Since Aaron is out of work, I am even more thankful we breastfeed. Putting the emotional bond and perfect food design aside, I simply can not fathom paying $27.00 a can for formula at least twice a week. Not to mention Miles has digestive issues and I’ve had to modify my diet to remove all dairy. Can you imagine the amount of money that would go down the drain trying out all different sorts of formulas until we found one that worked for him?
My Aunt Tammy alerted me to Betty Crocker’s new Gluten Free desert mixes. I was excited to learn about that because Aaron has a gluten intolerance and really does better if he is gluten free. Pancake mix, muffins, and cornbread are relatively simple for me to accomplish. Gluten free bread is pretty much an epic failure for me, so I just don’t go there and really try my best to keep bread products he would eat out of the house. Deserts, though, are something we both miss and I just can’t seem to pull out of our budget. Gluten free products and flour alternatives are EXPENSIVE and it’s really hard to justify spending so much money on something I’m only going to use a few times a month at most. The price of the Betty Crocker mixes were around $4.00 and are manageable to be squeezed into the budget a couple times a month.
When Ella and I were at the grocery store last week, I saw that they now carried the gluten free mixes! I really wanted to try the brownies but there weren’t any left, so I settled for the chocolate chip cookies. Something I really liked is that you have the option of making them egg free by following the directions on the back of the box OR you can make them dairy free* by following these directions found on Betty Crocker’s website. I decided to follow the directions as presented on the back of the box since Ella can have butter without any problems.
The cookies were surprisingly good! Definitely a different texture but I’ve come to learn that comparing gluten free products to flour products is like comparing apples to oranges — they have to be judged on their own merits. When I pulled them from the oven, they were nice and puffy but once they cooled, they fell and became more crispy than chewy. The cookies were also very fragile (typical of gf products) and difficult for an almost 2 year old to handle. Then again, Ella thought it was a blast that she got to eat cookie crumbs so it was still a success. The flavor of the cookies themselves didn’t leave anything to complain about! The directions encourage you to store them in an airtight container and that really is necessary. Of course, the true test was the taste buds of the family member who should be gluten free in our house and he gave them a thumbs up! Hooray!
I really hope that next time the brownie mix is in stock because I love brownies with all my heart and soul. While I would LOVE to make these amazing looking gluten free brownies, it just isn’t in the cards at this point in my life. So we’ll stick with the boxed mixes for now until we can enjoy the luxury of gluten free yummies from scratch.
* I did not look at the ingredients on all the different products and in the cookies, the chocolate chips were the only thing that had dairy in them (this is an acceptable “form” of dairy for Ella). Please check the ingredient list yourself before taking my word for it that they are dairy free!
Thank God for email reminders I plugged into my Google Calender. Otherwise I would have totally forgotten about Ella’s appointment on Monday that we’ve been waiting 4 months to go to!
In addition to your basic environmental allergies, she’s highly allergic to milk (duh), bananas, and shell fish. I asked her to be tested for shell fish because when I was exclusively nursing her, I went on a clam binge at Red Lobster one night and she had the most horrifying diaper rash that night. Then about six months later, we went back and let her have a bite of my clam strip and she broke out in these little welts all around her mouth.
Avocado, oranges, and tomatoes came up negative. HOORAY! The weird rash she gets shortly after consuming oranges and tomatoes is simply from the acidic nature of the food. As long as she doesn’t express discomfort, she’s good to go. YAY for being able to offer her the most favored fruit (aka oranges).
We came away with a bag full of swag: a practice epipen, a directional dvd on how/when to use it, TONS of brochures on food and environmental allergies, and a little zip case for the epipen that we picked up the day after her appointment. The piece of paper I’m most excited outlines exactly what to do if she consumes something she’s not suppose to have, based on her reaction(s). Now I don’t feel like I’m wallowing in the dark and afraid I’m going to cause my daughter to OD on benedryl.
In six months, we’re suppose to go back and retest the things she came up positive for this round. The only item that will be rechecked that wasn’t clearly a positive is wheat. If the doctor hadn’t known that Aaron has gluten issues, she wouldn’t have considered it a positive but considering our history she’s going to double check that at our next appointment. The doctor is very optimistic that Ella will outgrow her dairy issues by around ages 5-8, considering that she’s already able to consume products that have highly heat processed dairy in them (bread, crackers, etc). Hooray!!! It makes being dairy free so much easier knowing there is an end in sight.
This is how we spent a lot of our time to ignore the “itchies” on her back. Hooray for Elmo and watermelon!
The other day, I realized I have no regrets. Yes, I do feel bad that I have had a lapse of emotional control and yelled at Ella. I do feel bad that I have spanked her once or twice. But I realize that I am only human and have forgiven myself and asked Ella for forgiveness as well. She might not understand the words, but she certainly comprehends the emotions behind my words.
I don’t regret spending hours upon hours sitting on the couch while she cluster nursed for days on end, even though I was so fed up and ready just to throw in the towel.
I don’t regret being a few minutes late for church because it was so important for her to find her Little Baby to ride in the car with us. If anything, I learned that we need to get going earlier to allow for her needs.
I don’t regret holding nonstop conversation with her in the grocery store, even though I look the fool, to keep her involved in the situation and avoid a melt down.
I don’t regret being dairy free while nursing and preparing dairy free food and removing oranges from our diet (all things I love!) because I know that in 18 years or so, she’ll be out of the house and I’ll have the rest of my life to enjoy those things. Yes, it sucks. Yes, I’ve been in tears in the grocery store aisle but it is all temporary and this too shall pass.
