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?

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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!

Can’t Catch a Break

There has not been a dull moment in this house since May 26.

That was the day E got the stomach flu.  Since we just went through this in February, this was me:

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It lasted a week.  I mean, the diarrhea and the vomiting and the declining energy and the fussiness lasted a WEEK.  We made a trip to urgent care because she was dehydrated and lethargic and couldn’t hold anything down.  Meanwhile, she was vomiting all over her bedding and her clothes and our washing machine F&*#ING BROKE.  Then she started to seem better, and she was eating again and more energized, and we dropped an absurd amount of money on a new washing machine, and then…

I got sick.  A week and a half ago I came down with my own stomach flu, and guess who got sick one day later?  Guess who got sick AGAIN one day later?

I was sick for a week and E was sick for another week.  We both started to feel better on the exact same day and it was like the sun was brighter and the birds were singing and there were little harps playing and sparkles all around us.

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Now, two days later, E has her top two incisors coming in.  They’re messing with her sleep.  She doesn’t want to eat anything but applesauce.

And did I mention my husband is having shoulder surgery today?

Like, I’m on the verge of a breakdown.  This is too much for three weeks.  I know I’ll come out stronger from it all in the long run, but CHEESUS.

I think I’ve earned the right to eat an entire cake all by myself.  In one sitting.

Worst One Yet

E just got over an awful stomach flu that lasted for five days and landed us in urgent care.  Twice.

Good thing yesterday was National Donut Day because this mama is a stress eater and a boat-sized donut is just what I needed.

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So finally E has been feeling much better and acting like herself for the past three days. Her appetite is still a bit wonky–she eats like a horse but it’s all carbs, she has no interest in meat or veggies. But we’re past all the diarrhea and the vomit and the dehydration.

Then after we got home from day care yesterday she threw up while playing with a puzzle in her bedroom.  I immediately went into panic mode.  Did she get another bug? Was it the same bug rearing its ugly head yet again?  Was it something worse?  She was acting fine, so B said we shouldn’t worry.  Okay fine, I pretended not to worry.

Not too long after, I changed her diaper.  When I pulled down her pants I noticed her legs were dotted with big, angry hives.  I lifted her shirt and they were on her chest and her abdomen, too.  The pieces started to come together.  Hives.  Vomit.  She was having a reaction to something she’d ingested.

But what?  She hadn’t eaten anything new.  Allergy moms know full well though that a child can develop a food allergy at any time.  I called out to B that I needed a syringe of Benadryl stat, all the while thinking of the allergy action plan on our fridge that states full-body hives and vomiting together warrant the use of the EpiPen. Technically, according to our action plan, this was a probable anaphylactic reaction.  But she was breathing okay.  But she was also crying for no apparent reason that could also just be an indication that she was tired.  So many what-ifs.  WHAT THE HELL SHOULD I DO?!?!

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Seriously guys, if I’m going to be an allergy mom I’m going to need a truckload of Xanax.

I gave the Benadryl and watched her, all the while trying to figure out what caused the reaction.  While I was giving her a bath, it clicked.  When we left day care, the teacher handed E a pacifier.  It was the same brand we use, but from across the room it didn’t quite look familiar to me.  I got distracted and scooped E up and took her out to the car, and only later did I determine that pacifier was in fact not ours.  No big deal, right?  We were already home, it was the weekend, and the babies swap pacifiers at day care all the time.  It’s kind of hard to prevent it.  We’d just take it back on Monday. I didn’t think anything of it.

Until that vomit episode and that rash and no solid explanation for it.  I immediately jumped on to Facebook and posed the question in the allergy mom support group I’m in. Was it possible?  Could some other kid have had that pacifier in his/her mouth after eating peanut butter, and now it was causing E to react?

I’ll never know for certain but the support group seemed to think so.  All of the advice I got was to “epi,” the pseudo-verb used to describe using the EpiPen, and take E to the ER. By this time the Benadryl had kicked in and E was asleep, and I was having an anxiety attack wondering if I shouldn’t have second-guessed the Epi.

Luckily E was okay.  I watched the video monitor like a hawk until I went to bed, and I checked it the numerous times I woke during the night.  E still has pink spots where the hives had been, but the vomiting has subsided and she’s acting A-OK.

As if food allergy moms don’t have enough to worry about, now I have to worry about her grabbing the other babies’ pacifiers at day care.  The teachers can keep an eye out but this one is really hard to avoid and even I can understand that.  I suppose all I can do is ask for extra precautions to be taken, and thank my lucky stars we have the EpiPen just in case.

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.

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?!

Pear, Squash, Apple, and Carrot Puree

Back when I was pregnant, I went berserk on Pinterest saving links to blog posts on how to make your own baby food puree.  You know, those “One hour for one month’s worth of food” type posts?  I was bound and determined to NOT buy Gerber purees.

After E was born:  you’re welcome for all the money, Gerber.  I hope you’re happy.

In a nutshell, the work intimidated me.  Peeling, chopping, measuring, boiling, blending, measuring some more, freezing, thawing.  With a baby to look after.

Now that I’ve purchased the reusable pouches for E, I kind of committed myself to doing it.  I’ve been blown away by how quick and easy it all is, and I’m a bit ashamed I didn’t allow myself to do this months ago.

This recipe is one I came up with because I thought it seemed simple and I didn’t expect that E would go bonkers over it. But she did, so now I’ve deemed it worthy of sharing. This recipe makes about 20-25 ounces of puree, so if you’re the type to make large batches for freezing, you’ll probably want to double it.

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Ingredients:
1 medium pear, peeled and diced
1/2 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced (my grocery store carries packaged raw, pre-diced squash, highly recommend if you can find it)
10 baby carrots
3/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup water

To prepare:

1. Place the pear, squash, and carrot in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil on the stove and let boil for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are soft.

2. Transfer the pear, squash, and carrot into the blender. Add the applesauce and 1/4 cup of water. Puree the mixture, adding more water halfway through if the consistency is too thick.

3. Serve immediately, store in containers, or fill into reusable pouches. Enjoy!