Kite Girls – a letter to my pre-Tween Daughter

Kite Girls - a letter to my pre-Tween daughter about watching her grow up.

Pre-tween girls are kind of magical. This year I’ve embraced my daughter joining this daring phase of contradictions. She is both brave and timid, equal parts fierce and tender.

Each year I write her a birthday letter. It was spawned by the once a year letter to her birth mother that was always so emotional to write. I email these letters to a secret account she can access as an adult.

My sweet girl,

I’m sorry this is so late. Writing your birthday letter has been really hard for me this year, which is odd because for the first time, your birthday wasn’t quite so bittersweet. Watching you turn seven has been joyful.

Of course, I still wish I could slow down time, go back and do it all over, but . . .

Something changed during this year of your being six. We both began to let go.

I could feel my heart stepping back from the intense grasp of young motherhood as you began to need me less.

I’m slowly being relegated from leading lady to supporting character in your life. And I’m glad to be in the audience. You’re a show stopper, my love.

You are a show stopper, my Kite Girl, in your pre-tween glory!

But I relish the precious moments you come racing back to me, begging to sit on my lap, asking for story time, or just needing me to hold you.

Still, something about sitting under your weight, brings me back to center. Your sweet baby heaviness makes me feel lighter. Your sweaty cheek and damp hair rest against my face, begging me to press safety and love into you as deeply as you press into me.

For a moment, I catch a memory of the hours we spent like this stumbling through your infancy, but then you’re gone, butterfly flitting back to your friends, chalk drawings, summer games. And I close my eyes savoring the fading memories, like trying to hold a cloud.

I hadn’t written your letter because I just couldn’t find the words to describe the magic of watching six flow into seven. Then the perfect picture came to me – in a text message from your dad.

Kite girls – precious pre-tween girls, bravely stretching to reach the sky, but still embracing being tied to home.

Kite Girls - a letter to my pre-Tween daughter about watching her grow up. These girls 6-8 are kites, testing the sky while reaching back for our hands to hold.

And I love this picture, your brown hair blowing in the wind. This year, you became my kite girl, daring to soar on your own but happily within the safety of my reach.

I watched your creativity skyrocket. You began writing an autobiography, dedicating it to your cousin because he will still be alive when it’s finished. 😉 Thanks, kid.

Everyday you had some interesting, wonderfully silly perspective on life. Sometimes your wisdom is beyond your years.

Kite girls – precious pre-tween ladies, bravely reaching into the sky, but still tied to home. Click To Tweet

This year, you grew up, literally. It was only a few inches, but ALL legs, powerful and purposeful.

Your stepstool gradually moved away from the vanity as you no longer needed it to reach the sink. You moved out of your toddler bed into a loft that should carry you to college.

You tossed your floaties out of the pool and grabbed goggles instead.

My little Kite Girl - you tossed your floaties, grabbing goggles instead. A letter to my pre-Tween.

Six was a magical line between being baby and little girl, but at seven, you’re also becoming a young lady. You warm my heart when you befriend lonely people at the store, stopping to compliment their fashion jewelry or colorful blouse.

I’ve seen you embrace your inner tomboy and glamour girl at the same time. It’s awesome. I celebrate that you are making your own way, not letting the world’s gender expectations define you.

These Kite Girl years are the epitome of contradictions.

You go fishing with daddy and catch more fish than he does every time. You’re not afraid to touch the fish, but a bee sends you into hysterics. You’ll watch daddy gut a deer and identify every organ, but won’t eat a piece of meat with a scrap of squishy fat on it because . . . ewww.

Kite Girls are a story of contradictions, fierce & tender, brave & shy. Click To Tweet

I love watching you dressed in rainbows and sparkles play rough and tumble sheriff with the boys from the block and bravely relocate worms from the driveway to the plant beds “to improve soil quality” for our apple tree saplings.

Pre-tween questions get harder and the answers more complicated.

Questions got harder this year. How do fractions work? How do babies get into the mommy’s tummy? Why was that boy mean to me? Why doesn’t everyone love Jesus the way we do? What did God make me to do?

And I try to give you the best answers I can for where you are. I hope you’ll have some grace for me when I get it wrong and offer too little information or too much.

