Thursday, September 30

The Great Pantry Purge

This week I started what will be now be known as "The Great Pantry Purge." Everything comes out, shelves get wiped down, and things only get put back on the shelf if they're confirmed gluten free. I've decided to keep some gluten things, like my wheat chex that I eat for breakfast every morning, but for the most part everything will be GF. A lot of my items will be given away, some will be trashed, and hopefully quite a bit will be put back. I have to email and call a lot of companies to find out if certain products are GF.

Here's a start. Bob's Red Mill potato and rice flours, all gluten free. And Xantham Gum, who knew it'd be so expensive?! We'll be baking our own bread now since GF bread in the store is about $5.00 a loaf. The Zojjirushi bread maker has been recommended to me as the best bread machine for GF bread (since it tends to be thicker than regular bread). It does cost a pretty penny though, however at $5.00 a loaf for bread, I think we'll pay it off pretty quickly!

I've found GF pretzels, chips, puffs, cereals, granola bars, oats, and quite a few more "snack" items at my grocery store so far. The tricky thing is regular stuff like mustard, and things that you'd think might be naturally GF but are somehow cross-contaminated in the production process.

Someone told me that a local bakery sells GF cupcakes, so I popped in one day when I was out alone to check. They sell GF products only on Wednesdays- and it happened to be Wednesday- so I picked up two chocolate buy-one-get-one-free cupcakes. YUMMY. The kids like them too!

It's nice to know we'll have options like that for a special treat every now and then, since we won't be able to pickup donuts anymore. Not that we did that often, but special treats are nice every now and then, as long as there's a sink nearby.

Tuesday, September 28


For some of you it might be too early to start thinking about Christmas shopping... But for us, we have two birthdays in addition to Christmas so I have to start thinking about presents earlier than most!

If you do ANY online shopping, be sure you're doing your shopping through Sign up and use my email address as the referring email and I'll get a $5 bonus! You can (and will!) earn cash back on your purchases, the amount depends on the store you purchase from. Use my email stephanie{maidenname} Fill in my maiden name in the { }, no dots or spaces.

Sunday, September 26

Weekend Project!

totally impish.

brothers sharing a play mat

he's getting very good at pushing up! he actually played like this for quite a bit of time, i didn't think he'd last too long!

"the boys"

beth helped me paint! she actually helped, and made only a little mess...

the two shelves, with the first coat of paint.

This was our last "free" weekend for a few weeks, so we took the opportunity to build one more cubby shelf and paint both of them. They're both going to need another coat of paint, and we have to paint and attach the back we're adding (beadboard that we got for free from Freecycle). They look great, I can't wait to put them in the house!

Friday, September 24

3 Months!

Jackson is three months old today!

This little boy isn't so little... He keeps growing! He's such a chunk and I'm loving every bit of it. Can you believe he's already trying to roll himself over? Last night he spent 20 minutes on the play mat trying to grab one of the toys hanging down, he wound up scooting himself closer to the toy with his attempted rolling and finally grabbed it and got it to his mouth. Oh yes, he's reaching and pulling now too, usually my shirt or my hair! To me, this sort of marks the end of infancy and the entrance into babyhood, which makes me kind of sad. Jack has been such a pleasant and easy baby, but he's never felt like a baby to me, probably because of his size! He's still sucking on his thumb and fingers quite a bit, and he is so incredibly slobbery and spits up quite a bit too. I never understood all those little cute bibs that came with baby outfits, I threw a bunch of them away before we moved because I thought they're pointless. Well, now I'm understanding that the point is so that when your baby spits up, you don't have to change his entire outfit! I change Jack usually three times a day because he spits up so much, and he always catches me off guard!

trying to roll, so close!

Thursday, September 23


We've been slacking off on school already, haha. Didn't the school year just start? Well, my plan was to see how it all goes, and a few weeks into it I've already learned a lot!

As much as I'd love to have a dedicated school room, at this point it's not working. It's upstairs, and we don't spend a lot of time upstairs. Having a formal school room already has Beth thinking that school = work, and I don't like that one bit. She's too little for that. So instead I don't always tell Beth we're going to "have school," I just do it. I tell her we have a new activity and then we get going!

I also don't like the trendy "lapbooks." It's a cute idea but I'm a tightwad and I don't like printing off so many pages when we only use them once or twice! So I've continued to scan those sites with all the cute printables, but I only print off one or two pages for our use.

I've used my new laminator. I love it! I downloaded a shape game, laminated it, and put velcro dots on the back. It seriously looks like a professional game, expect I did it!

I have so many things I want to buy, mostly arts and crafts items! Dot markers, cookie cutters for play doh, (gluten-free play doh...), washable markers, stickers, books... And something pretty to organize everything in!

