Throwing in the towel.

If you're not completely tired of hearing my whining on the subject matter of mysterious childhood illnesses, read ahead.

1. Ben is skinny. We get it. Once in the 50th percentile, he's now below the first. We tried plumping him up by keeping extremely detailed lists of every food that entered his little body and then played around with percentages. 50% fat and 1200 calories a day resulted in no weight gain and loads of diarrhea. So then we lowered the fat and raised the protein and that helped the diapers but not the weight. We were elated to discover he'd gained 4/10ths of a pound only to watch the scale plummet right back down a few days later. We're still keeping the detailed list of foods along with pictures of his face and butt (nice, huh?) to give the naturopath or allergist or nutritionist or whatever specialist we eventually decide on. But as for weight gain? I give up.

2. Ben is rashy. We get that, too. His rashes wax and wane, and they are most definitely much improved from the horrific-ness of weeks past. But they're still there and I just don't know why.

3. I kept him off all foods except the least allergenic for 15 or 16 days. Things got better. Then I gave him a banana. Whoa, dog. Insta-rash. Then days later, sweet potatoes. Whoa, diggity dog. Insta-rash/diarrhea. Then days later, milk. WHOA hot diggity dog. The worst of all reactions by far. He can't truly be allergic to everything, right?

4. I think Ben has Acrodermatitis Enteropathica (a fancy word for a zinc deficiency), brought on by undiagnosed food allergies. I think his is the acquired version rather than the inherited. I'm not doctor, but the puzzle pieces fit. The problem? We already know his zinc levels are scary-low and he's already on a supplement. If he STILL has low zinc levels, it's because we're still exposing him to allergens we don't even know about. This is never-ending.

I just want to change his diaper without watching him scream in pain because his butt is so raw that he can't even sit down. I just want him to be pain-free. I love my little snuggle butt more than words.



The rash, part 429.

UPDATE: Since this post still gets traffic, I wanted to update it since it's been years.  Ben's eczema waxed and waned after this until he eventually just outgrew it in about six months. Our other two children, born after Ben, had similar but much more severe struggles.  I've posted about eczema a lot since then. Check out our eczema button in the sidebar up there if you're interested in reading more about what we've learned through the years. 

I think I've solved it, folks! All of Ben's test results came back negative, which is a HUGE relief. After being on an elimination diet for about 10 days now, I feel safe in saying that his rashes are caused, in most part, by food intolerances. Ben's doctor thinks I'm crazy, but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves and continue to follow my mommy intuition. That's what it's there for, right?

At the beginning of the elimination diet, you might remember that his face looked like this:


That was at its worst, so to be fair, here's a picture of its "normal" state:


Though we haven't been able to get rid of it completely, it is SO MUCH improved and hardly red at all anymore. I've been taking some progression pictures through out the past ten days to prove to his doctor that I'm not as crazy as she thinks I am.






So, what worked?

1. Moving to a diet of ONLY the least allergenic foods in organic form (absolutely no processed food whatsoever). We also moved to gluten-free and replaced cow's milk with goat's milk.

2. Replacing all the chemicals in our home with natural products - vinegar & water and hydrogen peroxide & water to clean with, natural laundry detergent, Dr. Bronner's baby mild soap and organic toothpaste. We stopped using disposable wipes and instead we're just using cloth wipes with water only. This, in combination with banning disposables completely, has really helped clear up the diaper rash. I learned so much this past week about the way chemicals are absorbed into skin and how the skin "revolts." Some great articles to read can be found here, here and here.

3. Trashing the aquaphor. I had a hunch that the aquaphor was actually making Ben's face rash worse. Almost as soon as we stopped using it, the redness in his face rash completely disappeared. Now I only use coconut oil when it gets super dry, but I pretty much just leave it alone. If you artificially moisturize your skin, you're only training it to produce even less oils than it already does. Or at least that's my opinion. :)

4. Taking a daily probiotic.

5. Taking baths every other day, sometimes every third day.

We'll start the process of re-introduction once we get to South Carolina and have had some time to get back into a routine. It will definitely be interesting to find out what he's allergic to. I'm hoping for dairy only, but I do have a hunch that it might be more than that.

One of the most exciting parts of this elimination is watching his tummy problems straighten out! You might remember that I shared a little too much last week when I mentioned that Ben has had daily diarrhea for, oh, months and months. Guess what? Gone!

If I've learned nothing else lately, I've learned that I should always trust my gut. The doctor would have us on all foods except peanuts and she'd want us to take steroid creams. Moms really do know best.

