Waging war in the urban jungle

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Elimination diet update

Paulo saw Dr. Kelly today.  We will keep on this elimination diet for 2.5 more weeks and then start the challenge phase. 

She's very happy with his results so far though.  His voice is less nasally.  His nose is clear.  His tummy problems are less frequent.  Basically he's doing great, and while he may miss the occasional bowl of mac and cheese he knows he feels better following this diet. 

We will see what the challenge phase brings us.  We've decided to start with eggs.  He'll eat two servings of eggs a day, everything else stays the same so no dairy and no wheat, and we will see if anything changes.  We'll be watching for behavioral changes, sleep changes, mucus production, headaches, aches and pains, that sort of thing.  If eggs go well then the next thing we'll challenge is wheat.  He'll get two servings of wheat a day, no eggs and no dairy, and we'll watch for any changes.  The last thing will be dairy.  After that we'll see what we can, or can't add back into his meals.  I like Kelly's description of trying to identify his "threshold'.  At what point does he cross the threshold and start to have side effects, for instance can he eat eggs and wheat a couple times a week but maybe not at the same meal?  Will we be able to go out to breakfast but I will have to be prepared for the likelihood that he'll wake in the night because he's having a hard time breathing from all the mucus?  Where is his critical mass so to speak?  I know he and I are both happier with him sleeping all night and I realized that he has not gotten sick since June.  I know it's summer...and I use that term very loosely here in the Northwest, but he usually has at least one bad summer cold.  But not this year.  I would really, really love to get through the winter without calling him in sick time after time after time.  That's my dream.  That with these diet changes he won't get sick and miss school and he will not need more antibiotics.  That's the dream, the golden ticket to happiness. 

We shall see what the challenge phase brings us.....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Self care

I went to the gym every single day this week.  Either before or after work, mostly before.  I really prefer before, I love going to work knowing I'm done, once work is over I can go straight home, Paulo can play with his buddies, I can start dinner, no rushing.  Some weeks do not work out so well for me and my gym time.  This week was marvelous though.  The stars and moon aligned just right so I could fit in exercise every single day.  I'm sore, but my mind is happy. 

My other weapon this week was a nightly cup of....tea.  Sleepy time tea.  My mother in law bought me the cutest little teapot for my birthday.  It comes with its own cup, it makes drinking tea a fancy affair-but not too fancy. 

Extra sleep has helped me too.  And, since I had my braces adjusted on Wednesday and can't eat much, I've been drinking a lot of green smoothies.  I notice a substantial boost to my mood and sense of peace when I go raw 80% of the time.  I'm not 100% raw, I'm still eating cooked foods at dinner, and today I will probably have miso soup at lunch, but breakfast and lunch have been predominantly raw all week and I know my brain and body benefited from it.

This has been a good week for self care.  It has taken substantial effort but it was well worth it.  Now, if only the stars and moon continue to align right next week and the next week and the week after that!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


We are thinking of turning our day trip to the beach into an overnight at the beach.  However, with Paulo on his elimination diet this proves somewhat tricky. 

I've found two restaurants that are listed as "gluten free friendly" one of them even has gluten free pizza, it remains to be seen if that is also egg free and dairy free.  I've emailed the company to ask. 

My alternative though is to pack food, enough for dinner, breakfast, lunch and another dinner.  Bake a loaf of bread, slice it, bring it, bring nut butters, ham, GF mustard, that sort of thing, bring cut fruits and veggies GF snacks for lunch or dinner.  Bring stuffed corn muffins or make some pancakes, something that could be reheated in our room for breakfast.  We, thankfully, have not had to travel during our elimination period, I didn't give the demands of traveling on a restricted diet a second thought, until today.  Now, it's getting a second, third and fourth thought! 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dear Baskin and Robbins

I am not a satisfied customer.  Given the rising occurrence of dairy allergies and lactose intolerance I find it difficult to understand why your franchises would not stock more allergen friendly options.  I phoned two local stores and in one there were a whopping two choices, the daiquiri ice and the tropical ice, the second only had the daiquiri ice.  My dairy free 6 year old has no frame of reference as to what a daiquiri tastes like and is understandably not interested.  He's a child.  He'd like something in a strawberry or perhaps a dairy free chocolate variety.  He's 6 after all and despite not being able to consume dairy he's a totally normal 6 year old boy.  He loves frozen treats.  I thought for sure your franchises would stock some sort of soy ice cream or coconut ice cream options, alas I was mistaken.  Apparently the growing portion of the allergic population is not welcome at Baskin and Robbins.  Duly noted.

