Global FPIES Day!

Global FPIES Day Zac CradleRockingMama.com

Today is an important day!

October 14, 2014 has been declared “Global FPIES Day”!

On this day, the FPIES community is rallying to spread awareness of FPIES to as many people as possible.

Because FPIES is so poorly understood, children often suffer – sometimes for years – before getting the proper diagnosis and treatment.

That has to stop.

The more people who know what FPIES is, the more likely parents of undiagnosed children will hear of it and find a light in the dark.

The more medical professionals who know what FPIES is, the more likely children will receive a timely diagnosis and avoid suffering for months and years.

My family has been living with FPIES for over two years now, and while living with this gets easier,  I can promise you it never gets easy.

Many of those who read my blog are part of my little FPIES community. But those beautiful readers who come here for the recipes or just because you’re inspired by our journey, know that you are beloved.

And today I’m asking for your help. 

Global FPIES Day is on the 14th. To help keep the date fresh in peoples minds, the initiative has focused on that “14” with lists of 14 ways kids can raise awareness, 14 ways families can raise awareness, etc.

The rest of this post has 14 links to things related to FPIES that will help raise awareness when shared.

Would you pretty please, with stevia on top, share these links on your Facebook, twitter, and other social media pages today?

If it isn’t asking too much, would you also consider saving the photo at the top of this post (of my cute little Zac in the Global FPIES Day frame) and using it as your profile pic on social media for a day?

Please share as much as possible today to make FPIES more visible in the world at large!

Be the voice of these precious little children!

LINKS TO SHARE:

Global FPIES Day

I Still Have FPIES Eyes

Blog: Bullfrogs and Butterflies

The FPIES Foundation: Inspiring Family Stories

Blog: F U FPIES

Blog: FPIES & MudPies

Blog: Our Mack Attack

Blog: Our Lives and FPIES

Blog: Trials and Triumphs of Nicole

Blog: My Little Pie with FPIES

VIDEOS TO SHARE:

Our Superhero: Cohen’s Story (Super Cohen’s Crusade for FPIES)

Zac Walking in a Play Area

Jack’s Soy Reaction

Zac Having an FPIES Reaction

FPIES: Now I Know

Okay, I got a little carried away. There are actually 15 links there. Actually, there were even more out there I could have added! Compared to when my family started this journey a little over two years ago, there is an absolute wealth of information available online!

Please share what you can.

Share as much as you can.

Be downright ANNOYING to your Facebook and Twitter friends.

Let’s saturate Facebook today until every man, woman and child in the world has at least heard the term “FPIES” at least once in their lives. 

Let’s shine a light in the darkness!

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What are you doing to celebrate Global FPIES Day?

Bananas: Take 2

Bananas Take 2 CradleRockingMama.comEven though Zac hadn’t returned to 100% baseline, on Saturday, we started re-trialing bananas.

He’d gotten increasingly picky, and I was worried about his weight. Hey, it worked for quinoa, right?

So far, okay.

Saturday he had a good diaper, and no acute FPIES signs.

Sunday he was a tad cranky during the day, and about an hour or so after eating some banana ice cream he had a strong case of hiccups, but that was it.

Since he hasn’t had bananas in a while, this could just be the effects of fructose on his little body. It’s happened before, after all. That’s why we started limiting him to ten bananas a day.

But yesterday he only ate 6 bananas. So, I don’t know.

It’s early, still. We’re going to give it at least 4 days before deciding if we lost bananas in the Great Stomach Bug Debacle or whether they were just a little rough on his tummy immediately after.

By Wednesday, we’ll know. 

Some fingers crossed and praying would be very appreciated right now! I really don’t want to lose bananas, even if they are a little fructose-y.

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In the meantime, life goes on.

My parents brought the boys home last week with a gift: a nice, big pumpkin to carve for Halloween.

I thought Jed was going to explode from excitement!

This weekend, we carved a pumpkin. 

More specifically, Darrel carved a pumpkin while letting Jed think he was helping as I took pictures and video and Zac tried to stick his head inside the pumpkin to see what was going on.

Never a dull moment with small children around!

It turned out great!

Jed actually did help draw the face of the pumpkin, and while Darrel did the cutting, Jed and Zac helped pull the cut pieces out.

The family effort gave me this:

Carving a Pumpkin CradleRockingMama.com

And it only took about 60 photos to get THAT shot! 

Trying to get two small kids to sit still and look at the camera while smiling simultaneously is like herding cats on meth.

(If you have small kids and want professional photographs? You are NOT paying the photographer enough. Just sayin’.)

Zac’s hands are a little blurry because he decided to wave at me, but it’s the ONLY picture I got with both of them looking at the camera and not blinking or making funny faces.

Good. Enough.

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I experimented in the kitchen a bit this weekend. Zac has been, as I said, increasingly picky, and I was desperate to find something he would eat with gusto.

It occurred to me that I had never made him quinoa noodles yet!

Since he can have eggs, I adjusted my egg-free quinoa noodle recipe to use eggs, omitting the starch, and made him some noodles.

He liked them.

Eventually.

It took about three attempts to even get one past his lips. But he did finally try one. Then he ate the whole bowl.

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Last week, when going through the office, I found some colored pencils we’d used for a short time with Jed.

Since their return, both boys have eagerly drawn on every piece of paper they could find.

This might only be the third time I’ve sat with Jed and REALLY worked on his letters, but he managed to accomplish this:

Jed Writes CradleRockingMama.com

I’m so proud.

My boy is finally starting to write!

