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Monday, July 11, 2011

At my wits' end

Hm. How to begin. This is definitely going to be a bit of a pity party.

Since my blog about our discovery of Luke's dairy allergy, I feel like overall, we have been dealing with that new reality pretty well. The past week or so, however, not so much. At first, we traveled to Columbus, then to Thomasville, so everything was a bit unusual anyway. There was no routine, really. We just went with the flow. And as far as eating, well sometimes, you just do the best you can and chalk it up.
Call it an unrealistic expectation, but I have always desired for my family to eat healthy. Don says that my family (the Joneses) are the odd balls, since we will eat just about anything.

Regardless, it has been more frustrating than I thought to try to find a variety of things that I can cook that are 1) dairy free, 2) that avoids at least most of the components which Caleb is allergic to, and 3) that everybody in my family likes. In fact, I challenge anyone reading this to name one meal that I can with confidence say "Oh, we all love that!" besides hamburgers. (Caleb's food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, and rice. Oh, and if you please, something that doesn't require too much more than 30 minutes of prep time. I also have a house full of testosterone, the youngest bearer of which is turning two in August, and requires energy amounts that I am not always provided with.)
Here are few examples:
Tacos (as close to a homerun as you will come--besides hamburgers--in my house):
Caleb and Luke are both allergic to dairy (I'm avoiding it as well). So we all have no cheese/sour cream, which is fine. Caleb also pretty much only likes the hard shells.
OK, score, right?
Up to the point when Luke was diagnosed, I was cooking galettes and crepes pretty regularly, also chicken and dumplins, and chicken crescent rolls. These are also what I might have called homeruns with Luke in the past. Now: Bnr! On all three.
Lately, I have been trying new things. We have been having smoothies in the afternoons for snacks, which is very healthy, and which we all love: I am very thankful for this, especially since I’m able to sneek some fresh spinach in there. Thank you, Lord! Luke also really likes bananas and peanut butter, and Caleb can eat bananas and almond butter. Jon David prefers a bowl of cereal with bananas on top. When I am not at my wits’ end, it is slightly humorous watching me go to this much trouble just for snack time! I usually dirty up several dishes, even between meals. Gone are the days when I just opened a box of goldfish or animal crackers and called it day. They are either allergic to one, of sick of the other. And I must admit: it is getting to me. I am tired of slaving over dinner, only to have at most half of my family members eat the food, and then having to continue to make alternative plans for the rest of the members, just so we don't all go to bed hungry. After dinner is over, there is always the clean up… The kitchen is usually a disaster, what with all of the pots and pans being used, and our adorable toddler wreaking havoc underneath his booster seat.
Spaghetti is tolerated pretty well. But if I make a sauce with bits of tomato, Luke doesn't like it (he doesn't like tomatoes). If I do a plain sauce, it's not Don's or my favorite. Luke might even prefer plain noodles, but I make him eat sauce. Thankfully, he eats broccoli, lettuce, and green beans. For that, I'm thankful. Sometimes I allow my mind to go here: I nursed that child for a year! And he did not inherit my taste buds.
Our friend Tony came to visit last week-end, and dinner time was quite disappointing. Don had made jambalaya. One of my favs!
*Caleb is allergic to rice. But it's not a severe allergy. I thought I would let him try it, since he, with all of his food allergies, is actually pretty adventurous when it comes to food. Well, in front of Tony, the doctor (to whom I had just confessed his rice allergy) he broke out on the backs of his legs. I had to give him benadryl.
*Jon David and Luke: ate a little bit, didn't like it enough to get full, so halfway through the meal, I got up and fixed them a hot dog. A hot dog! Instead of jambalaya.
We had watermelon for dessert, which Caleb liked. The other two didn't.
There are nights when I just skip the effort and go straight to sandwiches for them. Sometimes I think that I give in too much. How did I get to this point?

