A Horrible Weekend

A Horrible Weekend CradleRockingMama.com

I’m a wreck.

Friday afternoon we drove to my parents house. After a fun afternoon fishing in their pond, Darrel and I left the boys with Grandma and PopPop and came home for some alone time.

Very early the next morning, the phone rang.

It was my Mom, calling to tell us that Zac had vomited every 20-30 minutes since 4:30 a.m.

Darrel left to bring the boys home.

On the drive home, Zac projectile vomited bile at least once.

Once home, he snuggled next to me in bed and nursed. Half an hour later, he vomited all over the bed.

After getting us and the bed cleaned up, he nursed again; this time he fell asleep and laid with me in bed for a few hours.

He woke up and we settled him in on the couch while I made myself some food.

A few minutes later he vomited again.

It absolutely rips me apart to watch either of my boys in pain. Zac just sat there, covered in vomit, moaning and whimpering. Sheer agony for both of us.

Darrel took him to take a bath, thinking some hydrotherapy might make him feel a tad better.

It did, but he still got out of the tub whimpering and lethargic.

He went back to the couch and slept for a few more hours.

Throughout it all, whether awake or sleeping, he was pretty much attached to boobies the whole time. Total comfort nursing.

I didn’t mind; it was the best way to make sure he stayed hydrated.

If Zac was awake on Saturday, he wanted to be held. And even after sleeping most of the day, he went right to sleep at bedtime.

He ate nothing all day long. He only nursed and drank water.

Darrel and I spent the day in a state of debate and confusion. Was this a stomach bug (norovirus) or an FPIES reaction to the oats?

Here are the complicating issues for us:

Friday night I had been nauseous. But I wanted to finish reading an eBook on my phone before we got home, and reading in the car often makes me feel nauseous. The nausea left within an hour of being home.

The whole week of the oats trial, every poopy diaper I changed of his was soft, mushy, and had more mucous than typical. Darrel, on the other hand, got lucky. Every poopy diaper HE changed was perfectly normal.

Also during that week, Zac had reddish, sunken rings around his eyes. BUT…his sleep was thrown off quite a bit this week due to strange nap times and last minute scheduling stuff. So maybe he was just not rested enough and that explains the eyes.

My Dad was nauseous after Zac woke up vomiting. But Daddy is like me, and when stressed, his stomach tends to go haywire. Worrying about his Grandson might explain his nausea.

As you can see, things were far from clear on Saturday. 

I sent a message to his speech therapist, apologizing for bothering her on a weekend, but asking if any other kids at therapy were sick this week. If so, I could add more weight to the norovirus theory.

Unfortunately she reported that all the kids in therapy this week were healthy as could be. Of course, she couldn’t vouch for any of their siblings health, but the kids scheduled for therapy were all present and at 100%.

So Darrel and I prayed hard for something that most people would be horrified to imagine praying for: we prayed that the rest of our family would start puking our toenails up in the next 24 hours. 

If we all  got sick, then Zac almost certainly picked up the norovirus somewhere, and he was NOT having an FPIES reaction to oats.

If we didn’t, well, if could still be the norovirus…but it wouldn’t be likely. Stomach bugs are highly contagious, so odds are that we would all get it if one member of the family got it.

So if none of us got sick, then that’s a pretty good bet that FPIES is still hanging around.

And it means that after 10 straight safe food trials, we faced our first unsafe food.

So we prayed for the unthinkable…and waited.

We also implemented some of the lessons I learned about how to make life bearable when your whole family is sick, just in case. We washed all the sheets and linens, cleaned the kitchen, and tidied up the house.

Saturday night Zac slept really well, and Sunday he slowly but surely began bouncing back.

By early evening, he was running and playing, rough-housing with his brother, and pretty much back to normal.

Except for his poops.

He had three yesterday. The first was…okay. Not great. Stinky. More mucous than normal.

The second was almost solid liquid and mucous and smelled awful.

The third was better formed, but had HUGE clumps of mucous.

At that point, it had been 36 hours since he first started vomiting, and not one other member of the family had shown any further signs of nausea.

It was with heart heavy with sadness that I began to prepare dinner.

It seemed my 50/50 proposition had shifted. Now it looked more like 90/10 that Zac still has FPIES.

By bedtime, no one had shown any signs of norovirus.

I’ve heard some people say it took almost a week to get sick from the stomach bug from other family members. But usually it only takes a few days.

So, we still don’t know. FPIES or norovirus? 

All I know is that on his Sunday weigh in, Zac lost two full pounds in weight.

And I didn’t fully appreciate how hopeful and optimistic I had been feeling about Zac outgrowing FPIES until the potential for that was taken away.

I feel a burden on my shoulders I haven’t felt in a while.

It felt good to just be stressed about work, scheduling, and trying to balance food intolerances.

Being stressed about FPIES reactions is a level of stress that is hard to describe. 

I feel like I aged about ten years this weekend. 

Even if it turns out to just be a stomach bug that caused the vomiting, this was an absolutely horrible weekend.

I guess time will tell.

Practical Preserving: How to Dehydrate Basil

Practical Preserving How to Dehydrate Basil CradleRockingMama.com

Every once in a while I have a thought or idea to share that I talk myself out of; it seems like such a simple, “everyone knows this” thing that I’m afraid it would be an insult to make into a whole post!

But then I remember the comments I’ve read on FPIES message boards that say things like “Help! I now have to make everything from scratch for my baby to eat and I seriously have trouble boiling water!”

So maybe the simple things aren’t a waste of time to share. 

Maybe they’re actually really helpful for people very new to the world of real food and cooking. 

At least, that’s what I hope. 

Because today’s Practical Preserving tip is insanely simple: how to dehydrate basil.