It’s fun teaching him things. I think I’m more excited when he finally “gets” something than he is.

I’m a little sad that his signature on birthday and Christmas cards won’t be an enthusiastic scribble anymore, but excited that my sweet boy is growing and learning.

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On the subject of paper, Sunday afternoon I looked up and shook my head. THIS was what my living room looked like:

A Paper Mess CradleRockingMama.com

(No, it doesn’t look like this all the time!)

What amazed me was the thought that a year ago, this sight would have had me in hysterical fits. 

A year ago, I could never  have allowed that much paper in my house.

We could never have left books unattended in Zac’s presence.

The typical kid past-time of playing with empty cardboard boxes? Verboten in our house.

A year ago, Zac was still eating paper every chance he got, and having FPIES reactions to every bite of it.

Today, though, I can go ahead and let Jed play with that crushed roll of unusable wrapping paper I found going through the office and laugh about it, instead of locking Zac in his high chair while desperately searching for every stray bit of ripped paper Jed scattered and earnestly impressing on Jed the importance of NEVER EVER leaving paper in the living room.

FPIES is still a part of our lives.

But at least my children don’t have to live behind a gate in their own home any more. 

I’ll take that as a victory.

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What victories have you had over FPIES or food allergies?

 

God’s Providence

God's Providence CradleRockingMama.com

Yesterday’s recipe was a surprise to me. I wrote it and scheduled to post it last week – and forgot all about it!

Just to give a little update, things are better.

First, I want to thank you all for your concern, prayers, and insight.

After the last post, I was all set to go to work. Bags were packed and food was prepped; we even took the kids to my parents on Tuesday night so I’d be free to leave first thing in the morning on Wednesday.

Then I woke up. And I was sick. Really sick.

Low-grade fever, body aches, head pounding, throat on fire.

Blast it!

I hated doing it. REALLY hated doing it. But I had to call out sick.

For the third week in a row.

For two different sicknesses.

This is ridiculous!

I went to the doctor and she tested me for strep. Negative. In the end, I was diagnosed with viral pharyngitis, complicated by seasonal allergies.

Yay.

But remember when I mentioned God’s providence?

It showed up.

To understand how, I have to tell a little back-story that is also a bit of a confession.

I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has commented on how “organized” and “on the ball” I am.

Generally speaking, that’s pretty true.

Except in one tiny, little, GIGANTIC thing.

Paperwork.

Once Jed was born and we began dealing with his food issues, my “important paperwork” organization sort of…got completely forgotten.

Seriously. I sometimes don’t even open my mail for months. I can glance at an envelope and guess what is in it, and if it doesn’t strike me as of particular import, it gets tossed in a box to deal with “later”.

Ahem.  I had boxes of “later” paperwork dating back to 2011 stacked waist high in my office. Other than a path to Darrels computer, there was no way to walk in that room.

It was an embarrassment.

Not only that, but it made doing things – like filing our taxes – nearly impossible.

For the last 3 years, I’ve filed for an extension on our taxes every single year.

As a single lady, my taxes were filed and the refund spent by mid-February without fail. I was on it like white on rice.

The last 3 years? I’ve barely gotten them in by the October 15th extension deadline.

Yes, folks, I’m talking about doing 2013 taxes NOW.

Seriously embarrassing.

So how does God’s providence come into this?

Well. I was sick. Couldn’t really move too much because I got dizzy every time I did.

We needed to get the taxes done.

And my own personal Tasmanian Devils were happily playing at Grandma and PopPop’s house. Thanks to my parents kindness, they were even going to stay an additional night to give me some time to rest and get better.

It seemed a wise use of my “need to sit very still and not do much” sick time to simply sit quietly and sort through those boxes to find all the documentation we needed to do our taxes.

Not as relaxing as watching TV, my own personal preference for sick time, but certainly not stimulating or physically taxing in any way.

Not only did I find almost everything we needed to get our taxes done (a few receipts are missing), but I found – are you sitting down? – over $1,000 in our piles of paper!

$1,229.45 to be exact.

A check we hadn’t cashed from a few months ago. Spare change. Odd cash accidentally caught up in the mail and tossed in the box. The kids swingset fund where we’d stashed the Birthday and Christmas cash contributions given to help us buy them a swingset (which we did earlier this year, but hadn’t deposited the accumulated fund yet).

All odds and ends, but it added up – fast.

Now, thanks to Darrel still leaving the house daily, that money is already deposited (and spent, for that matter). Bills don’t wait. And it isn’t quite enough to salvage this month.

But I was also able to get our taxes finished, and as soon as Uncle Sam gets them, we will get a hefty tax refund.

That WILL be enough to salvage the month.

See? God’s providence.

It never fails.

Even better? I’m hoping to pick up some extra work assignments that will make up the hours I’ve lost in pay from all these sick calls once I’m better.

So we may  not even actually lose any income for the month.

Thank you, God, for everything.

As for health, well…

At this point I’m willing to move forward with the assumption that Zac is dealing with unusual seasonal allergies.

Mom and Dad reported that he complained of his head hurting, and that Mom would massage his scalp for a few minutes and he’d feel better and run off to play.

He had a good appetite. His poops were normal. He slept well.

So it appears as if he was just hit with extraordinarily strong histamine reactions to…something.

I’m hypothesizing weeds. Those were the only thing listed for our area as “high” on the allergy pollen count websites.

In any case, things are looking better for Zac.

Just in case, we picked up a refill of the boys diphenhydramine.

I even got a compounded bottle of some for me, too.

