Monday, April 29, 2013

My Gluten Free Anniversary!

Two years ago, yesterday, I threw out all of the flour (wheat) products in our house and said "goodbye" to gluten once and for all.  Today, as I sit here, I realize that it has been a journey but is (and was) surprisingly easier than I thought it would be and I feel 100x better than I used to.  Was it worth it?  Yes.  Do I ever eat gluten now?   No.  How do I do it?  Why did I do it?  Can you do it too?  I will attempt to explain.  :)    (I have sectioned out this post so you can skip around because it is longer than I meant for it to be!)

Pregnancy loss:

As you may have read, we lost our blueberry in January 2011.  It took us a long time to get pregnant and then after experiencing a loss, I started looking into possible causes.  I am aware that 1 out of 4 pregnancies end in loss (25% is a BIG number) and also know that more than likely there was no "reason" behind it; but as a mother who lost a baby you just have to try to make sense of your loss by doing some research (hours and hours, days and days).  I knew it wasn't the RH factor, we had recently switched to BPA free refillable water bottles, I ate only organic meat, fruits and veggies and so I started exploring the Celiac disease route (check the links for info on those items if you're curious).  

Why did I go gluten free?

For 32 years of my life I had always had a bad stomach and was actually put on prescription pain killers for a couple of years, a pill I took every night.  After I ate anything I felt horrible and actually only stuck to bread/pasta because I thought it actually made me feel better (if you have Celiac and eat gluten you may not be affected by it for up to 3 days - how crazy is that?!).  I never ate leftovers from restaurants because I thought the food was poisoning me, would have to lay down (and could never go anywhere) after eating (especially eating out) because I had to rest and "digest" and would have to run to the bathroom on more than one occasion right after I ate.  There was a time, about 10 years ago, where I was so miserable I couldn't even get off the couch.  For as long as I remember food has hurt my stomach and that is probably why I'm not very spontaneous or adaptable today, because I've always had to plan activities/events around my stupid stomach.  And if you know me you know that many times I have asked for a "stomach replacement" because it was just so painful.  I would pop my pain pills, Imodium and tums daily but still felt horrible.  (You can read more about my stomach issues here, in my first "Goodbye Bread" gluten free post.)

Ian made me go back to the gastrointestinal doctor, 3 years ago, to find out if there was something else I could do aside from take a pill every night (not so great to take a pain pill daily).  He told us that I could get the test for Celiac (where they take a piece of your intestine) but there is no "fix" if you have it, so I always knew that instead I would have to just bite the bullet and go gluten free just to see.  Since Celiac was becoming more prevalent he told me that people who were originally diagnosed with Irritable Bowl Syndrome (me) actually had Celiac Disease instead.  In a blood test (that I took during my first couple of visits) it turns out had two of the three factors so I decided to try it once and for all.  I always said I would do it but never actually did it until we lost our baby.  Motivation.

How did I do it?

First, I asked Ian for his support.  There is no way you can go gluten free by yourself.  Then, I cleared out the kitchen and gave away all of our flour products.  I also found a couple of sites listing where gluten may be hidden just to arm myself (like soy sauce - who knew?!).  Then, I had to be proactive.  Every time we went out to eat I would ask for either a gluten free menu or an allergy list (every restaurant is required to have this).  The menu makes it easy but the list is tough, it usually is a chart with a little dot if a menu item has wheat in it.  It makes it hard to order because you have to look up every little piece of your meal just to see.  At restaurants that made it really difficult (big chains like Hard Rock Cafe and Famous Daves) I would stick to just a salad and plain, grilled meat (if grilled on a shared grill you have to be careful and a lot of spices they put on the meats have wheat in them).  French fries are tough too because if they are fried in a shared fryer with mozzarella sticks or breaded chicken then you can't eat them either.  But some places, like Red Robin (and McDonald's) have a separate fry fryer so those are ok.  Then, you have to worry about cross-contamination.  Domino's just came out with a gluten free pizza but it is made in a common kitchen with the regular pizzas so I am nervous about ordering one.  And, it really sucks because they are going to eventually get rid of the option saying "there isn't a demand" but really people with Celiac aren't ordering it because there's a disclaimer as soon as you click it (on their site) saying they don't recommend it for people with the actual allergy.  So dumb. 

