Three 31


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10 { Kamden’s Monthly Update }

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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!

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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!

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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.


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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!

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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

jesus

tinsel

blessher

poop

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


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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. :)


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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:

MONDAY
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

TUESDAY
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

WEDNESDAY
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.

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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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Finish This #40

IT’S WEEK 40 OF FINISH THIS … I can’t believe this pea-size idea I had a year ago is thriving and transforming into a legitimate blog series. Thank YOU for making it that way! 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!

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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 can change the world by
raising a son who is kind, compassionate, generous, respectful, trustworthy, educated, and a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. I can change the world by teaching my son to pray and believing that Jesus is more than a storybook character, He is alive and our closest friend. Every day I pray for Kamden, our family and friends, and one woman in particular: Kamden’s wife. Yes, I’m praying for my future daughter-in-law! I don’t know who she is (yet!), maybe she hasn’t been born, but I keep her in my daily prayers. Possibly even more world-changing, I hope her mother, Kamden’s future mother-in-law, is praying the same prayers for him too.

2.  The best career advice I ever received was
No matter how entry-level or low on the totem pole you are, arrive to work early and dress professionally. More importantly, be nice to people. When I had a professional career in corporate marketing and business development, I was always the first to arrive and the last to leave. Mostly because my workload was so demanding, but I honestly believe I have a damn good work ethic. It was the same when I worked in education as a middle school teacher too. When I have a job to do, I do it right. I also believe relationships and open, honest dialogue are important in the workplace. I’m not talking about inappropriate relationships, obviously, or gossip hour in front of the water cooler either. When the people I work with know I’m listening and value their input, all of our jobs are easier. I don’t put a lot of effort into keeping my friends close and my enemies closer. Honestly, I’d prefer not to have enemies at all. If there are negative people in my life, I purposefully try to stay away from them! There will always be folks you work with who are difficult, but stay calm and remember what your mama taught you, “Be nice and kill’em with kindness!” While some bridges are worth burning, specifically my ties with a former company and one ‘toxic’ person in particular, I stay connected with one of my former bosses and several co-workers. In fact, Lisa, a co-host of this link up, is one of those jewels! We used to work for the same company, though in different offices, and she is one reason I kept my sanity in the high-stress environment. Now, instead of our conversations being about client databases, market research, and RFP deadlines, we talk about our real passions in life: family, friends, food, blogging, puppies, and travel. You want to know what’s even more unique about us? Lisa and I have never met in person. How crazy is that?! One of these days, though, we will.

3. I first fell in love
I feel love, on a daily basis, from Husband and my family and close friends, but I didn’t know love until Kamden was born.

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

Prompt for WEEK 41– October 15
I feel like a bad-ass when
One thing that always cheers me up
The quote I live by


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Process of Elimination (a food experiment)

I meant to share this post last week but here’s the deal: it wasn’t close to being finished and I wasn’t prepared to begin the challenge on October 1 as originally thought. Beginning an elimination diet of this magnitude takes a lot of preparation and, well, I’ve been a little busy as a wife, mother, gym member, Bible study participant, Family Feud watcher, and overall awesome person. I have priorities, you know, and blogging isn’t always one of them. What I am about to share is the compilation of lessons learned, medical and non-medical advice, theories, and, most important, the willingness to try something new. Bear with me as I embark on a journey, and forgive me if I say something mean because I’m hungry and detoxing my body from wheat, gluten, and other JUNK living in my gut. I love bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal, granola, cookies, cake, pie, flour tortillas, and soy sauce, but I’m afraid these items are making me sick. Here’s why:

THE BACKGROUND

If you’ve been following my blog, or ever eaten a meal with me, you know that I was diagnosed with a severe dairy (cow’s milk) allergy in 2003. I eliminated all forms of dairy from my diet, including, but not limited to: milk, cheese, butter, cream cheese, sour cream, ice cream, pudding, Ranch dressing, cheesecake, yogurt, milkshakes, and a host of other culinary delights. Fortunately, there are alternative products and ingredients, particularly soy, that make my life a little easier and I’m able to enjoy similar tastes without the threat of an allergic reaction. But life (and my body) likes to keep me on my toes. For many years, I’ve lived with symptoms and health conditions that I haphazardly ignored, didn’t want to address, or attributed to having mono as a child and, as a result, a weaker immune system. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to the recurring symptoms until recently.

