Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Allergic Reactions and the Swimming Pool

What else can we be allergic to?  How about swimming pools?  Wouldn't that be fun-especially in this wonderful Texas heat?

We had such a fun weekend with grandparents and the kids were thrilled to swim in their hotel swimming pool.  Five minutes in to the swim Bee's eyes were itchy and swollen.  After ten minutes, she was looking swollen all over.  We decided it was time for her to get out.  And even Tiger was having problems with itchy and swollen eyes. 

We have been swimming before......many times.  But obviously the chemicals in this pool were not balanced. 

I rushed Bee to the hotel room, rinsed her face, and gave her a benadryl.  Then we loaded the car to head home for showers and clean clothes. 

She was looking worse by the minute and was starting to sneeze and sound congested.  When that happens, my only thought is anaphylactic shock.  Thankfully we live seconds from a fire station so we pulled in and rang the bell.  The firemen were quick to take us inside and check Bee's oxygen.  Her oxygen levels were holding steady and her lungs were sounding clear even though she was very congested.  EMS arrived seconds later and checked her pulse, blood pressure, and her oxygen again.  Sweet little Bee sat in my lap watching the team around her, never making a sound.  We decided to wait there for a little while to keep watching her, so while we were waiting the firemen took her on a tour of the station and of the engines.  Bee seemed unimpressed but was happy to be carried around by the firemen.

I got to answer all the questions and complete a pile of paperwork while Bee took her tour.  After that she was checked one more time, and everything seemed clear.  Her swelling was going down and she was looking more like her little self.  She was finally able to manage a smile. 

Then we finally made it home.  After a long shower, some lotion, some comfy jammies, and a few books, Bee was sound asleep and back to her normal (yet sleepy and Benadryl-medicated) self. 

I made several calls to the hotel to inquire about their pool.  I was told that they were having problems with the pool and that the hot tub was closed.  And I was told that the pump wasn't working properly and that someone was scheduled to come fix it in a few days.  I asked about the chemicals and was told they hadn't been checked for a few days.  Great!

I called back the next day to get more information about the pool because now I was determined to find out what the chemical imbalance in the pool was so I could report it to our doctor.  I was immediately transferred to the general manager who informed me that there was nothing wrong with the pool, that the chemicals were perfectly balanced, and that the chemical levels were checked 3 times a day, every day.

Clearly a different story than what I was told the day before.  I think someone was worried about a lawsuit, don't you? 

Nothing anyone can say will convince me that the pool was fine and that it was safe to swim in.  How many times this summer have we been swimming without any problems?  There's no other explanation for Bee's sudden, severe reaction.  But since our lawsuit crazed society has the hotel managers scared and lying to me, I'll never know what was wrong with the pool and what chemical we should be wary of in the future.

Swimming will never be the same.........

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Food Allergies and Starting Solids

Ladybug should be starting solids soon!  It's hard to believe!

We have been trying to make an appointment with Bee's doctor but they won't return my phone calls to try to get her in.  As it stands now, she won't be able to get in for several months-well past the time that we will be beginning solids.  That's not too helpful now is it?  And can I say it's just so frustrating!

So, I'm thinking we'll just cancel our appointment.  I don't see how an appointment in a few months will prove helpful at all.

I don't know.  What would you do??

Monday, August 29, 2011


Well, today is my birthday!  And for my birthday I'm going to make some allergy free chocolate zucchini bread so that we can enjoy some sweet stuff together as a family.  The things we do for our kids!

But what I really want is cheesecake.........we need a date night!  Or maybe Prince Charming could make a late night dessert run after the kids are in bed..........If only cheesecake were dairy free.  I think that's what I miss the most!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eczema and the Beach

We went to the beach and Bee did well and her eczema stayed under control!

 She had a mud wrap
 A warm salt water soak
And a long nap in the car on the way home!

We were so nervous not knowing how her skin would react and worried that she would try to itch herself raw by the time we left.  She played in the sand and the water and was too busy to itch or scratch once.  She never acted itchy and her legs were even clear the next day.  We did make sure to bring huge jugs of fresh water to give her a good shower before we left for home.  We also lotioned her and put her back in jammies for the ride home.  For one morning I almost felt normal and didn't have to worry about her itching.  Perfect day!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Allergy Free Strawberry Muffins

We are always stuck in a rut for breakfast foods it seems.  When you can't have eggs, your breakfast options are limited.  So, I modified one of my old muffin recipes and the kids were a huge fan.

Strawberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour blend (4 cups rice flour, 1 1/3 cup potato starch, 2/3 cup tapioca flour)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 t xantham
2 1/2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
2/3 cup strawberry-flavored rice yogurt (I used Ricera)
1/4 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Spread melted
1/2 t vanilla
4 T rice milk
1 1/2 t egg replacer mixed with 2 T rice milk

1/4 cup strawberry jam
1 T sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375.
Whisk together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl combine the yogurt through the egg replacer and mix well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, blending just until moist.

Spray muffin pan well with cooking spray.  Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into tin for each muffin.  Top each with 1 teaspoon of strawberry jam.  Top evenly with remaining batter and smooth tops.  Combine the 1 T sugar and 1/2 t cinnamon and sprinkle over each muffin.  Bake at 375 for 14 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove immediately to a cooling rack.  If the muffins are left to completely cool in the pans the jam will cause the muffins to stick to the sides of the muffin tin, so remove muffins from tin before they are completely cool.

Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wondering Why

So many times I catch myself questioning why this had to happen to our family and to our child.  Why does our child have to have such severe allergies and eczema and why does she have to be so miserable all the time?

We have no history of food allergies in the family so the diagnosis took us by surprise.  It was definitely not something the doctors were willing to test for right away.  But, food allergies it is.

It's a daily battle and tiring journey to read labels, cook meals, and make our way through the grocery store.  It's a part of life that we have to turn down many invitations to parties and other functions which revolve around food.  It's a part of our marriage that date night consists of pizza delivered to our doorstep late at night, followed by a movie in bed.

Food allergies can be so limiting.  I know as Bee gets older, she can advocate more for herself.  But for right now the job lays squarely on my shoulders, and it's an overwhelming task to be responsible for her safety.

When I think about these things I catch myself falling in to a pity party.  That's when I feel discouraged and when I feel isolated.  I miss our old way of doing things and I miss the simplicity of a freezer meal, a dinner out, or a date night out.  Nothing is simple anymore.  If I continue to dwell on those facts, I can feel the bitterness creep in.  That's when I have to remind myself that there is a purpose.

I can't imagine life without Bee.  She is a ray of sunshine, a funny little clown with a zest for life, and a princess with a big attitude.  She can charm the socks off anyone she meets.  There's just something about her little self.

This is how our life is supposed to be.  There is a reason.  And maybe I'm beginning to see a little glimmer of the big picture.  I have been able to help so many others.  I have received phone calls and emails asking for my help.  I have been able to give people ideas on where to begin with their new diets.  I have been able to offer encouragement and support.  I have been able to sympathize, pick up the pieces, and help others move forward.

I wish I could take away the food allergies or take them on myself.  Bee has been through so much.  But she's such a testimony of perseverance and God's grace.  What we've learned on our journey has helped so many already.  God is bigger than what I can see and there is a reason.  I can choose to let the unfairness of our situation cause me to wallow in pity or I can know that God is at work, and I can choose to let Him use me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

There is a reason and God knows what He's doing.  I can simply trust.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lotion and Eczema

Bee has learned that her lotion really helps relieve her itchiness.  She will sneak into the bathroom, pump a handful, and bathe herself in it.  She even covers her hair!
I'm so glad her lotion is helping but she makes a huge mess and leaves a sticky trail wherever she goes...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Food Allergies on the Go

Every time we step out of the house I feel like I need a suitcase for all of our gear........

Diaper Bag...check
Extra outfits...check
Cortizone Cream...check
Benadryl Cream...check
And if we're going to be out during a mealtime-then I have a cooler with food and even more snacks.

I pack half the house to be gone for just one morning.  And if we travel, especially somewhere overnight, the packing becomes ridiculous.  We never know if we'll be able to find food for Bee, so we'd better bring our own!

This can make life so frustrating and tiresome.  Whenever we show up at an event (because they're all based around food), we come complete with a cooler and all kinds of food. 

