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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

When Mom Leaves Town...

I'm packing for a four day trip to California, and I can't help but chuckle when I think of the differences between a mom leaving and a dad leaving.

Over the last two days I've:

--planned easy crock pot dinners for every day--including buying all of the ingredients for them, and emailing Claudy the directions (to two email accounts...just in case he accidentally loses/deletes it in one account)
--stocked the fridge, freezer, pantry
--put a list of safe snacks on the fridge
--made a big batch of quinoa for the boys to have for lunches
--made a big batch of smoothies for Carter
--made rice krispie treats so they have a snack
--did three loads of laundry, so that there is no laundry left and there are plenty of clothes to dirty
--cleaned, picked up, and left everything in order
...on top of you know, keeping the kids alive, feeding them, making dinner, doing dishes and the thousand other things moms have to do on a daily basis + mutual + a Young Women's meeting + writing, designing and sending a newsletter for UFAN

I feel like most men, if they're going out of town pack for themselves, give a kiss goodbye and leave, knowing that everything will be taken care of.

Oh, the differences!

It's not that I don't think Claudy couldn't do any of those things.  They would totally be just fine if I didn't, but I can't help but mother everything.  It's half for them, and honestly half for me so I feel better.  I've never been away from my kids this long so it makes my heart feel more at ease.

I'm excited for some "me" time, girls time, educational time and just plain getting out of Utah County time.  California...here I come!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Graduation: A Victorious End to One Long Struggle

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Oh, how often I've dreamed of penning this post.  Now that it's here, I'm really not sure where to start or what to say.  There have been so many vent posts, written in my head that I wanted to write so bad they almost exploded from my fingers.  But, as the years have dragged on, I have grown.  So, now that it's finally over, I hope to cover this delicate area of our life with some grace.  I don't want to conceal the hardships, but I also don't want to say anything that would hurt or embarrass my husband. But, I do want to convey the honest-to-goodness-struggle we had, mostly because I print this blog and it's sadly our only real family journal.  I want our kids to see how hard we fought for Claudy to get an education, so that they'll appreciate it.

So, I guess I'll just start from the beginning.

When Claudy and I started spending time together, I was a sophomore in college (fall 2005).  He told me he was a junior in college at BYU.  His plan was to double major in sociology and business and then do dental school.  I thought that sounded like an absolutely wonderful plan.  I grew up in humble circumstances.  We never struggled to eat or anything like that, but there were things I wanted to do growing up that we just didn't have the money for.  I had always hoped that I would be able to do more for my kids than I had.  I certainly knew being a dentist would provide the financial security that I had longed for.  I didn't get involved with Claudy for this reason, but it definitely was a cherry on the top.  I crave stability, and so this seemed to be a good plan to fit that need of mine.

I seriously pitied other girls who were dating freshmen and boys just off their missions.  I thought "UG.  I would NEVER do that.  I would hate to put someone through school.  I am so lucky that I found someone that only has two years left.  I couldn't STAND to be with someone through that much schooling."  I have never eaten my words so much and never have they tasted so bad.

Fast forward to when we decided to get married over Thanksgiving break 2007 (mid-semester). He decided that he wanted to take a break from school, as he was nervous getting married, and all the crazy/stressful planning it involved, would be too much.  I wasn't thrilled about it, but that's what he did.  In contrast, I still took 17 credits (well above full time) and worked part-time.  That was just the difference in our personalities.  I still managed to get great grades.  Unfortunately, Claudy didn't understand that you had to defer (i.e. let the school officially know that you were taking a break and not just not sign up for classes) because of this, they dropped him as a student.  He couldn't just go back the following semester and had to re-apply and wait a semester to go back.  I thought at the time how frustrating and what a waste of time.  I was always in a hurry to get up and get done with it.  I'm usually in a hurry for everything in my life.  Little did I know this was only the beginning of a very hard, long road.

He was great and worked two jobs (a super early bakery job and worked at the Boys and Girls Club) which helped as I was still only able to work part-time due to taking my capstone classes and doing an internship with KUTV.  I graduated that following August (married 10 months) and thought...OK...only two more years of this and we can be done being poor, married students.  I had no idea it'd be more like 7 years into our marriage.  College came very easy for me.  Not that I'm a genius, but I get how to study, I get how to play the games with the professors (because--let's be honest, school has a lot of hoops to jump through) and I am a very efficient time planner.  I never had to do all the reading and could pump out papers and studying without too much stress.  I knew what I wanted to do since high school.  I never varied from that path.  I got in and got out in four years.  I graduated with my bachelors at age 21.  I got into my program the first time and took a straight course to graduation.  That's just my personality.  Which looking back, I think is why I struggled so much, because I didn't realize how different Claudy and I would handle college.

