Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Changes

Goodbye Summer! Hello rhythm and routine! September is here, and for us that means the steady, sometimes chaotic pace of school begins! Today was Elijah and Owen's first day of school. Owen started kindergarten (sigh), and Elijah began second grade! They are both still at an age where this is as good as it gets! School is fun and exciting and they are eager to soak it up, every single ounce!

I like the change of pace. We've been very relaxed all Summer (duh, that's what Summer is for)!By the time September rolls around, I am anxious for structure! Morning routine charts, After school, and bedtime routine charts are in place! It feels good to follow a schedule again, and the boys really do well making their check-marks on their charts! Elijah especially loves seeing what he's done and what he still has left to accomplish. 

This time of year, more than any other, makes me think of my own changes and person goals. Some people do the traditional January new year resolutions, but to me it seems more natural now to make new goals when the year actually has it's biggest transition. For us that is when the school year begins. It has me thinking of what I want to do in the coming year.

The other reason I am thinking about changes and goals is that my 30th birthday is about one year away (and a couple months). I thought it would be fun and motivational to set a goal to achieve before then, or maybe a whole list.
For now here is what I have come up with:

I have always wanted to write a book, and I have worked a few ideas over the years. This summer, an idea stuck with me, and I would really like to see it to the end. My goal is to get the entire rough draft completed before my 30th!

Goal number two is to lose 30 pounds by my 30th!

If it comes down to choosing one over the other... I'm going to choose the book! Wish me luck as we embark on many adventures with this new school year!

Before we did hair cuts!

This mini chef made tacos for dinner tonight! He even cooked the meat!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

William's 2nd Birthday!

Two. TWO! Newborn to two is like a whirlwind of survival mode to relying on coffee to give you the energy you need to chase the piles of disaster around your house made by a little person with a short attention span.  People used to say "Those Terrible Twos," but there are so many things I love about two. Two is the time for exploring, acquiring some independence, yet mommy and daddy are still their whole world. 
I love that he stops his play to come "check on me." sometimes it's just for a hug, other times he wants a snack, or some other thing. The great thing about being a stay at home mom is, I can actually just play with him! I love that! I'm pretty chill about letting the house get messy. It's a lot more fun to sit and put together a train track so we can watch the little train go around, and hear the squeals of pure joy!
I love the adventure of this age. Trying new things are around every corner. Discovery and surprises. The simplicity of the freedom to run! the fresh air blowing in your your hair, which William actually gets concerned about.  We have a lot of wind here, and whenever we go outside, he looks around and points to his hair, like what is making my hair move? I love the curiosity, the possibilities, the simple enjoyment of something good. 
I guess those baby days are over for good! It makes me think of that book Love You Forever. We read it almost every night, if not more. "That baby grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was two years old...." Then it talks about all the naughty things the little two year old does, and the mom says, "This kid is driving me crazy!" But at night, she rocks him and sings the song Love you Forever. 
Sometimes I feel like the mom in this book. If you can make it through the day, they all look like angels when they are sleeping. Ha ha ha. 
...As long as I'm living my baby he'll be.

Happy 2nd Birthday Will!

William loved his cake!!!
He was so surprised I think that he actually got to have some cake!!! With all of his allergies, he really hasn't had very many things like this!
I loved William's reaction to the HUGE dragon Grandma and Papa got him for his birthday!!! He talks to it, feeds it. I'm not sure if he knows it's not real!
He also got a new Dr. Suess Book and the animal that goes with it!

Friday, August 22, 2014

"Cheers to Thirty Years"

Cheers To 30 Years: Martin's Surprise "Root Beer" Float Thirtieth Birthday Party!

I knew I wanted to do something special for Martin for his Thirtieth. Since I am very reserved I usually plan something that is just the two of us or the family, which is always fun too. But this year, I wanted to really make him feel like he was loved! I planned a "Root Beer Float" themed surprise party, that really surprised him!

My cover was that the party was for William, whose birthday is just one week after Martin's, and it worked way better than I thought! He had no leading suspicions! He still didn't believe the party was for him even after he came through the door, and we all said, "surprise!"