Of course, you have to start with basil. My basil plants have produced enough for us to last a whole year, so I strongly recommend growing basil.

You can buy fresh basil, though, so if you’ve got some fresh basil about to go bad in your fridge, don’t let it spoil! Save it by drying it.

If you’re growing it, go harvest it.

As for harvesting, some places recommend just plucking off leaves as you need it. That’s great for just dressing up a single meal, but what I’ve always done is clip stems. This nets us maximum basil yield and encourages the plant to grow bigger.

If you look at a basil plant, it grows by making a stalk with a pair of leaves on either side at regular intervals.

Simply snip the stalk right ABOVE a pair of leaves. Each of those leaves will turn into a new stalk with leaves growing on it. 

It kind of reminds me of a family tree diagram, actually. It just keeps going like that until the season ends and the plant bolts and goes to seed.

A huge bunch of Basil CradleRockingMama.com

So, you’ve got the basil. Now go rinse it (to get any bugs or dirt off it) in the sink, and pluck the leaves off the stem.

You really don’t want stems in your dried basil; they’ll make it taste bitter.

Lay those lovely, washed leaves out on a dehydrator tray.

Basil laid on to dry CradleRockingMama.com

Single layer is best, but if you also have basil plants that are going nutso in your garden, you can double layer it and it will work just fine.

Toss them in the dehydrator and set the temp for 95 degrees. Turn it on, and 8-16 hours later (depending on how many layers you had to do and the humidity in the air) you’ll have dried basil leaves!

Basil on the dehydrator trays CradleRockingMama.com

At that point, I just grab all the leaves and toss them in a ziploc bag. When I have enough dried basil, I squish the bag around with my hands to start breaking up the leaves some, and use my vacuum sealer to store them for long term storage.

Finished dried basil in a Ziploc bag CradleRockingMama.com

When I’m ready to actually use the basil, I either continue to break them up with my hands, or, if they’re being stubborn, use a mortar and pestle or a clean coffee grinder to make it look like the store-bought dried basil.

See? Simple!

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you could simply hang your basil upside down to dry it. I’ve never done that (only because I have a dehydrator and – until last year – always had cats that would have used the drying herbs as a play toy) but in everything I’ve read it works just fine. It’ll simply take a lot longer to dry out completely.

If you hang your basil to dry, don’t pluck the leaves off first. Just hang the whole stem and pick the leaves off when they actually dry out.

So there you have it: how to dry basil. It’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s terribly satisfying to use your own garden basil year-round!

Happy Preserving!

Brown Thumb Gardener: End of Summer Update

Brown Thumb Gardener End of Summer Update CradleRockingMama.com

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything about the gardening efforts this year. Summer suddenly seemed to start racing by sometime in mid-July, and I’ve been playing catch up in the garden ever since.

Honestly, the garden wasn’t the huge success I’d hoped it would be. Oh, it wasn’t a failure by any stretch, but gardens, like children, need regular attention. Being away at work for days at a time really crimped my efforts at encouraging the garden to grow. Maintenance was even a stretch for the most part.

Basil, fortunately, is very independent and hearty! Those bushes have provided enough basil for us to last a whole year!

Every time I go outside, I’m amazed at how lush and full those bushes are. They seem to almost double in size overnight!

Basil CradleRockingMama.com

My pole beans and cucumbers continue to grow, despite some iffy watering patterns while I was away and the continuing infestation of spider mites.

Unlike the potatos, the cucumbers and beans have managed to attract predator bugs, which I believe has saved the plants from total devastation.

I’ve used onion water spray to deter the nasty little mites with great success; unfortunately, such organic methods of pest control have one big drawback compared to chemical methods…they have to be done regularly!

With my work schedule, ‘regular’ just isn’t going to happen in my garden! One of the biggest problems with consistent onion water spraying is simply that I’d run out of the mix, and then fall behind on making more.

Surely the onion concoction would keep in the freezer, right? I’m thinking I could make up batches of it in late winter and early spring (when the freezer is nearly empty), freeze it, and then when summer comes next year I would have pre-made spider mite deterrent on hand.

Well, it’s worth a try, anyway.

Even with the slacking off on spraying (and even watering), the climbers have continued to climb.

Remember when I pulled up one of my cucumber plants unwittingly? I immediately tried to re-plant the root, and at first, it didn’t appear to work. Over time, though, that little cucumber took off like a champ!

The leaves that were already on the plant when I pulled it up did die, but it quickly blossomed new leaves and buds, and is happily producing cucumbers for us.

All of my climbers, as a matter of fact, have grown taller than I’d ever dreamed. They’re growing IN my rain gutters now!

Climbing into the Rain Gutter CradleRockingMama.comYou can see, though, where the leaves at the bottom are brown and dying. That’s erratic watering and spider mite damage. Still, the top of the plants continue to look lush and full, and continue to produce beans and cucumbers for us.

Climbing Veggies CradleRockingMama.com

The carrots grew amazingly well. It’s time to go ahead and dig them up; they’re getting a little overgrown at this point.

That will make Jed happy! He’s wanted to dig up the carrots for months now!

Carrots CradleRockingMama.com

The beets I planted did not, unfortunately, do anything at all. No sprouts, no leaves, no sign of life at all.

I’m kind of disappointed about that.

Nothing Happening with the Beets CradleRockingMama.com

Our resident web spinning spider, however, has gotten downright fat! She’s caught so many bugs in her web her growth has continued quite well.

Garden Spider CradleRockingMama.com

We’ve had a cold snap this week, and I fear my summer gardening days are over. Since I didn’t get a fall garden in, I may well be done for the year.

Well, except for anything I manage to grow on my greenhouse front porch.

