Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Health Updates, Food Updates, Etc.

Life continues to go on taking us along for the ride!  My hubby has developed an allergic reaction to something, we believe it to be related to his arthritis somehow, but it also interferes with his current method of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) so it gets muddled into a complicated mess.  Finding the source is not as easy as I would hope.  It could be a reaction to his biologic arthritis medication.  It could be that along with the added increase of histamine in his system too since he has had to stop his HRT until we hear from the doctor...his appointment is next month...reminding myself to be patient!  It could also be just an arthritic complication of his disease -it's a progressive disease and compared to others with this disease he has been doing quite well before this happened.

I'm finding that our son still has some of the sensitivities he had as an infant.  He can tolerate more of the offensive foods before reactions appear, not sure if that is progress or just that he is bigger now.  Raisins were the most recent.  He absolutely loves them and begs for them.  He eats them by the fistful, literally grabbing as many as he can possibly manage and stuffs them into his face!  Unfortunately, they are causing a minor rash similar to the one he had from the chicory root milk.  He was eating organic raisins, so I'm going to try another brand to see if it makes a difference before giving up on raisins all together.

Chocolate is another food that he can tolerate in small amounts, but it is easier to avoid.  It is a food that I have had trouble with when I over indulge or if my system is already struggling.  Big bummer because I love chocolate!  I am noticing that wheat and dairy still bother me when not eaten in moderation.  I find it is easier to avoid those ingredients and indulge only at special times -in small amounts.

Finding a nutritional meal plan that meets our needs is challenging.  There is so much conflicting information out there.  I've basically resolved to focusing on a real food diet with less processed foods and less grain products..  I buy organic for the "dirty dozen" and focus on making the best choices in other foods as my budget allows.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Finish Line In Sight

We had our science fair this weekend and the girls did a wonderful job with their presentations and answering questions about their projects to all ages of audience members!  I am so proud of them and the hard work they put in.  It was a very busy several weeks and I loved seeing the spark in their eyes with the motivation they had to work on their projects.

I've been striving to stay rationally focused on our work and seek the Lord with our schooling.  Homeschooling is funny...all of January and February you fight the "homeschool slump"  where it feels like you've been doing school forever and everyone is feeling the burn-out, and summer seems so far away.  Then March 1st hits and all of the sudden you realize you only have 10-13 weeks left to fit in everything you've planned for the year!  To top it off, curriculums and planners start going on sale for the next school year and it only adds to the pressure to figure everything all at once...easy to get overwhelmed with everything going on in your brain.

It reminds me of the verse where God tells us not to worry about tomorrow.  Matthew 6:26-34 is the passage.  If God cares for the lilies of the field, why would you worry about your own tomorrows?  Seek Him first and He'll give you everything you need.

I've been asking God what He wants for us this coming year: whether or not we move, whether or not we stay with our current enrichment program, what to add or remove from our lesson plans, etc.  I've got a lot of ideas and am waiting for his guidance for the right choices.

On the plus side, today I was able to review our goals for finishing out this year and we're mostly on track.  A little behind in some areas and ahead in others.  My goal for this year was to be more organized and I feel I've been pretty successful in that.  Next year my personal goal is to keep organized with school, and add in being more purposeful in our learning and how we spend our time. 

I've also got to figure out how to add in toddler learning time too for our little guy...he'll be on his own track of learning and I'm not sure how yet to incorporate all of the variables into my available time and energy each day.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Science Fair Excitement!

We are participating in our first homeschool science fair this coming Saturday.  The girls are very excited and for the first time in a while, they have been begging to do school work.  Their projects have lit that desire to learn and discover!

Our oldest is doing a project on homemade dog foods to see what foods are healthy for dogs to eat and which of the recipes she has chosen will be preferred by our dog.  First she had to do research by looking at books from the library and websites online.  We found a lot of recipes, but I was surprised how little there was on the actual nutrition for dogs.  Mostly it was "avoid these foods and use meats, veggies, some fruits and little fats."  She chose two recipes to try and created a recipe of her own.  Saturday we spent the afternoon cooking the chicken (her meat of choice for all the recipes we are trying) and today we spent several hours (yes, hours of school on a Sunday -at my daughter's request!) putting the recipes together and then doing the first of three experiments to see which our dog preferred! 

Our younger daughter is doing her project on the consistency of different play dough recipes.  We've made one recipe so far and have five others to create in the next day or two.  Then she will compare the recipe ingredients and their dough consistencies to create her report and display.  Some of her recipes are not toddler friendly, while others are.  She even chose two gluten-free recipes for her brother to play with!