About a year after Claudy had been going back to BYU he decided to transfer to UVU.  I was quite upset about it, to be honest.  We felt like that was our only option at the time, but it wasn't a pleasant or welcome option for me.  I had a love of BYU.  It was where we met.  They are very structured.  They have a great reputation.  And, most importantly, Claudy was going to lose a ton of credits transferring.  I of course expected he'd lose his religion credits, as those only count at BYU, but he went from being a junior to barely a sophomore.  That was tacking on about another two years.  Two years!  It felt like an eternity to me.  By this point, I had started a full-time career in corporate America.  I was working and had allowed him to quit working so he could focus solely on school, so to feel  like this was going to extend any longer was really disheartening.  I felt like I existed in one world, and he in another.  I came home at 5 p.m. and he was having to go to campus to study.  It wasn't that I wanted kids, but I felt ready to move on, and had a hard time accepting the shift.

After being married for over three years, and thinking that Claudy would only have about a year left before applying to dental school, we decided it was OK to get pregnant.  One of the only reasons I felt OK about getting pregnant was because I thought Claudy would be getting done a few months after having the baby.  I loathed the idea of having a baby while still in your undergrad.  The thought of being a school widow and being super poor just did not suite me.  I would look at people in that situation and think they were stupid for getting themselves into such a vulnerable position.

Are you sensing a pattern here?  Everything I didn't want to happen to us during this process,  happened.

Claudy ended up having way more classes than we thought.  I was starting to see some serious signs of Claudy being overly tired and fatigued.  He was falling asleep mid-sentence as we talked in bed at night.  He couldn't keep his eyes open anytime he sat down.  While I was pregnant, and working full-time and had good insurance I finally convinced him to go see a doctor.  I've already written about it here, but basically after seeing a sleep specialist and having sleep studies done it was determined that Claudy had severe narcolepsy.  His doctor basically told him dental school was out of the question.  She said she had people with his severity hardly holding down jobs, let alone pursuing advanced education.  I honestly don't think it would have worked out anyways, but it was the final step in Claudy realizing he needed to find something else.  It was a big blow to both of us.

He had always had a passion for sociology.  He had been studying it since his single, BYU days.  He decided to stick with that but tweak it to social work.  He felt that was more applicable for working directly with people which he really enjoyed.

Unfortunately, and very sadly for both of us, I hadn't realized how badly Claudy's narcolepsy had been affecting his studies.  Can you imagine?  School is basically sitting down ALL. THE. TIME.  Sitting in class; sitting to study.  He, trying to just plug along and not worry me, hadn't told me how he was having to retake classes because he couldn't stay awake enough to learn or remember the material.  So, here I was, pregnant...thinking we were almost done, when we in fact had a lot more to go.  It was heartbreaking for both of us.  Claudy, struggling, wanting to be done and trying so hard, but not seeing results.  Me, type A, always just looking for results and not always giving credit for the trying and effort that went into it.  I think we were just frustrating to each other.

Once we got Claudy on some medication things got a lot better, but we still had so many classes to go.  Claudy never took a summer off, always going through school year round.  It was seemingly endless.

It was super difficult for me.  I think anyone who compares their strengths to some one's tough spots always has a hard time.  Comparison is the thief of joy--or some saying like that.  School came easy for me.  School was not coming easy for Claudy.  Don't get me wrong--he is very bright, but with narcolepsy, trying to be a dad, and trying to work as well was really tough on him.  It's a lot!

Add to that, that we always lived in student wards, apartments and areas.  I felt like we were the ONLY ones still in school.  We had friend after friends moving on with their lives.  I dreaded April.  Every April we would see happy pictures of couples graduating, finding "real" jobs, and getting out of Provo.  I felt like we were permanently stuck.  Always trying to dig our way out of school, but with a spoon, while everyone else had a backhoe.

It was hard at church.  People were always asking (and not that there was anything wrong with it...but I was beginning to have a chip on my shoulder) questions like "When is Claudy going to be done?"  and I was getting sick of giving dates.  Because, those dates would come and go.  I was getting embarrassed.  I was getting to the point where I didn't even want to be asked.

We were legit having people ten years younger graduate than him.  We were having people who we went to school with get their masters, doctorates, graduate from medical school, dental school.  It felt like we were putting in the time, but not having the results.

I'm a VERY competitive person.  It was crushing to feel like we were falling behind in the game of life.  I absolutely like to be in control, and to feel like all I could do was sit back and watch my poor husband try and try and there was nothing I could do to help or move things along.  I legit would have taken the classes or done his papers for him, had he let me.  And yes, I asked.

I would hear (well meaning, I'm sure) things like "Oh, it's hard to have a husband in school for XX years," and I would agree.  Except, they were complaining when their husbands had been in school for eight years and would at least come out with a medical degree.  My husband was going on 12 years of school, and was just getting his bachelors with no promise of a large salary and long term security.  So, I didn't feel I had anyone to truly empathize with, even though we had the same time logged, I felt they had such a brighter future.