I’m still not ready to give you the full details on #2. For now, the daddy puts it in there is going to have to do. Sorry, not sorry.

This year, I spent too much time crying over school with you. We both struggle some days to balance this mother/daughter vs. teacher/student relationship. But I pray at the end it’s as worth it for you as it has been for me.

I’ve learned so much about teaching from you that I couldn’t learn in a classroom. Mostly, I’ve learned how to really be patient instead of pretending until I lose my temper.

I’ve learned to see you where you are and sit there with you.

I’ve learned the fear of being wrong is paralyzing, even when you’re six and there is no penalty for an incorrect answer. Pride is a killer at any age.

So we’ve both had to step back and learn to have a teachable spirit towards our mistakes instead of frustrated pride.

Letting you make mistakes is hard.  I’m teaching you to take a deep breath, regroup, and try again. It’s kind of amazing to watch you beam with pride after you persevere to learn something new.

Our new chant has become-“Making mistakes is how we grow, learning things we did not know.”

I’ve had to think more about your body image (and work on mine). I want your identity to be imperishable. I think you’re beautiful, but it was always about how much I love you, not your appearance.

And, I need to make sure you know that. Any identity in temporary beauty is building your house on shifting sand.

Matthew 7: 25 The rain fell, the torrents raged, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because its foundation was on the rock.

These pre-tween years are already filled with more awareness of peers and societal pressures. I want you to have a solid identity in Christ to withstand the coming torrential storms of adolescence.

I know that I have to put God at the center of my parenting and leading if I want the identity you’re building to be one that will last forever.

Psalm 127:1 ESV /Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain…

I’ve begun to see the woman you’ll become and glimpses of the friendship I pray we’ll always have.

Love always, Mom, your biggest cheerleader even from the sidelines.

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My Father’s Day Gift Guide for Budget Minded Mamas

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide! I want him to know I see the hard work he does without fanfare or thanks & budget minded mamas, these are $25 or less!

I’m sharing my Father’s day gift guide. Really, I was just shopping but found some great things, so I wanted to share!

My husband has been so great to me during this difficult year. I really want him to know I see him: the hours, the hard work, the little things he does without fanfare or expecting thanks. Yet, I need to be frugal while showing my husband I appreciate him. So, all these gifts are $25 or less!

(this site uses Affiliate links-purchases support our ministry through a small referral fee that never affects your cost.)

One way I show my appreciation is by paying attention to little things he needs. On a regular basis, I replace his socks, toothpaste, and favorite hot sauce. But for a Father’s Day gift, I want him to know how much we appreciate him by making his day to day life easier.

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide! I want him to know I see the hard work he does without fanfare or thanks & budget minded mamas, these are $25 or less!

Just this week, he was scrounging through the garage looking for the right size drill bit for some project. I could hear his grumbling from the garage. I can’t always be physically helpful, but this universal drill and screw tool might save him so much frustration.

My husband LOVES to grill and BBQ. You know you live in the South when these are two entirely separate activities!  He has a gas grill, a charcoal grill that he uses for slow barbecuing, and a smoker.

Sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide for Budget Minded Mamas! All gifts under $25 - 5 FREE ideas! Click To Tweet

Grill accessories are always a great Father’s Day gift!

Maintaining the proper temperature is important when you invest 12-24 hours into dinner! This one has a timer for up to 24 hours and free lifetime replacement of the probes. I’m already looking forward to our next hog roast!

And having the right tools for the job is paramount – plus it keeps him from using my good kitchen utensils at the grill! 😉 This set has the tools he needs without taking up too much storage space, & is on SALE!

My husband is a talented amateur chef. In fact, he could be a professional, so we’ve bought some high quality chef knives. However, they are TOUGH to keep sharp because the blades are such hard steel.

Is your husband or father a talented chef?

He is always complaining that his sharpeners aren’t enough to keep the edges on the blades crisp.  Just Friday night at our fish fry, he was complaining about using our cheap knives because they sharpen more easily.  He was especially frustrated by the filet knife that he wishes he could use. But getting to a professional sharpener isn’t always possible, so I looked for one that would be harder than his knives.

This knife sharpener has a diamond coated sharpening wheel that should keep even our serrated knives sharp. With a 100% no questions asked, money back guarantee, for under $20, this is an easy Father’s Day gift. I really want him to enjoy those quality knives.