An irritated Mother.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Elimination diet update

We are half way through the elimination period.  Paulo has adjusted well to the restrictions.  He's very good at reminding others too of his special diet.

I had a very interesting evening with him on Friday.  We needed to do the grocery shopping so I took him to one of the very few restaurants that I considered safe, Pho.  Dairy?  None.  Eggs?  Nope.  Wheat?  Nah, we get the rice noodle soup....safe right?  Perhaps not.  We split our usual, chicken noodle, and off we went to New Seasons.  Within minutes of entering the grocery store my son was bouncing off the walls.  He literally could not stand still to save his life.  Now, if you know Paulo, you know he's pretty rambunctious.  But, this was different somehow.  I reminded him that we were in a grocery store and he really needed to settle down, to control his body.  He agreed and then, seconds later was jumping up and down again.  It was as if he could not control himself.

I looked back through his food diary and at first glance saw nothing amiss.  Then it hit me.  Pho, Vietnamese soup, did they use MSG?  Was his behavior related to consuming MSG?  I phoned today to be sure, after a few seconds of a language barrier the man said yes, they use MSG.  I also looked back through his food journal.  I would say easily 80% of the nights he's struggled with falling asleep, or staying asleep, he's been at Pho for lunch or dinner.  We thought it was our safe spot for dining out during this elimination period, looks like we thought wrong.

We meet with our naturapath next week to go over our progress so far and discuss reintroducing the three food groups.  I'm anxious to see what, if any, reaction he has to each item as we allow him to eat them again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lifting the fog

24 hours can make a difference.  I noticed on my drive home last night that my face was...lighter.  It's difficult to explain but when I'm in meltdown mode my face feels flat, emotionless, blank, heavy.  My smile does not reach my eyes.  When it lifts those symptoms lift too.  It's lifting. 

We actually had a nice evening last night.  I made a quick and easy fish taco dinner.  Quick clean up.  Then took Paulo up to the school to practice his moves.

He starts up with soccer for real soon.  So far he's only had his Jamboree.  Which was really fun for him but we could see he needs to work on his stamina.  He's a go all out kind of kid so he gets winded really easily. 

So last night Rene took him and put him through a few drills.  It was cute.  Paulo was a sweaty, tired mess by the end of it.  They practiced trapping and passing.  The practiced maneuvering around the cones.  Then they practiced getting past the defender to try to shoot on the goal.  It was the first time Rene has really taken him out to the field and tried to teach him.  They've kicked the ball around plenty but no instruction.  Paulo had fun, especially when he tried being the defender and Rene had to try to get around him to score!  He seemed to treat this as if Rene needed to practice his skills too, so really he was doing Dad a favor by going out to the field with him!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Ever have one of those days where life just seems, well, impossible?  When something so small, so insignificant, just sends you right over the cliff?  Where the idea that we can have it all, do it all, and be whatever we want to be just feels so ridiculous? 

Yeah, me too, yesterday.  It sucked.  I'm kind of, sort of, climbing back up from the abyss thanks to extra snuggle time and an extra vigorous work out this morning.  But it's still sucking, just less than yesterday.  I'm still struggling with how to get everything done that I feel needs to be done and still carve out a little time everyday for me.  To do that today I got up at 5:45 AM, ouch. 

You know what really stung?  We were watching Wipe Out last night, as we always do on Tuesday night, and a commercial came on for an antidepressant.  My six year old asked me if I needed that.  Big ouch.  Yesterday perhaps I did, today I don't.  That's why I quit taking them, the dark days are few and far between, so why did I want to take something every single day if I didn't need the help every single day?  I didn't.  So I quit, cold turkey-yeah that was rough-and tried upping my work out intensity.  Most of the time that, and my supplements that I take from my naturapath, are enough.  But yesterday? Yesterday sucked.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The official start of Fall

SOCCER!!  We're a soccer family, by "we" I mean my husband.  He's the soccer player.  Me?  I'm along for the ride and to make sure my players have enough water.

Today was the start of Fall 2010 soccer for Paulo.

It got off to a great start, he scored a goal.  And ran back to the other side of the field to his team mates screaming VICTORY!!!  As you can see, he's a very shy and reserved child....snort.

I really love this picture!  I have a very similar shot of his father from his high school glory days hanging in Dimitri's room.  It was snapped mid stride of a track meet and you can see the focus and determination on his face, that and his really long hair flying behind him.  I see that focus and determination here, in our son.  I think that will take him far in life.