It was a good time! Just seeing his expression made it all worth it! The only down side, was that many people were out of town and couldn't make it for the party, so the numbers were not as many as they could have been.  However, my sister, Jenny, and her family were in town visiting and joined in on the fun!
I saved lots of jars, removed the labels, and they worked perfectly for the floats! 
I ordered the adorable straws online!

The Root Beer sign, I was able to print, 
add a simple frame, and it worked out just right!

I set up the table with a burlap runner as the base(Walmart $5),
 I had to have root beer colored balloons, and then just placed things where they looked right.

I made Martin this special mug for his float, by etching the glass
 myself. I used a "3" and "0" stickers, and used an etching paste 
that you can buy at most craft stores. You actually use the negative space, 
not the sticker. You put on the paste, let it sit for about 5 minutes, 
then rinse it off. I think it's pretty awesome stuff!

I had a lot of fun making this poster! It is suppose to look like a chalkboard,
but is actually a black foam board. I bought special markers made to
make this effect!

The "note" station! I wanted people to leave Martin a personal note,
or advice about his 30's, so I set up this little table, also we did a 
"30 Things About Martin" quiz, just for fun!

The Root Beer "cake." I saw this idea somewhere and just had to steal it!
I made the stand myself from dollar store plates and martini glasses!
I'm hoping that alone blows your mind! I blew mine!

Okay, so the banner is not quite hop-notch. But after putting everything together,
 Jenny, who was helping me, and I realized it was missing a "Happy Birthday banner. 
It did the job, but it was a last minute, thrown together thing.

The full view of the set up.

Using an easel really made the foam board work.


This was the "center piece" on each table.

Here's a closer look at the frame on the note table.

Me, my mom, and sister all wore aprons so we could serve.

So, here he is coming in. He had all the boys, thinking he was
 bringing them in to William's party.

"What? It's for ME!!!!!!!"

My beautiful mom and sis serving it up right!

Me, holding Will, enjoying a sip of the good stuff!

Air hockey kept the kids busy and happy!

Happy 30th Honey!

Him and the guys!

I know he had a really good time, and I hope he will remember it forever! I may have went a little over-board on the details of things (I just can't help it)!
P.S. A big thanks to my sis for helping me set up and make everything look wonderful!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

An Allergy Update

I just wanted to give an update after my very long vent session about how hard all of this allergy stuff  with little William has been on me.  There have been lots of positives this week, which I am choosing to focus on. We haven't had to pull over and wrap bloody legs! Score! We are still doing the tube socks, but it has been a little less excessively (he's been keeping them off during the day for playtime and mealtimes, and has done good).
Night time is still a toss up. Will he sleep, should I go back in there? Does he have the socks off? Usually when I go in there after he has been crying, he is sitting up in his crib scratching his legs. I'll say something like, "did you take you socks off," and he's nod and say, "mmhhmm," and point to where he's stashed them between the side of the crib and the wall.
Last night was a long night of this, going back in, coaxing him with water sips and rocking. He was up too late! Before him, and even now, I believe 7pm is a good bedtime. Kids do a lot of important development while they're snoozing! So when it takes until 9 or 10, I am aching for both of us! I know he needs the sleep desperately, and I need a break!
Tonight went much better than last night. I have been slathering him up after his last diaper change of the night with coconut oil and lavender essential oil.  I also got him some new jammies (new to him... $1 sale on toddler clothes at the thrift store- jackpot)! It is important to have the right kind of jammies to prevent itching. They need to cover everything, but also not be too warm for summer. So, tonight he has on some cotton full-body suit jammies, but without the footies, so I did put socks on him. His feet are really the only part on him right now that are still intensely irritated. Everywhere else has really cleared up! I was so proud of how well his back has cleared up, I had to show daddy at bedtime and we kissed his perfect skin!
On the whole, things are looking up. I still worry. A lot. But I am desperately trying to be positive. One day at a time, that is what I can conquer.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The White House Hates Allergies!

