Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Gluten Free Journey...Thus Far...

A gluten free diet has been in the back of my brain for a while.  It has just been that nagging reoccurring thought that it was something I should look into.  For a few years now.  At first I figured that it was just because it was trendy and I was more aware of it now than before. 

Turns out...I should have listened to my brain a long time ago.  Huh. 

My poor baby Babs.  When she was a tiny baby she was lactose intolerant, but she grew out of that by the time she was 18 months old.  She frequently seemed to have stomachaches but I was never sure if they were real or "stomachaches".  On top of that, she has had eczema that would come and go and come and go.  Each return getting worse and worse. 

Last summer I finally brought it up with her pediatrician and asked if the eczema could be from a minor milk allergy.  And that's when I first heard the big "C" word.....Celiac.  We decided to have both girls tested and thankfully they both do not have Celiac. 

But when I pressed my doctor for other reasons that could be causing the eczema he just kind of blew me off (in a nice way...their doctor is a nice guy) saying that sometimes nothing causes eczema.  It just is there.  Um....what?!  How can nothing be causing her entire back to be covered in a red rash?!  That just didn't make any sense to me at all. 

And then I had shoulder surgery.  That was neither the time nor place for gluten free.

A couple months later I decided to put Babs on a gluten free diet to see if that would effect her skin condition.  It wasn't too bad although it was a bit weird to have her eating differently than the rest of us for three weeks.  But it was worth it.  Her rashes started clearing up!  And the stomachaches were gone!  And there were no "stomachaches" for alternative purposes.  But being the ever inquisitive mother that I am (read: complete idiot) I decided to put her back on gluten to see if it really was the diet change or if it was just a coincidence.  Oh dear, it was the saddest thing ever.  Not only did her rashes come back with a vengeance, but they were everywhere!  My poor baby even had rashes on her eyelids!  I felt awful.  And of course a few weeks later I learned that when you remove an allergen and then reintroduce it, the effects are much worse.  So, that got me the worst mother of the year award.  It literally took months for those eyelid rashes to disappear completely.  It's a good thing she is patient with her mother. 

At that time we decided that Babs was definitely gluten intolerant and that it would just be simpler if we all went on a gluten free diet instead of trying to do separate meals, snacks, etc.  And boy was I surprised at the results.  My Lolly girl has had some digestive issues for YEARS that no matter what we did they just would not get better.  We took her to specialists and tried whatever the doctor's told us to....all to no avail.  But since going gluten free, her issues have improved significantly.  And I've felt so much better as well.  My body is much happier on a gluten free diet for sure. I'm still trying to convince CG that he does better on the gluten free diet but he's not completely sold. 

As time went on and we adjusted (surprisingly well) to our new lifestyle, I did more research and found that some studies have suggested a connection between the huge increase in gluten intolerance and Celiac disease and genetically modified wheat.  So after about six weeks I decided to give non-genetically modified wheat a try.  Luckily, there were no side rashes, stomachaches or other digestive issues.  Hallelujah!  This really has made our life so much simpler! 

It's hard for kids to go without bread and many of the other gluten things.  A lack of (affordable) toast was a daily struggle.  Now that we can use the non-GMO wheat, we can have bread and pizza and pretty much anything else we want as long as we use that flour.  That has made our home life pretty "normal" and I think it makes some of the other challenges (at school, parties, etc.) a little easier. 

Officially, we are gluten free as far as school, church, family dinners because there are just not that many wheat based products available that are non-genetically modified and we don't want to have to deal with side effects when we can avoid them.  For this very reason, I would be one happy Mama if they started requiring companies to label products that are made with genetically modified ingredients because then I would have a much easier time finding things for my little family.  But until that happens, we'll just be making it work. 

I saw this on Facebook and thought it was a great checklist if you have been wondering if you might be gluten intolerant.  It's okay to admit it....this is a safe place for the gluten free.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Please Say You're Not Talking About Your Armpits

Oh but I am!  I'm actually going to blog about my armpits today.  But I won't show you pictures.  If you've seen one armpit, you've pretty much seen them all.  Except for the armpits that you really don't want to see.  Some things just can't be un-seen.

A few weeks ago my cute friend Kathy contacted me to see if I would be interested in being a brand ambassador for Elase Medical Spa.  At first I just saw the word "spa" and thought to myself, I could use a massage.  Massages are nice, but that's not what Elase does.  Elase Medical Spa offers a variety of skin care treatments including laser hair removal, chemical peels, photo facials, Botox injections, Dermapen treatments, lip injections, skin care and many other options.

When I first met with the lovely ladies of Elase I was a little overwhelmed and nervous about all the possibilities.  I had a lot of questions and they patiently answered each one.  Every single person at Elase that I have interacted with have been so kind and comforting and real.