Dining out:

But, some restaurants have really stepped up.  PF Chang's has a gluten free menu right on their regular menus and Pei Wei has theirs online.  Olive Garden as gluten free pasta (it's gross, don't bother) and The Old Spaghetti Factory has some too and it is delicious (and they are working on gluten free bread!).  A lot of pizza places have gluten free pizza and a lot of servers/chefs/managers are pretty knowledgeable about what you can have and can't have.  Family owned and local restaurants are always the best, sometimes even labeling it on their menus.  (I have found some GREAT options in the Phoenix area if you're a local and want to know, just comment below!)

Dining in:

It does limit you, however.  I feel like if I go out to eat I am not going to pay a bunch of money just to eat a salad so I'd like to go somewhere that I can actually eat something good.  If not, I will just make it myself.  A lot of places also have a lot of gross gluten free stuff so it does make you want to stay home and just make it yourself because you know you could do it better.  You do have to learn to be a better chef because if not you will miss out on things.  For the longest time we didn't have a gluten free pancake place here so I had to make them myself and even tried the Dutch Baby and Apple Pancake (from the famous Original Pancake House).  If you want dessert you will definitely have to make it because even if you go somewhere "gluten free friendly" chances are you won't be able to eat the dessert they have available.  Cookies and cakes are easy, Betty Crocker has gluten free mixes available at most stores.  The one thing we've found is not to try to make some recipe you've found online that is already made gluten free, just take your favorite recipes and substitute the four in them with some gluten free all-purpose flour instead (adding xantham gum for binding).  That way you can have whatever you want, and continue to make whatever you want, but just use a different kind of flour (usually a rice blend, this one is good).  We've also found some pastas we like (Tinkyada is the best) and some pizza crust (Udi's for ready made and Bob's Red Mill for make it yourself).  For bread, you can make your own too (we have a bread machine and Bob's has bread flour) but we just buy Udi's and toast it to use it (it is too crumbly if you don't).  Udi's also makes hot dog/hamburger buns and muffins - all good.  KinnikKinnick brand makes the best gluten free donuts (frozen but you microwave them for 45 seconds), Schar makes some packaged (unfrozen) bread for little sandwiches or garlic bread for pasta and Amy's makes some great meals if you are on the go.  And, since I am a HUGE mac and cheese fan (and miss the blue box even though I know it would KILL me), we found Annie's in either the powder or creamy variety (they even have white cheddar and a microwave pouch kind!).

I know all of this rice pasta and rice bread isn't the best for you either but when you are gluten free you still want your creature comforts just like everyone else.  The biggest disappointment is when you go out to eat and you find that they have gluten free options but you have opt out of things or get something in a smaller size.  Like gluten free pizzas cost the same as regular ones, at some places, but are only available in a 10 inch size.  Or, you can have the hamburger at this place but get no bun, when they could easily go and buy a package of Udi's buns to have on hand for customers.  We want to be just like everyone else - but I only think business owners we are actually gluten free would know this and accommodate.  The best gluten free restaurant in my area is Picazzo's because they have everything gluten free, even bread and dessert, no substitutions or disappointment there!  Arizona is also a bit behind the times when it comes to gluten free dining and I find that when I go to Portland they do a better job and definitely have more options available.

Is it more expensive?

Yep.  But, only if you buy all of the gluten free products.  If you opt out of gluten altogether then you aren't really spending any more money (and actually may be spending less).  Where do we shop?  Sprouts, a semi-healthy grocery store.  The organic meats/fruits/veggies are what sucks our money but we also do a majority of our shopping at Costco for dairy and other fruits/veggies (they have a lot of organic options too and our Costco even has organic chicken and ground beef!).  Is it worth the money and time?  Definitely.

Ian still eats gluten if he's at someone's house and they offer it or if he is out at a restaurant.  But every single time after he eats it he feels sick and has even thrown up on more than one occasion, and he doesn't have the allergy.  It just shows you that your body rejects it after you haven't eaten it for awhile and that makes me think that maybe it isn't good for any of us, really.  If you are eating white wheat flour products I have heard you should opt for brown wheat flour instead (because white flour is bleached) but I have no idea because I don't eat it at all.  And, that means that Lemon doesn't eat it either and hasn't ever since conception.  We are going to wait a couple of years to see if she has the allergy, just in case.  So, that makes dinners for her difficult too because we can't just drive through somewhere and grab her something to eat (better for her probably!), she has to eat what we eat which means she usually get something homemade.  She loves gluten free spaghetti night (Sundays, I am Italian) and gluten free mac and cheese and eats potatoes and fries that we make too.  She eats only organic fruits/veggies at home and gluten free oatmeal for breakfast.  She is a pretty healthy little lady and I hope to keep it that way, even through her toddler years (it looks like gluten free chicken nuggets will just have to do!). 

You have to be proactive if you want to live a gluten free life.  You've got to buy groceries, cook or bake and learn to ask for menus or allergy lists at restaurants.  It also takes commitment but after a certain amount of time just becomes your life and you don't know any different.  Each year I pick up doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts for my students with the highest class average and do I wish I could have a doughnut?  Yes.  Do I have one?  No.  The few times I have been "glutened" since going gluten free have been horrible and feeling so great now (and remember what it felt like before) makes me never want to eat it again.  It is a lifestyle, for sure, but not a choice for many of us, it just becomes part of our healthcare routine like avoiding peanuts if you have a peanut allergy.  

Has it helped my health in other ways?

You bet.  I used to have horrible eczema, ever since I was a baby, and going gluten free has cleared it all up (did you know your skin is linked to your digestive system?  Google it).  My eyes used to be really itchy, every night, and my allergies used to be really bad, so bad every year that I opted for allergy shots (and almost died, read here); but I don't have them nearly as bad anymore.  My skin is brighter, my eyes are brighter and I have more energy and am not bogged down with a bubbly, bloated, painful, nauseous stomach.  And the best part?  Being able to get up, go out and do things after I eat - no matter where I eat!  I don't ever want to go back, can't go back and therefore don't miss it.  I feel so much better now, it isn't really something to "miss."

Am I really allergic to wheat?

And more and more places are going gluten free!  Dunkin' Donuts is actually testing some gluten free doughnuts in Massachusetts (Caitlin, you should send me some!) and Subway is testing gluten free bread in Oregon and Washington.  Domino's has the pizza now but I'm sure another chain will come out with a better, and actually contained, version.  Are people just now realizing they have Celiac?  I don't think so.  I am willing to bet that we aren't allergic to the wheat itself but how it is being sprayed and processed now-a-days.  Do you know what the major crops are in America and how everything is being made using these crops (wheat, corn, soybeans)?  We need more and more of these and we need them faster and faster to meet demand.  That means that they way they are grown, sprayed, farmed and distributed to us is getting cheaper and cheaper, compromising our health in the process.  Don't believe me?  Google it, there are a ton of articles/documentaries discussing this.  I think that the wheat of 60 years ago would have been fine, but the wheat produced now is actually some genetically modified crop full of pesticides - and that is what is causing the allergy.  Our bodies can't digest it, can't absorb the nutrients and are reacting (it's the same for people with corn or soybean allergies).  Read this.

Things to know:

I originally wanted this blog to be about cooking/eating out and living gluten free but with the two pregnancies and now a baby it's hard to find the time to blog about food too.  But, I will try and be better if you guys are interested in reading about it and maybe learning some new recipes.  There are some great bloggers out there that are doing this, though, and I listed them under my Gluten Free Living tab.

If you know someone who is gluten free, here are some things you need to know.  Read the labels.  On most foods, now, at the very end of the ingredient list it lists known allergens (ex:  Contains:  Milk, Eggs).  If it says wheat then you can't use it.  If there is not "contains" list, then read through the ingredients.  If it says anything with wheat or "modified food starch" and doesn't list which kind of starch (potato, corn, etc), don't use it.  Before adding any spices or sauce to anything, check those too.  A lot of BBQ sauces and Asian sauces (soy sauce based) have wheat.  Even some rice products have wheat, even though they are a rice dish, or some ready made rice noodle bowl you get at the store (see hidden gluten on food labels).  Gluten is wheat flour, period, it is not rice flour, rice, potatoes, sugar, etc.  And, just because someone is gluten free (wheat free) doesn't mean they also need to eat something that is dairy free or sugar free (that's just too much "free").  So, if you make a cake, opt for a gluten free mix not a mix that is also dairy or sugar free.  And if you buy a cake, cupcakes, cookies, etc. go to a place that is just gluten free instead of combining it all.  I can eat dairy and sugar, just not wheat.  If you want to make your favorite recipe for yourself or someone who is gluten free, just make it (don't be afraid), just substitute the flour with a gluten free all-purpose blend (and maybe some xantham gum).  You don't have to search online for a "gluten free so and so recipe" just substitute and it will be fine.  My family eats orange rolls every year, Christmas morning (the Pillsbury kind) but for the past two years I have made them myself and they have turned out great!

Does going gluten free make you skinny?  

Not necessarily.  Even before I was gluten free I had to look at those doughnuts at work or those cookies at home and make a choice not to eat a bunch in one sitting.  Now, I don't have to make those decisions, yes, but I still have to use the same restraint with gluten free pastas/breads and cookies at home.  I don't have the option to just drive through a fast food place and get dinner, yes, but I have to actually cook something which is a total pain (and rough when you're tired after working all day).  But, I have to choose to make something healthy instead of just gluten free mac and cheese, just like someone who isn't gluten free.  When we first went gluten free we did have issues with feeling "full" because wheat flour does make you feel fuller than other flours (think of what you feel like after a couple of slices of pizza).  But, I had to substitute my "full" feeling with other things like greek yogurt or cottage cheese and fruit - good sources of protein.  And it doesn't help that I refuse to eat pink slime (look it up) so fast food and even restaurant burgers are out for me, even if I don't get the bun.  

What do I eat?

I get asked this question a lot and feel as though this is what brought me back to my pre-pregnancy weight 6 months after having Lemon (and yoga!).  I gained over 45 pounds while pregnant (mostly because I was afraid of another loss so I was not very active) but lost it all after 6 months.  I am 34 and as you get older you realize that it is just a little bit about working out, but mostly about what you eat that contributes to your weight.   Don't get me wrong, I think we should definitely be active, but in my experience it is more about portions and the kinds of foods that I eat than anything else.  I weigh the same now that I weighed in high school, almost 20 years ago, and only do hot yoga once a week (even though I'd love to go more - come on summer!).  It is all about food for me. 

On a typical school day (I'm a teacher), this is what I eat:  

For breakfast it's a protein bar, this kind from Nature Valley (gf), but these are also good too and I pop two calcium chewables because us ladies need more calcium in our diets!  If I'm extra hungry I will grab a greek yogurt too and I used to put honey and sliced almonds in it but now just eat a fruit flavored one.  For a snack, during the day, I eat sliced organic apples and peanut butter.  (We used to make our own peanut butter, just peanuts and agave nectar in the food processor, but since Lemon we haven't had the time so Skippy it is!)  For lunch I eat sliced turkey and cheddar cheese.  I don't do crackers, gf bread or anything else, just the turkey and cheese.  After school I share my cottage cheese and fruit cocktail with Lemon (she follows me around for it) and then we eat at around 5-5:30 since she goes to bed by 7pm.  For dinner it's usually veggies and meat like pork chops (with pork seasoning and garlic powder) on the grill with BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's and KC Masterpiece are gf) and some broccoli/brussels sprouts/peppers/onions (usually one or two of those veggies).  Some nights it's spaghetti with meat sauce, mac and cheese, tacos, stuffed peppers or homemade pizzas.  (I used to cook a lot more but now just don't have the time other than to throw something on the grill.)  For dessert I will eat some fruit snacks or a small bowl of ice cream if Ian happens to get some (he has a sweet tooth for sure!).  On the weekends we go out, or I can make something more elaborate (I really am a good cook).  Maybe I will start posting our homemade lunches/dinners this summer when I have more time, if anyone is interested.  :)

Do I eat like this all the time?  No.  I eat crap just like everyone else and even though I can't drink beer I enjoy a fruity cocktail (or wine) every now and again too (even though I've never been much of a drinker).  I love chips (most are gf) and Doritos and Hot Cheetos are my weakness.  And I LOVE fruity candy - anything sour or gummy is right up my alley (beware of licorice or sour punch straws - both contain wheat!).  It is tough sometimes because if I am busy I can't even opt for junk food or fast food, so chips or a gluten free bagel with cheese hit the spot if I'm in a hurry.

Ask me!

If you are considering going gluten free (for health issues or otherwise), I would be happy to help.  If you are going out to eat and don't know what to order at a specific restaurant, ask me.  If you want to know where to start, I can help.  If you want support, I'm here for that too and if you want some recipe ideas, I have a ton.  I am hoping that this post (and my others on this topic) will help people so they don't have to live like I did for 32 years, hating food and hating my stomach.  Going gluten free has changed my life and I would love for my experience to help others too.  And, if you have any of the health issues I've talked about, try it, it definitely isn't as scary or tough as I thought it would be.  If I can do it you can too and I am here if you need some help.  

Goodbye Einstein

In January 2012, Ian found his best friend in a green cheeked conure (parrot) named Einstein.  He rescued him from a woman who just kept him in a cage all day long, and worked with him until he could sit on his shoulder and come to school.  They truly were inseparable and Ian stepped up to the plate with this new "hobby" and really took care of his friend, always teaching him something new and working with him so he could become friendly.  (Read this post about his first week at our house.)

Einstein had a "nemo wing," a deformed wing that wouldn't work, it was smaller than his other, so he didn't have to get his wings clipped to be a pet.  He couldn't fly since he was born and maybe that's why he was kept in a cage, because he also couldn't flutter to the ground if he fell.  He took a lot of spills but always bounced back, even after being taunted by the dogs.  He hit is head a lot but was a tough bird and it didn't seem to phase him.  Ian tried getting him into a flight suit so that he could tether him to his shoulder but Einstein had a mind of his own and it was "difficult" getting him to do anything he didn't want to do.  Ian always felt that he was a Special Education teacher that got this Special Education bird (he didn't know he had a deformed wing until he went to get him from the lady who owned him before).  They were destined to find each other.

Einstein and I had our own issues, he bit me one too many times and I was pregnant so I was extra sensitive.  I didn't have the patience for another animal (we have dogs, parakeets, a turtle, a fish and hamsters) and Einstein made it pretty clear that my husband was his person and that was that.  I didn't push him and so I never really got to know him like Ian did, although he did nuzzle in my hair a couple of times, which I thought was just the cutest.

Lemon loved him and would spend hours being entertained by him.  It was kind of like having a built in babysitter, she could sit and stare at him for hours.  They ate dinner together sometimes and he went on walks with us, we looked forward to them both growing up together.  We thought Einstein would surely be around for years and years.

A couple of weeks ago, Einstein started plucking his feathers.  In the bird realm this meant he was either unhappy, stressed, sick or just molting and we thought it was the latter.  He plucked around this same time last year, it is Spring, and we thought he was making room for new feathers.  But, it got pretty bad and instead of just plucking his chest, like before, he plucked his whole body.  We kept thinking it was a bit weird but before we had time to really notice Lemon got the flu and our week last week was spent taking care of her.  Then on Friday morning, when Ian got him out of bed (he sleeps in a fuzzy bed attached to a perch), we noticed something was really wrong.  He had plucked the skin off of his stomach and left a big, gaping hole - it was really scary and he looked really bad.  He was shaking and not really moving and you could just tell something wasn't right.  Ian took him to two different places, both not open, and then ended up at a bird hospital where they did surgery.

Einstein came home on Monday and seemed ok, he was wearing a little cone and a neck brace so that he couldn't pluck anymore.  He had medicine Ian had to give him and the first day he seemed really sad, just putting his beak down on the bottom of the cage and closing his eyes.  On Tuesday, though, when we came home, he squawked like he always does (just a bit weaker), it's kind of like a dog bark but in bird language (he imitates the dogs).  We thought he was doing better and he was acting better.  Then on Wednesday morning, after Ian heard him chirp at around 5am, he went to get him out at 6 and he had died.  Ian was in tears and I was in shock - I thought for sure this bird would be around forever.  How the heck did this happen and in such short a time?

Last night we laid Einstein to rest in our flower bed out in the front yard.  We said a few words and put a rose on top of his resting place.  Ian does not really know what to do with himself now that Einstein isn't around, he has to find something else to keep him busy now (perhaps this other parrot named Lemon?).  Even though I was not the biggest fan of Einstein, I do miss him and our house is eerily quiet now.  Lemon heard him screaming from the womb and I wonder if she notices the quiet too.  I will miss him mocking me when I sneeze (sneezing too) and laughing when we laugh.  I will miss him moving his head up and down (dancing) and snuggling up in Ian's hair and on Ian's neck.  I will miss him on our walks and hearing him playing with the dogs through his cage.  I am mostly sad for Lemon who will not remember him, something she loved when she was just a baby.  I hate that animals go before people, it really is the saddest thing.

Could we have done something different?  Maybe.  That's the worst about being a pet owner, you are always wondering if you could have saved your pets.  The two biggest losses I've experienced, having pets, were Lucy (read about her here) and Einstein; I vow never to overlook my animals again and try to do better next time.  Get ready all of you animals - you are coming out to play with us tonight!

Goodbye Einstein, you will forever be a part of our family.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thanks Mom



If you know me you know that I am deathly afraid of throwing up and I often repeat the phrase, "I'd rather die than throw up."  There was even a time, in my 20's, when I had the stomach flu and I asked my mom to just shoot me and put me out of my misery.  (This all probably came from the fact that I had celiac disease for 32 years and didn't know it and every time I ate I felt sick.  Read more about this here.)  I hate to throw up but hardly ever do it so every time I feel like I am going to I freak out and try to talk myself out of it.  I knew this day would come, the day I had a child who was sick and who would throw up, and I also knew that she would probably get me sick too.  But, I didn't realize it would be so soon . . .

Almost two weeks ago on Saturday Lemon wouldn't eat her dinner.  We thought maybe she was just tired and didn't like her sweet potato pancakes (we also went out for lunch and thought maybe something from there bothered her).  So, we put her to bed.  That morning, she woke up with poop, pee and throw up all over her and her crib but we didn't think anything of it (because it was kind of all mixed together) so we changed her and then went on with what we were going to do that day.  She didn't act sick (kind of like she never acts tired), so I took her to Mommy & Me yoga and thought that maybe it was just a fluke that she woke up like that.  She didn't even seem to have a fever, but now I feel bad about dragging her there, and the fact that she probably got all of the other little babes sick!

That day she had an explosive diaper and wouldn't eat but went to bed and slept all through the night, just like the night before (silly me, this alone should have clued me in!).  I stayed home Monday because she had another "poop all over the bed episode" that night at 1am and in the morning seemed to have a fever.  I made her a doctor's appointment, because she was pulling on her ear too, and wanted to be home with her just in case.  The doctor heard a bubbling stomach but her ears were clear and just sent us home with some probiotics and told us to keep making her drink liquids like pedialyte and water, no solids if she doesn't want them and no breast milk (which I thought was weird).  She said if I did feed her to feed her in small amounts, which is hard to do if you have full boobs (so I did have to pump a lot just to keep up my supply since she wasn't eating a lot).  I listened but fed her whenever she wanted to eat and actually watered down breast milk to make sure she had liquids in her if she wouldn't drink just plain water.  We also got some bananas and rice cereal in hopes that it would "stop her up" a bit (it didn't).

She seemed to only want milk.  Forcing her to drink water or pedialyte was awful and even though we tried feeding her breakfast, lunch and dinner she wouldn't eat it.  I guess I didn't realize just how sick she was, and probably how nauseous she was, because she didn't act sick.  She played, didn't want to cuddle but did get tired more often and took 3-4 naps a day the whole week.  We changed A LOT of diapers, did A LOT of laundry, ran A LOT of baths, cleaned up weird, liquid yellow poop off of the living room floor (thank god for hardwood floors!), got thrown up on and pooped on (both of us) - so it was a really tiring couple of days.  The worst was on Wednesday night when we thought she was feeling better but then wanted to go to bed at 5pm, cried when we put her in her playpen and then threw up all over it.  So so sad.

After staying home with her Monday, and my mom coming over so I could run some errands, I started feeling bad Monday night.  I spent all night in bed, trying not to throw up, but finally did around 12am.  And then my legs hurt, for some strange reason (dehydration?), so I couldn't sleep and slept about an hour all night.  Ian had to stay home Tuesday to take care of the baby so that I could just lay around and I didn't really start to feel like myself again until Friday, even though I didn't get sick again.  Lemon's sickness lasted a whole week, she didn't really start feeling, or acting, like herself until Sunday.  And once she wasn't sick anymore we realized that she did act sick, and we just didn't notice.  She may not have wanted to cuddle, and she still played, but she wasn't her usual, chipper, talkative self; and after about a week she finally went back to normal.  I can't even imagine how bad she felt (wait, maybe I can) and I just wish I would have known sooner.  She was probably so dizzy and nauseous and her poor little tummy probably felt so bad - I just felt terrible that I didn't know she had the flu sooner (and dragged her out to yoga and left her to run errands!).  

Ian and I ended up missing 2 days each last week and it was a bummer because we were oh so close to finishing the school year with some sick days in tact (remember I took 3 months off and he took 6 weeks so we now have nothing left).  But, we had to be there with our baby and I didn't really want to make her go with anyone else, besides my mom, when she was feeling so horrible. 

Our "sick chick:"

Fed her so much oatmeal that first day and it all came up later.  :(

Nursing, still her favorite even when she's sick.  And clearly we weren't concerned about fashion last week!

Sick scrunchy face, is there anything cuter?

So, we survived our first stomach flu and I lived to tell about it.  I even showed up at school on Thursday and told all of my teenagers to go home and hug their mothers because they have no idea what they did for them when they were little.  Moms spend all day taking care of their sick babes, then all night sick themselves; it is absolutely crazy and made me realize just how much our moms do for us that we had no idea about.  Those couple of days at home were a blur and you spend all of your time worrying about your little muffin, that when you get sick yourself you are just so completely worn out. 

It is true, that you don't fully appreciate your mother, even if you thought you did and even said you did, until you become a mother yourself.  I now know why my mom still rubs my back when I sit next to her, kisses and hugs me hello and goodbye and checks on me when it's stormy out.  I was her baby once, and she took care of me while I was sick once, and she also watched me cover my skin in tattoos, the same skin that she used to rub lotion on after baths when I was just a baby.  I get it now.  I understand. 

I am sorry I didn't spend more time, when I was younger, telling her how much I appreciate her.  Thanks mom for taking care of me all of these years, I love and appreciate you.  And next time you see your mom, make sure you give her a big hug, she deserves it too.

Friday, April 19, 2013

9 Months: Teething Sucks!

 (These pics were take today - so she is actually over 9.5 months.  Oh well.)

First, some notable moments from the past month:

3.26.13     We discovered your first tooth, bottom left.  I stuck my finger in one night before bed and there it was!
3.27.13     You started closing your eyes when about to go under water at swimming.  I wonder if you even hold your breath.
3.31.13     Worst night of sleep for everyone, ever.  3 hours of sleep for all of us.  Definitely teething to blame.  You were up screaming and crying all night.  I thought teething wouldn't be that bad, boy was I wrong.  Got my period for the first time since October 2011 (tmi but was something to document!).

We were all set up for shots at Lemon's 9 month appointment but who knew that there weren't any?!  Just a heel prick to check her iron (which was great) and a super long wait (I hate it) but my dad came and Lemon loved being entertained by grandpa.

(This little lady weighed 18.5 pounds, 51%, was 27.5 inches tall, 42%, and has a 17.5 inch head, 66%.)

And, ladies and gentlemen (but really probably just ladies), let me introduce you to the best part of 9 months, the scrunchy face!!  Hard to capture on camera but oh so cute in real life:

Lemon is definitely the busiest of bees.  She can play with her musical table for hours and can open and close that little plastic book over and over without getting board.  Her favorite toys are still just plastic ones, even tupperware, and she loves any two things she can clap together while holding them in each hand.  She likes things that make noise and her two, plastic $1 maracas from Target are a fav as well as daddy's guitar when he puts it down and lets her climb on it. 

Sleep was out the window this month.  I don't even think we got a few good nights in, those two teeth were KILLERS.  I thought teething would be smooth, thought our Lemon just wouldn't be bothered, but boy was I wrong.  This little drama queen let those babies keep her up and cause her all sorts of discomfort, even when I was pumping her full of ibuprofen (don't judge!).  Naps have gotten better, a bit more predictable and she can stay up for longer periods between naps and only needs two a day, but that's probably been because her nights were so nutty this month.

(Nursing is still going AWESOME but we still give a bit of formula before bed.  Like I've said before it doesn't seem to help with her sleeping but now it is part of our routine so it stays.  Pumping every day at school is annoying but thank goodness I only have a little over a month left of it!)

