Tag Archives: Searching for Answers/Guidance

Watch it Spin

Could even our biggest challenges like food allergies and anxiety spin into something positive? Could our greatest hurdles turn into the type of strength and perseverance that can be used for future races, experience and life?

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Like Colossians 3:2 states, perspective is a major key to one’s happiness. Life was never promised to be easy, but also can see in scripture the promise of “beauty for ashes.” This was the promise for God’s people to be delivered from their plight. Though it was promised way back when, it can still give us hope and encouragement during the most difficult times and situations we experience now. Therefore, we must remember to embrace and accept the challenge as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to change, to be ultimately blessed for the troubles and pains. Like John Wooden’s quote, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out,” take the bad and find the good. We must teach ourselves to find the positive spin.

Since May is food allergy awareness month, let’s use our experience with food allergies as an example. So, let’s go back to that first reaction, an experience no one should have to experience

Saturday, December 13 was a typical snowy evening.   As I was setting up my son’s dinner, I was excited because it would be his first taste of yogurt. After two small spoonfuls, the verdict was in: he seemed to love it!

However, within a minute it all changed.

He started to fuss and rub at his face. Turning red, his lips and mouth swelled up as huge blotches formed all over his face, neck and chest. Although just an infant, fear was written all across his face.  After calling 911, an ambulance arrived after what felt like a lifetime.  In the ambulance, his state continued to get worse. I held an oxygen mask over his now slightly-blue lips.   As he started to zone out, I prayed that he did not lose his breath. Every time he cried, I felt a second of relief for he was breathing.

Asking the EMT repeatedly about his state, I now know that she too was worried.  Her silence spoke louder than any words could have. They did not have an EpiPen with them in the ambulance and called to meet up with another team on the way to the hospital. However, due to the snow, that did not happen. As the doors to the ambulance opened, they sprinted in holding my son as I ran behind them, helpless.

The hospital staff administered epinephrine, Benadryl, and a steroid then reassured me that everything would be okay.   It was 40 minutes after ingesting that tiny amount of yogurt and I now know that we were beyond lucky.  Not everyone gets those 40 minutes.

A moment of relief soon turned into the reality of what had happened. It mixed with guilt, throwing me into the most difficult place I had seen. That night, I slept on the floor next to his crib waking up every hour to check for breathing.  Yet, even in his sleep, TJ smiled on…

We soon learned that TJ was allergic to and needed to avoid milk, eggs, wheat, oats, barley, rye, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, sesame, soy, peas, and tomatoes. At first, I spent those early months trying to defend myself to others as a good person who did not eat too many or too little peanuts or eggs during my pregnancy.  Or, explaining why I chose to continue breastfeeding despite these allergies.   I was explaining myself to everyone to try to prove that I did not cause this and I was not an awful mom.  However, I had no one to prove myself to. It was not my fault. I did not need to sit with the guilt either. It was unhealthy and I needed to shift my focus to best help myself so that I could best help TJ.

What I did not know at the time was that I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder afterwards as well. It was a time of great fear and challenges. Not only did he have these food allergies, he had also developed viral-induced asthma and seemed to be sick all the time, needing breathing treatments daily. Events with family and friends became difficult for so many reasons so I just avoided them. It appeared to be one hurdle after another during that time. Then, mix in a miscarriage, the loss of my close friend’s baby, postpartum anxiety and some medical issues plus a lifetime of anxiety… those mountains seemed way too high to climb.

That’s where the spin comes in… I seemed to be spinning out of control but that did not mean I could not learn to spin it the other way. My perspective had to change before my situation did.

Therefore against the intense anxiety, guilt, exhaustion and pain, I turned to reading scripture, praying and writing. I had always been good at seeing the good in other people but it was a challenge to do this for myself, my own experiences, my own life. I had to teach myself to find the positive or else I would never break the cycle… I had to reverse the spin.

Despite the fact that food allergies, anxiety and health issues are all incredible challenges, there is also a lot of good all around, waiting to be discovered or even seen through these rocky journeys.