THE SYMPTOMS

It’s no secret I have weight issues. In fact, I’ve rarely met a food I didn’t like. I know I have a problem with portion control and eating after I feel full, but I have seen no significant difference in my weight since Kamden was born last December, despite a dramatic increase in physical activity and exercise on an almost daily basis. Granted, I made positive life changes during my pregnancy and lost 35 pounds by eliminating fried foods, sugar and caffeine, and exercising regularly, but something else has to be ‘wrong’ with me. I’m exercising harder and longer now than I did while pregnant! On any given day of the week, when I step on a scale, the number fluctuates three to eight pounds – talk about a roller coaster of emotions! Some of the weight gain/loss can be attributed to water retention and breast milk (I drink 150-200 ounces of water and produce 50-60 ounces of milk every day) but I have to wonder if it’s linked to the food I eat.

Right after Husband and I got married and I began wearing my wedding band, I developed a red, itchy, irritated rash around my left ring finger. It wasn’t too severe, but definitely noticeable and, at times, uncomfortable. If I didn’t wear the ring for several days, the redness and irritation would go away. I coughed it up to be a sensitivity to nickel, a metal commonly used in white gold jewelry. No big deal, I told myself, I’ll save wearing my ring for special occasions.

I began having pretty severe joint pain, especially in my hips, a year ago … but I was also pregnant. Doesn’t every pregnant woman experience hip pain at some point? I’m nine months post-partum and the pain still exists, also in my knees, feet, shoulders, and back. But I’m also exercising and lifting weights on a regular basis too. Did I lift too much? Did I forget to stretch before or after my workout?

Acne. Ugh. This one is a no-brainer too. I’ve dealt with oily skin and pimples since I was a teenager. No face wash, cream, or spot treatment seems to help but when I’m feeding my body crappy food, I look and feel crappy too. Coincidence? I think not.

The day Kamden was born, another patch of red, itchy, irritated bumps and rash appeared on my left wrist. I showed my doctor and nurses, even the anesthesiologist who performed my epidural came to look at it, and they agreed it was probably a reaction to the strong soap I used to wash my hands. Husband, being the kind and caring man he is, went to Walgreens and bought me a bottle of antibacterial hand soap for sensitive skin. The rash and bumps didn’t go away. They come and go much like the rash around my finger and are irritated with hot, soapy water and lotions or creams. At my six week post-partum appointment with my OB, she looked at my left hand and wrist and suggested I see a dermatologist. In May, I was officially diagnosed with eczema and prescribed a steroid ointment. She also diagnosed me with adult acne, but I didn’t need to spend $20 on a co-pay for her to tell me I have zits on my face. Months later, the ointment doesn’t work on my eczema and I still have pimples.

Other symptoms I’ve experienced but ignored for one reason or another: mouth sores, breast tenderness, acid reflux, bloating, constipation, hemorrhoids, muscle cramps, dandruff, nosebleeds, sinus pressure, sleeplessness / insomnia, and fatigue. Again, doesn’t every body experience some of these at least once in their life? I’m a new mom, I’m not supposed to sleep! I attach myself to a machine multiple times a day to extract ‘liquid gold’ from my boobs, aren’t they supposed to be tender? I live in Texas where the weather is warm, the humidity is high, and pollen is in the air constantly. It’s normal to be congestion or feel sinus pressure, right? I exercise on a regular basis with trainers who don’t know the meaning of easy, of course my muscles are going to ache and I’m going to feel tired. I need to suck it up and put on my big girl panties. Or do I?

