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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Binky Weaning

We created a monster.  Every waking moment, E had to have her “me-me,” as she calls it. Her binky.  Sometimes she had to have one in her mouth and another in her hand as a backup.  If E didn’t have her binky, all hell would break loose until we put in that damn little plastic cork.

E turns 18 months old tomorrow.  DH and I agreed that we’d wean her off of the binky during the day at 18 months, but we’d let her have it for naps and bedtime until she’s 2. It sounds easy enough, until E asks for her me-me and you tell her no and she morphs into a grizzly bear right before your eyes.

We started off slowly about a week and a half ago.  I’d take it from her and hide it, and no matter how much she asked for it or how awful of a tantrum she threw, I would make her go a certain amount of time before giving it back.  At first it was ten minutes, and as that got easier I increased it to 20.  If she screamed or cried,  we distracted her to the best of our ability.  It didn’t always work; initially we spent up to ten minutes at a time watching E thrash around on the floor in a fit of tears, muttering “me-me” over and over AND OVER.  Over the course of a couple days, she fussed less and less over it and about three days in, she went from 1 PM until her bedtime at 8 without asking for it even once.

Will we be binky-free (in the daytime) at 18 months?  Yes.  Was it a pain in the ass getting there?  YES.  Was it worth it?  YESYESYESYESOHMYGODYES.  Let me tell you why.

In 1.5 weeks, E’s top front teeth have become visible when she smiles–for the first time, ever.  E’s vocabulary and language skills have improved noticeably since she no longer has a binky in her mouth all the time.  Her annunciation is significantly better, she’s saying new words at a rapid rate, and she’s starting to string words together.  E is also in a better mood overall.  Before, she was so attached to her binky that if she didn’t have it, her world fell apart very easily.  Now that she’s no longer reliant on it, her mood seems to be much lighter and relaxed.  All of this has happened in just over ONE WEEK without the binky.

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All those teeth!

E does still get her binky at naptime and bedtime.  And she knows it, too.  When I start to get her ready for bed, she asks for me-me (a little more calmly than she used to), and she does get it then.  But she does know when she wakes up the binky goes away, and even though she still gives it a shot and asks for it just once (little stinker), she is able to go about her day without a tantrum when I tell her the binky is going away until bedtime.

Did anyone else dread the inevitable binky-weaning?  What were your strategies?

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!

15 Months

E’s 15-month checkup was this last week.  She’s around the 70th percentile for height, weight, and head circumference.  No wonder we’ve had to ditch all of her 12-month clothing!

Her pedi asked how many words she can say that we recognize.  B and I looked at each other and shrugged and said, “Uh, a lot?” She’s said so many new words lately I can’t even keep track anymore.  The doc said they’re happy if the baby knows at least four words by 15 months.  We are totally good.

For the record, here is everything she can say: mama, dada, kitty, doggy, baby, ball, bubbles, more, cheers, this, shoes, bottle, water, that, hi, bye-bye, night-night, and banana.  Right now she uses the word “baby” for just about everything.  It’s her favorite word and we probably hear it 50 times a day.

E has been eating really well lately, thank GOD.  We’ve gone almost a week without a night of her throwing her food onto the kitchen floor.  The Ripple milk also continues to be a big success.  We’re up to three ounces in each of her two bottles a day, so we’re pretty much half Ripple milk and half formula at this point.  She enjoys it, she doesn’t react to it negatively in any way, and my bank account has been much happier.  It’s a win all around!

I’ve spent less time perusing the internet for dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free recipes, and instead focusing on making up my own dishes.  I tend to cook with a lot of meat and rice, and nutritional yeast has become a staple in my kitchen.  B bought a block of cheese this weekend for himself, and it’s becoming odd to me to see cheese in my own refrigerator.

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No cheese required: dairy-free lasagna makes her a happy girl.

We did have a bit of a scare this morning.  Before we started using reusable pouches, I accidentally bought one several weeks back that contained yogurt.  Thankfully I double-checked the label at home before giving it to E, but instead of throwing it away like I should have, I tossed it up in a different part of the pantry that was separate from where we used to keep her stockpile of pouches.  This morning I came out of the shower to find E walking around the living room sucking on the yogurt-filled pouch.  I said something to B and he swiped it away from her at lightning speed, and poor E stared at us like we’d done the unthinkable.  Have you ever taken a pouch away from a hungry toddler?  Don’t.  Luckily we had a reusable pouch filled and ready to go in the fridge.

It’s just another reminder that we have to be so careful.  We know milk only causes her to break out in hives, but it could just as easily have been peanuts or peanut butter.  Oof.

In less than two weeks, we’ll be taking E on a trip to see my family.  The first day will be a 7-hour car ride, two days later will be two 3-hour car rides, and two days after that will be another 7-hour ride.  We’re stocking up on DVDs, good snacks, and good music to dance to, but E doesn’t sleep in the car much and I’m looking for ideas for keeping a 15-month-old occupied on a long car trip.  Any ideas?!

Oh hi, remember me?

I’ve been MIA and I don’t even have a good excuse.  [Hangs head in shame.]  Okay, fine, I have a good-ish excuse.  For the past eight weeks I’ve been battling vertigo and I was finally diagnosed with a vestibular disorder after having an ENG/VNG test done, which is a nice way of saying I was tortured for three hours.  Anyway, I’ve started rehabilitation therapy and I’m feeling much better physically and emotionally.  So I’m back, yay!

So what’s new with E?  Well, for starters she’s WALKING.  And…RUNNING.  And…SAYING ALL KINDS OF FREAKING WORDS.

Basically, she’s turning into an actual “kid” and it’s beautiful and exciting and scary all at the same time.

