Thursday, June 29, 2017

Of mice and men. Part II

So, I've concluded that mice are a lot like children in that they have a knack for revealing your greatest flaws.

My children like to bring to light the fact that I am not quite as patient, easy going, and angelic as I believed myself to be approximately 6 years ago.

The mice that have taken up residence in our home like it's a thriving Airbnb destination enjoy bringing up the reality that the floor food I have lovingly provided for my baby, and the leftover dinner remnants from the elder children are the perfect nighttime snack for any vermin taking in the sights after rummaging through my cupboards.

Perhaps at times the occasional piece of white cheddar popcorn becomes lodged between the couch cushions at approximately 9:30pm. Maybe there are chocolate chips in there. Maybe a slice or two of pepperoni. Whatever! Stop shaming me for wanting some alone time, mice! 

Obviously none of these mice are mothers or they would possess some compassion for my solitary snacking needs in this season of life.

Three days ago I awoke and began my normal morning routine of shoving aside snuggling my little darlings on my way to the coffee pot. Instead of being greeted by piping hot bean water in a witty decorative mug, I instead came upon my counter covered with... 

tiny. little. droppings. 

People. I implore you.

My emotions did not hold up well in light of this revelation. The further my eyes scanned, the more mouse excrement they found. 

Behind my coffee pods, next to the toaster, under the dishes drying on the counter, inside of the pots in my oven drawer, in another cupboard, and in the drawer that holds all of my measuring cups and spoons. 

Now I will say, in defense of the mice, that the last drawer I mentioned, containing roughly 728 measuring cups and spoons, also contained enough food scraps to feed a sizable village of mice, but still! 

I used to really love our home. 

Being the consistently rational human being that I am, my husband unpacked the moving boxes I'd immediately begun to fill, and proceeded to buy every single mouse fighting contraption available at Home Depot and Amazon.com. 

He got that look on his face like when Hugh Jackman grows the Edward Scissorhand things out of his fingers and goes crazy on everyone. 

My children so far all seem to be oblivious to the plight happening within their home, thankfully, though I did find a great deal of irony in the fact that they requested to watch "Stuart Little" while I cleaned mouse feces out of our dwelling... 

After the poo removal was complete, our kitchen became a war zone. Instead of oatmeal and waffle crumbs, it was filled with glue traps and peanut butter zapper boxes. 

Yesterday morning, Wolverine greeted me as I was exiting our bedroom to tell me that he was "just finishing up" out in the kitchen. 

When he awoke in the early morning hours to assess the battlefield, who should greet him but Stuart Little himself, who found himself stranded in a glue trap that even an adorable Melanie Griffith voiced character could not rescue him from. 

I won't disclose all of the details regarding how the disposal of Stuart unfolded...but I will say it involved a pair of gloves, a large bucket, a stick, some amount of water, and a certain level of Hugh Jackman bravery.  

I will continue to provide updates on the critter casualty count as it rises. 

And I will continue to eat my 9:30pm snacks on the couch while watching The Middle. You can't control me, Stuart! 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Of mice and men

As I sit down to type this, I hear the gentle sounds of my favorite nighttime TV family (The Hecks on The Middle) and the scurrying of the tiny (or GIANT!?) feet of the critters that have taken up nighttime residence in our cupboards.

First of all, let's establish the fact that this is NOT OKAY!

I can kill an occasional spider if it is reasonably sized and doesn't appear like it could pick up my baby. I can hide in a bedroom like any sane human being until my husband returns, should a bee of any variety somehow enter my house uninvited. I once ate the leg of a fried tarantula in Cambodia.

But four legged rodents rummaging around in my pots and pans is absolutely unacceptable. It's also rude of them to point out the fact that my home contains enough of my baby's floor food to encourage this kind of trespassing!

My husband has procured special "food" to ensure they are eradicated, and Pinterest tells me to put Peppermint oil on cotton balls, which I've done diligently. But 800 cotton balls and 200 drops later (approximately), I feel like the critters are actually taking the oils internally and seeing all of their ailments cured. Irony.

