Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sadie's First Communion

The day Sadie had been waiting for for so very long finally arrived.  

After years of dressing up and pretending and hoping a priest would mistake her three year old self for a seven year old:


It was finally time:


The siblings were somewhat less excited.  Especially Patch who informed Sadie, when she told him that today was her first communion, that it wasn't, that they were going to see her in a ballet instead.  Then he tried to convince me that he was "ready for Jesus!" by telling me that he was a half dozen times.


Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Maggie.  She walked into the church and slide into our pew.  For the hour before the Mass started, while pictures were being taken, she sat almost still and was totally silent, and looked at her book.  I had a bit more wrangling to do once Mass started, because she became much more excited, but she still only made a few small happy sounds over the course of the Mass and didn't have to be taken out once.

Patch and James on the other hand were in fine form before Mass even started.  James was the first one to have to go out in the vestibule, because he was back-arching-screaming-furious that I would not let him attempt to lay siege to the altar.  Patch followed Sadie around for a while and then decided that he need to touch one of the candles that was lit around the perimeter of the church and he joined his brother and dad in watching through the glass doors.  


The Mass was beautiful!  Sadie was glowing when she came back to her seat!



After Mass we went over to the parish hall for the reception and I snapped this photo of James destroying a cupcake.  


After Mass we gave Sadie the option of doing whatever she wanted to do.  Her choice?  Steak tacos at Chipotle.


After that she asked if we could drive down and look at the house that's about half an hour from where we now live, that we'll be closing on next month (I know!  I know!  This deserves it's own post!).

As we were driving though things got a little dramatic and I ended up being rushed back to labor and delivery per doctor's orders after I suddenly started having contractions that were exactly two minutes apart, for more than an hour. And they hurt (this also deserves its own post!)!  

I'm home now, although things seem to be starting back up every time I sit or stand, or don't lay perfectly still on my back... so I'm not sure how this is going to work out.  I was really hoping that it was from overdoing and that after a night of laying down and drinking a ton of water I'd be okay to go back to every day life.  But at this point I'm a little nervous.

I even missed decorating the cupcakes and cake that I spent Friday baking!  Paul took over while I was at the hospital though, and the kids had more cupcakes after dropping me off.  


And that was our big first communion day! I'm so happy for Sadie!  She's waited so long for this!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Day Like Today

Usually, even with all the various therapy appointments and field trips and doctors' appointments that we have going on, there's usually quite a bit of downtime and play time that fits into our schedule.  But every once in a while there's a day like today.  

I decided to write this as a Day in the Life sort of post, but it does happen to be loaded with quite a few updates... since today's appointments were some of the more important ones that we have.

I should probably add that on a normal day we're usually early to everything... but every few months we'll have a day like today, when the schedules just don't quite work the way I was hoping they would...

12:05 am- James wakes up.  He's been sleeping through the night lately, but for the last three nights he appears to have given up on sleep and is wide awake.  I lay on the floor next to his crib and hold his hand until he falls back asleep.  Thankfully no one else wakes up.


3:22 am- He wakes up again. I try getting him back to sleep.  Nothing works.  I pick him up and carry him back to our bed.  He hasn't been in the Big Bed since he was night weaned a few months ago.   He is incredibly excited.  I realize that he's smuggled a board book about penguins into bed with him when he repeatedly puts the book over my face to get me to read it.  I confiscate the book and put it on the ground.  He fusses for about five minutes over the book and then finally goes to bed.

6:16 am- I hear footsteps charging down the hallway and put my hand up to shield James. Patch and Puppy arrive.  I hear the girls voices in their rooms.  It's time to wake up.

7:05 am- Paul has fed everyone and taken the puppy outside for a short walk.  I stumble around finding clothes for Maggie and quickly throw together a lunch for her while watching the clock.  I manage to find clothes that fit, and sweep up the cereal that a certain 18 month old launched onto the ground before hustling Maggie out the door.

7:45 am- We're in the car and headed across town for a last minute neurology appointment.  I'm hoping we can squeeze it in without being late to therapy.  I got a phone call earlier in the week asking me to bring her in today, so that she can have a physical before she can be approved for a sedated EEG.  Because everyone now agrees that a non-sedated EEG is completely and utterly impossible with our girl, at this point in time.



8:02 am- We've made it to check in.  We're not even really late.  Our appointment is at 8:30, but check in starts half an hour earlier.

8:03 am- I take Maggie to the pediatric neurology waiting room.  The room is new and is a lifesaver.  She hates the regular waiting room.  She loves the new kid waiting room.  I'm actually able to fill out paper work while she plays with the toys.

