Frequently Asked Questions

Here I am, 10+ months into motherhood, and there are a number of questions that come up regularly. Why not post the answers here?

Are you going to do another Ironman?

I don’t know. The rational side says no, or probably not. But every now and then I get the bug. I’ve made the analogy between childbirth/pregnancy and Ironman training before. The farther away from it you get the less you remember. Sometimes I think I want to do it again. Most of the time I just wonder how any parent could ever accomplish this.

Why did you do IVF?

I have always been very open about our IVF experience. Heck, I blogged about it. A lot of people ask me this (if they didn’t see the one brief explanation I posted once). Long story short (TMI warning), the Knight had a vasectomy 22 years ago. Yes, it can be reversed, but (a) the success rate is on the low side, especially given the number of years since the procedure; and (b) because of my (ahem) advanced age (I was 36 when we started, I’m 38 now) the urologist recommended we do IVF instead. The suggestion hit me like a ton of bricks. I was not prepared for that. I mean, the Knight had the problem. Why should I undergo painful, invasive treatments? Fortunately after a few months I got comfortable with the idea and we proceeded.

Is the Knight retired?

Many people remember my brief mention of a retirement party about two years ago. There’s retirement and there’s retirement. The Knight was a federal law enforcement officer (pilot, actually) and there is a mandatory retirement age. Kind of ironic, don’t you think, since he is now training for his second Ironman. But I guess he isn’t fit enough to stop bad guys.

So no, he is not retired. He works part time as a consultant (hence the travel). He also works once or twice per week at the local bike shop, but that’s just for fun (and the discount).

When will you have baby #2?

This is the hardest question. I don’t know if there will be another one. We don’t know. I think about this every single day. It has been a hard year. Well, two hard years. There are a lot of factors and we’re just not sure yet.

How long are you planning to breastfeed?

My goal is to make it to one year. If you know me, you know how I dig my teeth into a goal and don’t let go. So I’ve worked pretty hard to get to this point (10.5 months) and I can see the finish line. I plan to stop pumping at the 1 year mark (yay yay yay!!!!). I haven’t decided what to do after that. I think we will gradually wean from 12 to 15 months. Aside from there being health benefits to prolonged breastfeeding (the World Health Organization recommended breastfeeding until age 2), there is a huge emotional component that I didn’t anticipate. Breastfeeding is my mommy superpower. Not only does it calm him down when nothing else will, but it is a special quiet time for us. It is also a super convenient, portable feeding system.

Will Max outgrow his allergies?

Yes, most likely. The pediatricians estimate he will outgrow these issues between 1 and 3 years old. My mom thinks I was three when I outgrew my dairy allergy. I hope it is on the early side, but am hopeful that eventually he will get to enjoy the deliciosity that is ice cream.

When is your next race?

After doing two half marathons earlier this year, I have nothing on the calendar. My goal is getting the Knight to the Ironman Lake Placid starting line (well, finish line) at the end of July. After that, we’ll see. Silly as it is, my goal for the summer is to swim across the lake and back. It is about a fraction of the distance of an Ironman swim, but since I haven’t done much swimming in the past two years, it is a manageable, modest goal.

Any more questions? 🙂

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Weekends

Everybody loves weekends. Right? What’s not to love?

It starts Friday morning for me. The excitment. I find myself chatting to Max about how it is finally Friday. “What does that mean, Max? Well, it means that tonight when Mommy comes home, she gets to be with you all the time until Monday morning.”

Friday morning’s commute is always the easiest of the week. It sets a great tone for the day.

There’s a farmers market near my office on Friday afternoons. I try to head down early to get the best selection. When quitting time comes I want to dance out of the office.

Honestly, I live for the weekends. I am so lucky to have a job. A good job. It is hard, but I am grateful for it. (At least that is what I keep reminding myself.)

That’s not to say that weekends are always a blast and filled with fun, puppy dogs and rainbows. Being with an infant 24/7 is hard work and can be exhausting. Hats off to my stay-at-home mom friends. I sometimes find myself looking forward to bedtime so I can have a break. But then 30 minutes later part of me wishes Max would wake up because I miss him. (No, I don’t feel that way about middle of the night wakeups, however.) I just want more cuddles and giggles.

Sunday nights are tough. After the little guy goes to sleep I have to stop myself from thinking about the work week. Instead, I focus on the tasks that must be completed to get ready. Here we are on Monday and I am already focused on the upcoming weekend.

Here’s to counting down to the next one.

Eating Well on a Dairy and Soy Elimination Diet

I remember clearly the moment in the pediatrician’s office where the doctor suggested that I try an elimination diet. Being desperate to find a solution to Max’s colicky behavior, I would have tried anything. Going dairy and soy free didn’t sound like a huge deal. Little did I know.

