Thursday, September 19, 2013


I’ve had SO many questions about Russell’s gluten-free diet, so I thought I’d write a post about it! Hopefully it can help some of those who have asked me questions, and maybe others too!


Back in March (or February? who knows?), we were approached by the preschool coordinator at our church about some of Russell’s behaviors. I don’t want to go into too much depth about that on a public blog, but I will say that it prompted us to have him re-evaluated with the school system (who does testing for special services like Russell had when he was younger) and also with a private organization.We didn’t go through as much testing as they all wanted, because it all happened around the time Paige was born, and I just couldn’t handle it. But I think we’ve gotten all the answers we need for now. Basically, because of his family history and observable behaviors, we strongly suspect ( as did the psychologists) he is ADD.

I began suspecting this right around March when we were approached at church. So I did a lot of research about what we could do without putting him on medication. (One psychologist told me that “medication is always the first line of defense for ADD.” Really? For a 4-year-old? Not for us, if we can help it!) Anyway, in my own research, I saw that many families believed a gluten-free diet helped their children. The studies about such diets are limited and inconclusive, but I decided to try it anyway with Russell based on those personal anecdotes.


They say it takes at least 6 weeks to rid the gluten from your system and thus, to know if the diet is working, you have to try it for that long. But for us, the difference was instant. We started the diet on a Saturday. On Wednesday, Russell got a special award at Awanas, and his teachers asked us what we were doing differently because he was behaving so well. At church, we heard the same thing. At our homeschool co-op, the same. He was paying more attention, he wasn’t so spacey and fidgety, he was interacting better with other kids.

At this point, he can have a little gluten without it affecting him. He’ll eat a half a cookie from Harris Teeter’s free cookie bin, and a few days later he can have a few goldfish. I have realized that a whole bowl of regular pasta is too much. The difference is obvious – he’ll act like some children do when they have too much sugar, but it stays with him for a couple days.

There are people who say, “People have been eating bread forever, and just now the gluten-free fad is happening. You’re overreacting; it’s wishful thinking that he is acting better; it’s in your head.” Well, yes, people have been eating bread forever, but not GMO bread. And not so many processed foods. And perhaps that was the key – cutting out wheat ended up cutting out a lot of processed foods: goldfish, sugary cereals, donuts, etc. The gluten-free equivalents of those things have much healthier ingredients, in general. I don’t know all of the science behind it, but we’re going to keep doing what works.


Now, the actual diet:

It was really overwhelming to start a gluten-free diet at first. It seemed like all of Russell’s favorite foods included gluten: mac and cheese, cereal bars, biscuits, snacks (like Teddy Grahams, animal crackers, goldfish). And I didn’t want to buy all the specialty gluten-free foods because those would make our budget skyrocket.

I started with a rotation of easy dinners:

  • tacos (corn shells are usually gluten-free, just check the ingredients)
  • gluten-free pasta with sauce (our favorite is Bionaturae – I’ve only found it at Whole Foods)
  • Stir fry
  • Meat, veggie, and potato or rice
  • Hot dogs, veggie, french fries or tater tots (Ore Ida’s are GF)
  • dining out: Chick-Fil-A’s kids’ grilled nugget meal is GF; Red Robin has a GF bun, as does Emma Key’s

(I have many more recipes now, and we hardly eat hot dogs, but this is what I did in the beginning to make it less overwhelming.)

Breakfasts are really easy to make gluten free: eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, fruit, oatmeal, grits.

For lunches, we choose a main dish – a sandwich on GF bread, 2 hard-boiled eggs, meatballs, hot dogs. Then we add sides: raisins/craisins, pickles and olives (my kids love those), fruit strip or fruit snacks, fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, potato chips, tortilla chips, nuts. We choose from those same items for snacks, too.

And there you have it! The hardest thing (still) is dining out. Generally I just choose things that I think won’t have much gluten – because, like I said, he can handle some.

I’m always happy to answer questions if you have any! Happy eating Smile

First Dentist Appointment!

Russell and Meredith had their first dentist appointment on September 18! I scheduled it for 11 am, knowing I would need Jason to come on his lunch hour and help me with all 3 kids.

They were so excited to see their names at the top of the “new patient” chalkboard!


Everyone was enjoying the coloring and movie (The Incredibles) in the waiting room. Jason came in right as we were ready to go back and see the hygienists – good timing!

2/3 children enjoyed the rest of the appointment! Russell had a great time. He sat in the chair as asked, enjoyed the cleaning, and liked learning about the different instruments. And Paige was content to sit in her car seat.


Meredith is in a phase right now. We’ll just put it that way. Smile She and I went into the soundproof room where the hygienist somehow got a look at her teeth amidst the screaming and crying! She cheered up when she got to go play with this doll house after the cleaning was over.


I nursed Paige in the car while Jason and the kids saw the dentist. (Insert more crying from Meredith!) They both have healthy teeth, for which we are thankful!

On the way home, I asked them what they thought. “I had fun!” Russell exclaimed. “I cried a lot,” was Meredith’s recap. Both pretty accurate Smile Hopefully next time, they will both have fun!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Paige is 2 months old!

