Friday, December 7, 2012

Allergies and ADHD

I have been remiss in posting for about 2 months, but here is why. Besides the usual craziness that is my life with a husband and 2 kids with ADHD, I had a lot going on with family. Among them was my son’s allergies not going away.

A bit of history is needed here. Both my kids and my husband have sensitive skin, so much so that they can’t use any soaps with fragrance, not any harsh stripping soaps, and at one point needed a liquid soap with oatmeal for calming effects. They are also sensitive to some fabrics, and can’t use many synthetics. Tags?!?! Let me tell you about tags!! They annoy them so much, and cutting them just makes it worse, and some tag-less brands irritate their skin even more so. So I am left with a small variety of clothing brands where the tag is softer, or the tag-less ones that the imprint is made in the dying and not by a rubbery stamp. Aughhh. Skin lotions….same ball of wax….only very mild lotions will do.

So we have those items under control, but then we have environmental issues. I have no environmental allergies, although genetically on my side of the family it is as if we were part bloodhound, and could possibly have successful jobs as food critics since we can also tell what ingredients are in a dish. On my husband’s side of the family, pollen is a foe. When pollen counts go up he can’t stop sneezing, his eyes get watery, and he is in an all out bad mood (not that its much different otherwise J). So when we discovered my son had pollen allergies when he was a mere 6 months old, it didn’t come as a surprise. This diagnosis came from a myriad of ear infections and constant colds (or so we thought they were colds).

Antihistamines have been a constant in our house. Then at 3 years old we detected this incessant blinking, which we were told was a tic and would grow out of it. But we got to a point where antihistamines weren’t’ cutting it, and now at 6 years old he was constantly clearing his throat, complaining of itchy eyes and nose, and dry skin (although no rash). We had postponed an allergy test when he was 4 as we didn’t think it was something we wanted to subject him too so young and with so few issues, but it got worse as he got older so we went back and got it done. 

Most types of grass and some types of trees were no surprise to show up on the allergy list, but was most surprising was milk, and milk protein “casein” as well. We suspected it as his throat clearing would suddenly reach new highs when eating cereal with milk. Then we noticed the same with his string cheese snacks…but somehow, since Dad has the same reaction, we thought it was just a mild sensitivity, like so many they have. An allergic reaction was not what I was expecting.

I was actually pretty sad with the diagnosis as my boy eats dairy all day every day, from milk, to yogurt, to all types of cheese…mac and cheese, egg & cheese burritos, soap with shredded cheese…and the list goes on and on. So when the allergist suggested a protocol to increase his dairy tolerance we decided to go for it, and yet the protocol was not fully approved and we would have to wait till January. So for now we would go on a dairy free diet.

The products we had already been using are almond milk from either Silk Pure Almond or Almond Breeze. At my local grocers I have a hard time finding the chocolate flavor in the refrigerated Almond Breeze, so we usually end up buying the "Dark Chocolate" Silk, but for the vanilla and original we have bought the Almond Breeze. Now that the kids have tasted both, we probably will continue to buy different brand for different flavors.

I also went on a hunt for recipes and information about dairy. I found all types of substitutions (almond milk when milk is called for, vegetable shortening without trans fat when butter was called for, and some other tricks for when buttermilk is used). I still need to try out this shortening, but hopefully it will do for all my baking needs instead of butter.

I read reviews on vegan cheese and decided my cheese connoisseur son would never go for it. We also tried 3 types of vegan yogurts, and so far 2 have not passed his pallet test (waiting to see if this odd almond/chocolate dairy free yogurt will pass the lunch test today).

I was impacted by how many foods have dairy in them, or the risk of having been in contact with dairy and still pose a threat, like chocolate chips (they are made in the same factory as milk chocolate chips, so even if they contain no milk they may have picked up some casein in the process). Aughhhh, again.

Sure, his reaction to dairy isn’t that bad…and if he is wanting a scoop of ice-cream or a slice of pizza so badly that he is willing to put up with the side effects, I’ll let him do it once in a blue moon, but both him and I have seen how much better he feels so far without it.