And while I've attempted to make lesson plans, I usually wind up winging it. This week we've focused a lot on colors because of a library book we checked out called Mouse Paint. We've talked about colors, and that led us to rainbows, which led us to collecting colored items around the house, which led us to Noah's Ark, which led us to coloring rainbow pages. Tomorrow I hope to set them up outside and let them have at it with the finger paint!

i asked her to draw a rainbow. she wound up mixing colors (crayons don't mix very well!) and writing some letters instead!

we collected red items, blue items, and yellow items. then we found items with red and yellow, red and blue, and blue and yellow, and even a couple of items with all three colors. then we drew it out on paper, mixed the colors, and drew a rainbow!

Celiac Update

Beth and I visited a pediatric GI doctor on Tuesday, after thinking we wouldn't have an appointment until November 4! I called our pediatrician and asked him to call the ped GI and request we be seen sooner- I got a call the next day asking us to come in that afternoon! I really liked the ped GI! He was upbeat, positive, and really wanted to know how I was taking in everything. He explained the blood test to me; Beth's numbers (I forget the units of measurement) was greater than 100, which meant to him that there was a 90-95% chance that she actually has celiac disease. But he agreed that we should perform the endoscopic biopsy and we set a date for October 21st. In the mean time, we have to continue to feed Beth gluten-filled products so that her stomach/small intestine doesn't start healing, which would give us an inaccurate biopsy result.

So for now, and the next month, life is normal. I'm feeding her most of the same things but I'm starting to slowly introduce gluten-free products so that it's not a huge change at once!

I had Luke tested on Monday, and today I got a call that his blood panel was negative for celiac disease! For now, he's fine. He could possibly develop celiac, but we're not going to worry about for now!

And now, a cute picture, because I know that's what y'all are here for!

Tuesday, September 21

Out of town

Last week, Ryan took a trip to New York so I packed up the kids (and the dog!) and headed to my parent's house. We were there from Wednesday to Sunday afternoon and had a great time! Jack met his other great-grandparents and went to his first football game! It was homecoming weekend for my brother's high school, so we took the kids to the homecoming parade (I saw my old band director!) and then I took Jack to the game the next night (which they totally won). We also met up with old friends and made some new friends, and I went to see movie Eclipse with my sister- finally! Beth and Luke played with my brother's train tracks, which were a huge hit. I think I know what Luke is getting for his birthday!!!

Ryan went up to New York for business and then drove down to DC to see his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew before flying back on Sunday evening. I have pics for that too but still need to upload them!

Sunday, September 19

Diagnosis: Celiac Disease

Wouldn't you know it... I spent 45 minutes typing up a post before my computer ate it. :-(

Several months ago I took Beth in to the doctor for chronic tummy aches. One nasty stool sample later, the results came back normal and we confirmed Beth didn't have any parasites or other nasty bugs living in her tummy. This was in March, and at this time she'd already been experiencing the pain (that I'm aware of) for a couple of months. We had been very busy at that time, getting our old house ready to sell and getting ready to move into this house. It was easy to blame her tummy aches and "bathroom issues" on stress! Well, the tummy aches continued and over labor day weekend, Beth experienced some horrible pain. She was keeled over nearly the entire weekend with what I thought was very bad gas pains. That was enough, I called the pediatrician on Tuesday to make an appointment for Wednesday.

The pediatrician suggested her stomach produced too much acid and gave her a prescription for Prevacid. My hunch was that she had a lactose allergy so I requested they test her for that, and to do so required them to draw a vial of blood. Beth was a champ, she hardly flinched at all! She laid there for several minutes, while I tried to distract her by talking to her and the nurse about all the wildlife in our yard, but she didn't make a peep. The ped told me they would test the blood for 14 different problems, and that we'd get the results back in a few days.

Monday they called, and the lab tech told me she tested positive for celiac disease. I was stunned, this was not what I was expecting at all. I vaguely knew what celiac disease was, as my brother's roommate has it and I remember them talking about buying gluten-free beer! I asked her what I should do and she said don't let Beth eat wheat.

Of course that day was pretty busy, but I tried to get online during nap time to research celiac disease. As it turns out, it's a fairly common autoimmune disease, but it's pretty uncommon to have a diagnosis at such a young age. The good thing is that since we've caught it so early, Beth most likely won't have any lingering effects and will probably never remember her gluten-filled days.

What this means for her is that she won't be able to eat gluten-containing products for the rest of her life. There's no medication to take- it's completely handled by diet. This will be a challenge for us initially, but I hear that it becomes second nature after about a year or so. Thing that contain gluten go beyond just food products with wheat; a lot of foods are contaminated since they're processed in plants with wheat. I'm going to have to do so major label reading until I determine what products I normally buy are "safe" and figure out the correct (and more expensive) substitutes I have to buy. I'm going to have to change most of my recipes, if not completely toss out most of my cookbooks. I haven't decided yet if we're all going to go gluten-free during the initial transition, it seems like a lot of work.