Since the pharmacist can use quinoa flour as a filler, he was able to make the pills with the machine instead of by hand. And that cut the cost from $1.66 to $.50 per pill.

Still expensive, but much more reasonable!!

My Mom temporarily forgot that we had reduced Zac’s foods down since the stomach bug, and fed him some banana/goat milk/sweet potato popsicles.

He had no reaction whatsoever!

So now Darrel and I feel okay about re-trialing bananas. We’ll probably start that today. Maybe not, though. He does still have some congestion.

My left shoulder pulled muscle stopped hurting. One morning I woke up and it was just fine. Whew!

Darrels knee still hurts, and my right elbow still hurts.

But we can live with that.

Thank you again to everyone who prayed for us this week.

I truly believe God answered!

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What’s your best story of God’s providence?

Popped Quinoa

Popped Quinoa CradleRockingMama.com

So here’s a fun little recipe: Popped Quinoa.

Back when I first made the Crispy Butter Candy Bars for Jed, I had the idea that puffed quinoa would be a great substitution for the puffed rice or puffed millet.

If I could use puffed quinoa, then one day, those bars could be safe for Zac (providing he passed enough foods, of course).

The search began…and ended pretty quickly.

I’m not sure that any of the brands of puffed quinoa out there are unsafe. I just couldn’t find enough proof that any of them ARE safe, either.

As sensitive to trace contaminants as Zac is, I needed 100% guarantee that there is no potential for cross-contamination.

Without that, my wallet stays closed.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered the idea for popping quinoa at home. I looked into it, and it seemed easy enough. Unfortunately, I read early on that it would not be an exact replacement of puffed quinoa, as you need specialized equipment to make that and the average home chef just won’t have those expensive machines.

No matter; I thought I’d try it out anyway. Anything that offers a little variety in our limited diets is worth a shot, right?

Turns out, it’s easy. It’s healthy. It’s a nifty snack (the easiest way to eat it plain is to lick your finger and stick it in the bowl, then lick the stuck quinoa off – fun!). And it works pretty good as a cereal with milk.

Over my long year of experimenting with quinoa, I’ve discovered that the pre-rinsed stuff still has some bitterness to it. Some people don’t notice it, or aren’t bothered by it, but my family does and is.

(In case you aren’t aware, quinoa has a natural pest deterrent built in: saponins. They’re bitter and keep pests away. The pre-rinsed quinoa seeds get most of it off, but some people still detect it. My family all can detect it.)

Because of that, I rinse my quinoa before using it.

The only downside to that is that when using quinoa in something that requires it be dry to start with, you have to dry the rinsed seeds before using. Things like grinding your own quinoa flour (totally worth it, in my opinion) or making popped quinoa are two things that require that extra step.

So if you don’t mind the slight bitterness, or don’t even notice it, then skip the next part of the tutorial.

Otherwise, rinse your quinoa well. I’ve put it in a bowl, covered it and drained it off, and I’ve also put the quinoa in a strainer and poured water over it. Either way works.

Then dump your rinsed quinoa out on a cookie sheet. Make life a LOT easier and line it with parchment paper first!

Then set the sheet in the oven. The lowest temperature my oven will go is 170 degrees, and I set it on that and close the door.

About every hour or so, I stick my head in and stir the seeds around to make sure they’re drying evenly.

It only takes a few hours at most to dry the quinoa completely, and then you’ve got this:

Drying Quinoa CradleRockingMama.com

To turn those lovely rinsed seeds into popped quinoa, I use a 1/4 c. scoop and a large soup pot. The higher the sides the better.

I tried it in a skillet with a lid once. What a mess! I burnt most of the quinoa seeds, and the ones I didn’t burn popped all over my stove (and the floor in front of it).

Once I tried the soup pot I never went back. I don’t even use a lid!

Put the soup pot on the stove and heat it up on medium heat.

After a minute or so, when the pan is nice and hot, dump 1/4 c. of quinoa seeds in the pot.

Give it a second or so to start popping, then start shaking the pot back and forth to keep the seeds moving. This keeps them from scorching in place.

Here’s a short video of popping a batch of quinoa:

 

 

It really doesn’t take long. Maybe a minute or so in the pot and then they’re popped.

Some people like to add some oil or butter to the pan first. I tried it that way and didn’t particularly care for the extra nutty flavor it gave the seeds. You may like that, though, so feel free to try it that way, too!

Then dump the popped quinoa in a container and enjoy a healthy snack.

Some people like to season their popped quinoa at this point. You can toss some nutritional yeast, or some herbs on it for a nice flavor boost.

Since none of those are safe for Zac yet, I haven’t experimented with any of them. So have fun and let me know if you try any!

The easiest way to eat it plain is truly to lick your finger, stick it in a bowl of popped quinoa, and lick the stuck seeds off. Very fun for toddlers and small children!

I kind of prefer it with some ice cold milk and a sprinkle of stevia. It’s a nice little breakfast cereal for me.

So pop some quinoa at home and have fun with a nifty snack/cereal.

#rating# from 1 reviews
Popped Quinoa
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Popped quinoa makes a nice snack, or a healthy cereal with some nice, cold milk!
Author:
Recipe type: snack, cereal
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 c. quinoa seeds
  • sea salt, herbs or spices (optional, to taste)
Instructions
  1. If you don't care to rinse your seeds first, skip to step 5.
  2. To rinse your seeds, pour water over them well or cover with water in a pot and strain.
  3. Dump the seeds on a parchment lined cookie sheet and put in the oven at the lowest temperature. Mine only goes down to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Stir every hour or so until dry; about 3 hours.
  5. Put a large soup pot on the stove and heat it over medium heat.
  6. After the pan is nicely heated, dump ¼ c. of quinoa at a time into the pan, shaking the pan constantly as the quinoa seeds pop.
  7. After about 1 minute, dump the popped quinoa seeds into a container.
  8. If you want to season your popped quinoa, do so while still warm.
  9. Enjoy as a snack or as a breakfast cereal!

