26 Weeks of Muffins, Week 7

Here’s the thing that sucks during the summertime about where we live:  we’re down inside of a valley and we’re right smack in the middle of all of the Western states that get plagued by wildfires–including our own.  This means all the smoke from all those states meets in the middle and gets trapped in our valley for weeks on end.

This past week we were in the “purple” category for air quality.  Purple is “very unhealthy.”  The Air Quality Index measures six categories and purple is the fifth.  The sixth is maroon and it’s considered “hazardous” and triggers an emergency situation, so we were just a step below that.

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I shit you not, this is a photo of the mountains I took from inside my car.  The mountains are somewhere in there behind the smoke.

It’s been a rough week.  We’ve all been taking allergy medication every day, including E, to take the edge off the sneezing and coughing.  Someone came to work coughing up blood.  The wait at the urgent care offices was up to three hours long.  It was NUTS.  E struggled with not being able to play in the back yard.  Every time we let the dog out to pee, she heard the back door open and she would run toward it.

Yesterday we were back into the orange category, so E did get to spend a little time outside.  The things you take for granted, right?

Meanwhile, little miss is getting tired of muffins.  I can tell.  It sucks because we’ve got 19 more weeks of muffins and I’m starting to suspect she’s going to hate muffins for life by the time her next allergy test rolls around.  When she’s an adult she’s going to meet some amazing man who bakes her muffins (they exist, right?) and she’s going to vomit at the sight of them.

This last week I made banana muffins that are really just banana bread in a muffin shape.  I couldn’t find a single banana muffin recipe that calls for milk, so I mixed up the wet ingredients and then dumped in 1/4 cup of powdered milk and let it dissolve.  It worked beautifully.

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Per the allergist, we should be making muffins each week–but I’m considering a bread or a cupcake to mix it up a little for E.  I want this challenge to work and to help her outgrow the allergy faster, but I also don’t want it to be a bad experience for her.

The struggle is real.

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26 Weeks of Muffins, Weeks 4 & 5

I started to giggle as I typed in the title of this blog post.  We’re not even a fifth of the way through the challenge.  On the bright side, last night I threw together a batch of muffins in about ten minutes.  Funny how life offers you the chance to build up your skills in places you never imagined.

For weeks 4 and 5, I did nothing fancy for the muffins for E’s baked milk challenge.  I wanted to be consistent in the recipe so I could keep an eye on any potential reactions after we took a week off to let E’s rashes and GI issues clear up.  I want to say it’s a good thing, even though it’s not, that at the time of her reactions there was a rash going around her day care.  A full-body rash with no other symptoms.  It lasted about three days and then it was gone without a trace.  It doesn’t explain E’s awful bowel movements, but those too cleared up within a week and so far they haven’t returned.  *Knocks on wood until the end of time*

So, next week I’ll be branching out with some new muffin recipes because a mom can only take so many Mt. Sinai allergy challenge muffins before she just longs for something more exotic.

Meanwhile, my kid’s language is exploding.  She knows 85 words and around ten two-word phrases.  She regularly says “daddy’s juice,” which is both Gatorade and Coke, and she likes to differentiate between mommy’s and daddy’s cars and shoes.  She’s starting to help me count and puts her fingers up for the numbers 1 and 5 (but none in between). Every day she seems to learn new words and communicate just a little bit more clearly to us.  It’s the most incredible thing to witness.

We’re also working on time outs.  E can throw one hell of a temper tantrum.  Tonight when it happened because I told her it was time to put the Kindle away, I sat her in a corner of the room and made her sit for one minute.  She tried to walk away once about ten seconds in, so I made her go back and started the timer over.  Unfortunately, it only made her madder and the only way I got her to calm down was to sit her on the rocker in her bedroom by herself with a couple of books.

Clearly I’m not so good at time outs yet.  I’ll have to try a few different methods and see what works best.

One last thing–can I just say I was blown away tonight when E refused to eat anything I offered to her, until I handed her a carrot?  I knew there was a veggie lover deep down inside somewhere in that girl.

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26 Weeks of Muffins, Weeks 2 & 3

We’re currently on week 3 of our “26 weeks of muffins” challenge to try and help little E outgrow her dairy allergy more quickly.  I’m not so sure we’re going in the right direction, but we’ll get to that in a moment.  First, I have to gush over the Old-Fashioned Donut Muffins I made the week before last.  They legit tasted like donuts, complete with a sugary glaze that makes me drool just thinking about it.

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That was week two.  E had her share of the glazed donut muffins for the week (and I had mine) and she had no reactions.