8:05 am- We don't get a blood pressure reading but we do get her weight and height, which tells us that the child who was labeled "overweight" at her last physical has fallen to the 16th percentile for BMI.  At least that won't come up at our next actual (non- EEG) yearly checkup.

8:09 am- Back to the waiting room for more waiting

8:30 am- We go in to see the doctor.  He asks how everything has been going and goes over the paperwork  I filled out.  Maggie plays with her mermaid doll in the sink, says "bu-bump, bu-bump" when he listens to her heart and sits on my lap while he checks her reflexes.  Then she watches the Under the Sea music video from the Little Mermaid on my phone while one of the receptionists coordinates the EEG staff and the anesthesiologist at the hospital and after three tries we finally have a date that works for both offices.



8:50 am- We get a token for parking and head out to the car.  Can we make it to our next appointment in time (I've warned them we might be late, but I'm still aiming for on time)?

9:05 am- We're late, but at least it's only five minutes.  Maggie stomps on two puddles between the car and the front door of the therapy office.  She gives me a kiss goodbye and skips off with one of her all time favorite therapists.

9:10 am- I'm back in the car.  I think about calling Paul and asking him to get James ready but decide I have enough time to do it on my own.  As long as I leave by 9:45 we should make it to appointment number 2.

9:18 am- I get home and scrub James' hands and faces.  I've never had a child so obsessed with getting as messy as he possibly can, constantly.  He is the polar opposite of his brother, who hates being messy.

9:31 am- My phone rings and I can see by the number that it's my back doctor. I desperately need to see her.  She works osteopathic wonders on my not-so-good back injury.  I didn't get to go to my last appointment after an exceptionally long appointment with James meant it had to be cancelled.  The receptionist says they have a cancellation and can see me (this afternoon!  this afternoon! I chant in my head)... in an hour and a half...  I have to decline... there's no way I can make it.



9:38 am- James is clean and dressed and I've even managed to safely deposit him in his car seat, which is becoming a challenge since the car seat jigsaw puzzle demands his seat be in the third row to make everything fit, and getting him into the third row now that I'm in third trimester is pretty nearly impossible.

9:58 am- We're early! We've made it.  We check in with the neurology front desk.  The receptionist asks me if the doctor knew we'd be back and if he asked why I didn't just bring them together.  I say "He does know, but he didn't ask" and don't add that I'm certain he didn't ask because he realizes how impossible it would be to wrangle the two of them together.

10: 02 am- James has had enough of the waiting room.  He's ready to go home.  He repeatedly tells me "bye bye" and tries to make a break for it down the hallway.  The next half hour crawls by.

video

10:50 am- It's our turn to see the doctor.  Upon realizing that he's not getting out of his appointment James refuses to do anything other than sit on my lap and cling to my shoulders like a baby sloth.  He won't walk.  He won't crawl.  He will try to steal a marble from the doctor and eat it.  Thankfully I have an instagram video to show to the doctor of him walking outside in the hallway.

10:52 am- I explain that while I feel that he's making slow but steady progress, I have to admit that James failed pretty much every category on the ASQ.  And that his pediatrician personally called me the day after his physical to let me know that he bombed the MCHAT and needs to be seen for autism screening ASAP, which, with the current back log means who-knows-how-long because they aren't even booking appointments now.  They only book three months out.  Anything after that is a wait list.
11:10 am- James is asleep in the carrier on my chest and I have things to do.  I have a script for orthotics.  James' right foot is pigeon toes and also rolls inward dramatically and orthotics should help.  I have the order form in my hand for a sedated MRI that I hand over to the check out lady.  We narrowly avoided the MRI last time, but James still strongly prefers both his left arm and his left leg over his right side, and that isn't supposed to happen at this age, so the doctor wants to take a look at his brain, although I can tell that he strongly suspects we'll get more answers when we finally get in to see the genetics specialist than we will from this test.



11:38 am- I'm home.  I find clothes for Sadie and Patch because the tutu and super man shirt that each have chosen for the day are going to have to stay home.  I grab a coupon I've been saving for a day like today, then I go online and order Sadie a kids meal from Chipotle.  Then I help Sadie fix her hair while James dramatically sprawls on the floor.

12:03 pm- Where did the last half hour go?  We load the kids into the car.  A mud covered Lily, who's been playing in the backyard, comes back into the house.  We drive to Burger King and use the coupon for the non-allergy family members and then drive to Chipotle to pick up Sadie's super allergy friendly kids meal.  By the time everything is ready we have five minutes to make it to speech.
 