Have you ever popped quinoa? What do you like to season it with?

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I Don’t Know What To Do

It was another long night with Zac.

At the end of yesterdays post I wrote about Zac’s sudden weird eye swelling late Sunday night/early Monday morning.

So yesterday I spent a TON of hours on the phone with pharmacists and doctors.

Both boys are now scheduled to see the allergist in a couple weeks for retesting.

The compounding pharmacist says he can make more dipenhydramine for the boys, since we only had one dose left and it was dosed for lighter weights than the boys are now.

I also learned that the compounding pharmacist can use quinoa flour as a filler in the boys pills, which means they can use the machine to make the pills instead of hand crafting each one, which means the cost per pill will go WAY down!

Zac’s eyes were still a little red and puffy yesterday morning, but he had no eye discharge and was otherwise ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.

No, seriously.

For the first time in over a week, he had NO runny nose. It was as if one dose of benadryl was enough to fix his cold. So weird!

He was full of energy and playful all day long and didn’t rub his nose or eyes once.

But he had two poops that I think were mild reaction diapers. They were mushy and stank of that nasty, sour, “buttery popcorn” smell his early FPIES diapers had.

As soon as we got in to bed last night, he started rubbing his nose vigorously. It looked just like how he’d rubbed his nose and eyes the night before.

He struggled to go to sleep but finally went down.

Twenty minutes later he woke up crying.

I nursed him, and he went to sleep again.

Less than an hour later, he was up again. This time, screaming.

He screamed. For two hours straight. 

He didn’t want to be held. He didn’t want to be put down. He didn’t want a bath. He didn’t want to nurse. He didn’t want to eat.

He was rubbing his nose a LOT.

So we gave him another dose of dipenhydramine, hoping it would help him pass out.

It didn’t.

He kept screaming.

No matter what we did, he kept screaming.

If I carried him, he screamed.

If I walked with him, he screamed.

If I stood with him, he screamed.

If I sat with him, he screamed.

You know you’re losing it when you beg your two year old to “Please, baby, please tell me anything to make it better! Just answer yes or no! I’m begging you, baby!”

He also didn’t want to bend at his waist. Whether sitting or standing, he refused to sit or do anything other than plank and kick.

This is where Darrel and I have divergent opinions. Darrel thinks it was a temper tantrum.

I think it was pain.

I’m willing to concede that it turned IN to a temper tantrum after about the first hour, but in the beginning, I believe it was straight up pain.

But from what, I don’t know.

We finally got him to sleep again at nearly 1:00 a.m.

Fifteen minutes later he woke up again.

I passed out while nursing him that time, but based on how I feel this morning, I think it’s safe to assume he woke me frequently throughout the night.

And this morning, my throat feels like it’s on fire. Total strep or tonsillitis feeling in my throat.

Just. Freaking. Great.

Because I’m supposed to leave for work tomorrow and haven’t called out sick ENOUGH from work lately, right?

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know what’s going on with Zac.

If I can manage to get my throat under control enough to go to work, I have to go. We’re broke. We have to have the money.

And it will be one of the hardest things I ever do. Leaving Zac when he’s obviously not doing well will absolutely kill me.

I’m just at a total loss about what is wrong with him.

Is this a normal kid thing? An FPIES thing? A seasonal allergy thing? A temper tantrum thing? Is he reacting to dipenhydramine? Is he reacting to one of the 5 foods he’s still eating? Is it a histamine thing?

This is the first time in his life where I not only have no idea what is wrong, but I have no idea what to DO to try and figure it out.

When he went into shock at 7 weeks old, I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew we needed the hospital.

When he’s had FPIES reactions before, I knew what he was reacting to and that avoiding the food and giving him some time would fix it.

This is a total and complete mystery and I hate it.

And 5 days of highly interrupted sleep with a screaming baby giving me terrors of IgE reactions has turned my brain into mush and pushed my body to its limits.

Other than stripping his bed and washing all the linens, I really just don’t know what to do.

Anyone have any brilliant ideas? Please?

Fall(ing Apart)

Fall(ing Apart) CradleRockingMama

Last year I wrote about how fall always makes me feel like cleaning the house; like it’s time for a fresh start.

Usually I do feel that way each fall.

Not this year, though.

Instead, this year I feel like I’m falling apart.

Physically, we’ve dealt with being sick for a few weeks now. Between the stomach bug that wiped out my family (and then took out my parents), and the cold/allergies that took root immediately after, well, it has not been fun, and there’s been no energy for my usual “fall renewal cleaning”.

In addition to those two nasty things, I’m feeling strained in other ways.

Early this summer, while at work, I started experiencing sharp, horrible pain in my right elbow.

It only happened when I did certain things with my arm, like gripping anything with my hand, and wasn’t constant.

By mid-August, though, the pain was constant. Still only when I did certain things with my arm, but I no longer got weeks or even days of reprieve.

Since we’re broke, I have been hesitant to go to the doctor. Going will cost $40 in a co-pay, and any testing the doctor recommends will end up costing us hundreds of dollars that we just don’t have.

Even if physical therapy is the only treatment, that will cost $40 co-pays. Heaven forbid if surgery is required! That would be thousands of dollars.