In the meantime, we stayed pretty busy.  We took E to an exotic petting zoo, where she turned her nose up at the kangaroos and the sloth and the monkeys, but she lost her SHIZ over the sheep.  There were four in particular she was obsessed with and they wanted nothing to do with her.  She didn’t care.  DAMN IT, they were going to be her friends whether they wanted it or not.

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Also, I was pretty excited when E recently started stringing two words together.  Like, “that bird” and “daddy car.”  But now she’s decided “no mommy” is pretty much her favorite phrase.  And I had thought just “no” was bad.

At least she’s become the perfect little helper.  She helps with chores and she feeds the dog and she puts things away for me when I ask her to.  I’m writing this down as proof because when she’s 14 and sassing me because I’ve asked her to clean her room, she’ll never believe there was a day when she LIKED to clean.

So back to the (SIGHHHHH) muffins.

I realized that by straying from the original baked-milk-challenge-recipe the doctor had given me, I’d miscalculated the amount of milk going into the batches of muffins I was baking.  There should be 1/6 cup of milk in each muffin, which equals 1/12 cup in each serving I give to E.  So far the muffins she’s been getting have only had 1/12 cup per muffin, or a mere 1/24 cup per half-muffin.  This past Sunday, I reverted back to the original recipe while I research recipes with the correct amount of milk.  That means that starting this week, E has been getting twice the amount of milk she was getting before.

I’m hoping it’s a coincidence.  I’m desperately, begging-the-universe and pleading-with-the-allergy-gods, hoping it’s a coincidence.  Since starting the “correct” muffins two days ago, E’s bowel movements have changed.  They’re worse and they’re a different color.  (“TMI” goes out the window when you have a toddler, right?)  Now she has a terrible, painful diaper rash that looks allergic in nature.  She had a full-face rash tonight and she had hives and red patches on her arms and her ear, of all places.

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I’ve noted it down as a potential reaction.  If it continues or gets worse, I’ll have to call the allergist to see what he thinks.

Poop.

 

26 Weeks of Muffins: Week 1

It’s been just over a week since E’s failed baked milk challenge at the allergist’s office. For the next six months, we’ve been instructed to give E half a muffin three times a week in order to help her build up a tolerance for baked milk.  The muffins need to be fresh, so I’ll be baking a new batch every week.  Did you do the math?  That’s 26 batches of muffins before E’s next blood testing.

B is thrilled because he usually buys a package of fresh-baked muffins at the grocery store each week to eat for breakfast.  He’s really, really into muffins.  Out of every dozen muffins I make, E only gets one and a half–so B gets the rest because this mama is trying to ditch her sweet tooth.

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I’m also keeping a log of each muffin I give to E so I can discuss reactions/non-reactions with the allergist.

  • 7/23/2017:  Dime-sized rash on one cheek
  • 7/25/2017:  Quarter-sized light pink rashes on each cheek several hours after consuming
  • 7/28/2017:  No reaction
  • 7/30/2017:  [Jeopardy music]

Of course, I have to share all of the recipes I’m trying.  Most of them will require modifications for E’s other allergies, so I’ll link to the recipe and note what I did differently to accommodate little miss.

This week:  Amish Cinnamon Muffins

THESE ARE SO GOOD.  The muffin tops are incredible–super fluffy and just slightly crispy on the edges.  Oh em eff gee.

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Modifications:  subbed egg with flax egg, and subbed butter with Smart Balance (Original).  I still struggle with flax eggs in certain recipes–especially meatloaf/meatballs/etc.–but for muffins I’ve been successful so far by using a little less water than most flax egg recipes call for.  Typically the flax meal to water ratio is 1 TBSP:3 TBSP, but I’ve found doing about 2.5 TBSP of water is perfect.

Also, this recipe called for buttermilk, regular milk with vinegar, or just regular milk.  I used plain whole milk.

I’m drooling as I write this post.

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If you have a favorite muffin recipe, please feel free to share!  I might as well take this opportunity to try some new things and add as much variety as I can to E’s bland-ish diet.

Baked Milk Challenge

Last week we had E retested for her dairy, egg, and peanut allergies.  It’s been six months since her last blood test when her allergist was hopeful she was starting to outgrow her dairy allergy.

I already knew the peanut allergy was still going strong.  A month ago E had a reaction from cross contamination.  I gave her a piece of toast with cashew butter that was fresh ground in a machine right next to a peanut grinder.  Never again.  This pic was taken about six hours after exposure:

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I also expected we were still dealing with an egg allergy since we’ve had some suspected cross contamination reactions there as well.  I was correct in both of my suspicions–egg and peanut are both too high to do anything but retest again in six months and see if the IgE numbers have decreased any.