That’s a little disappointing, but not nearly the bad news I worried it would be. Zac is passing foods well at this point, and the sweet potatos he eats are not anything special; just regular old organic health food co-op potatos.

With luck, he may be able to tolerate regular store bought stuff this winter.

I learned a lot this summer, though, and plan to continue gardening.

It’s so satisfying to grow your own foods! Spending time in the garden was very relaxing for me this summer (when I could do it; I now understand why the school year has a summer break!).

All in all, I’m pleased with my summer gardening efforts.

But I’ll do better next year.

I think my brown thumbs are finally starting to turn green.  

How did your garden do this year? If you’re a brilliant gardener, please share any of your best tips!

2 Ingredient Cookies

Two Ingredient Cookies CradleRockingMama.com

…and what to do with leftover oatmeal!

Since we’re trialing oats right now, and Zac has gotten used to eating cookie-like items every day, I knew there had to be a way to make oatmeal cookies for him.

After all, he’s got eggs, goat milk, goat milk butter, and quinoa to add to the oats, so surely a cookie could be had, right?

Only…I really thought it would be extra nice if BOTH boys could eat the cookies. With Jed’s IgE to egg to consider, that made matters a bit more tricky.

Fortunately, the Simple Veganista had a solution: bananas! (And she was inspired by the Burlap Bag, who, I discovered after making these a few times, makes them almost exactly the way I did! I missed the credit the first time I read the Simple Veganista’s recipe; this is why you should always read the original inspiration recipe in a blog – you’ll always learn something new and find a new blog to follow!)

Anyway, both boys can eat bananas! The only downside is that in order for both boys to eat the cookies, I have to use Zac’s special bananas in the recipe. Good thing I ordered 100 pounds of them last time, right?

So here it is:

Mash up the bananas in a bowl. The Simple Veganista says to use 2 ripe bananas; since we use tiny little Mysore (apple) bananas, I use 5 or 6 of those, depending on the size.

We also have to freeze all our bananas so they don’t spoil. Thawing them out and then mashing them works, but once I didn’t have enough time to let them thaw completely so I dumped them in the VitaMix. Frozen, pureed bananas worked just fine!

Then add the oats. Stir it together well, and ta-da! You have cookie batter!

Batter CradleRockingMama.com

At this point, you could get creative. The inspiration recipe calls for 4 ingredients: banana, oats, chocolate chips, and cinnamon. So you could add those, as well as any other add-ins you would like. Coconut flakes, vanilla, raisins, and walnuts all come to my mind. (Just remember to use ingredients that are safe for your dietary needs, of course!)

I scooped the batter on the parchment lined cookie sheets and got 16 cookies out of it. They made cute little cookie balls.

Scooped Out Cookies CradleRockingMama.com

But my kiddos are particular, and for them, a cookie isn’t a cookie unless it’s fairly flattened. So I flattened them.

Flattened Cookies CradleRockingMama.com

Then they went in the oven and came out delicious, moist, edible cookies!

Cookies CradleRockingMama.com

They weren’t a traditional cookie; they almost taste more like a bread bite than a cookie. But unless you think a cookie has to be crisp, you’ll like these very much!

Cookies and Milk CradleRockingMama.com

Really, they’re very good! Both my kids can’t eat enough of them!

Sometimes I end up with a little too much banana and not enough oats; to make these extra nutritious I toss in some quinoa flakes until the batter seems “right” to me.

Oh, and make sure to use ripe bananas! I read the comments on the Simple Veganista’s recipe, and it seems the only people who had trouble with the recipe were ones who didn’t use fully ripe (as in probably nearly spoiled) bananas.

Since there’s no added sweetener to this recipe, you want the bananas fully ripe for maximum sweetness.

Some people had luck with not-fully-ripe bananas, but then added some maple syrup or jam to the recipe to add some sweet. But keep it simple and just wait til those bananas are about ready to toss before you make your cookies.

Yesterday morning I made these with a slight alteration that worked beautifully. 

Once again, my  bananas weren’t completely thawed so I threw them into the VitaMix. On a whim, I decided to add a handful of cauliflower (about 1/3 c.). Since it all pureed together, you couldn’t even tell there was cauliflower in the bananas!

After adding the oats and a little extra quinoa flakes (1/4 c.), I followed the recipe as usual.

I made a double batch, which turned out to be 38 cookies. The kids INHALED them! The entire 38 cookies was gone within 5 hours.

That is a very successful tweak, I’d say!

Whichever way you make them, these are fun and very easy, not to mention delicious and nutritious. I love treat recipes that I can happily give my kids for breakfast!

Oh! Remember when I mentioned that Zac and Jed wouldn’t eat their oatmeal for breakfast one morning?

(Surely I’m not the only mother whose children refuse a bowl of yummy oatmeal, right?)

Well, here’s the solution: bake it!

Instead of scooping all that delicious oatmeal into the trash (or eating three bowls of oatmeal for breakfast – you know you’ve done it!), dollop the leftover oatmeal onto a parchment lined cookie sheet…

Leftover Oatmeal Cookies CradleRockingMama.com

And bake it!

Leftover Oatmeal Cookies Baked CradleRockingMama.com

They wouldn’t eat the oatmeal, but they ate ALL the oatmeal cookies. Go figure.

Because oatmeal is so moist, these took a long time in the oven. Probably 40-45 minutes by the time it was all said and done.

But the oatmeal got eaten by the kids and not by Darrel, so it’s worth it in my book.

If oats are safe for you, these are both well worth your time! Enjoy!

