Thursday, February 28, 2013

Big News For Ruby

Honey Roo Boo
This week brought some interesting news about Ruby!

Let's begin from, well, the beginning. When I was nursing Ruby, it didn't take long for us to figure out that she was sensitive to dairy. Like crazy sensitive. So I cut out all dairy from my diet, and guess what? She was just as sensitive to soy. You know what soy is in? Everything. That's what. So I followed a dairy-free/soy-free diet from the time Woobs was about 2 weeks old until she was almost a year old. It was really healthy and kept me away from all processed foods. I got really skinny and missed cheeseburgers. Meh. It didn't kill me.

When Ruby started solids it became apparent that she actually was sensitive to much more than dairy and soy. Most foods resulted in episodes of screaming and projectile vomiting all night long.  She was diagnosed with FPIES - which basically means she had a problem with the protein in a lot of different foods, like dairy, soy, chicken, beef, legumes, rice, sweet potatoes, gluten, etc. The list went on and on. We were told there were some foods that were more common FPIES triggers than others, but that every kid is different and it was basically a trial-and-error process to figure out what she could and couldn't handle, and that she would eventually grow out of it. You know what I really loved? Giving my baby a new food and then counting the minutes until exactly 3.5 hours later, when the barf & scream hours might or might not start.

When she was about a year old, she got much better. She passed food trials with flying colours. She started eating anything and everything - by the time I went back to work I was even able to send her to daycare without any special food. It was awesome.

But then my baby stopped getting better. She started getting sicker and crabbier. She had huge dark circles under her eyes and was just never well. She screamed and cried all day and all night. Something wasn't right. The regular medical system had already basically said goodbye and good luck when it came to figuring out what was wrong with Ruby. She was pretty miserable most of the time and we didn't really know why.

Then one day last spring I went to my staff retreat at work and one of the sessions I took was a presentation from a Naturopath. I loved everything she said about the body's ability to heal itself and the crucial role that diet plays. I absolutely believe that today's garbage diets play a huge role in health problems, behaviour problems, etc. And I really liked that I got to experience the ND's presentation with my coworkers - I work in community health and I loved hearing the questions and discussion between my medical coworkers and the ND. I came home and talked to Rainer about it, and we decided to take Ruby to the ND who had presented at my staff retreat.

Ruby was seen at The Nature Doctors last spring and was immediately put on a very restrictive diet: no dairy, soy, gluten, eggs, corn, rice, no fruit (except berries, apples and pears), peanuts, pistachios, or processed sugar. Haha. And I had thought my dairy-free/soy-free diet was restrictive! Rainer thought it was nuts but was okay with us trying it for a while. So we jumped in. I learned a lot about cross-contamination and worshipped at the feet of The Gluten-Free Goddess. We bought unsweetened almond milk by the case and got to be on a first-name basis with the staff at Vita Health. I learned how to make yogurt from coconut milk and spent a lot of time baking. And Ruby? Ruby thrived. She started the restrictive diet and it was like someone had turned a switch. She shot up in inches and pounds, went back to being a great sleeper, and her mood improved drastically. It was incredible. Rainer, who had previously been skeptical, became a believer after the first week when he was playing with Ruby one day and she giggled - and he realized Ruby was over a year old and he'd never heard her laugh before. Who feels like giggling when their belly is always so sore?

We stayed on the restricted diet for a long time. Because Ruby was so young, we couldn't get her tested for food allergies/sensitivities through the ND, so the foods eliminated were an educated guess - a combination of things we knew she'd reacted to in the past and foods that the ND knew were common triggers. Ruby was 1,000,000% better on this diet, but we still had some reactions here and there. We weren't sure if that was from cross-contamination from the rest of us, slip-ups with her diet, or that she was reacting to something else that we hadn't eliminated.

