past. That makes it harder to keep an eye on his poops to see how he’s doing, but I think I may finally have him trained to come get me before he flushes the potty after he goes #2.

Yesterday, he had a nice looking poop in the potty, a great appetite, and good sleep.

So far today, he’s had a huge appetite and a great attitude.

Not to mention the amazing speech he’s showing! He’s mimicking EVERYTHING we say, no matter what. The speech isn’t directly related to the potatos; he has been increasing his speech exponentially for the last two weeks. However, speech regression is a typical sign of a reaction to his foods, so the fact that his speech continues to grow is promising!

The other day at work, he and I actually had a short conversation on the phone. It basically amounted to telling me he was eating eggs, and me asking if they were yummy, and him saying yes they were, but that’s the most back and forth we’ve ever had on the phone.

I was thrilled.

Also thrilling? The fact that, for the first time EVER in his three years on the planet, I was able to cook ONE single meal for both breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday.

Three meals a day instead of 6-9 meals a day. The lightened workload is heavenly!

I even had enough time yesterday to whip together dessert for after dinner! I can’t tell you how long it has been since I’ve thrown together some homemade ice cream for after-dinner dessert, just because I could.

I do often make desserts (as evidenced by the many dessert recipes I have available on my site), but the untold story behind those desserts is this: on days when I make a dessert? Dinner is incredibly boring and not too challenging.

Something has to give, after all; if I’m spending time on dessert AND cooking 3 separate meals for dinner, those meals are going to have to be quick and easy!

Even if potatos prove safe for Zac, this won’t be an end to the large quantities of cooking. Jed and Darrel can eat far more than Zac can, after all, and I can’t limit them as strictly as I do Zac and myself.

Finally, though, Zac and I would be able to eat the same thing at meal times, so at the worst, I’ll be cooking 6 meals per day.

I’ll admit that I was hesitant to trial the olive oil and potatos on Zac. Not only because if they weren’t safe, I would have to wean Zac, but also because there are far more nutritionally “powerhouse” foods I’d rather trial.

I’m so grateful my brilliant husband kept his eye on the big picture, though, and pushed to trial these foods. The lifestyle simplification has been overwhelmingly greater than I’d envisioned. Once again, Darrel has proven that he is always thinking of how to best take care of me, since the whole reason he wanted these foods was to simplify my life in the kitchen.

I have a fabulous husband.

Jed is doing very well, too. We’ve recently increased our discipline for him, and increased his household responsibilities. While it’s not perfect, yet, he is stepping up to the plate and proving himself to be a good worker and a pretty good rule follower.

He’s also chomping at the bit to start school! Every day that I’m home, he asks me “Is today a school day, Mommy?”

It absolutely breaks my heart to tell him “No, not yet.” every time he asks. With my overwhelming workload in July, I just couldn’t get my brain firing on enough cylinders to even contemplate teaching him Kindergarten!

Again, I’m hoping that changes next week. My goal is to start school on August 4th. I think I’ll be ready by then, but if I’m not, I’ll just jump in to the deep end and figure out how to swim.

Oh, and last year I had a whole series on gardening called “Brown Thumb Gardener”. Since I didn’t write any more about gardening this year, I bet you thought I decided to give up gardening, right?

Wrong. I planted a garden.

However, because I’m working more this year than I did last year, I knew it couldn’t be a big garden. I decided to just grow cucumbers, zucchini, basil and stevia.

The basil and stevia are doing great, but the cukes and zucchini…not so much.

I got squash bugs.

A HUGE infestation of squash bugs.

I have no zucchini plants left. I had to pull them all up and burn them.

Half my cucumbers are gone, too. The ones that are left still have squash bugs on them, but I go out every night I’m home and kill as many as I can find. Unfortunately, since I’m gone slightly more than half the month in July, that explains why the little devils were able to decimate my zucchini so well. I can only kill them when I’m home, so they have plenty of opportunity to breed and wreak havoc.

I’m rather heartbroken that I’m not enjoying the cucumber bounty I did last summer. I really like cucumbers!!

Well, that’s a little update from our corner of the world. What’s new with you?

Ritz Cracker Non-Reaction

Last week was brutal. I’m feeling very off my game right now, so this might not be the best writing I’ve ever done. Still, I wanted to give an update on the tomato trial, since I announced it last week.

The tomato trial never happened.

