Three 31


Process of Elimination // Third Time’s A Charm, Right?

The last two weeks, I’ve done almost everything OPPOSITE of what I said I’d do for the elimination diet, eating wheat (gluten), eggs, soy products, red meat, citrus fruit, and shell fish. And you know what? The eczema patches on my left hand (wrist and ring finger) were clear some of the time. Last Wednesday evening, while sitting on the floor with Husband watching Kamden play, I commented on how clear my eczema was and it was nice to be itch-free. I spoke too soon because the next morning I had a flaming red and painfully itchy eczema flare-up.

At the beginning of this elimination diet experiment, I knew there was a strong possibility that the foods I consumed on a regular basis could be the allergen (i.e. “poison”) triggering my auto-immune system to react and cause the eczema flare-ups. My diet has always been full of the most common eczema triggers – wheat, eggs, soy, red meat, citrus fruit, shell fish, and sugar. Dairy (cow’s milk) is a common trigger of eczema but I’ve been completely dairy-free since 2004, when I was diagnosed with a severe allergy.

After my comment Wednesday evening and the arrival of yet another flare-up yesterday (Thursday) morning, I considered more closely what I had eaten and questioned immediately the possibility of NIGHTSHADES causing my discomfort. In my previous studies and reading about eczema flare-ups and common trigger foods, nightshades were known to be problematic for people suffering from autoimmune disorders, eczema and psoriasis, acne, inflammation, and joint pain. These symptoms are very familiar to me. Once again, I forced myself to closely examine my food journal. The honest reflection revealed a connection that was difficult for me to acknowledge. Once again, there was substantial evidence too obvious to ignore … I had eaten baked chicken thighs with a barbeque sauce (glaze) for dinner Wednesday night and leftovers at lunch Thursday. Right now, early Friday morning, my left hand is burning and itching so bad I can’t sleep.

Without getting too technical or scientific, nightshades are a botanical type of plant. There are more than 2,000 species of nightshades, most being edible while others are highly poisonous. If you’ve ever read Macbeth then you’re familiar with belladonna, a deadly nightshade. If I’m being completely honest, I wish I had had some belladonna while reading the Shakespearean play in high school … it was torture!



For the sake of this post, and trying to figure out the cause of my eczema, I’ll stop with the Shakespeare play references and focus once again on nightshades. The following are all members of the nightshade family and commonly found in modern diets, including mine:

  • Bell peppers (i.e. sweet peppers)
  • Eggplant
  • Hot peppers (i.e. chili peppers, jalapenos, red pepper, and cayenne)
  • Paprika
  • Pimentos
  • Potatoes (but not sweet potatoes)
  • Tomatillos
  • Tomatoes

That list can ruin a person’s day, believe me. With the exception of eggplant and pimentos, I eat these common nightshades on a regular, if not daily, basis. Consider the number of varieties of peppers and tomatoes, plus the variations of spice mixes containing nightshades, and your head is likely to explode. To put nightshade consumption into better perspective, here’s a sample from my own food journal:

omelet with chopped sweet bell peppers, jalapeno, and tomato

mixed lettuce and cherry tomatoes, Manchego (sheep’s milk) cheese, cucumber, and bell pepper with Catalina or Thousand Island dressing

baked salmon seasoned with Siracha (chili pepper) sauce and a vegetable and rice medley consisting of onion, sweet peppers, spinach, and mushrooms

Dare I put this in writing, but eliminating a major food group (i.e. wheat, dairy, soy, citrus fruit, etc.) might be easier than avoiding nightshades. But, as I sit here at 4:30am with my left hand wrapped in gauze to prevent me from scratching the eczema patches until I bleed, I’m willing to try. It won’t be a small or easy feat however when you consider the depth of nightshades currently in my diet:

BELL PEPPERS // raw with hummus dip, chopped in a fresh salad, or sautéed in a vegetable medley

SPICES + SPICE MIXES // hot Sriracha sauce, paprika, spice seasonings, fresh and pickled jalapenos