12:48 pm- We're three minutes late, but that isn't altogether a bad thing.  Her therapist's lunch ends at 12:45 and she's never ready for their class to begin when we're on time.  Because 12:45 is the end of lunch, not the beginning of the next class.  This will have given her a time to have gotten everything ready and hopefully to have gotten the other kids to the classroom.

12:51 pm- I call the kids' pediatrician nurses' line from the car, while Patch loudly sings the Holy Baby song from the DVD he's watching and I leave a message that goes something like this "Hi, this is Cammie, James' mom, and I was just calling because Doctor D was hoping that we could change the referral that Doctor N wrote last week for James to Doctor S.  His sister Maggie has already been seen by Doctor A for genetic testing and he'd really like James to be seen by the same doctor so that all their information is in one place.  He's also hoping maybe Doctor A will be able to get us in faster since he's already seeing Maggie, and that maybe we won't have to wait seven months again to get in.  I know in the last conversation I had with Doctor N she mentioned that the referral was to Doctor S, so if we could get that re-written and sent over I'd really appreciate it.  My number is...."
 
1:02 pm- The nurse from the office calls back in record time.  She takes down the information for the new referral, but isn't optimistic that it will speed up the time we're seen.  It doesn't usually work like that.



1:15 pm- Sadie skips back to the car with Paul and we head across town for a quick trip to a thrift shop I've been meaning to check out since we moved to town almost four years ago.  I need to see if they have any shirts large enough to cover my enormous baby bump.

1:52 pm- We drop Paul off for an errand he needs to do and I drive back towards Maggie's therapy office.  If it was a sunny April day we'd be getting out of the car and going to a park, but with the torrential downpour that just isn't going to happen, so we go for a little drive, leaving just enough time to slide into a parking spot...

2:28 pm- ... and pick Maggie up.  Then we head back over to get Paul.



3:00 pm- It's time for an emergency run to the store to get almond milk, because Patch is basically addicted to almond milk... I pick up a few other things, along with some nail polish, a couple hair accessories, and a small toy to give Sadie before bedtime, because she has a very big day coming up and I wanted to do something, today, to celebrate.  Then we zip home and get dinner on the table.

5:30 pm- At five thirty, almost every night, Maggie asks to take her migraine medicine and then takes herself upstairs to get ready for bed. Tonight is no exception.  Paul takes her upstairs to get ready while I get pajamas for the boys and give a certain food covered eighteen month old a bath.

6:04 pm- James decides to taste a bar of gluten free soap.  He learns that it smells much, much better than it tastes.

7:43 pm- James is asleep.  Patch is laying in his bed with Puppy (the stuffed one, not the real one).  I go downstairs to find clothes for Sadie to wear to her retreat tomorrow.



7:44 pm- I yell up from the basement to Paul that "THIS IS AN EMERGENCY!!! YOU NEED TO COME DOWN HERE NOW!!!"  By the amount of time it takes for him to get downstairs I realize that I probably should have told him that my water had not, in fact, broken.

7:45 pm- I point him over to a corner of the room where the sewer has backed up into the laundry room.  I'm thankful that it's bath water from the kids and not actual sewage (this time).

8:03 pm- Sadie and I sit on the couch together.  I paint her finger nails pale pink and her toes pale pink with giant purple sparkles. She paints my already pink nails with a thick layer of purple sparkles and does a remarkably good job.  We say a rosary together before it's time for her to go to bed.

9:48 pm- The plumber who gave us the lowest quote (50% less than the first place Paul called) arrives and manages to push through whatever mermaid Maggie attempted to send to the sea, via the upstairs toilet, out of the pipes.  Disaster (mostly) averted.  Except for the mermaid.  I'm pretty sure the mermaid is still having a bad day.

And now, at a little after eleven, it is time for me to go to bed.  Because tomorrow is a big, although much less busy (I hope), day.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Hurry, hurry, faster, faster.

For the last two Sundays as I've walked forward to receive communion I've heard a small voice just behind my right ear.

"Hurry, hurry, faster, faster, hurry, hurry.  No. Don't stop.  No, no, no.  Don't.  Faster.  I get Jesus.  I ready Jesus.  I get Jesus.  Hurry.  No stopping. Faster.  NO STOPPING!!!!  I ready for Jesus!!!  I ready.  Go, go, go."

I make gentle hushing sounds, and give thanks that his voice isn't too loud.  His Dad who was directly behind us couldn't hear him (I checked!).

