What if we loved ourselves?

What if we loved ourselves?

This week, I was hanging out on Facebook and saw in one of my groups, a woman who had taken her book outside to read. She was sitting, prettily, in a lawn chair on her porch with a huge smile on her face. She wore a dress with flip flops. She looked happy and frankly, excited about the book in her hand. The snow around her would have been up to Hank’s knees. There was a child in the background, in full snow suit, playing in the snow.

She captioned the photo that she was going to be outside reading while in the middle of a hot flash. She ended her comment that she looked like a whale.

I was so happy for her until that last line. In fact, it made my tummy drop. I immediately responded that I hoped that she enjoyed her book and that she was beautiful.

Why do we do this? Why do we allow ourselves to be so rotten to ourselves? I have looked at my stomach and my stretchmarks and belittled myself. Why? I don’t usually care what other people think about my appearance, but I really care about how I think. I know that my body housed two + children and has walked me miles, has treated me with care, but I look at myself and think about my faults.

What if we looked at ourselves and are thankful to those stretch marks? Our bodies expanded to allow for babies to grow. Or our bodies expanded to allow for more of us to love? How amazing is it that our skin does that for us?

What if we look at those added pounds and dismiss them? I’m not saying that being unhealthy is amazing, but not every pound over our “ideal” number is a pound of awful.

What if we look at our curves and be grateful that we have them? What if we look at our straight lines and love them for what they are? What if we look at our puckers, scars and blemishes and just shrug and move on?

What if we tell ourselves that we’re allowed to take that selfie and post it without adding a disclaimer to the world that we know of our faults?

And to those who may decide that they need to point out anything that they feel make us less than perfect? What if we let them go along with our own feelings of discontentment?

What if we choose to be happy with ourselves?

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How to Bread, Allergen Free

How to Bread, Allergen Free

I’ve been asked a few times about how I feed my family and what are our standard go-to products, so I am going to release several blog posts about just that. In this one, I’m going to concentrate on being WHEAT free. Not necessarily, gluten free, but wheat free. I am very, very grateful to those who are allergic to gluten. Without those wonderful eaters, we wouldn’t have as much alternatives at our disposal. The double edge sword is a thing: I hate that they have to eat that way, I love that we can jump aboard.

Please be aware that if you purchase something from one of my links, I may be receiving a compensation through the vendor.

Oh man, how I love bread. I used to be the girl who filled up on the bread basket at restaurants, who fought for the first slice of my mom’s freshly baked loaves, who would just be happy to eat bread and butter as a meal. Oh, my first love, bread, how I miss you.

But I don’t really. We have really great substitutes. We can purchase wheat free at the store, but we still need to take a microscope to the ingredients list. We are avoiding so many items that even though it doesn’t have wheat, it could not be safe.

Pre-made store bought bread

For sandwich bread, I love that I don’t have to make the bread from scratch. I have and have mixed my own flours to do so, but I didn’t get the bread making gene that my mom has and it was apparent when we took the first bite. So, I am very pleased that I can order pre-made breads. Our main stays are:

Schar Gluten Free Artisan Baker White Bread, 2 Count: this bread is soft but dense enough to put up with Hank’s dairy free butter, even when cold. Depending on what you need to avoid, this company has a full range of gluten free options that taste great and are kid approved. Buns, baguettes and crackers are amazing and all available through Amazon and our local grocer.

Katz Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins | Dairy, Nut and Gluten Free | Kosher (6 Packs of 4 Muffins, 11 Ounce Each): These English muffins also come in plain, however are currently unavailable through Amazon. Hank loves these with his dairy free butter. I have used them as hamburger buns, sandwich buns and they always get dissected so that he can eat the parts of the meal that he likes, separately. The Katz company has a full range of breads and desserts/snacks, including cupcakes, filled cakes and doughnuts. As we are able to (if we are able to) add additional ingredients, I am hopeful that we can introduce more from this company as they are delicious.

Again, read the label. I once bought gluten free ready-to-bake pizza crust and double checked that there wasn’t egg, milk or pea protein that I didn’t even see that it contained orange juice. Guess what? Hank is allergic to oranges, like – instant vom. I had gotten that sucker home and was so excited to use it and had the hubs double check and there it was: Orange juice. Boo.