He was really hot and really tired after the jamboree.  We've had a lousy summer, weather wise, it's been downright cold!  My poor tomato plant may never give me ripe, red, tomatoes.  Today was over 100, fortunately the jamboree started at 9 am so it wasn't too bad but still, it was over 80, and he was running almost nonstop for over an hour.  You know what that means?  Oh yeah, he'll be sleeping good tonight!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The bird

No, not the ones flying high in the sky....THE bird.  Paulo has always been a very animated talker, he uses his hands to get his point across, he points...a lot.  He often chose to point with that finger.  You know the one, not the pointer, but its neighbor.  I opted to stay silent.  After all, to him it's just a finger.

Yesterday we're leaving the gym and he's venting about a kid that called him stupid head and we're talking about what he can do differently if it happens again, how he can defend himself, etc., etc.  We're in the car and my child says "you know what else is mean?" I glance back to his seat and see my 6 year old son flipping the bird!  I actually gasped.  "Who showed you that?!" I asked.  "My brother."  Eyes of death fixate on the teenager beside me...."NO! I didn't show him, I just told him to stop pointing with that finger because it means something bad".  I told him that until he said that it was just a finger.  Until you assigned a meaning to the gesture it was just a finger, nothing more.....oh, he says.  That sound I heard?  One more crack in my baby boy's innocence.....sigh.....

Saturday, August 7, 2010


That's how I feel right now.  Violated.

That's the window of my front porch.  Well, not my front porch today, but the front porch I grew up in.  The window I could see out when I had to wash dishes.

That used to be the back door I ran in and out of to the back yard.  It was the laundry room and the pantry was just off to the left when you walked in the door. 

That's the window I watched the big lightening storm out of when I was a little kid.  I sat there in the dining room with my Mom, just the two of us.  I saw a flash of lightening so big, so bright, so close and so perfectly formed it scared the socks off me! 

And those are the doors we used to leave open in the summer to get the breeze in.  When we were really little that was the bedroom of my older brothers.  When I was a teenager it was my Dad's "den".  I can still see him sitting at his desk, balancing his check book, grumbling to himself.  I can still see 11 year old me sitting at the ancient computer playing the old Wagon Train, Westward expansion, game.  It was one of the only computer games I had.  This was pre Nintendo days. 

I took Paulo berry picking today out on Sauvie's Island.  To get there we have to pass down Highway 30, which is where my old childhood home sits.  I saw my Dad's white truck in the driveway on our way out to the farm.  I figured if he were still there when we came back we'd stop, I'd show Paulo the house I grew up in-it's light years away from how he's growing up, almost like another planet, and he's old enough to start to understand where I came from.  He was still there an hour or so later when we passed back by so we stopped.  And I found my Dad standing in the driveway and our house, vandalized.  The house has been empty for years.  I started pushing my Dad to demo it a few months ago, for a variety of reasons, but one of those is that this empty house is a liability.  I was more concerned about a homeless person getting in and starting a fire to keep warm, that fire then getting out of control, destroying the business next door, Forest Park, etc.  But I also knew that his house was a huge temptation to vandals.  It's like the geek in 5th grade with a kick me sign taped to his back.  Unfortunately we have a lot of red tape to cut through because the house is still titled to his late 1st wife, we hired an attorney and the slow process began.  It's has not gotten very far.  And sometime after Wednesday and before today, someone decided to kick my house.

I just feel, violated.  This was my home.  I came home from the hospital to this house when I was born.  I learned to walk in this house.  I learned to ride a bike just down the street in the big parking lot of a warehouse.  I remember my bike, it was a Christmas present, it had a banana seat.  I celebrated Christmas there more years than not until I was an adult, and even then, when I was in college I came home there for holidays.  My Mom baked cookies and bread in that kitchen.  She read to me in that house.  My Father and I played uno and built jig saw puzzles in that dining room.  And someone just peed all over my family home.  Yes it's uninhabitable now, but it was our home at one time.  Two people raised a family there.  It didn't belong to them, they did not have the right to kick my house.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The arts

Aaron Meyer, a local rock violinist, played a free concert/lecture at the Tigard Library last night.  I saw him at our grade school's fundraising auction last Fall.  He is amazing.  http://www.aaronmeyer.com/ Check him out, listen to his music, it is uplifting, inspiring, beautiful, I really cannot say enough about it.  His music is just so moving.