This guy seems to following in the footsteps of his oldest sister, who at the age of three was also convinced that she was ready for her first communion:


Except his excitement might be even higher because he's heard all the talk about how a certain someone went in and had her first communion interview last week, and on Saturday is planning on making her first communion:


At least from his place in the carrier on my back he wasn't even close to swiping a Eucharist when he made his move the moment after I received.

When it's time to go, the next words I hear, without fail are "Bye, bye Jesus!!!  We go playground now?"

And I am silently thankful that he's not quite at stealthy at attempting to grab the edge of the chalice as Maggie was... because we had some close calls with her!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Time for a Relaunch

I haven't talked about my stores for a while because for the last 18 months the only thing in them has been the patterns for snood making that I sell.  

After five years of running my shops I was a little burnt out and with James' arrival and all the appointments my "little break" after he was born stretched on and on until I wondered if I would ever start making items for sale again.  

In the last few months I've gotten back into making things, and yesterday after talking with Paul, I decided to relaunch my shop.

There are going to be some big changes this time around.  I'm not planning on accepting custom orders at this point, because I've realized that a lot of the stress that caused me to close my shop came from very particular custom orders (the sort where I'd get 20+ emails describing exactly what a single snood needed to look like) and I'm hoping to avoid that this time while continuing to make things that I love and think others will enjoy.  

And I'm planning on keeping 100% of what's up in the store in stock, so there isn't any late night sewing of a dozen snoods that need to go out tomorrow.

The biggest change may be that I'm combing all my shops and Paul's shop (which I don't think I ever mentioned here) into one store.  

So far I only had time to work on it last night, so only a few of my favorite snoods and chaplets are up.  Today we'll be prepping Paul's items for a photo shoot and getting them up in the store, along with a few other new items I have in mind.  

At the moment most of the snoods I'm posting are the last of the fabrics I have.  The unbleached linen below is the very last of one of my most popular snoods, and I don't foresee making any more in the near future (it's one of those snoods I sewed many, many times, and at the moment I'm focusing more on making new products and posting the many snoods that have been hanging around that I already have made).  

So here's the latest!  I'm so excited to be sharing my work with you again!  

My favorite in pink!

This is one of my all time favorite cotton prints.

And this is one of my all time favorite snoods.  It's lace over silk and I love the way it holds it's shape!

The last of one of my most popular fabrics!
Rose dupioni and lace!

A chaplet for one of my favorite saints!

An Our Lady of Guadalupe Chaplet
A Saint Kateri Chaplet

A Single Decade Rosary Inspired by Sadie Kate

A Saint Anne Chaplet
Those are a few of what I've added yesterday... and as a hint about what Paul's been working on I'll show you this:







He opened an Etsy shop this summer, and sold out fairly quickly.  He's hard at work getting a new set of pipes ready to add to our new combined shop and I can't wait to see the finished products!

I'm hoping we can have them up and running tonight!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mermaids, Migraines, and the Doctor she Likes

Yesterday I watched as one of the specialists that Maggie sees walked into the children's waiting room and said hello to us.  She jumped up, put down the book and toy she'd been playing with and raced out the door.

I was ready to chase after her, but she knew where she was going.  She skipped ahead of him to his office, and ran giggling over to the sink where an empty cup was waiting for her.  Her tiny mermaid doll was going for a swim.

In the moment, while I was relating to him the huge changes since she began her new migraine medication, I didn't fully appreciate how extraordinary that appointment was, from beginning to end.

Maggie hates doctor's appointments.  She can identify a new waiting room as a doctor's office's waiting room immediately and will become inconsolable.  Usually exam rooms are slightly better (waiting rooms are the worst), but the hours we've spent in these spaces are the longest in any day or month or year.

It doesn't matter if there's a huge fish tank or twenty different toys to play with.  She will not be convinced that these places have anything redeeming about them whatsoever.

So the fact that she stayed and played in the little waiting room until it was our turn and then led the way to the doctor's office, was nothing short of miraculous in my mind.

During the exam portion of the appointment she sat on my lap while he listened to her heart and she said "bu- bump, bu- bump, bu- bump" with a smile while the stethoscope was on her chest, and while she was wiggly during the rest of the exam, she wasn't upset in the least.

This is especially exceptional, however, because this was the doctor that I'd initially feared meeting.

When we were first referred to him and I mentioned it in other appointments, a general silence would follow.  From therapists to social workers to other doctors, it seemed no one didn't know of his reputation.  But the time I met him I'd heard stories of terrified interns and terrified parents. And everyone wanted to warn me to be ready when we went in for the appointment about his bedside manner (or lack there of).

He was brilliant, everyone told me, but... not good with patients.  Or just people in general.