I love that they are so excited and interested in these projects.  I only wish I had more time to give each of them.  We've had to work in bits and pieces over the past few weeks.  It has been a great experience so far.  Our oldest asked me what place I thought the judges might give her for her project.  I told her I thought she had an excellent project, but I wasn't focused on the judges.  I was more proud of her for the hard work she was putting in and the learning she was getting from the whole experience.  She thought about that and then commented on her previous science fair at her charter school where she didn't really pay attention to the teacher and picked a project that allowed her the most play time at home rather than striving to create a quality project.  It was good to hear her tell in her own words what she was gaining from this experience compared to her past experience.  I'm proud of both of our girls and looking forward to seeing how things turn out for them. 

This is our final week to complete our projects so my lesson planner is basically gigantic words across the whole week of "SCIENCE FAIR", LOL!  They are doing math: measuring for their recipes, using real time, and will be making graphs for their displays.  They are doing language arts: preparing to speak to adults and peers about their projects, writing notes on all of their experiments, and a several items for their displays.  They are obviously working on science with the scientific method in their experiments as well as the chemistry and physics in their project topics.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Day to Day Stuff

The past few weeks have been complicated by illnesses.  Our little man brought home a nasty cold that took him nearly two weeks to recover from.  He kindly shared it with the entire family, leading to several sick days where we didn't do school and our middle child gained an ear infection from.  I can tell we are finally getting to the end of it, but there are still times that it just wipes me out.  Yesterday I felt pretty good.  Today I took a three hour nap and barely functioned before that nap.  I'm hopeful that we'll be able to keep our school schedule this week -we've got a dentist appointment and two homeschool outings planned!

Our homeschool group does "Presentation Days" once per month and this month's theme is "Poetry".  Both girls have memorized something to recite.  Our oldest is reciting the 'Toddler's Creed' poem by Dr. Burton White, and our youngest girl is reciting John 3:16.  If our little guy cooperates, I hope to video tape their presentations, and at least, I hope I am able to keep him busy so he is not an interruption to them.  He did well last month sitting in my lap and playing with his pom-pom balls and wipey box.

With the potential of moving this year, I have in my spare time...the little I get...been packing items we aren't ready to let go of, dropping of bags and bags of stuff to the thrift stores, and de-cluttering the house to make it more "show ready".

Whether or not we actually move, this process has been really good for me and has provided a good perspective for working on our home.  I re-purposed my prized desk as a tv stand because our little guy was biting the paint off of our hand-me-down desk we were previously using and I didn't know what kind of paint he was eating.  My desk actually looks nicer and fits better in our living room anyway.  I miss having the surface to throw clutter on, but I'm enjoying the forced organization it is making me do to adjust.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Odd Allergy Symptoms

We ended up taking our little guy to see the pediatrician over the weekend just to rule out any medical concerns that I wouldn't know about...I don't like acting opposite the recommendations of the medical professionals, even when I doubt them strongly at times.

We were fortunate to get to see the pediatrician he has seen every visit since birth.  She knows his history and her first question to me was "What is new in his diet?"  It was such a relief.  She completely agreed with my assessment of the situation and did not think a scratch test was needed at all.  She didn't specifically state that she thought it was the chicory root, but she did agree in avoiding the new milk and rather than trying new milks when his is not in stock at the store, he's okay not having it for a day or two.

We went home reassured and relieved.  His rash took about a week to completely clear up, but it did.  She also suggested mixing his Aquaphor and a hydrocortisone cream rather than using Benadryl and worrying about the potential over dose.  It worked wonders in relieving his itch and we only used the Benadryl tablet for naps and bedtimes.

Then this past week, we went out to eat and even though he had a gluten free meal, something must have been cross contaminated because he reacted badly to it.  Tummy pain, gas, not eating and just drinking, and the strangest one of all was a low body temperature.  He has had all of these symptoms before.  His low temperature never goes low enough to reach the concerning levels posted on the internet, but it makes him cold and uncomfortable.  It only happens when he's had wheat.  And only lasts as long as it takes to get out of his system (usually 3-4 days, starting around the second day of a reaction).

I researched it in my free time for two days, not finding anything that fit his situation.  Then I searched under the FPIES (Food Protein Induced Entercolitis Syndrome).  There it was.  Allergic reactions and low body temperature in the same paragraph and connected legitimately by other parent testimonies and by medical professionals.  It's only listed as an unusual reported symptom, but it is listed as happening in severe reactions.  I was hoping to find some more scientific information about why it happens and what is going on internally.  At least it is documented that it is in relation to an allergic reaction to food proteins.  I hope that I remember, but I want to bring it up at his 18 month well visit to see what his pediatrician says.

More on Applying God's Will

I'm finding that applying God's will to my life easily fits the current trending word of "adulting".  It involves a maturity and a spiritual development level to know God's word and obey it, even when you don't feel like it, or find it uncomfortable.