Aside from taking care of our new pets, I've also been trying to attend to the two legged creatures who live in my home and demand my attention. I made homemade coconut water fruit popsicles yesterday! Pinterest helps me provide my children with nutritious treats to balance out the 8,000 grams of sugar (approximately) my daughter consumes now in special treats she can have that were previously off limits due to her peanut allergy. OIT has both set us free...and tempted us with all of the pre-packaged goodness that mother nature had nothing to do with.

We are officially finished with our year of Kindergarten homeschool! Praise Jesus we all made it out somewhat unscathed! And Emma knows how to count to 100, how to spell a few words on her own, how to operate any Apple product independently, and knows the names of every character on "The Fresh Beat Band."

She does not know there are critters in our cabinets however. It's better this way.

The elders spent today pretending to be Dino Dan and Dino Dana from the respective shows of the same names. For children who are afraid of everything from Jack in the box's to Nanny McPhee to zebras...it is amazing to me how they adore these giant, ferocious looking dinosaurs. They can't seem to find matching socks, but they found a dozen dinosaur bones in our backyard today.

If a mouse runs out in front of me right now, so help me, Internet...

My delightful baby child, Clairebear, is making great progress in tackling her tiny world. We're taking her to a baby chiropractor and we have a lovely occupational therapist who is like a blond Mary Poppins, and comes to our home twice a month, which means that my floors are vacuumed at least twice a month (in your face, mice!). Claire has been delayed on all of her mobility, (though she's been scootching on her bottom at lightning speeds for months now) but can now sit up and lay back down, and is tolerating kneeling and standing for longer and longer periods of time, and finally starting to pull up on certain things. She is also being raised, as were my other children, by the lovely Rachel Coleman of Baby Signing Time fame. Her favorites currently are "airplane," "car," "all done," and "bird," her default being airplane for any sign she doesn't know.

Oh, my children have started sleeping through the night now!


Just kidding.

I text my lovely friend Jaime roughly 9,000 times a day as we regale each other with stories of parenting, both the victorious and defeating. The pendulum swings from homemade coconut water popsicles and two loving, cooperative children joyfully constructing Magnatile creations on the deck while their baby sister happily interacts with her occupational therapist inside the house...

...to me, two brooms in hand, awkwardly hunched over our fence attempting to maneuver the ball that was accidentally kicked into our neighbors yard, and lacking the self-control that would keep my naughty words at bay. Or threatening my children with the loss of my sanity when the 8,759th request has been made of me as I'm attempting to escape their room at bedtime (I believe I muttered something to the effect of, "The crazy train is pulling into the station! Mama's gettin' on!"

I guess what I'm coming to understand is that the world becomes a different place at 8pm. Cups of water previously well tolerated in the daytime hours become too tepid to consume. What had appeared to be a minor scrape in the light of day has now erupted into an intolerable flesh wound requiring two or perhaps a dozen band-aids. And not the Crayon design band-aids. Nighttime abrasions demand Elsa and Anna and Spongebob.

Stuffed animals that have not been thought of in 4 years suddenly require a search party. Everything scary in the entire world finds its way into their room, despite their 7 nightlights and their adorable but not adhered to "O.K. to Wake" clock lights.

8 miles of walking snuggles, 17 stories, 40 minutes of back scratching, 82 high fives, and 49 butterfly kisses later they are finally asleep.

And that's approximately the time when Clairebear wakes up for her first round of our nighttime hangouts.

The world is a dangerous place at night, my friends. The mice understand this and are seeking refuge in my crock pot, but it's just not quite as endearing as "Ratatouille" made it all out to be...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Break out the vinegar

Because I do (mostly) everything Pinterest tells me to do, I ordered some glass spray bottles on Amazon, along with rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and corn starch. I attempted various combinations of these ingredients along with white vinegar, water (filtered obviously), and fancy oils from fields of glory to make homemade All Purpose Cleaner, Glass Cleaner, and Bleach Spray.

The motivation behind this scientific endeavor was the germ ridden people who occupy my home. It began last Sunday with the subtle introduction of some tiny man child tummy rumbles and an out of the ordinary evening nap on the floor. From there it got worse for the man child, infected the girl child, and has now caught up to the very tall man husband who has been quarantined to our bedroom apart from some 2-3 minute appearances throughout the day. So far the tiniest human and myself have escaped unscathed...