THE “WHAT WAS I THINKING?” MISHAP

Two weeks ago, while my mom and aunt were visiting, I invited friends over for dinner. My aunt decided to make her favorite dessert (pee-can pie) and she explicitly told me the pre-made crust had milk in it. No big deal, because I am not a fan of pecans. After dinner and while I was gathering dessert plates and slicing the pie, for some unexplainable reason I cut a small piece of pecan pie for myself and ate it. What was I thinking?! Honestly, I didn’t think about the pie or, even more startling, the crust made with milk until the next day. Surprisingly, I had no symptoms or allergic reaction like I normally would ingesting a milk product. Can a person diagnosed with an allergy as an adult outgrow it later? Is that even possible? It’s been 10 years since I was diagnosed with a severe cow’s milk allergy, maybe I should see an allergy doctor and have blood drawn for another test. At this point, it wouldn’t hurt to try!

THE DAY I TESTED MY THEORY

Last Wednesday, the first of October, I decided to unofficially begin an elimination diet. At the time, my left wrist and ring ringer were relatively clear. This was the day I was going to avoid the eight most common food allergens – dairy (check!), soy (whoa, wait a minute!), wheat (but I love my carbs!), eggs, shellfish (but I love shrimp, crab, and lobster too!), citrus fruit, corn (not good for a country girl who loves corn-on-the-cob), and peanuts – but I wasn’t ready to make a commitment. On that particular day, while running errands, I also craved sushi. After enjoying a California roll and shrimp tempura, I didn’t see any difference on my wrist or finger so I felt confident my reaction was not related to soy or shellfish. I continued to avoid wheat and gluten most of the next day (Thursday), until dinner that night. I promised Husband I would try a recipe for homemade pizza crust and it was actually much easier to make than I anticipated. When making homemade pizzas, I always prepare two – one for Husband (meat and cheese only) and one for me with Manchego (sheep’s milk) cheese and toppings like mushrooms, olives, spinach, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes. I considered skipping out on the tasty creation, but decided to test my wheat/gluten theory. I ate two slices of my homemade pizza and within an hour my left hand was bright red. My finger and wrist were very itchy and irritated. Say it isn’t so, but I think I’m really on to something here!

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THE ELIMINATION EXPERIMENT // Week One: no wheat + gluten

In theory, gluten-free eating is pretty simple: eat whole, unprocessed foods and avoid wheat, barley, rye and all their derivatives. Avoiding a particular food or food group is hard enough, but when there are “derivatives” involved you reach a whole new level of complicated. This is nothing new to me because there are MANY hidden, tricky, unsuspecting places for dairy (cow’s milk) products to hide too, including, but not limited to, whey , ghee, lactose, and casein. Until I can wrap my mind around all of the food that I contains gluten, I’m going to limit myself to whole foods for one week. In other words, if Mother Nature creates it, I’ll eat it. Think about it another way: the human body was never meant to ingest processed and refined foods. I’m taking small steps for two reasons: 1) elimination diets are hard and 2) wheat and gluten are everywhere these days (i.e. modified food starch, imitation crab, soy sauce, dry spice mixes, etc.) But a gluten-free diet has many health benefits and I’m hopeful that one (or more) of my recurring symptoms will disappear, particularly the eczema.

WHAT CAN I EAT?

I really love carbs, so no bread and pasta is going to be difficult. I am also going to TRY to limit soy-based products, including soy milk, soy butter, and soy sauce. But instead of focusing on what I CANNOT eat, here’s a quick run down of what I CAN:

Eggs
Lean Meats – beef, chicken, and pork (preferably grass-fed and without sugar, MSG, sulfites, and carrageenans)
Fish – tilapia, salmon, tuna
Fruits
Vegetables
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

I CAN DO THIS!

Seven days. I can do this! If you see me in public, or follow me on social media, ask how I’m doing. Besides positive reinforcement and support, I need the extra accountability. If you see me in the pasta aisle in the grocery store, report me to the Food Police. If I’m ill-tempered, please show me (and my detoxing body) grace and forgiveness. If you see Husband and Kamden, be nice to them too. Remember, they have to live with me during this elimination phase!