POTATOES // mashed, smashed, roasted, and baked; hashbrowns, fries and tots

TOMATOES // chopped on a salad, fried green tomatoes, spaghetti sauce (tomato juice, tomato sauce, tomato puree, tomato paste, etc.), pizza (marinara) sauce, condiments (Sriracha, barbeque sauce, and ketchup), guacamole and salsa, salad dressing (Catalina and Thousand Island), soups, stew, and chili

If nightshades are, in fact, the culprit and cause of my eczema breakouts, this is a game-changer. Sure, the effect is positive but the application is going to be incredibly difficult. I use a heavy hand with spices and seasonings, especially when marinating chicken, beef, or pork. What kind of German descendent would I be if I didn’t eat lots of potatoes prepared in a variety of ways? And tomatoes, goodness gracious. Besides cherry or Roma tomatoes and Catalina or Thousand Island dressing on my salad, my diet is FULL of tomato-based products, including sauces and condiments, soups, chili, and plain juice.

My quest to avoid as much processed food as possible continues, even with the elimination and avoidance of nightshades. Spices, particularly paprika and chile pepper are common seasonings in processed foods, but rarely identified specifically. Modified food starch is derived from potatoes. Nightshades are commonly hidden in breads, baked goods, crackers, breading, stuffing, sausage, deli meat, seafood, mock seafood, gravy, sauces, meat sauce, fish sauce, condiments, salad dressings, baked beans, seasonings, and even vitamin supplements and prescription drugs.

Silver lining? Tobacco is a nightshade but I don’t smoke, dip, or chew. At least I have this going for me, right?

Cheers to the weekend and revising my elimination diet!


Our Punkin in the Pumpkin Patch


Last Monday, Kamden and I visited the church’s pumpkin patch. As a mom, it was a rash decision but, as a blogger in desperate need of a fall-themed portrait for his monthly update post, it was an opportunity I couldn’t resist. Kamden took his normal two-hour nap but the moment he opened his eyes, I scooped him out of bed, changed his diaper and clothes, and we went to the church for a quick portrait session during the glorious “golden hour” of the afternoon. I’m pleased with the outcome.


He was such a trooper through this portrait mini-session though, bless his little heart, and there was plenty to keep him distracted and prevent him from looking at Mommy’s camera.


This “candy corn cutie” was infatuated with the tiny pumpkins. Kamden made a friend with the scarecrow by pulling his hair!


I love the expression on Kamden’s face and would love to know what he’s thinking, like he wants to touch the scarecrow but the pumpkin is less intimidating! And let’s not forget the chubby cheeks, double chin, and those shoes. Oh my cute stars!


Kamden’s standing up really well, with assistance, but he’s not a fan of shoes. Thankfully, he was distracted by the pumpkins (he even tried picking up some of the larger ones!) and his shoes stayed on while we were in the patch. As soon as we got in the car though, he kicked off both shoes before we got home … and we live about a mile from the church!


When all else fails, sit a little boy on the ground and let him play in the hay. Then take his picture when he’s not looking for the most natural pose.


Going to a pumpkin patch and taking pictures was on our fall bucket list, so we can mark this one complete. We still need to get Kamden his own pumpkin and decorate or carve it before Halloween.

Do you have any fall or Halloween-themed traditions?



Finish This #42

IT’S WEEK 42 OF FINISH THIS … If this is your first time here, welcome. If you’re a repeat participant, thanks for playing along and joining the shenanigans. Your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31) and the instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog and add the post to the link up. Next week, we’ll do it all over again with a new set of prompts (located at the bottom of this post). Let’s get started!


Today’s post is short and sweet because I have something special to share …
If you are a blogger then you absolutely MUST complete the *YEAR IN REVIEW* questionnaire. If you’ve never completed a similar questionnaire, click HERE. This special event will take place during WEEK 52 of the Finish This link-up, beginning Wednesday, December 31. Please share this with other bloggers. In case you’re easily distracted or forgetful, I’ll periodically remind you of this awesome event!

