Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Playing Detective... More food allergies!

So, here's the scoop...

We started noticing some hives on Aiden a little over six weeks ago. We first thought we knew exactly what it was, but after taking that away...hives remained, even a week later. Then two weeks later. We made a couple other changes. They still remained. They were small hives...on his chest and back at first, then they started appearing on his face a little bit. Then even more. Sometimes they were small, but they started getting bigger.

(Thinking back now, I remember Ryan commenting that Aiden's back felt kind of bumpy a number of times, but we didn't think much of it at the time. This was back before the hives actually appeared. Now we know this was the beginning of them.)

So, we took dairy out of his diet, since it's a common allergen and can cause eczema, which we've had our fair share of with Aiden. After a week, nothing was changing, and the hives were showing up more and bigger. We were constantly finding them after dinner each night. Then we decided to go a little more drastic. Since we had NO idea what was causing the hives, and they were clearly getting worse, we took him (and me, since Aiden is still nursing) off lots of foods that could be causing the problem...most of the top allergens, any citrus foods, including tomatoes, and just a whole bunch of things. A lot of these foods are Aiden's favorites and many of our staple foods, bu we were starting to feel desperate at this point. We had to find out what was causing these hives that would NOT go away. We have been calling and calling the allergist trying to get in sooner than our already-scheduled follow-up (from last year's egg fiasco) that is at the end of October...too far away.

Well, this past week, the hives continued, despite the special (and not so fun) diet. (Actually, Aiden didn't mind the diet, but it took mama a few days to adjust.) In fact, the hives were just getting worse still. This was starting to get very frustrating. We knew something he was eating was causing this, but we couldn't figure out what in the world it was. We're already so careful with what we feed him, and we haven't given him anything new since the hives began (way too long ago). We kept calling the dr office, to no avail. The dr we see is only in that office so often, and he's at the hospital other days during the week...but he only sees ER patients and current hospital patients when there. BUT a friend of ours works at the hospital, was able to pull some strings to get us an appointment in a week and a half. That's a lot closer than two months!

Of course, right after that, we think we figure it out. One evening, I wondered if it could be cinnamon. He broke out in hives at dinner...a dinner that should be perfectly safe. But I had sprinkled cinnamon on something so he would try it. (He loves cinnamon!) I wasn't sure what else could cause the hives. The next morning, I swiped some cinnamon on his cheek. Nothing. So, moving on... I had also made these super-yummy muffins Ryan's mom had given me the recipe for. Everything was safe for him to eat, and I replaced the eggs with alternatives. Aiden had already eating them with breakfast and after dinner a couple times, and they seemed fine. (But after that dinner, some mystery hives appeared around his mouth.) For snack this day, Aiden ate one or two muffins and nothing else, and then a couple hives appeared on his cheek. He had some muffins the day before with no problems, so I was a bit confused. Swiped some cinnamon on his face again, and his cheek got a little pink. So, maybe something in the muffin was causing the problem after all. The next day, this past Friday, at breakfast, he had another muffin. I also swiped his cheek again with just a little cinnamon. He scratched at it, whined, and said "No cinnamon!" He scratched his tongue a little bit, too. His cheek got really red where the cinnamon touched. But then...the hives.

This is the first time he's had hives anywhere other than the top third of his body. His ENTIRE body had hives. And much bigger and redder than before. I'm very thankful that hives don't irritate Aiden. Any time he's had them, he doesn't really seem to be bothered by or really even aware of them. All this time, the only thing that's bothered him is our constant inspecting.

Now, at first, I kept thinking something else had to be causing the hives, too, b/c we just don't eat a lot of cinnamon. Sometimes when Aiden has sweet potatoes, he asks for cinnamon, but not always - not even most of the time. We don't eat a lot of baked goods, and many of the muffins we make don't have cinnamon. These muffins that really brought out the hives happened to have a lot of cinnamon. BUT after some thinking, it dawned on me....I have been making homemade granola for a while now, at least a couple months. The recipe I make has 1/2 Tbsp of cinnamon, and it makes quite a lot of granola (about two cereal boxes worth). So, not much cinnamon, but he was eating it regularly. He hasn't had it the past week or two because he was eating more of other cereals for some reason - maybe he knew something we didn't; he suddenly hasn't been asking for it! But the granola is likely to be what was causing the smaller hives, with the repeated exposure of even such a small amount of cinnamon.