So I did some online investigating, and the most likely explanation was tennis elbow and/or golf elbow. (It actually seems like I have both at once.)

The medical advice for those ailments? Rest the arm, use ice and heat, and it will resolve on its own. If it doesn’t, go see the doctor.

So I did that, and also bought an arm brace for tennis elbow, and those helped. It didn’t eliminate the pain, but it knocked it down a few notches and made it easier to work.

The 3 days I was absolutely unconscious from the stomach bug seemed to help my arm quite a bit. I came out of the stomach bug fog feeling horrible, but happy to realize that I had NO pain in my right elbow at all!

One day of being active, though, and the pain returned…with a vengeance.

This week I gained a new pain: my left shoulder.

I think I just pulled a muscle somehow; whenever I extend my arm I feel a sharp stabbing pain all through the front of my left shoulder.

So really, I’m in perfect functioning health…as long as I don’t try to grip anything with my right hand or extend my left arm at all.

Try avoiding either of those activities with two kids. Or working as a Flight Attendant.

Riiiight.

Darrel isn’t faring much better. He has an old knee injury from the Army that has been flaring up with the weather changes and spends many nights unable to sleep because he can’t get comfortable with the pain.

Between the two of us, we just may have enough working parts to make one fully functioning person. Maybe.

I’m also feeling strained emotionally.

This stomach bug has dropped Zac’s current known safes down from our hard earned 11 foods to a measly 5 foods. (And yes, I realize that last year at this time I fantasized about having 5 foods…but going backwards just…)

We planned on continuing to feed him cauliflower and cucumber, but he’s refused those absolutely.

Last week his diapers returned to normal, thank God, but he is so congested in his nose that he isn’t sleeping well and is just miserable.

And we can’t re-trial foods when he’s not at 100% health.

So we’re in an FPIES holding pattern for now; worse, it’s a place we were at months ago.

We lost months of progress and traction in one fell swoop, and I’m disheartened, discouraged, and, frankly, ticked off.

Financially we’re feeling strained, too. On the 2nd, I looked over our budget for the month and asked Darrel, “Honey? Do you think we can make it the rest of the month without spending a dime?”

He laughed, until he realized…

I wasn’t actually joking.

We’ll figure something out; we always do. And I never forget God’s providence. I’ve been saved from many a financial disaster by the divinely timed arrived of funds from an unexpected place. Our bank accounts will survive somehow.

We’ll muddle through the physical pain, doing what little we can without medical intervention to manage the symptoms until funds are better and we can actually go to the doctor for help.

We will re-trial foods for Zac as soon as he returns to 100% health again, and hopefully we’ll discover that he didn’t actually lose any foods from the stomach bug. Hopefully he just had a sensitive tummy and couldn’t handle certain foods for a short while, but they’re still, overall, okay for him.

But it just feels like almost every aspect of our lives is just falling apart right now, and I’m tired, y’all.

Really tired.

On the plus side of things, being so tired and broke meant we didn’t have a lot of fresh ingredients in the kitchen and I didn’t have the desire to really put out a lot of effort in cooking last week.

Why is that a good thing?

Because poor Jed’s diet was entirely devoid of any food that is even remotely suspicious for fructose malabsorption or salicylate sensitivity.

It was a very boring diet; I’m talking “meat and potatos”-style here.

But he has been an absolute ANGEL all week!

Funny. Sweet. Loving. Brave. Smart. Teachable. Agreeable.

He’s the child I KNOW is in there, so often hidden by his food intolerances.

It’s so wonderful to spend time with Jed when he’s not reacting. He’s an amazing person!

This week he’s asked  to do worksheets to practice handwriting and finally  answers correctly every time when we ask him to count to 10 (he’s known how to do it for ages now, he simply refused to cooperate when we asked for proof).

For the first time, he’s shown an interest in learning his alphabet and spelling.

When Jed is off fructose and sals, I look at him and think “Man, one day he’s going to be one helluva good husband and father. He’s just a good person.”

When he’s ON fructose and sals, I want to pull my hair out in frustration and I worry about his future.

It’s a stupendous transformation.

So I guess not everything  is falling apart. Unless you count the fact that obviously, we haven’t truly figured out Jed’s diet yet (even two years into this) if we were able to see such a noticeable transformation this week.

(shaking it off)

Whatever. I’m going to hold on to the sweetness that is Jed.

A Mama’s gotta have something, right?

__________

I wrote this post before bed last night. A few hours later, Zac woke up to nurse. As he finished nursing and rolled over, he suddenly leapt up in bed, screaming, rubbing his eyes vigorously.

I tried to get him to lay down and nurse again, but he refused be held or calmed. Finally I grabbed him and ran to the living room to look at his eyes.

They were swollen shut.

His eyelashes had turned completely under; I couldn’t see them at all. (And if you’ve noticed from any of his many photographs here, he has astoundingly long eyelashes.)

I screamed for Darrel, thinking “Dear God, he’s having an IgE reaction.” without having any idea what he could be reacting TO.

When Darrel came out, we quickly decided to give him a dose of dipenydramine (Benadryl).

Zac has never had dipenhydramine before, so we were risking an FPIES reaction to it

But if he was truly having an IgE reaction, we had to risk the FPIES reaction.

We grabbed the allergy kits with the Epi-pens and dipenhydramine and gave him a dose.

By coincidence, I had been texting with a fellow FPIES mama while nursing Zac, and since I’d just disappeared from the conversation and I knew she would understand what we were dealing with, I sent her a quick message saying Zac’s eyes had swollen shut.

