Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lose, Lose

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With Calvin being able to eat dairy, wheat, eggs and oatmeal we heaved a huge sigh of relief.  I don't have to worry about him eating it and having to be rushed to the ER, or having a potentially fatal attack.

However, there is a double edge to this sword. Or, should I say butter knife?

Carter is now the odd man out.  Until I felt brave enough to feed Calvin dairy yogurt, he always ate the same coconut yogurt Carter did.

The other morning, I pulled out a regular Yoplait yogurt and began feeding it to Calvin while Carter ate his breakfast.

It caught Carter's eye and it gave him pause.  Then he said something like, "Calvin eats mommy's yogurt?" in astonishment.  Carter is used to mommy and daddy sometimes having "special" foods, and he's long ago accepted that.  But, to see his little brother having something of "mommy's" totally sunk in for him.  Then he said something like "I can't have that yogurt."

And, my heart broke a bit.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't believe kids should have every little thing their heart desires.  It wouldn't be good for their character.

I don't believe my child will be stunted for life because he can't have Yoplait.

But, I did feel bad seeing that he felt left out.  I know there will be many situations in life where he might feel left out.  Everyone experiences it at one point or another.  I'm sure every parent has felt that way when their child didn't receive a birthday party invite, or didn't get asked to a school dance.  But, to be the one doing the leaving be the parent and to withhold one thing from one child, while giving it to the other just felt awkward and sad.

It just feels like a lose, lose and I've dreaded this day since we even contemplated having another child.  I knew this day might come, and as I imagined, it didn't feel great.

This is one of the first awakenings Carter will have, where he realizes his diet is very different from those around him and that he can't partake in typical eating.

But, at the same time, I don't feel right holding Calvin back either.  We typically all eat the same thing for dinner, and we definitely cater to Carter's diet.  Calvin will know what all things hypoallergenic taste like, but I'm not going to deprive him of eating other things too.

I tried to keep my voice cheerful and not act like it was a sad or tragic thing.  I think example speaks volumes.  I just said in a matter-of-fact voice "Yes, Calvin can eat mommy's yogurt, and you're so lucky to have your very own, special coconut yogurt! Do you want some of your yummy yogurt?"  OK, it might have been a bit forced and over cheery, but I'm learning.

I'll always try hard to place emphasis on what he can have, and other positives in his life.  I truly hope to raise him resilient.  There are many worse things out there, but I also want to be validating to any hurt feelings he can definitely have along the way.

I recently read "Raising Resilient Children" in the Ensign and I thought this was worth copying for future reference:

"We know two things about adversity and resilience: First, there is “an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). Second, obtaining anything of great worth often requires great sacrifice. As children become resilient, they understand and accept these two facts. They see life as challenging and ever changing, but they believe they can cope with those challenges and changes. They view mistakes and weaknesses as opportunities to learn, and they accept that losing may precede winning. As children develop resilience, they believe they can influence and even control outcomes in their lives through effort, imagination, knowledge, and skill. With this attitude, they focus on what they can do rather than on what is outside their control. Another mark of resilience is to see great purpose and meaning in life and people. A sense of purpose will help our children avoid giving up, in spite of setbacks and pressure to do so. If our children are becoming more resilient, they will develop deep values that guide them: charity, virtue, integrity, honesty, work ethic, and faith in God. They will involve themselves in what is happening around them and opt for commitment to values rather than feel alienated and avoid struggle. The gospel teaches and reinforces these values and perceptions."

I hope Carter and Calvin can always feel they have more in common then what they eat together.  I hope they can both give each other strength and understanding when one might feel left out--whether that be at the dinner table or anywhere else.  I pray this, and any other struggles we face as a family will give us all empathy and wisdom.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Capturing Calvin: 10 Months

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Double digits.  Double freaking digits.  He's just a breath away from a year, and farther and farther from a baby. Tear!