Zac helped us pick out tomatos in the store. He helped bag them. The morning of the trial, he helped wash and dice them. He told me how he wanted me to serve them to him.

He seemed VERY excited about tomatos!

Until I put the plate in front of him.

Then he absolutely refused to even taste a tiny little piece of tomato. He even pinched his lips closed when I attempted to feed him a little dice.


As we went about our business for the rest of the day, I contemplated how I was going to “sneak” tomatos into his food for a trial. Darrel was all for skipping tomatos and moving on, but, as I said, I really want to eat tomatos! If I could think of a good list of ways to pursue the trial, I was going to do my best to convince Darrel we should continue.

The kids ate a good, big lunch, and we went to town for speech therapy and a quick visit to the health food co-op. They really shouldn’t have been hungry until dinner time.

However, at the co-op, they both started whining and crying for food. “Mommy! I’m hungry!”

I don’t know what possessed me. After three years of dealing with FPIES, I’ve gotten very good at telling the kids “no” and making them go hungry until we get home on the rare occasions I don’t have safe food with us. But last Monday, I found myself seeking out the produce manager to ask questions about bananas.

The organic bananas at my health food co-op, she assured me, are not sprayed with anything. Theoretically, that makes them essentially the same as the bananas we’ve been having shipped in from Florida. Theoretically, that means Zac can eat a banana from my co-op without incident.

My parents have asked me several times why Zac can’t have bananas from the co-op, and every time I’ve responded that we don’t want to spend time on a trial for a version of a food he already has since we’re trying to get NEW foods for him.

But the tomato trial didn’t happen. And I had to leave for work in two days. I wasn’t willing to start a trial the day before I left work, which meant any new trial had to start RIGHT THEN.

Oh, what the hay. I bought Zac some bananas.

The child was thrilled!

For the first time in his life, he got to eat a food right there in the store. Seriously. He has never eaten ANYTHING that didn’t have to be specially sourced and prepared at home.

We didn’t even leave the checkout line before he was digging into the bags to pull out a banana. He ate it as he walked back to the car, a grin on his face.

I texted Darrel, informing him that tomatos didn’t happen and I guessed we were doing a banana trial now.

We decided it didn’t need to be a full trial; just a short one to make sure the bananas were as safe as we imagined they would be.

It looked good for those bananas, too, and then on Thursday, BOTH boys ate Ritz crackers and Dasani water.

I was at work when I learned of this, and was very upset. Ritz crackers are not exactly a great choice for my kids. I expected reactions from both of them.

Amazingly enough, it’s been decidedly quiet on the reaction front. Despite being made entirely of wheat, Jed didn’t have any Meanies from them. Why he had the Meanies from the wheat in the batter on some fried catfish but not from a cracker made entirely from wheat is beyond me, but it is what it is.

Zac’s poops have been…not perfect, but not anywhere near as bad as I would have imagined after drinking Dasani (aka CORN) water and eating Ritz crackers with a zillion ingredients.

I’m flabbergasted.

Still, since the next trial we want to do is potatos, and I REALLY want those to be a safe food for him, we have no choice but to wait a good week or two before pursuing the next trial. I don’t want a repeat of the bell pepper incident; it’s safer to wait just to make sure any mild internal reactions he’s having are healed up before introducing a new food.

I have some really cute pictures of Zac eating his first banana, but, last week was brutal. I don’t have the energy to deal with photo editing right now.

In the meantime, we’re back in a holding pattern, and waiting until we’re sure Zac is totally healthy before introducing potatos.

Also, I don’t know what to think about this Ritz cracker debacle. Do you think it’s a sign Zac may be outgrowing FPIES? I don’t know what to think. Maybe it’s just that since we’ve done such a good job of keeping him healthy he can handle small doses of triggers without incident?

Controlling the Meanies

Controlling the Meanies CradleRockingMama.com

It’s been a long couple of weeks. We’ve been busily trying to get the homeschool classroom put together, since Jed has announced that he can only go to school IN a classroom. (Love opinionated kiddos!)

Really our classroom is just half of our office cleaned out and dedicated to school work, but that necessitates my cleaning out the office first.

Remember when I mentioned my own personal organizational demon? Yeah. It’s A LOT to go through to clean out my office. I sorted through quite a bit last fall, but never finished going through all of it. My paper shredder is going to have a nervous breakdown.