She asked if I had taken a picture. I hadn’t. But that suddenly seemed like a very good idea for documentation purposes.

So about 4-5 minutes after the dose of dipenhydramine, Zac’s eyes looked like this:

Zac's Swollen Eye CradleRockingMama.com

Not too bad, right? But that’s a WHOLE lot better than they looked before.

Before the dipenhydramine, he couldn’t open his eyes at all. A few minutes after this photo, he was able to open his eyes.

Dipenhydramine works fast, y’all.

But he was still screaming, rubbing his eyes viciously, and not actually acting like he was getting much better.

So I called the on-call nurse at his pediatricians office.

During the course of the phone call, Zac quieted. He stopped screaming. He stopped rubbing his eyes as much.

One problem of having a child with complicated medical issues like Zac is that when you call the average on-call nurse, she has no idea what his issues are or what complicating factors could be in play.

However, upon hearing that he hadn’t eaten anything new, that none of the sheets or clothing I was wearing were different, that he hadn’t played outside that day, and that he had a cold the last week or so, she decided that he was probably just experiencing his cold morphing into his eyes.

She suggested I might see eye drainage in the morning, and encouraged me to keep an eye on him overnight and re-evaluate in the morning. If his eyes still seem to be a problem, I’m to call his pediatrician and see if we can arrange some sort of safe eye drops for him.

Zac finally fell asleep on the couch. I’ve been watching him breathe ever since.

I’m still a nervous wreck.

Anything that even HINTS at being an anaphylactic reaction scares the life out of me.

The nurse is probably right. It’s probably just that his eyes suddenly started experiencing the cold his nose has suffered with, and the vigorous rubbing didn’t help matters.

But I think I won’t feel calm and certain until we get him checked out by an allergist. I’ll probably arrange for both boys to be seen at Jed’s annual allergic check-up this year.

Seriously. Falling apart here.

Practical Preserving: How to Dehydrate Eggs

Practical Preserving How to Dehydrate Eggs CradleRockingMama.com

Earlier this summer, my parents had a chicken crisis.

Several of their laying hens disappeared; sadly, free-range chickens occasionally become predator snacks. Compounding the issue, one of their remaining hens became broody. Instead of laying her eggs and walking away, she decided she was ready to actually be a Mom.

That’s great, of course! More little baby chicks running around is a good thing.

Except when you’re already down half a flock.

No one ate eggs for about two months this summer except Zac, and even for him I had to be judicious with his consumption.

All that to say, I suddenly had a strong survival interest in ways to preserve eggs. Once the egg production increased again, I intended to find ways to “set eggs by” so that IF we ever faced a drop in egg production, none of us – but especially  not Zac – would have to worry that we’d run out of one of his few, vital safe foods.

I’ve read that freezing eggs is wonderful, but with two full sized freezers and one small freezer (not to mention the one attached to my fridge in the house) already chock full of blueberries, cauliflower, chicken, and beef, well…I just don’t have enough room for more frozen foods!

So I figured I’d give dehydrated eggs a try.

It’s pretty simple to do, actually. I read several websites about dehydrating eggs, and two basic methods were presented. The “cook-dry” method, where you cook the scrambled eggs and then dehydrate them, and the “wet-dry” method, where you just dehydrate raw, uncooked egg.

Since every website – and every comment on those websites – said the wet-dry method was better, I saved myself the trouble and started there.

Here’s what you do:

Crack the eggs into your blender. Blend until smooth.

Blender collage CradleRockingMama.com

Pour the egg onto silpat sheets on your dehydrator tray. Don’t pour too much or it will overflow!

Eggs poured on dehydrator tray CradleRockingMama.com

Set the temperature at 145 degrees and turn the machine on.

About 8 hours later, you’ll have this:

Dried eggs on dehydrator tray CradleRockingMama.com

When you gently swipe it with your fingers, it turns into this:

Crumbly Dried Eggs CradleRockingMama.com

Then toss it back into your blender and process until it’s a fine powder. You can skip this step, if you like; however, blending the crumbles into a powder is apparently crucial to making sure your reconstituted eggs don’t taste grainy and…off. Try it both ways if you’re curious.

I used 6 eggs, and wound up with about 1/2 cup of egg powder.

Finely Ground Dried Eggs CradleRockingMama.com

Ta-da! You’ve got dehydrated eggs.

Now, to use these eggs, everything I read suggests that 1 T. of the powder plus 2 T. of water equals to one egg.

That seemed strange to me, since I know I started with 6 eggs but wound up with 8 T. of egg powder.

For that reason, I used 1 T. plus 1 tsp. per reconstituted egg.

Once I added the 2 T. of water, I whisked it together with a cute little baby whisk.

Looks like eggs, doesn’t it?

Rehydrated Eggs CradleRockingMama.com

Then I scrambled them up.

Cooked Rehydrated Eggs CradleRockingMama.com

The verdict?

Not bad.

Not great, either.

They taste just like eggs, and I didn’t note any of the graininess so often reported on dehydrating egg posts, but they just weren’t as fluffy as freshly scrambled eggs.

Then I remembered one tiny little comment I’d read somewhere that recommended using MILK instead of water to reconstitute the eggs. 

I gave it a shot with our goat milk.

BINGO! We have eggs!

They still weren’t as good as freshly scrambled eggs, but they were a far sight better than the ones reconstituted with water.

Now, whether using milk or water to reconstitute the eggs, the trick to remember is to mix the powder and the liquid together – and then let it sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking.

