Thursday, July 18, 2013

Summer Break

Hello, friends.

I'm in one of those I-want-to-blog-but-don't-ever-have-time-and-then-I-feel-guilty cycles.

Summer has been Busy. With a capital "B."

Joyful and delightful and fun and even restful in places, but Busy.

I don't want to leave you all hanging, so I'm going to take a real hiatus, and then come back with my standard thrice-weekly posts when fall begins.

So for the rest of July and August, this blog will be dormant. It makes me sad, but between our new little nine-month old son, my marriage, my church, two summer continuing ed events, a trip up north, and regaining equilibrium after a Busy year, this is best for all.

I will see you in September.

For now, I bid you adieu. And happy summer!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Flying Cross-Country with an Infant: or How to Age 10 Years in Four Hours

Our son, plotting things.

So, we decided to fly from O'Hare to Los Angeles last week for vacation. We wanted our son to meet his 94-year old great-grandma. We wanted to walk on the beach. We wanted to feel the sun on our skin and visit old friends and dear family and laugh late into the night.

We did all these things.

But first, we did this.

And this.

And this.

Wow. We tried to plan our first cross-country excursion with our son at a time when it would be easiest for all, and we just may have done the opposite. At 8 1/2 months old, he was too young to be entertained with a game or a book or a movie. He was too old to lie peacefully in our arms.

And even worse - he can't sleep unless it's totally dark. Our original flight was booked in the afternoon, but United changed it to 6:15pm at the last minute. He goes to bed at 6:30pm. Ugh.

On the way home he was very docile and snuggly. We praised him up and down for being such a good traveler, until we realized he was running a fever and just not feeling well. Sigh.

Have you traveled cross-country with a baby? How did it go? Did you, like us, swear off flying with a baby until he turned 18 years old?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Cupcakes

Wow. Just... wow.

If you live near a Trader Joe's and like chocolate and sweet, sweet vanilla buttercream, you will adore these.

If you, like my husband, think that buttercream is an invention straight from the pit of H-E-double-hockey-sticks, then you will hate them.

I loved them. Chocolatey goodness, and not too sweet, covered in oh-so-sweet buttercream. Moist, flavorful, and ridiculously good.

We were in California for 8 days (not counting plane travel). In that time, I ate 8 cupcakes. I could have eaten 16. Easily.

Don't read the nutrition label to find out about calories, though. Just don't.

(Photo borrowed from Triumph Dining's gluten free blog)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gluten Free OC

My husband, son, and I have enjoyed a truly wonderful vacation in southern California. It has been epic.

While I may never willingly fly with an infant again (as my mom wisely told me, "Flying with an infant is like labor - it's successful if everyone gets there alive. How you do it is less important." I would add to that - "Also, with both labor and flying with a baby, there is LOTS of screaming."), our time in SoCal was spectacular

I only have a second for this post, but I wanted to whet your appetites for what is upcoming in the weeks ahead...

Restaurant reviews, including Three Seventy Common and Pizza Port.

New product reviews, including Trader Joe's chocolate cupcakes.

Family va-cay photos.

Reflections on vocation, after taking a 10-day long vacation from pastoring my dear church.

And tips for flying with a baby, if ever you dare.

Stay tuned, friends. I hope you're enjoying your summers! If you ever have the chance to visit San Clemente, run do not walk. It is a paradise.

Till soon...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gluten Dude: Blog Review

I've been hunting for some new gluten free blogs lately, and I came across a great one last week.

It's called Gluten Dude, and it's informative, hilarious, and painfully honest. I'm going to be visiting Gluten Dude often for his wit and wisdom.

Check it out!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

To the Pastor's Husband on Father's Day

On behalf of all the other married women pastors out there, I just want to say thank you. Being a pastor's husband is a calling all its own, and I'm thankful for all of you out there!

To the Pastor's Husband,

Thank you for undertaking this journey - a journey that is fraught with both blessing and difficulty. Pastoring is an odd and wondrous calling, and the pastor's husband is along for a wild ride indeed.

Thank you for all the long hours you supported us during seminary. Thank you for listening to rants about Hebrew, jubilation about preaching, and too many poorly-thought-out pontifications about theologies of education.

Thank you for standing proudly beside us at graduation and smiling through dozens of photographs. Thank you for saying, "I knew you could do it all along!" and meaning it.

Thank you for walking the nerve-wracking road to our first church call with us. For flying in for interviews and holding our hand on the plane. For buying us a trashy People magazine to help take the edge off our nerves. For helping us remember names of dozens of new people. For calming us down. For reminding us that this was all in God's hands.

Thank you for celebrating our call to a church. For praying over the decision with us. For making the decision together with us. For sacrificing things willingly and graciously so that we could pursue God's call and our dreams together.

Thank you for walking through the glorious and mundane aspects of ministry with us. For reading many a sermon that "just won't come together!" late on a Saturday night.

Speaking of Saturday night, thank you for riding out the wave of crankiness that inevitably comes on a Saturday night when we are trying to remember all eleven-thousand things that need to be done before, during, or after the next day's worship service. Thank you for eventually telling us, gently but firmly, that we should probably just go to bed. That our God is the Lord of the Sabbath, and will be Lord over this next one, too.

Thank you for getting breakfast together and lunch, too (and often dinner!) on Sunday, to make sure that we are fed and watered.

Thank you for putting coffee in our hands as we run out the door to church. Thank you for using the extra large travel mug on Sunday mornings.

Thank you for having our backs on Sundays in a thousand ways. For always wearing a smile of reassurance when we look up mid-sermon, unsure of how our delivery is going. For always saying first, "It went great," when we ask. (Even when it really didn't, and we both know it.) For giving constructive criticism later, to help us write more clearly, speak more eloquently, and preach more boldly.

