Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gluten free

Hi everyone,

We hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. Josh, Willow and I went over to my parents house for a low-key meal after delivering a few meals for Little Brothers.

Willow's doctor has decided she should go gluten-free for a trial period of two months to see if it helps her grow. She's always been tiny, of course, but her growth has leveled off in recent months and she is no longer even on the growth charts, even for her corrected age (she used to be at about the 5th percentile). At her last doctor's appointment she was just under 19 pounds...18 and 12 ounces, I think it was. That was about 6 weeks ago. At that time they did a bunch of tests on Willow to rule out some causes of her small-ness. They checked her growth hormone, her thyroid, checked for celiac disease, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Everything came back normal except one of her liver enzymes which was slightly elevated. The normal range was up to 36 and Willow's was 40. At that time the doctor said it may be caused by an intolerance to gluten (not celiac, which as I mentioned they tested for). If she had an intolerance it could cause the liver thing, and also cause her to not absorb some nutrients which would cause her to not grow very well. But it was such a slight elevation, we sort of pushed back and said let's give it another 6 weeks and re-test and then decide from there to do the gluten-free trial. Well, 6 weeks later and the liver number was up to 44. So we're doing 2 months of a gluten-free diet to see if it helps the liver thing and her growth. Since I'm still nursing, I have to avoid gluten as well (no, I'm not weaning her so I can eat gluten, as people keep suggesting).'s been a few days now, and it's going OK. Of course my mom went out the day we found out and bought us a ton of gluten-free stuff - thanks Mom!. That has helped the transition. The ready-made and convenience type gluten free food is really expensive, so I guess we'll have to learn how to make our own bread and stuff, and definitely need to add a few good, quick recipes to our weeknight repertoire. Maybe it will be for a couple months, hopefully it won't be forever...but I have a feeling it might. So many people nowadays have gluten intolerances and celiac disease. Every single person I've told about this has said someone close to them is gluten-free. My friend Andi's 2-year-old son Lewis (their blog is linked to mine) was diagnosed last summer with celiac; she's talked a lot about it on her blog.

Anyway, enough about that. Winter has arrived full force here in the UP, and we are excited! We haven't been out skiing or anything yet but have been on some wintery walks around the 'hood. Here's Willow in her snowsuit. She hasn't really been able to enjoy the snow much...she just can't really move in that getup! I'm not sure how to get around that. It is pretty bulky. We have a snowpants and jacket set for her that is less bulky but it is still way too big. Maybe after 2 months of being gluten-free she will fit into it!

The last couple months Willow has really gotten into stuffed animals and dolls. She carries them around, talks to them and puts them "ni-ni" with a blankie over them. It is pretty damn cute. She has really become partial to Elmo. I was sort of surprised she picked him because she's never even seen Sesame Street. But she has an Elmo doll and two books, and she loves him. She carries him around, sleeps with him and showers him with hugs and kisses. I bet when they came up with Elmo, a lot of research was put into what he should look like, sound like, even what his name should be, to be most appealing to small children. I bet the word "Elmo" is very easy for little kids to say. Willow calls him "Melmo". Does anyone else remember Telly? When I was a kid, he was the red muppet on Sesame Street. I am pretty sure he isn't around anymore, and Elmo replaced him. Maybe he's still there, I guess I don't know. But you sure hear a lot about Elmo and I haven't heard anything about Telly.

Here's Willow this morning with Elmo and also hugging him.

Willow is still very much is the climbing stage (did you notice her in the last post climbing the sawhorse I was standing on to paint?). When she is hungry she will try climbing her high chair:

Speaking of painting, our painting project is finally done. What a relief to have that room back. I don't have the "after" pictures yet though. Those will come once we get the new fireplace and mantel in. I hope it will be done before the baby shower I am hosting at my house next weekend for my friend Ruth. Josh is in the basement right now working on the mantel while Willow naps.

Here are a few other photos from the past week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Home Improvement


As I started this post and looked back at our pnotos the past couple weeks, I realized we hardly took any. That's because our lives have been pretty much taken over by a home improvement project we started last weekend.

It started with our fireplace. Earlier in the summer, we found out that we basically couldn't use it anymore. That's because on the outside of the chimney, the mortar between the bricks was in bad shape, and water seeped in and ruined the metal box-thing that lines the fireplace. Josh fixed the mortar a few weeks ago (an all-weekend project) , but it was too late. We looked into replacing that box and doing all we needed to do to get the fireplace up and running again, but it was going to be way, way too expensive. So then we thought about getting a wood stove insert. We always had wood stoves at our houses/apartments when we lived out west,and we loved them. The problem with that idea was that even the tiniest wood stoves put out a ton of heat, enough to heat 1300 square feet for the smallest ones, I think. This room that our fireplace is in is an addition, and it is connected to the rest of the house by 2 doors. We decided that if a wood stove was putting out all that heat, the one room would end up being like 95 degrees and the heat would have a hard time circulating to the rest of the house. So then we looked at gas fireplace inserts. Now, I've always been opposed to gas fireplaces, to the point of vocally spouting off my dislike for them. I always hated those fake logs. kinda seemed like our only option. And after researching them, of course they do put off far less emissions that wood, and are much more efficient. Well, they do use gas, which is not a renewable resource like wood, but oh well. We liked how much easier and cleaner it would be, and also that Linda and Willow could have a fire during the day on those freezing winter days. So gas it will be.

