Friday, August 30, 2013

Gluten Free Friday - House Favorites

Last week, I talked about how to get started when eliminating gluten from your diet. Today, I am sharing some of our favorite prepackaged foods, which are all tried and tested by myself and my 3 year old.

Blue Diamond Nut Chips:  
Delicious! I think the name is totally weird but still, they are tasty. I love them dipped in hummus or spicy mustard. Landon likes them plain.

Envirokidz Crispy Rice Bar:
I would describe these to be similar to a rice krispie treat only way healthier! These come in several flavors but the Berry Blast and Chocolate are Landon's favs.

Ronzoni Gluten Free Pasta:
This is a new find, which was on the shelves of our regular ol' neighborhood market! Super exciting! It does contain corn so beware if you're sensitive to that. It is delicious and loved but our whole family!

These come in several varieties and are great plain or with salsa. Landon's favorite is the black bean type.

Envirokidz Chocolate Koala Crisp:
These are basically chocolate rice krispies. YUM! Landon likes them plain or covered in almond milk.

Annie's Homegrown Rice Pasta:
This is a somewhat new food for us. It does contain a bit of dairy but is very tasty! It's nice to have the option of mac and cheese every now and then.

There you have it! It's nice to have so many different options, which weren't around before. The prices are a bit higher for these products. In my opinion, you can't put a price on good health so it's all beyond worth it!

I hope this post has been helpful for all who are on a Gluten Free journey or those who are simply curious!

If you're gluten free and have a story to share, I would love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

First Day of Preschool

It happened today.

The first day of Preschool for my little Love Bug. 

He was crazy excited and even got dressed without me having to chase him all over the house. That's a big deal. Seriously.

As we approached his school, I could feel the anxiety building. I allowed myself to feel it, because sometimes you just need to. We got inside his classroom and he was ready to roll! He gave me a hug and a kiss, while I began to tear up. He grinned at me and asked, "why are you doing that?", referring to the tears in my eyes. We said our "I love you's" and he walked straight over to his table. I turned and ran walked out the door and cried in the van. I promptly drove to Starbucks for an iced coffee.

Can you believe how BIG he is? I can't.

While he was at school I got some serious house work done. It was good to keep my mind busy. Honestly, it was also really nice to be able to clean without a 3 year old under my feet.

The thing is, I'm truly joyous about this new beginning for him and for our family. When I picked him up, his teacher told me they learned a new song today. He sang it for me as he was laying down for his nap. He had an awesome first day. As we were driving out of the parking lot, he told me he didn't want to leave. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gluten Free Friday - How To Get Started

For many, the idea of going gluten free seems daunting. I understand. I was once there. Today's post is all about how to get started. 

1. Don't expect it to be something to be accomplished over night. Some people are able to completely cut out gluten with no problems at all, for others it needs to be a more gradual progression. Don't put too much pressure on yourself! Every little bit helps!

2. Choose fresh foods which are naturally gluten free. Below is a list ideas for you:

  • ALL fresh fruits and veggies!
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Rice 
  • Corn
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Beans
  • Almond Milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Cow's Milk (We don't do milk products but many people are able to with no problems)
  • Cheese
3. Read labels! I can not stress the importance of this enough. You will find there is gluten in things you never would have imagined! If you are unsure about a product listed in the ingredient list, don't purchase that item. It's always better to err on the side of caution. Check your local markets for a specific gluten free section.

4. Seek out alternatives for your favorite gluten filled foods. There is an alternative for almost anything these days. 

5. Keep an open mind as you try new things. You may not love everything but most gluten free products are actually very tasty. 

6. Try new recipes. Here's my Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin recipe. Start there. Once you get used to baking with alternative flours, you'll find that it's actually very simple. You can find many other gluten free recipes simply by doing an internet search.

7. Seek out help from others! There are so many people dealing with gluten sensitivity. Ask your friends. I would be willing to bet you know at least one person who is in the same situation.  