This is a brave new world for me and I decided to give laser hair removal a try.  I was reassured that it was a fairly painless process with little to no side effects.  But I am the person who gets their eyebrows waxed a few days before going on local television and ends up with a Klingon forehead. Remember?  At least we can laugh about it now.  But my experience of being the delicate flower that I am, I was a bit skeptical about how I would react to the laser hair removal.

Yesterday was the big day.  I was all ready to go (freshly shaven, per request) and put the Dr. Numb numbing cream on my armpits like I had been told.  But since I am still me, I didn't put enough on to actually make anything numb.  Like, at all.  And the butterflies in my tummy were not happy with me.  They were already aflutter with the idea of lasers being shot at me and then I didn't use enough numbing cream.  But can we expect any different from me.  It's just how I roll. 

But I was determined to overcome my uneasiness and do this!  I was excited!  I was nervous!  I was keeping my focus on being excited!  Mary Kate was the aesthetician who worked with me and she was nice and completely patient with my quirky self.  She even made sure we had matching eye wear!
Not sure what's going on with this's a little squished. 

And humored me when I asked her to pose with a laser.
The actual treatment took less than 30 seconds on each arm.  And I didn't really need the numbing cream after all.  It was cold and over so quickly that I didn't have time to notice if it hurt.  Clearly it didn't.  Even though I had been told that it was a super quick procedure and pretty painless, I was still shocked at how quickly it went.  I was still a bit skeptical and watched carefully to see if I would have any side effects from my treatment.  And.....nothing.  Not a single thing.

Although I've always thought that I would like laser hair removal, I have always assumed that it was just too expensive.  Elase Medical Spas recommends 8-12 treatments for more permanent results and offers a program that you can purchase that allows you to get all the treatments you need (for a specified area) over an 18 month time period.  If this is something that you've been considering, now is a good time because underarm laser hair removal is 50% off for the rest of May.  If you're interested in a more Brazilian style of hair removal, it is 30% off throughout May.  And monthly payments are an option you can take advantage of to make it that much easier on your budget.

And now you know everything you never knew you wanted to know about my armpits.  Just you wait till I tell you all about getting a Brazilian!  Oh, I kid.....maybe.....

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Cabbage Stew

I originally found this recipe in a gluten free slow cooker cook book, but of course I've made some changes to suit our family.  This has been the most requested meal for the last couple of months, only recently to be replaced by my new macaroni and cheese recipe (soon to come).

The first time I made it I just happened to forget about how my husband doesn't like cabbage soup and my girls didn't like the cabbage casserole I had made last year.  Until I was cooking the meat and chopping up the cabbage.  Needless to say, I was a tad bit nervous about how well received it would be.  I was pleasantly surprised (and ridiculously relieved) at how much everyone loved it.  It was even requested as one of the birthday dinners for Babs birthday.  It's that good.

Cabbage Stew
1 1/4 lbs ground beef (i may not have used that exact amount)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (I used a home canned quart of tomatoes)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
1.5 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp minced garlic (When I was in a hurry I used 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 head cabbage, chopped
2-3 medium carrots, sliced
3/4 cup brown rice
1 32-oz package of beef broth
Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a medium stock pot or large frying pan over medium heat, cook the beef and onion; cook until onion is soft and meat is browned throughout.  Drain off the fat.  Stir in the tomatoes, bouillon, sugar, Italian seasoning, garlic, and pepper.  Mix well and set aside.

2. Place the chopped cabbage and sliced carrots in the slow cooker crock.  Sprinkle the rice over the cabbage.  Spread the beef mixture over the rice, do not stir.  Pour the beef broth over all, do not stir.

3. Cover and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.  Stir the soup well before serving.  Garnish each portion with shredded Parmesan if desired.

Disclaimer: Honestly, my children already really like vegetables.  I've been very lucky in that aspect and because they are also willing to try new recipes.  This recipe is not guaranteed to turn vegetable haters into vegetable lovers.  But it is super yummy so it's worth a shot!

If you have a yummy recipe to share with me, leave a link!  I'm always looking for yummy new recipes to try!


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tip Tuesday-Cake Decorating At It's Finest

A few months ago I was lucky enough to go to a friend, Ashlee's cake decorating class at Orson Gygi.  She makes the most amazing cakes and I was super excited to go.  She has a blog, I'm Topsy Turvy, that is about all things creative from her cakes to crocheting to home DIY projects.  Her cakes are truly amazing and if you don't believe me, just follow her on Instagram. 

The class I attended covered some basics in cake decorating with butter cream frosting. 

