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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What I Wore: Vintage Boho Sunday – Mommy & Baby Style

I usually am not a big fan of button-down shirts since they usually end up looking boxy on my frame. I found this button down shirt that I absolutely love. It is a mix of cotton woven fabric with ribbed knit cotton inserts on the sides and parts of the sleeves, which gives it a much better shape, and prevents me from feeling like I am drowning in the shirt. The buttons work for breastfeeding on the go, and the lightweight fabric is great for a warm day. The vintage skirt is one of my favorites, and I was happy to find something that would look cute paired with it, as well as still be breastfeeding-friendly.

Top: JCP
Skirt: vintage
Scarf: H&M
Sunglasses: Coach
Belt: came with a dress, but not sure which one…maybe from H&M?
Boots: Boot Barn
Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs

E is wearing a vintage seersucker romper, a hat from H&M, a Burt’s Bees Baby organic cotton tee, and Ecoland organic cotton socks. His Gdiaper cloth diaper is also peeking out in the pictures. 🙂

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And a pic of my handsome husband today! Such a great dad. 🙂

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What I Wore: Accessorizing the New-Mom Style

I have quickly realized that being a new mom comes with some unexpected extras…things like dark under-eye circles and hair that is often dirtier than you would like. Instead of giving up all hope of feeling/looking decent, I am trying to learn to accessorize around these fun little extras. Great shades and concealer hide the dark circles, and fun hats and dry shampoo help get you through between washes. My hair takes forever to blow dry and straighten, so on one occasion I even had to ask my mom to come help with the baby so I could just get my hair washed. 🙂 The little guy does not like to nap which does not leave me much time to do things that take a long time.

Button down shirts worn over nursing camisoles are really starting to be very useful for nursing the baby. I wore another scarf here that was great as a nursing cover. I generally am not a big fan of button-down shirts since they tend to make me look huge and boxy, but I have found that as long as I belt it or tuck in at least part of the shirt, it really helps me feel like I am not drowning in the shirt.

These new flats are amazingly comfortable and feel like I am walking on a cloud! I love them. 🙂 I also discovered an added accessory bonus this day…sparkly bracelets are great for keeping the baby occupied during diaper changes! He watched my wrists moving around and glittering, and before he had time to make a fuss, the diaper was changed!

Hat: Forever 21
Sunglasses: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Scarf: H&M
Blouse: Nordstrom
Nursing camisole: Motherhood Maternity
Sweater: Anthropologie
Pants: Anthropologie
Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Shoes: Dr. Scholl’s

E is wearing FAO Schwarz and a hat from H&M.

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What I Wore: Learning to dress for style & function

It has been a long, long time since I have done a fashion post! The last one I did was actually shot in the first week of my pregnancy with E, before we realized I was pregnant. 🙂 I quickly started feeling way too sick with all-day-long morning sickness to be in the mood to take any pictures. I would have liked to have done a couple of maternity style posts, but once I started to actually look pregnant, I was on bed rest by then. Putting the pregnancy at risk in order to get some pictures was so not an option. Besides, the only time I was wearing anything other than my grandma’s baggy sweat suits was on my brief trips to my doctor’s appointments. 🙂

For my first 7 weeks postpartum (after I left the hospital), I pretty much lived in one of my pairs of leggings and one of my baggy black tees or tanks. I had a hard time wearing much of anything else because of the bulky binders I was wearing to help support my pelvic bones. I had to dress strictly for function, and started to feel like I was wearing a uniform each day.

Now that I am feeling a little better (and have stopped wearing the Velcro/elastic contraptions), I am starting to try to learn how to dress for this new phase in my life. I need clothes that are accessible and breastfeeding-friendly. I also don’t want to wear a bunch of dry-clean only clothes since I always end up with spit-up and other things on me daily. I figured that once I lost the majority of the 40+ pounds I gained during my pregnancy that most of my pre-pregnancy clothes would fit me again. I only have about 10 pounds of that weight left, and almost none of my clothes fit. Pregnancy completely changed my body in ways I did not expect. My hip bones widened significantly, and my rib cage expanded by over 10 inches during the pregnancy. I hoped that they would go back down after the pregnancy, and they have a little, but I definitely have a completely different shape now. I also have the new challenge of not being ready to wear heels or wedges yet thanks to the lingering pain in the ligaments between my legs and pelvis. Until those are healed up a little better, all of my outfits have to look good with flats, which is a big change from what I am used to wearing.

Both of my guys have been very patient lately as we have spent much of our weekend time trying to find things for my new-mommy wardrobe. First order of business was a new purse that will work with almost anything. I don’t want to ruin any of my nice vintage bags with any kind of baby-related stain, and I needed something that could be worn over my shoulder or cross-body. I wanted something easy to clean, a great neutral color, big enough to hold a burp rag and a few other baby essentials. Sometimes the diaper bag is just too much for a quick trip, or I need something more accessible when the diaper bag is in the bottom storage compartment of the stroller. I ended up finding the perfect solution…this Marc by Marc Jacobs bag that actually matches my diaper bag. 🙂 It even has two straps so it can be worn cross-body or over the shoulder! It is quilted nylon, and wipes clean so easily. I am so in love with this bag. 🙂 Expect to see it with pretty much all of my upcoming fashion posts.

After we found the purse, the next order of business was finding some clothes that fit my new shape. I am a total high-low shopper, and love shopping at a wide range of places. One of my favorite things to do is spend an afternoon digging through some of my favorite thrift stores to find some great pieces. This outfit is perfect for an afternoon of thrift store shopping. Some thrift stores don’t have the best dressing rooms, so I love to wear a base layer that I can try things on with. I start with a black nursing tank and black leggings, and add on top of that. The baby is not a big fan of the nursing cover, so I have been wearing scarves that I can use as a nursing cover as much as possible. That way he can still keep his one eye watching me like he enjoys doing, and I can cover up a little. 🙂

Over my leggings and nursing camisole, I added a button-down tunic, that allows for easy access, a large vintage scarf nipped in at the waist with a vintage belt, and ballet flats. It worked out perfectly for our day of thrifting and shopping.

Scarf: vintage (was my Grandma’s, from one of their many vacations)
Belt: vintage
Tunic: H&M
Sunglasses: vintage
Leggings: Still wearing my maternity leggings since they do not rub on my c-section incision which is still sore. Brand is unknown but they were from Macy’s.
Nursing Tank: Motherhood Maternity
Shoes: Chinese Laundry
Bag: Marc by Marc Jacobs

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

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