Work slowed down on that project quite a bit last week, as I had to go to work for half the time, but it’s almost done. Jed should be ready to start school by the end of the month (if not sooner).

I’ll admit I’ve been having loads of fun getting things ready to start school. I’m one of those weird people who LOVE school and office supplies. Remember the line in “You’ve Got Mail” about “…a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils”? I completely resonated with that thought!

Putting up a dry erase calendar, buying a globe, putting up a map of the U.S., getting my lesson plans put together, ensuring we have enough crayons and pencils, putting up my old dry erase board to use…it’s all like Christmas to me! The potential! The learning! The fun! I can’t wait!

(And yes, I was going to college to become a teacher, once upon a time. I feel like I’m fulfilling a dream of mine!)

I am a little frustrated about one thing, though. Ever since it became clear that we are just about  to start actual school, Jed has refused to do anything that resembles learning or instruction. As an example, he won’t say his alphabet now. “No, Mommy. I’ll do my alphabet when I start school.” he tells me. Trying to convince him that you don’t need to be in school to learn has been an exercise in futility.

Ah, well. With luck, we will get that particular lesson through his head over the next few years. He only has a short alphabet reprieve, anyway: school will be starting very soon!

In the meantime, we completed an entire food trial with nary a hitch in our gait: olive oil is safe for Zac!


We use olive oil for everything in this house. With Zac finally able to use olive oil, cooking has become unbelievably easier! No more “two pans to fry” with. Everyone’s food gets cooked in the same pan, now (as long as all the ingredients are safe for Zac, of course).

Who would have thought that a little olive oil would make life so much easier I’m feeling like a boulder has been lifted off my shoulders? It’s amazing!

So, on to the next trial. We start tomatos today. 

Hopefully, it will go as well as olive oil. Tomatos puts me one step closer to a salad. Or a pizza. Or ketchup.

I kind of miss those things.

In fact, I catch myself drooling when I see someone eating a nice, crisp salad sometimes. It’s pathetic.

please be a pass tomatos oh please be safe for Zac thank you in advance God

In other news, Jed accidentally ate some wheat a week and a half ago and had a full blown case of the Meanies the next day. (Fructans=reaction for us)

For the first time ever, though, his reaction did NOT happen on his previous “like clockwork” schedule. Instead of symptoms beginning 4 hours post-ingestion, it took 14 hours for the symptoms to appear.

However, when the symptoms showed up, they showed up just as always. He turned into Devil Child like a switch had been thrown.

After about an hour of his screaming and tantruming his way through the house, I investigated a little deeper into what he’d eaten for dinner the night before and learned that wheat was actually a part of his meal.

I told Jed, “Honey, you have the Meanies right now. Last night you ate some wheat, which we know isn’t good for you.” His eyes got big for a minute. Then I told him to go to his room: whether he’s got the Meanies or not, some of the things he was doing were not acceptable. We all needed a break.

I mentally prepared myself for 36 more hours of Meanie behavior, as that is usually how long his reactions last, but found myself completely discombobulated two hours later when I realized Jed had been behaving perfectly lovely for the last 30 minutes.

Curious, I questioned Jed. In our conversation, it came out that he finds it easier to control his bad behavior when he knows it’s the MEANIES causing him to feel so mean, angry, and icky. He knows it isn’t HIM or US; that his feelings are not ‘real’, and so he can rein in his desire to scream, hit, and be completely unreasonable. 

I found that to be not only fascinating, but also a moment of intense motherly pride in my incredibly self-aware son.

It kind of figures, though; I have reactions to foods, as well, and I’ve discovered the exact same thing that Jed figured out all on his own. When I know my food is making me hate the world, I can actually be nicer than I usually am! At times like that, I filter every insult, slight, or frustration through the “Oh, this isn’t that big a deal – it just seems like it because my food is making me hate everyone right now. Just blow it off!” filter. Consequently, I let everything – even things that are legitimate gripes – roll right off my back when I’m reacting.

Strange, right?

And something I thought was well beyond the capacity of my 5 year old to understand, or I would have tried to teach him that sooner. Apparently, I underestimated Jed. He’s a pretty awesome kid.

Unfortunately, just because he was able to control his bad behavior during the reaction, he could do nothing for the stomach pain. He reported an “icky tummy” all day.