Along with the restricted diet, she was given a couple of undas, which are like prescriptions from an ND. The theory behind this all was that Ruby has a "leaky gut" and by eliminating the trigger foods, and treating it with the unda, her gut would have time to heal itself and the allergies would resolve. The first unda didn't seem to do anything. In fact, around Christmastime things were getting worse. Ruby was still on her diet but was having more and more bad nights. We had one stretch that was every night for over a week! Around this same time, my friend Amanda's family had an amazing experience with a chiropractor in Florida. While I initially thought she was crazy when she brought up the idea (it's okay, she knows I thought she was nutso) it really did make me wake up and realize we should do more for Ruby. I mean, I was working hard to make sure she never felt left out when it came to food. We always had the same supper (although sometimes Ruby had a special version) and I even made Ruby-friendly Christmas baking so she could enjoy some treats like everyone else. But she was still reacting to things from time to time. We were managing but we weren't getting better. And we went out a few times to other places where Ruby got into different things - drank cow's milk from another kid's cup, found a stash of pasta in some kid's chair after supper - it was only the beginning of what was yet to come - trying to keep her away from her triggers when she's in an environment outside our house. So that lit a fire under me.

We talked endlessly about booking it to Florida for our own miracle, but decided to try some more local options first. We looked into acupuncture - a friend of mine was once known for having the second worst allergies in the entire province, and through acupuncture they have all been eliminated except for her nut allergy. We tried another round of the unda and started taking Ruby to our own chiropractor here in Winnipeg. When I started telling him about Ruby, he told me that 90% of the kids he sees are there for allergy elimination. (WHAT THE HELL, DR. GERRY????? Why he doesn't have a flashing neon sign proclaiming this fact, I will never know.) As he talked about what is going on in the body of a child with food sensitivities or allergies, and what it does to them, and the impact it has on their mood and behaviour, I wanted to cry. It was like he'd been peeking in our windows. We started treatments the next day and went from the worst 2 weeks we'd had in a year to only having had 1 bad night since seeing Dr. Gerry. Pretty amazing.

But the most exciting thing in all of this was news from the Naturopath said Ruby was finally old enough for the allergy testing! We were super excited about learning what exactly she needed to avoid, hopeful that we would be able to ease up on the restrictions in her diet. We went in for her blood draw and waited eagerly for the results. Of course, with our luck being what it is, there were a few screw-ups at the lab and we ended up needing to go in and start the process again. We talked every night about which allergy we would most like to see disappear: I finally settled on corn and rice while Rainer's vote varied between dairy and all of them. Ha.

And here's where the big news comes in: we got her results back this week, and they show nothing. Nothing. As in she has no remaining allergies or sensitivities. It's a miracle, right?

I'm not sure. 

On the one hand, this is exactly what we've been working toward. The whole idea of the elimination diet and the unda was to heal the leaky gut. The whole point of the chiropractor treatments are to eliminate the allergies. Why did we do these things if we didn't believe this is where we'd end up? And kids grow out of allergies all the time. Who's to say Ruby isn't one of those kids?

Still, it seems too good to be true. Mostly because the test results came with a big disclaimer saying if you've been practicing complete avoidance (which we have been for almost a year) your sensitivity/allergy is unlikely to show up. I'm not going to lie. I was actually livid when I read that, thinking that was a waste of time, money, and most importantly, hope. I immediately called the ND's office and the office manager was totally ready for me with an explanation. (LOL. I'm guessing a) I'm not the first person to freak out after reading the disclaimer and b) the ND's office regularly curses that lab for including that disclaimer on the results.) The ND says it doesn't actually impact the results very often, and we should start re-introducing foods. 

I still can't believe it, but am cautiously optimistic. Ruby had half a pita for supper last night and was actually the ONLY one of the kids who slept through the night. So maybe, just maybe, this is for real. Fingers crossed, everyone!



Saturday, February 23, 2013


Growing up in GP was kind of like growing up in the middle of nowhere. My Dad only had one sister and she lived 4 hours away. She only had one son and he is several years younger than me. My Mom came from a really big family but we didn't have tons of cousins there either, and they lived in the Maritimes so we rarely saw them.

So I'm really glad we're only 10 minutes away from one set of cousins! It would be nice if the other ones were that close, too, but we'll take what we can get. :)  The kids are all so close in age - Talia and my nephew are 6 weeks apart, Ruby and my niece are 3 months apart - so it's a little bit of chaotic bliss when we all get together.

Talia thinks her cousins have the best toys. Spiderman glove!!

Badminton game! Declan loves having a boy to play with.