I can barely keep up with this blog, but I really am trying for the kids’ sake! (This info is what I use to make their yearly photo books!)


  • Wearing size 1 diapers
  • Wearing size 0-3 and 3-6 mo clothes
  • Weight: 11 lbs 6 oz (60th percentile)
  • Height: 23.25 in (89th percentile)
  • Head circ: 38.5 cm (65th percentile)


Paige is still our sweet little girl! She tends to nurse every 2.5 hours or so during the day and goes for a 4-7 hour stretch at night. She has rolled from belly to back twice (in the same day) and has only done it a couple times since. She started giving us social smiles right after she turned 1 month old, and will give big grins when anyone talks to her! She still enjoys the swing and both of her bouncy seats, and now she finally likes laying flat on her back in the crib or on the floor – for a long time, she only wanted to lay inclined. She tolerates tummy time okay but when she’s finished, she gives up, lays her head down, and sucks on her fist. I think she wants to be a finger-sucker like Meredith, but for now we’re using the paci.

Some rolling pictures:




She likes baths, but hates getting out (cold!)


We spend as much time as possible in the rocking chair – which, with 2 other little ones to watch, is not much at all, but we (try to) cherish what we get!


I love to put them all in matching clothes, especially for church!


And those are some tidbits from Paige’s second month!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Silly things our kids have said lately (and pictures that do not relate):

Russell (as I come in his room wearing a new shirt): “Mom, is that a dress or a blanket?” I guess he’s not into the chevron trend!


Meredith (upon seeing my hair half-up because I was cleaning and getting it out of my face): “Mom, did you know…that your hair looks…kind of crazy.”


At Hobby Lobby, both kids tell me: “Look, we found some Play-Doh!” Nope, not Play-Doh – definitely someone’s freshly-chewed gum. Thank goodness for hand sanitizer!


Russell, as we were discussing healthy snacks at the table: “Meredith, fruit snacks aren’t fruit. They aren’t healthy, just like brownies and cheese curls. If we ate them every day, we would get really fat, and our bodies would get big like a hippo!”


They crack us up all the time!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

On a whim, we decided to go to my parents’ house for Labor Day weekend. We had a wonderful time! The kids are still talking about missing Pops, Mimi, and Bogie, and their house.

We did a lot of hanging around, playing with Play-Doh, and watching Meredith’s new favorite show (Sophia the First – which she won’t get to watch again soon since we don’t have cable!)

(My dad took these pictures – thanks, Dad!)




On Sunday, we went to a game range, which was kind of like a zoo/petting zoo. There were llamas, bears, sheep, chickens – all sorts of animals – and you could buy different types of food to feed some of them. We got saltine crackers, which were great for both the animals and Meredith Smile





The dark spot in the weekend: Meredith came down with strep throat while we were there. She was pretty pitiful at times, but other times you couldn’t even tell she was sick. (I am learning that with 3 kids, it’s always something – we have been to the doctor 4 times (I think) in the past 2 weeks, and the ER once! Sheesh!)

Otherwise, we had a wonderful trip! Thank you for your last-minute hospitality, Pops and Mimi!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

School Days

We have officially started our school year!


We are doing a hybrid of schooling this year. The big kids (Russell and Meredith) are going to a Christian preschool on Thursdays. We are also still doing the homeschool co-op we did last year with our friends; this year, it will be on Tuesdays. And the rest of the week, we are using a homeschool curriculum to learn at home.

(Walking into their first day of preschool!)




Russell’s curriculum is the K4 curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler. It includes calendar time, writing, reading and phonics, and math. It also includes a few things we’re not doing.

My goals for Russell this year include: beginning to read CVC words and sight words; rudimentary addition and subtraction; counting beyond 20; writing all the letters of the alphabet and all numbers; continuing to develop scissor skills and self-help skills like buttoning, zipping, helping around the house.


Meredith’s curriculum is a light version of COAH’s Letter of the Week curriculum. My goals for Meredith this year include recognizing all letters of the alphabet (and possibly learning their sounds – I’ll evaluate whether she’s ready for that) and recognizing  numbers 0-10. (She already knows probably half of the letters of the alphabet but I don’t think she knows any numbers.)

For both kids, we are also doing Bible time together. This is kind of a hodge-podge of things they are doing elsewhere. One day per week, we’ll be reading their Bible story from Sunday school and doing an activity to go with it. Another day, we’ll be reading Russell’s story from Awana and reviewing his verse for the week. And we’ll add in other things as I see fit.

We are also doing character education as a family. So far, we’ve only worked on the character trait of persistence, which they totally understand, so it’s time to move on to trustworthiness! (I’m making up this curriculum from a variety of sources – if you’re interested I can tell you more about it!)

(First day of homeschool – reviewing matching capital and lowercase letters.)


Our homeschool schedule looks like this:

9 am: start with calendar time (day, date, weather, “days of the week” song)

9:15 ish: Bible time

9:30 ish: Each child does their learning activities for the day – 2 activities for Meredith, 3 for Russell

That’s it – plus a read-aloud time for at least 20 minutes in the afternoon! One of the many perks of homeschooling is that school doesn’t take very long!

Looking forward to a wonderful year of growth!