Make your own bread

I’ve made my own bread before using my oven as well as a bread maker. Again, I didn’t get the magical bread making gene from my mother, but I have made *passable* bread by using the bread recipes in the book Learning to Bake Allergen-Free: A Crash Course for Busy Parents on Baking without Wheat, Gluten, Dairy, Eggs, Soy or Nuts.

Colette Martin is an amazing author but also a food allergy mom. She gets it. In her book, she gives tips and encouragement about moving into this new normal of living and cooking. She also teaches how to mix your own flour blends and shares tried and true recipes for everything from the basic bread to scones and doughnuts. She also gives you dairy free options and substitutions.

My best suggestion while using this book and mixing your own flours for other recipes is to measure by grams. I love the Cuisinart Weight Mate Digital Kitchen Scale. It is compact – which means easy to store off my counters. Since bread making is a magical endeavor (ok, not magic, but science), it is important that you measure by weight and not by cup, if the measurement isn’t exact you will get a Pinterest-worthy fail. Trust me, I’ve done it all. My favorite was the raw and runny middle with the burnt outside. That was a special day.

Now, since I don’t love mixing my own flour. I’d rather use a premix blend. My favorite flour is King Arthur Flour, Measure for Measure Flour, Certified Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Kosher, 3 Pounds (Packaging May Vary). Actually, I quite love King Arthur all together. When I post about sweets and mixes, I’ll have a whole section devoted to King Arthur.

As with anything, if you have multiple allergies like we do, check the label, call the company, and observe for any reactions.

Future blog posts will include pasta and sweets for being wheat free, I’ll also start pulling together our other favorite substitutes for dairy and eggs. Is there something that you want to know about? Drop me a message through Instagram or Facebook!

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Leave the Lights On

Leave the Lights On

We’re at the end of the holiday season. We’ve seen the New Year claw it’s way into our lives. It’s time to start taking down the trees, the lights, the merriment that we used to push the end of 2020 out. BUT – What if we didn’t? What if we left those twinkle lights up just for a few more weeks? What if we leave the kissing ball hanging from our doorway up for just a wee bit longer?

We’re running head long into the darkest part of the year and I know that we can ward off the winter depression, the winter blues or whatever you want to call it, with light. We get excited every year when the holiday lights go up, why not let that simmer just a little bit longer? We deserve it. I’ve said it before, we’ve made it through the longest decade ever, known as 2020. We deserve a bit of light and magic to bring us through the rest of the winter.

I will be removing the Christmas tree, I will be removing the greenery, but I vow to leave up my twinkle lights in my home until, Valentines Day, maybe? I want to watch the candles and lights turn on with their timers to warm my home in the evenings. I want for my children to feel the warmth for a bit longer.

Now, I’m off to Pinterest to search for ideas that aren’t Christmas-y to decorate with. As the kids say these days, It’s gunna be lit, fam.

(did I use that right?)

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Let those resolutions live and die!

Let those resolutions live and die!

It’s that time of year! It’s time to say good bye to 2020 and hello to 2021, time to air out the house and bring in the fresh air. It is also time for half of my Facebook friends and family to post that they hate going to the gym and seeing those who made resolutions and then watching them fail. BUT, I say, yes! Yes, to the resolutions. Yes, to going to the gym, only if it is only for the free trial period. Yes, to moving a yoga mat from the closet to the livingroom and letting it sit there.

I think that as humans, we look at new beginnings as an important reawakening, but what are we awakening? Is it the resolution or the idea that we deserve some sort of inner change? Do we need to follow through? No. Did we do harm by failing? Also, no. We get into our heads every day and bog ourselves down with how we’ve failed ourselves, but even through those “failures” there is something we didn’t fail. We put ourselves first.

How do we continue thinking of ourselves when our resolutions get away from us? Small changes! Even the very small.

I will:

  • Carry a reusable bag with me to limit my plastic usage from quick trips to the store. Stored in the car or in your purse, you can pull it out and know that you are making a difference to our world. If we’re taking care of the whole, we are also taking care of the individual.
  • Walk after I eat my lunch. A quick five-minute walk – brisk or otherwise – can put us into a better mood. Get that blood moving!
  • Seek the sun! (with, of course, proper protection.) We need the sun to live, but we also need it to feel good. All that Vitamin D is free for the taking, get out there and soak it in.
  • Drink your water! How many of us are living on coffee, wine, or pop (soda?) and forgetting about water? Drink it up!