Spinning forward and ahead…

1) Allergies have taught us to eat much healthier. It has opened our eyes and thus our mouths to a much more nutritious, organic and wholesome cuisine. It shined light on many misconceptions regarding health, food sources and fat, by allowing us to find great resources like Robin O’Brien. I still remember how I was pumping breast milk during my break at work when I got the message from an amazing nurse Kathy who sent me a video on her. I have not stopped following her since. Through the years, we have also found many companies and brands to trust. We have learned a lot.

2) Companies aren’t the only sources of great information. We have also met and/or spoken to so many other allergy families. We have shared ideas, joys and challenges. A support system is key and food allergies have allowed for that. They are all around. Sign up, join or boldly start your own.

3) We have been given a platform to teach to the ignorance and shine empathy on so many. In being able to educate others even our own family members and friends, relationships have taken on a whole new perspective and level.

4) Thinking outside the box – Having food allergies has really allowed us to get creative and go beyond the typical to ensure TJ, Madison and all of those with allergies are included. Why cry over the spilled milk and sheet cakes you can’t buy for birthday parties, when you have so many great alternative milks out there to purchase and so many cakes and recipes to experiment with and love! As we continue to add to our allergy-safe cookbook, we have fun with it.

5) It continues to teach us to appreciate the little things in life a bit more. We celebrate and praise God at the alter every time another food item is added back into our diets. Heck, we have even celebrated peas … shhh don’t tell my kids I’m not really a fan. Still, we are grateful for each blessing.

6) It develops self advocacy in children at a young age. A few weeks ago at a church class, teachers were switched without us knowing and the message about TJ’s allergies was not relayed. However, TJ spoke up for himself when they tried to give him goldfish which have dairy. Strong advocates with brave hearts will continue to make a difference in this world. I know I want to raise that type of child.

7) And the greatest blessing of all is the testimonies we have of God’s work. We were told TJ would have asthma until at least eight if not his whole life. – TJ no longer has asthma. He stopped daily treatments before he was 2.5. He hasn’t needed a breathing treatment since before he was 4. At 5 now, he is allergic to only dairy, eggs, and peanuts. Three allergies is a huge improvement from 21! While he used to be sick a lot, he has barely been sick this entire year and doesn’t even need an asthma care plan for kindergarten. We have a lot to be thankful for.

And when you ask TJ who took away the stomach bug he had in December, the breathing treatments, the other 18 allergies… His testimony is simply perfect. God!

Since beginning this journey, I have already learned to smile differently because:

1)      Special kinds of people wear these shoes.  Wear the label often thrown at you with pride. For you are special.

2)      Make the most of it, don’t let challenges like food allergies define you. Only YOU can define yourself.

3)      Ignorance is not bliss and needs to be educated. Let’s help share awareness with an open mind and heart.

4)      Let your faith be bigger than your fear.  Two thoughts cannot exist at the same time. A fearful one cannot remain when a faith-filled one butts in and takes charge. Trust your instinct but always be prepared and hopeful.

5)      Educating means advocating. Never apologize for it. Your child’s life, your life never requires an apology.

Last, but definitely not least, people with food allergies, old and young, continue to inspire us each and every day. They radiate so much strength, courage, and goodness. Don’t get me wrong, food allergies stink. However, we must keep focusing on the blessings while we keep safe, praying and believing God is continuing to use all of this as a testimony of his amazing love and healing power.

 

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So if it means having a house that’s a little messier and some challenges we know we will rise above, we’ll take it. We’ll use it all to continue to do our part to teach the merry-go-round of life to see the good all around and learn to spin the other way.

And Then There Was Sesame…

Are you kidding me 2019? That was the first thing I thought of when we were leaving the allergist’s office that Monday morning in January. Really… sesame…another allergy to add to the mix.

Like I wrote about in “Some Days Just Stink,”

we had just learned that …

  • TJ’s allergy levels for this year had pretty much remained the same unlike the previous few years.
  • That he would be going into kindergarten with dairy, egg and peanut allergies.
  • Then, Madison had unsuccessfully tried straight milk with her allergist the week before. This was her final step in being able to eat anything!!!

I felt blessed that soon I would have one child who could eat whatever I ate… could eat anything at parties or play dates or restaurants …. but then …

sesame struck …

 

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Now, three times in the summer Madison had tried hummus and loved it. However, all three times her cheeks got a little red and irritated. The third time her mouth got itchy so we knew it was something to avoid and ask the allergist about.