#rating# from 1 reviews
2 Ingredient Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These delicious cookies, inspired by the Simple Veganista, are simple and healthy. Enjoy!
Author:
Recipe type: dessert, cookie
Serves: 12-18 cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 c. oatmeal
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Mash the bananas in a bowl.
  4. Add the oatmeal.
  5. Add any optional ingredients (coconut flakes, chocolate chips, cinnamon, raisins, nuts, vanilla, etc.)
  6. Mix together.
  7. Scoop the batter onto the cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Enjoy your healthy treat!

OATS!

Oats CradleRockingMama.com

Saturday morning, Darrel and I sat over breakfast and discussed starting our next food trial for Zac.

The plan had been to trial salmon, but when I commented how shocked I was that Zac had shown no reactions to the oats in the lanolin, Darrel pointed out that since we’ve already inadvertently sort-of  started an oat trial, why shouldn’t we just make it official and get it over with?

Good point.

So we did.

Saturday I made a batch of oatmeal cookies and Zac loved them!

I loved the fact that for the first time in their lives, I served both my boys the same exact treat at the same time. For once, they could both eat off the same plate!

Such a normal, little thing, but such a huge, big deal for us.

Sunday morning, Darrel made oatmeal for the three men in my life for breakfast.

All three of them ate the same thing for breakfast.

Seriously mind-blowing for me. We’ve had to prepare three meals at every mealtime for so long now, this is just…overwhelming in its simplicity.

Unfortunately, neither Zac or Jed cared for bowls of oatmeal very much. Zac actually just lightly licked his spoon, though Jed did eat a few bites before asking to be excused.

Licking the Oatmeal CradleRockingMama.com

No matter; they both scarfed down the cookies later that day!

So, the big question: how is it going?

Honestly, I don’t know.

His poop has been sort of a mess; mushier and softer than usual, with some visible mucous. But it hasn’t been a lot of mucous, just a tad more than I typically see. And the weather has been changing; my head has been feeling the pressure and that typically can cause an increase in mucous production. So that could explain the mucous.

The texture, well…that could be just his body adjusting to a new food.

Or it could be the early signs of a reaction.

He’s also been an absolute PILL all weekend. LOTS of temper tantrums!

However, he’s been having more temper tantrums in general the last couple of weeks, even before we started the newest trial.

Since these weekend tantrums look and sound exactly like the fit pitching he’s been doing with such regularity for the last couple of weeks, it’s really hard to judge whether they’re more frequent or worse in severity since the oats started.

Honestly? There isn’t anything concrete to convince me he’s reacting.

But there isn’t anything concrete to convince me he’s not  reacting, either.

So it’s still in the early stages, and we’ll keep a close eye on things.

I really hope our safe-food-streak continues.

At speech therapy on Monday, Zac did pretty well. He said three words, which is huge for him!

The amusing part, though, was that his therapist revealed a little part of his personality that I knew about, but didn’t realize the full extent of.

Apparently, the only thing Zac wants to talk about during therapy is…Mommy.

When she tries to get him to talk about anyone or anything else, he just grunts “uhn-uhn” and shakes his head no. But when she asks about me, he opens his mouth, gets a big smile, and will actually say words and sounds in response.

I knew he was a “Mama’s Boy”, but…wow! That’s a serious Mama’s Boy!

On a personal note, I’m reaching out to my fellow moms on this one: do you ever go through phases where it seems like you’re just out of step with everything?

Where instead of bringing your “A” game to life, you’re constantly going “oh, yeah…we need to do this now. Oops!”

I’m there. It stinks.

I’m hoping it’s just that I’ve been working too much and some time at home will help solve the problem, but I wonder what YOU do to get your “A” game back.

Help!

Remembering the 11th

Remembering the 11th CradleRockingMama.com

Please read my September 11th experience before you read the rest of this.

This year is the first year I’ve had to work on the anniversary of September 11th in a very long time.

For the first time, it snuck up on me.

The attacks of 9/11/01 are a permanent part of my heart and soul. There isn’t a day of my life that isn’t influenced by that moment in some way. My whole life, when you get down to it, has been permanently altered by that day.

But life has gotten very busy for us this summer, and when it came time to bid for my September work schedule, I somehow just…missed making the connection.

That’s good. It means that finally, after over a decade, the sheer horror of that atrocious event is fading from my active mind.

It’s bad, though, because I never, ever want to forget. I never want to become as complacent as so many Americans seem to have become about that day.

Honestly, though, I don’t think that can ever happen for me.

At this moment, I can close my eyes and almost be magically transported back. I can re-live every moment of that day.

I can easily describe the weather that morning; the way the clouds looked, the temperature. I can tell you the sounds I heard, the conversations I had, the panicked numbness I muddled through.

I can also re-live the experience of surviving in the aftermath of the attacks. The black cloud that hung in the air over Manhattan for months, that I bore witness to every day I was at home. The fear of opening my mail, thanks to Anthrax. The subdued nervousness of every flight crew member and every passenger that traveled for almost a year after the attacks.

I can re-live the terror I felt one short month later when we had barely taken off in a 757 from Newark, heading to Los Angeles, and we learned that a plane had crashed in Jamaica Bay, NY. I can remember how each of the Flight Attendants working that flight with me took turns escaping to the lavatories to sob hysterically before composing ourselves and returning to the cabin to comfort the passengers – and keenly watch for any terrorists who would attack our flight, carrying corkscrews and other makeshift weapons in our apron pockets in fearful anticipation.

I remember all of the stories of all the people I knew, and what they experienced.

I remember a few months later, finding myself hiding under the bathroom sink in a hotel room, tears covering my face, with no memory of how I got there. All I remembered was watching TV and seeing yet another news report about September 11th, and suddenly everything going black.

Today, I still feel a sinking pit in my stomach when I remember.

I still cry.

So I won’t ever forget. I won’t ever be able to be who I was on September 10th, 2001 ever again.

And today, I’m flying on this momentous anniversary.