Gifts aren't the most important ways to say I love you, but just the right thing is fun. Click To Tweet

Of course, REALLY sharp knives have led to a few trips to the ER in our house. He uses sharp knives to filet fish and butcher deer. He needs them to be extra sharp, but also needs all his fingers. I got him a pair of these for his birthday earlier this year.

He LOVES them. He hasn’t cut himself once wearing them. And can use them while working with other sharp objects as well. These have saved his fingers several times already.

Maybe your husband needs some new t-shirts and likes to wear his faith! Christian Strong has some great styles (and cute things for you, too).

Or he might be an intellectual and enjoy books that deepen his faith. There are many to choose from, but one that I really would suggest to any husband or father is The End Of Me by Kyle Idleman. You can read my entire review, but I LOVED this book. I really had to decide what kind of Christ follower I am and be willing to see past me.

We don’t usually spend a lot of money on gifts. We prefer to save for things together. And sometimes living on one salary means we make sacrifices.

When nothing store bought will do . . . .

5 FREE Father’s Day Gift ideas for your father or husband:

  • Cook his favorite meal and dessert for Father’s Day.
  • Ask him for his to-do list and surprise him by doing it so he gets a weekend off!
  • Write him a letter or several notes telling him what you appreciate about him extra points if you hide them where he will be surprised by notes all day.
  • Spend the day actively doing his favorite things. Go fishing. Watch golf. Etc.
  • DEAL with him. That means Drop Everything And Listen. Give him your best attention as often as humanly possible.

Loving each other everyday is more important than things we buy, but small, thoughtful gifts can also be treasures.

I hope you have a husband or father in your life you can celebrate this Father’s Day. While not everyone does, if you are blessed enough to have a father, step-father, or husband in your life, take a few minutes to celebrate them however will honor them the most.

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Don’t Waste Your Wait! You might have a Divine Appointment

Are you open to a Divine Appointment or are you wasting your wait?

I have a confession to make.

I hate waiting! Like to a ridiculous degree. In my efficiency-minded, multi-tasking little head, waiting is wasted time. I could have been … cleaning, writing, homeschooling, etc. (read-at home in yoga pants!)

But I’ve let that mean that I’m always waiting to get ready until the last possible second, stressing everyone about getting out the door because I didn’t want to get places too early and waste MY time waiting. 

I didn’t see all the ways God could be using my waits.

Last fall, my husband convicted me about how this really affects everyone, and I realized my behavior wasn’t cute or flighty; it was sin. I was being selfish, and it was bad for me, for my family, for those waiting on me, for the drivers that share the road with me when I’m going too fast.

So much sin I needed to address in just one “little” area. But WHOSE time is it really?

Whose time is it anyway? Is MY time really mine? If I belong to God, isn't it all HIS time? Click To Tweet

Since then, I’ve been trying to do better about being intentional with my time and planning better.

Yesterday, instead of planning for my sweet-pea to be compliant and obedient, I planned for her to be six: to take two bites of breakfast and claim it was too cold, then she was full, then she couldn’t find her pants, and didn’t know which shoes matched her shirt. #MomLife

I built in an extra 30 minutes into our morning so we could stay purposeful and focused without raising my voice. It was worth getting up early for! 

Are you open to a Divine Appointment? or are you wasting your wait? Waiting is my least favorite thing, but God has shown me He has planned every step.

I was so excited I didn’t have to speed to get to my appointment on time. We took our time getting out of the parking garage. I practiced using the stairs to my appointment and still arrived almost 30 minutes early. 

I thought for sure we would get in and out quickly, being a fairly early in the day appointment and early for my appointment. But I brought a book I’ve been meaning to read and settled in to wait with a happy heart. 

My daughter went straight for the toy corner and started playing with the little boy she found there. 

They were playing nicely, so I opened my book to read. I would look up and smile at the mother as she was interacting with the kids, but I really wanted to read this parenting book. We’ve had some emotional challenges with my daughter and I want be informed.

I was resisting being social. I didn’t want to be unkind or unwelcoming, but I’ve been out a lot this week and my introvert was showing. So I kept making a friendly half-smile and going back to my book, but God had different plans.