Here are some key points to remember:

  • When in doubt, go without. If you aren't 100% sure what a food contains, skip it.
  • Add only one new food at a time in order to gauge whether or not you are reactive to it.
  • Wheat free does NOT mean gluten free. Read those labels!

Preschool Orientation

We went to Landon's Preschool Orientation tonight.

Holy Hot Mess. 

In case you're wondering, I'm totally referring to myself in that last sentence. 

Some of you reading this probably think I'm a complete nut and others are nodding because you've experienced the same things with your own children.

I was emotional all day as I thought about taking him to his classroom for the first time. He has never been in any kind of setting like this. I mean, he goes to his class at our church but that's really it. Everyone there knows him, knows our situation and what we have been through with his health. I know everyone at our church. 

For the last 3 and a half years we have had complete control over what goes in to his body, what comes out, what he's taught, etc.

He needs preschool. I know he will love it and thrive in that setting. I have absolute certainty that we made the right decision to send him at this point in time. 

Why am I so emotional then?

Mostly, I think it's the realization that he's growing up right before our eyes. It's happening and there is not a damn thing we can do to slow it down. Also, I will no longer have control over everything when it comes to him. I have to relinquish that control and trust others to know the importance of our choices and to honor them in the same way we do.

I think about birthday parties. I will gladly bring a special treat for him on those days. I will make sure it's something special that he really loves. It makes me sad to think that he will always be different though. He will he that kid who is sitting at the table with a different treat. I don't want other kids to make fun of him.

I think about all of his dietary needs and pray he doesn't accidentally get fed something that may upset his system.

I think about me not being there to comfort him in those moments he's unsure or uncomfortable. I think about him not having Froggy in those moments too.

I know he will be okay. He will learn new coping skills. I get it. But dang, this life change is affecting me way more than I thought it would!

We arrived at his classroom, met his teacher, found his cubby...all the normal things. Scott and I needed to go to the parents meeting so I told Landon we would be back. He gave me a kiss, a smile and said, "O-tay Mommy. Have fun!" 

When we got to the parents meeting my friend Becca, who recommended this school to us, asked who Landon's teacher was. We told her and she said, "She's wonderful! She already knows about Landon because of all the prayers I asked for when he was sick. She has prayed for him many times." That was it. The dam broke and the tears flowed. Becca encouraged me to take the time to sit down with Landon's teacher and let her know my concerns. When the meeting ended, I did just that. She was incredibly understanding and kind. Just what I needed in that moment.

I am doing everything in my power to assure Landon has a "normal" life. This is just one step in many more to come.

SO, a week from today we have a trial run and he starts for real the week after Labor Day. I'm sure I'll be the crying Mom on both of those days too.    

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up!

Woweeee did we have a busy weekend in these parts! 

It started with a movie and night out to celebrate my birthday. The theme was black and red, so of course I threw on some fabulous shoes! We saw We're the Millers and OMG, it is hysterical! 

My darling husband bought me this gorgeous, cool and unique necklace. I'm in love. Both with him AND the necklace.

I was so fortunate and grateful to celebrate my birthday with some of my very favorite people in the entire world! Here are some of them. 

On my actual birthday (Saturday) I was able to relax a whole bunch. My sweet friend Crystal brought me a latte, champagne and cake pops. This salted caramel pop was delectable. 

Saturday evening my Dad arrived from Cinci and we went to dinner at a local eatery. The food was wonderful but the company was even better! Landon got to have sweet potato (first time in over a year!) and that kid threw down! I love getting to try these new, healthful foods with him!

Sunday morning we woke up super early to head out for the L4L Foundation Golf 4 Guts Tournament! Words cannot describe how gorgeous the day was. In the early morning hours, there was a bit of a chill in the air. The sky was beautiful and the grass was wet with dew. The sunshine, the people, the green trees, the fresh was all unbelievably breathtaking. 