I have attempted to disinfect the majority of my house with my homemade creations. I felt like the easier option was to leave for the week, but I'm an incredibly loyal, dedicated, selfless mother...and also my car isn't wanting to start and we have to wait until my husband recovers from emptying his insides to take it in to the shop.

So, basically I'm stranded here and extremely kind people like my friend Suzanne come to drop off fancy blue Hobby Lobby baskets filled with things to delight my children, and things to delight my taste buds when my children are asleep at night.

The eldest sick child completed her Oral Immunotherapy for peanuts a few weeks ago and we have been thrilled and thankful. It's not been an entirely smooth ride, and the stomach flu makes it extra bumpy. She dosed at a lower amount today but her body couldn't quite handle it, nor could mine, as I watched her to decide whether an epi-pen would be necessary. She was fine with some allergy medicine and I prescribed myself large amounts of chocolate and a 10pm plate of nachos. I am very good at stress.

The youngest non-sick child will begin in-home therapy soon because she's apparently got wide hips and low muscle tone. I just thought she was content to scootch around the world on her bottom, but apparently she's months overdue for being able to pull herself up and other things that have gone entirely unnoticed because she's the third kid. Sorry Clairebear. In her defense, what she lacks in mobility and strength she more than makes up for with her fuzzy head and delightful countenance.

I'm thankful for the professional in-home intervention, both because I love anything that doesn't require me to leave my house, and I assume it's probably fine if I leave for Target while it's going on. It's not a big deal you guys.

We are mostly surviving homeschool and have 3 more months to learn everything there is to learn in Kindergarten. She can spell b-o-y, skip across a room, draw a cat on my phone to text to my mom, and has nearly perfected snapping her fingers. So, we're basically ready to move onto first grade!

Time for my nachos...

Monday, January 2, 2017

The lap of (broken) luxury

I have not one, not two, but an impressive THREE "Space Grey" iPhone 6's in, or soon to be in, my possession.

Now, anyone who knows me knows of my deep affinity for luxury, as they couldn't help but notice the retractable roof on my mini van, my fancy coffee machine that crafts espresso drinks at home, our complete collection of Curious George episodes spanning approximately 82 discs on DVD (thanks Nonna), and our Costco sized bag of toilet paper that takes up the entire space underneath the kids' bathroom sink. 

My growing iPhone collection however has far less to do with my luxury addiction and far more to do with a tiny almost 10 month old human.

We were having the first of our 73 nightly hangouts, my phone settled in next to me so I could properly escape into the world of social media instead of engaging with my sleepless child at midnight...when suddenly one of her tiny ninja legs abruptly shot out, sending my phone flying off of its resting place and crashing screen first onto the hard metal base of her cuddle-me-bunny swing.

Similar to the feeling I had when I landed awkwardly on my arm in the backyard in 4th grade playing catch with my dad...I was pretty certain something was broken. 

My fears were confirmed, both for the arm in 1990 and my phone in 2016, as the room which holds my tiny ninja baby was gently illuminated by me holding a tiny shattered screen. 

My husband kindly taped up the glass shards the next day and a replacement phone was at our door within 24 hours. It did indeed replace the first phone, in every way except that it refused to make phone calls.

In my replacement phone's defense, it probably read the Buzzfeed article about people who hate talking on the phone, and could quickly sense I was one of those people, but I still appreciate that the phone companies continue to offer this feature.

So, just after noon today, I made my children change out of their shorts and t-shirts and into something mildly presentable for both the general public and the 30 degree weather, brushed at least Emma's hair for good measure, changed a diaper, put a mix of toxic and non-toxic facial products on myself, as well as pants that were made from actual jean material rather than the stretchy kind I normally sport while skillfully homeschooling my children for 6-8 hours a day, made our way to the car and were off on an exotic adventure to our local AT&T store! 

Almost. 

We've had a bit of a cold streak here the last few days and our van doors have a habit of freezing when it dips below 68 degrees...

Now, before going further with this saga, I do realize this phone situation is totally a "first world problem" like the kids in 2016 used to say. 