Do you have advice for me? Have you tried an elimination diet? Do you suffer with similar symptoms? Any other suggestions for me? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

P.S. I’ll be sure to post an update next week too!


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Resolution Update // September 2014

Confession: I’m not doing a very good job of accomplishing my resolutions (goals) in 2014. A part of me is sad about this fact, but another part of me is excited because it means new opportunities and adventures are presenting themselves. Nonetheless, I’m still making memories. And breast milk. Basically, I am Kamden’s personal chauffeur and living, breathing, walking grocery store. It’s all about perspective, right?!

BLOG RELATED
co-host a weekly link-up called “Finish This” This link-up is thriving!
attend the Texas Women Bloggers’ fashion show and silent auction Farm-to-Table event
write a guest post for someone Sharing my human milk donor story on Lexy’s blog.
write a monthly update for Kamden

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September

be featured on The Wise Baby
develop relations with more bloggers Thanks to Twitter, I’m surviving pump sessions in the wee hours of the night with these new mamas — Samantha, Catalyn, Cait, and Carly.
reach 500 followers on Twitter
*BLOG-RELATED NEWS*
I applied, and was accepted, to the writing team of MOMquery, a website dedicated to providing encouragement, answering questions, introducing products and gears, and being a reliable, authentic, and REAL resource for moms written by moms! My first published article, “I Exclusively Breast Pump” can be found HERE. I’m really excited about this new endeavor, an exciting opportunity to work with some amazing women/mom/bloggers, and share my experiences along this journey called motherhood. Stay tuned for more! :)

PHOTOGRAPHY RELATED
have professional newborn photos taken of Kamden photos taken Dec 30, 2013 by Jennifer Wynne Photography
learn Lightroom On-going process, but coming along nicely. LR is so much easier, less overwhelming than Photoshop. I’m glad I made the investment and switched!
acquire this lens
take lessons with a professional
have professional family portraits taken for our 2014 Christmas card

FOOD & DRINK
bake homemade bread in my Le Creuset loaf pan I baked Honey Butter Beer Bread and gave it to the Zachry family since I’m refraining from all alcohol while lactating. They approved of my creation. 
eat at a celebrity chef’s restaurant
prepare Kamden’s baby food purees SUCCESS! Kamden had his first bite of pureed food on May 18. I peeled, sliced, and cooked two apples then pureed with breast milk until smooth. I divided the mixture into an ice cube tray, put the tray in the freezer, and several hours later put the “cubes” into a Ziploc bag. I did the same thing with a ripe banana and avocado. Kamden loves both and I’m excited to continue exploring new foods with him. His next food introduction will be sweet potatoes. Mmmm!!!!
JUNE UPDATE: In the freezer, there are now several Ziploc bags of pureed cubes … applesauce, avocado + banana, sweet potatoes, peach + banana, kale + spinach + avocado, and blueberry + peach
JULY UPDATE: Kamden is mostly interested in the bottle of breast milk. He’s just not that in to the pureed stuff. One or two licks of the spoon and he’s done. No biggie, really, we’ll keep trying.
AUGUST UPDATE: Nothing new to report, really. Kamden’s only truly interested in breast milk and pushes away spoons with pureed solids. I made a batch of homemade teething cookie bars that he likes to hold in his chubby fingers and lick, especially since I keep them in the freezer and they’re cold.

create a monthly meal plan
host a dinner party Success! Hosted the Zachry family while my mom and aunt were visiting from Kentucky. I roasted a pork loin and, if I don’t say so myself, it was damn awesome.
prepare a dish with curry
eat Neopolitan pizza at Cavalli Pizzeria in Irving
try a new food
JANUARY: I’ve spent more than $100 on specialty lactation products said to increase breast milk supply. I have organic rolled oats and flax seeds, essential oils, and granola mix. If milk isn’t squirting out of my nipples every time I sneeze, I’ll be disappointed.
FEBRUARY:
I found the perfect recipe for LACTATION COOKIES.