I was ready for anything at that first appointment.  And I was stunned when he was amazing with her and completely kind to me.

We've seen him more than a half dozen times now and he is one of two doctors that Maggie is enthusiastic about seeing.

She dances and prances and makes her mermaid doll swim around his office while he sits at his computer and types out the changes since our last appointment and they are without a doubt the least stressful doctor's appointments that we go to.

And I'm incredibly thankful that she's been lucky enough to see him.  Since getting her migraines under control she's so much happier and more playful.  I hadn't realized how much they were affecting her until she began this new medication and the instances of headaches went way, way down.

Less headaches have meant more words and more talking at home, and it's meant being happier to play with friends, and spending more time playing with her siblings instead of going upstairs and hiding under the covers because her head hurts!  Sounds don't seem to hurt her anymore.

I'm praying that the medicine continues to work and keep the headaches at bay!  I can't believe how much they'd affected life every single day before we figured out what was going on.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Maggie's GPS Part 2: A Review of the Verizon GizmoPal and the GizmoPal2

Maggie and her first GPS.
If you've read this blog for a while, you may remember the single most frightening moment of my entire life, when Maggie eloped last June and made it .6 miles, barefoot, in triple digit heat, after I noticed that she'd been playing a little too quietly in the kitchen for about five minutes.

In the month that followed I frantically researched different GPS options, ordered a GPS, sent it back because there was no way that she would keep the giant thing that arrived in the mail on (or that she would keep on any piece of clothing it was attached too).

That first GPS also only worked with T Mobile and AT&T satellites, which have zero coverage in the tiny town my parents live in, making the thing a large, useless piece of heavy plastic and metal for the time when we most desperately needed it.  

So, after starting the search a second time, I settled on the Verizon Gizmo Pal.  Verizon is the only phone company that has cellular coverage where my parents live, so it seemed like a logical place to start and I was thrilled when we found out that they had recently launched a kid's GPS.

We got one for each of the girls, so that if I ever had to chase after Maggie, Sadie would be able to call her Dad and tell him what was going on.

When the little watch/phone/GPS arrived I tested them out and wrote about it here.  The GPS allowed me to track down Nani and Sadie and tell where they were going during the first test run.

It gave me a measure of peace after that horrible eloping incident.


There were a few changes I would have made to the design of the original GPS.

It wasn't water proof, which is a big problem when you're child thinks she's a mermaid and is plunging her hands (and body) into water every chance that she can get.  And one our trip home from California she managed to yank the little button that held the clasp together out, and it was never found again.

A look at the app that tells location.
And a look at Maggie's
super scary journey last summer.
We replaced the button with a flat screw used in horse bridles (thank you Grumpa), and then, when she figured that out (I found her one day with a screw driver she somehow managed to steal and the screw opened), I found that a zip tie through the two hole closures worked perfectly and that it was entirely Maggie proof.  

I thought we'd have to replace the zip tie daily, to take the bracelet off for her bath, but found instead that she could squish her little hand and let me pull the GPS off at bath time and then she'd slide her little hand back in after with only a little difficulty.

This meant that she could likely get it on and off on her own, however by then it had become a part of what she had decided she wanted to wear, and if I tried to convince her to take it off to charge when she wasn't in the bath, hysterical tears would follow, so I was fairly confident that she'd keep it on.

And she has for the last few months.

However after a trip to Occupational Therapy that I believe involved playing with bubbles in the sink, the button that controls the GPS began to make a squishing sound, and the phone would randomly turn on and off, and call me all on its own, dozens of times a day.  The non-water-proof-ness of the phone had finally caught up with it.

I looked online and saw that the GizmoPal 1 was a thing of the past. There was a new model.

The GizmoPal 2 is water proof.  And it has a clasp like a regular watch, which seems sturdier than the button that Maggie pulled off (although securing it could be a problem if a child didn't want to keep it on, and it doesn't have the double holes in the wrist band that made it so easy to zip tie the previous model).

The only downside that I could see was that it was a bit bigger than the original model.  For reference I snapped this picture, which shows that it's slightly larger than the Fitbit Surge I got for my birthday last year.  However the size didn't seem to bother either of our girls:


After letting Sadie pick out the sticker cover for hers, and carefully selecting the one that I thought Maggie would like the best, I presented her with her "mermaid bracelet."

She let me put it on. She carefully examined the clasp.  And then she kissed it six times.

After that she tried to press on the black screen in the middle of her new phone to call me.  I showed her two times how to press the phone button so she would know how to call me.