I want to end on this note: check out the Skin Deep database! Since our beauty products aren't really regulated, companies aren't required to list the ingredients that go into making them. The Environmental Working Group took it into their own hands by researching thousands of products and dishing on the safety of each. I was surprised to learn that Ben's organic body wash was a 3 on a scale of 1-10 (3 being a moderate hazard) and that my hair mousse was a TEN! Highly hazardous!


Two years ago today...

Get that garter on, girls!

Daddy and I about to make that crazy walk down the aisle.

About to be a Hibbard.

Just about officially man and wife!

or two.

and cake.

a little cake-in-the-face action.

okay, can we go back to OUR room now? ;)

...I married my best friend. March 8, 2008, will love on in my heart as one of the best days of my life. Sure, we had three hours to find a new wedding location because of a freak sandstorm and maybe we left our sand ceremony back at the beach house and had to delay the start of the wedding to go get it, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. I could live that day over and over and over again.

I love you, baby. Always and forever.


Of parks and portable DVD players.

I feel like it's been a lifetime since I've last posted! I have so much to share that I should probably make four different blog posts, but...nah.

The weather here has been beautiful! Doesn't it always seem that the first Spring-ish day of the year it feels like it's 75 when it's really only 50? I love that. Friday, Ben and I set out on a long walk and a trip to the park down the street.


Jealous, Tim rushed home from work in time to also take Ben to the park. This park-right-down-the-street business is pretty nice. On Saturday we threw on some layers and took a 2.5 mile hike to an even cooler park.



With no sun, it was a lil chilly and poor Ben's hands were turning purple. On the way home, convinced that my child's fingers were going to fall off (in 50 degree weather?), I gave in and did a little stroller run with Tim. It was fun. Um, until I wussed out, screamed that we had to stop and felt like collapsing. All the while Tim was barely even breathing hard.

Oh, oh! Also, I'm applying for Wife of the Year award. Since I'm leaving for two weeks, I made out this awesome little schedule for Tim to go along with the 14 meals in the freezer. The schedule lays out when he needs to take each meal out of the freezer, how long it needs to thaw, how to cook it and what to pair it with. Vote for Chelsea!




Here's my beautiful little freezer stockpile for March. I don't know why I always insist on capturing every last moment of my life on camera, but I do. And I share. You're welcome.


We rounded off the weekend with TWO more trips to the park today and an unbelievably brilliant and slightly expensive purchase (don't tell Dave Ramsey). Enter my new best friend:


She is going to save my sanity on this little trek across the country. I know, I know! TV is bad! And TV for 16 hours straight is even bad-er! I get it. But it's the only way we're going to make it out of this trip alive; I feel it in mah blood.

My coffee is running out and my eyelids are doing that droopy thing, so I'll end this on one last happy note. Tomorrow is mine and Tim's wedding anniversary and I got a new phone! I would tell you how much I love it but there aren't words. It's so awesome to have a Palm again! I know you Blackberry folks think I'm nuts, but I didn't get it. I tried the Blackberry thing for the last seven months or so and I just...hate it. My Pixi rox. :)



It's too cute! It's too cute!

I mean, really. It's TOO CUTE. I gave Ben his first fork and he acted like he was going to cut up some meat or something.



I love this picture because if you look really closely, you can see the little piece of chicken falling (to the right and under the spork thingy):



And this one? Possibly the cutest of all. Snapped totally in-the-action, unposed and I LOVE it. Of course then I proceeded to snap a bunch of posed-ish pictures which are almost equally as cute:





I love my little schweepy man:



OAMC Update


Several of you asked me to report back after my first OAMC session was over. Sorry it took me so long; this rash/allergy business has been sucking my time right up, and combined with my upcoming wedding anniversary (March 8th, baby!) and my trip to South Carolina next week, I just haven't had ANY free time.

Let's elaborate on the South Carolina business. I'll be driving by myself with a 14 month old for 17 hours. I do have a death wish, yes. It's kind of a spur-of-the-moment trip that I just decided on but I think it'll be lots of fun if we actually survive the getting there thing.