Everyone had a great time!

We even had a massage therapist on site offering complimentary chair massage! Just what you need after a round of golf. 

At the end of Golf 4 Guts, I was addressing our participants and thanking them all for taking the time out of their lives to contribute. I felt my throat closing in and I was on the verge of really getting choked up. Luckily, I pulled it together! Every time we have a L4L event, I get a wee bit emotional. I often wonder if that will ever change. I honestly don't think it will. I don't want it to change. I want to always be heart connected to this cause. The reason I work so hard to raise awareness about IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) is because I understand it on a very personal level. I didn't experience the symptoms myself but I have watched my helpless little boy fight to stay whole. I've watched him undergo countless procedures, pokes, prods, blood transfusions, doctor appointments; all with a remarkable amount of bravery. HE is the reason I will always continue to help others. It is my destiny. I get it now. We have been in some pretty dark places along the way. It's been difficult at times, to say the least. But, you know what? We came out on the other side and we are blessed every day with light and brightness. There is always hope. The human body has an amazing capacity to heal. Landon is living, thriving, healthy proof! When in doubt, give thanks for the life you have and continue to believe better days are ahead. Thank your Creator. Ask for help. Accept help. Stay open to your options. Ask questions. Keep trying. The rewards are infinite. 

Whew, I'm tired! Okay, not really, but I was yesterday, which is why this post didn't happen on a Monday! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday Shennanigans!

My child is crazy strong willed and independent. For real. 

He wanted to put his cereal in his bowl all by himself. 

I let him. Because, it was a great idea. I mean, really, what could go wrong?!

Whatevs. I don't even care. He's happy. I'm happy. Sometimes, you just have to let kids be kids. Screw the rules. We have a broom and I'm certain Scott knows how to use it. 

Happy Weekend, Friends!

P.S. Today is my Birthday. I need cake. And Blue Bell ice cream. I'm counting on Scott for that too. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sushi: AKA "Shoe-sheee"

I had the privilege of sharing a food first with Landon today. You would think with all of his dietary restrictions, he may be leery of trying new things. Yeah. That's so not the case. He begs for something new and different. I love his openness and enthusiasm. 

I asked him a few days ago if he would like to try sushi with me. He responded with a loud, cheerful YES! I'm fairly certain he had no idea what sushi consisted of but he sure was interested in finding out. 

Today, we had the first of what I am sure will be many sushi dates. I have to say, times like these are treasured in an incredibly meaningful way. Being able to try foods that we wouldn't have dreamed of just 6 months ago is a dream come true. Most people don't give a second thought to giving their child a food they have never had before, except maybe wondering if they will like it. I weigh very heavily my decisions on introducing anything new. I am so thankful we are in a place to have these options. 

We kept it simple with Avocado Maki and California Maki. Landon loved every bite and asked for more when it was gone. So far, his tummy likes it too. It's naturally gluten free, which is also a huge plus!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Pops!

Today is my Dad's Birthday. Don't worry, Pops, I'm not going to say how many years young you are! 

My Dad is a unique and loving person, like no one else I've ever met. He has an awesome sense of humor, is kind, generous, accepting, encouraging, sensitive, sweet, hard working...I could go on and on! 

I'm so glad he's in my life. Even though he now lives what feels like a million miles away, (yes, I know, Cinci isn't THAT far!) we still have the very same connection. 

I love the way he loves my kid. I mean, look at that. You can feel the love pouring out from these photos. 

Daddy, thank you for always being there for me, for supporting me in all that I've ever done and continue to do. Thank you for not beating me when I came home drunk that one time in high school. Thank you for always letting me help you mow the lawn on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. I realize now how much longer it took with me out there, but you still let me help. When you went back over the yard to get the spots I missed, you told me you just wanted to make sure the mower was running right before putting it away. Thank you for that. Thank you for allowing me to be your sidekick on the weekends, no matter what you were doing. Thank you for playing catch with me, even when your knee went out! Thank you for teaching me how to run the grill and how to properly grill a steak. Thank you for loving me and accepting me for exactly the person I am and never trying to change me.

