Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bertolli Frozen Pasta: A review

When we started cutting expenses, we knew eating out would have to go. Eating out for us usually happens at two different times: 1.) Planned family or date nights or 2.) When daily chaos prevents us from getting dinner started early enough so that we're not eating at 9 p.m.
The latter was the big problem. When I was working full time we ate out a lot more often because we were too tired, or didn't have time.

The solution: *Sigh* Frozen prepared meals.
We were picky. It had to taste good, and not be full of nasty preservatives or other ingredients that we normally wouldn't eat.

The product: Bertolli frozen "Classic Dinners" and "Pasta & Sauce." I had a coupon, they were on sale, so they got first try. The ingredients were also pronounceable & recognizable, and they were things we would normally eat.

The verdict: Good--and great for a night when we just don't have time. So far, the only one we haven't enjoyed is the ravioli--the sauce was really not impressive. Tonight I enjoyed the manicotti with ricotta and spinach. Our favorite is the Mediterranean chicken and linguine. O hasn't been very impressed with any of them (especially the ravioli), but he will pick out and eat the chicken and noodles.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tummy Troubles

What is wrong with this world? Too often I find myself sitting around with other moms as they tell me that their child suffers from this or that, or that their doctor has prescribed yet another drug to treat their kid.
We have an over-medicated, over-diagnosed society. I totally believe that their are genuine cases out there, but I'm starting to really doubt some medical professionals.

The ailment that I'm hearing all-too-often with young moms with new babies is acid reflux. Their baby spits up quite a bit, and after invasive testing the doctor determines it to be acid reflux. The treatments range from sitting the baby up while sleeping, to medications, and sometimes even switching from breastmilk to formula.

AAAAACKKKKKK! Hold the phone! What's the deal here? I don't doubt that the baby is suffering or having some sort of trouble, but I do question our thinking. No two kids are alike, and too often we tend to think in terms of "normal." Guess what, folks, there is no "normal." You are this baby's mom, and you should always trust your gut. However, sometimes we as moms tend to panic when our kid seems different than someone else's kids (or different from what doctors tell us is "normal"). Some kids rarely spit up, others spit up all the time. My kiddos fluctated between both exremes. Before I go too deep with this, can I suggest a few alternatives? If you feel your baby is spitting up "abnormally" try these ideas BEFORE calling your physician:
  • Do a self check. If you're breastfeeding (and I hope you are) remember that your diet effects your baby. Duh. Are you drinking enough water? Are you drinking caffeine? Are you eating well? Could something you've eaten be upsetting the baby's tummy? A handful of suspect foods: chocolate, broccoli, cabbage, milk or any dairy product. Before you start thinking this is a baby problem, make sure it's not a YOU problem.
  • Talk to a chiropractor. You make think this is voodoo, or crack-pot medicine, but it works. Making sure that your baby is properly aligned can make a big difference in their digestive system. Please trust me on this. I've become all too familiar with the digestive system of wee ones, and I've seen this work.
  • Propping up baby to sleep can help, but also try laying them on their left side.
  • Burp, burp, burp. Or, as my 3-year-old calls it "bert." A baby needs to burp. Don't give up, you must get that child to burp. Try placing your hand on their stomach while using your other hand to firmly pat their back. That worked well for my husband (who has big hands). For me, placing the baby over my shoulder (making sure the tummy was pressing into my shoulder), and firmly patting worked great. Sometimes we both would work on a kiddo for 15 minutes before they'd give in and burp. Stubborn little twerps. (Whoops, did I just say that?)

Okay, so you've tried these things, and it still seems like more is coming out than going in AND now you're worried the baby is not gaining weight. Yet again, I'd like to suggest you talk to a lactation consultant first, but always trust your gut. If you feel seriously concerned, call your physician. *NOTE: Projectile vomiting is not the same as spitting up. If your kiddo is launching the entire contents of their stomach across the room several times a day CALL YOUR DOCTOR NOW.

So, in short, what you think is normal, may not be normal for your baby or normal as society belives. God made your baby the normal He intended, and don't be so quick to judge what God made perfectly normal. As I'm always telling my husband, I'm normal--everyone else is weird.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I've never liked carrots. No matter how they've been prepared or smothered with butter or honey--I just really don't like them. The only exception in my 28 years of life has been when my husband makes his Sunday roast, and roasts carrots along with the beef and other vegetables.