I followed the allotted 5 minute rule each time, so I can’t tell you what will happen if you don’t let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, but that’s the rule I read everywhere I looked.

If you’re brave enough to rush things, let me know what dire consequences present, okay?

In summary, I don’t think I’d dehydrate eggs just for the taste of it. Fresh eggs will always taste better when cooked. 

But rehydrated egg powder isn’t horrible, and will certainly allow me to set eggs by in case of another flock emergency.

This trick will come in handy for those who travel and would like to have a guaranteed source of safe eggs while on the road, and while I haven’t yet tried it, everyone – even those who didn’t like the cooked dehydrated eggs – said the egg powder worked just fine in baked goods.

So there you have it. If eggs are safe for you, but you seek out (or have your own) free-range eggs, go ahead and dehydrate them. 

They’re perfect for baking, traveling, and for those times when the girls just aren’t laying.

Oh, and for storage? The standard food storage rules apply. Remove as much air as possible, and store in a cool, dark place.

I’ve read that dehydrated eggs in a plain old Ziploc will keep for up to a year; if properly stored with vacuum sealing, they apparently can keep for up to 5 years (or longer, depending on who you ask!).

I don’t think I need to fret about storing dried eggs for that long. I just want to make sure we don’t run out of eggs during a temporary shortage.

So give dehydrated eggs a try! You may be surprised!

Happy Preserving!

Have you dehydrated eggs before? How did it work out for you? What’s your favorite method of storing eggs?

__________

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Practical Preserving: How to Make Cucumber Chips

Practical Preserving How to Make Cucumber Chips CradleRockingMama.com

Since yesterdays recipe used some dehydrated cucumber, I figured I may as well share how to make your own dehydrated cucumber chips.

Like the dehydrated basil, this is ridiculously simple.

Grab some cucumbers and slice them fairly evenly.

Some people like to toss their cucumbers with some oil and seasonings. Sea salt is always popular, but I’ve read of people experimenting with all sorts of flavorings: garlic and onion powder, but even things like cayenne pop up on occasion.

You don’t need any of that, though, but feel free to experiment!

Take those lovely cucumber slices (seasoned or not) and lay them out on a dehydrator tray.

Sliced cucumbers ready to dehydrate CradleRockingMama.com

Toss it in the dehydrator and set the temperature for 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

Turn it on and 8-12 hours later (depending on humidity in the air), you’ll have yummy cucumber chips!

Dried cucumbers on the tray CradleRockingMama.com

These are really very good to snack on as they are.

And they’re very easy to use in recipes, as the Cucumber Cauliflower Soup recipe shows.

I’ve also tossed some dried slices in my water glass for a little extra flavor.

All in all, though, these are best just eaten plain. Talk about a healthy alternative to potato chips!

Cucumber chips CradleRockingMama.com

Of course, you’ll need to store them properly to make sure they stay nice and crisp.

If you have a vacuum sealer, this is a great time to use it. If you don’t, use a Ziploc and suck out as much air as possible.

Happy Preserving!

What seasonings do you like to add to your cucumber chips?

__________

This recipe shared with:

realfoodallergyfree juggling real food and real life button

Vegan Cucumber-Cauliflower Soup

Vegan Cucumber Cauliflower Soup CradleRockingMama.com

Once the stomach bug left, taking with it many of Zac’s safe foods (hopefully temporarily), I found myself trying to find a way to get him to eat cauliflower and cucumber.

Despite wolfing them both down with gusto when we first introduced them in trials, he has since become rather picky and refuses anything with cucumber in it, and most things with cauliflower (unless I hide it well).

Since his diet has been reduced so much, I really  wanted him to continue eating those two healthy, nutritious vegetables. 

A friend suggested making a soup of some kind with the cucumber, so I went to the internet to find a recipe.

A quick glance through the top five recipes for cucumber soup was discouraging; every one of them called for far more ingredients than are currently safe for Zac.

Even condensing my search by adding “vegan” to the terms brought discouragement. Every one of those  recipes called for adding avocado. Avocado hasn’t been trialed yet, so that’s not an option for us.

Not for nothing, though, am I an FPIES cooking mama! I know that to achieve a creamy soup base, I can use cauliflower instead of avocado!

Do you know what you get when you Google “vegan cucumber cauliflower soup”?

NADA. 

Not one single recipe.

(Though, I’m assuming THIS recipe will now pop up if anyone chooses to search those terms!)

So I made my own cucumber-cauliflower soup recipe, and it turned out rather well!

Now, I didn’t actually make this vegan, since I used chicken broth as my base. But if you’re looking for a cucumber soup recipe with no dairy (and no avocado), use my recipe and simply use vegetable broth instead.

Here’s how to make it:

Dump two cups of broth in a pot. I had frozen broth, and it was still halfway frozen when I tossed it in. That worked fine.

Add the cauliflower and cucumber and some sea salt.

Ingredients in the pot CradleRockingMama.com

I was pretty tired (still a little sick, actually), so I didn’t feel like chopping up fresh cucumber. I used some dehydrated cucumber chips. May I just say: if you don’t feel like snacking on your dehydrated cucumber chips, this is an excellent way to use them!

But fresh would work great, too.

You can use frozen or fresh cauliflower, too.

Turn on the heat to medium, put a lid on it, and let it cook for about 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are soft and tender.

Cooked up CradleRockingMama.com

Take the soup off the heat and either use an immersion blender to puree it, or dump it in a blender (carefully – it’s hot!) and process until smooth.

Ta-da! You have soup!