In the half hour that followed she demonstrated that she'd understood by calling me a half dozen times from her bed and from the top of the stairs where she was lining up silk flowers she'd found in the craft closet.

The sound quality of the new phone also seems much clearer than the previous model and after testing out the GPS I found that it repeatedly found the girls' locations after 12-13 seconds.

The old phones generally took about 30 seconds.
The app does explain that location can take up to three minutes, although it's rare that it's taken over a minute when I've used it to check to make sure that everyone is where they're supposed to be.

This morning after I ran Maggie's bubble bath I told her that she could get in and she stopped and gave me a funny look and held out her wrist to let me take her watch off.  When she was done she happily put it back on, saying "mermaid watch" in her sweet little voice.


I only hope that this one lasts as long as the last one did.  Maggie is hard on her clothes, hard on her toys and yes, hard on her GPS watch and her Alert Me Band bracelet.  If we get 10 months out of it I'll be happy.

If it lasts for over a year, which I suspect it may since it's water proof, I'll be thrilled.

And in James and Patch news, the boys have claimed the old watches, which no longer make calls but still make silly little sounds, and have been playing with them for the last hour, entirely amused.  

I wasn't compensated in any way for this post!  The watches were purchased.  It's just a product that has made me feel safer and so I wanted to share for any other parents out there considering the various GPS options for kids who wander.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Bamboo Kielbasa Rice



I knew that dinner was going to be interesting last night, because I didn't have a chance to brainstorm any new meal planning ideas, or glance at the ol' Paleo cookbooks that I bought when we first discovered that Patch had allergies and were trying to figure out what they were, much less go to the store to pick up anything for the recipes I hadn't yet started thinking about.

So instead I glanced around the cupboards and into the fridge and began to assemble a lineup of ingredients on the counter.

My goal was to make something that the newly diagnosed kid couldn't just eat, but something that she would actually enjoy eating, since she's still pretty bummed about the news.

For anyone who didn't see the last post about the new allergies, the meal needed to be gluten free, dairy free, soy free, peanut free, and green pea free.  Her doctor also wants us to avoid tomatoes, oranges, caffeine, chocolate, and other more acidic foods.

Here's the recipe that I came up with after double checking labels and coming up with an idea.

Ingredients

8 servings of instant rice
(seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder and salt to taste)

6 ounces of bamboo shoots (which was half a jar)
1 link of kielbasa, cut into small pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cups of fresh baby spinach, washed
2 tbs of garlic
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs paprika
1/2 tbs garlic powder
1/2 tbs onion powder
1/2 tsp pink salt

Optional: Eggs prepared the way you like them!  I thought that scrambled would be great, but Sadie has informed me that she hates scrambled eggs, so...

In one pot I prepared the instant rice to the directions on the box, adding garlic powder, onion powder, and salt to taste.

At the same time, in frying pan, I added the olive oil and set the burner to medium heat, adding the onion, garlic, kielbasa, spinach, and bamboo shoots and cooking it for about five minutes before adding the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and salt.  After mixing the entire thing well I poured the meat and onion mixture over the now cooked rice and mixed everything together.

Then I quickly prepared a bunch of eggs over medium, since that's how Sadie loves her eggs, and served them on top (or alongside, depending on the child and whether I thought they'd eat the eggs) of the kielbasa and rice.  

It was an instant hit. Even Maggie, who is incredibly picky was found not only eating her own food, but began sneaking over to swipe bites from my plate too.


This is definitely one recipe I'll be saving for the future!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Soy, Dairy, Peanuts, Green Peas and Other Test Results I Did Not Want to Hear

I knew that today was going to be a busy day.

I started out by making a huge mistake.  I knew that Sadie had a doctor's appointment today and I knew that it was in the afternoon.

So I got up and let Maggie take her morning mermaid bubble bath and I asked Paul to look in the planner and tell me what time the appointment was at.  He reported that it was 3:15 and I went over the day in my head.

The day was full with various therapies at 9 am, 10 am, and 2 pm.  We'd have to pick Maggie up at 12, get everyone fed, and then we'd all have to go along to her speech appointment in order to make it to Sadie's allergy appointment at 3:15.

And then I glanced at my planner and realized that I'd made one of those rare slip ups that comes every couple months when there are too many appointments and things get confused.  There, in large letters, was Sadie's 3:15, but next to it, in small letters, was her pediatrician's name.  I glanced at the top of the day and gasped.

We had missed the allergy appointment at 8:15 hours earlier.  I nearly had a panic attack.  It was actually difficult to breath.