The WIC program gives us carrots--lots of carrots. Ugh. They gave me recipes, and lots of information on carrots. So, I've been reading. Did you know:
  • One single dark orange carrot can supply enough beta-carotene to meet our total daily allowance requirement of vitamin A. (Vitamin A is necessary for good eye health, strong bones and teeth.)
  • Adults who lack adequate vitamin A can suffer from poor eyesight, split fingernails that peel and become ridged, skin that develops blemishes, wrinkles and becomes dry, and their hair becomes dry, brittle and dull. Children lacking sufficient vitamin A are more susceptible to infections. Insufficient vitamin A is known to be the primary cause of blindness in American children.
  • Carrots also have vitamins C and E, and are good sources of fiber and potassium.
  • More and more research links carrots to lowering your risk of cancer.

Okay, I get it. Carrots are good for me, but I still don't like them. Well, that is, until today. I pureed carrots for E (because they're good for her), and I gave them a quick taste to make sure they were not too warm.

Who knew? Warm, pureed carrots are good. Not amazing, but good. A little butter, a little salt, and yeah I can eat these. In fact, mix these carrots with some pureed parsnips or potatoes--and YUM!

Mom, I know you're reading this, and going "Yeah, right. I'm still not going to eat carrots." Mom, you've got to try this, especially try adding them to mashed potatoes. Add some seasonings, if you like.

Just a word of caution: eat 'em warm. Once they get cold--yuck. Cold carrot mush--not a pretty picture.

(Data provided by the California Fresh Carrot Advisory Board.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Entry #3 CF and Nutrition: Milk

Nutrition plays an enormous role in cystic fibrosis. A major reason O continues to be healthy is due in part to his diet. I've taken it upon myself to learn as much as possible about CF where nutrition is involved, mainly because from day 1 as his mother I am the source of his nutrition.

I am a major advocate for breastfeeding. Prior to O's birth I did a lot of research on breastfeeding. Having breastfed each of my baby dolls, I had always desired to breastfeed my real babies too. I learned so much while I was pregnant on the importance of breastfeeding for both baby and mother. So, at our first official visit with the CF doctors I was devastated when the doctors and nutritionists "warned" me that I may have to give up breastfeeding because it may not be adequate. According to their specialists breastmilk does not have enough calories for a child with CF.

Being the stubborn, hard-headed woman that I am, I basically said "I will breastfeed this child, even if that means I feed him every hour. You can either get behind me on that, or go suck a lemon." I am a FIRM believer that God created your breastmilk especially for your baby. Meaning that no matter the circumstance, your milk is adequate for your baby's needs. If O required heavy calorie milk, than God would provide heavy calorie milk (or the stamina for me to breastfeed every hour).

I breastfed O exclusively until he was 5 months old (when we introduced cereal, which we mixed with breastmilk). I continued nursing O until he was 22 months old. His doctors were, and still are, astonished with how big O is, and were amazed that my breastmilk was adequate. I simply believe if every CF mom had some encouragment, ate healthy, and was as stubborn as me--they too could continue breastfeeding exclusively.
O constantly rates in the 95% on the growth charts--much bigger than many CF kids. Yes, there were a few days when I did nurse him every hour, but for the majority of those early days O followed the "Babywise" schedule. (Please read "On Becoming Babywise" by Ezzo.) Between being breastfed and being on a regular consistent schedule, I believe O established good eating habits that have helped him thrive despite his condition.

As O got older the CF nutritionists insisted that we give O cow's milk. Before I became pregnant with O, I had several unresolved digestive issues. I went to many doctors, and none of them found the problem. Our chiropractor had me do a cleanse diet (eliminating all potential food allergens for a period of time, and then slowly reintroducing them). I also read a lot on nutrition. We changed our eating habits quite a bit--eating more natural and organic foods, very little processed foods, and pretty much eliminated some other foods. (I highly recommend "The Maker's Diet.") Through various readings I learned that it's a good idea to NOT give children under the age of 2 any cow's milk products for various reasons. (I won't bore you with all the info on why--go look it up.) Since I was breastfeeding and pumping additional milk for O's needs we didn't have any reason to give him cow's milk until he was about 2 years old.
Not long after he started eating milk, cheese, yogurt, and even ice cream we noticed O having lots of digestive issues--mainly extremes like severe constipation or the opposite--severe diarrhea. This was really hard on him, because he was in the midst of potty training. After a few accidents that really embarassed my sweet and shy little boy (even though we never scolded him about potty accidents, he seemed very frustrated), I was determined to find the answer to these problems.
We reduced the amount of cow's milk products he ate, and increased his enzymes. Still, he was struggling with regular constipation. I received a call from my husband one day while at work.
"Don't panic," he said. Uh oh. He continued to describe the scene (gosh, I hope you're not eating while reading this blog): A small portion of O's rectum was outside his anus. My husband said it looked like a red flower blooming out his bottom. Of course, I was freaked. Insides are supposed to stay inside--not outside! I told him to call the CF center and the emergency room, and ran out of the office as quickly as I could to get home.
When I got home my husband updated me. The emergency room said to put a moist cloth on the rectum and quickly bring him in, and he hadn't yet heard back from the CF center. However, when my husband had attempted to place the moist cloth on O's rectum, it had gone back inside. As we waited for the CF center to call, I jumped online to search for information. Before I could download much, the phone rang. A very calm and collected doctor told us that it was perfectly normal for a CF kid. NORMAL!?!?! I think I shouted this at the time. Geez, you should have a manual about these supposed "normal" CF things! I believe the doctor chuckled, and suggested that I write a book for other CF parents on these things...hmmmm.
O continued to have, what we learned is called, "rectal prolapse." When he pushed hard, well, out it came. We thought maybe his potty was the culprit (possibly sitting in a straining position). We thought maybe we allowed him to sit too long on the potty. He continued to also have constipation. I went back to my books about cow's milk not being the best for kiddos. I read that goat's milk was a great alternative, as it more closely resembles breastmilk and is easier to digest. We tried it out. His constipation pretty much went away, and the rectal prolapse lessened dramatically. However, any amount of cow's product immediately brought it back.
On his next visit with his CF specialists we saw a new doctor. This doctor made a comment about O's very round belly. Now, since O was born I had asked ALL of his doctors about his round belly, as it just didn't seem normal too me. No one seemed to think it was an issue--maybe just a small hernia one said.
This doctor felt his belly and told us that he had distended bowels, and that his intestines were full of, well, poo. (Argh, I KNEW his tummy wasn't right--yet another reason that as a mother you should ALWAYS trust your gut, no pun intended.) He recommend regular doses of Miralax, which worked wonders. O gets a small daily dose of Miralax, and drinks only goat's milk. We occasionally allow him cow's cheese, yogurt, and ice cream, but only in moderation. O does great with this, and hasn't suffered rectal prolapse or any significant constipation in over a year.

Another note on dairy products (cow's or otherwise): Mucus. Yuck. CF kids have a lot of mucus. Milk increases mucus production. Bacteria and viruses LOVE mucus. What does this tell you? In cold and flu season we drastically reduce the amount of mucus-producing foods O eats. This includes mainly dairy products and wheat. GASP! Just like our nutritionist panicked when she heard this, I'm sure your's will too. Please note I AM NOT A NUTRITIONIST. I'm a mom of my CF kid, who is probably TOTALLY different than your CF kid. (They're all different, you know?) I am suggesting that you read as much as you can, and try it out for yourself. Now, dairy provides a major source of vital nutrients: calcium, vitamin D, calories, folic acid and more. O gets goat's milk daily, even during the winter months, unless he has a cough. I must note that we replace the nutrients he normally gets through milk with other less-mucus-producing foods (green veggies, calcium-enriched juices, fresh fruits, salmon--yep, my kid loves it, and others). We also have supplements on-hand (folic acid, liquid calcium, and others) just in case any of his tests results show a deficiency. He has only been low on vitamin D, but that usually is due in large part to the fact that his test is run in April when he has spent most days inside rather than outside in the sun. O thrives on his diet, and I encourage you to research and learn more on the foods you give your child (whether he or she has CF or not). If you're pregnant or have a newborn--please, breastfeed your baby. It will be the best thing you ever do for your baby.

O did not have any typical CF symptoms, or become pancreatic insufficient until he was 6 months old.
One week after O stopped nursing I became pregnant. After E was born, O saw me pumping and came running with a cup! I happily obliged, and gave him any extra milk I pumped.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Try Standing In My Boat

This posting comes with a warning: DO NOT assume that this pertains to you.

We've had so many friends and family members encourage us during this "rough spot," and we appreciate it. However, I need to say something. This comes from conversation after conversation with friends who are desperately trying to cheer me up, encourage me, or somehow make it better with words.
It feels like we're in a boat that's taking on water, and we are going to drown. Friends who send off words of encouragement like "you did the right thing," "have patience," "trust God--it will work out," or similar phrases, are like people standing on the shore waving to us & smiling. You might have a different perspective standing on your safe shore, but think for a moment how we're feeling in this boat. Would you want the person on shore just smiling & waving? Or, are you screaming desperately for rescue?
If you don't have the solution, and you're not willing or unable to send a life line, or have never been in this boat--please stop trying to "fix it" with your words. It's not helping. Rather, the best thing to say would be--I'm here if you need someone.
We've reached a point where we're even sick of telling people how we're doing. It seems like life is full of dread and worry, and that's not who we are. I told Matt today that we need to have a "God is good" party. We're not yet sure what that looks like, but I'm sure it involves bacon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Shop Nurtured Mother

My store is open for business!

It's small for now, just until I can see how it goes, but at least it's something. My business cards and brochures arrived this week too. I can't wait to get these out to people!