PEOPLE & PLACES TO VISIT
Thompson family reunion in Louisville, KY SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kamden rode on an airplane for the first time; met his maternal great-grandmother and more aunts, uncles, cousins, and family than he knows what to do with; and, overall, travelled like a champion.
Perot Science Museum in Dallas, TX

THINGS TO DO
meet with a lawyer and create our wills
open a savings account for Kamden
have my gallbladder removed and tubes tied I had surgery March 4 and the pain was worse than childbirth, especially in my shoulder from the CO2 gas used to “expand” my abdomen during the procedure. Four weeks post-op, my shoulder is tender but doctors assure me the discomfort will subside. I’m so thankful my mom was here with Husband to take care of Kamden while I recovered. I had to “pump and dump” for 24 hours but, thanks to the milk stash in the freezer, Kamden had plenty to eat.
have my DSLR professionally cleaned DONE! Probably the best 75-bucks I’ve spent in a VERY long time. I highly recommend Fort Worth Camera for their camera cleaning services. I won’t wait five years to have my camera cleaned again!
renew my gym membership DONE! Renewed my gym membership on March 31.
hire a personal trainer
wear a size 12
get fitted for a bra
plan a weekend getaway with Husband
plan an overnight girls trip
go hog hunting
compete in a shooting tournament
compete in a golf tournament Played in the Glen Lake Golf Classic on Friday, April 11 with three men from church, we shot a respectable 9-under par. We had  a lot of fun and I played much better than anticipated!
go to the eye doctor
see a dermatologist DONE! On April 10, I received a full body skin analysis and the ‘mole’ that I was most concerned about is not even a mole but rather scar tissue and poses no cancer risk. The mysterious rash that appeared the day Kamden was born is eczema and is now gone thanks to prescription steroid ointment. I was diagnosed with adult acne — not a big shock — and using a new cleanser (morning and night) and applying a prescription solution before moisturizing at night. I’ve seen improvements and will share details in a separate blog post later.
watch Jerusalem, the IMAX film
sell my car
buy a used SUV
attend a bridal shower
attend a wedding
attend a baby shower
attend a non-Christian religious event or ceremony
go to a concert
go to a musical or play
go to a college sporting event
go to a professional sporting event
take pictures for someone I have re-energized my blog and photography page — please like Three 31 Photography & Blog on Facebook — and begun taking pictures again. I took pictures for a group of high school students going to PROM, as well as family portraits of the Zachry’s. I have a few more appointments this summer scheduled too.
donate to a worthy cause
MARCH 27 — I donated my wedding dress to the NICU Helping Hands Foundation for the Angel Gowns project. You can read about my experience HERE.
APRIL 30 — I donated 367 ounces of breast milk to the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas.
MAY 22 — Donated 367 ounces of breast milk to MMBNT and toured the processing facility.
JULY 1 — Donated 619 ounces.
JULY 28 — Took my Mom to the milk bank to see the processing facility and meet the ladies, plus I donated 431 ounces.
SEPTEMBER 23 — Delivered 625 ounces of breast milk to MMBNT.
clean out my closet DONE! Took six LARGE garbage bags full of clothes, shoes, and unwanted household items to Goodwill on April 12.
write a letter

WISH TO HAVE
MacBook Pro
Lightroom 5 purchased April 24
square-toe cowboy boots
Warby Parker glasses

BOOKS I WANT TO READ
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child This was an impulse purchase at 3:00am when I was trying to soothe a fussy newborn who would NOT go to sleep.
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Inferno
All Is Grace Rev. L suggested this right before she left for another trip to Jerusalem, which I’m pea green with envy about since she’ll be floating in the Dead Sea and eating shawarma without me. It’s a book I would have never found on my own but one I enjoyed. The author, Brennan Manning, a recovering alcoholic and former Franciscan priest, shares tales of his spiritual journey and how he has experienced God’s grace in a variety of ways in the strangest of places. ‘Tis a good read.
The Signature of All Things
Happier At Home

MONTHLY GOALS
January:
mail Kamden’s birth announcements FAIL but let me explain: we received Kamden’s birth day photos and I ordered the announcement cards last week. Hopefully, they ship soon so I can address envelopes and mail them before Valentine’s Day. Which brings me to next month’s goals……