1. It took me a long time to realize
in the realm of friendships, it’s best to have four quarters than 100 pennies. I have a lot of friends, acquaintances even, but there’s an exclusive group of folks who would answer my call in the middle of the night. And I would do the same for them.

2. I surround myself with
family, friends, and good food. What’s better than that?!

Prompts for WEEK 43– October 29
As a kid, my favorite Halloween costume was
As an adult, I celebrate Halloween by
My favorite candy is


10 { Kamden’s Monthly Update }


Kamden, my precious boy, you are 10 months old!

Mommy is so far behind on taking your pictures and writing this monthly update blog post. I’m so sorry. Despite life’s happenings and distractions, Daddy and I are selfishly enjoying and savoring every moment we get to spend with you, watching you grow and develop into our Triple M, or Mini Man Child. You’re becoming more mobile each day and your toothless smiles and glee-filled outbursts are incredibly addicting. Speaking of toothless smiles, you didn’t smile much last weekend and you still aren’t your usual bubbly, jovial self. In fact, Daddy called you a sack of taters because you were only content being held or laying next to Daddy or I on the couch or in our king-size bed. You woke up Saturday morning with a low-grade fever – your first ever. You refused bottles of Mommy’s milk and simply wanted to be held. Since you had no other symptoms, we can only assume the fever and lethargy were from teething. However, sweet child of mine, you still don’t have a single tooth in your head! The very faint, small white lines on your bottom gum is the same as it was three months ago … still no teeth poking through. I hate that you felt so terrible this past weekend, but I sure enjoyed our cuddling sessions. When you became restless or moaned, you’d reach for Mommy’s hand and held my pinkie finger or you’d turn and face me, keeping your hand on my chest or arm while you slept. I soaked up these moments like they were manna from heaven.

Fast forward to Monday, as if the fever wasn’t enough to ruffle your feathers, you’re getting your first cold. You woke up Monday morning congested and coughing. I called Doctor J’s office and Nurse Donna promptly returned my message. (We love Nurse Donna, she’s an angel is pink scrubs.) With her blessing and specific instructions, I’m rubbing Vicks on your feet several times a day and giving you an infant’s dose of Children’s Mucinex to help your cough. Mommy is also rubbing Thieves essential oil on your feet as well as diffusing it in the cool mist humidifier to help you kick this crud in the butt. Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery, Mommy loves the extra cuddles but your cough and red eyes are breaking her heart!

GROWING // You went to the doctor’s office last week for a check-up and flu shot. The flu vaccine was unavailable so you left Doctor J’s office in good spirits. Mommy’s scale at home must be off because you officially weighed 22.5 pounds and were 29.5 inches tall. You are in the 85th percentile for weight and height. It’s hard to imagine you’re almost one foot longer (taller) than he day you were born!

EATING // You are finally – FINALLY!!!! – getting more accustomed to eating solids. You are by no means eating full meals, but you seem to enjoy the taste of food purees more. Daddy and I offer you some type of solid every evening, as well as water, and most of the time you accept both. You really love fresh bananas and pureed avocado, as well as sweet potatoes and applesauce seasoned with cinnamon. You are not, however, a fan of rough textures. Daddy and I gave you a peach-flavored fruit puff and you promptly spit it back out. Yuck! Last week, on a day you were feeling extra hungry and readily accepting solids, you ate one half of a small avocado all by yourself. (By the way, Mommy happily stepped aside so Daddy could change THAT dirty diaper!!!!) In the evening, after Mommy and Daddy have eaten supper and you’ve played a while, you sit in the high chair and we feed you small pieces of banana. You used to eat from Mommy’s finger, but now you’ll open your mouth wide for the spoon. Daddy got clever and put your bite on the actual banana and let you take a bite from it – that works well too!