We plan to have a biopsy done to confirm her diagnosis. We also plan to have Luke tested with a blood sample at his next well-baby visit in October, since it's hereditary and most likely brought out by a "trigger," and he's really too young to tell me if he's in pain or not.

We haven't gone completely gluten free yet because she has to continue her normal diet until the biopsy is done. Once we get the confirmation, she will not be able to eat anything containing gluten anymore. This means pizza parties... birthday parties...eating out...eating at a friend's house... It's all going to change. It's sad to me, but I know life is not all about food and that she won't likely even realize that anything is different. So many big events include food though, so it means I will have to be prepared ahead of time to make sure that she has a gluten-free equivalent for all occasions.

Please pray us through this initial transition, and keep Beth's health in your prayers as her body heals itself from the damage and inflammation she's experiencing now!

Here's her first gluten-free substitute, rice spaghetti noodles. She liked them a lot!

Saturday, September 11

The Beach!

Today we took a quick trip to the beach to have some summer fun with the kids. We didn't get to take our annual family trip down to the coast like we usually do (see child number three!) and I really wanted Beth and Luke to have the chance to play in the sand and water this year. We drove down at naptime, played for four hours on the beach, hit up Uncle Michael's house to clean up, then came home. Beth and Luke had so much fun!!! Jack did very well too, we brought a little chair for him to sit in so I didn't have to hold him all day. I am so glad we went!

Friday, September 10

Old pics- revisited

We've had such a busy week! Monday was labor day and we saw out-of-town relatives while trying to stay dry from the crazy tropical storm! Tuesday we stayed home but Wednesday I took Beth to the doctor. She's been having chronic stomach pains for months now, despite some tests run in March that came back normal. He checked her out and said her stomach sounded "angry" from whatever she'd eaten at lunch- milk! So I asked them to draw some blood to check for food sensitivities, and I'm hoping we'll get those results back today. Wednesday afternoon we had some more out of town visitors- Luke's godparents and me and Ryan's good college friends! We had a lovely visit with them, dreaming up ways to get them back into Texas- preferably in our neighborhood! They stayed the night then left the next morning to continue their "tour" of the state and visit as much family as possible! After they left I took the kids out shopping because Luke's shoes are too small again (I just bought these!) and he's always complaining they're too tight. I think they fit him fine but, welll, when he's complaining and refuses to wear them, it means it's time for new shoes! Today we had our first home school group's monthly meeting, and boy was it HOT! Beth refused to participate because she was a huge grump, so I'm really hoping next time is a little cooler!

I don't have my pics from the week uploaded yet, so here are some old ones that I've recently modified using my favorite new website,

Monday, September 6

6-cube bookshelf

This weekend we took on our first building project: a 6-cube shelf, like this:

This is a bookshelf from The Land of Nod that retails for $250.00. I found plans on a great blog site called Knock-Off Wood, which assured me the project would cost under $50. So off I went to Home Depot, pulled my minivan (oops, I mean "hatchback") in next to all the trucks, and marched straight into the lumber section. Of course I asked for help, I'm not that dumb. An employee helped me pick out my boards and then made all the cuts for me, and was super-impressed that I hardly had any wood wasted and left over. I assured him I didn't come up with the plans! It's all planned out on the web site I linked to- check it out! I brought my pile of wood home, along with some 2-inch screws and some finishing nails.

Ryan and I got started while the kids played outside and Jack sat in his bouncy chair. We figured out where to put what piece and decided to modify the plans just ever so slightly to give it a little more strength. After all, this is going in the playroom!

We got the first part together using screws. I have never used a screwdriver to pre-drill the holes so much in my life, I have to say it was a little empowering and it did give me a little endorphine rush, until my wrist started hurting from manually screwing them in. Lame.

At this point, we all took a much-needed snow cone break. Unfortunately I have no pictures to prove it, you'll just have to believe me! Afterward we walked across the street to the neighbor's house for a little barbeque, then came home, put the kids down, and went outside to finish it up.

I covered the holes with wood putty and will sand it before we paint it white. We were planning to paint it today but other things popped up, so we'll get to that later in the week.

Totally awesome. I feel so proud of myself. It was really a joint effort, but Ryan let me do most of it to make me feel good! I can't wait to paint it and get it in the house, then brag about it when every one comes over! We plan to make at least one more, and maybe a tall cube bookcase, to line one wall in our playroom. Then up next...who knows! This was a very easy project for a major beginner like me, but I've been bitten by the bug and really hope that we can build more together!

Oh yes, our other accomplishment this weekend? Ryan drafting an incredible fantasy football team, ready to win us some money! Yes, that's two computers and a beer....That's what winners are made of, lol.

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