Infant Eczema + Allergies and Why I'm Not Just Your Average Food Snob

Lately I've been having a ton of conversations about food.  And although it seems appropriate, this being the season of indulgences, these chats {read: RANTS} have lately been about allergies, what not to eat, and why it's important to research what you/me/we are eating.  This past year has really gotten me in a tizzy, this new-found knowledge, and instead of judging me and writing me off as some kind of food snob, I thought I'd share our story and maybe you'll understand why.

I'll start at the beginning.  Beckett's beginning, actually.  Our little guy was born at a very healthy weight of 8lbs 3oz and I was adamant about exclusively breastfeeding.  And while it is totally natural for babies to lose weight in those first few days our little guy just kept losing.  The nurses began to gently approach the idea of supplementing but I was so determined to exclusively breastfeed that I refused. And burst into tears.  I think they got the message.

We left the hospital with lactation appointments lined up and strict instructions to visit our pediatrician ASAP.  And that's when the weigh-ins started.  Beck just could not regain the weight.  Ya'll he was so tiny.  I gave birth to a very healthy, squishy boy and within weeks we could see his spine.


And then he fell into the 2nd percentile and there was talk of Failure to Thrive.  AHHHHH!!!! What was happening?  I knew he was latching on and I had breastfed Paley so I knew the drill. We also knew that breastfeeding was working because we often did lactation weigh-ins {the kind where they weigh your naked baby, then you feed them, then they weigh them again to see how much milk they drank}. It was so confusing, frustrating, scary.

Then one day {at about 4 months old, still exclusively breastfed} he presented with two red marks on his face.  I liken them to what it might look like to press the pad of your thumb against pale skin {that's about the size of the marks and they were not dry or scaly, just slightly raised}. One was on his upper cheek, the other along his jaw line.  I didn't think much of them until they spread.

Within a week or so our little guy's face looked like it had a severe sunburn from his jaw to right above his eye.  During a flare up sometimes his eyes would swell.

Our pediatrician diagnosed him with "classic eczema" (with no signs of eczema in any "classic locations").

Well, neither Chris nor I have any experience with eczema so I began obsessively researching.  The first time I typed in "Baby eczema" google completed my search by adding "allergies".  And I was on to something.

I was amazed at how many moms dealt with their children's eczema with diet.  I was also amazed at how many doctors and nurses turned up their noses when I mentioned it.  {So annoying.} I dove in anyway and began an elimination diet.  Because Beck was still exclusively breastfed, it was up to me to do all of the eliminating and within the first 24 hours of nixing gluten, he had his first "normal" poop of his life. Finally my baby had "peanut butter poop"!

I continued a very strict diet of no gluten, and each week eliminated one more suspected allergen {dairy, soy, nuts} but nothing made any noticeable difference compared to what happened when I stopped eating gluten.

Soon it was time for another weigh in.  I was nervous but felt such peace that I was actively pursuing a fix.  Our pediatrician was so excited.  Beck had shot from the 2nd percentile to the 25 percentile in two months.  It felt like I had just won the Nobel Peace Prize.  I was that excited.  Our doctor finally agreed that it was perhaps food related {remember, he had NO eczema in the "classic" spots at all} and we were sent to a pediatric dermatology allergist.  They did a full panel prick test and 30 minutes later, my son exhibited no signs of reaction at all.  So, he's not allergic, right?


Because he had negative results (meaning no noticeable reaction with the prick test), I let up on my elimination diet. This was also around the time that Beck was beginning solid foods and, although we typically don't eat a ton of gluten in our family anyway, I did allow him some from time to time. I mean, who was I to not let my little one try a Goldfish?! Isn't this some kind of rite of passage?

Well, to my dismay/frustration the eczema just kept flaring. Two months later we went in for our next weigh in and Beck had again plummeted to the 13th percentile.  I WAS SO HEARTBROKEN.  His growth chart was nothing but a bunch of peaks and valleys.  We were sent to yet another pediatric dermatologist whom I finally allowed to prescribe cortisone just to get the eczema under control because now he was old enough to scratch it and he was so uncomfortable.  But there was NO WAY I was going to continue to use a steroid on my baby's face for long. (If you don't know about the side effects of cortisone, please do your research)

The cortisone helped but his weight was still an issue. So I did the only thing I knew to do in order to get it back up.  I cut gluten.  We became rigorous about it.

And within six weeks Beckett weighed in FOUR POUNDS HEAVIER.

So Beck is gluten free.  Always.  He has not had even the tiniest bit of eczema since and just thrills our pediatrician with his progress.  If he gets gluten, his face will usually tell you first (red blotches, swollen eyes).  Then his tummy will let you know (I won't go into detail - it's never pretty).

We won't know for awhile if he has Celiac Disease.  They will test him when his immune system is more fully developed in a couple of years. Until then our pediatrician is now convinced that Beck has a definite sensitivity to gluten and we are all hopeful that he might someday outgrow it. But I can't un-know what I've read.  For our family, I still try to keep the rest us mostly gluten free but we're certainly not perfect.  The idea is to be aware.  Arm yourself with information.  Be brave about how you treat your body.  It's ok to believe that modern medicine is just a band-aid for something you actually have control over.