Are you open to a Divine Appointment? or are you wasting your wait? Waiting is my least favorite thing, but God has shown me He has planned every step. FAITH | TRUST GOD

God had different plans for my wait.

As the wait grew longer, the children’s playing got more rambunctious. They needed some reminding to share and keep things beneath a dull roar. With both of us trying to redirect them, we began making eye contact, which lead to conversation. Turns out her son is homeschooled, in first grade, six almost seven, adopted, and struggling with the effects of a birth mother who struggled with substances.

It would be strangely coincidental if it weren’t for my belief in God’s plan for my every step.

Proverbs 16:9 ESV The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

He had me right where I was supposed to be. He wanted me to meet this sweet Christian parent who is passionate about her children and homeschool and God. 

My wait wasn’t an accident, and it wasn’t wasted!

We discussed curriculum and resources. We shared adoption stories and parenting concerns. We fellowshipped as mothers and Christians. 

Are you open to a Divine Appointment? or are you wasting your wait? Waiting is my least favorite thing, but God has shown me He has planned every step.
photo credit @shutterstock

God planned that meeting. And through doing so helped my daughter and I both make new friends, but also reminded me that when I am obedient in the small things, His will is clear and apparent. 

My wait wasn't wasted, it was a divine appointment orchestrated by God! Click To Tweet

My appointment was delayed by almost an hour. But I couldn’t be upset when I could see I had really had two appointments yesterday. The first just wasn’t in my calendar – Divine Appointment!

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The Bizarre thing I’m giving up for lent that will make me a better mom

Growing up, only Catholics celebrated Lent, but I've grown to embrace the season. This year I'm giving up something bizarre to be a better mom and closer to God

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Growing up, Lent was something only the Catholics I knew celebrated. I didn’t know any Protestants celebrating it until recently. I thought it strange, until I understood Lent’s purpose for believers.

Lent is a season of repentance, fasting or sacrifice, and reflection that precedes Easter. Lent honors Jesus’s season of preparation, fasting, and temptation in the wilderness before he began his public ministry which would eventually lead to His crucifixion.

The closer I’ve drawn to God, the more I realize Christ has called all His children to live sacrificially, no matter our denomination. It’s not about church tradition. Lent is about preparing our hearts to accept Christ’s sacrifice at Easter.

Mark 8:34 ESV  “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
A lot of Christians focus on the taking up of a cross (bearing a difficult burden) but skim right over denying ourselves. And I really want to understand what it means for me to deny myself this year in a way that honors whom God has called me to be.

In recent years, I’ve given something up quietly, not wanting my sacrifice to be for the eyes of men, but between God and I alone. We sometimes need accountability partners to support us in a season of growth, but I sometimes worry about putting my deeds before men in order to be praised by them.

Growing up, only Catholics celebrated Lent, but I've grown to embrace the Lenten season. This year I'm giving up something bizarre to draw nearer to Christ.

It’s hard to find a healthy balance of keeping things private so that my honor and glory is God’s, not my own, but also being transparent so that I might be a witness. I’m choosing to share what I’m giving up this year because it’s kind of ugly, and I know my brokenness keeps me real and transparent and lets God’s power shine.

This year, when I couldn’t think of something to give up, as I’m already sitting on the couch 24/7 in my health crisis, I asked God what he wanted me to give up, feeling that I as I write and share I need to hold myself to a higher standard daily.

1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

I prayed, “Lord, what can I give up that will be most pleasing to you, what will draw me closest to you and make this a season of deep reflection?”

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Yelling – immediately sprang to mind. And I sadly reflected on how much I’ve fallen back on yelling recently, how angry and hurt the voices in our home sound when we yell.

So this year, I’m giving up yelling for Lent.

This may seem like a bizarre fast. I mean, shouldn’t we strive to give up yelling anyway? Of course, we should, but stay with me . . .

This might seem like a bizarre way to fast for Lent, but what better way to sacrifice. Click To Tweet

Yelling at my daughter is something I’ve worked really hard to eliminate, but being in pain since December, I’ve allowed myself to have a shorter fuse, using my physical discomfort and emotional stress to justify my reactions.

