Friday, November 26, 2010

But THANKS be to God! - 1 Cor. 15:57

I can't believe that it's the end of November already! This year has flown by! And what a wonderful year it has been. We have so much, as a family, to be grateful for:

1. Chris condo finally is rented out- yay!
2. Colin is thriving in his school and since he has been in the 2 year room (a debated topic because of his smaller size), his language has really taken off.
3. (Amanda) making it through yet another down-sizing and both of us being blessed with successful careers in a really tough economy.
4. Potty-training going SO well so far! We hope to have him completely diaper-free during the day before Christmas. He has shown such independence in this process, it's been a really sweet time.
5. A beautiful beginning to a wonderful marriage:

6. An awesome church - 7 Hills Church - that is growing by leaps and bounds and is taking us along for the journey!
7. And last but not least, wonderful family and friends! We were so blessed to have some many of our loved ones make the trip to Columbus for our wedding. We love you all!

Now, on to the festivities. 

In the morning, I could tell that Colin was going a little stir-crazy so I opened up his finger-paints (a birthday gift from Caitlin) and his adorable art smock:

It takes a very long time for little fingers to cover up such a big piece of paper! But we had fun. We stayed in Kentucky this year and hosted dinner for my parents and brother. It was my first attempt at preparing the entire meal- but I was very pleased with the results! Everyone hung out and watched some football while the turkey was in the oven:

The results:

My first homemade rolls (pre-baking in this picture). May be my favorite part of the meal!

Dad doing the dirty work. I don't do bones. Yuck! Not the turkey, just the bones.

It was a quiet, restful day! Very much needed. We plan to enjoy these next few days before we head into the holiday season. Hope everyone was able to rest and take a moment to count their blessings- and to savor the memories! God is good.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Managing Your Child's Food Allergies 101

It was very overwhelming at first to realize that Colin was not going to be able to enjoy your typical infant/toddler staples- like Cheerios! I began to do research- I found blogs, checked out books at the library, etc. And learned a lot by trial and error. You have to learn a lot in the trenches! 

A blog that I sometimes follow has a lot of great allergy-free recipes and introduces new allergy-free products as they come on the market is a blog by Cybele Pascal. She is also a mom of a brood with allergies. Her latest posting is all about allergy-free Thanksgiving ideas! Great source. She has also written a WONDERFUL cookbook called The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook. Check it out!

My profession allows me to have to access to any allergist in town any day of the week! Lucky for me, I am able to get as much as advice as I need. Not so lucky for them, they ALL have heard about Colin's allergies at least once and have shared advice with me a time or two. Dr. Ann Ghory was the first to recommend that I test Colin. Another doctor has suggested books and share advice from his long-time allergy mentor. And yet another has advised me to seek out a nutritionist, which I did do and it is very helpful. Your allergist is FULL of information- ask for it!

Grocery shopping can be daunting with food allergies. The first few times I went it took me forever to check each and every label- twice- just to be sure it would be okay for Colin. But it gets easier, I promise! Now I can go to the grocery and grab items quickly because I know what he can and cannot have. 

Reading labels is very important. There are a lot of surprising ingredients in foods- and one of those surprises may be an allergen. For instance, some yogurts can have gluten in the mix. If we ever switch brands of yogurt, we need to check the label first. Also, Tostitos makes a tortilla chip that Colin can have but some their tortilla chips are made with soybean oil, which we avoid. So if we are unsure, we always check the label.

As I've already mentioned, a lot of foods can have surprising ingredients- especially processed foods. I remember working with a guy who's family owned a hog farm. Their biggest custom was Tyson because they would put the pork in their frozen 'chicken' nuggets! If you don't read labels, you would never even know. We have found that it is usually easier (and less expensive) to just make things FRESH. And it has made us healthier as well!

There are allergy-free brands that make chicken nuggets and fish sticks but Colin is not the biggest fan. Like I said, it's easier just to make a substitute for him.

For months, we were watching what Colin was eating like a hawk and he was still have a slight reaction. One Sunday when we dropped him off at nursery, we realized that they had been giving him snacks! Animal crackers, goldfish- all things that shouldn't have. Every Sunday when we drop him off at nursery, this is what we sound like:

"Hi! This is Colin. He is allergic to this, this, this and this. He cannot have any of the snacks you are serving- not even the pink lemonade. We have snacks and juice for him in his bag."

Every time. At school we do the same thing, except we leave notes in his lunch box for his teachers. We still have to tell family members. Friends. Babysitters. Everyone and anyone that comes in contact with Colin around mealtime or offers him a snack must know about his allergies!

Of course, we have an epinephrine-injector on hand and we keep one at school. We have never had to use it, gratefully, but it will save Colin's life in case of an emergency. What we use on a regular basis is an antihistamine. We keep a bottle at home, a bottle at school, at my parent's and one in his diaper bag. We just had to pull the bottle from his diaper bag last night. We go through A LOT. No matter how diligent we are there are times when Colin still comes in contact and has a reaction. So we are always prepared!

*It is important to note that I am NOT a doctor or a nurse. I am just a mom who has built a home around her child's food allergies. This is just what works for us! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Making a "Mesch"

In our continued efforts to expand Colin's foodie experiences, we decided to give sushi a go. Chris and I enjoy sushi of all kinds and thought that he may like it as well- and it's also covered in rice, which we all know that he loves! We ordered a california roll for him from The Waterfront in Covington. 

He did take a few bites and I wish that I was able to grab a few snapshots of his face because it was priceless. You could tell he very unsure of what he to think: avocado- like, rice- love, crab and seaweed- not so sure!

After a few bites, he began to deconstruct the sushi. In his own words, he 'made a mesch'! A big mess. We'll save sushi for a year or two.

Colin followed up that performance with this one:

And this is what his room usually looks like:

Ugh! The madness! The red bins from IKEA make it very easy to put it all back together- everything has its own place. We are teaching him that principle as well as to clean up after we are finished with something. Oh, to be two again!

P.S. Colin went potty at Beef-O-Brady's last night. It was the first time he has used the potty in a public place (I sat him backwards with plenty of toilet paper on the seat!). Another potty-training milestone!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween 2010

We found the most adorable costume at the Disney Store on mega sale! Can't beat that. Colin wore NEMO around like a champ!

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Little Red has a trick-or-treat night the week before Halloween night. All of the teachers dressed up and had decorated the school to look like a haunted house. Nemo followed around the other little students to collect treats. He was a little spooked out, but we made it!

who could resist this?

For Halloween night, we went up to Fort Wayne to go trick-or-treating with Hudson and Evan. Very fun! He quickly learned that if he hung around (and sometimes begged) after one piece of candy that the very nice person at the door would give him more candy. He literally got extra candy at almost every door. Why hit up a whole neighborhood when you can get the same amount out of one street? He works smart, not hard. I like it.

A gullible door attender

Of course, being the good parents that we are, Chris and I 'had' to take some of his candy due to the allergens- Reese's, Snickers, Kit Kat, etc. But we have found that he REALLY likes Nerds. Like he gets strangely excited about the little boxes. And he can eat them- double fist pump!

It was very fun to see him walk around in his costume, little tail swimming behind him. Very sweet! But the best treat of all was to hear him say 'thank you' at every door!