Cucumber Soup CradleRockingMama.com

Now, this is a VERY basic recipe. It tastes okay as-is, but it’s very “cucumber-y” and could really benefit from some seasonings. 

I can’t experiment with seasonings at this point for Zac, but I still wanted to share this because it is a unique twist on a cucumber soup.

Most cucumber soup recipes call for the addition of garlic and/or onion, some lime juice, and I’ve seen some that go in other directions with savory herbs added.

So take this base recipe and add seasonings to taste for yourself. If you’re hesitant, you can season one bowl at a time until you find a flavor combination that appeals to you.

I hope this helps meet some needs: a non-avocado, possibly vegan cucumber soup, and a way to use up some of those excess cucumbers in your garden!

Oh, and Zac? Refuses to eat the soup.

That’s okay, though, because I like it.

Happy cooking!

(By the way, the prep time in the recipe may be off by quite a bit for some of you. It depends on whether you use frozen, fresh, or dehydrated ingredients in the soup!)

#rating# from 1 reviews
Vegan Cucumber-Cauliflower Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is a rich, creamy cucumber soup just packed with nutrition! Add seasonings to taste for your own unique creation.
Author:
Recipe type: dinner, soup
Serves: 3 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 c. broth (chicken, or vegetable to make this vegan)
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen cauliflower florets
  • 1½ c. fresh cucumber slices (or ½ ounce of dehydrated cucumber slices)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • seasonings to taste
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a soup pot and set on medium heat.
  2. Cover and cook for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Use an immersion blender (or pour carefully into a regular blender) and process until smooth.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

 What seasonings do you like to add to cucumber soup?

__________

This recipe shared with:

realfoodallergyfree juggling real food and real life button

More Tips to Make Life Bearable When Your Whole Family is Sick

More Tips to Make Life Bearable When Your Whole Family is Sick CradleRockingMama.com

Having now endured yet another week of ‘whole family sickness’, I’ve learned a few more tips on how to make life bearable when everyone gets sick at once.

You can read the first list of tips here.

The first sickness that prompted the tip list was a respiratory illness. This time around, it was all stomach bug. So some tips overlap with the first list, but others are very specific for situations where there will be lots of vomit.

So here goes…

MORE  TIPS TO MAKE LIFE BEARABLE WHEN YOUR WHOLE FAMILY IS SICK

  • Really, I can’t overstate it. At the first sign of sickness, get caught up on laundry. At least sheets, towels, and washrags.
  • It’s okay, though, to ignore folding the cleaned laundry when you’re sick.
  • When you start to get better, it’s okay to sit on the floor in front of the dryer to fold the neglected laundry if you’re too weak to contemplate carrying a laundry basket full of clothes to another room or even stand for long enough to fold them.
  • I’ll repeat this little gem, too: it’s also really important to clean the kitchen before everyone gets too sick.
  • When you’re done cleaning the kitchen, make life better for you for when you’re on the mend: fill the sink with soapy water when you first get sick so your dishes are soaking while you’re delirious. Your weakened body will be grateful for less scrubbing when it’s time to tackle the dishes once the sick fog lifts.
  • Do yourself a favor and just pre-make “sick food” to keep in the freezer, ready to thaw and heat at a moments notice. Make enough for everyone for at least a week. (Trust me, that’s not nearly as much food as you would think when you’re sick.)
  • Tidy up your house. Pick up toys and clutter off the living room floor, and, as a dear reader pointed out in a comment on yesterdays post, make sure you remove anything valuable, irreplaceable, or difficult to clean and put those items in an isolated place before anything happens to them. (Thanks, Lora!)
  • Stock all your bathrooms with extra toilet paper at the first sign of sickness.
  • Keep plastic buckets around to put by the beds to collect vomit. This is probably old news to most of you, but I’ve managed to make it over 4 years as a mother without needing this advice (even with FPIES)! I wish I’d heard it before I needed it.
  • Whatever room you will be spending the most time in while sick should be prepped at the earliest possible moment. If it’s the living room, cover your couch in towels or extra blankets. Your upholstery will thank you after the first inadvertent vomit.
  • If you’re on an elimination diet for your kiddos food allergies or intolerances, you will find yourself craving foods that are absolutely not  on your diet when you start to regain your appetite. This may well be the most difficult time of your TED; stay strong, though! You can resist the siren call of dangerous food so you don’t wreck all those months of self-discipline. This is much easier to do if you have “sick food” ready to go in the freezer, though. (After over 2 years on my TED, I nearly lost my resolve last week and would have begged desperately for certain junk food items I used to regularly eat when I was sick pre-kids. Fortunately we were all too sick to go to the store and live too far away for any deliveries.)
  • When everyone gets better, the only surefire way to sterilize your house is with bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or boiling water. I went with boiling water and peroxide. Fewer chemicals that way.
  • When everyone gets better, be sure to sterilize your house. Doorknobs, light switchplates, cabinet handles, and toys are absolute musts to sterilize.

I’m sure there are more things people could think of in terms of “being sick tips”, but that’s all I’ve got at the moment.

There is little worse than when your whole family is sick. But if you remember to take action at the first sign of illness, at least it won’t completely wreck your house and routine.

One good thing I discovered this week, is that there’s no limit to the number of times I will be amused by Jed telling me “Mommy! I have a Bless You!” When what he means is “Mommy! I sneezed (or have a runny nose)!”

As awful as it is to have everyone in the family sick, somehow, going through it with family?

Is so much better than going through it alone.

Do you have any additional tips you’ve discovered along the way when your family is sick? Please share!