This girl eats what we eat now but I give it to her before we spice it up.  And if we are eating something like gluten free philly cheesesteaks, I will give her something more baby-friendly instead like peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.   But she has eaten pulled pork, chicken, hamburger (all organic meats), pizza, pork chops, watermelon, mangos, cheese, gluten free spaghetti, gluten free mac and cheese, yogurt (our kind not the baby kind) - just to name some.  She is interested in eating whatever we are eating and has loved my cottage cheese after school snack.  Her favorites still are bananas, avacados and strawberries but she does love prunes and isn't as interested in oranges as she used to be.  She eats full strawberries now and it is crazy to watch, looks kind of like a zombie eating a liver (have you seen my husband's vine videos?  Follow @spiritbee!).




Lemon is into everything since she can get all over the house pretty quickly.  She isn't sure yet about crawling after us but can crawl around pretty good in one spot.  She would still rather stand than crawl and wants to touch everything and put it right in her mouth.  She loves packaging, keys and remotes most of all.

Standing with mommy for the first time in the kitchen.  Who knew that those Ikea drawers we picked out would be great for a baby to pull up on (and open) one day!

She loves pulling up on the stove and looking at herself in it.  She even reaches for the handle and tries to hang from it!

Spring Break was over this month and we had so much fun being at home with our babe for a whole week.  We were SO busy but so thankful for the time to spend with each other and with her.

(meeting Julie!)

Our nephew celebrated his 3rd birthday this month too and Lemon got to have her first taste of gluten free cake!

Oh and her first bouncy house experience (which you know she loves!):

And we got to have lots of cuddly mornings while we were off:

We also went to the Renaissance Festival with my dad for his birthday, one of my favorite places and I love when it comes through Arizona every year! 

Over break I got to take Lemon back to Mommy & Me yoga to see my good friend Peri who teaches it.  I went all the time when I was on maternity leave but since I went back to school, and it's on Tuesday mornings, I missed it so I was happy I got to go!

(Things have definitely changed from one of our last Mommy & Me classes to this one.)

The Play & Music class at Gymboree is still the best and my mom takes her every week.  While I was off, I got to go too and it was so much fun!  She loves banging on the big drum and Miss Susie, the teacher, is her favorite:

(worn out)

This little fishy has LOVED swimming lately.  She yells, laughs and talks the whole time she's in the water, flirts with all of the instructors and talks to all the other babies (who could totally care less that they are swimming).  She freaking loves the water.

And just when I thought teething might be the death of us, my mom took Lemon for a night so we could have a date night!  So, we blew up the tires on our bikes (that we hadn't ridden in years!) and rode to dinner!

And the next day were greeted by a happy, well-rested baby (she sleeps better for my mom, of course):

And then we were off to swim for the first time, not at swimming lessons, in Christine's condo's heated pool!  She had the best time and was SUCH a good baby - she was out in the sun (with sunscreen of course) for hours and Ian said she passed right out when they got home.  I got to stay and swim awhile and I missed being tan!

We even took her out to dinner to one of our favorite places, Barro's (they have gluten free pizza that is DELISH!), and we love the girls who work there.  We went when I was pregnant and wanted to show off the babe but none of them were there when we went!

And Livvy, Melissa's babe (my friend who watches Lemon), turned 1!  We got to make her cake and her birthday was so much fun!  (Did you know we make cakes?)

All dressed for the party in this Children's Place dress I found at Goodwill!

(And we got to see Ann, Ben and Ellie!)

(Livvy made the cutest birthday girl!)

Then it was back to work, but who could leave this face every morning?

But at least Melissa sends me pics of the girls, they are just the cutest!

Bath time is still with daddy but she also loves to take baths alone!

And how could a mama resist the opportunity to take some naked pics!

I found time to get my hair cut over break, go to lots of yoga classes and even catch up on all of my TV shows after baby went to bed!  But it's funny, even when you have the opportunity to stay up late, as parents, you don't because you know at any moment that baby could wake up and you could be up all night!  (Or maybe this is just a problem for parents whose babies don't sleep!)

Ooooooo and how about some $7 leopard jeans from Wal-Mart?!  Yes please!

Crazy hair after a cold walk!


(A very sleepy baby in the cutest outfit all the way from Australia!  We love you Katie, Ben and Maggie!)

(Who is afraid of stuffed animals?!) 

Lemon is turning into a super active, headstrong little lady and it is getting harder and harder to leave every day to go to work.  We are counting down the days until summer break (May 23rd) so that we can enjoy every, single moment with her!  We love you baby girl!

This post covers from my 8 month post up until her 9 month shots on April 5th - so some milestones Lemon has hit since then I am saving for her 10 months post.