Sunday, February 21, 2010

Phlegm Fest 2010

We had a good run going for a while there but the runny noses returned with a vengeance this weekend.  You know the oozy, droozy, constant flow that leaves that little divot between upper lip and nose (philtrum - if anyone's wondering) chaffed and raw.  We've got it here times three.  Sure there are worse fates than the common cold but the frequent gagging that accompanies Roo's runny nose is not helping our cause at all.  He's lost a few ounces and we can't seem to keep him properly hydrated because he coughs and chokes while drinking or immediately afterward. 

So I'm wondering, does anyone else have a phlegm gagger?  Is this a common kid thing or are we just especially fortunate in the vomit department?  If it's not one thing it's another it seems...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lucy's at Starbucks

Since my daily trek for coffee is absolutely required to avoid fits of foot-stomping, hair-pulling, and whining - all mine of course, my children are intimately familiar with Starbucks.  They frequently flop a shopping bag over one arm and scamper toward the front door asking me for my coffee order in our version of play shopping.  Looly whips up grande non-fat lattes and triple caramel machiattos on the pink plastic kitchen stove.  Bean and Roo know no greater object with which to whither away fifteen blissful minutes in the stroller than a green plastic splash guard.  Yeah, we're regulars. 

As the kids have grown, they're no longer satisfied with Mom's coffee run being just for Mom.  They've come on strong with ever-increasing demands of their own. 

Looly: "I want a vanilla milk."
me: "You just had milk."
Looly: "Can I get a scone?"
me: "Do you know what a scone is?"
Looly: "No."
me: "Why do you want one if you don't even know what it is?"
Looly: "I'm dying to find out!"

How can I resist such reasoning? And honestly, who am I to argue with my Starbucks Black Card in pocket and steaming cup in hand?  So imagine my delight that Starbucks is now offering a selection of milk-, egg-, nut-, and gluten-free cookies!  They're called Lucy's and they're not half bad.  The cookies are a bit crisp, so Roo just sucks on his more than actually eating it.  The real beauty is that now I can satisfy the girls with "Starbucks snacks" and not worry about who left theirs in the stroller, or who dropped crumbs that might migrate to Roo's mouth somehow.  He can scavenge for bits and pieces all he likes and it's perfectly safe.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Week in Review

Happy Valentine's Day!

We boasted a relatively successful week.  Tacos, pork chops, and pork/tofu fried rice all received glowing reviews from the articulate members of the family.  The little ones took bites so I take that as two additional thumbs up.  The lemon-dill halibut was popular with the adults, but Looly refused to touch hers.  Looly ate a few bites by force and Roo protested the best way he knows how, by vomiting his back onto the table.   

I'm proud to report that in the continuing effort to expand our allergy-free horizons, I whipped up a hefty pot of vegan potato leek soup last night.  It was pretty good, though I did add some grated Parmesan and a few splashes of Tabasco sauce for the grown-ups.  Fortunately Looly can't read this because I told her it was cheese soup since she doesn't like potatoes.  She stirred in some broccoli and claimed it was just like Panera.  Uh, thanks.  I think. 

Tonight I made falafel and tabouleh which went over better than I anticipated with the kiddos.  Looly actually liked the tabouleh and ate some of her falafel.  Bean, my carb girl, loved her pita bread and Roo choked down most of one whole falafel and a few diced tomatoes.  The big hit, however, was the chocolate fondue for Valentine's Day dessert! 

Still on tap for this week...barbecue chicken, pasta with meatballs, turkey burgers, and one of my favorite (easy!) standbys, rotisserie chicken with ginger-salt dip, edamame, and brown rice.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Good News Bad News

The good news is Roo hit the 20 pound mark on the scale Monday night! We've been anticipating this milestone for oh, I don't know, 14 months now, so this was huge. In all fairness, we weighed him at the end of the day, after drinking several ounces of milk, and the scale teetered between 19 pounds 15.5 ounces for several seconds before finally settling at a beautiful, perfectly round 20.00. Still. So proud of the little guy.

Disappointingly, the afterglow was short-lived.  He's throwing up again and needless to say, the 20 pounds are no more.  It started a little over the weekend, a couple of spit up episodes early this week, then a full-fledged vomit last night, again after breakfast today, etc.  So it goes. 

To complicate matters, I can't think of a single new or contaminated food he's eaten lately, but with our infrequent floor sweeping, who knows for sure. He has a runny nose, which tends to make him gag when he eats and drinks or then again, maybe it's the other way around. Perhaps he ate something that's giving him the runny nose. Now the best we can do is wait to see if his eczema flares to verify my hypothesis of an allergen exposure. Good times.

