Saturday, April 27, 2013

Allergy Mystery Solved

Having a Tea Party with the Bear Family
Over a month ago, we took Ava for her first chiropractic appointment to a doctor that specializes in pediatrics and very trusted here in our area. In the first few minutes of the exam she told us that Ava has swollen lymph nodes, which is likely due to food sensitivity or allergy. The chiropractor suggested that we remove cows milk from her diet since that's usually the culprit. One of the reasons we took her to the chiropractor was because of snoring and irregular breathing. I told her we hadn't introduced it to her until she was 2-years old because of Aaron's sensitivity to cows milk. Since cows milk tends to increase mucus we thought it would help that symptom as well.

I bought goat's milk cheese and yogurt and started to use coconut milk products too. Ava enjoys a fruit and yogurt smoothie, but I replaced cows milk yogurt with either goat's or coconut milk yogurt. That month, I packed many lunches since there's so much cheese and dairy on the menu at her school. On our family pizza night, I had to make her a personal size pizza with goat's milk and vegan cheese, but she didn't like it as much. I even made a dairy free lasagna with a mix of tofu and garlic as a replacement for ricotta cheese. It was fabulous by the way!

After about a month of not eating cows milk, including her beloved Brown Cow Vanilla Yogurt, Ava still had swollen lymph nodes. The good news is that the combination of chiropractic treatment and elimination of cows milk have significantly improved her snoring and her breathing was regular when she slept at night. Ava's pediatrician ordered a blood test for food and environmental allergies because of the allergies on both sides of our families.

We got the blood test results last week and it turns out she has a moderate allergy to eggs. We were thrilled to learn that she's not allergic to anything else, including cows milk. It is disappointing because Ava loves scrambled eggs and egg breakfast burritos. I went through the school menu with the cook at her school and our new game plan targets replacements for the breakfast items. I made egg-free pancakes, french toast, pancakes, and muffins for her to take to school and it worked out great! The pancakes were delicious! I pureed cooked millet and made them with almond milk and Egg Replacer. I stocked the leftovers in our freezer and plan to make ahead and restock as needed for Ava's school breakfasts.
School lunch: hummus, pita chips, orange slices and smoke almonds.

I packed lunch for her yesterday because they had breakfast for lunch. She loved her packed lunch. It's very interesting that even at her age the 3 and 4-year old children ask me why she's eating something different. But Ava proudly brings her food in a new Princess lunch box! I got some ideas from Lisa of the blog 100 Days of Real Food and got some school lunch supplies from her recommendation list.

We decided to not go overboard on Ava's dairy in take since we saw an improvement and it can't hurt to do less of dairy, given Aaron's sensitivity. She was so happy at Whole Foods last weekend when I told her we could buy her favorite yogurt! We also bought the local, low-temp pasteurization and grass fed cows milk from our Green Bean Delivery, which is supposed to be better for sensitivities.

I think we're in a good place. And I'm thankful that we discovered this early in life and the transition is going well! I'll post some recipes on the blog when we find some that become our favorites!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Berkey's are Food Composting and Gardening!

This is our 3rd Spring in our house. The first one was when Ava was born and Aaron was a maniac cleaning up the yard since for so many years no one lived on this property. Our house is newly built on a plot land from the 50's. Last year, we tried to garden, but the drought and inadequate deer protection gave us a piddly harvest. This year is our first attempt at a real garden.

Aaron built a large garden bed in the side of the backyard and we filled it with loads and loads of top soil! A couple weeks ago, I planted some seeds and they've sprouted in our sun room.

Aaron bought some deer fencing that will protect our garden up to 5 feet high. Those suckers even eat our pine trees so we're not taking any chances. We love living with the deer n our yard because they're beautiful, but they eat everything except daffodils. Apparently the fence is really irritating to their face if they try to eat the leaves near it.

We're growing carrots, cucumbers, beets, spinach, lettuce and a ton of culinary herbs. And in May we'll get starter plants for tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapenos. I'm planning to can salsa for the winter months.