It’s going to be a hard day for me, as it will be a hard day for so many thousands of people who were permanently altered by the attacks.

On this day, I have no words to adequately describe how I feel.

All I want to say to the world is summed up in three things.

First, remember. Remember the many lives lost that day. Remember that this attack was, at it’s core, an attack on our Freedom and Liberty. Remember the innocent lives lost simply because they were there; people living in Freedom and Liberty. Fight for our Freedoms and our Liberty.

Even in our fear, we must not willingly give those things up for the appearance of safety.

Second, hug your children. Kiss your spouse. Tell your loved ones how you feel.

Never let them doubt they matter to you.

Third, and maybe the most  important thing I want to say:

Pray. Pray for America. Pray for the lost lives. Pray for the survivors.

Just pray.

What Do We Trial Next?

What Do We Trial Next  CradleRockingMama.com

All FPIES parents eventually have to ask themselves the all-important question: What do we trial next?

It’s an important, vexxing, terrifying question.

Early on, Darrel and I came up with a list of foods we wanted to trial. We picked highly nutritious food to get the most bang for our buck, and Zac reacted to all of them. Broccoli, carrots, swiss chard…all no good.

We compiled a new list, and eventually Zac started passing foods off our second list.

And now here we are.

Now we’ve learned that Zac not only has to pass FPIES food trials, but must also deal with Histamine Intolerance and Fructose Malabsorption. Considering his mother and his brother also deal with Salicylate Sensitivity, it’s a decent bet that he’ll also have issues with that, too.

Suddenly finding foods to trial is harder than ever.

For families only dealing with FPIES, the best way to decide what foods to trial is fairly straight-forward, though subject to personal preference.

I’m sort of “thinking out loud” right now, so let me just share my opinion on how to find foods to trial on an FPIES kiddo.  

First, take in to consideration what foods your child has reacted to. If their early reactions were to grains, you would be justified in your decision to hold off on any grain trials for a while. If their reactions were to veggies or fruits, likewise, you’d be wise to hold off on any veggies or fruits until you have at least a few trials under your belt.

Then, it’s smart to consult the surveys that have been taken. There’s one very good survey a brilliant FPIES Mama put together that reveals, through data, which foods tend to be successful passes for FPIES kiddos, and which foods are generally more problematic. (The original is here, and a compilation of the data is here.)

The caveat, as always, is that every child is different. Some kiddos will react to generally “easy passes”, and some will be totally fine with “typically tricky” foods (Zac passed goat milk and eggs, both semi-tricky FPIES foods, as an example). Still, it’s a good place to start making your personal list.

The last consideration is a combination of nutritional value and versatility. If there is a choice between trialing two similar foods, and one is clearly nutritionally more complete than the other, then it would be a good idea to trial the powerhouse food first. With FPIES, the kiddos have such limited diets that their food must fill as many vitamin and mineral slots as possible, since their needs won’t be met through variety.

Versatility is important, too; also due to lack of variety, foods like quinoa (which function as a flour substitute, an oat-like flake substitute, and a rice-like grain substitute) are preferred.

Balancing all those things with your own personal food preferences will easily net you a ten or more food item list to start your early food trials.

For us, it’s gotten more complicated.

I think we’re honestly at the point where it’s worth it for us to trial our known reaction foods to determine if Zac truly has outgrown FPIES. Proceeding with our current restrictions – trying to find foods that will be safe for FPIES, Histamine, Fructose and Salicylates – is so restrictive as to be maddening and almost impossible.

We have salmon in our freezer; salmon purchased from a source that catches and immediately preps and flash-freezes the fish right on the boat so the histamine content is almost nil. Having an additional histamine-safe protein for us would alleviate some of the strain on our limited chicken supply, and potentially open up a beef trial on Zac.

If I can eat pork, chicken and salmon, we can risk trialing beef on Zac because if he reacts I will still have plenty of protein sources for my diet. Adding beef to Zac’s diet would be AWESOME because we can much more cheaply and easily procure beef.

Other than the salmon, though, I really feel it’s time to move on to our scarier foods: rice, oats, and – gulp – corn.

I’m scared of all three, but encouraged at the same time. This summer Zac has snatched pieces of Jed’s rice crackers off the floor and eaten them with no reactions. He also ate almost an entire corn chip – with no reaction.

And I just discovered this week that the bottle of lanolin I’ve been using while pumping milk for him at work has a new ingredient: oat.

He’s been drinking that milk with no reactions; two years ago, he reacted for a day to the minute amount of oat in my Aveeno hand cream!

If all goes well, and Zac has no reactions to rice, oats, and corn, Darrel and I will be 99% sure that he has finally, completely outgrown FPIES.

I’m not sure how long it will take for us to gain that extra 1% of confidence. Maybe another year with no new reactions? But for now, I’d be thrilled with 99% confidence in FPIES being history!

Without FPIES hanging over our heads, we will be able to lump Zac in with Jed in the world of eating. It’s a subtle thing, but it is huge.

For Jed, our mindset is “he can eat anything except…”

For Zac, our mindset is “he can eat nothing but…”

The former is much easier to live with than the latter, by far.

We probably won’t completely abandon all traditional FPIES food trial protocols immediately; probably we’ll adjust them a bit to fit the new reality. Instead of a single food for nearly 2 weeks of trialing with a built in break, we’ll probably do a single food for a few days of trialing with no break. That’s pretty much how we do trials for Jed, now.

And we won’t be nearly as cautious about the sourcing of all our foods. In fact, we may decide to trial more easily obtained versions of some of our special foods before truly gaining our 99% confidence that FPIES is gone. Example: regular store bought bananas instead of the shipped-from-Florida bananas.