Finally, I really, truly believe that everyone should be armed with information (here's my favorite article introducing why gluten sucks).  But please do your own research about the things that you eat.  I think you'll be amazed at the mess we've created in our agricultural system and probably (hopefully) think twice about calling me a food snob.


Update: The West Linn House is DONE-ZO

So many of you have asked recently for an update on the West Linn house and we are happy to report that the new renters moved in this week!  Yay!  Of course, we're still working through a few hiccups but we are so very happy to {hopefully} have our weekends/evenings/life back.

I am happy to report that we survived the renovation with only a mild case of overwhelm, despite adding a complete bath redo and absolute kitchen overhaul {both of which were NOT on our original to do list}.  We also ended up having the exterior of the house painted.  And.... I basically failed miserably when it came to painting {aka. my only real "job" at the house} so we ended up having that hired out as well.

I did, however, keep both kids alive and happy.  So.  There's that.

Chris... well... I just can't say enough about him.  He just work, and worked, and worked.  And never complained.  Like, not even ONCE.  He took on everything and just amazed me every day.  I know this seems impossible - unless you know him, and then you know it's true.  He is superhuman and definitely my hero.

Here's a peek at the house right before the final touches were made.  {Pardon the random upload of the images... and the stuff in the kitchen sink}

Remember how awful it was?


Blue Crayon

Today Beckett colored on the wall with a blue crayon.  And guess what?  I didn't flip out.

This might not seem like a big deal to those of you who have already conquered the demon of perfectionism but, 3 years ago - heck, 6 month ago, that would've darn near ruined my day.  You know what changed?  No, I haven't resigned myself to the whims of my children. And no, I still won't ever allow Little Mermaid stickers all over my car windows {aka. the parental version of a white flag}. The eyes through which I see that blue mess on the wall has changed.

A few months ago, I visited my grandmother whom I haven't seen in years {a tragedy, I know}.  We were sitting around chatting about what life has been like for her since my grandpa passed away and she mentioned that recently a nephew of hers came by the house to help her fix a few things that had taken a backseat to my grandfather's cancer.  While her nephew was there he noticed what looked like a poorly patched dip in her kitchen ceiling and he let her know he could take care of that too.  She refused.  See, she told him that the patch is a memory.  And no, she didn't care to fix that.  

Of course I had to know what memory it was and with a smile on her face she told me the story of a raccoon that had gotten into the attic once.  With my grandpa away at work, my dad grew tired of hearing the coon scurrying back and forth above them so he decided to go into the attic to shoo him out.  Right away, he fell through the ceiling, leaving a huge hole and a giant mess.  According to my grandmother, he also left "a memory".

My dad passed away a few years after {I was barely 9 months old} and although the patch could be repaired she told me that she never wanted it to go away. Every morning as she stirred the gravy and turned the bacon, she stood under that memory.  Each time she cooked a family meal in that kitchen, she had that memory, and him, with her. And now I can see the memory too.  

Sometimes, here in the trenches of raising little ones, it's nearly impossible to see past the popcorn on the rug, the sticky apple juice on the floor, and the shoes that never find their way into a closet.  So I'm being honest when I say that this new perspective has lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders. When I look around my imperfect house, I can now see memories instead of mess.  I see my kids.  I see my husband.  I see our life.  And goodness that I don't care to "fix" by erasing our existence.  

This life is far too precious, far too short, and far too important to let a blue crayon ruin the day.  

This has been a balm to my heart and undoubtedly is refining my heart. Thank you, grandma, for that enormous nugget of wisdom.

I am forever grateful. 



So... the Lord is good. Can I get an amen?  Last week we spread wide our tent and closed on the dirtiest, stinkiest, most neglected house I've probably ever set foot in.

And we LOVE IT.

{Little known fact about The Thorns: We love homes.  Like, we sit in bed every night - eeeeevery night - and look at them and then we talk about them and then we decide what we'd do different with them and if we could live there.  Yeah, we are weird.}

Moving on.  

Many of you have asked if we are moving.  The answer is no.  We love our neighborhood and although our house is small, it fits our lifestyle so perfectly that we are staying put.  This little gem that I write of will be a rental property for us.  Just writing that feels impossible, just so we're clear. I don't know how/why He does it but sometimes God inspires you to think bigger, better.  Then he hands you a little nugget on a silver platter and all you have to do is accept it.  Kinda like grace.  But that's a whole other post.

Now where were we?

Fact: this house was built in 1919

Fact: the man who lived there had 2 large dogs and no fenced yard.  Yeah, it smelled rancid. Yes, they might have tried eating a few doors.

Fact: the house has the most amazing garage, which we hope to covert into livable space at some point.

Fact: we have 30 days to finish the remodel.