That, too, didn’t last as long as normal, though. He was perfectly fine the next morning, far sooner than his typical reaction times.

I’m SO hoping the delay in symptom onset and reduced reaction time means he’s gaining tolerance as he gets bigger. Time will tell.

I’m curious: have any of you have discovered you can control yourself better if you know your feelings are a food reaction? 

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Quinoa Pancakes (& Fructose Friendly!)

Quinoa Pancakes Egg Free Gluten Free Fructose Friendly CradleRockingMama.com

The addition of baking soda to our diets has been wonderful  for baking. It really helps make everything I’ve ever made for Zac fluffier and better textured than they were without it. Including these gluten-free dairy-free quinoa pancakes!

A while ago, I realized that the cookie recipe I make for him could easily be poured into a skillet and fried up like a pancake. It’s the exact same recipe, but he sometimes prefers it cooked that way.

The other day, I decided to make Zac pancakes, and with baking soda on board, I took it a little bit further.

They were a Screaming Success!

He LOVED them! Couldn’t get enough and ate an entire batch before noon.

These yummy little pancakes came out fluffy, and looked and felt exactly like regular pancakes. I was thrilled!

They’re also really simple to make, and are naturally gluten-free, wheat-free, fructose friendly, and potentially dairy-free if you use an alternate liquid.

If you also make sure to avoid corn-y ingredients, you can make these corn-free, too!

Basically, you’ll follow the steps for the quinoa cookies, except to begin, you’ll add some safe fat or oil to a skillet and start heating it up on the stove. Pancakes of any stripe cook better when poured on to a hot surface!

Add 2 eggs, the milk, and the uncooked quinoa to a blender and process until smooth. To make these dairy free, just use an alternate milk like hemp or quinoa milk.

Ingredients Ready to Become Pancakes CradleRockingMama.com

Obviously “extras” aren’t safe for us, yet, but this would be a good time to add any that you’d like. Vanilla and some sweetener come to mind. I would suggest stevia; if you use anything else, like maple syrup or some granulated form of sugar, reduce the liquid accordingly.

Pour the batter in to a bowl, and add the baking soda. Stir it together with a large serving spoon, then use that spoon to “spoon” the batter in to the skillet.

Batter Up CradleRockingMama.com

I was aiming for mini-pancakes. Mine came out a little larger than a typical “silver dollar” pancake.

I’ve since made them larger, and they come out just fine as full-sized pancakes.

Cook the cakes for 2-3 minutes, or until you can see the edges begin to brown and some bubbles forming on the top.

Cooking the Pancakes CradleRockingMama.com

Then flip, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Pancakes Side Two CradleRockingMama.com

Plate them up and enjoy a delicious, healthy breakfast!

Quinoa Pancakes CradleRockingMama.com

Since the first time I made these, I’ve made an alternate version with bananas for extra flavor.

I simply added the banana to the blender with the rest of the ingredients; the only difference is that I reduced the milk to 1/2 c.

That version also came out fluffy and beautiful!

Fluffy Little Pancakes CradleRockingMama.com

Enjoy your gluten free, potentially dairy free, and fructose friendly pancakes!

Quinoa Pancakes - GF/DF & Fructose Friendly
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These delicious little pancakes are gluten free, potentially dairy free, and fructose friendly. They're also fluffy and perfect for breakfast! Enjoy!
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 18 silver dollar sized pancakes
  • 2 T. safe oil/fat (olive oil, tallow, butter, etc.)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ c. milk
  • ¾ c. uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 banana (optional - if you use banana, reduce the milk to ½ c.)
  • 6 scoops of stevia (just under ¼ tsp.) - optional
  • 1 tsp. vanilla - optional
  1. Add your safe oil/fat to a skillet and begin warming the pan on the stove. Pancakes work best on a hot surface!
  2. Crack the eggs into a blender.
  3. Add the milk and uncooked quinoa seeds. (Now would also be a good time to add the banana, stevia and vanilla, if using.)
  4. Process until a smooth batter forms.
  5. Pour the batter into a bowl.
  6. Add the baking soda and mix together with a spoon.
  7. Using a large serving spoon, spoon the batter into the hot skillet. These work best as smaller, "silver dollar" sized pancakes.
  8. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the edges have browned slightly, then flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  9. Use a spatula to slide those cute little pancakes on to a plate.
  10. Enjoy your delicious breakfast!