Whatever happens, there is one thing I DO know for sure: I will continue to do my dead-level best to avoid GMO’s and pesticides in our foods. 

That means we will still be incredibly limited in our ability to eat out, and I will still be preparing a lot of our food from scratch at home.

But it will still be so much easier than what we’ve been doing that I am downright tingly at the thought!

Much of this post was simply ordering my thoughts on the subject, so thanks for indulging. Now I’m curious, though:  for those of you who handle multiple food issues, how do you decide what to trial?

Sea Salt is Safe (and Miscellaneous Thoughts)

Sea Salt is Safe and Miscellaneous Thoughts CradleRockingMama.com

You know what is not fun? When you have to work the last week of August and the first two weeks of September, and life suddenly feels like “all work and no play”.

That’s been my dilemma, and why I’ve been incredibly patchy on posting lately. There’s just too much to do at home, and not enough time at home to do it all! Something had to give, and unfortunately, writing was the biggest thing to go.

Until I became so overwhelmed that I had to stop, I didn’t fully realize how much daily writing served as a cathartic, mind-calming exercise for me. Whether I publish it or not, it is quite clear to me that I need to write something every day.

Anyway, enough of that: I have good news to share! 

Last Friday, we declared sea salt a safe food! 

This is a big deal! Not only is it Zac’s 11th safe food, but it’s the very first “overlap” food; the first food I currently consume that he has trialed and can safely eat. Whew!

The little munchkin loves his salt, too! When he is served any food now, he immediately takes it to the kitchen counter where the salt is kept and points to it, demanding we salt his food.

We’d intended to immediately launch in to another food trial, but the very day salt became safe, Zac decided to get me all worked up. 

That morning, he vomited. A lot. 

It wasn’t profuse FPIES vomiting, but it was a very large, cover the kitchen floor kind of spew.

Not comforting!

The night before he had refused any dinner, and while he slept well, he woke in a very cranky, unhappy mood.

The previous day he had speech therapy, and had eaten great until about 4 hours after we left the office. Friday (the day he vomited), he was supposed to have another speech therapy session to make up for the missed one on Labor Day.

I sent a message to his therapist saying that he had vomited, and I didn’t know if it was a food reaction or a stomach bug…should we stay away or go ahead and come?

She responded that it was up to me, but that another of her patients had called out sick for the day because of unexpected vomiting.

That WAS comforting! If another little kiddo was sick, then the odds were good that Zac had picked up a stomach bug at therapy the day before. It fit the timeline, after all, so I crossed my fingers that he was simply “normal kid sick” and not FPIES reactive.

After the vomit, he seemed much better. He perked up and behaved perfectly normally from then on.

His appetite wasn’t very good, and stayed iffy for a few days, but he had no signs that would indicate an FPIES reaction.

Stomach bugs are terrible, but they’re so much better than an FPIES reaction! 

Still, I hate it when he looks like this:

Sick Zac CradleRockingMama.com

Poor little guy.

I had to leave for work on Monday, the first day I would have been ready to trial a new food. Even thought we suspect he’s outgrowing FPIES and Darrel is growing impatient to trial more foods more quickly, I’m not comfortable, yet, with starting trials when I’m gone.

Mores specifically, I’m not comfortable starting food trials when the BOOBIES are gone. Zac likes to comfort nurse when he’s reacting, and on the off chance that the new food causes a reaction it would be best for both of us if we were together.

So the food trial is delayed until Friday. Bummer.

In other random bits of life over the past couple of weeks, I called to order more bananas for Zac, only to learn that our supplier closes down for two months every year! Ack!

They won’t reopen until November 5th, and we cannot go without bananas that long.

So I ordered a lot of bananas. 

A LOT.

Instead of my usual 20 pound order, I went a little crazy with “OMG we’ll run out” fear and ordered 100 pounds. 

I forgot to take a photo of a full box, because Darrel and I were working so quickly to freeze those suckers before they went bad, but here’s a partial box:

Partial Box of Bananas CradleRockingMama.com

That’s about 3/8ths of a full box.

We got 3 full boxes just like this. Yikes!

Here’s what about 30 pounds worth of banana peels looks like, too, just for fun:

Big Box of Banana Peels CradleRockingMama.com

I don’t think we’ll run out of bananas before November 5th!

It’s well established by this point that Jed doesn’t like me leaving for work. One thing I’ve done to make it better for him is to start bringing him a little gift when I come back.

Since I don’t want give him toys every time, I always bring him a little book. Less spoiling that way, and books are fabulous any time, right?

Last week when I gave him his book gift, he was thrilled to see it was a Clifford the Big Red Dog coloring and activity book. We went through the book from beginning to end right away, with me asking him to complete the activities, and him telling me stories about each of the coloring pages.

I had to stop and take video of one particular page, though, and thought I’d share it with you. Just because it’s totally cute and we can all use a little giggle, right?

Here’s what Jed thinks “whales” are called:

Blow-hole fish. Too. Cute.

How he learned the name “blow-hole” but missed the name “whale”, I’ll never know!

Oh, and even though he gets a book and not a toy, he has made it quite clear that he doesn’t think it’s a proper gift unless it is wrapped. He almost completely rejected the book two trips ago because I simply handed it to him from my suitcase!

So now I have to hide wrapping paper and tape in the trunk and wrap the book before I come home.

The things we do for our kids, right?

How have things been in your neck of the woods?

Flying High

Flying High CradleRockingMama.com

Hope you had a fabulous Labor Day weekend!

I took the day off from blogging because I was working. That’s okay, though! Other than suddenly being required to be at work a little more than I’d like, my family and I are flying high! (At least, for the moment.)

As reported, Zac passed sweet potatos with flying colors, and the first week of the sea salt trial proceeded with no concerning symptoms at all!