So I thought our dairy free time would be limited to the time we could get him in the study, but then I run into medical article after medical article, all discussing different aspects of casein and links to ADHD behavior. The gist of it was that there is an enzyme lacking in most patients diagnosed with ADHD, and without it casein (the protein found in dairy) isn’t processed appropriately, and as such causes a chemical imbalance in the brain and so it misfires in the form of inattention, lack of restraint, and even hyperactivity. In a couple of clinical studies, some patients off of dairy saw such a reduction in ADHD symptoms that they could come off of their medication. The key phrase here is “some patients” and not all, and yet this gave me enough pause to consider dairy free as a way of life. I also don’t think it is the cause, but if it will make it more manageable then Hallelujah.

As we are yet in the early stages of dairy free life (a week so far), we have yet to see what long-term results may look like. I also have to admit that I am a frugal frugal woman, and I have tons of dairy at home still, and since my daughter and I don’t have an allergic reaction to it we decided to volunteer ourselves to consume it all. My husband does have a reaction to dairy, but he decided he can put up with it for the sake of being economical. I actually think he is having a hard time giving it up as well, and so he is postponing it.

At some point, all dairy will be gone at home, and we can do a true test of how my 3 ADHDers do without it. I still think there is room for those “once in a blue moon” moments, but if living a MOSTLY dairy free existence will help, we are willing to try.

I am posting a link to one article that is more layman’s terms than others. 

What allergies changed your life?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cast Iron cooking - another green endeavor

I grew up in a household that cooked in Cast Iron skillets. My Mom never really taught me how to season them as she had been cooking in them for ever. She did, however, teach me they had to be completely dried or they would oxidize.

Then we "went with the times" and bought some non-stick skillets, started using cooking sprays, and even bought a microwave. Yep, I think I may have dated myself, but anyway...

In my efforts to have a healthier home and a healthier planet, I have gone back to these good old fashion skillets. I had non-stick for the majority of my married years, but the non-stick lasted only a few years and I was incurring the costs of new one more often than I liked. Then I come to find out about the lovely carcinogens left behind....wonderful.

Interestingly enough, even before I knew this, I venture out to buy to cast iron skillets because I loved to cook in them at my parents house. I stopped using them as frequently because they kept sticking. I come to find out I had to season them.

I found this wonderful blog post about cast iron and the ABCs of using and caring for them.

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So I was sold. I pulled out both my skillets and seasoned them a few months back, and have slowly started using them.

I have the 5-inch lodge miniature skillet,

and the 8-inch skillet.

They have been a joy to use...once I got used to actually lowering the temperature on my electric range...because they heat up and stay hot so much beter than non-stick modern pans. One more for cast iron. That makes....a gazillion against non-stick pans.

I have noticed the lids I have from my other pans work well, but I plan to start using them in the oven as well, so I do plan to invest in a couple of cast iron lids.

I also noticed the handles do get pretty darn hot, and this multitasking Mom can easily forget to use a pot holder, so maybe some Silicon Hot Handle Holders are in my future as well

And since I am on a roll, I'l probably invest in a few more pieces. This one is a two-for-one, or should I say a five-for-two; a skillet, a fryer, a dutch oven, a lid, that also converts to a griddle. 

Have you tried cooking with Cast Iron?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Beautiful pictures - I want a hobby

I can't help it, I love beautiful things. I am drawn to skylines, architecture, paintings, etc. I could visit a museum every day of the week if I had the time. I am even more impressed with how these beautiful sites can still be appreciated given a skillfully taken photograph.

I had a nice camera for a New York minute right after I got married...and we so used it when our daughter was born. Then time went out the window. As a working Mom a have little of it to spare. The camera collected dust, the lens got damaged, and I also craved much more than what my camera could offer.

Now I am carving out a bit more time for myself, if only to have a sense of sanity and tranquility once in a while. and photography is calling, nay...screaming and yelling my name.