(Side note: I hate to say "just bachelors" because that is still a huge accomplishment.  It's all the education I have, but remember I wasn't in a good head space and comparison was suffocating me.)

Claudy, so worn from school, decided to take a break for winter and summer semester.  I was quite furious about it.  Like, I-don't-know-if-I-can-continue-furious.  Like, I'm so upset I don't see an end of light in this forever long tunnel.  Upset because I felt once again we were putting everything on hold for this darn degree, and now we were purposefully prolonging it.

Looking back, I can see with some degree of empathy that Claudy was worn out and exhausted.  He had graduated high school in 2000.  Other than his two years of mission service for the LDS church, he had been going to school.  It was 2013 and he was burned out.  I wish I could have reacted more gracefully, but I didn't if we're being brutally honest.  Things weren't pretty in the Lavin household.

Add to this that I got pregnant with Calvin that fall and I was weary and downtrodden.  I was frustrated because Claudy was unemployed.  And, while he was doing everything he could to find a job, it's almost impossible to find a decent job in an overly saturated college town.  He couldn't find a decent paying job because he didn't have a degree.  We finally decided begrudgingly to both of us, that I would go back to work part-time because I could literally make twice as much as he could since I had a degree.  I was bitter that I had to step in and work and that he hadn't gotten his degree by this point. We had to work hard on our marriage.  Really hard.  Who knew that school--a good thing, could be such a thorn in our marriage?  It seemed to be this rain cloud that followed us through every step of our marriage.  It affected where we lived, how much we made, our free time, schedules.  Everything.

I legit had someone at my work (when I had gone back and was pregnant with Calvin) ask me "Don't you think you might be better suited for someone else?  Someone who you would be more equally yoked with?"  I'm not mad at this person for asking.  I'm sure at this low time in our marriage it showed and things probably did seem off balance.  If I had worked full time and stayed in my career track, I know we would have been making good money.  We would have had a house and a stable lifestyle.  If I were the male, we would have been done with school forever ago.  But, I was not.  I was the wife.  I had chosen to stay at home for my children's sake, but it was hard knowing that I could have that lifestyle if I would just go back and that the person I was depending on to take care of me and my children was unable to get a good job because of that darn degree thing, AGAIN.

To make matters worse, UVU is a joke.  At least from my perspective.  They do not have things together like I experienced them at BYU.  Claudy went into his guidance counselor time after time and they would tell him different things each time.  We were trying so hard to plan when he'd be done and they were zero help.  I could go on and tell you specific, horror stories of times they would tell us "You'll only need XX classes and will be done XX date" only to have that not be true.

Since I was working, our plan was to have Claudy be done with school around the time Clavin was born.  If you're noticing the graduation pictures, Calvin is 11 months old.

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I was so seething last November, when once again we had planned to be done in December and we learned he had more classes that I demanded (not very nicely) to go into his guidance counselor with him.  We sat down and she said things like, "Oops, it seems as if one of your classes from BYU never counted,"...mind you he'd been going to UVU for four years and no one had caught this.  When she said he had until the following August I said that was not OK and that she needed to find a way to make it work for April (in a nice way--I do realize you get more bees with honey, but inside I was screaming profanities).  I could not bear another summer of going through school.  After prodding she finally figured out a way.  You know, did her job after us going in.  UG.

There was one point I literally asked Claudy to stop going to school.  I felt it wasn't worth it.  I felt we were getting into more debt (taking out school loans) then it was ever going to pay off.  I told him I couldn't do it.  I couldn't handle the kids not seeing him.  I couldn't handle him being gone from 9am until 9pm (and often later).  I couldn't do him working on the weekends because he couldn't get enough hours during the school days.  I admit I wasn't as supportive as I could and should have been.  I was spent.  I thought I was going to snap.

I have to give Claudy credit.  This guy has more fortitude and determination than anyone I know.  He has had bad luck after bad luck his entire life.  If you know his hard childhood and his life story, you would be saying "amen" to me.  Then, the poor guy goes and marries someone who for a long time couldn't see the forest through the trees.  I couldn't see past "school" and fixated on all of the awfulness that went with it.

There were a lot of happy times during school too.  Please don't forget that.  I hope I've managed to document many good times we've had in this blog.  I've tried to not write about the negative, but now that he's graduated I wanted to let it all out.  All of the hard, long days we had too.  Whenever we found out another "nope, not graduating yet" I would have to tell myself "Graduation will come eventually, and I can either be miserable until then, or find a way to be happy."  I am proud to say many times I was happy.  But, I'd be lying and not having this be a true blog and account of our time during school if I didn't tell this side too.