He’s sleeping more at night, and eating more foods because they taste so much yummier with a little salt added.

Things for Mr. Zac are going great! 

Now for the interesting part. Let’s talk salicylates.

Remember last week when I shared that the Fructose Malabsorption parents advised me to look in to amine or salicylate sensitivity for Jed?

I have not had as much time to research that as I would like, thanks to flying so much, but I have begun the process.

After an initial research “once-over”, I must say that my instinct says at least Jed and I suffer with salicylate sensitivity in our family.

Oh, why do I think *I* suffer from it, too?

Because one day at work last week I ate sweet potato for the first time in over two years. It was delicious! And an hour later I got a mild headache with some brain fog, and severe stomach cramping.

Sweet potatos are high in salicylates. 

As for Jed, he has so many of the salicylate sensitivity symptoms it just isn’t even funny!

We’ve had his speech therapist do an informal ADHD evaluation for him before, because he had so many ADHD symptoms (she determined he wasn’t actually ADHD). He has become increasingly defiant, so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised if he could get an Oppositional Defiant Disorder diagnosis. He wakes frequently at night, screaming, and often grinds his teeth overnight. He reports frequent bad dreams. I can’t tell you the times I’ve heard him scream “Don’t do that! It makes me SO ANGRY!”

This is one of the best descriptions of salicylate sensitivity I’ve found. Reading this, I see “Jed” written all over it.

Another interesting tidbit: salicylates are basically a naturally occurring food chemical. When either natural or man-made salicylates are present in perfumes and cleaning products, airborne exposure can cause many of the same symptoms as when salicylates are ingested!

My Mom and I both cannot walk down the housecleaning aisle in a grocery store, or through the perfume department at a department store, without instantly getting a splitting, “make me hate the world” headache that lasts all day.

I haven’t been able to wear my own perfume for the last decade, because it gives me such a bad headache.

On the plane, when people are especially…um…stinky…in the lavatories, fellow Flight Attendants will often spray perfume-y air freshening sprays to mask the scent.

I’d rather smell the poop and farts; those air freshener sprays give me an instant headache and mean I have to go to the other end of the plane for at least 20 minutes until the initial blast fades.

So, yeah.

In addition to FPIES, Fructose Malabsorption, Histamine Intolerance and traditional IgE allergies, we now get to add Salicylate Sensitivity to our list of “food-caused illnesses”. 

Yippee, y’all. 

I don’t exactly have a game plan in place for the next step of this process. So far, Zac doesn’t seem too terribly affected by salicylates. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, though, to progress with FPIES food trials from here on out of foods that are safe for all things: fructose, histamine, and sals.

It also seems clear that I need to put Jed on a NEW elimination diet…I just don’t know what that diet will entail, yet. 

Remember, I’m still in the early research days, yet.

With all this new, inconvenient news to deal with, why am I still titling this post “Flying High”?

Because no matter what life throws at us, Darrel and I are handling it all a lot better since we did such good work on our marriage!

I can’t tell you how big a difference that has made in all aspects of our lives! It really does affect everything if your marriage is rocky. I’m so happy we got our act together when we did…learning about the salicylate sensitivity would have sunk me, emotionally, had we not straightened things out.

As it is, I’m starting to accept the reality that there will never be a “light at the end of the tunnel” for us. There won’t even be an “end of the tunnel”!

In the beginning, we had MSPI and IgE allergies to deal with, both of which can easily be outgrown in children. Then came FPIES, which is also typically outgrown.

Without realizing it, I latched on to the idea of an “end” to this madness happening for us someday. Our approach was to do what was necessary to survive until…

Now, with Fructose Malabsorption in me and the boys, Histamine Intolerance in Zac, and Salicylate Sensitivity in me and Jed (and maybe Zac, too), the truth is clear to see: this will never end.

The way to truly progress for us is to find a way to manage our particular dietary needs with minimal life restrictions.

In other words, now that it seems as though FPIES is starting to fade away, we need to stop being shut-ins so much…even if we’re still going to be severely restricted with our dietary needs.

How am I going to make that happen?

I have no idea. 

But it’s where we need to move towards now.

Oh, and here’s a cute little story to share!

The boys have been on a “Clifford the Big Red Dog” kick lately. The other day, they came up to me with bowls from the cabinet, asking for water.

I shrugged and gave them some water.

They put the bowls down, and did then did this:

Pretending to Be Puppy Doggies CradleRockingMama.com

Yup.

They pretended to be Puppy Doggies and lapped at bowls of water.

They also licked me. A lot.

That was weird. 

But God bless imaginative kiddos, right? They had so much fun pretending to be doggies for a day!

Have you also discovered you have food issues that will never end? What are your best tips for expanding your life while restricting your diet? 

Oh, and have your kids ever play-acted like the boys did? Please share the story! 

How We Saved Our Marriage (Part 3)

How We Saved Our Marriage Part 3 CradleRockingMama.com

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of “How We Saved Our Marriage”.

After our Serious Talk, Darrel and I felt a lot more optimistic about the state of our marriage.

In behavior, nothing had yet changed, but simply being on the same page again, simply communicating clearly with each other injected a spirit of hope into our lives that we hadn’t felt in a long time. 

I left for work the morning after our Serious Talk and epiphany, which was actually perfect since that gave us some distance to sit and work on our homework assignments.

We realized that showing each other that we loved each other had been easy when we were alone. With the kiddos around, our lives had changed. We couldn’t have 100% of our focus on each other any longer (even without chronic health issues), and our personal expectations and needs had changed, as well.

So for our first homework assignment, we each had to sit down and write out the things we needed to hear and see from the other person in order to feel loved. 