I'm excited that we're finally food composting, which will help our garden next year. Since we're on a septic system, I never put food scraps down the drain anyway. Now we collect food scraps and coffee grounds in a biodegradable bag inside a large plastic container under the sink. When I'm cooking, I put it on the counter and use it for food waste like Rachel Ray's Garbage Bowl idea. Aaron bought a large compost bin for the backyard, which now sits by our brush pile far away from the house. We'll throw yard clippings, leaves, straw and the food waste in the bin. Aaron says the worms and bugs will find their way to compost. I found this do's and don'ts sheet on composting that was really informative!

I'll post updates as the garden flourishes!

Mama On the Road

Boston's North End. Thought of my Parmenter family!
The last two weeks have been a blur! I've had two 48-hour trips with two stops each! Last week, I went to Boston and Washington D.C. in 48-hours to charter two new ExactTarget user communities. I was traveling with my coworker, Rachel, and we grabbed a fun Italian dinner in Boston's North End less than a week before the mayhem unfolded with the Marathon.

Then this week, I headed back to D.C. to meet with a client who wants to start up a private user community for their company. I spent a brief night there before heading to Toronto for their user community meeting. I was in Toronto for only a day trip and then was home that evening. I barely made my flight home that night because of bad storms stunting travel in Detroit and Chicago. Thank goodness the sweet Delta agent booked me for the direct Air Canada flight back to Indy about an hour before it took off. But that meant I had to sprint the long haul between different terminals at the Toronto airport and then hurry through customs and security again. That was my closest call for sure. If I hadn't made that fight, I wouldn't have been home until the following day which was another day of tricky travel around storms. When I asked for help getting out of the first terminal, one agent asked me when my departure time was and then told me that I'd never make it so I should just give up. I'm so glad that I didn't. Ava was so happy that mama was home when she woke up!

Before I left this week, Ava told "mama, I'll be so sad when you're gone." I hugged her and reassured her that I'd be home the next night after she went to sleep. I replayed that moment in my mind when I ran to the flight to get home!
Beautiful view crossing the Columbia River

Dinner with Daddy while I was traveling
Ever since becoming a mother, traveling for work has taken a different flavor. It involved intense longing for my own bed and my family at home. But while I'm gone, I enjoy small moments of peace usually from the back seat of a cab or the seat of a train. It's strange in that moment not to on duty for making dinner, helping change into dress-up clothes, or get my preschooler a healthy snack. Traveling requires much more preparation than ever before! Before I leave, I make sure to do bath night, laundry, and prep lunches before I head to the airport. Aaron is a dedicated father, as you can imagine, who arranges his schedule to take Ava to school and back again in the evening. They have dinner dates too! While I was at a happy hour in D.C. with our clients after the charter meeting, I got a text from Aaron that he took her to the mall for dinner at their renovated food court. Those moments that connect me with home are bittersweet.

Cherry Blossoms in D.C.
I book my travel for the minimal time away from my family. It's too hard for me to be away for an extended time for all of us, even if it means waking at 3am for an early 6am departure. My company is empathetic, especially because we're balancing two travel schedules! Aaron and I both work for ExactTarget, our jobs requiring travel for customer meetings. But if I have to take Ava to a doctor appointment at 8:30am on a week day, it's not a big deal since I'm usually on the road. Time balances out.

I spend lots of time in route - the airport, taxis, trains, walking, and in all that time away my heart is always tied so closely to my family back home. Before we had Ava, I missed Aaron of course, but it wasn't a big deal to stay over night or extend time in a city. Now, I soak in as much as I can before rushing back to the airport.
Cozy spot to moderate #ETcafe Twitter chat

I find ways of making it work. Organization and planning ahead really help me stay sane. And on the nights and weekends we're home all together we take more time for laughs and family hugs. I'm about to enjoy some weeks at home before my next trip to Atlanta in May!

Sunny view from Toronto office