Here's what my not-so-baby-anymore has been up to this month:

You're up to four teeth!  You grind them sometimes, which is like nails on a chalkboard to me, but you seem to enjoy being able to break cereal with them.  You still chew on your fingers a lot, so I'm sure there are more on the way.  Right now, your top two teeth look like they may have a gap in them.  Carter's did too for a bit, so we'll see if they close or not.  Your grandmother Mireille has a gap, so who knows?

 Speaking of looks, I swear you don't have a bald spot anymore.  When comparing photos, you definitely have more hair then your brother did at this age.  Most days it's all over the place.  Coconut oil seems to tame it best.  I adore your curls.  Even if they get you mistaken for a girl (even when you're wearing camo pants!!).

It's been warm enough that we've been going outside to play here and there.  You really love all of the different textures.  You like to run through fingers through the grass and grab the dirt.  You've even been fast enough to put leaves and dirt in  your mouth before I can get to you!

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You actually lost weight.  ARG!  How does one do that??  I'm sure part of it is because you are constantly on the move, but still you have really put some worry into me.  I was worried it was a sign you're developing EOE.  You dropped from 16 pounds to 15 pounds 10 ounces.  However, just a day before your ten month birthday you were weighed and had gone up to 16.6, and that was just two weeks later, so hopefully things will stay on the up and up.  I have no idea what percentile that is, but I'm pretty sure you're barely hanging on since you were at only the 3rd percentile before you lost weight.  You're also at 27 inches long.  And, probably a gazillion inches for your head. :)

You crawl really noisily, which is actually great for keeping track of where you are.  You slap your hands down, so I'm constantly hearing a "slap, slap, slap" whenever you're crawling.  You're getting quite fast too!

I swear you want to stand up in the middle of the room, because you go in a downward dog position and raise one hand, but can't seem to figure out how to stand up/erect yourself.  That's OK.  No rush buddy!

You've started getting picky about eating.  You will eat guacamole by the spoonful, but lately you haven't been liking applesauce.  I think I ruined it for you because I've been putting your medicine in it.  Otherwise, you pretty much have what we're having for dinner, minus the meat.  You're not a fan of chewing it.

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We did a really big, scary thing!  We've been feeding you the foods Carter is super allergic to.  We've fed them to you for three days and then rested and then added in another.  So, like this: dairy, dairy, dairy, rest, wheat, wheat, wheat, rest, eggs, eggs, eggs.  We just have oatmeal left.  I don't know what to do about any other nuts since you reacted to a peanut and we can't get in to see your allergist until May (ridiculous).  I've had some anxiety and held my breath every time.  But, it's clearly worth it since you can have all of them!!!  It's so weird to feed a baby toast and eggs for breakfast.  It's so odd to give him something "normal".  I get nervous and have to wash you and your high chair down afterwards, so that's a bit of a pain, but it is so good to know I don't have to worry about you eating them and what a world of a difference it will make in your life.  Not to mention, I think that's why you've been able to gain weight with all of these caloric-rich foods.  I was nervous, and still am a bit, that they are causing you some GI issues.  You're having a lot more frequent dirty diapers, they have a bit of mucous in them, and they're pretty smelly.  But, you still gained weight, so hopefully that doesn't mean they're just moving right through you...and that your body is just learning to digest all of these new things.  We'll keep seeing!  I'm so grateful and relieved that you aren't anaphylaxic to any of them!  PHEW!!!!

You like the vacuum and will follow it around when I'm vacuuming.

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You are a little faker and will turn on the screaming/crying as soon as something is taken from you and like a light switch turn it off if it's given back to you!  Little stinker!

You have learned to clap and are quite pleased with another way to make noise!

You are really becoming a chatter box.  I swear you're first word is a tie between "ball" and "dada".  Which would make sense because you adore balls.  More than Carter did.  You will sit and roll one back and forth and get excited and follow them all around the room when they roll away.  You really haven't made the "mama" sound much yet, but I'll try to not hold it against you!  In just the past few days you have started the "n" sound and I swear you are already telling us "no"...probably because that's all your older brother seems to say lately.  What a great role model, ug.

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You have come out of your shell sooo much.  It literally makes me melt.  If you remember, the pediatrician said it'd be good to have you looked at for autism just to be safe.  We had an OT come and she wasn't worried at all.  And, you've only continued to blossom since.  I think if we would have waited just a few weeks I never would have had you tested.  You laugh so much easier now.  In fact, you'll even giggle!  You are very smiley and seem to be getting silly.  You'll shake your head back and forth and will get a huge grin if I play peek-a-boo or hide-and-go-seek.  It's so fun to see you enjoying yourself and just being happy.  It's what I live for.

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You like to make loud banging noises on your tray.  You really like feeding yourself, but unfortunately only some of the food makes it to your mouth and the rest you throw or drop on the floor...on purpose!  I think it's because you love the broom.  We're constantly having to sweep.  What's gross is that you're happy to sweep for us!  When you find food on the floor, you like to eat it and I guess you think it's leftovers.

Speaking of throwing, you're always acting like you're throwing, even when there isn't something in your hand.  You put your right hand up by your ear, and then twist it as you push it forward.  My dad, being the optimistic grandpa that he is, says it's a perfect spiral pass and that you'll be a quarterback someday.  It will be fun to see.  You do it over and over all day, all the time, so maybe it will develop, if not it's still cute!

Sometimes you cry when we put you down at night and man you can go and go!  For some reason you haven't been falling asleep when you nurse at bedtime, so when I put you down you have a come apart when you see me walking towards the door.  It sure makes me feel bad.  You've gone pas tan hour one time.  I figure it's probably a good baby step since I plan on weaning you at age 1.  Once you calm down, you still sleep about 12 hours with a morning and afternoon nap.  Thanks for sleeping very consistently and lots, buddy!

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You HATE having your diaper changed.  You cry as soon as we put you on your back.  It's awful and I hate changing it.  You're throwing your hips and trying to flip yourself over the entire time.  AND screaming.  Not fun.

You've also started hating the bath.  One week you were just figuring out how to splash and enjoy it and the last two times you scream like we've put you in an ice bath or something.  I can't figure out what changed and it's so sad!

 You're still so wonderfully cuddly.  For example, big brother has swimming lessons twice a week.  You just calmly sit on my lap the entire time.  Same thing at church.  Even though you adore exploring and crawling, if I can hold you, you will totally allow it.  You don't wiggle or try to get down...even if I'm busy and not paying attention to you, or your facing out.  Of course, you love it when I play with you, but you're content to just watch the world go by from my lap.  I love it.  Please never stop!

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You still like kneeling and it's hilarious to see you raise yourself as high as you can go, if you want a higher vantage point.  You also sit and bounce while in the kneeling position...especially if you're upset.  You do this when you're waiting for me to come get you out of the crib.  You cry and slam yourself back onto your feet and then back up again into the kneeling position.  It's like a little tantrum, and I'm sorry--but it's pretty cute.

I'm so glad we waited to do your pictures until Daddy was home, because these show your kissable smiles.  You smile so much more to a person then the camera.  I could stare at these all night!!

I swear my heart is going to have stretch marks, because just when I think I love you so much, you do something else and my heart swells and grows some more so that I can hold even more love for you.  Onto 11 months sweet boy.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Little Late Allergy Update

I did swear off more testing for Carter.  However, I noticed that our Wal-Mart and Macey's starting carrying goat's milk.  Since that was hard to find before, and now seemed plentiful I decided we should test him.  I was dreaming about a possible goat's milk cheese.

I guess there are lots of cross-reactions (aka people are allergic to both goat and cow's milk) so we had to test him.  Since we were already testing him we decided to also try nutritional yeast (a random one I wasn't in a hurry to try...but I was seeing it in some recipes I wanted to make) and it was time we re-tested him to some old ones.

Here were the results:

nutritional yeast: 5x6 (fail)
goats milk: 6x6 (fail)

These were both done way back on September 16.  I just was out of the habit of blogging about his allergies, but it's such a good record I wanted to go back.

Oddly enough, I knew he had yeast several times when I've made bread or homemade pizza crust for him.  So, I've still kept feeding it to him (only eats it every once in awhile).  So, I'm thinking it's a false positive.  So much for bothering to test him, since I'm ignoring it anyways.  I normally wouldn't do that, but since he'd had it before with no clinical symptoms I figured I'd continue since he probably has it once a month or so...not very often.

Then, again on December 15 we had to go in.  I honestly can't even remember why.  But, at the last minute we decided to prick test him to some of the very first/original ones to see if the numbers had gone down or if he'd outgrown them since we were already there.  I felt bad since I had told him "no pokies today" and then we changed our mind.  Here are the results:

Beef: 7x3 (fail)
Chicken: 2x1 (pass--plus he's been scoped clean to it before)
Corn: 4x2 (would typically be a fail, but again he's scoped clean to it before)
Eggs, whole: 15x5 (that's a definite no!)
Milk: 14x5 (big, fat no)
Oats 5x3 (sigh, another no)
Pork: 5x3 (would typically be a no, but he scoped clean to it)
Rice: 2x1 pass
Soy: nothing (pass)
Wheat: 2x2 (boarderline)

Do you see why I hate allergy testing?  Not only is it a huge pain to get done (drive 45 minutes each way and hold down a screaming child) but it's not really helpful. He technically failed things we know he eats constantly and has passed even via a scope.  We can probably for sure count on milk and eggs being anaphylaxic, especially because he's had an anaphylaxic reaction to milk before.  He also got rashes when I would eat eggs nursing him, so I'm betting he's very sensitive to that too.

I was so hoping maybe something had gone down.

Wheat did, though.  And, I've been sitting on this, deciding for awhile.  I really am not in a rush to do any more testing.  It's been so nice not having any specialist or allergy appointments for Carter for several months.  So this is what it's like letting a kid be a kid and not scheduling our days around awful appointments.  It's been WONDERFUL!!!  I'm not in a rush to go back to it.

However, now that Claudy is graduating and we know that there is a possibility of us moving, I kind of want to hurry and do a few more things before we leave our dear allergist.

I'm thinking of doing an oral food challenge to wheat.  For awhile, I didn't want to bother since wheat is a big trigger for EOE.  (Meaning--even if he didn't need an epi-pen/have an anaphylaxic reaction to it, it could still cause huge problems for his esophagus.)  Plus, we're used to eating wheat free because of my husband, so we're doing it already.

However, since I've started feeding baby Calvin wheat and he seems fine, I keep thinking how nice it'd be to pack them the same snacks and for Carter to participate more fully in food activities.

I've put a call into his allergist.  We'll see what he thinks is safe and what he can allow or move forward on.

I've also asked him if we could trial sunflower seeds.  According to my notes, he passed it prick test (the anaphylaxic/IgE test) and only failed it patch I think it might be worth a shot.  They make a sunbutter spread that tastes a lot like peanut butter that'd be great for sandwiches and toast...and calories.

Here's hoping for some more good news this year for Carter's allergies!

Carter the Clown

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 I swear I spend half of the time parenting Carter trying hard not to smile.

He is such a clown!

For instance, the other night he wouldn't pick up his toys at bedtime.  This is part of his nightly routine, but he was on strike.

I shut Calvin and I in their room and told Carter he couldn't come in until he had some toys from downstairs.  (Not too clever, I know...but I was tired and Claudy was working...)

Instead of just getting some toys, like I asked, he decided to start trying to kick the door in.  Because, that's less effort.  Sigh.

He actually managed to kick it in.  I blame all of the jumping he does; those legs are as strong as a kangaroos!

You could tell even he was surprised when it opened.  And, his first words once he realized the majesty of his kick:

"TA-DA!"  Then he proudly entered the room.

I was ready to launch into a "you can't kick the door open" tirade but the ta-da took all the wind out of me.  I had to turn my head and chuckle so that he couldn't see me.

I'm sure that's why sometimes he doesn't take me too seriously because he knows I'm constantly stiffling a laugh.

Oh, what a fun (and sometimes crazy) little boy I have!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Carter's First Talk!

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One thing I love about my church (LDS) is that we all have an opportunity to share our thoughts and testimonies with one another.  There is no set preacher, and we all feel we can enlighten one another.

This starts even in primary (the children's portion of church ages 3-12).  I love it!  What a great way to practice public speaking and gain confidence!  I think it's genius, even from just a social stand point.

Carter was asked to give a talk last Sunday and I was so excited!  I wrote out a few simple paragraphs and we practiced it at home.  I talked it up and told him how exciting it would be!

Unfortunately, I woke up with food poisoning that morning, but I still dragged my weak behind to church to watch my little boy in action!

He walked right on up, and even grabbed the microphone and pulled it right to his mouth.  He acted like he owned the place!

My husband took the talk up and would read a line into his ear, and Carter would repeat it.  

If one could melt from pride, I would have been a big puddle on the floor.  

He did so well.  I was nervous for a bit, wondering if he would stutter bad, and if that would embarress him.  I was worried if he did stutter, that it would make him self conscious and not want to do it again.  I was worried either the kids, or even the adults, would laugh if he stuttered.  You know some people laugh when they're uncomfortable--not that I think anyone would laugh to be mean.  He did stumble a bit, but no one seemed to notice and he just kept on going like a champ!

Because I'm a sentimental mom, I wanted to write out what he said.  I truly hope with all my soul, that he will own these words someday and that he will believe them.  I know that I can't ever force my religion on my kids, and while he'll repeat talks now, that he'll have to chose someday whether to embrace my beliefs or not.  

"My name is Carter.  I want to talk about prophets.

Prophets are special and righteous men God speaks to.  They lead our church and tell us what we need to do to return to our Heavenly Father.

Here is a picture of our current prophet, Thomas S. Monson [held up a picture].  I like him because he teaches us to serve.  I like to serve like him by getting diapers for my mom when she changes Calvin's diaper.

In one month we will be lucky to hear from the prophet during general conference.  I am excited to listen to him.  I know what he will say will be true and if we listen and follow it we will be happy.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

I hope to see many more talks come from my stalwart boy and that he will feel the burning faith behind these words.  How blessed we are to have the gospel.  Truly, out of the mouth of babes, right?  The words he spoke, about living prophets--there are millions of people who do not know that there is still a prophet today.  How amazing that he has been gifted with this knowledge.  He is so fortunate to be born into a home where he learns these truths from a small age, and doesn't have to go searching for them.

I love my little boy, and I love my faith.  It's wonderful to see them interact in such a special way!

PS--this picture is old.  I forgot my camera phone!  Darn it!  Plus, I'm not sure if it's kosher to take picture in church.  

Food Bummers...for ME!

Usually it's my children who have food issues, but I have fallen prey lately too.

On top of getting over colds and RSV this winter I have been struck by the food poisoning fairy...TWICE!

Which has to be really horrific odds seeing as we hardly EVER eat out.  

The first time was when Claudy and I went to Tucanos for his birthday lunch.  We got a sitter and I had sooo been looking forward to it.  I woke up the next morning wanting to die.  It was not worth eating out.  That's for sure.

Fast forward to last Saturday.  I was just over cooking dinner.  I make dinner every single night.  We can never get a pizza, pop in chicken nuggets...etc.  So, I was just drained from cooking from scratch.  Drained for dinner prep taking over the hours of 4-6 p.m.  I declared it was Chik-Fil-A night and we went to our one, safe restaurant.  I'm actually sick of Chik-Fil-A, since it's the only place we can eat at...but it's better than cooking and doing dishes by hand!

I wasn't feeling great after, but I usually don't feel fabulous after eating fast food.  But, by morning I was violently ill.  Even worse than the Tucanos.  As if I ever wanted to top it in the first place.

We've always figured we'd do about two years in between each kid.  But, I'll tell you what!  I think I'm going to push that out.  Throwing up this much lately, has made me really not want to get pregnant any time soon.  Is the Universe trying to tell me something?  

Now I'm totally hesitant to eat out again...not that we have many opportunities, but you can see my dilema.  

Silver lining: it was a great ab workout. 


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Carter has been delayed in speech and done speech therapy since he was a young toddler.  He finally started to really take off and by his third birthday, when he was aging out of his early intervention program, he was doing so well.  We had the option of putting him in a delayed/specialty preschool but he passed the language portion so we opted not to.  He didn't pass it by much, but I felt he was really taking off and didn't want to put him in it unless we had to.

Then, after only about a month of finally thinking we were in the clear he started stuttering out of the blue.

And, it's getting worse.

I reached out to his old speech therapist and she said that a stutter often happens around this age and that most work themselves out in 2-6 months on their own.  The best thing we could do was not draw attention to it.  We shouldn't tell him to "calm down" or "slow down" but simply let him finish (no matter how long it took) and then keep modeling slow, correct speech for him.  She said it tends to get worse, and he could start developing ticks to try and cover it up if he becomes aware that it's socially not normal and so to not draw any attention to it.  

We've done that and his stutters are getting longer and louder.  He now is almost shouting when he's stuttering because he's trying to force it out.  It's almost as if he's growling and trying to choke the word out.  

It's been almost two months and I'm getting nervous.  I've written his speech therapist again and she says she wants to consult some others before she gets back to me.  

I don't want to rush and put him in yet another thing, when we're finally done with doctor, specialist and therapist appointments for once in our life.  I want him to be a kid and not have to deal with this stuff.  But, I don't want it becoming worse.

I don't think he notices he does it most of the time, but sometimes I think he does get frustrated when the word won't come out.  

Sometimes he talks clearly and fine, but other times he really struggles.

My heart just aches.  Truly aches.

I feel like he's already had so much to deal with in his short three years.  Now this...really?  I'm praying he's over it before preschool, or before anyone laughs or makes fun of it.  I haven't noticed any of his friends pay any mind to it, but how long until they do?  

Will it silence him?  Will it make my happy, outgoing boy be quiet?  

Obviously, it's not helping to project or worry about the future, but it's sooo hard not to.

I already worry because he'll have to eat differently than everyone, he'll probably be skinny and short (which can be tough for boys, especially if they want to do sports) and so having a stutter on top of that just seems a bit cruel.

Thankfully, I have my rock, my husband who always reminds me that life is supposed to be tough.  It's supposed to have trials to make you stronger and I can't wish away and protect him from everything.  But, it just seems that eating (EOE and food allergies), breathing (asthma) and now talking (stutter) are hard for him.  Shouldn't those be a given??

I get that everyone has struggles.  I tell myself, if it wasn't this, it'd be child obescity, horrible acne later on, low self esteem, something else that would make him self conscious and learn to have to overcome it.  But, I'm just really over it all.

I also try to remind myself that he has things that come easy to him.  His sparkling personality.  His adorable, big eyes.  His gorgeous hair.  His boundless energy.  So, it's not all bad, if I stop and take myself out of it.

I just hope and pray it will work itself out.  You know when you get a trial you think, "Anything but this..."  There is worse I realize that.  I just want nothing but smooth roads and sunny skies for my boys.  But, as one article I read pointed out something like "You don't prepare the road for the child, you prepare the child for the road ahead."

So, prepare I will.  I will love him regardless, and if the stutter remains, I hope people will look past his speech and see his incredible, big heart.

He must have incredible things ahead of him in life for all that he has endured already.  I hope it helps him learn empathy and grow from an amazing child into an even more amazing man.