Giving Up Dairy, Soy & Wheat for my Babies

Both of my boys have been super colicky babies. My older son E had such severe food sensitivities that he broke out in a horrible rash and diarrhea from allergens just passing through the breastmilk from my diet, before he was eating any food of his own. My younger son F had such severe reflux that I spent pretty much his entire first six months just doing laundry because of all of the vomiting. Prescription medication helped, and so did cutting out dairy/wheat/soy from my diet again. Thankfully, I am able to reintroduce wheat into my diet again but I am still limiting dairy until he has completely outgrown his reflux.

It was really depressing the first time when I realized I needed to eliminate those foods from my diet, but it seemed easier this time around. I realized from chatting with other moms in Facebook groups about breastfeeding that this is a surprisingly common issue that lots of new moms face. My grandpa even told me recently about how my dad and my uncle were both initially allergic to dairy and soy, so my grandmother had to feed them a 1950’s formula based on dehydrated, powdered meat, which he called “meat milk”. I didn’t believe it at first until I actually found an old advertisement online! Apparently “meat milk” was a real thing as awful as that sounds!

Here are some of my favorite tips for breastfeeding moms who want to try eliminating dairy/soy from their diets!

1. Embrace coconut/almond milks. They are have so many different varieties now, it’s great! There are even almond milk coffee creamers, pumpkin spice almond milk creamer (thanks Trader Joe’s!!), and more! My particular favorite is a coconut milk ice cream sandwich from So Delicious.
2. Make sure that you eat lots of leafy greens to get enough calcium/magnesium. Talk to your doctor about taking a supplement if you feel like you may not be getting enough from your diet once you cut out dairy. I used to eat a ton of dairy and I know my calcium/magnesium intakes were initially way too low when first cutting out dairy.

3. Embrace the art of making nut cheeses! I have learned that it is a lot of fun to make nut cheese! It comes out similar to goat cheese in texture and there are so many ways you can alter it! The key is pre-soaking the nuts for a few hours (I like cashews or macadamia nuts), then mixing in a food processor with a bit of water, lemon juice, and any herbs/seasoning you would like to mix in.

4. Skip the fake cheese/fake pizza substitutes. They are never satisfying in the same way, and you end up feeling cheated. Learn to appreciate fresh ingredients, and your cravings will adjust accordingly with time. 🙂

5. Try coconut aminos instead of using soy sauce! Initially, I was making a homemade soy sauce substitute that I found via Pinterest every time we went out for sushi, but that got really tedious very quickly. I recently discovered using coconut aminos instead and it has been great! I actually prefer the taste to regular soy sauce now. 🙂

6. Get comfortable reading ingredient labels. Scan to the end of the list first, where they list the common allergens in bold or caps lock. Soy is in so many foods that you wouldn’t expect! I’ve had to learn this the hard way with my 3 year old son who is still unfortunately allergic to soy but thankfully outgrew his dairy sensitivity.

7. Try out some paleo cookbooks for creative inspiration! I wish I had discovered those the first time around. I recently even found some great paleo slow cooker cookbooks that have been great!

8. Most important tip…if you look at it with a different mindset of that this is a fun creative challenge, instead of viewing it as a drag and a restriction, it will make it a lot more enjoyable!

Check out some of the tasty nuts cheese crostadas that I made recently for an event I hosted for my photography business! 🙂

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Working with Myself as My Client

I mentioned previously that I wanted to spend some time working on some fine art self portraits, and I’m so happy that I’ve been making the time to do it. I’ve done a few things on my list so far, and wanted to share. 🙂 There is more up at http://apluscphotography.com/fine-art. You can read about each image on my photography blog: http://apluscphotography.com/blog.

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Starting Solids!

Originally, I set a goal for myself that I would only feed our baby breastmilk and nothing else for his entire first year. I had read a number of studies that said that delaying introducing solids and doing breastmilk only for an entire year can help prevent/eliminate food allergies. Since we had such a battle from the start with him reacting to things in my diet, and the fact that food allergies seem to run rampant in my family, this was an idea I was strongly committed to (despite our pediatrician’s opinion that it was not a good idea). My best friend (who is quite an experienced mom now) told me that I would have to be mindful of that one day I may just notice that E is READY for supplemental foods. Unfortunately, that day came way sooner than I was hoping it would.

A little over a week ago, E started getting insanely hungry. Usually nursing on just one side is enough to fill him up, but for a couple of days he still seemed hungry after draining both sides. I knew that it was not a supply issue on my part since he was going through his diapers about twice as fast as normal. At the end of two very grueling days of pretty much non-stop nursing, I gave in and decided he could try some infant rice cereal. I had no idea it would be so hard to find a good one though! As I stood in the baby aisle at Target browsing through all of the different options, I got a little overwhelmed. Most of the rice cereals had either wheat, soy or dairy ingredients, so they were not an option for E. I was already sad about giving up on my goal in the first place, and this was even more frustrating. I finally found one that is organic and had no allergen ingredients. It also has the added benefit of pre and probiotics. I have read that probiotics can help with food allergies, so I am hoping introducing these into his diet may help him outgrow these allergies. The cereal that we have been using is Happy Bellies organic brown rice cereal.

Right away, he was beyond excited about finally getting to have some food of his own. He has been trying to sneak and grab our food for a while now, so he was quite proud of himself. After about a week of him doing okay with the rice cereal (minus a scary rash initially that turned out to be heat rash), I decided to make a bit of homemade spinach puree for him. He had been trying to grab my vegetable juice every morning, so he was quite excited to get his own bit of green fun. He absolutely loves spinach, and likes it even more than the rice cereal! Like mother, like son. 🙂
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What I Wore: Casual DIY Style

The other day, it felt a little bit like fall, which got me excited since fall is my favorite season. I love being able to dress in layers. I made this jacket many years ago when I was in fashion school. I was pretty upset when it didn’t fit me for a while after the pregnancy thanks to my really expanded ribcage. Now that things are back down, the jacket fits again! I put so much work into it and was going to be quite sad if I was never able to wear it again.