E’s milk numbers dipped low enough, though, that her allergist allowed us to try a baked milk challenge in the office.  They gave me a recipe for muffins (we still had to use an egg substitute) and we set up an appointment to monitor E after she ate them to see if she had any reactions.

Our appointment was at 8:45, almost an hour later than E’s normal breakfast time.  She would have to eat two muffins for the challenge, so I had to starve the poor child until we got to the allergist’s office.  By the time the challenge began, she was so excited to be presented with the 1/4 of a muffin she was allowed to start out with.  When she finished, we waited 20 minutes and monitored for a reaction.  There wasn’t one.

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Next she got half of a muffin and we watched her for 20 more minutes.  There was still no reaction.  I texted updates to B about every 15 minutes.  The last leg of the challenge was for E to eat a whole muffin, and we would monitor her for 45 minutes.  After the whole muffin, I texted B and we were both so thrilled that E wasn’t reacting.

No sooner had I texted him that last update than I noticed it:  all of my excitement and hope and optimism melting away as a rash appeared on her left cheek.

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I stepped into the hallway and summoned the allergist, who came in and examined E’s face.  He noted the rash and asked me to step out and let him know if it spread or got worse.

Over the next 20 minutes, the rash began to fade, but then more began to appear on other parts of her face–the other cheek, below her eye, in between the eyebrows.  I knew what this all meant but I refused to believe it until the allergist said the words himself: that E hadn’t passed the challenge.

What this means:  despite E’s super low IgE numbers for dairy, she can’t completely tolerate baked milk.  What this doesn’t mean:  that there’s no hope and we’re not making progress.  Though E reacted, it was mild enough that her allergist wants to continue exposing her to very small amounts of baked milk regularly in the hopes of building up a tolerance.  For the next six months, we’ll give E half a muffin, three times per week.  When we retest at her second birthday, the hope is that her numbers will have come down significantly and we can redo the challenge and pass with flying colors.

What THIS means:  I’ll be baking.  A lot.  Every single week.  The muffins need to be fresh, so there’s no batch baking and freezing here.

What THAT means:  I picked a good time to get back into running.  Mmmmmmmm muffinsssssss.

I had a nice little cry after we left the allergist’s office.  It’s a step in the right direction and for that I’m grateful.  But it’s tough, knowing that on your child’s second birthday she will still be unable to tolerate so many foods in a world that is awfully insensitive to dietary needs.  It’s a hard thing to accept.  But we will keep fighting and I will continue to hope.

Surgery, BAAAs, Moos, and Meatloaf Soup

It’s been that kind of month when your everyday routine becomes so out of wack that you’re pretty sure you’ve entered a parallel universe.  First E was sick, then I was sick, then E was sick again, then E was teething.  Two days ago, B had shoulder surgery and things have been anything but calm.  Taking care of a 35-year-old man in an immobilizer and doped up on pain killers is just as much work as taking care of a 16-month-old.  He joked last night that we should set up a baby monitor next to the recliner so he can cry for me in the middle of the night. I almost kicked him.

At least E is her happy self again.  She’s working on learning her animal noises.

Sheep:  Ba.
Cow:  Mmmmmmm.
Doggy:  Ruh ruh ruh.
Horse:  Neeeeee.
Monkey:  Ooo ooo ooo.
Bear:  Guh.
Kitty:  Mau.

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That last one might take her the longest to learn.

Now that everyone is eating properly and I have a few days off of work, I tried to make a meatloaf last night.  It was a new experience yesterday because the meatloaf I’ve made in the past contains eggs.  I followed this recipe from Betty Crocker but I subbed rice milk and ground flax eggs.  Since E was diagnosed with her allergies almost a year ago, I still haven’t been brave enough to try an egg substitute.  I’ve swapped applesauce for egg in a banana bread recipe but that’s as ballsy as I’ve gotten.

Um…I need some practice with flax eggs. When I mixed the ground flax seed and the water, I didn’t think it had nearly the egg-like consistency it was supposed to.  But this is my first rodeo, so who was I to question it?

Well yeah, the “meatloaf” turned out to be more of a soup.  The taste was okay but the texture left something to be desired.  Will NOT be doing that again.  I’m open to tips and tricks from any “experts” out there reading this.  😉

We’re heading into the weekend and we’re normally a pretty busy family on the weekends.  With B recovering from surgery, we’ll probably be stuck at home a bit more than usual.  I’ve got lots of activities planned with E, so you’ll be seeing some updates on how they went.  Can’t wait to try some new things!

Adventure

Last week, my mom and I braved a road trip with a 15-month-old to see all of my family in another state.  One that would involve over 20 hours of driving in just five days.

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For weeks leading up to the trip, I fretted over the whole ordeal.  E gets bored in the car driving to the grocery store, so how on earth was I going to keep her occupied for 1500 miles?

I’ll leave you in suspense here a moment.  What I will tell you is that the driving was not the most difficult part of the journey.

The hardest part was the food.  Before we left, I mentioned to my mom I wanted to come up with a game plan for feeding E while we were there.  Feeding a toddler who can’t eat dairy, eggs, and peanuts is no easy feat, and it’s definitely not something you can accomplish without planning.  At home, we eat what E can eat.  I wasn’t going to expect my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to do the same; but at the same time, I didn’t want E to watch everyone eating the same thing while staring at something else on her own plate for five days straight.  There had to be a middle ground, a compromise of sorts, and that’s what I’d wanted to plan.  My mom reassured me they would all understand, and we didn’t need to plan.  It would all work out.

From the moment we arrived, everyone wanted to eat at restaurants where E could literally eat nothing.  Our first night there we went to a pizza buffet where even the one E-friendly thing there (peas at the salad bar) was contaminated with hard-boiled egg particles.  I had some snacks in the diaper bag but nothing that would constitute a meal since we had just pulled into town an hour earlier.  E immediately pulled my plate of pizza in front of her and she was devastated when I took it away.  One hour into the trip and my heart was already ripping to pieces.

I ended up making a trip to the grocery store to buy some “real” food for E.  It took away some of the stress at the times my family chose to eat at places whose menus didn’t jive with E’s allergies.  However, it was difficult not to be in my own kitchen where at any given moment I know I can throw together an entire meal for E in a pinch with all of the things I have on hand.

One night we traveled to another town to stay with a cousin from the other side of my family.  She’d invited about 20 or 30 people from our family over for a barbecue, and to my relief she asked me for a list of things E would be able to eat.  Although there was plenty of food there that was safe, there was also a lot of unsafe food.  When we arrived, I asked all of my family to not give anything to E without asking me first, and everyone seemed agreeable to my request.  Unfortunately, they didn’t realize that also meant they had to watch their kids and grandkids, who put Cheetos right into E’s mouth.  I quickly took the chip away and the girl who’d given it to her (four or five, maybe?) got extremely upset.  “But she likes it!  Why you won’t let her have it?”  I explained to her that it would make E very, very sick, but she didn’t understand and continued to try giving them to E.  From behind me, my aunt cried out, “Well, she’s just a kid, she doesn’t understand allergies!”  I bit my tongue but I desperately wanted to remind her that a child of that age knows what “sick” means and it would be nice if she would jump in and help her own granddaughter to understand she couldn’t feed that kind of food to my kid.

This is why I need help.  This is why I need other adults, especially my own family, to listen and to understand the seriousness of food allergies and how DAMN HARD it is to be the mother of someone who has them.

Our last night before heading home, my grandpa really wanted to take us out to a new fancy steakhouse that had just opened.  It was expensive, one of those “special occasion” type restaurants, and since my grandma passed away two years ago, special occasions are rare for him these days.  By then I was plain exhausted from all of the fighting and compromising I’d done just to feed E during our trip.  But it was important to my grandpa and it was one more night.  I could do it.  I spoke with the waiters, who spoke with the cooks, and they were able to grill E a chicken breast with absolutely no butter or marinade.  Paired with a side of apple slices, E had a delicious meal that was served to her in a cute little cardboard car, and I was ridiculously relieved.

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In all fairness, other than the food the trip was phenomenal.  E was in the most spectacular mood and she charmed the socks off of everyone.  She got to meet cows and horses and tiny little puppies.  For being on the road so much and away from everything familiar to her, she did great and I’m such a lucky mom for that.

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So, back to the driving portion of the trip.  E handled 23 hours on the road better than the two grown-ass women in the car did.  The secret?  Playing “The Secret Life of Pets” movie over and over and OVER AND OVER.  As long as that movie was playing, E was a happy camper.  Oh, and a continuous pile of Teddy Grahams may have contributed to our success.

All in all, I feel confident that E will be a good traveler.  I know now that next time, not planning for E’s food is not an option.  I don’t fault my family for how things went.  They don’t deal with it every day.  They don’t experience it firsthand.  They don’t understand, like many people don’t until you’re in my shoes.  It just means that we cannot successfully travel anywhere without truly planning out how we’ll feed little E.  It will never work to assume that anyone will understand our situation and adapt to it.