MOST IMPORTANTLY:

  • I will NOT berate myself for not being able to run that mile, finish that puzzle, have flat feet in downward dog, or finish that book that all my friends are raving over. I will look at my limitations or growing disinterest and decide that sometimes, it is better to let things go. I highly doubt that when I look back at the age of 80, that I’m going to feel bad for not finishing one book out of the thousands that I did read and enjoy.

We’re not competing with ourselves; we should not be seeking approval to treat ourselves poorly because we couldn’t do or follow through with something. We’re coming from a hard year. A really hard year, and it is ok to treat ourselves kindly.

So, feel free to make those resolutions, feel free to tell others about them, feel free to be ok if you can’t follow through with them. But don’t create an inner atmosphere that is more toxic than 2020 was.          

Hank and I were talking today about resolutions. And he said that he had one for me, but wasn’t sure how I was going to work on being even better at it. So, all, here is my resolution that he suggested and I’m going with:

I will be great.

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Rare, pshaw. Hardly!

Rare, pshaw. Hardly!

According to Apfed, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, a RARE DISEASE, affects 1 in 2,000 people. So, in the city of Ann Arbor, MI, where there are approximately 121,000 people living, we can hypothesize that there could be 60 people, who have eoe, walking through that college town of only 28.7 square miles.

That is the most math I have done in quite a while, please don’t expect that of me again.

 

So what is my point with all of this?

My dudes (yes, I talk like this in real life and yupper, I am nearly 40), we’re not alone. None of us are. Last week, I received a message through one of my social media platforms. It made my day, that someone came to me with questions. This young lady was freshly diagnosed and, rightly so, was distressed. It was a relief to her to find our story and to find someone else with this link. Hank may be rare, but he isn’t the only one in the neighborhood! So, how do we go about finding others in our same boat?

Social Media: Through Instagram, you can find other families like mine. Families that document their daily lives and struggles, triumphs and wins. Head over to Facebook and not only can you also find us, you can join support boards that cover the world, your state or possibly your county, province or city. And if you can’t, you can start your own! Connect with these families, engage in conversation, ask questions. I have found that most people will answer your questions and lend support. So, ask away!

APFED.com: I love this group, here, you can find local, volunteer-led support groups. This page will also connect you with their online support group.

Your doctor: Who better to know of your local resources than the men and women who are helping you navigate this situation? Ask there for suggestions as well. The bonus here, is that they may be able to recommend a therapist for better one on one support.

I, personally, respond to all (appropriate) questions that are sent to me and usually have the time to dedicate for a conversation. I am not an expert and I don’t sugar coat our experiences. But I am also available for an extra shoulder.

 

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Yum! I hate it!

Yum! I hate it!

Food trialing is an interesting endeavor. Not only are you trying out new foods and companies for allergens or cross contamination, but you are also trying to gather more food for the family menu. We’re one of those crazy families what will not make separate meals for everyone at the table. We will, of course, leave off a component if there is an issue; Dave hates pickles – no problem, Hank has issues with tomato sauce – not an issue, Hubs refuses beans – leave them off. But we sit down to the same meal.

The hardest part of trialing, I feel, is when there is a new food that Hank can eat and likes. We buy it, he loves it and we make it apart of the menu, whether it is a snack or a meal. Since I hate to waste money, I will buy when I find items on sale, or when I can fill an Amazon Pantry box. But that also means that I may buy more than just one to make sure that we have it in our “stock”. You see where this is going, yes? You know what is going to come next? When, and only when, I have more than one box in my stock, that is when he decides that he doesn’t like it. Thus, causing me to eat it myself, or store it to try again or donate.

Right now, I have 4 boxes of carob granola bites, 6 bags of everything free Hank-safe stuffing mix, 4 carob suckers, two bags of “new” beef jerky and three boxes of cereals that he liked and rejected. He really likes to stick with what he knows and loves. We re-introduce these foods a few weeks later, but maybe 80% of the time, dude rejects them again.