I remember the first meal I had after we left there. We stopped at the local chicken place on the way home. I know realize how much I had to learn. The cooking oil was likely soybean. The food was laced with all kinds of hidden dairy and soy.

I could seriously start a blog just about the dairy and soy-free journey. It has been a tremendous source of stress, but also a very worthwhile undertaking . When I have just a bite of something with dairy or soy, we know. Max will get congested and fussy and lo and behold then his diapers usually complete the picture. Poor guy. It is one of the worst feelings in the world to know that you’ve done something that causes your child pain – especially when that was something avoidable (you know, if I just eat lettuce and rice).

The question I get asked the most is: What do you eat? Well, anything that doesn’t contain dairy or soy. Today was a typical day:

  • Breakfast: Steel cut oatmeal with almond milk and dried blueberries
  • On the way to work: Smoothie
  • Lunch: Leftover grilled chicken with grilled veggies and quinoa pilaf
  • Afternoon Snack: granola with chia seeds and almond milk
  • Dinner: Shrimp and veggie stir-fry with rice
  • Dessert: Taza dark chocolate and a coconut macaroon

Unfortunately, even the slightest bit of soybean oil, which is in everything from bread to mayonnaise, is a trigger for Max. I have to be incredibly careful. Most restaurants cook with soybean oil so it is a big challenge eating anywhere but home

Here is a ton of info I have complied regarding eating on a soy and dairy-free diet (also called MSPI: Milk Soy Protein Intolerent):

Breakfasts:

  • Oatmeal with almond milk and sweetener (brown sugar, honey, agave, coconut sugar) and cinnamon; Add dried fruit (favorites are TJs dried wild blueberries and dried cranberries) and/or nuts.
    • I use steel cut oats and cook them in my fuzzy logic rice cooker on the porridge cycle. I put 1.25 cups of oats in with 3 cups of water and set the timer for it to be ready in the morning. I divide the batch into five separate portions to eat throughout the week. [Note: As of 8.5 months, Max shares my morning oatmeal with me]
    • Cereal  with almond milk. I like frosted shredded wheat, granola (Cascadian Farms organic), or Barbara’s products (shredded spoonfuls or the puffed wheat kind)               
    • Smoothie  – Frozen banana, frozen berries, baby spinach, almond milk. I found a protein powder at WF/Mom’s called Amazing Meal that is not really good. I add it sometimes or add a scoop of Green Superfood for a little extra nutritional boost. [Note: Amazon has the best prices by far.]
    • Bagel (TJs has mini bagels that are safe) with peanut butter, almond butter or pumpkin/apple butter. Bagels from the bagel shops in Clarendon and Alexandria (Bradlee Center) are safe, but most store bought ones (supermarket, Costco, Panera, ABP, etc) are NOT.
    • Scrambled eggs cooked with coconut oil and veggies. And BACON!
    • Bagel with smoked salmon and non-dairy spread (Earth Balance is great; just check the labels as not all are soy free)
    • Muffins  – Udi’s makes really good chocolate muffins and blueberry muffins (skip the cinnamon rolls). Find them in the frozen section of MOMs.

 Lunch and Dinner:

  • Salads – I make a big salad on Sundays (dry the greens really well in a spinner) and take it for lunch every day
  • Burritos/Fajitas (I make a big batch of Mexican Black Beans; freeze in small portions, add rice and avocado; salsa optional)
  • Stir Fry (use coconut aminos for soy sauce) (Trader Joe’s has a good and nutritious Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry that I love)
  • Pasta with homemade Bolognese (sub olive oil for butter and almond milk for milk)
  • Fried Rice – (use coconut aminos for soy sauce)
  • Paella (I liked this recipe from MSPI Mama, I used boneless, skinless chicken pieces)
  • Salmon/Fish/Seafood dishes
  • Chili (My favorite Cooking Light recipe; time consuming but freezes beautifully)
  • Frittatas – not bad when made with Daiya dairy and soy free cheese
  • Vegan Cream Sauce – my sister made me a delicious cream sauce made from boiling and blending raw cashews. Delicious.
  • Vegan Mushroom Ravioli – my indulgent meal; found in the refrigerated section above the cheese (irony!) at MOMs.
  • Crab Cakes
  • Peanut Noodles – I make this recipe using coconut aminos and shrimp or chicken
  • Pad Thai – I like this recipe

 Snacks and Other Info:

  • TJs has a chipotle tortilla that is really good and soy/dairy free. I use these for everything from to make breakfast burritos (eggs, avocado, bacon/ham) or to make wraps and burritos.
  • Guacamole – usually safe, but check to make sure
  • Coconut Aminos – great substitute for soy sauce – buy at WF/Mom’s or online
  • Bacon bits – wandering around Costco one day, feeling deprived and searching for a ‘treat’ for myself, I found a big bag of bacon bits. Very few ingredients (though that doesn’t make them healthy). Not something I would ordinarily purchase, but it has been a nice addition to salads and when I’m really desperate for a quick dinner, I may or may not have enjoyed a bowl of pasta with olive oil and bacon bits. Not stellar nutrition, but…
  • Deviled Eggs – I make these with soybean oil free mayo. They’re a great protein rich snack to grab after a middle of the night feeding or when you get home from work and have a million things to do before you can even think about eating dinner.
  • Avocados – a great addition to salads, sandwiches or whatever. Lots of good, healthy fat.
  • Pretzels – TJ’s Honey Whole Wheat are my favorite
  • Kale Chips – I am like Brad’s raw kale chips. They’re expensive but tasty. I like the vegan cheese flavor.
  • Potato Chips – Most corn chips and potato chips (mmmm, Kettle Chips) are usually safe
  • Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter – this stuff is amazing.
  • Brianna’s Salad Dressing – My favorites are the blush wine vinaigrette and the poppyseed
  • Coconut Yogurt – I really like the vanilla coconut yogurt from TJs, but am not a big fan of the other brands
  • Spring Mill Bread – found at MOMs – fresh baked, whole grain goodness
  • Udi’s Bagel Things and Sandwich Flats
  • Trail Mix – use safe chocolate chips from MOMs along with any nuts and dried fruit
  • Larabars – I’m overdosing on these right now. So convenient
  • Quinoa or Whole Wheat Cous Cous – I make a big batch of pilaf (sauté chopped veggies and then add grain and liquid)

Other ideas

  • Corn chips and guacamole
  • Avocado on bagel or bread
  • Deviled eggs and/or hard-boiled eggs
  • Coconut Yogurt
  • Smoothies (see above)
  • Salads (Grill chicken ahead or use deli meat, hard-boiled eggs)
  • Wraps (same as above)
  • Tuna salad (check tuna ingredients; most tuna doesn’t list soy as an ingredeient but will say “contains soy” beneath the list) use soy-free mayo
  • Chicken salad is good to have on hand
  • PB&J – I’ve never eaten so much PB&J
  • Hummus (check ingredients for soybean oil) with veggies or pretzels
  • Justin’s Almond Butter – Worth mentioning again. The chocolate almond butter is to DIE FOR – enjoy this now while you can afford the calories. It is better than Nutella.
  • Lots of nuts – almonds are great for lactation

 Desserts

  • Tazo Mexican Dark Chocolate (SO GOOD); Also found under TJ’s store label – these are round packages
  • Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate – soy & dairy free (found at Whole Foods)
  • Macaroons – WF/Mom’s has some coconut macaroons that don’t contain dairy or soy; I also like the Alexa brand which can be found at Giant (and the Ft. Myer commissary)
  • Truffles – WF/Mom’s sell raw, vegan truffles that are pretty good (and very expensive) if you like the bittersweet flavor of dark chocolate
  • So Delicious Coconut Ice Cream Bars/Sandwiches – Dairy/soy free
  • Enjoy Life Brownie Bites – I love these but the Knight doesn’t – more for me 🙂
  • Jelly beans and gummy candies
  • Trader Joe’s Cat Cookies – regular flavor, not chocolate
  • TJs vanilla meringue cookies

My Go-to Restaurants

Chains have become my friend. Most chains have allergen info on their website, which is so helpful!

  • California Tortilla – I’d never eaten here before but it has been a blessing for me since it is near work and most items are dairy and soy free.
    • Note: District Taco was very responsive to my request for allergen info. If I hadn’t asked I wouldn’t know that most of their products are cooked with vegetable oil that contains soya oil. The carne asada, pollo asado y al pasor and all of the rice and beans are off limits. (The Carnitas and  Barbacoa are safe, however.)
    • Chipotle also uses soybean oil in most items except the corn tortillas and carnitas.
  • Sushi –Most sushi items are safe if you skip the soy sauce (or bring your own coconut aminos). Just don’t spaz like I did and forget that miso soup is made with soy. Duh. The imitiation crabmeat in California rolls (surimi) has soy. Learned this the hard way. FYI, the salad dressing probably has soy, too.
  • Ethiopian – The menu for the restaurant near me (Enat, near Landmark in Alexandria) states that their vegetarian items are vegan and made with canola oil.
  • Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church – Pizza? Yeah, you wouldn’t think… Pizza is still out, but I had a great meal here. This is one of my favorite restaurants and the chef (Chef Will Artley) and the manager (Sarah) were so accommodating when I went recently. (The waitress was a little less helpful, so ask for a manager.) I told them about my restrictions and they made me a delicious meal. I personally thanked the Chef and he said to just let him know when I am there and he will accommodate me.
  • Ceiba  – I went here for an office lunch and I was so impressed with how accommodating they were. The two waiters I spoke to seemed extremely knowledgeable about food allergies and were able to immediately tell me which items contained dairy and soy. I have enjoyed a few good meals here.
  • Teaism – amazing! The manager spent a great deal of time with me on the phone helping me figure out what I can eat. Huge props to them!
  • The Hamilton – The chef got on the phone with me and helped me figure out what I could eat. They use soybean oil in the fryers but can use other oils on the grill. Just ask.
  • Chopt – good salads and lots of info on their website.   
  • 2941 Restaurant  – I had a very positive experience when I was invited to go here for an event. I called ahead and told them about my restrictions. They went over the menu with me on the phone and we arranged to have my selections prepared without dairy or soy. It was delicious and I avoided being the awkward patron.