Happy Birthday, Pops! May your day be full of love, happiness and all the goodness you put out in this world. I hope you realize every single day just how special you are. You are loved by many.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Love 4 Landon Television Interview

Landon and I were given the opportunity for an interview with a local television station, KAKE, to talk about Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the Love 4 Landon Foundation, and our upcoming Golf 4 Guts Tournament. Wow!

First of all, I want to let y'all know I was super nervous! Going on television for a LIVE interview isn't something I ever imagined myself doing. This was my third one and I was just as nervous as the first time. The morning of the interview, I reminded myself that this isn't about me at all. It didn't matter how I looked or if my voice was shaky. What mattered was sharing our story and helping others. I said a prayer (or ten) asking for guidance and to help me get the word out about the incredibly important work we're doing with the L4L Foundation.

Every single person I've ever encountered at KAKE has been nothing short of fabulous. Seriously. They are kind, listen intently, always make me feel welcome and have a way of ensuring me that what I'm doing is not only valuable but also essential.

I cannot say enough how honored I am to be doing the work I'm doing. It's truly a blessing and every day I have the possibility to change the life of another person. Very freaking cool.

Landon was pretty enamored by the whole process. When Ben Pringle went up to do the weather, he turned a monitor around so Landon was able to see him in front of the green screen AND on television at the same time! Oh em gee. Landon thought that was super cool! See, I told you that KAKE news crew is awesome!

If you're interested you can take a look at our interview HERE. Landon was very silly the whole time, which I didn't know until I watched the clip for myself!

If you feel led to donate to our cause and help other families, you can do so on the Love 4 Landon website. We greatly appreciate any and all donations. I assure you, any funds received are used wisely, to help others in need.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mystery Date Night

The husband and I haven't had a vacation since before Landon was born. It's mostly okay, because we choose to spend time with the kid while he's small. However, we desperately needed some time to ourselves to reconnect. 

I decided to plan a night for us, keeping everything a mystery for Scott. I had him in suspense all week long and it was super fun! I told him he would need an overnight bag, with one nice outfit and one casual outfit. I didn't give him any more information than that! 

I dropped Landon off at Grandma's house and took a couple of hours to prepare for our evening. I got my nails and toes done (in red, which is Scott's fav!), picked up some delicious chocolates at Cero's, which is a delightful local shop, then checked in to our abode for the night. I picked Scott up and we were on our way. He was a super good sport and kept his eyes closed until we arrived at the Hotel at Old Town.    

We had a chilled bottle of champagne waiting for us upon our arrival! Chocolate and champagne is a pretty amazing way to start an evening! 

Our room was MUCH fancier than I expected! It was absolutely gorgeous, spacious and PERFECT! We had a view of the Old Town Square to top it all off. OH, and a HUGE tub with jets and lights! Totally awesome! 

I had it set up for two massage therapists to come in and give us a couple's massage. Can you tell we're just a tiny bit excited for our rub down?!?

I'm a lover of bubble baths. Before Landon was born I probably took one several times a week. These days, it probably only happens once a month or so. This ginormous tub was used several times in our short stay! 

After a bit of champagne we got all dressed up and ready for our night out! 

I reserved tickets to the Mosley Street Melodrama. Every time we go to a show there, we have an awesome time! This one did NOT disapoint! 

We even had our photo taken with one of the cast members immediately following the show! Such fun!

My good friend Glen was a part of our night. 

Which caused the next morning to look like this.

All in all, we had an amazing time! We reconnected and celebrated our love for one another. 

Ladies, if you've never surprised your man with a Mystery Date Night, consider doing so! Scott truly enjoyed it and I had an absolute blast planning out all the little details.