In His Lenten season, Christ learned that suffering and persecution would be his cup to drink, that He would ultimately allow terrible accusations to be hurled at Him while he sat silently . . . silently.

How is giving up YELLING for Lent a sacrifice?

First, I am giving up my selfish right to be upset. I am giving up the earthly perspective that I get to behave angrily because my child has disobeyed or refused to listen. If Christ could be accused, slapped, spat on, whipped, tortured, crucified for me, I can learn gentleness.

Yelling is quick. I get her attention immediately, and I get the instant gratification of indulging my selfish frustrations. Choosing not to yell asks me to give undeserved grace at the moment it’s most difficult.

And it’s going to be hard!

This morning, I had barely started homeschool when my daughter started getting off task. Adorable only goes so far. I was explaining the directions again, and she was deliberately not listening, talking about her dream and her pencil and her new magic trick and . . .

. . .stop talking so I can explain. She didn’t even pause. Honey, I’m trying to get your attention. She rattles on, and I yelled, “STOP!” She froze, her eyes turned to saucers and her mouth stopped moving (momentarily).

Quickly, I clamped my hand over my mouth. I barely made it two hours.

Thankfully, forgiveness and grace redeem our failed attempts at sanctification. I quickly apologized and softened my tone.

But I realized that getting her attention, helping her focus, and disciplining misbehavior are all going to take a lot more effort.

Yelling is easy, but destructive.

Refusing to yell will mean intentionally using close physical proximity and a firm voice. Additionally, I’ll have to follow through on real consequences when she disobeys.

Punishing my daughter often gives me such a heart for God. Imagine how His heart must break when we need discipline. When I have to follow through with consequences, her tears disappointment break my heart every time. Disciplining His sinful children must grieve our Lord so deeply, but I know He disciplines those he loves.

The purpose of Lent is to help us understand Christ’s sacrifice, take some small part in His struggle.

While giving up yelling is something I strive to do anyway, making my house a zero yelling zone for the next 40+ days will be a tremendous way for me to understand Christ’s gentleness and grace.

Because I will be striving to be a daily demonstration of undeserved favor, the quiet spirit God has been growing in me.

I could give up coffee and chocolate or pizza, but while those might be beneficial for my waist line, learning to deny my sinful nature will be more meaningful this year. It will build relationships, improve the atmosphere in our home, and be a witness to my family.

Follow me on Facebook to hear how it’s going.

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Going Gluten Free

Going gluten free isn't a journey I ever wanted to undertake. I LOVE chewy, warm, rich bread. But being a parent takes me to places that I never would have imagined.

Going gluten free isn’t a journey I ever wanted to undertake. I LOVE chewy, warm, rich bread.

But being a parent takes me to places that I never would have imagined.

Our daughter started complaining about stomach pain early into 2016. In her squeaky, small voice, she would say, “My stomach hurts, Mommy.”

And I would answer, maybe you’re hungry or maybe the milk was bad, maybe you have a stomach bug (that led to an interesting conversation!), but at some point, the complaints got more numerous, then nearly continuous.

I never planned to go gluten free, but parenting takes me to places that I never imagined. Click To Tweet

She was uncomfortable and hurting everyday. She seemed able to function and play, but if she sat still, the pain was too distracting. It was rarely so bad that she was crying in pain, but she hurt everyday.

We had an ultrasound and liver enzyme blood tests done, yet there was no clear reason for her discomfort. But after months of charting her pain, I finally couldn’t stand to watch her suffer anymore.

I took lactose out of her diet, but it didn’t seem to help.

A trip to our clinic for a physical led us to decide to try removing gluten from her diet. Days before a cross-country trek wasn’t great timing, but we went for it, desperate for answers.

Going gluten free isn't a journey I ever wanted to undertake. I LOVE chewy, warm, rich bread. But being a parent takes me to places that I never would have imagined.

After a few weeks, she stopped complaining her stomach hurt. After a few months, I threw away her pain chart.

And of course, we’re willing to go gluten free for her, but I am still mentally adjusting to this change. It changes so many things I didn’t anticipate.

She can’t often have the snacks at church. I have to do extra planning and preparation for playdates and babysitters. I’ve had to teach my six year old how to graciously decline snacks when I’m not around. I always have to carry safe food.