E had her first dentist appointment, and she smiled through the whole thing.  It took me by surprise because whenever we tried to brush her teeth, she grew ten extra arms and threw the mother of all tantrums.  Ever since her appointment, though, she brushes her own teeth and she LOVES to do it.

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Not that I have to worry about cavities, because my daughter hates sweets.  She eats her weight in fruit every day but she doesn’t like cookies, candy, cakes, NONE of it.  Which is a good thing because a) sweets aren’t healthy and b) sweets are almost impossible with food allergies.  Still, sometimes I wish I could offer her an Oreo or a Peep or some other vegan goodie and see her lose her marbles over it.

We’re making a lot of progress on finding E-friendly foods she will eat, but we’re stuck on the milk part.  She’s still drinking 14 ounces of Nutramigen daily because she doesn’t like any of the milk subs.  I just learned about Ripple milk (pea milk) so we’re going to give it a whirl this weekend.  I’m changing up my strategy. I’m going to offer it to her first by adding it to a bowl of Cheerios and trying to get her used to the taste with something she loves before I pour it into a cup and expect her to guzzle it down.

Being an allergy mom is ALL about strategy.

Also on my list of new things to try is reusable puree pouches.  E is gaga over those pouches but at two bucks a pop, they’re killing my budget.  It’s one of the only ways I can get her to eat her vegetables, so I’m not giving them up (TIPS, MOMS?  I’m losing it over here!).  After reading approximately 907 reviews on Amazon, I settled on some ChooMee reusable pouches and I’m going to make my own purees to fill them with.

Lord, help me to overcome my procrastination.

Last update for now:  at 14.5 months old, E’s hair is finally long enough for a bow.  BOOM.

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I can’t even

Sometimes E is such a cute toddler it almost hurts.  She waves good morning to the cats. She does “cheers” with her sippy cup.  She tries to share her bottles with me.  She wiggles her butt to any kind of music.  She points at things she’s not allowed to play with and shakes her head “no.”  She cries when I won’t let her take her books to bed.  I can’t even. Everything she does makes me melt.

Except the occasional temper tantrum, over something like not letting her play in the toilet.  Or even better, over no identifiable reason at all.  But give me five minutes to recover and I’ll still find a way to make it sound cute.

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It amazes me how from day to day, it doesn’t seem like she changes much.  But if I think back to a full week ago, she’s learned so much since then.  She’s a different human being.  If I think back a full month ago, my mind is blown.

Food has been getting easier.  Not easy, but easier.  I’m finally becoming comfortable with the fact that some of the recipes I make don’t have to be free of dairy or eggs; sometimes I can make things that call for milk and eggs and I can just substitute those ingredients.  I’ve also accepted that when I substitute these items, it will NOT taste the same as it would with the real deal.  Once I let go of that expectation, I started enjoying the things I cook much more.  After all, E doesn’t know anything different, and she loves the food I cook.

Speaking of which, I made vegan mac and cheese and it actually freaking tasted like cheese.  E ate it for lunch for four days straight.  VICTORY!

I also made vegan brownies (from a mix) and she HATED them.  She took a bite and immediately spit it out.  Seriously, is this my kid?!  Who doesn’t like brownies?!?!?!

For the record, I thought they were amaze-balls.  I might have eaten about half the pan.

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One Year Old!

E turned a year old on Thursday!  Here’s what life for E looks like at 12 months:

  • She is 20 pounds, 13 ounces, and she’s 29 1/2 inches tall.
  • She sleeps from 7:30-7, with two naps totaling 2-3 hours.
  • She eats three meals a day with two or three snacks; she still has three small bottles of formula each day.
  • She can say “mama,” “dada,” “kitty,” “that,” and “more.”
  • She has ten teeth, if you count the three that are currently on their way out – eight in front, and two molars.
  • Her favorite foods are yogurt (almond or coconut milk), all types of meat, wheat bread, pineapple, zucchini noodles, cereal, and graham crackers.
  • Her bedtime routine is a bath, a bottle, and a book.
  • She loves to drink water, but only through a straw.
  • She can wave, clap, high five, and dance.
  • She’s not walking yet, but she cruises on the furniture like nobody’s business.
  • She’s in size 12 month clothing, size two shoes (come on feet, groowwwww), and size 3 diapers.
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Happy birthday!  E’s (vegan) cake smash.

Now that E is a year old, we talked to her pediatrician about her source of milk since she can’t have…well, milk. I have concerns about soy milk and estrogen, but E’s doctor reassured me that he finds it no worse than cow’s milk when looking at the risk of tampering with hormones. Because of E’s allergies, we can consider keeping her on formula and also giving her soy milk and almond milk, while supplementing with a multivitamin. I’ve done some reading and have also decided to see how she does with hemp milk.

We’re still very much experimenting with meals. This is what E’s normal meal schedule looks like:

  • Breakfast: 6 oz bottle of formula
  • Snack: Fruit and Cheerios
  • Lunch: Some type of seasoned meat, a fruit or veggie, and either half a slice of bread or half a container of almond/coconut milk yogurt
  • “Snack”: 3-4 oz bottle of formula

I posted recently about the things we have tried for dinner. Since then, we’ve had tacos (E’s were deconstructed, and she LOVED it), a vegan Creamy Garlic Pasta that we ALL hated, and turkey breakfast burgers made from scratch, which were fantastic.

I’m really trying to mix things up and expose E to a wider variety of foods, but it is so hard when there are still a lot of things she can’t eat (choking hazards and such) and when we’re dealing with three major food allergies.  B is out of town for work right now and he’s a supremely picky eater. So while it’s just me and E for a few days, we’re going to try some recipes B would refuse to eat. I’m looking forward to posting updates!