In January, the skin test showed what we expected although we prayed and hoped for the opposite:

She had an allergy to sesame and needed to avoid it until next year when we could retest in skin and blood work.

Are you kidding me 2019? Another allergy added to the mix… and so I allowed myself the next day or two to be bummed and annoyed. But like anything, those 48 hours of sulking was enough. It was time to turn it around.

Sesame is the 9th most common allergy in the United States. However, it is one that is usually not labeled, since only the top 8 need to be. However, sesame can be sneaky.

(Sesame Allergy Post from 2015)

We are no strangers to s sense allergy as TJ once had it too. But since passing his sesame food challenge a couple years ago, he must keep it in his weekly diet 2-3 times a week. (The same protocol is used with all his past allergens.)

While TJ now loves hummus, Madison has her own favorite dip. Sesame free hummus is always an option (look for upcoming post) but also guacamole. We love organic Yucatan guacamole. But here is a simple recipe totally kid-friendly and adaptable to all taste buds.

Ingredients:

2 avocados (mashed)

1/2 of a lime (squeeze out the juice)

1 teaspoon cilentro

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon salt to taste

1-2 tablespoons organic salsa of your choice (amount depends on how large the avocados are)

Directions:

  1. Mix the lime juice with the mashed avocado

  2. Add the rest of the ingredients

  3. For added flavor for adults, add some cayenne and cilantro to the top.

Easy enough to not leave too much of a mess behind and totally not miss sesame one bit.

 

EpiPens in Maine

Lawmakers in Maine are considering a bill all states should pass: “to allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense EpiPens at no cost to the patient.”

See the article here:

MAINE LAWMAKER’S PROPOSAL TO MAKE EPIPEN MORE ACCESSIBLE

Every six months we have to shell out sooooo much money to purchase two sets of the generic version. (4 sets total: 2 for each child – one for school and one for home) While we feel thankful to be reimbursed for more than 3/4th of each set, that’s still a ridiculous amount of money!

Whenever I pick them up at the pharmacy, I always think about how many people… kids… babies don’t have the necessary protection that these devices bring because of the insanely high, immoral cost!

But like always, we must reflect on how blessed we are…

on how much TJ has improved since his first anaphylactic reaction …

and how we truly believe his body as well as Madi’s will be restored from all of these allergies.

But in the meantime, we stay prepared, always with two sets on hand.

Go Maine, let’s get more states on board!

A Picky Eater’s Peas

Picky eating drove me crazy for way too long. From the time TJ was first able to eat, he was never really interested in food.

Some of this was due to his 21 food allergies at that time, texture sensitivities, and the fact he was a slow chewer and eater.

However, in every difficult situation, there is always a blessing. Because of his pickiness …

He wasn’t the child grabbing for someone else’s food at daycare. (Thank God for that with a list as long as his at that point.)

At his one year old appointment, his pediatrician who we love, spoke the medical truth, “TJ would have a reaction in daycare that year. The chance was too great not to. We just had to make sure the staff was prepared.”

(The course of action we took after that is for another post… as well as the panic I fell into..)

BUT…while that’s the medical facts, we believe in the God of real truth, of miracles, of the impossible … TJ was and is living proof of that. He never had a reaction that year at daycare or any of the other years after. God is good! And prayer with belief is powerful.

Looking back, his pickiness was a blessing, a way he was kept safe in otherwise, high-risk situations. However, he was still such a picky eater and it drove us nuts especially after his blood work came back around twelve months, stating he was mildly anemic, adding more to his already limited plate! (Quite the paradox if I can say so myself!)

Our options were put him on a supplements or try to build up the iron naturally with food. The latter was what we chose after meeting with two nutritionists. So we spent the next four months, getting him to eat three meals a day filled with iron … each meal would take an hour or more for him to complete… talk about patience…

When he was rechecked, sure enough it had worked! However, it did not stop the picky eating nonsense which continued for years…

Therefore, I was always on the search for new safe foods, recipes, inspiration …

When my daughter was first born, in a conversation with another mom, she mentioned roasted chickpeas being something her own picky eater loved.