So, in light of this perspective, I thanked Jesus for our minivan (with the retractable roof) as I poured water over the frozen doors to defrost them, was thankful that my children would be abundantly hydrated with all of the snow they had consumed while I chiseled away at the van, and was thankful that our nearly hour wait at the phone store was filled with a very small percentage of whining, mild overtired baby cries, only one utterance of "I have to go potty!!" which was quickly forgotten about (or perhaps the AT&T couch was more absorbent than it appeared...we can never know), 3 minutes of sunshine shadow puppets on the wall, and a good 40 minutes of my children playing with iPhone Virtual Reality glasses. 

The nice AT&T employee man turned my phone off, turned it back on, checked something and said it appeared to be working. Great!

After a healthy drive-thru lunch was consumed (it was almost 2 o'clock by this point, and also I haven't put all of the finishing touches on my 2017 Resolution List so "healthy eating habits" isn't technically on the list yet) we returned home and replacement phone #1 again refused to make any calls. 

My children and I read foreign novels, sewed our outfits for the next day, tended our virtual garden with our new pair of iPhone Virtual Reality glasses, and did some quick algebra equations to pass the time until my husband returned home with his working phone so I could call the nice AT&T people for help.

The gentleman I spoke to at customer service was quite kind about everything, even if he did dare to ask me "What's for dinner?" and I was forced to confess that I was making a frozen pizza for dinner at 6:45pm...after the 2pm drive-thru fiasco! In my defense, we ate vegetables with dinner, and Buzzfeed tells me my awkward phone aversion/overprocessing is normal.

So, all of this to say, my third Space Grey iPhone6 should be here in 1-2 business days...as well as a lovely rose gold shatterproof shockproof case to keep it safe from ninja babies and clumsy mamas. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

10 o'clock nachos

Well hello me,

A potentially impending cold and the normal tiredness of post-kid bedtimes nearly prevented me from sitting down to type out a year end blog to myself and my tens of readers, but some prayer and a glorious plate of 10 o'clock nachos have re-inspired me toward a little reflection. 

It's been quite the year. I have THREE tiny humans now. I'm not sure how this happened entirely (I have some idea). I mostly can't believe I'm responsible for THREE tiny humans! I feel like the person who is truly qualified to be in charge will show up at any moment now. But I'm doing my best in the meantime, trying to veil my subtle naughty words muttered under my breath at various points in a day when given a one way ticket to crazy town courtesy of the aforementioned children. I really don't think I swore until I had children.

Actually, I do distinctly remember one time being maybe 10 years old, crouched next to a car in the neighborhood I grew up in saying all of the cuss words I could think of, along with my friends. We were the coolest. And I was super rebellious. Also, I knew a LOT of cuss words. My father invented roughly 98% of the current swear vernacular as I understand it. #proudheritage

I hope hashtags are still a thing in 2017 because I am awesome at (my version of) them.

I am quite thankful for 2016. My husband continues to be phenomenal and handsome and phenomenally handsome, as well as an incredibly kind and loving partner in marriage and parenting. I could not begin to imagine being married to a man better suited to me. Jesus is so kind to us. Almost 9 years now of getting to wake up next to this man! Or, more accurately as of late, getting to wake up 2 hours after this man wakes up and tends to our 8,000 children. I read the title of an article that talked about women needing LOTS of sleep, so I am currently participating in a self-induced sleep study to see if it's true. I love science.

When I'm not riding the train to crazy town, I sit in awe of the three amazing individuals who call me "mama." (Claire says the sound "ma-ma" sometimes so this counts). 

I love how Emma's imagination can steal her away for hours to play with her stuffed animals, to put on special shows for us, or dance with the grace and elegance that has obviously been genetically gifted to her from her mother. Homeschooling for Kindergarten this year regularly makes me want to extract my own teeth, and yet I have to celebrate the wins of watching her proudly write out all of the words she can spell on her own, count by 5's and 10's, master whatever new concept I've pulled from Pinterest that day, and of course recite the entire Chinese dictionary by memory. We also pray that 2017 is the year that she successfully eats her first peanut, and then her first 25 peanuts, and then is able to eat without fear for the rest of her life! It is incredible to watch her go through this immunotherapy process. I look forward to signing up for an Amazon subscription for reeses. #healthyhabits

Ben (aka Bennyboo) regularly swallows me up in his big brown eyes and threatens to never let go. Also, his love language is totally physical touch, so he literally threatens to never let go for hours of the day each and every single day. I love his sweet snuggles and that he twirls my hair in his little man child hands. I also love getting laundry done and dinner made, so we have to compromise somewhere. He feels things very deeply and is doing a beautiful job of finding alternate ways of communicating those feelings other than via deafening screams. We all appreciate this. He loves superheroes, coming "to the rescue!," drawing, building, and determining what is and isn't scary in life. For the record, everything is scary. Except for hot chocolate and snuggling for 8 hours of the day.