Sometimes I even feel like people give us a hard time for our massive lunch box or the enormous amount of foods and medicines we tote around.  I see them peeking at our lunch with curiosity and sometimes people even make little comments.  The comments come in two forms:
Surprise that the food looks somehow normal-I mean, they can't believe it looks!  
Or, curiosity mixed with a little disgust that the food is slightly out-of-the-norm-  Your kids actually want to eat broccoli or hummus and not hotdogs and pizza? 

And I can usually tell what most are thinking-who is this obsessive, health-food crazed mom who makes her children sit separately from everyone else and eat only what they bring?  Yes, our food is not the typical kids menu fare of hotdogs, chicken nuggets, mac-and-cheese, and pizza.  My kids have a pretty sophisticated palette for ones so young.  We have to experiment in the kitchen and try things that we never thought we'd eat, and we've found quite a few things that we enjoy.

But I do really get tired of the comments whether vocalized or said under the breath.  And the covert glances get so old.  I should just take it all in stride and even with a dose of humor, but I guess I'm not to that point yet.  I'm way too sensitive about it.

I want to wear a T-shirt or hang a sign across my forehead to let people know that I have to be like this.  I have to bring food everywhere we go.  I have to eat separately.  I have to cook things that are nowhere near normal.

Not only is it exhausting to leave the house during a mealtime, it is tiring dealing with the people who don't understand.  I hope one day I can use some humor to poke fun at our differences.  Maybe I can relax (ha ha) and say something witty right back.  But right now it's like salt on an open wound.  For now, I just smile and nod.  Yes, our food is different.  Yes, my kids do like to eat it.  Yes, we have to be this way.  Yes, I know we're weird.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ice Cream Road Trip

Well, I did it!  I made a 3-hour round trip to get Bee some ice cream and ice cream bars.

She loves them!

The other kids love them!

Prince Charming and I love them!  The hemp ice cream is yummy and so are the ice cream bars!  The coffee biscotti is a mommy and daddy favorite because it tastes just like an ice coffee.  The mint chip is very minty and refreshing-and is not green (hooray for no food coloring!).  The chocolate is rich and yummy!  The ice cream bars are also wonderful.  My favorite is the vanilla with blueberry and pomegranate-it is amazing!

So, I think the road trip was well worth it and I just might have to do it again!

Now I need to figure out how to make hemp milk ice cream myself.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cool Tub Soaks and Eczema

Bee has always seemed to be the itchiest when in the bath tub.  Lately her baths have been around 2 minutes at the maximum, because that's how long it takes for her to begin really itching.  Her baths are only warm but we've noticed a huge correlation between her itching and how hot she is.  When she has played outside this summer, her itching gets out of control.  If she's inside and not over-heated, she doesn't itch at all.  This led us to try cool tub soaks.

Bee climbs into a cool bath and I slowly add more cold water until the bath water is pretty chilly.  Bee loves it!  She doesn't scratch at all and the cold water doesn't bother her one bit.  She's content to sit in the cool water and play with her toys.  I had always been worried that she would get too cold or not enjoy a cold bath.  We were wrong!

Now, I've been giving her about 2 cool soaks a day followed by lots of lotion.  Her itching is lessening and her eczema patches are starting to clear.  The tub soaks are also wonderful anytime she's been playing hard and has gotten too hot.  The cooler she is, the less she itches so the tub soaks work immediately in reducing her inflammation and stopping the itch.

We'll keep combining the tub soaks with some wet wraps on her legs and hope to keep her eczema flare-ups more under control this summer.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Night Chopped

Back when we had cable TV and we watched sports and Food Network only (very sad I know), we used to love the show Chopped.  So since watching it is out of the question, we simply recreate it.  Every Monday night our house has its own version of Chopped

Monday night is when I take Curly to her violin lesson as soon as Daddy gets home.  We head out the door, leaving him in charge of 3 small children and dinner preparations.  I put a meat in the fridge the night before and he is left with whatever that meat might be and whatever else he can find in the fridge or pantry.  Curly and I come home to a surprise dinner which is always very creative and always made without a recipe.  Most of the time he has some pretty awesome and creative dishes.

Our Monday Night Chopped adds some variety to our dinners and helps us break out of our rut.  Prince Charming is never afraid to experiment and has discovered some winning recipes during his cooking time with 3 helpers.  He even cleans up the kitchen when he's done..........He's a keeper!

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