In just a few weeks, William, my youngest, will turn two. Aside from it seeming impossible, and all of my feelings of denial that my baby could be two, he doesn't feel like he's about to reach this milestone.  I guess it's because we have been through so much with him; you wouldn't think that allergies would affect sleep patterns and car trips, but they do. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined the things I now have to worry about. The things that cause me the most stress are not even on a "normal" mom's radar.
I can't let my "baby" cry it out. He is almost two, and I can't let him get to sleep on his own for fear that he will get his tube socks off of his legs and arms, which we use as a precaution barrier to keep him from scratching himself. Once the socks are off, there is no helping him. He will scratch until his legs are bleeding and his fingers are covered with his own blood. He can't help it. And there is nothing more I can do than what I am already doing. this is the hardest part.  It breaks my heart that this is a daily struggle: trying to keep my almost two-year-old from making himself bleed. So I do treat him like a baby at bedtime. I rock him until he is almost completely out, then the tickling starts. I lay him in his crib and rub and gently tickle his belly until I see his eyelids close and he is breathing deeply. This takes a LONG time. Sometimes he wakes up 4 or 5 times and I have to start all over again... from the very beginning. He taps his belly letting me know that he wants me to rub it some more, then he peers at me through slanted eyes to make sure I'm not sneaking out on him. When I do try letting him fuss and cry to see if he will self soothe, it usually backfires on me, meaning he's gotten the socks off, thrown them between the crib and the wall, and he is scratching. Part of it feels like he has really learned how to manipulate me, which is probably a bit true, but then I have to settle and embrace in that other side. I get to hold my boy a little longer, and watch him fall asleep, and breathe deeply.
The scratching issue is also a major stress in the car. We always start off going somewhere with the socks on him. It is just a necesity. After months of doing this, William has getting them off down to an art. If he really wants to, he can get them off in a few seconds. We've tried distracting him with other things, toys, snacks (which work the best), but inevitably the socks come off at some point, and he can't help but scratch those itchy legs! I can't believe that I now carry a supply of bandage wrap in the car just in case I have to pull over and wrap his bloody legs. Every time I have to do this, I just cry. And it happens at least once a week! Most of our destinations are twenty minutes away, so this is also part of the problem. He can handle five to ten mintues, but after that, forget it. His two big brothers try to help keep him happy and distracted too, they also warn me if he's gotten his socks off. The scratching is pretty disturbing to them too. It makes me not want to go anywhere. I know that if we stay home that at least that takes out one of the possibilities of him re-opening wounds that babdly need to heal. Every day, I slather his legs with Vitamin E oil. This process, though not pleasant, has shown me the amazing ability of healing. His skin transforms so quickly from weeping and bloody, to scabby, to smooth all in a weeks time.  Now I am ready for emotional healing.

I am wound so tightly, that I snap so easily, and it's really no ones fault. My mind is just trying so hard to survive and keep up. I want to get out of survival mode, but I feel like that is still a long ways off. We are still just managing things, and are barely staying afloat. My other boys are very understanding of the allergies, and have been helpful (although, once in a while, Owen has slipped Will something on the "no, no" list. He asked me yesterday if William could have bagels. I told him no because they usually have egg in them. Then I asked if he had given Will some. "Well, he looked really jealous, mom, but it was just a little piece," he told me).

It has only been three weeks since we found out exactly what foods William is allergic to (eggs, dairy, and peanuts), so that alone has been a major transition. We still haven't even tested for environmental allergies. I feel unprepared for this life changing world. I mean will he never have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch? My underlying optimism is hoping he will outgrow some of this, but for now, I have to deal with it day by day.

He is eating a lot of fruit.. maybe too much.  He loves cereal, and his main protein is chicken. I can get him to eat beans if I process them, but it is still hit and miss. I stress about it all. Is he getting enough nutrition, did I give him the wrong thing, will he ever stop scratching? Yesterday I gave him edamame, thinking they would be a good snack, then of course my paranoid brain had to re-read the label. It turned out, the facility where they were processed contained milk, eggs, and peanuts! I couldn't believe all three were listed! He had already eaten a handful and was scratching his arms up!