Last but not least, the night waking is intensifying.  Last night he was up often -drinking milk, crying, contorting, and eventually vomiting.  The two of us finally rendezvoused in the guest room for a few hours of unrest.  I can't figure out if it's the recent transition to a toddler bed, a stuffy nose, an irritated esophagus, stomachache, or a combination of everything that's waking him up and making him sick.  Regardless, we are both surly today.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu Planning

Each week I plan our dinner menus. I've been doing this for years, since long before we had children. I have a much loved green binder full of magazine tear-outs and photo copies of hit recipes from the last ten years. My green binder is not getting much play these days. Who knew how central a role both cheese and nuts played in so many of my old favorites?

In my abandoned stash I have a great slow cooker recipe for Thai peanut pork stew. I make a mean feta and spinach tarte. And I'm dying to make this gorgeous, rich flourless chocolate cake for Valentine's Day but will save it for Mufasa's birthday instead. When it rolls around the first week in March I will pour seven ounces of molten dark chocolate over eight freshly cracked eggs, a splash of amaretto, and whip it into a frenzy without the tiniest bit of guilt that Roo can't have even a taste. We'll savor it once he's in bed and throw away the sponge when the dishes are done. Don't worry - the kiddos will get their turn with dairy and egg-free cupcakes a couple of weeks later for the twins' birthday.

These days the menu planning is about necessity rather than experimentation. Instead of my old green binder, I've been relying on my own ingenuity and a couple of decent cookbooks that address Roo's allergies. Unfortunately the cookbooks leave a little to be desired in terms of creativity. What's to Eat? and it's sequel, What Else Is to Eat? both by Linda Marienhoff Coss, provide quick, generally family friendly recipes that are completely milk, egg, and nut free. These have been helpful and were a great starting point when we first received Roo's diagnosis and I was facing the grocery store with much trepidation. The recipes are largely made up of what my Indian husband affectionately refers to as "white people food" - meatloaf, roasts, sauteed chicken breasts, homemade barbecue sauce, tuna salad, you get the idea.

Now that I'm starting to get more comfortable reading labels, substituting, etc. I'm getting a little bored and while they've been kind enough not to shout and pump their fists in protest, I imagine that everyone else in the family is too.

So, I'm hereby making a commitment to experiment more. I vow not to fear the dreary box of egg replacer that is lurking in the recesses of my pantry. I'm opening my heart and my oven to lamb in all its various forms. Rice cream sundaes? Why not? Hominy? Here I come. And really, who doesn't appreciate the sheer versatility of polenta?

Admittedly, this week's menu is rather bland, but will provide a glimpse of how I've stagnated at the moment. I hope to expand our family's taste repertoire over the next several months, while continuing to increase Roo's caloric intake without poisoning him. Yikes!

Here's the week in a nutshell:

Saturday: Chicken tacos were a huge hit. The kids loved all the colors (tomatoes, avocado, black olives, lettuce, chips, salsa, etc.) and everyone ate well, including Roo. Major success!

Sunday: I took a pass on cooking due to a Superbowl party and lots of snacks. The little ones ate leftover taco meat with corn and bread and butter when we got home. Pathetic, perhaps, but it is what it is.

Still to come...

Monday: Pork chops, brocolli, and hashbrown potatos
Tuesday: Leftover pork and tofu fried rice using Trader Joe's prepackaged vegetable fried rice (love it and it's vegan!!)
Wednesday: Lemon-dill halibut, brown rice, edamame
Thursday: Chicken breasts, corn and black beans, couscous
Friday: Date night! Kids will eat leftovers or chicken nuggets and fries, or some other equally deplorable (and easy) option.

Here's hoping for healthy appetites.

Friday, February 5, 2010

6 Week Challenge

Roo had a weight check this morning at his pediatrician's office. While his doctor might have been slightly less than enthused at his gaining 5 ounces in the past 2 months, I was ecstatic. The little guys tipped the scales at a whopping 19 pounds, 15 dangerously close to 20 pounds I let out a whoop and raised my hand to high-five the nurse right before she furrowed her brow to let me know this was not what we were hoping to see.

Fortunately I wasn't the only one who embarrassed myself. Bean wailed hysterically throughout the entire appointment despite the fact that she didn't even need to get undressed.

