Just Heather

My kids crack me up on a regular basis. There is something about Brenia, especially, that just makes me laugh all day long. It’s probably a good thing since when she isn’t making me laugh she’s likely doing something to piss me off.

We are having trouble getting her diet figured out. We saw massive behavioral improvements when we went gluten free. This fall, we pinpointed the red dye issue. Even Brenia started to see the correlation. Now when she takes candy she isn’t supposed to have, she leaves the red ones behind!

I actually think she has some sort of problem with processed sugar. She’s not diabetic or anything—it’s more behavioral than medical. She honestly gets out of control when she has had any sugar. I don’t mean hyper. I mean it’s like a switch is flipped on her attitude. She gets mean, angry and lashes out over nothing.

When we skip the sugar, she is a sweetheart. If I could afford all organics, we’d definitely go with that for the entire household. It’s not sugar that is the problem because she can handle cane juice or organic sugars. It is the processing involved in so much packaged crap.

In between sugary, meltdown treats I give you this:

  • “I’m the smartest kid I ever thought!”
  • “Stacia, stop being such a smartiac!”
  • “Mommy, I have bunches of boogers in my nose. Can I please have a tissue?”
  • “Hey, mom! Can I have that half-eaten cookie off the platter? That one’s mine.”

I’m still swimming upstream, but in the interest of full disclosure I’ll work on getting this up-to-date.

  • Being sick sucks. The entire family had a stomach bug last week (which we so lovingly passed onto my hometown via my nephew). This week it’s a cold so bad I honestly thought it might lead to pneumonia. It seems to be clearing a bit, but I have been through about 2 boxes of tissues in as many days.
  • The armadillo my Girl Scout troop adored on our field trip died in a fire this weekend at the zoo. That makes me unbelievably sad.
  • Venatieri can go back to the Patriots now. That is all.
  • Except to say I just don’t see this great clutch kicker everyone talks about. Vanderjagt may be an arrogant smart ass, but I’d take him any day.
  • I’m working on arrangements to do a live segment on Black Friday. They want me much earlier than usual though, and I was planning to be at Target right about then.
  • The pacifier is officially gone. My goal was by age 2, which happened 10 days ago. Two days before her birthday, she went to bed without and hasn’t had it since. She asked about it nightly for awhile, but seems to be over it now. If only potty training were that easy.
  • I’m planning a Charlie & Lola Pink Milk Party for Brenia this year. It was supposed to be a Pirate/Princess Tea, but the stupid Birthday Express catalog came in the mail and she fell in love with the C&L crap.
  • The gluten free diet has been deemed an official success by the girls’ pediatrician. This time last year we were still in the testing stage and Lorelai weighed 14.4, falling in the 1 percentile. At her 2-year checkup she weighed nearly 26 pounds and falls right at the 50th percentile!
  • If anyone has ideas on how to teach organization and responsibility to a 4th grader, I’m all ears. After a month on the Spell Bowl team, winning Power Speller each week, we found out Stacia doesn’t actually get to compete this week. She is an alternate because she did not bother to turn in 3 50-point assignments. Oops.
  • Also, if you have ideas on organization for a busy mom, send them my way! We worked hard all weekend and I’m starting to get control of some things around here. However, I have yet to tackle the 50-gallon tub that holds my paperwork.

Courtesy of her gluten intolerance, Lorelai had never eaten a pizza before. A couple weeks ago, I bought tostada shells on sale with the idea of using it as a pizza crust. There was even a recipe on the back for Mexican pizza.

I heated vegetarian refried beans and spread them over the shell. I topped it with a Mexican cheese blend and toasted it in the oven until the cheese was melted. The result?

“Yay! Pidda!”

When we first went gluten free, I had heard Amazon was the cheapest place to buy certain foods. They sell in bulk, have free shipping when you spend over $25 and often have online coupons for $10 off a grocery order.