Ruby-friendly cupcake we take to all the birthday parties.
<3 br="">

Grammie gets a makeover
Best buddies, Spidey-style

Hard to believe we didn't have any of these kids just 5 years ago. What the hell did we do at family gatherings before them???

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Here's a little-known fact about me: my mom taught me to read when I was 3. She was a grade 1 teacher and was too busy to read to me all day long like I wanted her to, so it was a logical step, I suppose. I've been a major bookworm ever since.

Now that she looks after my kids when I'm at work, she's carrying on the tradition with Talia. Talia is a different student than I am, though - stubborn and strong-willed. My mom has been working on it for about 2 weeks now and told me on the phone today "I think she knows it; she just doesn't want to do it because she *knows* I want her to." Yeah, well, welcome to my world, Grammie. :)

So imagine everyone's surprise when I got home from work today and Talia read me the first 30 pages of this old reader.

When Rainer got home, she read them to him as well. It's a kind of surreal feeling to hear your baby read! I'm so excited to introduce her to some of my favourite children's characters. M'baby is really growing up.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What's New Around Here

1. We had a lovely Valentine's Day. We actually went on 2 Valentine's dates last week - once to the Jets game, and once out for dinner on a double date with friends while the kids were at the Kids Spot babysitting night. Rainer got me a Pandora bracelet that was too big and pulled out my arm hair. I got him a chin-up bar that he didn't want - he'd apparently asked for push-up bars but I'm a terrible listener. Anyway, I've exchanged my bracelet for a smaller one and I love it, and he's decided that he might like a new chin-up bar after all, so I guess it wasn't a complete fail.

2. I may have the opportunity to go to a 0.6 EFT at work. Right now I'm at a 0.5, it would mean an extra day every other week. I can't decide if I want to or not. It would certainly take some stress off at work if I had a little extra time - but I really, really love my short week. 

3. I've been filling out lots of forms for the kids lately and they all annoy me when we get to the medical section. Why does gymnastics need my medical numbers? Why does nursery school need the kids' doctor's name and number? I work in healthcare, people. I know that if something serious ever happened, they will call an ambulance and then me. Nobody is going to refuse to treat the kids because they don't have their 9 digit PHIN on them. Even if they did call the doc, she doesn't have privileges at Children's and she would not be allowed to give out their health info anyway. So pointless.

4.  We've been half-heartedly potty training Woobs for a couple of weeks now. Grammie is with her during the week when I work and she is a fan of pull-ups, which I am not. So it's been slow going. But I think we've got it licked now - yesterday Woobs only had 1 accident and today she had none, in gitchies both days. (Of course, because I just bought a few tons of pull-ups at Costco and at Zellers' liquidation sale.) Can't believe my youngest is trained. Quick, somebody give me a baby right now.

5. As hard as it is to believe, it's been almost 17 years since I left GP for the big city. Once I left, I never lived at home again, even in the summers. So I've been living at least 4 hours from my parents for almost 20 years. But now they live close enough, they can do things like this:

Random drop-off of homemade cinnamon buns, still warm from Grammie's oven. Love it.

6. I'm on a bit of a self-imposed FB fast and I'm super productive because of it. I even steam mopped my floor and read 2 books this week. 

7. I'm taking a 6 week photography workshop soon. I'm pretty excited about straying from the point & shoot settings on my camera. More importantly, maybe they will give me tips about getting 3 preschoolers to look at the camera at the same time:

Valentine's flowers from Daddyo

 8. Declan had his 3 year appointment yesterday. He's slightly above average for both height and weight, prompting the doctor to declare him a giant for one of my kids. We had a great time celebrating his birthday last weekend, even though about 6 kids ended up not being able to come to the party. We had a small crowd that was like a regular Friday afternoon around here, he kept asking "When are da rest of my friends comin'?" LOL. But it was lots of fun anyway and he was totally spoiled.

9.  I've recently lost some weight. I'm phasing off my program now and had a huge, delicious, healthy breakfast this morning. I've felt enormous ever since. I think I might be crazy. In related news, it's time to get back to fitness class. Sigh. I wish napping and cupcakes were the healthiest things you could do for your body.