It's still upsetting because sometimes when we tell people he has a bachelors in Behavioral Health with an emphasis in Psychology we always get told "Oh, he's going on then, right?  You can't do anything with a bachelors in that.  You have to get a master's."  It really lets the wind out of the long-time-coming accomplishment.  It's 2015.  Claudy has been pursuing his bachelors, mostly full time, since 2000 (other than a two year mission).  So, he's just not wanting to go on at the moment.  Can you blame him?  Sure, I worry.  I worry we won't be able to find adequate employment (especially with our medically expensive son and his disease) with "just" a bachelors.  But, at the same time, I'm glad for him to be done too.

I'm excited.  I do feel hope.  I know that we won't be rich, but I look forward to having Claudy home more.  I look forward to no more homework.  I will miss spring break, though!  And, the two weeks off at Christmas never hurt either!  Oh, and the good health insurance and student discounts.  See...it wasn't all bad. :)

Through it all, I think we've both learned and grown, and clearly not just in the academic sense.  It tested my patience, WELL beyond what I ever could have thought.  I truly think, the old me--if you would have told me that Claudy wouldn't be graduating until we'd been married for seven years--I might not have married him.  I put far too much emphasis on school and worldly accomplishments back in the day.  I was comparing my strength of school, against his weakness for school.  Which wasn't fair at all.  Did he compare his ability to be non-judgmental, his patience, his loving, his strength in the Gospel, his steadfastness against all of my negative characteristics?  No.  He just kept pushing ahead.

If it seems like we're beaming in these photos, it's because we were.  I literally teared up when they called his name.  In the sea of graduation caps, I wondered if anyone had fought as hard as he had.  I don't know everyone elses's stories, but at the moment, it sure didn't feel like it.

I am so proud of us.  I am so proud of him.  He bore his trials and set backs so well.  He never let what anyone thought bother him or halt him pursuing his dream.  He is the American dream: Haitian parents who came to America when they were pregnant with him.  He was put in foster care, adopted, and was the first to attend college.  And now, he is the proud recipient of a bachelors.  Was it easy having two kids (one with a rare disease who had many hospitalizations and sicknesses--often during finals week) and a hormonal wife who had difficult pregnancies during school easy?  No.  But, he never complained.  He just kept at it.

I love you Claudy. I'm proud of you.  I can't believe this time has finally come.  I can't believe we're putting an end to this chapter.  He would often warn me, to not perfection-ize the future after school.  I realize that troubles and trials will follow us no matter if you're in school or not.  I realize that things won't be 100% better now that school is over.  But, for so long I've just wanted at least a "new" trial.  I'm sure part of why school didn't come the way we wanted it was because of the growth I needed to earn.  If he would have graduated sooner, I know I wouldn't have learned some of the important life lessons I know I needed.  I hope by sharing this, as raw as it is, it might help someone else thinking they're the "only ones" stuck in some life situation.  You're not.  Things will eventually get better, and don't act now, how you'll regret later.  I have moments I'm proud of, and moments I wish I had been stronger for Claudy.  But, we both rode it out and kept putting one foot in front of the other.  Time will pass regardless, but will you be where you want to be when it has?  

We came out victorious on the other side, and most importantly, together.  Slow and steady wins the race, right?

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Capturing Calvin: 11 Months

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I feel bad this post is so late.  You're really 11.5 months old--but thank goodness you hardly grow, so I'm pretty sure you look the same as you did two weeks ago.  It's been an INSANE month between me being sick, you having to quit nursing, and your dad having finals and then graduation with family in town...needless to say it has been a whirlwind!

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Your 11th month started off incredibly rough for you, poor guy!  I found out I had to stop nursing you cold turkey and boy did you hate life.  You really had a miserable few days.  You were crying or upset pretty consistently.  You were so incredibly stubborn.  I knew you'd hate the bottle, but I almost thought of taking you to the hospital because you really went on strike.  In 24 hours sometimes you'd only drink 2 ounces.  Your diapers were dry and you were making it more than obvious that you were not OK with the switch.  We both shed some tears and I felt awful.  If I hadn't been sick I would have loved to nurse you a bit longer and then gradually wean you.  After ten long days you seem OK with the bottle.  Not that you love it, but you definitely understand and take it now.  I still try and cuddle you while you nurse and now I just let you snuggle your head on my shoulder while I rock you before bedtimes.  I have to give it to you, although you fought a good fight, I'm very grateful you're resilient and that you have allowed yourself to be fed another way.  PHEW!  I also have to give a shout out to the fact that you'll take your bottle warm or cold, which is nice if we're in a rush.  We've also decided to give you the formula with vanilla rice milk, instead of water.  You need the extra calories (dietitian approved) and you hate the soy formula flavor so much that it's the only way you'll take it.  It's our fault because we gave you rice milk first when trying to have you adjust to the bottle and you took to that flavor first.  I was sick, and it was the weekend so we didn't get you soy formula until about five days in and by then you had certainly dug your chubby heels in.  I feel it's an OK compromise--just an expensive one!

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The only saving grace to this entire bottle adjustment thing is that you like solid foods, so you pretty much survived off those since you weren't getting any liquids.  You still adore yogurt, you like the apple blueberry baby food mixed with sweet potato baby food, you like quinoa, mandarin oranges, you're OK with scrambled eggs, you love baked potatoes, you like pasta and noodles, chocolate pudding, jello, you still really don't like meat, and you like black beans.  You like to snack on toast, honey graham crackers, rice chex, rice cakes and craisins.  You try just about all things I make for dinner, but you are QUICK to spit them out if you don't like them (you seem to not like fish or lemon things) and refuse to let them go near your mouth again.  You'll turn away as far as possible and even lay your head down if you're trying to avoid the spoon.  It's odd, since I never force you, but you act as if the spoon is going to jump you.  You're quite dramatic!

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You are getting incredibly hard to feed, even if you like the food.  You desperately want to feed yourself.  This is fine, if it's a finger food.  But, things like applesauce, soups and other liquids aren't quite to your skill level yet.  You get so fiercely mad if I feed you for too long and you want your own spoon.  That used to suffice and you'd be happy to hold and bang it...but now you insist on having the bowl in front of you too and trying to dip your spoon in it.  It's cute--but also incredibly messy.  I have to sweep multiple times a day.  Add on top of that that you like to drop food off your chair to show that you are done and it's quite a tornado ally once you're through eating.  If we don't give into your desires to participate in eating you jump up and down and throw yourself all over your high chair.  You've even hit your head on your tray because you're throwing yourself so hard--which only makes you cry harder.  Sometimes you don't even want to sit in your high chair.  You protest to be set down and stick your legs straight to try to avoid being put in it.  You already seem quite independent and very particular and fixed on what you want.  Please let this serve you well later in your life, for the right choices.

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You're getting much better at sleeping.  I guess all I had to do was write about how terrible you were at being put down for you to improve (see several blog posts back).  You seem to have gravitated to pulling the blanket close to your face.  It's the same blanket you've had since you were born.  I'm glad something other than me is starting to bring you comfort.  You will still cry somewhat often, but it's only for a minute or two.  I'm so glad my persistence paid off and that the habits are kicking in!  HOORAY!  I didn't live through awful screaming for nothing!!  Sometimes, if I play peek-a-boo while leaving you'll smile instead of break down.  You're still taking two naps a day and you sleep all the way through the night from 7:30ish p.m. to 7 a.m.  This was also a huge silver lining--you were waking to nurse every few nights right up until you took a bottle.  It was as if you realized I couldn't nurse you anymore and it wasn't worth waking.  I was truly terrified to try to give you a bottle in the middle of the night when you were half awake and cranky, so I'm glad you have let us both sleep through the night and not encounter that!

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You still love to sit on my lap and snuggle.  You don't wiggle to be set down too much.  You still love to be held and like to pull on my hair when I'm holding you.  I can't wear necklaces or you chew on them.

You love to scrunch your nose and breathe really heavily.  It's soo cute.  You are smiling more and more--but you still are VERY serious and somber.  Most people can't get you to smile and I have to work realllllly hard at it.  The photo below this paragraph is how you look most of the time.  I just usually only post the smiling ones.  But there's usually one smiling photo to every ten serious ones.  Sometimes when you are so serious, I wonder if you're truly happy.  I know not everyone has to giggle every second of every day to show they're content, but it's hard because your brother shows so much emotion.  I figure you'll be like your dad and be more reserved and quiet, but I can't help but wonder what's going on in your brain and if you feel satisfied or if there is more I can do.  I have a feeling it will be like that between us.  I pray that I can understand you and your unique needs and always feel you with love even if I don't always understand you.  You still love to stare blankly at people and will cry if a stranger ever tries to hold you.  You still cry if you feel I set you down too much, and you are ESPECIALLY fussy when teething.  I swear you've been teething for weeks now (still just four teeth--two top and two bottom), and they just won't pop through.  I've resorted to even wearing you in the baby carrier sometimes--it's a good thing you're still light.

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With the nice weather lately you really seem to enjoy being outside.  You'll crawl through anything--dirt, grass or over cement.  We have a little kiddie pool you love putting sticks, spoons or your fingers in.  Sometimes I'll let big brother run around on the back patio while I make dinner.  You have quite a fit if I don't let you outside too, but I don't dare leave you out there without me close by. Sorry!  I can tell you feel it's very unfair and you'll cry at the gate.  You also seem to really like boy time and if big brother and Daddy go somewhere without you, you'll crawl over to the door and cry after they've gone.

You've been loving playing with magnets lately and like to stick and unstick them to the oven.  You also love to bang loudly on the oven and love the loud "BOOM" it makes.

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You have been liking to scream very high pitched lately.  My poor ears can attest.

You seem interested in looking at books and like to turn the pages.

You haven't tried walking yet, unless you're cruising on the edge of the couch.  I'm fine with that and hope you'll take your time.  You don't even try to get your balance and stand on your own.  NO RUSH!

Your cousin Esias came out for Daddy's graduation and you thought he was quite funny!  One of the few people you'll laugh at, but probably because he'd get in your face until you were forced to become comfortable with it.

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You seem interested in whatever big brother is doing and will try to play along--whether that's with crayons, cars, balls...you name it.  Sometimes I feel like you don't really play with baby stuff since you're always chasing after your brother and his toys.

You still love to put things in your mouth and have gotten quite good at clamping down so that I can't fish out whatever has found itself in your mouth.

You still are such a champ wherever I bring you.  Running errands with you is quite easy.  Sometimes you'll cry in your car seat--but not very often and even then Carter can usually get your attention.  You sit so good in the shopping cart and seem to find it fun to ride in.  You're quiet and just go wherever I need you to...which is so appreciated since I'm usually chasing after your brother.

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Your skin is getting drier and itchier...which worries me since it's getting hot and I have to put you in less and less clothing.  You'll sit and dig at any exposed skin.  Winter was great for having you be in long sleeved shirts and pants.  I hope you'll grow out of it like your brother did.  In the mean time, I lotion you up every single night.  You hate sitting still for diapers, let alone a lotion session.  You cry and buck and try to roll every single time for every single second.  Give your mom a break and just enjoy the baby massage!

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You find it so fun to tear books off your shelves and pull DVDs off the entertainment center and pull clothes out of drawers.  I've given up having your book shelf be organized.

And your crowning achievement this month: figuring out that your finger fits inside that nifty little hole in the middle of your face (your nose).  Just kidding.

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You have grown so much this month in accepting some hard things (like no more nursing) and I am truly proud of you.  That was an unexpected, hard, abrupt change and you are doing so much better.  Life will continue to throw you curve balls and I hope you can always be resilient like you were with this.  I can't believe we're coming up on one year.  I love you so much Cali Cal.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Welp, That Was Short

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Carter is soo hard on his toys!  I planned on some extent of roughness because he's a boy, but he is intense!

You would think that he would at least be gentler to his favorite toys, but since he was little he loves to chuck his toys as hard as he can across the room...whether that's into a wall, or anything else in it's way.

Carter asked and asked for a Bumblee Transformer toy for Christmas.  We got him it, and almost exactly 4 months later, he's broken his arm, shoulder and now his back/hood of the car.  He's also lost his Optimus Prime toy he got for Christmas.  We've turned our house upside down and have no idea where it is.  His two main Christmas toys didn't even make it until the next Christmas.

It's frustrating to see him take such bad care of his stuff.  We've tried putting things up, or in time out. But, that is truly the way he likes to play with things.  I hope when he gets a bit older and can comprehend more that he can learn to value and take care of his stuff.  He's not off to the best start. After he broke Bumblee tonight he said to some extent "Grandma and Papa get me one?"  Nope. Sorry bud.  That's not the way it works!  Stinker!

I guess the silver lining is that Calvin will get all new toys since there are seriously precious few left. If Fisher Price ever needs someone to test out a toy's durability...send them our way! :)

Knock, Knock!

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It's been a minute since I wrote about just the silly, little things my boys do.  So, I thought I'd capture this funny "Calvin-ism".

He's hated feeling left out from day 1.  Literally--anytime I'd set him down and walk away he'd wail. Once he learned to crawl, he would still wail...just while trailing after us.

He ESPECIALLY hates it when he gets shut in a room. Since the bedrooms are upstairs, I will often shut him in one of the rooms if I have to go to the bathroom or run downstairs for a second and can't take him with me.  I'm too worried about him crawling out and tumbling down the stairs.

He finds this INFURIATING.  I know, I'm so rude to ever set him down, let alone worry about his safety.  Sheesh.

So, he'll crawl over to the door, go in the kneeling position and bounce up and down while sobbing huge alligator tears.  He'll do that until you return.

The problem is--he STILL hasn't realized he needs to move in order for you to come in.

Every.Single.Time...For months.

Haha--I feel bad chuckling because he's clearly upset.  But, he's hoisted up on his own petard.  He wants me to come back in the room sooo badly, but he's the one blocking me.  I don't want to push him over by opening the door!

So, I have to slowly push and inch the door open, and sometimes scoot him with my toes stretched in as far as I can go, until he's away enough to allow me to squeeze through.  It's a good thing I'm not morbidly obese!

Silly guy!  Let me in, let me in! I think he'll be so happy when he can walk and open doors.  A whole new world will be opened up to him...literally.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Friggin' Wheat

I'd like to have a verbal tantrum and just get it out.

While I try to remain positive about Carter's disease, I also strive to be REAL.  I tire over blogs that only post "how-to" either emotionally, cooking, fitness etc...that only have the answers.  We all don't have the answers every second of every day.  We all struggle.  Why not share in those struggles and confess our weaknesses so that we can enjoy the triumphs even more so together?  At least, that's what I strive to do.  Here's some real realness coming right atcha.

I wanted to take a break from allergy appointments and testing.  So we have, since December.  For four months it felt so nice to feel like a "normal" family.  Our days were not riddled spent in some waiting room.  We were not making treks up and down Utah County.  It was wonderful.  I actually felt bored a few days because our hours were ours to enjoy!

But, I noticed from Carter's last appointment that his reaction to wheat had gone extremely down, so much so, that it was considered boarderline.  I started experimenting at home.  I started off by letting him play with playdoh (made of wheat).  Then, I let him play with playdoh and not wash his hands and then eating something.  Pretty soon, it was clear he wasn't having any type of reactions as playdoh was all over him and our house.

Our allergist said we had to come in before decisions could be made about him eating it.  Unfortunately, our allergist is all the sudden jam packed and couldn't see us for around a month.  We waited, which in my mind is a waste of time.  Trust me...I get it logically, he's busy, everyone deserves their turn.  I'm just inpatient.

We finally went in on Friday and the appointment went great!  (Granted, they couldn't fit in Calvin too, so we'll have to go back again for him.) We only re-prick tested to two foods: wheat and sunbutter and Carter passed both.  He didn't even flinch.  He was such a champ.

Now, I should know the proceedures after dealing with this disease for two years.  But, I guess I let the positive reaction get the best of me. I was already day-dreaming of goldfish. His allergist said that we could not feed it to him yet, but that we needed to patch test him first; I figured that was coming.  What I wasn't expecting was that the allergist wants a scope done of his esophagus before and after the wheat eating period.  

And, to make matters even more fun--the patch testing is now three appointments, instead of two.  So now you have to go in on a Monday and have the patches placed on his back.  Then, you have to go in on a Thursday and have them take them off (previously, we would just take them off ourselves) and then you have to go in on Friday and have them read how his back looks to determine if he passes the patch test.  That's three appointments--in one week.  The commute is an hour each way.  With two kids.  I thought allergy testing was rough with just Carter.  That's looking at at least a 3-4 hour total time block, which will run through Calvin's nap.  Heaven help us.

Then, IF he passes patch we then have to see a GI specialist and have him put Carter under, scope his esophagus and take biopsies of it to count how high his eosinophil levels are.  This will be our baseline.

THEN--we will have Carter eat wheat at least once a day for probably three weeks.

Afterwards--we will scope him all over again.

If he passes all of those--he will then be safe to eat wheat.

Isn't that the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen?  Is anyone even still reading this drawn out hellacious process????

So, if you count the three other times Carter has had to be tested to wheat that will be a total of 7 appointments and two scopes just to have a friggin' piece of bread.

So, all of you moms who serve your kid pasta, rolls, bread, cakes, cookies, pies, goldfish crackers, pop tarts, sandwiches, toast, breaded chicken nuggets, and a gazillion other things without having to do more than open a package...thank your lucky stars.

I get why his allergist wants to be so thorough.  Wheat is one of the top triggers for EOE...for anyone.  That and dairy are the most failed.  Since reactions can be so delayed, the only way to tell is by taking biopsies of the esophagial tissue.  I get it logically.

But, my heart hurts.

I hate putting Carter through so much.  And, honestly--I don't have much patience either.  This is a part-time job.  It's drudgery. 

Is it all bad?  No!  We are blessed to have insurance to do so.  We're blessed that there is a talented specialist that we can see (even if it takes forever to get into).  We're so blessed to know that even if Carter can't eat wheat because it is an esophageal allergy--that we no longer have to worry about him having anaphylaxis to it.  He can touch it.  He won't need an epi-pen and have to be raced to the ER if he accidently eats it.  He can have things cross contaminated with it.  He can eat things that say "may contain" or "processed on equipment that uses wheat products".  It's still a huge success.  I think it's also an overall great indicator that his little body is getting stronger and stronger.  His wheat allergy was a 10x12 the very first time--which is huge.  I couldn't even eat whole wheat when I was nursing him or he'd get a rash.  What a long way we've come.  I've very thankful for those important and not forgotten silver linings.  It may seem as if I've forgotten because my complaints are sometimes louder than my hallelujahs.  I guess I'm a brat because I want everything for my son.  I want it all.  I have a hard time only having partial breaks instead of the whole thing...or should I say whole loaf?

I'm just worn out.  I'm sick of jumping through medical hoops just to feed my son.

I'm worried that he'll love wheat and then we'll have to take it away.

But, I just can't not chance it.  It'd be such a game changer.  Socially--he could have bread, he could eat so many more normal things.  It'd be so great for his nutrition.  I just can't not try.

The allergist can't see us again until June.  Then, we'll have to see when in the world we can schedule the surgery.  It's just going to be a long summer, with a not-so-great chance that he'll pass.

Yesterday I was shouting in my head the whole drive home:

damn.  Damn.  DaMN.  DAMN.  DAMN!!!!! DAMNNNN!!!!!!!!! 

OK.  I got it out.

Nope...

DAMN!!!!!!!!!

OK, thanks.

It's been a day, and I've pretty much accepted it and calmed down.  But, boy did it feel good to swear a bit and just let the anger out.  I'll put on my game face and will try really hard not to complain about it in front of Carter.  I'll think of rewards for him being a "good boy" through his proceedures (like he doesn't have a reason to act badly for going through such hell anyways...) and we'll soldier through.  I just wish we could hurry and get it over with.

Alright, just one more.  Damn you eosinophil esophagitis.  

There.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hate Love Relationship with Bedtime

Arg.  I'm sitting here listening to sweet baby Calvin just wail and wail.  I seriously hate bedtime.

It's just a lot.  Getting the boys to take their medications while Carter wants to "get his own medicine" aka get it out of the bottle aka take more time aka sometimes spilling it.  Then there's Calvin, who has been having the same medicine for months--still spits it out.  I keep hoping he'll finally adjust to the taste!

Then, there's Calvin getting cranky because Carter is stalling like crazy and Calvin is tired.

Afterwards, there's the wrestling match to brush's Carter's teeth.

And then, there's trying to keep wiggling Calvin still while I put lotion on his poor dry skin.

Once scriptures and prayers are done Carter's head games start.  I offer to rock Carter.  He'll flat out tell me no and either play with his toys or run around the room like a maniac. I'll sing songs and he'll cutely sing along, but all the while saying he doesn't want to rock.  As soon as Calvin is about to drop off, I'll set him down and give kisses.  Then, Carter starts screaming and crying that he wants to rock.  That only gets Calvin who is already screaming that he's been set down wound up.  They're both hysterical now.

Usually Carter will calm soon within a few minutes.  Calvin is a whole other story.

I'm literally at a loss with what to do for him.  Unless I wait until he is out completely cold, he screams every time I put him in his crib...whether it's at bedtime or nap time.  Even when I nursed him he'd freak out.  He literally grabs onto my hair and shirt with his iron fists as soon as I start walking towards the crib.  I feel horrible setting him down and having to pry my shirt and hair from his desperate fingers.  He immediately gets up, holds onto his railing, jumps up and down while doing the scream that sounds like his throat is about to burst.

After Calvin finally starts calming down Carter will often start screaming.  He either wants water, or needs to pee, or wants the blankets straightened on his back.  Then Calvin starts all over again.  He'll sometimes go for an hour.

Calvin takes it up another notch when I go in to help Carter and don't pick him up.  Least you think I'm mean, if i do pick Calvin up he starts clinging onto me and straightens his legs and tries to not let me set him down.  There it goes all over again. My heart breaks every night.  I don't know how much more either of us can take. It's to the point I think we all dread bedtime.

I'm all for tips if anyone has one.  I've always tried to have a set routine and a set bedtime and nap times.  I try to cuddle him during the day.  I try to sing, use soothing words, have a happy tone, be validating, tell him it's OK..nothing.

NOTHING seems to make a difference.

Did I mention that Claudy is almost always at work during bedtime so I'm left to the ring lead the circus all by myself??

The sobbing when being put down has been since Calvin was around 4 months and he's now 11 months.  It's not like he can just not be put in his crib ever again (although I'm sure that's what he wants).  And, I don't find it practical to hold him until he's out cold because he's fighting going to sleep for fear that the dreaded "mommy's going to eventually set me down" is keeping his eyes fluttering.  Besides, a few times when I've tried it...I'll think he's asleep and he snaps alert the minute his head hits the crib.  Plus, I feel that putting him down conked out fosters dependence on me to fall asleep and I want to encourage healthy, unassisted sleep for times Claudy or anyone else has to put him down.

Carter was so easy to put down.  I could put him down wide awake and he'd smile at me while I walked away.

I really feel out of ideas and exasperated.

Calvin seems so sensitive and like he literally takes it personal each and every single time I set him down.  He acts as if he'll never see me again and that I have forsaken him.  I so wish he could feel comforted and realize that I come back every morning and that everything will be OK.

....

I bet you were wondering where the "love" portion came in. The only nice thing is about bedtime is that I always put them down between 7:30-8 p.m.  Once they finally calm down, they are both out.  They rarely wake up again.  They're great to sleep for a long period and not wake up until 7ish a.m.  I know if I can push past the awful crying spells that I can have quiet time to myself.  Granted, most of the "quiet/me" time is used doing dishes and cleaning up their messes...but it's something.