At first, I didn’t buy anything in bulk as we were trying many different products. I thought once we found some favorites we could start buying online. The idea of having our treats arrive on our doorstep instead of trucking to the specialty store was quite appealing. Last month, I finally took advantage of their grocery special. For the bargain price of $46 I ordered 12 bags of pretzels and 12 bags of animal pasta (aka Spaghetti-Os). It truly was a deal and a half.

I received an email a couple weeks later from Amazon that the pretzels were back-ordered. I had to purchase a different brand at the specialty store while we waited. The other day our pretzels arrived on the front porch. The girls were thrilled. They have already been through 4 bags! At this rate, I’ll have to order again without the benefit of a coupon code. I’m keeping my fingers crossed a good one comes along again soon.

If I don’t keep their favorites in stock, they end of sneaking something else—which then results in headaches, stomach aches, behavioral issues and teary promises that they’ll never do it again. Of course, memory of pain only seems to last so long. That’s why women keep having more kids. I, of course, have managed to develop a great memory for that sort of thing. Which is why we are all done with the baby thing—just as soon as I can convince hubby that I’m serious this time.

Why does it seem that doctors are more interested in labeling symptoms than finding a proper diagnosis? I am finding this a lot in relation to celiac disease. So many people come to the gluten free lifestyle after years of being diagnosed as a variety of things that are really just symptoms of a disease that has a complete turnabout with a gluten free diet. Of course, the doctors and pharmacies don’t make any money if I simply eat right, do they?

Celiac Disease is listed as one of the top disease doctors miss because they are too busy labeling our symptoms. Constant tummy issues? Irritable Bowel Syndrome (syndrome, not a disease—there has to be a cause somewhere). Extreme fatigue—we’ll call that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and not bother to find out why. Anemia—wouldn’t the iron deficiency be caused by something?

We are still working out Lorelai’s iron deficiency. She used to get her iron from formula (on occasion) and fortified breads & cereals. Now she is gluten free and can’t seem to handle meat either. No iron for her. The only things she can stomach that are slightly higher in iron are sweet potatoes and raisins—both of which she loves. They seem to be helping with her energy levels, but the diapers are not so pretty. I think we’ll have to start a baby vitamin.

At least we have an answer for Lorelai. So many people still don’t have answers for their issues, including many in my own family. Considering the genetic link for celiac disease I’m sure I know their answer, but they don’t seem to want it. They’d rather take a variety of medications or deal with stomach pains and other issues than live a healthy, happy life without bread.

I’ve been MIA in the blogging world lately. I may update now and then, but I certainly haven’t stayed on top of it nor have I spent much time with my blogroll. I have, on occasion, checked in with those I feel a more personal connection (even if I am not commenting). I didn’t realize how absent I had been until I dusted off the old blogroll and realized that some are more missing than I. Several blogs are no longer in existence. Some have moved. Some haven’t updated for many months. I updated it a bit last night and rearranged it to be alphabetized. It was previously set to recently updated, but blogroll doesn’t seem to get the memo when people update so that was a little off. I’m hoping with a little more order to it I can stay with it a little more.

It was nice to catch up with some old “friends” this week. People are very busy these days. Pesky has expanded her domestic skills to include lingerie making. Phil and Chris are embarking on a gluten free diet right along with me. Deb is as crazy as ever. Katie loves Girl Scout camping way more than I do. Rachael is living in DC but will be happy to return to small town life, I suspect. Mich is just as entrenched in the toddler years as we are. Ang is just too busy to update her damn blog.