There are three doctor's offices that would have caused the same reaction: Maggie and James' neurologist, the genetic counselor we've been waiting seven months to see, and the allergist, who in the past has had three month wait times for first appointments.

There are offices that might understand a mix up and there are offices that you never ever want to call and cancel on last minute, much less give up a precious appointment, because those spots are hard to come by.

They'd squeezed us in for Sadie's first appointment and I'd missed it.

While I panicked, Paul called the office and explained what had happened.  There were too many appointments scheduled today for the kids and there'd been a mix up.

The amazing receptionist laughed and said that they could see us today at 1:30.  It would be close, getting from the 1:30 appointment on one side of town to the 3:15 (which is technically two towns away from the allergist's office) but if everything went perfectly we could make it, although Paul would be on his own taking Maggie to speech with the two boys in tow.

Disaster averted.

As a quick recap, for anyone who doesn't know our family's allergy history (since I haven't written about it much in quite a while), Maggie can't have gluten or casein or very bad things happen and she is in a huge amount of pain for weeks. Patch finally seems to be outgrowing the horrible dairy allergy that developed when he was two months old (and exclusively nursing). And Sadie was diagnosed with a wheat allergy two years ago.

James is the only officially allergy free child in the house.

So our meals already need to cater to those who can't have gluten or dairy.

But lately Sadie had been having stomach aches every single day.  Then the eczema came back.  Then the hives.  I mentioned it to her doctor and her doctor sent over a referral to Patch's allergist (Sadie's allergy had been diagnosed by her old pediatrician through a blood test).

We arrived early at the allergist's office and I explained the symptoms.  He looked back at her chart and said that the wheat reading was very low, but that it did sound like she likely had celiacs (although testing for that would be nearly impossible since it would involve her eating wheat for the month before the test, and wheat makes her incredibly sick... so that's out of the question).

After listening to her description of her symptoms, he doubted that she had any new allergies, but he said we could test her to know for certain.

The skin prick test was applied and we waited, hoping for good news.  I kept checking her back, reminding myself from Patch's appointments that one of the results was a control poke and that that could look pretty bad.

As I watched the spots grow I wondered if each of the four areas had controls.  And did that one have two?  Or three?

These things can look worse than they are, I reminded myself, thinking of Patch's past appointments.

Then the doctor returned and jotted down the results.

She was negative for wheat, he explained, but giving her wheat now was out of the question because of her past reactions (which involve her stomach getting really, really sick).

And she had tested positive for allergies to soy, green peas, and dairy.

And the horrible looking circle on her back?  That was a very positive test for peanuts.  In fact, her test came back in the most sensitive category for peanuts.

He went on to explain that it sounds as though she has reflux too and would benefit from a low acidic diet, cutting back on juices, sodas, and caffeine (no problem), along with oranges, chocolate, and tomatoes and any other acidic foods that we eat.

He said that if she were severely allergic to pollen that could influence the results, but since her hay fever allergies seem to be mild, that didn't offer much hope.

So we're totally eliminating all of the allergens for the time being and if that helps he said we may be able to test some of the positives again to see if they are making her sick.

It isn't the end of the world... okay, except to Sadie... who it sort of does feel like the end of the world... because no dairy, wheat, soy, peanuts?  That's a lot when you're seven...

We've done this whole allergy thing for over three years now.  We've even done an elimination diet when Patch's reactions were so severe where we eliminated all the major allergens, while we waited for his appointment (which was three months off) for testing.

I still feel horrible for her though.  And a little bit for me (if i'm totally honest)... because I love cooking with cheese and butter... and after doing these years of allergen free cooking and baking (and giving up dairy for over a year when I was nursing Patch), dairy is the hardest for me to avoid using.

And because I I know this means far more cooking from scratch again... which is hard when you're juggling 50-some doctor and therapy appointments every month.  The goal to make the schedule doable on a daily basis, was one meal from scratch, one breakfast meal that was simple and allergy friendly, and one meal using those awesome g.f. options from Aldi... and that will be more difficult now.

Hopefully though it will mean an end all the allergy problems we've been seeing, and that we'll be avoiding altogether whatever might have happened if we hadn't found out about the peanut allergy, since the test results severity is rather frightening (even as a mom with an epi pen in every bag).

And maybe this will mean more allergy friendly recipes popping up again here in the near future.

If I can find the time to sit down and jot them down with all the baking and cooking from scratch that's going to have to happen!    

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Throwing Away My Vote

I've spent this election cycle  feeling far more bewildered than I have during any election in my entire life.  And for the most part I've avoided talking about it and have especially avoided blogging about it.