I don’t regret having to lock myself in the bathroom for 2 minutes while she pounds on the other side just so I can get a breath and shed a tear or two before composing myself and deal with her being SUCH a toddler.
I don’t regret the emotional exhaustion I come to from finding new ways to deal with her toddler nature, to help her learn appropriate ways to express emotions and live within home boundaries/rules without squelching her personality.
I don’t regret leaving her with my husband or friends for a few hours to get out of the house childfree (well, as child free as a pregnant woman can be) to refresh and replenish my emotional and mental well being.
THIS is what I need to remember when I’m struggling. 12 years from now, I will NOT regret spending this time and energy in raising my child. I am doing the right thing, even though I am a flawed human and will make mistakes. As long as I admit them, make the appropriate repairs, and learn, they won’t be regrets.
Summer is upon us in the midwest. The humidity is bordering on stifling (Yes, I know. Just wait until August) and the heat is making my ankles swell. The last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and turn out a home cooked meal but if I want any hope of sticking to my weekly meal budget, I have no choice.
I had grand plans of making this recipe (we prefer it without thyme) in the crock pot but I fell asleep while putting Ella down for her nap and when we woke up, it would never be done in time if I tried to crock pot it. I was stumped. The last thing I wanted to do was turn the oven on and bake the casserole in addition to the corn bread but I had no choice. Taco Bell wasn’t on the menu plan!
So I decided to shred the carrots to help them cook faster and put everything into my largest pot to have it simmer on very very low heat for about 45 minutes. When that was finished, I fried up the cornbread like pancakes to avoid the oven. I wasn’t sure how the cornbread cakes would turn out but they plumped up nicely! It didn’t matter that they weren’t muffins or cut into squares since we top it with the beans. Actually, I think I like it better this way!
How do you try to beat the summer heat while cooking?
When Ella was about 6 weeks old, I began to suspect something was wrong. Her dirty diapers looked weird, she was projectile vomiting yet didn’t seem in pain from acid reflux, and had really horrible bouts with gas. After further research, I began to wonder if she had a dairy intolerance or outright allergy. It was really really hard, but I cut out all sources of dairy out of my diet. Not just the obvious things like milk, cheese, yogurt, and icecream but also things that had “hidden dairy” like crackers, bread, and weird things like Walmart’s brand of chicken broth that had dairy products as an ingredient.
That was so hard. It was probably one of the biggest sacrifices I made as a new mom. Not only was my self identity rapidly changing and sleep gone, but I had to rewire my entire thinking about meal planning, snacks, and grocery shopping. I distinctly remember standing in a grocery store aisle with tears running down my face because my favorite crackers had dairy in them.
Before we go much further, let me assure you that my daughter is not lactose intolerant. Leslie, on her blog, explains things much better than I could.
After being completely dairy free for six weeks, I finally began to see resolution in Ella’s digestive issues. Another side effect of going dairy free is that I discovered she slept better, too! Looking back, I realize that is because I would drink a glass of milk at dinner time and have some sort of dairy product (apples and cheese, icecream, what have you) as an after dinner snack or treat. The dairy protein would work its way into my breast milk just about the time I would be wanting to go to bed. Ella would nurse and then 15 to 20 minutes later, be up fussing, spitting up, and generally upset.
When she was about 9 months old and getting started on solid food, I began to experiment with reintroducing dairy to my diet. To my amazement and glee, I discovered that I could use butter and I could consume baked goods that had milk in them, like crackers. Items like custard filled donuts or danishes with baked cream cheese were still out, though.
I also experienced first hand the concept of the “bucket effect”. This is the idea that a body can handle a set amount of allergens before it shows a reaction because the allergy bucket is full to overflowing. As she grew into an incredibly active toddler and began to nurse less, I found that I could enjoy a small serving of pasta with Parmesan cheese or a slice of pizza about once a week. This kept my dairy cravings at bay while not upsetting her dairy bucket.
The hardest thing, by far, was readjusting my view of food and how to meal plan. I’d say that 90% of our meals had some form of dairy in it. From Italian bread crumbs (Parmesan cheese), to a milk/cream based soup, it was quite the challenge. Toss in there a husband who is rather particular about what he will or will not eat, I felt like climbing Mount Everest would be an easier trek.
I was really excited to discover that all recipes offers a search function that only brings up dairy free recipes! That really got my imagination started as to what we could actually eat without depriving ourselves down to plain rice, steamed veggies, and unseasoned meat. Today, I have quite the collection of dairy free dishes in my recipe binder that are toddler and husband approved! It meal planning much simpler now.
Still, I make mistakes. A few months ago, I decided to do something REALLY stupid. I made cheesy potatoes and ham and let her have some. Thirty minutes later, she broke out in a full body rash with hives. That was one miserable night. Even though the benadryl allowed her to sleep and cleared up the hives, her rash lingered for at least two weeks. Her pediatrician referred us to an allergy specialist to have testing done to confirm her dairy allergy/intolerance and to double check that she doesn’t have any other food allergies, like I do to avocados and bananas.
I imagine things will get harder as Ella becomes older and goes over to friends houses during a meal time. We’ll just have to be villigant in explaining to her what she can or cannot eat. Even now, when we’re hanging out with friends during a snack time, I can tell her that what her friend is eating will give her owies in her tummy and she won’t eat it! It gives me hope that if we simply make this a part of our life, she’ll be able to adapt life situations to fit her needs.