For me, I realized this in my church attendance.  With my son, it was hard to attend because he was so young, so attached, and too loud to allow me to attend service in the sanctuary.  Recently on Wednesday nights, my hubby has been able to take care of our son at home while I take our older children to service and attend myself.

I found myself not wanting to go.  I wanted to hide in the back row, keep my secluded introverted ways...but our church has a 10-minute period of prayer each Wednesday night service and openly encourages all to pray together in small groups during that time.  They also have an open communion at the front of the sanctuary.

But, I know that God wanted me to attend.  He wanted me to participate, so even though it was uncomfortable and strange...I went.  I pushed aside that fear and trepidation to do what God asked me to do.  I still can't say I'm happy to go and interact with people I don't know.  Maybe someday they won't be such strangers to me.  In any case, I am learning.  I am growing in my faith.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Surprise Hair Cuts and Allergic Reactions!

The first few weeks of our January have been pretty busy.  The girls requested more field trips so we have been on two already this month and potentially another one next week, although this momma is pretty worn out, so we might skip that one.

Our oldest hasn't been enjoying her once-a-week day with the extra curricular activities as is public school based and she has realized for the first time in her life that the world isn't "mostly Christian" as her life has previously been blessed to be.  She's been witnessing to a boy who is atheist in her class and has chosen to continue to attend classes so she can continue to be a light to him.  It's inspiring and something special to be a part of as her mom through this life challenge.

Our younger daughter surprised us by cutting her own bangs.  She hid it for two days by wearing a winter hat saying she was cold...I thought she did a pretty good job on her bangs, just a little bit on the short side.  So I helped her even them out and finish the edges.  I can see her getting into the salon business when she is older.  Then her sister, whose bangs have finally grown out, begged to have bangs again so I did hers too.

Our little guy is nearing 18 months old and has finally hit the vocabulary explosion that is typical of toddlers his age.  It is so much fun because it has only been the past week and a half or so that he has suddenly started chatter-boxing like crazy!  He has a few phrases that he says and several single words, but he is trying new ones all the time and has learned that when he calls us by name, he can get our attention.  I often wake up to him calling "momma" from his crib in the mornings.

He has been having a reaction to something in his diet the past week or so and I wasn't sure if it was just a virus or an allergy.  He'd have random spots on his body that seemed to fade away and return.  Some would make him itch.  Last night we learned what was going on -at least I hope we've found the only source. 

For dinner I made him oatmeal and as usual I used his nut-milk to mix in and help cool it down for him.  He's into feeding himself now, so he had that oatmeal everywhere...his shirt, his hands, his ears, his eyebrows, and even the back of his head mixed into his hair.  I gave him a bath afterwards and noticed that he was beginning to break out.  He had red blotches on his cheeks, one eyebrow, some spots on his nose and several behind his ears and on his neckline above his shirt collar.  He started itching by rubbing his hand and scratching his ears and neck constantly. 

The milk I had used for his oatmeal was a new one.  The week before, the store was out of his normal milk, so I bought the same brand with a new formula that included "prebiotics".  The only unusual ingredient in that milk was chicory root inulin.  So I did a quick google search of chicory root side effects and not just one, but several websites had warnings about checking with a doctor before using chicory root because it is known to cause severe dermatitis and is part of the family of plants that include ragweed, marigold and other seasonal allergies.  My hubby has consistent hay-fever every year due to those specific allergies.  That was enough to convince me that it was the chicory root.

His rash and itching was so bad that we decided to call the after-hours line to see if we could give him some sort of antihistamine cream or medication to help him through the night.  The nurse I talked to quickly discarded my chicory root idea saying that it was just a tuber and not likely at all.  She was more concerned with the almond/cashew mix of the milk even though I explained to her that he drinks almond/cashew milk every day, and has for the past 7-8 months without incident.  She gave us permission to give the antihistamine meds and also recommended we not give him any more tree nuts without getting an allergy scratch test done and explained to me everything I already knew about allergies.  I thanked her and hung up. 

Never before this past year have I ever questioned those in the medical profession like I do now that I have a child with food sensitivities.  Doctors seem to know very little about how food interacts with the body.  I know my child best and I know that it was not the tree nuts that bothered him.  Bananas are also exacerbating his rash, and I know that bananas can cause reactions to those with seasonal allergies like ragweed, it only confirms in my mind that it was most likely the chicory root inulin that his body is reacting to.

As of tonight, his rash had faded to more of a pinpoint rash on his neck and ears.  The blotches on his cheeks remain.  His body is still working through it because the rash fades with the topical cream, but returns red and itchy when the effects start to wear off.