While I was sick recently, my headache was too bad to read, and my sensitivity to light was so bad that I could not comfortably watch tv or go online. I was starting to get bored out of my mind, so I decided to work on making some bracelets for myself. I had seen this tutorial on my friend Stephanie’s blog a while back, and have been meaning to make the time to try it out for myself. She is totally right that once you get the hang of the technique that you will want to make a whole bunch of them! I definitely recommend her tutorial. It made a style of bracelet that looks very intricate and complex so easy to make. She did an amazing job breaking down the style and how to achieve the look. Be sure to check out the tutorial here!

I wore my favorite breastfeeding friendly top again, as well as another great scarf for easy cover-up access.

Jacket: Originally an Express dark denim jacket that I stripped down, did a series of overdye techniques to get a unique finish & added studs to it
Nursing tank: Motherhood Maternity
Top: Anthropologie
Skirt: H&M
Scarf: H&M
Headband: H&M
Boots: Boot Barn
Bracelets: my own creation

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I knew I have been feeling very tired ever since I have been getting over being sick, but I realized when I saw this picture that I still actually look tired as well. Oh well! I guess it will take me some time to recover fully from being that sick.
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What I Wore: Father’s Day Weekend Part 1

Okay, I am just going to say it. I DESPISE the whole sock bun trend. I can’t stand when perfect every-hair-perfectly-in-place hairstyles become a huge trend. This overly neat sock bun trend brings back flashbacks of being yelled at in ballet class for having “wild hair” as a little kid, as if that is anything I can control. I love a messy updo, and love that they embrace my hair’s natural tendency to be curly, wild and crazy. I don’t care if messy updo’s are not the trend du jour, you will never see me trying to force my hair into an unnaturally perfect hairstyle. Just like when stick straight, flatironed hair is the trend of the moment, it annoys me. Most people can’t live up to that level of Pinterest hair constant perfection, and it is silly to try. I feel better that I got that off my chest. 😉

I absolutely love this shirt that I found in my closet! It is the perfect comfy breastfeeding shirt. It has a faux-wrap style, and the parts that crisscross over the chest have thin bits of elastic to help it keep its ruffly shape. I will be wearing this one a lot. 🙂

Shirt: Anthropologie
Nursing tank: Motherhood Maternity
Jeans: JCP
Bracelet: vintage
Shoes: Dr. Scholl’s

E’s shirt is from Etsy, hat from H&M, pants & socks were gifts.

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Conquering The Paper Clutter Organizing Challenge

It seems like ever since we bought this house that we have been drowning in paperwork that needs to be saved for reference. We have a pretty good system for keeping mail organized when it arrives (seen in this post), but anything past that point started turning into piles of paperwork throughout the house, driving us nuts. I started out trying to add it in with my little desktop file folder holder (seen behind the stack of binders below), but that quickly filled up and got disorganized. I decided to try harder to get all these papers and manuals organized, put away, and still easy to access when needed.

I divided everything into three binders, leaving my file folder box for it’s original purpose: business contracts, tax documents and business related receipts.

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I started with the binder I will use the most – my Home & Family binder. The first section has all of my printed cleaning checklists printed out and organized. I love the Martha Stewart cleaning checklists…so helpful to keep on hand!
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After that, I made a section of papers that I reference occassionally with gardening information, like instructions for the potato planter and the soil tester.3

The last section in this binder is a bunch of ideas for fun things for us to do as a family on the weekend. I put in clippings from local magazines, lists of ideas we have come up with, and fliers from local attractions. This should help us think of something we would like to do each weekend, and better stick to our plan of one day of working on projects and one day of fun each weekend.4

The next binder has all of the baby related paperwork. The first section has all of the reference paperwork that I got while I was pregnant. There is first aid info, breastfeeding resources, etc.5

Next is a section with all of the receipts from our major baby purchases, such as stroller, car seat, crib, etc. I want to make sure we have all of these together in case we have any problems with anything.6

Last in this binder is a section with all of the baby product manuals.

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The last binder has all of our important records, documents and manuals for all of the other things around the house, such as appliances. The first section has our most important records: marriage certificate, title and insurance paperwork for our house and the one we just sold in Texas, etc.
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Next is a section with important health records. I made sure I kept all of the paperwork from this pregnancy in case we want to reference it with a future pregnancy. I also have another sheet protector with important vet records (our dog Stella was named Skittles by the adoption agency but we renamed her).
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Next is important paperwork and records for things around the house, such as the chimney and care instructions for the kitchen counters.12

Next is a section with important records about our cars.
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Lastly, I have a section with manuals for all of the non-baby related items around the house. I further divided them into categories such as small appliances, kitchen appliances, garden, and misc.14

Hopefully this should help keep things better under control!

What I Wore: Early Summer Evening Walk

It is always a good day when my husband is home on a weekday while the sun is still out. In addition to my physical therapy routine three times a day, I am trying to gradually rebuild my strength after almost a year being laid up with short walks in our neighborhood. Last night, my husband was able to join us and snap a couple of quick pictures for me. 🙂

Hat: H&M (from the men’s department)
Nursing tank: Motherhood Maternity
Plaid shirt: H&M
Shorts: JCP
Tights: Target
Boots: Urban Outfitters
Sunglasses: Armani Exchange

E is wearing H&M Kids, from their organic cotton collection. 🙂

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