Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Things I am Learning... and How I am Thriving...

in this dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free world!

I was going to title this ways I am "surviving," but that sounds so negative. "Thriving" is definitely a stretch, but I am choosing to put a positive Pollyanna spin on this.

As we continue to battle these food allergies with Ansley and I continue to nurse, I am finding more people come out of isolation and am thankfully building a community of allergic moms. Emails and help and tips have been so appreciated, so I thought I would document some of my staple items here.

1. (1.A.) Silk or So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk. It is really good. Sweet and fresh and while it doesn't have the protein of cow's milk, it does have 2x the calcium. (Sidenote: Humans are the only species that drink milk after being weaned from our mothers. Makes you think and wonder a little bit, doesn't it?)

1.B. So Delicious even has a coconut milk coffee creamer... 1.C. AND Ice Cream. The Mint Chocolate kind is my favorite! Thank you!

2. Kabobs. I have never been a meat and potatoes girl. I've been a "fill-up-on-bread" and "bring-on-the-pasta" kind of eater, and "the more cheese, the better." Well, my current favorite summer meal consists of meat and vegetables, a lite marinade, and a hot grill. With a side of sweet potato fries, I am filled to the brim.

3. Puffins Cereal. I have had the peanut butter and cinnamon flavor, and both are yummy. Add some fresh berries and coconut milk, and I am full until lunch! I am especially thankful for this find because I have learned that breakfast is when I have the most limited options.

4. Bob's Red Mill. I have always loved their rolled oats, but I am now especially loving their gluten free bread mixes. After my one baking experience into the gluten free world, I will just leave it to the mixes that Good ole' Bob provides. So far, I have had the biscuits, cinnamon raisin, and potato bread kinds. All have been yummy!

5. Earth Balance spread. The dairy and soy free kind. This wasn't around when I was nursing Addison, but I could just use their dairy free kind at the time. So glad they have come up with this so I can still enjoy my potatoes and gluten-free bread the way I like it! :)

6. Namaste Pancake/Waffle Mix. A little chewy, but at least another bready breakfast option.

7. Food that has previously been on the "No thanks... Really, no thanks..." list like green beans. :)
I know, Linds and Mom, it's about time. We went to a wedding, and seriously, all I could eat of the delicious spread was the meat and the green beans. So I "enjoyed" 2 servings. Yes, I did... :)

In the future, I'll post some tips on eating out...

***Until then, here is an update on the Ansley Food Chronicles***

After 8 days of sweet potatoes, Ansley loves them and they equally love her! YAY! We have been overjoyed. However, with her severe food allergies, she also has a severe gag reflex (like she will vomit a bottle if it is not warm enough. She might be a little diva. Good thing she is cute too! :)) and vomited her first few bites of squash... Guess we will try carrots or peas next. Thanks for praying and emailing and checking in with us. If you have any tips on how to make squash better or how to make carrots and peas, I would totally appreciate them...and your continued prayers! Thanks, friends.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Coloring Prayers Part 2 and the Everyday Summer

Last summer I wrote an entry called "Coloring Prayers." That has continued into this summer in the sweetest way. Yesterday, we went to Books-a-Million, and I needed to get a new journal. Addison was so interested, and she begged us to get her a prayer journal too. Well, there was a $1 2011 calendar journal thing, and we got it for her. The first thing that she asked for this morning was her prayer journal, and she wanted us to get our special pens and pray. I was melting at her sweetness. Of course she just scribbled in hers, but I wrote down what she told me she was praying for.
She was so proud and she carried it with her all day--even later when she was coloring her new memory verse.
Meanwhile, her little sister was just a watching and laughing.
This weekend we celebrated my girls' daddy.

He took the girls for a night swim. My big girl stayed close to the wall.
My little girl is going to be a water baby.
We celebrated with Daddy at lunch and then at a concert in the park. Everybody had a ball!

We are loving our everyday summer!

Friday, June 17, 2011

7-month-old Ansley

Photo Credit: Aaron Yung Photography again! (Don't worry, family, we'll send you the link to order them as soon as they are up!) These are technically Ansley's 6 month photos, but they were taken just hours before she turned 7 months, so I am using them here. :) I love those blue-green eyes.

At 7 months old, Ansley is into everything. She is up on all fours rocking, belly crawling a foot or two, and scooting to get where she wants. She lunges for everything, and I am having to rethink baby-proofing this go-around with all of Addison's small toys. Just this week at 7 and a half months, she has gotten into a sitting position from her stomach and has been pulling up to standing. It's funny, though, she HATES rolling from her back to her tummy. She can do it; she'd just rather not, so we are just getting around to lowering her crib just in case she figures out how to put all of these skills together.