In order to know what I will need to start up this hobby of mine, I needed to go look at what I want to do.

These are a few of the images I most want to be skilled at taking.

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Also, I went looking at tutorials for picture taking and found this wonderful blog and it has both stunning pictures as wonderful advice. Like this one on exposure

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The tutorials are great, and I can't wait till I make a camera purchase and start snapping away.

What hobby would you like to have?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Running in cooler weather

I hate that I get so much cooler weather during the year here in Northern California. I know, I know, people love the weather here, and I do too, but not when I have time to run either really early or really late when the sun is no longer around to warm anything. And because I used o run in Texas I don't really have the appropriate workout clothes. I plan to change that shortly. On my radar are a few things.

1. A jacket that is warm enough for cold weather, but that still lets you move enough to run. It also happens to run a bit over here, so a hoodie and water repellant are also a must, although I would probably do a U-turn back home so I don't get soaked. This Lululemon jacket is on the top of my list so far.

2. Gloves. I have some, but mostly to keep warm and they are plush. I need some a bit sleeker and breathable...yes, palms sweat even in cold weather if you are exercising. These Lululemon gloves also have reflective surfaces to help drivers see you when you run, and they have touch-screen friendly finger tips. Check, check, and check.

3. I had been holding out to find a running jacket with a taller collar. The air can get so cold that it hurst to breath it in when running and breathing so heavily. Lululemon had some years ago, but I didn't buy it at the time as I didn't need it in Texas, and then they didn't make it again. I think I now know why they don't make them anymore. The started making running scarfs. Great idea!! This one is also very versatile, and can be used for more than just running.

4. Leg warmers. Leg warmers??? Yes, leg warmers!! Why, you may ask? Because I get really really cold....yep, I am weird. And I also happen to think I can use them casually. I get cold when I wear boots as well, and these guys can be scrunched up to go unnoticed under the boot line, or even pull them up to add that little extra flair to your outfit.

So there it is. I haven't gotten them yet, but they are on my list. And as the weather keeps getting cooler I will probably be mor inclined to run and purchase them.

What do you use to keep exercising when the weather doesn't cooperate?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My current shopping wish list

I knew it!! I had secretly thought that my wants are not wants for long if I wait long enough to get them. All of a sudden I don't want them anymore even if I didn't end up getting them.

My first big surprise was that my hubby slowly convinced me to get the Vibram FiveFingers, although I still don't know which ones I want. My kids want some too, and since these little ones grow so fast they will actually need new shoes in a few weeks.

Here is my favorite so far

And the kids' selections are cute as well

Then I have a few wants for beauty tools like a flat iron and a face scrubber

But I expect that if I wait a few months some other stuff will replace them on my list of wants....but I think the flat iron will stay.

The latest thing on my list is this very comfy recliner sofa from ZGallerie. This one may actually make it into my home shortly.

It is a power recliner that fully reclines with zero wall clearance. I can almost see myself falling asleep in it, with my comfy blanket on top. A nice foot rub would be nice too, but I won't hold my breath.

What is on your shopping wish list currently?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Packing in the Magnesium - No-Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I recently read that many ADHD experts believe ADHD people have a mild Magnesium Deficiency. Some of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency include irritability, decreased attention span, and mental confusion

In one preliminary study of 75 magnesium-deficient children with ADHD, those who received magnesium supplements showed an improvement in behavior compared to those who did not receive the supplements. Too much magnesium can be dangerous and magnesium can interfere with certain medications, including some antibiotics and some high blood pressure medications.

Our doctor gave us the go ahead to add more foods that have a healthy dose of magnesium, but you should always talk to your doctor if you have health concerns.

One way I decided to make this endeavor more fun was with an easy no-bake granola recipe. I added plenty of bran, and magnesium rich nuts like cashews and brazil nuts.

Recipe that yields30 bars goes like this:


½ cup butter

½ cup honey

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup crispy rice cereal

1 cup bran flakes

1 cup all-bran

½ cup raisins

¼ cup almonds

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup cashews

¼ cup brazil nuts

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup mini chocolate chips, semi-sweet


In a large bowl, stir oats, rice cereal, bran flakes, all-bran, raisins, and all the nuts together. Set aside. In a small pot, melt butter, honey and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat and cook 2 minutes. Pour in vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased Half Sheet pan {about 18x13x1} and press out to be about 3/4 in or just below the 1 in thickness.

Note: Do not add the chocolate chips before this point as they will melt with the melted butter, sugar, honey mix.

Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and press down lightly.

I am pretty impatient, so I cooled them in the freezer for about 10 minutes before cutting into bars. I left them in the pan in the refrigerator for a one more hour before I packed them up in a few plastic containers. I took one of the containers on an outing with my kiddos and they loved them.

They come home from school and beg for one instead of asking for candy or cookies, and they will even ask for one while they wait for breakfast to be ready. They love them so much that I made my first batch 11 days ago and as of this morning we ran out. I love it that they love it!

What are some of the ways you sneak in healthy foods in your diet?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Organized for Back to School

Every parent wants their children to start the school year off right, but for my crew it is even more of an endeavor. In order for us to start on track, and stay on track we needed some new tools, and to continue using some of our old ones.

We found this cool legal pad looking decal at Bed Bath and Beyond. It is a dry erase board where you can list out chores, or reminders of any sort. We got two; one for the fridge and one for the kids' bedroom mirrored closet door. In the kitchen are their chores. In the bedroom are their daily steps to get ready in the morning and to get ready for bed at night. 

We already had these assorted color magnets, and we are continuing to use them to highlight what chores have been done and which ones still need to be done. We use them on the fridge or on one of our dry erase boards. They don't work on the mirror, for obvious reasons, but I just thought I would clarify in case anyone was wondering.

We also already had this dry erase calendar from Target, and we have continued to use it to mark those special appointments, trips, days off from school, etc. It has been a great tool.

And since we have been doing the 'dry erase" thing for a while we had to stock up on new dry erase markers as well.

Another item I have been using for almost 2 years now are these great Mead Organizher fridge filer. The top bar is magnetized, and it has 3 plastic pockets with tabs which you can index/organize. I have 2, one for each kid. In them I put their school calendar, their classroom schedule, and any special paperwork their particular teacher may give me (like the list of classmates, and their parents). It has helped us enormously!! It is all within reach any time we need it, and even the kids know where to look for their school information.


Another tool in our arsenal is a large cork board. We use this to pin all those things that are a bit further in our schedule, like a flyer for an event at our local park, or the flyer for school picture day. They don't fit on our dry erase calendar yet, and the refrigerator is full enough as well, so these things get pinned in a separate spot to be checked the following month. It could also be a spot to put quick reference school tools, like multiplication tables, or grammar rules - the kids know to run and get them if their homework requires it.

And, of course, some push pins to pin stuff up. The clear ones are for regular stuff to pin, and the color ones are for those items that need special attention (like a birthday party invitation).

Our most recent addition is this lovely hall tree and storage bench. We have a coat hanger already, and we have some other storage around the house, but this one is specially assigned to school stuff. Everyone gets a double hook assigned; one for their backpack and one for their jacket. Larger jackets can be stored inside. Lunch bags are stored on the top shelf, along with other miscellaneous stuff, like swimming goggles (yes, random, but this summer it has helped to keep them handy). 

Our shoe rack is right next to it, so the bench is a good place to sit and put on your shoes, or sit to take them off and hang them back up.

These few and possibly uncommon tools and strategies have worked for us so far, and once school starts in a couple of days, will be tested further. It is up to us to stay constant and keep using them.

What organization tools and strategies do you use?

Rossana G-A

FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A better start in the morning - Protein and complex carbs.

Now that the ADHD count has gone up in my home from 2 people to 3 (both kids and hubby), I have been noticing more opportunities for improvement. One major one being good eating habits. I want to make sure they have the best start to their day so they are in a better mood and in a better position to take on what the day throws at them.