Speaking of updates, here’s the skinny on what I’ve not been writing:

  • My little sister is pregnant and getting married (in that order).
  • I get to spend a kid-free week helping (read: playing with my nephew) since Daddy is military and can’t come home until May.
  • I laugh hysterically every time I think of hubby playing single dad for a week with 3 kids.
  • The gluten free diet goes extremely well and I’m learning to eat lunch, which was admittedly a struggle for me even before I eliminated half my diet.
  • The big two are on spring break at Camp Grandma’s.
  • Lorelai has chosen her free week to become an official toddler. She is into everything and I am exhausted!
  • Cabinet locks rock.
  • Our pediatric dentist clearly didn’t realize how hard it would actually be to remove the pacifier. I’m sure he was exaggerating the necessity.
  • I am 30. That’s all I’ll say about that.
  • I will never, ever chair Girl Scout cookie sales again so long as I live.
  • It’s too cold for soccer to start next week.
  • Webkinz games are addictive. You should all get one for your kids so you can play Dicekinz with me at night while they are sleeping.

You have to appreciate the logic that allows a 4-year-old celiac to think it is perfectly acceptable to eat half a package 2 boxes of gluten-filled Girl Scout cookies when no one is looking, but panic hysterically when I try to pack a box of regular (unopened) pasta in the same grocery bag as gluten free food.

After my youngest daughter’s diagnosis last year, I did a lot of research on celiac disease, naturally. I started noticing symptoms that we had taken to our pediatrician(s) numerous times over the course of 9 years, but no one had ever connected them.

It all seems rather disconnected, after all. I would never have guessed that joint pain (diagnosis: growing pains), skin disorders (diagnosis: eczema), behavioral issues (diagnosis: undiscovered after repeated visits with child psychologists, school counselors and doctors) and chronic nasal conditions (diagnosis: allergies, sinusitis, ear infections) were in any way related until I saw them all on one symptom list for the first time.

We made the decision in December to have the girls tested, but they balked at the idea of someone “taking out their blood.” Knowing that testing is unreliable in children anyway, we agreed to try a dietary challenge. The idea was that we would remove gluten from their diet, reintroducing it at 3 separate times over the course of 3 months. By day 5 of our first gluten free week, we were having the most peaceful days in recent memory. The first challenge was an utter failure—with the girls in pain less than an hour after their breakfast toast, in the bathroom all day and hyperactive off the charts by the next afternoon. As that last part could be chalked up to Christmas-mania, we were only looking to the gastrointestinal issues for results.

The end of the second gluten challenge a few weeks later had our oldest daughter begging, “Please don’t make me do the 3rd challenge.” The girls have now been completely gluten free for over 2 months. The few accidents we’ve encountered along the way have only served to prove how right the decision was. They now react to gluten with immediate, obvious, physical signs (especially Brenia)—flushed cheeks, hyperactivity, anger issues and complete exhaustion.

I decided the genes had to come from somewhere and decided to have myself tested. The problem is you are supposed to be eating the equivalent of 4 pieces of bread a day for 2-3 months for accurate readings and I have been pretty “gluten-lite” since Lorelai’s diagnosis. It only made sense to cook one family meal every night so my only source of gluten was lunch here and there. Of course, we all know I’m not patient enough for that so I had the blood test anyway. It came back midway in the normal range, which my doctor said given my recent diet was probably inconclusive. In lieu of additional testing, she suggested I go completely gluten free for 3 months.

I’m starting month two and have shown the same significant improvement as all three girls. I would never have referred to any of my “issues” as symptoms, but now that they are gone it has been life-changing. I have more energy than I can remember having in my life. I am more focused than ever—the house first floor (I’m getting there!) has been cleaner and more organized than ever before. The headaches I have had nearly daily since I was a child are few and far between. I lost 4 pounds in the first 4 days—presumably all water weight as I lost immediate inches. I never realized how bloated I was until it went away and came back again in a rush after a gluten mistake.

While I can’t say I’m truly glad to have a lifelong autoimmune disorder, I am so thrilled to have discovered it. I feel great, my house/life are (fairly) in order for the first time and I am enjoy my children more than ever before. Of course, the absence of their attitude and anger-management issues make that so much easier. All I know is, positive test or not, it’s the gluten-free life for me (and my kids)!