TJ liked chickpeas here and there so we tried it… (I would have tried almost anything at this point) …and sure enough it was an instant hit!

And the added bonus… it’s so easy!

Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  1. Organic chickpeas (When we use a can, we make sure it is BPA free.)
  2. Salt
  3. Pepper
  4. Olive oil
  5. Any other spices your child likes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Rinse and dry chick peas. Get out as much liquid as possible
  3. Coat the oven pan with a little bit of olive oil. Not too much
  4. Put the chickpeas in the pan.
  5. Sprinkle salt, pepper or whatever spices you want. (Amount is always to your child’s liking. I only use a little pepper for that reason.)
  6. Drizzle the top with some more olive oil.
  7. Put in oven for 40-45 minutes
  8. Halfway through, shake or flip the chickpeas around to roast all sides.
  9. Finish cooking until lightly browned and crunchy.
  10. Enjoy!

It’s been over two years of making this recipe which now both of my kids continue to enjoy. And even though it may still take TJ a little longer to eat them, he does so with a smile.

You’re a “Dump Truck”

Maybe I’m bias, but TJ has the cutest little voice. No matter what he says I just want to eat him up even if the words are not properly pronounced or if his story about school does not add up.

Likewise, watching and listening to a toddler first gain their voice is amazing and a learning experience in itself, even more than I thought it was…as I recently found out.

My daughter started to speak in sentences way before we remember my son doing so. Or at least, her delivery was much clearer. However, as parents for the first time, we had no idea what was “typical” and what wasn’t. (I say that loosely as no two children are alike.)

Sure, there were times, TJ got frustrated with us when we did not understand fully what he was trying to tell us. But then, we saw how clever he was to figure out how to give us clues to get us to understand.

“Mommy, you know what I mean.   It rhymes with pain and rain, and it is on your head.”

“Oh brain! How clever! Great problem-solving skills!

Plus, as a special education teacher I never wanted to over-analyze my own children when it wasn’t necessary. So we corrected him when needed and even had a good laugh the times that called for it… like the time he called to my brother-in-law,

“Hey! Uncle Frankie, you’re a dumb #$@%!” …

…aka dump truck.
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What a cute, hilarious scene at Christmas that year when TJ was 3.5.

But …

Fast forward to just after Christmas a year later…

when I received his preschool report card. He received all 4s out of 5s except for speaking in full sentences which he did for us. He got a 2!?!?! Then I turned to the back to read the note,

“TJ has a kind heart and is nice to everyone. He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him. I love his art!”

What!?!? “He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him.”

Okay, maybe there was more to this than we knew. After I started to panic, how could we have missed this? Or overlooked it? Did we not read enough books? Would he get picked on or bullied in kindergarten? Did we teach him all wrong? Did we fail him? What other trauma did we cause him? What did I do wrong? And a million other questions….

But then I reminded myself …. breath … pray… breath …

So, I spoke to a close friend at work who works part time at another facility for speech and she calmed me down, suggesting I take him there for an evaluation.   She also mentioned that sometimes problems with eating and speaking are related which got me thinking some more.

A week later, I took TJ to get evaluated and sure enough, he needed speech. Interestingly enough, we learned that some of the problem letters like g and k that were causing him to not be understood were due to lack of muscle strength in his mouth. All related to feeding too!!!

Now, anyone who knows us and knows TJ, knows how we have spent his whole life asking him to chew or eat…. reminding him to chew and eat.

“TJ, what are you eating? TJ, chew your food. TJ, eat. TJ, EEAAATTT!!!!!”

He has always been such a sloooooooooooooooow eater and now we knew part of a reason why….

He mainly uses his front teeth.

So, we had a couple added challenges. But wherever there are problems, there can be solutions as well. Thank God for that!

Therefore, we started using bite blocks and a chewy tube to strengthen his back mouth muscles while also practicing letters and words that he knows how to say but has started to form bad habits with.  This is in addition to speech/feeding class thirty minutes a week.

So while our dining room table now has even more clutter on it with our speech tools and worksheets on it, at least we won’t let any dump trucks trip us up anymore.