Then we introduced the larger amount via the muffins, which is how we discovered this was the allergen. We're viewing them as a blessing in disguise since the cinnamon was strong enough that it made the reaction very obvious for us. He ate dinner a few nights not long ago and broke out in hives, too. Looking back, we know he had A1 steak sauce one evening (barely any, but it contains "spices"...not sure if there is cinnamon, but he did break out in hives after eating). Another night, he had some mustard and a little bit of hot dog and ended dinner with more hives. Both have "spices." So, we're not sure, but we suspect they all have cinnamon in them. That or there is another allergy.

So, we know at least cinnamon is an allergen for him. This will not be a fun one. We thought eggs were hard enough... Now I think God was easing us in! The problem with cinnamon? Well, for one, it's not one of the top 8 allergens, which are required by law to be clearly labeled on products...meaning cinnamon is NOT required to be labeled. Cinnamon is often used with other spices, and you will more often see the label "spices" or "natural flavorings" listed in ingredients, rather than the specific spices, such as cinnamon! Another thing...it is in SO much! Not just baked goods. The other day someone was talking to us about the allergy, and they said, "Oh, well that's not a bad one to have. Maybe even a good one!" meaning it would keep someone from eating a lot of baked goods. Um, no. Not the case. Plenty of savory foods contain cinnamon, such as spaghetti sauce and pizza...even ketchup and other common sauces. Oh, this will be fun, right? HA. I've read it's not a very uncommon allergy, actually. But it also seems like for most, the problem is contact dermatitis, so it's mainly a problem if someone has it touch them, and they'll get a little red and irritated where it touched their skin, even in their mouth maybe. For Aiden, it's clear this is way more than that. After consuming the one muffin, the hives covered his entire body. I've also read this is an allergen that easily gets worse over time, not better. We've already seen Aiden's reactions get worse with repeated exposure, but I know it could be much worse, and hopefully that won't happen.

A friend recently asked what about the fact that he's had cinnamon before? Well, up until this summer, he really hasn't had much. We haven't been avoiding it on purpose, he just simply hasn't had much. Blame some of the other allergy stuff and special diets he's been on...with already having eggs out of the picture and then going on a gluten-free diet for however many months, we really didn't bake. When you throw in us not letting him eat many sugary foods, there went any baked goods he might have had. He has had it some on oatmeal or sweet potatoes, but he really doesn't use the spice that often even with those foods. So...his exposure really has been minimal until we started making this granola. And then he was exposed regularly, even if it was just a tiny bit at a time.

We will still be going for testing, of course. We still wonder if he has other food allergies, due to random hives that have appeared over the last year. And we want to be sure we are correct about this allergy. Plus, we're not sure if he's allergic just to cinnamon or if he has tree allergies, in general (cinnamon would be included under that umbrella).

We're learning how many things actually have this spice in them, and we've already spent a good amount of time calling or emailing companies. I have a feeling we're going to be learning how to make a lot more things from scratch. I didn't think that was too possible, but apparently it is. Homemade ketchup anyone?

Aiden's still had some hives pop up over the weekend and this week. Saturday wasn't unexpected, since it was the day after the big reaction, but even today there are still red hives appearing, disappearing, reappearing, etc. The other day, I went to swipe something else on his cheek, and when Aiden saw my finger coming at his face, he screamed, "NO Cinnamon!!" I think he's already terrified of the stuff. :( Maybe that's a good thing? Not fun, though. We'll see what happens with his appointment soon. Until then, we're going to try to relax a little about it all, avoiding cinnamon, of course.

TWO Years Old!

Aiden's big 2nd birthday bash was all about the Cat in the Hat and Dr. Seuss. Ryan and I agreed we would consider it all to be a success if we didn't end it in the ER, like we did last year. So, based on that, it was successful; even aside from that it went off without a hitch. We had a blast, and everything went just great!

Instead of a long post, simply enjoy the pictures. :)

2010 August - Aiden's Birthday

Twenty-four months

Our baby boy is TWO YEARS OLD! Wow, how time flies...

This month has been a whirlwind with lots of changes, visitors, and the big birthday. And Aiden continues to grow way too quickly.

Weight: 26 pounds, 2 ounces
Height: 36 inches
They didn't bother even trying for the head circumference due to his incessant screaming and freaking out over being back in the dr office. You'll see why towards the end of the post.

He's gained three pounds and five inches since he turned 18 months, so I guess the kid IS growing, after all! I've been wondering... He just seems so small to me!

  • Visitors! A couple weeks ago, Mammaw Melly, (Mom's) cousin Michelle, and Michelle's little boy Cody (same age as Aiden) visited for a week. What fun we all had, especially those two little boys! By the end of the week, they were more like brothers! For Aiden's birthday, MaMaw Sharon and David visited, as well. Aiden doesn't take long at all to warm up and loves all the extra attenion. ;)
  • His sprinkler/pool. LOVES it!
  • Dr. Seuss. We didn't have a Cat in the Hat birthday party for no reason! The kid LOVES him some Dr. Seuss. He knows a lot of the parts in the Cat in the Hat, and after we told him he was having a Cat in the Hat party, anytime we would say birthday, he would exclaim "CAT IN THE HAT!!"
  • The big P.F. Chang's horses that are outside of the restaurants.
  • Acting like his stuffed animals do real things...like poop, sleep, nurse, etc. One day he thought both Puppy and Bunny needed diapers. We got some cute pictures out of that!
  • Sports Signing Time video.
  • Lining up throw pillows on the floor and then falling onto them (more like jumping onto them, landing on his tummy).
  • Mama's granola. Mama's fruit "juices" that I make instead of giving him actual juice. Coconut milk. Good thing, too, since he's off dairy for a while. He's into pears right now (we just took him off citrus foods and berries as we try to sort out some possible food allergies, so many of his favorite fruits are off the table, so to speak). Also, he loves frozen blueberries or frozen grapes (grapes are cut before freezing).
  • Tickling us. He's not really into us tickling him, but he likes to tickle us (or his stuffed animals). When he tickles his animals, he bursts out with these high pitched giggles, pretending the animals are laughing.
  • Dancing. He asks for music ALL THE TIME. It's like it's suddenly a crime to not have music playing. And he's very specific about what he wants to hear (usually choosing between Toby Mac, Veggie Tales - he calls them "tomato," Wiggles, and a cd we have with various children's songs - he calls it the animal songs or he'll name certain songs on the cd).
  • Coloring. We've noticed he's becoming more intentional about drawing, too, and is more focused when he does it. (Apparently he doesn't think crayons should have the paper wrapped around them, though. He's been more into pencils until lately, and now that he'll use crayons, he spends more time tearing the paper off than drawing, it seems!)
  • Sports or balls related to sports. He's all boy, that's for sure!
  • The ocean. Still. We went while Cody was visiting so he could see the ocean for the first time, and while Cody loved it, Aiden still was scared of it. At one point, I debated...risking traumatizing him more by bringing him in the water anyway or possibly helping him realize it was calmer once we got past the waves at the shore. I brought him out, and he did end up liking it. He even smiled a bit and splashed the water. It lasted a few minutes. Hopefully next trip won't be as bad, and he'll like it more each time. He still says he likes and wants to see the "big sand" but NOT the ocean or waves...
  • Putting his feet on his high chair seat when we're getting him out. We have him stand up to wipe off any food that got on his clothes, and he now will try not to stand so that his feet won't touch any food that might be on the seat!
  • Anyone but him dancing. He doesn't mind a lot, but when you first put on music, if you start dancing along, too, he'll say "NO!" We simply say "YES! We can dance, too," and continue on. He gets over it. He does, however, love to chase me around in circles while we dance to the music.
  • Bananas. I think he's just gotten tired of eating plain ol' bananas most mornings. He'll still ask for them but will eat the first bite or two and then break and smoosh it all apart, wasting the whole thing. We're finding other ways to eat bananas these days.
  • Knowing he needs his diaper changed. He'll run away and sometimes cry b/c it means he has to stop his playtime or delay getting mama's milk to have his diaper changed. If it means delaying getting the milk, he'll kick and scream and throw the biggest fit the whole time.
  • Meat by itself. Still not a fan. Give him some chicken salad or taco soup, and he's all about it. He sometimes likes bratwurst. A burger by itself, he might eat it or might not. But any other meat by itself, nope.
  • Stairs. Still. He can go up barely using his hands at all, but going down...while I'm sure he can do it just fine, he rarely will. He'll stand at the top, frozen, and insist "Carry, Mommy!" I'm not pushing him to do it himself yet. If I try, he just gets scared, and it's not worth it to scare him. He'll get it.
  • Seeing mama sleeping. Ryan brings him to our bed when Aiden wakes in the morning, so he can nurse while Daddy gets up to shower (or snoozes...), and if I'm still lying there like I'm asleep, he gets pretty upset about it.
New Developments
  • Moved to the TODDLER BED. This was not by choice. Aiden was leaning over the rail and we knew it was just a matter of pushing up on his toes a tiny bit more before he fell out and landed on his head. He wasn't trying to *climb* out yet, but we did not feel it was safe to keep him in any longer. So, we converted the bed to a toddler bed. Way sooner than we wanted...
  • Hives... Ugh. They've been around for too long lately, and we just can't seem to figure out what is causing them. We're still trying, and it means both Aiden and Mommy are on a rather strict diet right now in order to hopefully get rid of the hives and then figure out what the culprit is. Wish us luck.
  • Aiden's getting to be quite the sneaky kid when he wants to get into something he knows is off limits. One day he repeatedly kept getting something out and trying to walk past me with it. He would put it back when I told him to do so, and then take it again...walking past me with his head down as low as possible, almost as if he thought if he couldn't see me, I couldn't see him!
  • Feelings. Not that he's just now aware of different feelings, but we've been working on recognizing them. We make a game out of acting various feelings out. He likes to do sad followed by silly. He'll make the sign for sad, speak with a really slow, sad voice, and make a big frown while he does it. And then he'll make a silly face, shake his head, and say in a really high-pitched voice "silly!" He also likes to bunch up his fists, scrunch his face, and do "angry."
  • Whispering. Sometimes he must think he'll get his way more if he whispers what he wants or the answer to a question, even if he's across the room. For example, when asking if he's ready to go to bed or if he's tired....a whispered "no" is not an uncommon response. It's pretty cute.
  • Rolling the balls in the house. This is actually just an indication he is learning rules and following them. If he is, by chance, caught tossing a ball and is reminded we don't throw (we have a no-throwing-the-ball in the house rule...we only roll them inside), Aiden will say "roll the ball" and proceed to do that. Or sometimes he'll just say it when he rolls it.
  • Repeating what we say or what he hears. Not that this is entirely new, but he'll repeat much longer phrases. If he's listening to music or we're reading a story, it's often the last line he hears. It's funny most of the time and incredible to hear him say such long sentences. Ryan says it's annoying sometimes when he's trying to, say, brush Aiden's teeth. Ryan: "Ok, open your mouth." Aiden: "Ok, open your mouth." Haha!
  • On that note, he's also saying much longer sentences these days. I think we don't give him enough credit sometimes, too. The other day, he was asking for something. He said, "Book please." I told him sooner he would need to ask by saying, "May I have the book please?" to which he responded, "I have the book please?"
  • Memory. Wow, he's remembering so much more these days. Again, nothing too new, but it's growing all the time. I'll mention before bed that we'll be going somewhere the next day, and he'll wake up bright and early asking if it's time already. Or we'll have a friend over one day, and he'll be talking about that person weeks later, asking if they will be coming to play (and apparently, even months later, in some cases!). Another example...He received some shots a little over a month ago. He did not enjoy the experience, and yelled at the nurse, "ALL DONE, ALL DONE!!" and gave her the meanest look. We went for his 2-yr check-up recently, and as soon as the nurse called us back, the screaming began... Since we had some other issues going on, we were not giving him shots at this visit (even the dr agreed to wait), and even constant assurance there would be no shots and "no hurts," the child would not calm down until we left.
  • Tip-toe-ing. I don't know why, but we constantly see Aiden walking around on his tip-toes. He can do it for quite a long time, too! The other day, he was trying to get something from higher up on a shelf, and he was actually standing on the very tips of his toes, with them straight up like a ballerina would do. It was wild to watch!
  • He's gotten rather good at buckling things. He likes to buckle the large chest buckle in his car seat and the buckles in his high chair and booster seat. The last two he can also UNbuckle...
No pictures yet. Again. I was going to take them this morning, but his hives are reappearing on his face and are pretty bright, so we're going to wait until that's not showing for pictures. He broke out in hives the other day, big time, and they're still showing up on and off from that. (More on that soon.) Plus, he woke up super early this morning and has been THE grumpiest kid since. I'm certain any pictures I might succeed in actually taking would not turn out so great. I know he would not smile or cooperate... We'll wait for another more pleasant and hive-free day. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Twenty-three months pictures

While working on Aiden's 24-month post (yes, I'm late - and I still have to TAKE those pictures, so it isn't going up just yet), I remembered that I still hadn't posted his 23-month pictures. Whoops. So, here they are....

He refused to give me a real smile until he decided picture time was over...