One of the things that I loved most about this class is how open and encouraging Ashlee was.  There was no "right way" to do everything.  She encouraged creativity and it made it so much fun! And thanks to this class (and some very patient texting from Ashlee) I was able to make this cake for Lolly's birthday.
She's going to be teaching a class on fondant roses and ruffles for the next two Wednesday nights and I promise you that she is the best teacher if you're looking to learn more about cake decorating.  Really.

For more info go here:

Disclosure: I did get to attend one of her cake decorating classes, but I have not been compensated in any way.  I'm just really happy for Ashlee to be teaching classes and wanted to spread the word.  All opinions, pictures and cake anxiety attacks are my own.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Eight Months Later....

It's been eight months.  Eight months since my shoulder surgery.  It's funny how such a small thing can totally throw your life off track.  It was my tenth surgery.  Yep.  The big number 10.  You would think I would be better at it by now.

In the beginning it was like this.....
And I struggled through life with my dominate arm in a sling for six weeks.  Then came physical therapy.

I was supposed to be in physical therapy for 2-3 months.  But because I am special I was in remedial physical therapy for a little over 5 months.  The most painful part was paying for it.

And here I am, eight months later.  I can do most things, although I still find myself using my left arm more than my right.  Old habits die was 17 years between the time I dislocated it and the surgery so I really got used to doing things the south paw way.  I think it probably made it easier to be in a sling since I was so used to doing things with my left hand.  Writing was a struggle.

Speaking of writing....I only got half of my thank you notes written.  I've gone back and forth on which is be in the half that doesn't get a thank you note or get a thank you note six months late?  I've asked around but still haven't written the rest of those stupid notes.  Which leads me to feel like I need to bring the thank you note with some sort of treat.  But I'd have to make the treat first.  Dang it!  It's a vicious cycle!

Most days I feel like I'm drowning in a sea of to do lists and dirty dishes, but doesn't everyone?  I think I'm as back to normal I ever am.  I can pick up my Babs.  At least for now.  I can do everything I used to do and so much more.  I'm still hesitant to vacuum.  Obviously.  And it's been recommended that I not use a garden tiller.  Probably a good call.

I don't go in for physical therapy anymore.  I'm supposed to do it all at home now which is good and bad.  The good part is that home physical therapy is free.  The bad part is I keep forgetting.  Having an appointment looming before me and knowing I would be asked how I did on my exercises really kept me focused.  Now I just....forget.  Like all the other things I forget everyday.  Plus I miss the people I used to visit with when I would go in for physical therapy.  I know that sounds crazy, but they were fun.  I got to chat with grown ups!  I looked forward to seeing them (I know...pathetic) and I think they liked visiting with me.  It's nice to go somewhere and have people happy to see you.

But the best part is that now, eight months later, my girls hardly ever ask if my shoulder is  hurting or if I'm able to do what they need me to do.  They don't even think about it anymore.  I'm back to being mom who can take care of everything.  And that is what makes it all worth it.   

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Favorite-The Best Dog In The World

Dexter.  He is an awesome dog.  He's so awesome I've even forgiven him for that running away phase he went through a couple of years ago.  There are many reason why he's the best dog, but today I just have one.

A couple months ago, on a cold, cold night, both my girls decided they HAD to sleep in my bed.  My bed is comfy so I can't really blame them.  The girls love to invade our bed but they know that if they wake CG up he will kick them out and make them go back to bed in the cold and dark.  They also know that Mommy is a softie and can't kick them out. 

After the first child comes in, they snuggle up so close to me that we take up the space of one person.  We have a bit less than half the bed.  It's cozy.  And it's usually Lolly.  Then Babs discovers she no longer has a roommate and comes running into my room like someone is chasing her.  But she's not so scared that she has forgotten the rule.  Don't wake up Daddy.  She usually opts for sleeping on me for minimal impact on waking up the other half of the bed.  And I mean literally on top of me. 

On this particular night I was really tired and desperate for some sleep.  I decided that was more likely to happen on the couch.  The girls didn't really need me....they just needed my spot on the bed.  But I took my pillow. of them. 

Off to the couch I went with my pillow and a  blanket.  But it was cold.  Really cold.  I was shivering and wishing I had thought to call Dexter with me on my way out.  But I was too tired/cold to get up to go find him. 

So I whisper yelled for him.  We were literally on opposite ends of the house but I still whisper yelled for him.  The poor dog was sound asleep.  There was no way he would hear me. 

And about a minute later I heard the familiar jangling of his collar as he was going room to room looking for me.  He finally found me on the couch and I promptly called him up to keep me warm.  He may have taken up half the room on the couch, but I didn't care.  My puppy had come to take care of me. 
He really is the best dog in the whole world.  And he's ours. 

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