Then we decided to paint over the 1970s wood paneling too. That's pretty much the extent of the project, but the painting alone took an entire week of painting every day. Josh did most of it while I did the child care. Thanks to Emily and Jimmy who helped too. Sorry for blabbing on about out fireplace for so long; I know you might not care! I got a little carried away.

So, here are some "before" photos.

Unfortunately we won't be doing much about that tacky furniture just yet; that's not quite in the budget this time. Someday...

Here's one "during" photo; hopefully by the next post we'll have the "afters".

Willow turned 18 months corrected on Friday and will turn 21 months on Monday. Her vocabulary is getting quite large. For awhile I was excited about it and was keeping a list of all of her words, but then it got the where I couldn't keep up because she was learning them too quickly. She has some words that only we can understand. For example:

Boo-bye = butterfly
na = moon or sun
na-na = nurse
da = light
da-doe = the other one

She hasn't really spoken any sentences yet, other than a few 2-word ones, like "Linda's here", "all done", and "Dada's home".

Willow has gone pee on the potty twice this week. It was cute how proud she was. It was in the morning when she first woke up, and when Linda arrived we told her about it. Willow was beaming with pride when she heard us telling Linda.

Although she is becoming such a big girl, she's not too big to be worn when necessary. Here she is catching a ride with Dad while he was cooking.

Here are couple videos. Sorry, I'm not the best videographer!

This is a silly one. Linda taught her this.

Actually, this means Willow is a cultured baby, because "ca-ca" means poop in Finnish. We learned that from Maisa, Willow's bilingual friend.

Sunday, November 7, 2010



It's been too long since I posted. Things have been crazy around here as usual. Willow has done a lot of fun things over the past few weeks.

Grandma and Grandpa Jenson came for a quick visit, which was fun. We went on a hike along the Pilgrim River with them but forgot the camera. Here are a couple shots of Willow with Grandma and Grandpa:

Willow and Emily and I went on on another one of the hikes from our book, the Marsin Preserve.

It's just a little nature trail under a mile long, and the trail wasn't very well-defined, so I'm not even sure if we went the right way. But we had fun anyway, especially Scout and Willow.

On Friday of Halloween weekend, downtown Houghton had "Treat Street", where the stores hand out candy and the kids all walk through downtown trick-or-treating. The three of us went, along with Anna and Maisa. It was very, very crowded down there. I don't think we'll do that again unless they close off the street. Willow was a sock monkey. We completely forgot that she was the sock monkey last year too, until someone mentioned it and then we looked back at the blog post from last Halloween. Oops. Oh well, she doesn't know any different! Next year, she will probably be a ladybug. Maisa borrowed that costume this year because it is still too big for Willow. I didn't manage to get a single decent picture of the two girls where they were both looking at the camera.

Willow has this great toy that started out as a push-toy to help kids learn to walk. Then it converts to a ride-on toy. We thought she was getting too old for the push toy, so we converted it. Too bad her little legs are too short to reach the ground!

She still loves to ride it, so someone has to push her around - it's hard on the back. Hurry up and grow, little legs!

She also likes to ride in the trunk:

And this morning, it was this. Circus baby!

I know, we shouldn't encourage that. She is very into climbing right now. For a couple months there, we were able to leave her alone playing while we were in the next room, just peeking in on her once in a while. We can't do that anymore, because the minute you take your eye off of her, she has climbed up onto something and is balancing on it precariously. We had to put the rocking horse and the ride-on toy out in the porch and only bring them out when we're supervising because she climbs them. I keep thinking I have to bring her to that "Treehouse" indoor playground so she can climb safely. The cutest part is, whenever she gets to the top of whatever she climbed, and stands up, she goes, "Ta-da!!" Linda taught her that.

We also started swimming lessons a few weeks ago. It's a Saturday morning parent-and-child class with other parents and babies. It's pretty fun. We sing songs with splashing motions and play with balls and bath toys. The point is to get babies used to the water. Willow seems to like it but hates when we get out and it's cold. Music class is still going great. The new sememster starts soon, and we're totally signing up again. I can hardly wait to get a new CD with new songs!

Here's a few parting shots: