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!"



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 :)