10. All this week, my hand and wrist have been killing me. I couldn't lift Ruby, I couldn't get the kids strapped into carseats, I couldn't lift plates out of the cupboards. I went to the chiropractor yesterday and he said it was sprained and dislocated. The adjustment was so painful - which is not the norm with this chiro - and it ached and throbbed all day, even though it was all taped up. This morning it was perfectly normal. I love the chiropractor.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Parlez-vous le ding-dong?

That's how my Auntie from Montreal used to ask us if we spoke French. Today I got a package from the school and there was a bunch of information about the Immersion program. I'm so sad that my tiny baby Talia is already big enough for full-time school. But I'm so, so, so excited to see her grow up and learn.

I'm a little bit sad because our school is actually a dual-track school - English or Immersion - and some of her current friends are going to the English program. We'll still have playdates and see them, but I hear the kids at school are quite segregated - English kids play with English kids, French kids play with French kids. So it will only be natural that she will drift apart from her little friends. She'll make new friends, sure, but we've gotten to know a few families really well over the last few years and I love their kids. :( But for us, the advantages of French Immersion are so huge, there's no way we'll do the English program.  It's crazy to think by this time next year Talia will be on her way to being completely fluent in a second language. I love it!!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Declan & Bear

A little background - when Talia was born, her aunt & uncle came to see her at the hospital and brought her a striped onesie, and a giant bear wearing a matching shirt. It was awesome. When Declan was born, he got the same bear. We've been using them ever since to take the yearly comparison pictures.

Rainer believes the kids change the most from 2 to 3. They leave their babyhood behind and are big kids all of a sudden. I think the change from 3 to 4 is actually worse. But this is bad enough!! Where did m'baby go????

Sunday, February 10, 2013

To Declan At Three

Declan Christopher. Has it really been three years already? I can't imagine not remembering every second of every day with you - but of course, we know that's not going to happen. So what do we need to remember about you at 3?

You have always been full of contradictions and unexpected surprises. You came along faster than we anticipated - your sister only had 19 months of being the baby - but they day you were actually born, we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited for you. You had enormous cheeks yet were so underweight by the time you were 6 months old. You could carry a conversation months before you could stand up and carry your own body weight. You are super shy and silent out of the house, but never stop talking at home. Dude, my ears are TIRED by the time you go to bed at night.

You are so easy-going and full of sunshine, I sometimes forget that when Ruby was born you started to scowl and didn't stop for 8 months. You are already more responsible than I am - every morning you get up, go potty, get yourself dressed with perfectly matching clothes, and then come and wake me up. You're the best alarm clock I've ever had.

We used to be good buds, you and I. But lately you've discovered the wonder that is Big Fun Daddy. Sigh. It was bound to happen, but I had you first. I try to remember that, and it does help when you squeal things like "Nooooooo! I want Daddy to wipe my bum!" So thanks for that, buddy.

You are so smart. Grammie is teaching your big sister to read right now but you keep piping up with all the answers. It's amazing to watch your mind work. When we can't find something, we ask you - you stare off into space for a second, and then you scamper off to find whatever we've lost. You're never wrong. Do you have a photographic memory? 

You are crazy, crazy, crazy for hockey. CRAZY. You are working hard at catching up in gross motor skills - you're great on the stairs, you love your scooter, you jump like a frog. You just went to the chiropractor for the first time and he seems to have helped you a lot already - I'm sorry we never thought to take you there sooner.

You are so sweet. When you really like your supper (which honestly, is pretty often) you look at me with your sweet little grin and chirp "thanks, Mom!" You are quick to look after your little sister and you worship your big sister. You think poop jokes are killer. Every night as soon as stories are over, you run to hide in your bed so Daddy and I can't find you for kisses. The giggling little lump under the covers is a great way to end the day.

Daddy is sad that tomorrow we will take your 3 year picture with your bear because you will really look like a big boy, and not a baby anymore. I didn't tell him that you never really were a baby, you were more like a very tiny, wise, old man who preferred a liquid diet. But it is hard to believe that you're so grown up. Off to nursery school in the fall, already looking forward to soccer, baseball, hockey..... I know we wanted you to hurry up and walk, but really, I take it all back. Slow down, buddy. Stay three for a little while.