I know it is going to take time and patience during this adjustment period, but it is so much harder than i ever imagined.  I remember before I had kids, some friends of ours had a daughter that was allergic to cheese and some other things, and as a teenager, I thought that was so weird. I thought her parents were being "a little extreme." Now I can't even believe I had those feelings! People probably look at me and think the same thing, but you can't help it when it is your kid, your baby who depends on your good choices. You have to be crazy and over protective, and a little too tightly wound. I'm doing the best I can, but I may also be on the verge of an emotional breakdown, frankly because this really isn't my only problem. I am responsible for raising three little boys, and this allergy thing has just thrown a real curve ball in there for me.  It helps to know there are lots of other moms struggling in the same ways that I am. It also helps to hear I am doing an okay job once in a while (the hubby is good at this).  If you are reading this, thank you for bearing with me. I really needed to just let some feelings out.

My silly sweet boy, William is about to turn two, but he'll always be my baby. Of course I baby him too much, and like I said, the allergy thing has made that worse. But then again, he's my last, so he deserves a little baby-ing. And I kind of needed that part to last a little longer this time around anyways.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Photo and Food Journal Day 1

July 22
William didn't sleep well.
He had an extremely bad scratching episode during naptime, which left his legs bleeding.
This is how they looked at the end of the day.

What he ate today:
Kashi bar
banana bite or two
Oatmeal (a few bites)
graham crackers
squeeze snack (beet, pear, mango)
Soup (rice, chicken, brocolli, carrots)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When A Baby Becomes A Toddler

          When does a baby become a toddler?  This is a most sneaky transition. One minute you are holding a snuggly bundle in your arms, and the next that bundle is traipsing through the house exploring every nook and cranny.  Childhood in it's purest definition is a series of seamless transitions made up of learning, growing, and changing. You can't quite declare the exact moment the transformation happens. It feels like a blink, a single breath escaping from your lips, and then it's over.  Your baby isn't quite a baby anymore.  Those sleepless nights you thought would never end, have vanished and there is an unexpected sadness mixed with joy. You've survived, and your baby is growing up.

          I feel like just yesterday we were bringing William home.  Though he was our biggest baby of the three, weighing in at 9lbs. and 13oz., he still felt itty bitty, the way all newborns do. It was one of the happiest days of my life, looking back at that precious little package in his brand new car seat, sleeping soundly.  His big brothers were still spending the day with Grandma and Papa, so it was just us.  When we got home, I gave him a "tour." It was his first time seeing the place, so I thought he should know his way around. I felt overwhelmed with pride showing him his very own room. "This is for you," I told him. "I'll tell you stories in that rocking chair, and sing to you. And sometimes we'll just sit there so I can look at you and tell you  that I love you. We'll snuggle and share many special moments together. Those are all your books up there on that shelf. Most of them are from Grandma, she's kind of a book fanatic." After I finished showing him his room, we looked at his big brother's room, and the rest of the house, then we snuggled down for a good feeding.
           I will never forget those first expressions of pure contentment. I love that "drunk-baby" look newborns get when they are nursing.  That first night was perfect, not that it didn't have it's challenges, but we had finally brought home the last member of our family, and all was good. That first week he spent mostly in just a diaper.  He had jaundice and it was late August, so we tried to let the sunlight seep into his sweet baby skin. Even at night, he slept next to me in just his diaper; I rubbed his smooth little back until he fell asleep.
          I think of those days often, now.  Especially when William begs to get up on that same bed so we can wrestle. He moves as fast as his monkey legs can carry him as soon as sees our bedroom door open and bolts for the side of the bed where he bangs his little arms until I give him a boost up.  Then it's all crawling, climbing and giggles. He loves to be tickled, and this has become our little game. Him, bolting for the bed, me, pretending I can't catch him until I tackle him gently on the bed and tickle him until he is breathing hard with laughter!
          It's true, this baby has morphed into a toddler somehow. He's shown all the signs, almost humorous fits of kicking and arm flinging when he doesn't get his way, destruction of all things in his path, and the requirement of constant snacks. The only sign this toddler has failed to show is to actually toddle. He'll be 18 months on the 22nd and has only taken a few steps here and there. I guess that means he's about 95% toddler. I'll hang hang on to that baby-ness as long as I can!
          Slowly it's been slipping away, but I cherish every cuddle and kiss. Last Sunday, William fell asleep on Martin, which is quite a rarity now.  I whispered to him that it may be the last time he does that.  William was snoring loud enough for probably a few rows around us to hear. And every time his little lip went in and out, a little spit bubble formed! Sigh... so precious. He may be growing up, but he'll always be my baby!