One of the best things in life is getting to watch the way Ben and Emma play together. It is sweet and creative and cooperative roughly 97% of the time. The other 3% of the time mama cries in the bathroom and they are handed Kindles and told to not speak a word for the next 4 hours. I think this adds some structure to our days. Schedules are good you guys. 

Our tiniest little almost 10 month old Clairebear is the sweetest baby we could imagine. She thinks we are the funniest, most delightful people, and we cannot argue with her on this! She has resolved to learn to crawl by age 2 and get her first tooth by age 4. She realized at around three months old that she would never have her own baby book and thus these major milestones would only be loosely recorded via Facebook, so she doesn't have much motivation...

She has sleep trained me to her liking, which involves us interacting multiple times a night and is not at all conducive to the sleep study I created, but I don't birth sleepers you guys. I birth kids with a good sense of humor and awesome dance skills. 

I have no specific list of resolutions for 2017. My husband launched his personal training business this week which means I have to know what Lululemon is and not talk about eating nachos at 10pm...

I saw a friend post on Facebook today her intention toward gratefulness for this next year. When met with disappointment, call out an area of gratefulness to counter it. Like when my son was screaming at the bathroom door this morning while I was getting ready and I gritted my teeth and said, "Thank you Jesus for my children." 

I daily need Jesus to show me how to love these children well. They are so consistent at revealing their brokenness, and unfortunately uncovering mine as well in the process (highly inconvenient). They are miraculous and incredible and fascinating, and desperately need a savior just as much as I do.

I pray for boldness for myself in the new year. Our world is a pretty scary place depending on how you look at it (I guess Ben is right after all). You don't have to look far to find fear inducing news. I pray for the boldness to have hope in the face of such intimidation. I don't want to dismiss the global realities or grow numb to the tragedies, but I want the boldness to retain hope and offer it in whatever way I can to those around me. I pray to have eyes that see what's truly beautiful and to be an example to my kids of loving and serving well. I have a hundred other lofty ideals I pray over this next year. I know I can't accomplish any of them on my own. I'm mostly focused on keeping my kids reasonably bathed and my crockpot visible to give my kitchen the appearance of meal planning

I am thankful that 2017 will greet me with the same sufficient grace and strength to get through the year as I found at the beginning of 2016.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 "He who calls you is faithful..."

Friday, December 16, 2016

Bunny band-aids and shot doctors

After my husband kindly defrosted the van doors last Wednesday morning, he left for work and I set off for Bellevue with my 3 tiny humans and approximately 98% of our house in tow (mostly in the form of toys and snacks). We were headed to another peanut Oral Immunotherapy appointment, this one lasting five and a half hours. We began with the dose Emma had been at for the last week (.06g of crushed peanut) and sailed through four or five doses throughout the course of the day. I texted my husband at one point with a celebratory, "3 doses away from a whole peanut!"

A WHOLE PEANUT.

Unbelievable.

We finished the last dose of .30g of crushed peanut and she began complaining of a stomach ache. I didn't think too much of it, hoping it would subside quickly. It continued and then she developed a dry cough. She has that occasionally so I wasn't too alarmed. When her breathing became increasingly wheezy however I knew she was officially reacting to the dose. The nurses came calmly and said they'd need to use some epinephrine. I couldn't quite wrap my brain around what was happening because I didn't know what this would look like, I only flashed back to conversations with my kids in the van on the way to the doctor when my three year old son wanted to be CERTAIN that this doctor was not a "shot" doctor.

"No shots today buddy, don't worry."

Fast forward to three nurses plus myself restraining my crying 5 year old on the floor to get a small needle of epinephrine inserted into her arm.