So, back to the original point of this post. My first month of OAMC went great, but (and this is a big but), I came in at a $450 grocery budget. This is what I had originally budgeted for, but as you might remember, I assumed I wouldn't spend more than $250 after it was all said and done, giving us $200 extra to put toward debt. Yeah. That didn't really happen. First of all, Tim was out of town. I had these big meals all put together in the freezer but I didn't want to cook them because it just seemed like too big a meal for little ole me. So then I did things like swing by Target for a goat cheese/mozzarella pizza (to-die-for in case you care) and some fancy pasta and other such UNnecessities. And that still wouldn't have put me much over budget. But then the whole allergy debacle happened and I decided we needed to go on an elimination diet. One of the key points to an elimination diet is to shop all organically. Plus, do you know that goat milk is $4 per quart and Ben can drink a quart a day? Needless to say, that all really added up.

I would still call it a huge success, despite making a few mistakes. Having dinner all put together is AWESOME!

I decided to go for round 2 this month. Besides my separate budget for Ben's food (yeah, it's come down to that), I've probably spent $200 on groceries for March. We will have to make a milk run every week and we'll need to get eggs twice this month, but that's it. We have tons of frozen veggies in the freezer and all the supplies I need for bread all month long. Since I'll be gone a big part of the month, I've put together some really simple and basic meals for Tim. This month's menu is NOT fancy.

I'm behind on this whole OAMC business and will just be starting my cooking session here in, oh, five minutes. Hopefully I can get it all knocked out by tomorrow night and relax this weekend before this impending 17-hour drive.

So, the menu:

P Dubz steak bites x 2
Chile Relleno casserole x 2
Weight Watchers lasagna
Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps (minus the lettuce part...we're tortilla fans over here!)
Red Beans & Rice x 4
Spaghetti x 6 (My husband is sort of obsessed with spaghetti and since I'm gone part of March, I'm indulging him in his favorites!)
Weight Watchers meatloaf
Chili x 4
Multigrain blueberry pancakes & eggs x 3
BBQ beef sandwiches x 2
Black beans & rice
Mac 'N Cheese (Sorry to the recipe poster, but we did NOT like this at all. It tasted like cardboard. So this is leftover from last month and I just haven't been able to bring myself to eat it yet).

A few of these things aren't make ahead-able and there's a reason for that. I found that I REALLY enjoy cooking. It's therapeutic and, well, enjoyable. I just don't like to do it every day and I especially don't like to clean up afterward. So I'm thinking my ideal monthly cooking schedule will be twenty prep ahead meals and ten that I get to cook as I go. We'll see!

Anyone else doing OAMC this month?


Foul moods.

Ben has learned the art of the temper tantrum. And apparently someone also taught him that practice makes perfect. I must say, he's pretty perfect at it after all the recent practice.



(And YES, his mullet is finally gone!)

(Yeah, a food-in-the-mouth shot. Sorry about that)

I can't say I blame him. If my body was functioning like his, I'd probably be pissed all the time, too.

Despite the rain clouds, there's been some sunshine in our lives lately, too! We had an awesome playgroup over the weekend where the kiddos played themselves into blissful sleepiness.







The saga lives on...

It seems for every step we take forward, we take two backward. I hate whining, especially publicly, and I try to keep it in check. But right now I am having a tough time holding it back and being a positive, cheery person. I find that health problems in my child make me negative, grumpy and weepy so visit my blog at your own risk for a bit...

We've been on an elimination diet for four days now. Right? Yeah, I think. Anyway, it's been okay, though we haven't really seen much improvement in the rash department.

Then Ben's teeth started chipping.

Then his eczema started spreading and he's now a head-to-toe eczema baby. The rash on the rest of his body pales in comparison to the mouth and diaper area, but I'm sure it's not comfortable for him.

I'd had enough, so I made yet another doctor appointment for this morning. Ben's lost weight since his last appointment and he's now measuring in the whopping 3rd percentile. He used to measure in the 50th, people. Apparently this isn't cause for concern, or so says our pediatrician. She says they see this happen when children become mobile. But seeing that Ben's been walking for six months now, I just can't wrap my mind around that being the cause. Three weeks ago he was in the 10th percentile. You can't tell me that dropping to the 3rd percentile in three weeks isn't concerning, especially when his teeth are chipping and he has, er, terrible GI problems every single day. Yes, my baby's had diarrhea every day since ten or eleven months old.

His ped says it's not an allergy because the RAST testing is very accurate. I find that hard to believe when every article I read about RAST testing says the exact opposite, but whatever. She says we need to reintroduce dairy and, I suppose, just wait it out. I haven't been trusting of doctors for a long, long time, and this isn't making a case for a renewed trust any time soon.

I'm so fed up. So, so, so fed up. I've just gotta get it out. I want my baby to be healthy and comfortable. Is that so much to ask for?

We will definitely be going the naturopath route soon.