Now that she has two bottom teeth, she is experimenting more with her sounds--"da-da" "ma-ma" and "bye-bye" being her most common repetitions. She mostly likes to make "poot" noises with her mouth. She cracks herself up, and if we are in the car, she and Addison go back and forth cracking each other up! At 7.5 months, she started waving bye-bye--sometimes on command, sometimes just to practice circling her wrist.
She is still mostly nourished by breast milk 5 times a day, but we are on day 4 of sweet potatoes. I don't even want to let myself get excited about them, but she is enjoying them so far.

Her favorite songs are "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider." Her favorite books are "Are you ticklish?" and "Twinkle Toes." She is now taking baths with Addison, and Patrick and I are having fun tag-teaming them. She LOVES the water, and on her first trip to the pool, she was trying to come out of her float to face plant and blow bubbles.

She sleeps for 10-11 hours at night and takes 2 2-hour naps. Sometimes she will take a 3rd catnap, and some days, if we are really on the go, she'll take one LONG nap and then a short cat nap. She is a happy sweetheart, and we thank God for each day with her!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Her 2-year-old summer

Picture Credit: Aaron Yung Photography. He snapped this of Addison during Ansley's 6 month photo shoot. It's one of my favorite pics of her EVER. Nashville peeps, you need to check him out!

I was looking back through my blog from last summer, and, boy, was I ambitious! Knowing I was pregnant and it would be the last summer of just Addison and me, I was so intentional about making each day count. Maybe I was even more intentional about documenting each moment, but, nonetheless, reading back through those posts made me TIRED. :)

This summer has been wonderful as well, but with a little sister who still nurses every 3 hours, we've stayed a little bit closer to home... I'm ever thankful for our back yard water fun because even taking them to the neighborhood pool is a task I am not up for most days...

That said, here have been some highlights of Addison's 2-year-old summer so far:

1. going to the zoo and standing like flamingos. There is a new flamingo exhibit at the zoo since last summer, and they are Addison's favorite animal now--all because they are pink. This is a camera picture because, of course, my camera battery went caput as we walked through the entrance. I didn't even get a picture of Ansley on her first trip to the zoo... Lindsay's camera lasted about 5 minutes longer than mine, so I look forward to getting some of her pictures.

2. going to VBS. We went to Brentwood Hills' VBS this week, and Addison got to join Savannah's class. She has been wearing her beaded cross necklace that she made there all the time because she says it matches the one that she gave me for Mother's Day... Sweet girl.

3. going to World Music Day at the local library and story time at the downtown library

4. learning memory verses
I googled "first memory verses" and we are picking one to learn each week. This is hers for this week. She learns everything by repetition. When she wants to learn a new song, she asks me to sing it over and over until she knows it, so I thought she was ready for this. Plus, I am rereading Sally Clarkson's Mission of Motherhood, and she inspired and challenged me to help Addison begin to learn scripture. Addison loved looking through magazines and finding the pictures to match the words, and when she gets stuck, she just looks at the pictures to remember. I have the sweetest video of her reciting her verse so proudly, but I'll have to figure out how to get it on here...

5. fingerpainting--most recently artwork for her daddy and granddads for the upcoming holiday

6. baking--in her kitchen and mine. She loves bringing me treats and helping me make dinners

7. pretend play: Dora adventures, Animal hospitals, Grocery trips, Rec Room campouts, making up fairy tales, playing wedding and prince and princesses, etc.

8. making her sister laugh--again, I have no pictures, but sweet videos of this, so I need to figure out how to post

9. eating banana popsicles--from Publix, so delish, and I can even enjoy these!

10. going to the playground and creek

11. being a spunky and carefree 2-year-old

I love these sweet moments, and even the not-so sweet ones, with my big girl. Here are some recent Addy-isms:

I was brushing her teeth, and she boldy said to me, "Get out of my face." Shocked and a little ticked, I responded with, "We don't speak like that to Mommy, and we don't say that to anyone. You know better than that!" Demure smile on her face, she replied, "You're right, mommy, I'm so sorry. Would you get out of my face, please?" Grr...

I bumped in to her and said, "Sorry, babe." She replied, "Oh sweetheart, you don't have to apologize, it was just an accident," and patted my arm."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Holding Zone... While we were waiting on the rash to go away...

Well, the Ansley Food Chronicles have stalled. She has had a rash that has come and gone for a week. I have cut wheat now also to see if that helps, and those yummy sweet potatoes are still frozen. Keep your fingers crossed for us, please. And prayers too...

In the meantime, here is a camera phone picture dump of what we have been up to:

We have celebrated 2 weddings: one a dear family friend.
The other, a cousin. Mom hosted two back to back bridesmaid's brunches. Lindsay and I co-hosted the one for our cousin. I was in charge of the invitations, and I LOVED these that I ordered from an Etsy shop. (This was a draft that we ended up editing when we changed it to a brunch. I blurred the address info. I matched the bridesmaids dress colors. Cute, huh?!?)

We used the May Southern Living issue as our menu inspiration. We served breakfast casserole, ham and biscuits, cheese grits, cinnamon rolls, lemon cheesecake, muffins, fruit, and a "mocktail" of gingerale, pineapple juice, and orange juice. It was yummy-looking, and I enjoyed my "special food."
The bride is on the right, her youngest sis on the left, her other bridesmaids surrounding her.Linds, Grandmama, Aunt J, and Mom

Front Door Decorations
I have been trying new recipes for my dietary restrictions. As I mentioned, I am cutting back on wheat to see if it makes a difference, so I am now, on a trial basis, gluten free in addition to being dairy and soy free... Yikes! I made cinnamon raisin bread and cobb salad.

I got this recipe via April (she made it for a dinner party last spring) via Martha and left off the cheese on my part. I also used chicken instead of turkey and added honey to the dressing like April suggested. Both were surprisingly delicious.

While little sister has been napping, I've been having lots of fun with her big sis.

Hopefully I'll be back soon with a positive sweet potato report! Until then...

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Ansley Food Chronicles

This isn't Part 1...or even the first part of Part 2. You can read those here and here.

Part 2.5: The one where she was allergic to rice cereal...

So, according to the hives on Ansley's face, back, tummy, and sides, rice cereal is out... Doctors recommend starting with rice cereal because it is the LEAST allergic food out there. My poor sweet baby... With her "questionable poops," I had been hoping against hope, but the verdict knocked the breath out of me.

As I waited on a call back from the doctor to answer the questions: Is it time to stop nursing? Will I cut rice from my diet now? When do we get referred to a pediatric allergist? Can she/will she grow out of this? How long do I hold off introducing other solids?, other thoughts flooded my mind...

Am I going to be nursing this baby until she is 5? Please, God, no! Will some allergist have to engineer a special formula compatible with her body chemistry that will cause Patrick and me to take out another mortgage? What will I make her for her first birthday to smash since she is allergic to EVERYTHING??? How will I explain to her that she can't eat like other children? How will I cook for our family so that Ansley doesn't feel like an outsider? My hopefulness was changed to hopelessness with these thoughts.

While some (hopefully not ALL) of these hypothetical situations might come into fruition, these thoughts were damaging to my spirits. They were damaging to the peace I was praying for me and the healthy outcome I am praying over Ansley. In all of this, all I want for her is to be healthy and to enjoy her precious childhood. Her well-being is my highest priority.

In a good moment, I stopped and spent some time with the Lord where I read these words of comfort:

"As for God, his way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. He is a shield for those who look to him for perfection." ~Psalm 18:30

"I am holding you by your right hand--I the Lord your God. And I say to you, 'Do not be afraid.' I am here to help you."
~Isaiah 41:13

I believe these words. I know that God's way is perfect, and I know that we are meant to walk this path with our Ansley. I also know that I don't need to worry about her first birthday, her first day of school, her first time that she has to use her epi-pen. God has promised us our daily bread, and so we take this journey daily. He has also promised that He is with us. And I thank Him that He is because it is an otherwise isolating journey.

Please pray for my sweet girl's immune system to be reset and for her to grow out of these awful allergies. Would you also pray that the next food we try agrees with her growing body? Thankfully, God has blessed us with a sweetheart. A dear friend told me that she believes Ansley was blessed with such a sweet spirit to encourage us as we battle these nutrition/allergy issues.

My sweet girl on the day she turned 7-months-old wearing a dress that my mom made me when I was a little girl.

So, onto the first part of Part 3: The one where I made her some baby food...

Our pediatrician called back yesterday afternoon and told me that I do not need to stop nursing now unless I am just ready to stop. He said that we just move on to fruits and vegetables. That going to an allergist at this point would probably not give us the most accurate results (recommended age is 1), but that if she showed up allergic to the next two vegetables that we would for sure be referred. He gave me hope that she still can outgrow these, and he said not to worry with grains. I was worried about iron, but he said that while the iron in my breastmilk is less, it is more soluble than what is in formula... Then my mom told me that Lindsay and I couldn't take iron in our formulas when we were babies, so that was a moot point...

I have approached today with hope, trying to lean on those promises I read yesterday and trying to feel God holding my right hand.

I decided it was time to whip up a batch of baby food.

My good friend Karen let me borrow these two items.

Then I got these 2 items.

Today I made one sweet potato that will yield 9 servings. My perfectionist self was wanting to procrastinate this task from fear of the unknown, but it was soooooo easy. I baked the potato for 4o minutes on 400 degrees. I removed the skin, cut it into small pieces, and pureed it with a little bit of breastmilk and a little bit of water. Then I filled my ice cube trays, covered them with plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer. Ta-da.

I also prayed over them as I made them. And I am NOT kidding...

Keep your fingers crossed, and wish her (and me) luck. Thanks for praying.