On National Talk like a Pirate Day, Krispy Kreme gives free doughnuts for customers who talk like pirates. As we drove past, she asked if we were could get our free doughnuts this year. No, honey, doughnuts have gluten.

We’ve found some swaps for bread items and just changed our diets to a larger extent, but the holiday season is making this adjustment really hard. Some things just aren’t the same.

While gluten free recipes and flours improve every year, some dishes are just different and others have been kind of gross. We all have had to adjust.

I’ve had to learn more scratch baking, no more prepackaged pie crusts for us. I’ve never had xantham gum in my kitchen before. I’m still a little unclear about what it is, but Google and Alton Brown are my friends.

I got distracted at a party a few weeks ago when my daughter asked if she could have one of what I was eating. I handed her a bagel chip without thinking. Face palm.

As much as there is a learning curve for going gluten free, I hate to complain. Her health and happiness are paramount. It isn’t a life threatening allergy (if it’s an allergy at all-see below), and I give HUGE PROPS for those with serious allergies.

Knowing she may never have flour again is one thing, but knowing she may never be able to casually order from a restaurant menu again is a little emotional.

We went to one of our favorite restaurants last week only to realize she can’t eat anything there. They had one gluten free option, plain grilled chicken with green beans. The kitchen staff wasn’t even clear on what gluten is. I was literally reading the ingredients labels for them.

We went to a church potluck, and it was so hard to watch her dejected face at the dessert table when she couldn’t have a single one. Luckily, someone brought a bowl of candy which was all gluten free.

I hate watching her be disappointed. It breaks my heart more than it breaks hers.

Thinking about how this will affect her life forever gets a little overwhelming, so I try not to, just taking one day at a time.

And today, I don’t know if going gluten free will be permanent for her or not. The doctor wouldn’t order the blood test for gluten allergies without any clear diagnostic reason, but in order to get a diagnostic reason, we had to take all the gluten out of her diet for months to see if that made any difference.

Thinking about forever can be overwhelming. Take health changes one day at a time. Click To Tweet

Once we believed it made a difference, the doctor was willing to test her, but she has to be eating gluten for two months before the antibodies can be tested for an allergy.

SIGH

So, we’re gradually adding gluten back into her diet. A few bites of bread here, a slice of pizza there. I figured if we have to do it for the testing, we might as well do it over the holidays so she can enjoy our favorite treats, and I can practice with some gluten free recipes for next year.

We’ll see what the next two months bring. Perhaps she is just sensitive to it, not allergic. Maybe it was the pesticides, and the wheat needs to be organic or non-GMO??? Maybe it was something else entirely.

We really don’t know what will happen.

I do know that I have a better understanding and greater compassion for parents with children who have food allergies. If nothing else comes from the past two months, I am grateful for that.

Many of our homeschool friends have serious allergies like Celiac’s, nut allergies, dye allergies, etc. And for the first time, I’m more than aware of it, I get the seriousness of it and have serious respect for those moms!

Every ingredient has to be investigated.

A homemade recipe by a dear friend could be dangerous because they might not know how to examine labels the way you do. Gluten hides in crazy places: soy sauce, taco seasoning, Twizzlers! She can’t have Twizzlers on a gluten free diet.

Cross-contamination is a real risk.

So, a product that might be edible alone is rendered unsafe because it was made in a factory that also processes wheat or nuts or eggs or soy or milk. This often includes our own kitchens, especially for celiac’s and nut allergies!

Reading labels has helped me understand just how many products are off-limits for people with serious allergies, especially nut allergies.

It is so true that things just don’t hit home until it’s your child.

I am grateful I’ve had this chance to learn how to be mindful of allergies for food preparation and hospitality.

Seriousness of food allergies (Cross-contamination and reading ingredients) doesn't hit home until it's your child. Click To Tweet

I found myself turning down invites to parties or lunch because it’s hard to find many places that offer safe food. I know more seasoned allergy moms have some great strategies for handling these things, but for now, I’m still learning.

No matter how her tests turn out in February, I have learned so much. I’ll always have something safe for guests and label food items for potlucks, making sure to be the one to think of those with allergies.

Going gluten free is a journey. And we’re in a weird stretch right now, but we’ll keep taking one step at a time as a family.

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