I decided that I was going to take my six year old to the concert.  I realize that I've over looked a very important part of his development-the Arts.  They matter to me, yet I have not exposed my son to enough of it, I need to change that.  Paulo did-OK.  He was a little restless about 1/2 way though, mind you the concert was only one hour!  Really though he did as well as I expected him to do for his first classical concert.  But the look on his face when Aaron picked up his violin and played those first beautiful notes....that was a look I will never forget.  He was shocked.  About 3/4 of the way through he brought out his electric violin and showed how he could change the sound of the music, now Paulo was paying close attention!  After he was done we, naturally, bought a CD and Paulo said he wanted Aaron to teach him to play the violin, I would love for my son to learn a musical instrument, I never did.  As we were leaving the library I asked him if he'd noticed Aaron's face when he played his music.  My six year old replied, yes, he looked peaceful.  That was the exact word I was thinking when I watched this man play.  He looked at peace.  I envy that-peace

I thanked Paulo last night for going to the concert with me.  He's already asking if we can go to Aaron Meyer's Holiday Concert.  I really want to take him.  We will have to start planning for that, and much, much more.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


It's hard.  It's really hard.  Keeping the lines of communication open in a relationship is scary.  You're making yourself vulnerable to another human being when you say "hey, this is what I need from you."  You're risking the possibility that the answer will be "sorry, I can't, or won't, do that".  It's scary. 

We've been married for over 8 years, together for 10.  There have been bumps and bruises along the way, as all long term relationships experience.  I can't help feeling that it should be easier by now to start those difficult conversations, those vulnerable conversations, yet it's not.  My self preservation kicks in just as strong.  I grew up in a chaotic environment.  Simple conflicts escalated into WWIII with yelling, screaming, threats to pack up and leave....offers to help the other pack...it was not a healthy marriage.  There is a still a part of me that expects my husband to respond to conflicts the way my parents did.  Now, his own patterns are not exactly helpful, he's a retreat and hide kind of guy.  A, if I don't say anything then it'll go away kind of guy.  It's been...challenging....lately. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Oregon Zoo

Yesterday I had the urge to get out of the house, to do something outside our ordinary weekend routine-which frankly does not include much FUN!  I did some speed cleaning in the morning then surprised Paulo with my idea, the zoo.  We have a great zoo in Portland.  I haven't been in years.  He goes a couple times a year with his Grandma, but had not been this summer-despite his begging.  I packed up our lunches, two reasons really, one I didn't want to spend money on zoo food and two I didn't think we'd be able to get what he needed for his diet, and off we went. 

Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea, the parking lot was full, so we had to use the off site parking and the shuttle bus system.  They use big yellow school buses to take people back and forth.  I'm not a fan.  It took a long time.  Probably four bus loads before we got on and took the less than 5 minute ride to the zoo.  Paulo was a peach though, told me it was ok, he would wait and be patient because that's just part of life....yes, my 6 year old was lecturing me about patience. 

We finally got there and went in, at this point, we have less than 3 hours before we need to be leaving, we had dinner plans with friends.  So I asked him which animals does he really, really want to see?  Basically everything he named resided in the African area of the zoo so we went there.  It was an overcast morning, I was actually really cold, Paulo was oblivious to the lack of sun. 

We had a great time.  We spent a lot of time in the monkey area, then of course we had to pretend we were monkeys.  We saw elephants, then he was the baby elephant, giraffes and the big cats.  He even got to see a screech owl up close-no touching though!  And he got to pet baby goats.  He spent a lot of time in with the baby goats.  I took tons of pictures. 

 I think Paulo would have been perfectly happy to stay in the play areas all day.  He loved climbing on the stone animals. 

I was amazed at how he would wait patiently, there was always a crowd of children, but he would remember to wait. To not cut in line in his excitement, to take turns and be kind. He was also pretty good about other, smaller, children forgetting those simple rules.

It's moments like that when you realize, your baby is growing up. 

He's maturing before your very eyes.  It's an amazing job we have.  There's nothing else like it on Earth.  It has really long hours and we might feel like we're understaffed and under appreciated, but it's the very best job ever. 

I'm glad we decided to break out of our usual routine.  I'm also glad the sun finally came out and warmed me up! 

The day also reminded me that I need to find more fun in my weekends!  There are enough hours in the day.  Sometimes I get stuck thinking the opposite, that there isn't time for fun.  There is, I need to make sure we use it!  Spontaneous trips to the zoo are a good thing.  I need more spontaneity in my life!   My original idea for yesterday was a trip downtown to the Salmon Street Springs so he could play in the fountain but it was COLD when we woke up.  I think Summer might be passing us by already.  I hope not because I'd really love to take him down to play in the fountain.  Maybe next Saturday....

I was amazed at how he would wait patiently, there was always a crowd of children, but he would remember to wait. To not cut in line in his excitment, to take turns and be kind. He was also pretty good about other, smaller, children forgetting those simple rules.