The good news is that the process was complete in a matter of seconds, the staff was prepared and handled everything so well, and the reaction ceased quickly. Emma was given a makeshift bunny band-aid by our nurse Shannon, which she thinks is the coolest thing ever. She refuses to take it off even two days later (this will only become problematic when our quarterly bath time rolls around again).




Emma was up and playing with Ben soon after as if nothing had happened. And Ben appeared to not be too terribly scarred for life by it all (he's more concerned with monsters and some creeper named Santa Claus coming into his house). They kept us for a while for observation and sent us home with a reduced dose for the week. We're two days into dosing at home and aside from some stress dreams of me having to epi my daughter, dosing has gone beautifully. SO thankful!

I am hopeful for what's ahead and amazed every day when I look down into this cup and have hope that my daughter can live a life without fear of what a simple bite of food might mean for her.

We're coming for you Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.



Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Aw nuts

When our 5 year old daughter Emma was six months old I received a phone call that changed everything about the way we would raise her. We learned she had a potentially life threatening peanut allergy after some tests were run in attempts of figuring out the cause of her eczema. I think it took us years to actually process this information in its fullness. We didn't have any allergies or know anyone with peanut allergies. And how could Halloween be complete without Reeses peanut butter cups?! I implore you. 

We've become quite skilled at carrying "safe" foods for her wherever we go and reading food labels obsessively. She has handled it all beautifully, never complaining or showing any signs of food related anxiety. I've gotten used to checking her face after meals just to be sure no signs of a reaction are evident. She's never ingested peanuts as far as we know, but has broken out in hives after eating hummus (she has a garlic allergy as well), and had an itchy throat after eating raw snap peas (we now know she has a pea allergy as well). 

I had heard of a treatment called Oral Immunotherapy from some Facebook message boards and I always dreamed that perhaps someday we could pursue it for her. Being a mama is filled with enough concern without adding in the wild card that your child could accidentally take a bite of the wrong kind of food and it could end their life. 

I prayed that an opportunity would open up close to where we live to pursue OIT. I decided to call a place 3+ hours away from us and at least set up a consultation and see what happened. Thankfully we never had to make that drive (people drive and fly many miles to pursue this treatment) because when I called, the girl I talked to said they were opening an office near Seattle! I was beyond thrilled. I didn't think we would get in until 2017 because of existing patients who would obtain first priority, but I received a call a week before we were set to trek down to the farther location, asking if we'd like to come in the next day to the new office on its opening day! 

Our Emma has now been ingesting an incredibly small amount of peanut every day for over 2 months! We began at .1mg of peanut and we are now up to 20mg and will return tomorrow for another updose. When we reach 100mg we switch from a peanut powder cellulose mix to actual ground peanut. Mind blowing. 

Our appointments are usually weekly and consist of the (amazing) staff mixing her peanut powder with applesauce, dosing her, and then waiting for 20 minutes to see how her body responds. We've ended our updose appointments for reasons like itchy skin, slightly elevated blood pressure, and a small hive on her cheek. There's no set schedule for each patient, it's completely dependent on how each person responds, which I so appreciate. Emma LOVES going to her appointments, partly because she gets to be spoon fed applesauce (like royalty), and also they have Shopkins in their stash of toys there. Jackpot. 

We do her peanut dose at home every day at 3 o'clock and she's supposed to observe a "calm time" as we call it for 2 hours prior and 2 hours post dose. She's done beautifully with it so far. 

She's attending a one day a week co-op this year for Kindergarten while I homeschool her the rest of the time. 

Homeschooling is not my gifting, people. Just so we all know. 

Emma would much rather be in a classroom setting (she longs deeply for her glory days of preschool and Miss Deborah) and I would much rather not have to bribe her (not that I do...) to do a phonics worksheet. My Pinterest boards make me look like a pro, but the reality of our days are far more based around Leap Frog videos and PBS. Not that my kids watch TV.   

After we complete peanut OIT we'll begin something called SLIT (Sublingual Immunotherapy) for her other allergies including cow's milk, eggs, sesame, garlic, and snap pea. It's incredible that this exists at all and the idea of Emma being able to walk into a restaurant, bakery, grocery store or birthday party and be able to eat ANYTHING is beyond what we can fully comprehend. But we plan to throw her a birthday party EVERY day after she officially graduates from this treatment. It's reasonable :)