February: Create a photo project for Valentine’s Day and send to the grandparents. DONE. Photo albums were mailed to the grandparents and two great-grandmothers on February 13. Address and mail Kamden’s birth announcements. DONE. Birth announcements were mailed to 65 friends and family on February 13. Schedule surgery to remove gallbladder and dismantle baby-making machinery. DONE. Surgery is scheduled March 4. Have 100 ounces of breast milk in the freezer by the end of the month. DONE. There are 52 bags, each containing six ounces, and, if my math is correct, that’s 312 ounces of breast milk collected in just ONE month —  I’m a machine!

March: Visit Lara in Salado. SUCCESS — Mom, Kamden, and I visited Salado United Methodist Church on March 9. Lara even used Kamden as an impromptu sermon illustration about letting go of control and having child-like faith. Her husband, Travis, prepared a delicious lunch for all of us and we spent most of the afternoon in their home visiting and talking and laughing and having a wonderful time. I miss my Rev. L, so any time I can get with her is a blessing. Send more photos of Kamden to the grandparents and great-grandmothers. DONE! Write more blog posts. Along with Kamden’s monthly updates and the weekly #FinishThis link up I co-host, I posted an anniversary tribute to Husband, a list of motherhood essentials for the first three months with baby, and some random thoughts from my Lenten journey. Instead of giving something up for 40 days, I decided to take something on and read the New Testament with #MargaretFeinberg. Celebrate our seventh anniversary with dinner and a movie. PARTIALLY SUCCESSFUL! We treated ourselves to a barbeque dinner Sunday night, the day before our anniversary, but there was no movie involved. There are movies coming out soon that I want to see though, I’ll ask Husband for a rain check!

April: Read a book to Kamden every day. FAIL. We play and interact all the time, but I don’t always read a book to him. Nominating myself for bad parent award. Purchase an outfit for Easter. I wore this dress from Old Navy. Visit a dermatologist for the rash (eczema?) on my left wrist. DONE. Visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. FAIL. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, every day (#1800MinuteChallenge). Partial success – I exercised 950 minutes and went to the gym almost every week day.

May: Visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. FAIL, but it’s on my to-do list in June. Complete the #1800minutechallenge. Major Success — not only did I complete the 1,800 minute challenge, but I exceeded it by exercising 2,160 minutes in 60 days. Not bad, huh!? Attend Mayfest at Trinity Park in Fort Worth. Fail. Host a girls’ dinner party. Semi-success because I had dinner with a friend and her daughter, plus two of her friends, but I’ve rescheduled the girls’ night I had planned originally. Donate more breast milk. Success — I’m a pumping machine! Celebrate my first Mother’s Day. Success — Husband and Kamden made my first Mother’s Day truly special with a sweet/funny card and took me out for dinner. Complete an online tutorial for Lightroom. Success — thank goodness for Pinterest, YouTube, and photographers’ blogs with video and text tutorials! Take pictures and edit them using Lightroom. Success.

June: Visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. FAIL, but it’s on my to-do list in July. Introduce Kamden to the swimming pool. SUCCESS … the water was a little chilly (we went at 10:30am) but he got used to it and enjoyed it. He was more aggravated by the hat I put on him more than the water. With more visits, and warmer temperatures, he’ll enjoy it! Lose 10 pounds. Losing weight is hard work. Like most people, I pay quite a bit attention to the number on the scale and, as a result, I get disappointed when the number increases after a week of relentless exercise, fitness classes, weight circuit training, and better food choices. According to my weekly measurements in the ‘Biggest Transformation’ competition at the gym, I am losing inches. Bad news: the scale number has not changed. Good news: I’m building muscle and that weighs more than fat. Attend an “ALPHA” group exercise class at the fitness center. SUCCESS … and I lived to tell about it. Seriously, the most intense workout but totally worth the sweat. Eat clean for an entire month — no white bread, white flour, sugar, or processed foods. Semi-Success. I eliminated all white bread except for one ham sandwich when we were out of wheat bread and I also had a hamburger bun. I avoid refined sugar like the plague but I’m addicted to Nature Valley ‘Oats N Honey’ granola bars and I’m pretty sure those are considered processed since they do not grow naturally in the world. Bummer. Celebrate Husband’s first Father’s Day. SUCCESS … Husband asked for pictures of Kamden for his desk at work and I happily obliged. I also created a collage using the letters D-A-D, similar to the collage I created for myself on Mother’s Day and spelled M-O-M. Husband loved them all. How could he not when our child is so adorable and delicious?! Create layout design for a gallery wall in the living room. FAIL, but there are LOTS of new pins on my Pinterest board … does that count?! I need to go through the photos and frames I already have and start from there. A gallery wall is overwhelming but I love the look, it’s going to happen soon.