This probably should have been my focus all along, but you get complaisant and tired, and all of a sudden you are having them eat cold cereal every morning. So here I go back on the healthy train.

So far this week I have done pretty well, and all campers are happy.  

    Monday morning- Oatmeal:
    • Steel cut oats 
    • Raisins 
    • Cinnamon 
    • Brown sugar 
    • 2% milk 

    Tuesday morning – Bean and Cheese Burritos:
    • 2 whole-wheat tortillas 
    • Refried beans 
    • Shredded part-skimmed mozzarella 

     Wednesday morning – Egg and Cheese Burritos: 
    • 2 whole-wheat tortillas 
    • 2 scrambled eggs 
    • Shredded part-skimmed mozzarella

    Thursday morning – Egg, Spinach, and Cheese Quiche (sans crust) and toast with jam: 
    • 4 tablespoons chopped spinach 
    • 2 eggs 
    • Shredded part-skimmed mozzarella 
    • 1 slice of whole-wheat toast with butter and fruit jam

    I'm thinking tomorrow I may make some whole-wheat pancakes with nuts, but who knows, I'm still getting inspired by food images on the internet.

    What breakfast dishes help you start your morning on the right foot?

    Rossana G-A

    FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.

    Friday, August 3, 2012

    Married to ADHD- Whatever works!!

    I have been married to my lovely ADHD husband over a decade now. We have been together for a bit over 16 years too. It is a lot of time for trial and error, and we will probably have lots more. I even think we will have a lot of this because of the nature of ADHD and how he easily grows tired of certain routines.

    This has affected every aspect of our relationship, from financial to child rearing. We tried joint accounts where one managed expenses, then the other, and then finally separate accounts but shared monthly expenses and savings. We did breakfast duties him and dinner duties me, and switched, and then switched back. 
    He would love to wear this shirt.

    Something I haven’t been able to get rid of is the title of “Queen Nagger”. Surprisingly enough, I let a ton of things go simply because I am not insane and I know it doesn’t work to keep asking for it to get done. It only creates conflict. And yet I am the bad guy for reminding him that the leaves and branches he promised to take rake and take to the trash will not miraculously disappear after 3 months.

    So what is a none ADHD wife to do with an ADHD husband?? Whatever works!!
    My current strategy was to make an overly analyzed work chart, showing what each one usually does around the house and with the kids, how long it takes, and how many hours it adds up to. I finally had facts to reason with him. I could show how he indeed was doing a lot, but how much he wasn’t that he said he would, and who was picking up the slack because they were shared tasks. 

    He refuses to clean toilets, so I do it.

    No.1 thing I eliminated was shared duties. I did not want to be the warden in a jail telling him what to do and when to do it. I also didn’t want to feel annoyed that I was doing more than my share when he promised otherwise. I charted exactly what he was to be solely responsible for and what where mine.

    He gets annoyed with folding clothes, so I do it.

    No, it wasn’t an instant win. He actually argued how unfair it was that they weren’t shared. Why did he have to take out the trash every time?? Because I wash the clothes, clean the toilet, and mop the floors every time!! Wanna trade?? Didn’t think so! It wasn’t easy, and I didn’t give him attitude about it either. I presented the plan. We discussed it a few times, we argued a few others, and after a few more days to let him think about it I think we have come to an agreement. The key word here is “I think”, because he never actually admitted to it, he just started doing the things assigned to him on my chart. But that is all I need, for now. 

    He actually doesn't mind taking out the trash, but he forgets.

    No arguments yet. We have had a good few weeks doing this. We have managed to keep our place looking nice.

    Now, we have to wait for school to start up again for both kids and him (he is in the middle of his Ph.D.), and hopefully we can keep this up. If not, then we switch it up again. Whatever works!!! Had I said that already??

    How do you divide chores and tasks with your significant other?

    Rossana G-A

    FTC Disclaimer: I am not compensated to write this post.