Last week, I took the remaining box of muffin mix from Enjoy Foods, we started with 6, and tried them again. The first time, I had used a donuts shaped tin and coated them with cinnamon and sugar. He loved them. The one time, that is. I had made them again and he refused. I have added carob chips, blueberries, brown sugar crumble and he has hated them all. For this batch, I added two bananas, a cup of mini carob chips and three tablespoons of SunButter. HE ATE THE WHOLE BATCH. So, as I am a creature of habit, I already have another 5 boxes in my Amazon Pantry box, ready to do this all over again.

The best advice that I have, if you are going through the same thing, is to not get frustrated (SNORT). Eating for him is hard and he only eats so much in a day, so, slow and steady progress. We go on binges every month or so, when we go to the grocery and scour the aisles for food that is Hank-safe and then present it, very scientifically, for him to try.

We sit down as a family and watch food programs, not to frustrate anyone, but to learn what other people are eating. I assure everyone that we can figure out how to make the meal taste close to the original, as long as everyone understands that I am not a professional chef. Bizarre Foods is a family favorite, even if it does sometime turn my stomach. Sorry, Andrew Zimmern, but at times, you are cray –even if Hank thinks you are amazing.

Once I have pressed “Save” on this, I am going to start this week’s grocery list and I think that I am stuck this week. Throwing back to the menu planning post, what are you having for dinner this week? Because if I’m not careful, we’re going to have a meal of bugs and blood stew…

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Crouching Allergens, Hidden Tree Nuts

Crouching Allergens, Hidden Tree Nuts

I am bad at remembering things – all things. I have to look and relook at name tags, ingredients list, instruction manuals. In fact, when Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was released in theaters, it was renamed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Treefrog by me; THAT I could remember. Because I can’t remember anything, I have to make sure that I research multiple times, everything, that comes into my home, because hidden allergens are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Wheat in PlayDoh, sesame in lotions, orange oil in soaps, soy in tea, barley in “natural flavoring” … the list goes on and on. The hubs and I have to read every ingredient list for every consumable product that comes into our house. Grocery shopping for new foods takes forever and we still have to double check products after we buy them, just to make sure that we aren’t unwittingly grabbing something that we thought that we properly cleared. To be completely upfront with the fact that I am not an expert, nor a robot, I have on many occasions posted to my local mom group with bags of free food that I realized too late were processed on shared lines.

When Hank started Kindergarten, I worked with his teacher to come up with an alternative to Playdoh. After a messy mess and another sticky gross maker, we did find this recipe from Parents.com that worked well. Held its color, shape and didn’t leave a horrid mess on the work station.

We have taught our children to look at the soap in public bathrooms. Typically, if the soap bottle has a picture of an orange on it, I have found that they use orange in the product. However, since strawberries are more expensive, manufactures tend to use an artificial scent. I have read on my support boards that several families carry a plastic baggie with safe soap in it. Not even a hotel will be safe; we stayed at a hotel this past summer where the shampoo and lotions had sesame oil in them. We didn’t use them, but I side eyed everything in the room that could have come into contact with it.

I drink a lot of decaf chai tea and have a particular brand that I am very fond of. However, after Hank asked for a sip (AND I GAVE IT TO HIM) I realized that I never checked, but I figured that it would be safe. This is never the case; it won’t be safe just because you think that it will. Always check before giving anything to your allergy child. I found that Bigelow tea uses soy lecithin in some of their teas to help disperse tea through the cup.

Even at the dentist, you need to always be your child’s mama and papa bear. We couldn’t get a clear ingredient list on the polishes and fluoride used in the dentist office. For his safety, Hank gets plain ol’ flavorless pumice for his cleanings. The best part of him never having the bubble gum flavoring? He doesn’t even know that they exist! We have a great family dentist. So great, in fact that they met with the manufacture representative for their fluoride supplier. They, on their own, walked though all the ingredients and rejected their standard order as it contained an ingredient that could trigger a reaction to those allergic to nuts! They switched to make their office safer. Near tears that made me. You can read more about the connection here.

If you have bought a product in the past that was safe, it is always recommended that you reread the ingredients before buying it again. Companies can and do change out ingredients. And unless you enjoy giving foods away like I apparently do, check new foods from trusted companies. That elbow noodle may not share a line or a facility, but their lasagna noodle may…

To read more about common hidden allergens, take a look at this article on The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

 

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