July: Visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. FAIL … I really, really need new contacts and glasses. This MUST get done in the near future. Prepare a special dinner for Husband’s birthday. I don’t remember exactly what I fixed for Husband’s birthday dinner, but I’m sure it was special and, of course, homemade. Lose five pounds. FAIL … but I’m losing inches. Does that count for anything besides making me extremely frustrated?! Limit myself to one granola bar a day. FAIL … yeah right, like I have self-control to eat just one! Get a copy of Kamden’s birth certificate and call Southwest Airlines to get details on flying with an infant as a lap-child. DONE! Flying Southwest with a child has to be the BEST airline choice and Kamden’s first trip away from home was a huge success. He’s such a great baby and excellent traveler. And I’m not saying that because he’s mine, he really is an amazing child! Have lunch/dinner with a friend. DONE AND DONE … Lunch with the Zachry ladies and dinner with Heather, I’d say I’m pretty blessed with friends who like to eat. Start an editorial calendar for my blog. SEMI-SUCCESS … I have the calendar. I have some ideas for scheduled blog posts. I do not have said posts written or edited. I really need to work on writing more often, especially with the incredible opportunity I’ve been given with a major website. Eeek, excited to share more, later!

August: Visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. For real, this month. Nope, failed again. I’m such a loser. Exercise five consecutive days, at least an hour each day. Major failure. Publish two (additional) blog posts each week. Fail. Clear out Kamden’s wardrobe of clothes that no longer fit or he doesn’t wear anymore and post them online to sell. Fail.

September: Visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. Fail. This is bordering on ridiculous. I’ve got one pair of contacts left, so it’s just a matter of time before I’m walking around blind as a bat or looking like a nerd in my glasses. Complete and exceed the #1500in30 exercise challenge (1500 minutes in 30 days) and lose 10lbs. Fail on both accounts — time at the gym and the weight loss. Start outlining a book study I’m creating. Fail, didn’t even open the book I’m supposed to be outlining. Begin The Story Bible study at church. SUCCESS! Began this study on Wednesday, September 24 and really enjoyed the first session. Let’s hope my enthusiasm and enjoyment lasts another 31 weeks. Participate in the American Heart Association Heart Walk. SUCCESS! Despite the weather, it was a lot of fun to walk around the Fort Worth Stockyards for a great cause. Eat (relatively) clean for 30 days, eliminating processed foods, sugars, and carbohydrates. MAJOR FAIL. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Read The Bible Storybook to Kamden every day, for at least 30 minutes. Semi-success. We’ve been reading every day but not The Storybook because Kamden likes to grab pages and I’m afraid he’ll tear pages out. Schedule at least one additional mini-session for Three 31 Photography. Semi-Success. Another friend got engaged and we’re trying to figure out a good date for pictures. But it’s going to happen! Write three articles for MOMquery. Two complete, one on the way. Run the vacuum once a week for a month. Success. I’ve also been mopping the floors on a regular basis. And “maintaining” better. But I’m still not ready for an impromptu “white glove” test. Purchase a new mattress set for our master bedroom. Fail.

October: Visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam. Go to the gym at least four days every week. Complete two “photography projects” at church. Complete a 30-day elimination diet.

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