This goes back a “5 Love Languages“-type approach. We realized that neither of us had actually stopped doing things to show our love for each other; with the demands of our life being so much more demanding, though, we needed to prioritize to make sure that the things we did for each other would get the most “love bang” for the their buck!

I had the additional homework assignment of writing out my priorities for housekeeping. 

Darrel, as I said, is not a mind reader, and he agreed that having a list printed and displayed would help make him aware of what I wanted done, and ensure that anything he DID around the house would be off my list. That would ensure the house operated more smoothly, and I would feel gratitude for his participation and loved by him (turns out? “Acts of service” is one of my “love languages”!).

In the end, I created 4 lists for our wall: daily tasks, weekly tasks, never-ending tasks, and a “honey-do” list.

I printed them out, put them in some cheap frames I had laying around (that I spray painted to be pretty), and hung them up. We use a dry erase marker to check off tasks as completed.

Our Chore Charts CradleRockingMama.com

It seems so simple, right? Could a conversation and some homework assignments really make a major difference in our relationship?

YES.

The morning I flew home from work, Darrel sent me a text saying he’d had a hard time sleeping that night, and instead of getting up and playing video games or watching TV, he’d taken advantage of his unexpected insomnia to scrub the bathtub out for me.

He’d heard me mention that I was especially sore and achy after this work trip, and thought I might appreciate a long, hot soak when I got home, you see!

Y’all, I can’t tell you the last time Darrel made a gesture like that on his own! Driving home from the airport that morning, I felt like I was floating!

And I enjoyed a “kids-free bath tub soak” that was just what the doctor ordered.

Darrel’s birthday was last week, and I surprised him with a date. I arranged for my parents to watch the kids overnight, and showed up at Darrel’s office before he left for the day. We ate dinner at his desk, then went to a place that has mini-golf and arcade games (and other activities) and played for a couple of hours before going home and getting some cuddle time without kids interfering.

Our Date Night CradleRockingMama.com

I’ll be honest – neither Darrel or I have been able to check off every item on my daily or weekly lists at the end of every day or week. However, more of those jobs are getting done than ever had before, and now I’m not anxious about the lack of completion.

If the job didn’t get done that day or week, I know, now, that it was because we had too much to do and couldn’t get to it, rather than “I’ve worked my tail off and he’s not helping”.

We’re both working off the list, and that makes it possible for me to not feel upset when the list doesn’t end.

Darrel has left love notes out for me to find at unexpected moments, which always make me smile and feel “twitterpated” (you’ve seen Bambi, right?).

We’re back to seeing eye-to-eye on all things. No more feeling like the other person “doesn’t get it” or is being stubborn and willful.

We’re more casually affectionate toward each other. More random hand-holding, side hugs, quick pecks, and sitting side by side on the couch.

The biggest benefit, though, is in Darrel’s demeanor.

I know you’ll think I’m exaggerating, but he looks younger now! He’s lighter and more pleasant in everything; more patient with the kids, smiling more, laughing more, finding more humor in things. He’s just…happier in all aspects of his life.

Turns out, Darrel can handle anything that life throws at him, as long as he confidently has me in his corner.

Darrel says the same demeanor change is there for me, too. That I seem happier and calmer, as well.

Apparently, I can handle anything life throws at me, too, as long as I know Darrel is in my corner.

We’re a damn good team, y’all. We make it possible for each other to function at our best…as long as we are together in our hearts.

__________

Now, all marriages are different, and while I shared this story because I thought it could help somebody, I realize it won’t help everyone.

However, having been in a marriage that ended, and in one that is still going strong, I can say with total honesty: as long as both of you WANT to make the marriage work, you CAN make it work. There is always hope!

Maybe your epiphany will look different than ours. Maybe your homework assignments will be completely unrelated to ours. Maybe the change will be slower.

But it can be done.

For your kids, but mostly for your own soul, if you are in a marriage that is in a rough place, I sincerely hope you’ll reach out and have a conversation with your spouse.

If both of you are willing to accept responsibility for your own actions and do what needs doing, you can have your Honeymoon marriage back and life will feel better all around.

I know it seems hard to do when things are rough, but it helps to remember why you married your spouse before you start the conversation. 

Here’s a tip to help in that process: before you sit down to talk to your spouse, grab some quiet, alone time by yourself. (If you have to hide in a closet to do it, so be it.) Close your eyes, and start with the first day you met your spouse.

Force yourself to remember every little thing you liked about the person. Think about their smile, their good qualities. Think about the things your spouse did that made you feel like the most important person in the world. Think about the times your spouse has “gone to bat” for you; defended you and your family. Think about the sweet, loving things your spouse has done.

If you’re like me, your brain will automatically start throwing in “Yeah, but…” thoughts.

FIGHT THEM.

Focus on the Good. 

A little bit of time with that, and you may not be madly in love with your spouse again, but your heart will probably be softened enough to ease some of the stings from the recent disconnect you’ve experienced.

Your heart and mind will remember: I married this person for a reason. I love this person. I can sit and love this person in my conversation today, offering grace and understanding (even if I disagree). This person is important to me, and we need to figure out how to make sure we show that to each other.

It works, y’all. I did that, and it made it a LOT easier to listen to the hurtful things Darrel said in our first conversation. It made it possible to not immediately jump on the defensive. It made it possible to temporarily ignore the sadness and remember the love.

Showing forgiveness, grace, and understanding to him made it possible for him to show the same things back to me.

And we saved our marriage.

I don’t think I have all the answers about marriage. I don’t assume what I’ve said here will work for everyone.

I only hope that this story might give someone some hope, some encouragement, and maybe an idea of a place to start.

Let’s not let FPIES (or parenthood in general) trash our marriages.

Let’s fight for them.