Here's our BIG to-do list:

1- open up the floor plan for better flow into the kitchen.

2 - knock out a weird kitchen wall/window to open up the kitchen into the dining space.

3 - manipulate the kitchen layout, adding an island, and new floors.

3 - convert a random extra room into a third bedroom.

4 - create a laundry area.

5 - refinish all hardwoods.

6 - paint.

7 - fix a few windows.

8 - and if we have time... paint the exterior.

DISCLAIMER: iphone pics taken the day we got the keys. Please forgive.

Oh, and here's that garage I told you about.  It's so charming it kills me.


On my heart.

When Chris and I were dating, we had the most amazing pen-pal kind of courtship.  A full summer of letters {for real letters, not emails, no texts... can you imagine?!}, sweet little packages, and long talks on the telephone.  He would ask me what he could pray about for me {this was a first!} and send me his favorite books on prayer and worship.  He rocked my world in more than one way but he laid the foundation for a relationship that knew where to turn for guidance.

One day I received a card from him in the mail.  He wanted to share with me a verse that had been on his heart.  It read...

    “Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.     

Hmm...And then I moved on.  

Fast forward 5 years and as he proposed to me on top of the Empire State Building, he reminded me that he felt called towards an un-ordinary life.  One full of purpose, surprise.  One in which he was instructed to spread wide his tent.

Hmmmmm... and then we moved on.

Today, another 7 years later {yeah, it took us awhile}, we are on the precipice of a move that might take us a bit closer to both literally and figuratively spreading wide our tent.  By a miracle that neither of us yet fully comprehends, we are placing one foot in front of the other and by faith, lengthening our cords. We are making our way towards realizing a dream of ours with no other explanation than the verse that my husband heard that summer in 2001.  The Lord is mysterious in ways I find harder and harder to comprehend and his blessings are just so abundant I might scream.  My heart overflows with gratitude and awe.  

And that's what's on my heart today. 


Extreme Home Makeover - part II

Oh, you didn't know we were going to re-do our main floor living area?  That makes two of us.  Until I came home to this...

That's 80 years of wallpaper, paint, and a little more wallpaper being scrapped by hand.  Yuck.

But you can't just do one room, so that led to this...

Which then made Chris decide we might as well redo the hardwoods too. 

We did this 3 times... {not by hand, this is just the corner work but it was not fun}

And then we added lighting.  Why no one in 80 years ever thought to add lighting to the living room, I have no idea.

And now we're enjoying this...

{Ingress loves it}


Hey! You know all that stuff we were doing to our house?

Most of it's done!  I will admit to one crying rant in the bathroom, and that's about it.  It was laborious, at times a teeny bit torturous, but it turned out amazing.

One GIANT bummer is that we are so gung-ho about projects that we rarely stop to take pictures before or during.  Blah.  Whatevs.  You'll get the idea...

Remember our the dark, ugly stairs leading to our unfinished basement?


 AFTER: {including hand prints on the glass and misc toys at top of stairs}

We hated how dark the stairway was and the metal door was pretty battered.  It definitely wasn't a welcoming side entrance.  Chris found this heavy glass door in the DOLLAR BIN {yay!} at The Rebuilding Center and we retrofit it for this doorway.  

So, the basement... remember this?

BEFORE: {sorry for the blurry image... I told you we suck at taking pics}


Chris worked in a built in bookshelf underneath the stairs to use up the wasted space.  We used 4 old drawers from a dresser we were tossing out to create 2 long drawers at the base.  Can you tell we're all about repurposing/reusing? 

We now have an extra bedroom which has already been put to use.

Extra space for tv watching {and playing circus}.

Play room {Ugh.  I need to get rid of some of this stuff}.

A new laundry room which is never without mountains of clothes.  Sorry.  Real life here.  I should also tell you that one of the things I am most proud of in this room are the washer and dryer.  See, right after I had Beckett, our hand-me-down set went out.  My mom was literally coming over and grabbing clothes to take to her house to wash.  I had a 2 year old and a newborn and NO way to do laundry.  Impossible. Anyway, we found this washer on craigslist for $100 - perfect condition.  But still no dryer.  UNTIL... late one night I randomly found a posting for a FREE {do you hear me singing hallelujah?} dryer.  I sent Chris and Isaac out at 11pm to go pick it up at the end of someone's driveway.  It came with a sample of ranch dressing inside {wha??} but I bleached it out and it runs perfect.  Bargains make me ramble.  I digress...

Last basement detail... We decided to keep the original beams in our basement, which I love.  Someone over the years had painted them white so we thought we'd strip 'em down but then ended up loving the kinda worn look.

None of this, at all, ever in a million years, would have been possible without this guy:

My handsome extraordinary husband.

We gave today the stink eye

Ever have one of those days when everything seems pitted against you from the moment you roll over and check your phone?  That's how our day started.  So I rallied the troops,cruised to the park and suddenly... the sour was instantly sweet.

Sometimes what feels like a big fat failure of a day couldn't be less true.  Can I get an AMEN?