SLEEPING // You are still an excellent sleeper and Mommy is so appreciative and thankful. Our nighttime routine has adjusted since changing your bottle’s nipple. Up until a few weeks ago, you were still drinking Mommy’s milk from a Level 1 (newborn – three months) bottle nipple. Daddy sensed you were getting frustrated by meal times taking so long and suggested we get a nipple with a larger hole. I bought Level Two (three – six months) and it has worked extremely well. Your bedtime feeding used to take 20-25 minutes and now it’s less than 15. I feed you, lay you down in your crib, and you roll on your stomach. You are definitely a mover and a shaker during the night though. Sometimes you wake Mommy up with your sleeping sounds (moans, groans, farts, grunts, heavy sighs, etc.) and occasionally you will open your eyes, stand up, then lay back down and go to sleep like nothing ever happened! Daddy gets concerned when you move to the end of the bed out of the camera’s viewpoint. Most of the time, we can see your leg or arm and hear you breathing. Within an hour, you move to another position and we can see you fine. My favorite position is when you’re asleep with your butt straight in the air!

PLAYING + CRAWLING // You are definitely Daddy’s buddy during play time! You boys will go in one of the bedrooms and play for the longest time. You are intrigued when Daddy builds block towers, pushes cars and make “vroom” sounds, and you love pushing buttons on the TV remote and squishing a tube of lotion or plastic water bottle. You’ve gotten very brave lately, taking steps with your sit-n-stand walker toy then falling head first into a large blanket or pillow. You think it’s the funniest thing. Unfortunately, playing and being brave led to your first injury: a bump on your forehead. You didn’t bruise or lose any blood, but you cried and it broke Mommy’s heart to see you so sad. It was a hard lesson learned for us both: Mommy’s hand is not big enough to protect your face AND head from the corner of the table!

WEARING // You’re still wearing 2T and 3T clothes, even some 4T shirts, and you recently started wearing size 4 Pampers Swaddlers. You are also the proud owner of your very first pair of shoes … but you don’t like wearing them At all! When the weather is nice and cool, Mommy puts your shoes on you and we go outside. You especially love to get in your Joovy walker and ‘explore’ the front porch!


LOVING // Playing with Mommy and Daddy, eating bananas, sitting in the stroller while Mommy walks at the city park, splashing in the bath tub, crawling, and walking with assistance.

LOATHING // Teething, being told no, being pulled away from things or places that could be dangerous, and wearing shoes. (You’re like your mother and prefer to be barefoot.)

STATE FAIR OF TEXAS // When Nana C and Aunt Kathy were visiting, we all went to Dallas to the State Fair of Texas. It was also the first time you sat in the stroller without your car seat. You absolutely LOVED being able to stretch your legs and see everything in front of you! We rode an open-air bus around the entire fairgrounds and then walked to the places and exhibits we wanted to see up close. The weather was absolutely perfect and the fair wasn’t crowded at all, making your first visit to the State Fair a huge success. Mommy thoroughly enjoyed several Fletcher’s corn dogs with ketchup and mustard. Nana C and Aunt Kathy were more adventurous and tried some of the fried concoctions. You were content with Mommy’s milk – HA!




FALL BUCKET LIST // We better get a jump on our to-do list here:

  • Go to a high school football game.
  • Decorate a pumpkin.
  • Go trick or treating (trunk or treat).
  • Take pictures in pumpkin patch.
  • Donate to the food bank.
  • Wear a Halloween costume.
  • Pick apples at an orchard.
  • Invite friends over for chili and football.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Go on a hayride.
  • Visit the State Fair of Texas.
  • Go to a fall festival and/or craft fair.
  • Eat Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Picnic / Movie in the park.
  • Go to the Perot Museum.
  • Go to the Grapevine Aquarium.
  • Go to the zoo.
  • Make hand print turkeys.
  • Have a family portrait session.


Finish This #41

IT’S WEEK 41 OF FINISH THIS … If this is your first time here, welcome. If you’re a repeat participant, thanks for playing along and joining the shenanigans. Your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31) and the instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog and add the post to the link up. Next week, we’ll do it all over again with a new set of prompts (located at the bottom of this post). Let’s get started!


CHALLENGE FOR YOU … visit at least three (3) blogs and comment on their “Finish This” post. Even if you don’t know the person, introduce yourself and leave a genuine comment. If you know a blogger who would like to participate in this link up, invite them to join us. Blogging is about building communities!

1. I feel like a bad-ass when
I have pumped more than 15 ounces of breast milk in a single session; delivered a cooler full of said breast milk to the milk bank; cooked an amazing meal for my family and friends; taken a frame-worthy photo; declined assistance from an employee and bagged my own groceries; saved money on said groceries by using a coupon; completed a Pinterest-inspired DIY project; learned a new trick in Lightroom; washed, folded, and put away a load of laundry; cleaned the entire house; blogged more than once or twice in a single week; completed a tough group exercise class; shooting handguns or target rifles (specifically my dad’s .338 Lapua!); delivering a funny one-liner at the right time; parallel parking (successfully, on the first try) in front of a busy restaurant with patrons watching; driving along Highway 174 and catching every green light; driving Husband’s truck and pulling a trailer; stopping the fuel pump on an even dollar amount; answered a Jeopardy question correctly; solved a Wheel of Fortune puzzle before a contestant; and when my legs are smooth-shaved and Husband notices (heyyyyy!).

2. One thing that always cheers me up
watching and listening to Husband and Kamden play. These two goobers will cure whatever ails you. Their laughs are contagious and the belly-wiggling kind.

3. The quotes I live by





Invite your blogging friends and come back next Wednesday for another round of Finish This where we’ll answer another set of prompts!

Prompst for WEEK 42– October 22
It took me a long time to realize
I surround myself with


10 Things I’m Loving

I’ve had most of these 49 thoughts while ordering my chicken burrito bowl at Chipotle!

Don’t judge … but I really love the movie The Parent Trap (the 1998 version with Lindsey Lohen).

28 reasons my Husband was THE BEST during my labor and delivery. Who are these men and why did a woman marry him?!

An excellent explanation of the pronunciation of the word pecan.

Secrets for keeping an organized living room.

Nine habits of good listeners.

And because I’m bad at math, you only get SIX things I’m loving today. I’ll do better next time. :)


Process of Elimination (Part 2)


As many of you know from reading this post, I recently began a strict elimination diet to determine if I have developed new food intolerances or allergies and discover a possible link between my diet and symptoms I experience on a regular basis, particularly eczema. For full disclosure, I began this trial with a very small, red, itchy patch of eczema on my left ring finger and wrist. My plan included eliminating all wheat and gluten from my diet for one week, possibly two, and monitor my progress and symptoms. Three days in to this food experiment and I already notice major flaws. In the last 72 hours, I have consumed fresh fruits, vegetables, homemade soup, baked salmon, lean beef, and gluten-free grains like brown rice and quinoa, but the eczema patches on my left hand have gotten WORSE, much worse.

Here’s a quick recap of my last few meals:

Lunch // homemade vegetable soup (onion, potato, sweet potato, corn, cabbage, and tomato juice)
Dinner // chopped salad (romaine lettuce, Manchego cheese, cucumbers, black olives, broccoli, green onion, cherry tomatoes, and poppy seed dressing)
Snacks // banana and clementine oranges

Breakfast // scrambled eggs with shredded Manchego cheese, a banana, and sliced strawberries
Lunch // baked salmon (garlic, Sriracha, and sweet-n-sour sauce) with vegetable and wild rice-quinoa mixture (onion, red bell pepper, corn, wild rice, and quinoa)
Dinner // baked salmon, vegetable-rice mixture, and chopped salad

Breakfast // Banana and sliced strawberries
Lunch // Ginger-Broccoli-Beef Stir-fry (ginger, gluten-free soy sauce, rice vinegar, corn starch, green onion) with brown rice
Dinner // baked salmon, vegetable-rice mixture, and chopped salad

While I like the gluten-free recipes I’ve made using fresh, wholesome ingredients, and I have yet to feel hungry or crave bread or pasta, my eczema has gotten much worse in the last three days. This is not good. Even worse than the painful, itchy, embarrassing, bright red rash on my hand is the realization that I must go deeper into the elimination diet than I wanted. I have to go where I did not want to go. I must eliminate more food and food groups. Not just any foods, but foods that I really enjoy and have gotten accustomed to eating on a regular basis. This is outside of my comfort zone, but I’ve got to do something in order to find relief. Plus, I feel as if this elimination test is proactive, preliminary work before going to an allergy doctor for extensive and pricey testing.


Perhaps I’ve been feeding myself “poison” all along. Similar to when I ate ice cream, pudding, and cheesy pasta dishes that were soft and creamy when my mouth and digestive tract were full of painful ulcers and lacerations only to be diagnosed with a severe dairy (cow’s milk) allergy. Foods that were soft on the palette, easy to swallow, were actually the culprit. Go figure. Is history repeating itself?

WHEAT // Until three days ago, I ate a considerably amount of simple carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and processed foods containing wheat and gluten. Until I find relief with the eczema, I will continue avoiding these ingredients. But that doesn’t mean I won’t crave a piece of toast or granola or pasta.

EGGS // Scrambled eggs are out … and I was just beginning to like them again after a 10-year hiatus.

DAIRY // In regards to cow’s milk, this is a non-issue. But it looks like Manchego cheese (made from sheep’s milk) is out.

SOY // My optimistic, positive attitude just took a nosedive. When I was diagnosed with a severe cow’s milk allergy in 2003, I transitioned to using many soy-based products including butter, sour cream and cream cheese made from tofu, edamame (whole soybeans in the pod), soy yogurt, and soy milk. This is rocking my boat and meddling in my business. I really, really hope my eczema is not caused by soy.

RED MEAT // Are you kidding me? I live in Texas, the beef capital of the world. I’ve never met a ribeye steak I didn’t love. Unless, of course, it was overcooked. But eliminating red meat, really? This is a two-edge sword because Husband and I do not buy the over-priced, over-processed, hormone-laden beef found at the local grocery store. Instead, Husband’s father and brother raise steers and we have the meat butchered and packaged for our families.

CITRUS FRUITS // I’ve always enjoyed fruits, including citrus. Fortunately, there are lots of options of non-citrus fruits in the produce section: watermelon, apples, cantaloupe, pineapple, pear, kiwi, mango, peaches, tomatoes and dark berries, including cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries.

SHELL FISH // My sushi days are over. Besides the soy paper used to wrap rolls, most sushi rolls contain some type of fish, seafood, or shell fish like crab or shrimp. Another sad revelation: imitation crab (most often used to sushi rolls) contains gluten. FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC.

SUGAR // This might not be as obvious as one might think. While I stopped drinking sweet tea the day I found out I was pregnant (May 20, 2013), and have had no caffeine either, there are still several ways sugar sneaks in to my regular diet: high fructose corn syrup (sauces, salad dressings, ketchup, etc.), dextrose (Jawbreakers candies, chewing gum, breath mints, etc.), packaged snacks and cereals, baked goods (cakes, pies, and cookies), and maple syrup. If I crave something sweet, I need to eat a piece of fruit. But not citrus fruits. UGH.

I guess this is where the rubber meets the road. This is where I’m supposed to put my big girl panties on and move forward … without wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, red meat, citrus fruit, and sugar. If you need me, I’ll be in the corner pouting. On a brighter note, I’ve been to the gym every day this week. If I can’t eat foods that I love, then I might as well go to the gym, right?

Hopefully a complete elimination diet will have positive results and I’ll have better news to report next week on my progress … stay tuned!


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