Roo was a great sport but as soon as we were out of there he proceeded to fill his diaper with what surely constituted more than a few ounces. I didn't care. It was in him at one point and my boy might hit 20 pounds before he turns two. Rock on, Roo. Rock on.

His next appointment is with the GI specialist on March 12. The official plan is to continue to keep him off all the dairy, eggs, nuts, and beef, and to work on his food aversion as we've been doing for the past couple of weeks. We're all anxious to see this magical catch-up growth everyone keeps talking about. We have six weeks to bulk him up and really wow his EoE team at Children's Memorial. I'm game. I hope he is too.

Despite all the good news we did have one minor setback this week. We have these fancy European Stokke highchairs because they were the only type we could fit three of at our kitchen table back when all of the kids needed them. Anyway, they feature a removable plastic rail for babies and we've been a bit lazy about removing them. Lately both the twins have taken to climbing into their chairs on their own using the plastic rail to hoist themselves up. It's a precarious maneuver for sure but the physical challenge seemed to make them happy to come to the table so we let it slide. Yesterday, Roo had an accident. While climbing into Bean's chair he got one foot stuck in the straps, lost his grip, and you can imagine the rest. Major tear-fest that ended with the regurgitated contents of his stomach on our kitchen floor. So, off come the rails. My babies are growing up, even if they're not exactly "growing".

And this weekend...big kids beds. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Poor Eaters

Book review time.

A few weeks ago I searched for books on the topic of food aversion and didn't find much. After reading a couple of enthusiastic reviews I doled out the 20 bucks for a stuffy looking paperback called Poor Eaters by Joel Macht, Ph.D. My expectations were checked by the amateurish geometric cover design and the fact that it was published almost a decade ago, when EoE cases were far and few between. If our pediatrician, pediatric GI specialist, nutritionist, and speech therapist couldn't give us the magic formula to get Roo to eat, how could this old book possibly help? Well Mr. Macht, please accept my sincerest apologies! Poor Eaters might just save us from the g-tube yet.

To be honest, I hesitate to write this entry for fear that the progress we've made in the past couple of weeks will suddenly shatter if I dare call it that - progress. Still, we've seen changes in Roo in the past 10 days that are more encouraging than anything we've accomplished in the past 10 months. He's eating. Not always enthusiastically, but he's eating. In fact, I think he's even bulked up (gasp!) a few ounces. 

I should mention that the book emphasizes eliminating any physiological issues related to eating before attempting any of Mr. Macht's techniques. For us this is an ongoing struggle. We think we've identified the allergens that affect Roo's esophagus and have eliminated them. He's off all nuts, dairy, eggs, and beef. A clean scope (upper endoscopy) at the end of November, indicated that our dietary changes were working but we are still careful when introducing any new food. And he still surprises us with a projectile vomit now and then so we just don't know for sure.

As is turns out, there's no magic formula. We were already doing many of the suggestions in the book - using contingencies, finding the success points on which to build, ending meals on a positive note, etc. Somehow tweaking our methods, having a clear, measurable path for progress, and being able to relax in knowing that other children have come through this has made all the difference. So thank you, Mr. Macht. Thank you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Beyond Picky

I have been reading a lot lately about picky eaters. I've heard many stories from other parents about their problem eater kids who refuse entire food groups, those who dissolve in a puddle of tears at the sight of vegetables (any vegetable!) and even one who subsisted for an entire year on grilled cheese sandwiches, blueberry yogurt and starfruit. "I swear," his mother assured me "it gets better." Well I certainly hope so. The thought of my son entering the junior high boys locker room at his current 19 pounds and 30 inches is a bit worrisome.

After all this reading, the stories, the sharing...I sympathize, I do. No one feels good that their child won't embrace veggies. Nobody wants to fight over the shred of cheese that inadvertently contaminated the plate of otherwise perfectly acceptable pasta and marinara sauce. Let me assure you, however, that Roo's eating issues go way beyond picky. One blueberry, sans skin, does not a breakfast make. Unfortunately until about a week ago, that was a typical meal for Roo. And that one blueberry? It took effort to get it in him.

I imagine there are others out there dealing with severe food/eating issues with children of all ages. The failure to thrive kids. Those who cringe at the sight of a spoon. The g-tubes. In fact I KNOW that you are indeed out there. But beyond our medical team of a nutritionist, GI doctor, and speech therapist who all specialize in eosinophilic esophagitis, I have had a heck of a time finding resources and support for dealing with more generalized food aversion in young children. So here I am.