Shake Up Your Morning

It was in September that I saw my OBGYN about intense ovulation and menstrual pain. It had been several months of this so I wanted answers. I started to assume it was the endometriosis my mom may have so “kindly” passed down to me.

After an ultrasound, I received a phone call from another doctor telling me that I had a cyst on my ovary the size of a baseball!

A BASEBALL! I freaked out… ain’t gonna lie… especially when they then instructed me that I should have blood work done to double check…cancer levels… That was it! I quickly lost it!

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Then, the doctor went right into talking about having to monitor it for a few months and then discussed going on the pill or even surgery.  That was not a good night for me or my husband to say the least. (It was also the night I found out he would be traveling to Paris for business without me….double whammy!!)

After I gathered myself again, I turned to prayer, believing everything would be okay.  Instead, of my typical reaction of panic, panic and more panic.   I consciously chose to train my brain to believe that: I. WOULD. BE. TOTALLY. OKAY. AND. HEALTHY.

A week later, the blood work came back with the wonderful news that my inflammation number was in the normal range.   So now it was just waiting game until I would be rechecked in a couple months. Therefore, I reached out to a holistic doctor about what I could do. She gave some supplements to help decrease estrogen levels and also suggested lots of cruciferous vegetables and as many greens as possible. Sadly, she also recommended that I cut out alcohol and dairy for 30 days. Noooo not the wine!

So, I loaded up on broccoli and cauliflower in my lunches and dinners.  Riced cauliflower was my best friend in my stir frys, salads, and even soups. I already wasn’t eating dairy during the week, only on the weekends with pizza.  With liquor, I stopped the random glass of wine during the week, only a glass or two on the weekends.  But as far as the other greens…. how many greens could I actually eat? That is when I decided to play around with morning shakes, finding my favorite green one.

I called it my morning “Shake Up” or as my daughter calls it, a green “milk shake.”

And here it is… with some variations. I like to vary it up too.  My husband turned me into a creature of habit, or maybe I always was one.  Regardless, variety is important so I try my hardest to vary it up.

SHAKE IT UP RECIPE #1

  1. ice cubes (a couple handfuls)
  2. 2 Tablespoons almond butter
  3. 1 cup almond milk or Silk’s Protein Milk (almond, cashew, pea)
  4. 2 dates (You can add up to 4.  I keep it light for sugar purposes)
  5. 1 Tablespoon chia seeds
  6. 1 Tablespoon flax seeds
  7. 1 Tablespoon – a good sourced Cacao powder (optional)
  8. A teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  9. a cup of spinach or kale (I usually stick to spinach although lately I’m on a kale kick)
  10. 1-2 stalks of celery or even cucumber
  11. Maca powder (optional)
  12. Organic protein powder (optional)

Directions:  Combine and blend well. We use a Vitamix to blend. (It was by far one of my best purchases as far as kitchen items.)

Two months later, when I was retested, the cyst was almost completely undetectable.  Thank you God! Thank you for shakin’ it up and making my faith grow even more.  Thank you for those morning shakes that kick start my days right, even as we rush out of the house with the Vitamix still dirty in the sink.

 

Learning to Trust

To start, I must admit it has been a difficult two weeks for me.  Both my physical and emotional health have been a battle.  However, I am taking new avenues to try to get back to my healthy self.

With that being said, while talking to a close friend last night about some of my “worries” with starting some new products that I will post more about at a later date.  She said to me, “I think you have learned how to mistrust everything in your environment due to TJ’s allergies.” 

This is soooo true! This past year has opened my eyes to so much knowledge and thus, it has empowered me but also has made me super vulnerable.

One of the topics that is often in my thoughts these days is GMOs.   Check out the following article regarding this…

FDA Takes Issue with Term ‘Non-GMO’

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=MastheadLogo&region=TopBar


My friend went on to remind me that I need to learn to trust again which is what I am trying to do with the new products and resources that I have reached out to.   To start, a few nights ago I started to meditate and last night I began using essential oils.

Anxiety is such a tricky battle as it can manifest in so many different ways.  The reality is that we must do whatever it takes to ensure the health of our family.  However, we must also remember that comfort and peace in found in trusting God.  Therefore, we smile on trusting that God is leading our steps…


“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.”

  • Isaiah 26:3