Thank you for managing the kid(s) all day on Sunday while we preach, teach, and go out on visits. Thank you for doing this with understanding, grace, and joy, even when Sundays involve blow-out diapers, colic, head colds, or the stomach flu.

Thank you for being man enough to handle the pastor's husband jokes.

Thank you for the grace you extend to us when our career trumps your own because of a late-night hospital visit, a last-minute church emergency, or a larger-than-life personality.

Thank you for graciously filling in at the last minute when we need a greeter or a lay reader or someone to run the sound room. Thank you for sometimes saying "no" to these requests, and reminding us that boundaries--for you and for us--are important.

Thank you for looking us in the eye when we doubt ourselves, our skills, or our calling, and reminding us that God has called us here, to this place, and that he will give us all we need for each new day.

Thank you for telling us that we are good at what we do.

Thank you for being our husbands - those who knew us before ministry, will see us through ministry, and will be there every day, whether we fail or succeed, whether we are sinners or saints.

Thank you for still believing in Jesus through it all. For still believing in us.

To this particular pastor's husband - I love you! Happy first Father's Day!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Does Our Son Have Celiac?

We don't know yet. But I really, really, really hope not.

It's not a death sentence if he does, of course. With my own severe gluten intolerance, I have a very normal life, and very few health problems now that I'm on an 100% gluten free diet.

Yet I want to spare him all of the ins and outs of gluten free living. Asking ingredients. Bringing his own cupcake to the birthday party. Never feeling free to share crackers with his classmates.

There are many opinions out there on how to approach gluten with your children if you as a parent have Celiac disease or another form of gluten intolerance.

Living Without has a great article, written by a mother of two, on when she chose to introduce gluten to her children. (She waited until they were well into their 2's).

The online medical journal PLOS One suggests that introducing gluten late in infancy (after 12 months) can make it less likely those infants will end up with Celiac.

Swedish study found that infants introduced to gluten at the age of 4 months had a lower incidence of Celiac disease than those who tried it for the first time at 6 months. The connections were a bit spotty, and there are obviously other problems with this idea as well (one being that the AAP now recommends exclusive breastfeeding with no other supplemental foods until an infant is 6 months old).

The New York Times also reported that this Swedish study seemed to rely upon longer periods of breastfeeding while introducing gluten, which could signal that babies tolerated gluten better when they also ingested breast milk to help break down the proteins in gluten.

So... essentially it's all clear as mud, right? Introduce too early and you could doom your child to a life of bringing his own Ziploc of "special pretzels" to his college parties one day. Introduce it too late, and your little girl could have to order a gluten free wedding cake one day. In short, there is no conclusive evidence either way. No one knows.

So what are we planning to do with our little man?

Well, I agree wholeheartedly with Christine Boyd, author of the Living Without piece. She said that she and her husband agreed that they should do "what feels right." While this is not my approach to most of my life (Christianity certainly can't be described as an "If it feels good, do it!" type of faith tradition...), with our son and his food, this is what we've done.

My husband and I discuss, pray, and move forward. While we want our little guy to be healthy in his body, we also want him to grow up in a household that isn't fear-based. Celiac disease can be treated, food is not an enemy, and mealtime is fun!

That said, our basic approach has been fivefold:

1. To breastfeed as long as possible, both for the inherent health benefits for our son and for the possibility of helping his gut develop all that it needs to be protected against Celiac disease. He is now 8 1/2 months old and still breastfeeds (or takes pumped milk in a bottle) 8-10 times per day, including 2-3 times each night.

2. To continue to maintain a gluten free household, for my protection as well as his. He sticks his cute little fingers in my mouth regularly (not to mention all over everything else in our house), and if I had to worry each time I'm afraid he'd grow up thinking I was afraid of him. For now, keeping him gluten free means that I can be free with him.

3. To introduce fruits, vegetables, and simple proteins first. His first foods were all whole, natural foods, and organic ones, too, when possible. We rely primarily on fruits and vegetables, especially nutrient-rich ones like avocado, sweet potato, greens, blueberries, bananas, apples, and green beans.

We've introduced proteins like egg yolk, chicken, chickpeas, and black beans in stages as well, though we waited an additional month for these.

(Sometimes we make it out to visit our CSA farm, which our son loves. Unless it's raining. Then he does NOT love.)

4. To introduce gluten free grains slowly, including rice, corn, millet, sorghum and gluten free oats. He had a brief rash reaction to the oats, but has tolerated the others well. He is touch and go on rice cereal, depending on his mood.

5. To wait on the gluten... for now. At some point in the coming months we'll have a choice. While we'll always eat gluten free here in our house (I get so sick for so long, the risk just isn't worth it!), at some point when he starts toddling around he'll grab a cookie at a church potluck or snag a goldfish cracker from a little friend on the playground. Heck, he tries to eat carpet fibers and cat hair now, so I know it won't be long until our first test.

When this happens, we will watch and wait. If he has a clear reaction, we'll know and we'll begin taking the necessary precautions in public. If he doesn't have a clear reaction, we will seek to have him tested for Celiac disease when he is nears age two and begins attending toddler classes at our local preschool.

Best-case scenario, he didn't inherit my reactions to gluten. Worst-case, he has Celiac disease and begins exhibiting symptoms early. I didn't begin having serious reactions to gluten until I was 25, so there's also the chance that he will be able to be a "normal" eater throughout childhood.

Still, we will have him tested in his early toddler years, since Celiac's symptoms can so often be masked or even invisible.

(Sorry, little guy. I hope you inherited Daddy's intestines!)

What do you plan to do with your little ones and gluten?