We come to Saturday night. Don had somewhere to go. I had cooked something called "chuckwagon casserole" from a pampered chef book. OK, I confess, the title is not appealing. But it is basically corn bread on top of chili. I thought Luke likes chili, in fact, all three kids like it. I like it too. I knew that this recipe wasn't top on Don's list, so I thought, I’ll try it tonight, since he is gone. It sure beats getting them fast food, or ordering pizza (especially since we can't do that anymore--cheese). So, I plow through and cook dinner, get everything ready, being careful to call Eryn and figure out how to replace the egg, milk, etc...for the cornbread portion. I even left out onions and green pepper, thinking that those would for sure turn Luke off.
You can probably guess where this is going.
I get the children to the table (after discovering that Luke had neglected to drink his smoothie today. It was left in its entirety, wasted, on the table.)
No matter, dinner was going to be good. Caleb started off by dropping some of his to the ground. Why? Why does food always have to end up on the ground with him? I know, I know, he’s a toddler. It’s to be expected.
I gave Luke one bite. As you might have foreseen, he didn't like it. It was the barbecue sauce. It left a bad taste in his mouth, or something.

I lost it.

I can't even remember exactly what I said. "You don't like anything!" probably or something like that. But my voice was pretty loud. I slammed a chair down, slammed a drawer in, left the room. Luke started bawling. So did Caleb. He even did the scream, then silence before the next scream. Then Jon David too. I tried to calm them down, but I was boiling inside. After I had calmed down, Luke made a comment about not being able to help it or something. I finally began to cry as I listed off the many healthy food choices to him that he doesn't like. Thankfully, I didn't list the dairy ones, as that is clearly beyond his control. More crying from the children.

You know, it's really hard when you are not allowed to be mad at someone. Like the food allergy thing. It's extremely annoying, but they can't help it!

Well, Caleb recovered somewhat, but not enough to eat very much. He had been grumpy and clingy a lot of the day. Finally, after having tried to feed him, I was weary, and I put him to bed, wondering if he had had enough to eat. He cried, but eventually went to sleep. And yes, it wrenches my heart out to type this confession out on this post... But he did have a really good snack...

I had been helping the older two with their star wars legos. Finally, we put them away, and I put them to bed, too (Luke, still not having eaten). He had taken a while to stop crying. I cuddled with him a long time, told him it was OK, but I was determined to not make him another dinner option. He wasn't even hungry, he said, just upset by what had happened... poor thing. I prayed for him for a while.

Well, I texted Don to please call me when his thing was over. Thankfully, he was on his way home and was able to talk to me. He was very understanding, and also helped me see that for the next year, especially during Luke's fast from dairy, maybe we just needed to cut him some breaks. Since Luke was still upset, I couldn't stand the thought of not giving in... Don also reminded me that in the past month, Luke had had to deal with the reality of his new life: no more cheetos, no more chocolate, no more pizza, no more goldfish (truly a staple for that boy, no joke), no more ice cream. Did I cave? You better believe it. I got off the phone and pushed open the door to their room, offering more comfort, and a PB and J. "Luke," I said, "I messed up. Can you forgive me?"

But to tell you the honest truth, I still felt a little bit like I had lost a battle. I know this sounds pretty dramatic, but I feel like a failure so many nights after we eat dinner. In my opinion, one of the major components of my job as a stay-at-home-mom, is to provide healthy food for my family. And well, I just don't know how much I'm succeeding.

Mamma said, right?

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do (do three boys count?)
She fed them some broth, without any bread.
She spanked them all soundly and sent them to bed.

nursery rhyme by ?

Oh, and I have also been feeling the martyrdom of being the only female in a house full of boys... Random, but while we’re at it with the pity party, might as well, eh?


  1. Oh Anna I love you so very much. Thanks for being honest. I think sometimes, we just have to sacrifice how we think things should be for sanity. Don't give up hope, friend, you're doing a great job, even if it doesn't feel like it while you're in the trenches. Take a look at the big picture. Your boys are amazing people who are growing up with two parents who love the Lord. That is what's important in the long run. You're in my prayers.

  2. Girl!!! I've been there too! Allergies can be SO overwhelming! Hang in there, and when you find something they like, victory! And if not, don't beat yourself up and serve them the dang sandwich!
    Love and miss you friend!!

  3. Dearest Anna,
    I just read this blog. Very touching! I totally understand about wanting your kids to eat healthy and struggling with how best to do that. I want to make sure to affirm that you are a WONDERFUL mother! Those kiddos are so very blessed to have you as the one who loves and cares for them. And, yes, we all mess up, lose our cool etc. sometimes. I was just telling Jeremy the other day how important it is to apologize to the kids and make it right when we mess up. That's one thing that makes it all better. Oh, that they would forgive me everytime I treat them unkindly. I love you dearly, Anna! hang in there. YOu're doing a great job!



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