Helpful websites:

http://intolerantoffspring.com/

http://www.mspimama.com/

http://dairyandsoyfreemom.blogspot.com/

Breathe

Taking a few minutes this evening to breathe. I knew heading into June that it would be a busy month. I won’t even go into the details about how insanely crazy work is right now, other than to say it has been hard to maintain my balance lately.

The good thing is that when things get rough, it doesn’t take me long to conjure up happy and loving memories to keep me going. If nothing else, at the end of the day I get to come home to my sweet family, which is such a wonderful blessing.

Also, some big news is that I am now a grandmother. Yes, at 38. My stepson and his wife had a baby last week. Welcome Baby Noah! We are really thrilled! Max is an uncle!

Fortunately, it seems that it will be a couple of months before the Knight travels again. That’s a relief, as things are much less harried when he is around. I’ve been saying it is a blessing and a curse to have such a great partner.

10 Months

He's getting so big!

He’s getting so big!

Honestly, this mommying thing keeps getting better and better. I keep falling more and more in love with this little guy, who is a ton of fun right now.

Mobility

  • Max is working on standing. He can let go of what he is holding and stand for a second or two. It is so exciting to witness.
  • He has started kneeling on one knee and acting like he is about to stand up. He can do it if he has something to hold. It is especially cute when he is kneeling and reaching to be picked up.
  • He is crawling incredibly fast. The sound of it is adorable when you hear him coming.

Eating

  • Eating has become entertaining and meal times are LONG because he keeps eating and eating. He will eat just about anything – except for broccoli. His preference is for flavorful foods. He prefers pasta with pesto (dairy free, of course) over plain).  He enjoys everything from spiced grilled salmon to asparagus (tips), and spicy chickpeas.  The more flavorful the better. His favorite foods are chicken and grapes.
  • He is great at feeding himself, but only by hand. The spoon is a disaster but I probably should let him practice more.
  • What has surprised me most at this age is how he can already differentiate among the foods on his plate (his highchair). If we put out peas, broccoli, toast, and chicken, he will pick out what he wants. If he picks up a piece of broccoli he with either put it back down or hold it out to the side and drop it on the floor. I know I shouldn’t find this funny but I do.  

Fun stuff

  • He continues to love sounds. He will bolt towards me in the bathroom if he hears the hairdryer, or the Knight in the kitchen if he hears the blender.
  • He has a great sense of humor. I just didn’t expect that at 10 months we would have so many giggles. He laughs so much and it is one the most heart-warming things to hear – especially when he is laughing so hard he has to catch his breath. He laughs at things we are doing or if he is having fun, and also if we do things he finds funny.

Other

  • He hates road trips. I don’t blame him. We’re not really looking forward to the travel to Lake Placid, part II.
  • He has four teeth right now (two front teeth on the bottom and two on the top). We are pretty sure he is on working on more right now. He is drooling a ton and chewing on my finger whenever he can.

max teeth

  • Sleep. Ahhh. I know I am going to jinx it, but things are going well in this area. Over the past two weeks Max has slept through the night (at least 7 pm – 5:30) most nights. I feel like a new person. Not only am I more rested, but it has given me a little more time as I don’t rush as much to get to bed.
  • Max has a very interesting internal clock. If he wakes up at 5:20 one morning and I feed him, then he will wake up at 5:20 the next morning. If he isn’t fussing too much and I can get him to wait until 6:00, he will wake up at 6:00 the next morning.

 

  • Max loves bathtime (except for the 3 days where he screamed bloody murder)

    Max loves bathtime (except for the 3 days where he screamed bloody murder)

Life is good. It is challenging having an infant but I love it and I try to cherish every day. When I get frustrated that it takes me 10 minutes to change a diaper because he won’t stop moving I try to stop and appreciate how awesome it is that I have that struggle. My dreams came true. I have a wonderful husband, a healthy baby, and terrific family and friends.

Little devil. I just turned my head for a minute.

Little devil. I just turned my head for a minute.