Don't worry, this blog isn't going to suddenly be all about politics. This Political Science Major was sick of the subect by the time she graduated, became sicker of it still working at a political organization that lobbied for nuclear disarmament, and wouldn't mind never thinking of it again after this particularly odious election season.

Or now... To be totally honest, what I'd really like is to stop thinking about it Right Now... But since that isn't going to happen... Onward...

For those who don't know me, my political leanings have swung from one end of the political spectrum to the other over the years (I'm not kidding at all.. I considered myself a Communist for at least a solid year), although those silly little tests that pop up from time to time on Facebook tell me that I've landed (at the moment) somewhere solidly in the middle.  

Although that's not really true at all.  I find myself on the far right on some issues, while leaning to the left on others. I agree with my very liberal friends on some issues and with my very conservative friends on others.  
I find that my beliefs in general line up with what the Church teaches and I try not to confuse my reluctant political affiliation with my religious beliefs.

And I find the idea of either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as president to be equally terrifying.  
You see, I do feel deep down that a vote for Hillary would be in violation of my conscience.  But I know that a vote for Trump would also involve dragging my conscience through the mud.

Yes, I've heard the arguments from my conservative friends, most of who are not particularly happy with the idea of Trump as a candidate, but who solidly believe that Hillary would be so much worse.  But I just can't talk myself into believing it.  

Not when his own words constantly expose his thoughts to the world.

I don't think that Hillary would be better.  I won't be voting for her either.  

I just know that this time I'm not going to hold my nose when I vote.  

I've been repeatedly told that I'm just listening to propaganda that's causing me to not join in the Trump fandom, but that simply isn't true.  The things that turn my stomach are his own word.  I could list all the ways that he's made it impossible for me to cast a vote for him, but Bonnie has already done a wonderful job of that here.     


And that brings me to the one phrase that I've heard bandied about all too frequently this primary season, that I really dislike.  It's the one thing I've heard repeated that makes me wince and shake my head:

"If you don't vote for one of the main candidates you're throwing away your vote."

I'm sorry.

No.  

No.
Just no.  

I think that the vast majority of people who say this, say it because they've heard it over and over again and don't realize that they sort of sound like school yard bullies trying to force people to go against their consciences, to cast a vote for someone they actively dislike and disagree with.  

No.  I will not be throwing away my vote.  I'll be voting for the person who I believe will be the best candidate for president, even if the majority of Americans don't agree with me.  

In the meantime I'll be hoping that someone doesn't get enough delegates and that we end up with a brokered convention and a candidate that I can at least stomach casting a vote for.

I'll do it while harboring a small bit of hope that maybe large numbers of people will be so disenchanted with the choices that we're being given that they'll use their votes to cry out for a better candidate.  

And I'll use my vote to tell the Republican Party that they can't ride along on the merits of past decades as the "party of life" while putting forth candidates who have been vocally for abortion, who may attempt to hit a few prolife talking points, while flipping back and forth on the issue on any given day of the week (example: Abortion is evil!  Planned Parenthood is good!  There should be criminal charges for those who've had abortions!  I won't change any laws on abortion as President!).  

I'll cast my vote and be able to sleep soundly knowing that I have't compromised myself and my beliefs by voting for the lesser of two evils.  

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During the Michigan primary Sadie and I spent the day talking about the political process in our country.  

"Who are you going to vote for?" she kept asking me.  I told her that I wasn't sure.  There was this guy, the guy that I actually agreed with, that I thought would be a better president.  And then there was another guy, who I don't think would be a great president, and who I disagree with quite a bit, but who I think would be way, way better than the guy that would be the worst option our party could pick.

I finally explained my predicament and she looked at me like I'd lost my mind.  How was I even thinking of voting for someone who I didn't think would do the best job?  Her little idealistic seven year old mind was obviously distressed.  She gave me a look that basically said "Mom, you know the answer to this question" and I realized that I did.  

And in that moment it became perfectly clear who I should vote for.  The person who I thought was best suited for the job.  I walked into the ballot box and checked off his name, knowing that he was a long shot, but hoping that maybe others would feel the same.  

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I'm not going to vote for the candidate that might not be as bad as the other candidate because I'm afraid.  

I'm not going to vote for one evil in an attempt to stop another.  

I'm going to vote for the person that I believe is the best for the job.  And I'm going to pray that others do that same.  I'll pray that others don't vote out of fear or anger, but come from a place of love for our country and for the other people who live alongside us in it.  

Maybe, just maybe, if enough people do that, we'll be able to begin to move away from a system where so many people feel that voting for the lesser of two sub par candidates is the best that we can expect on any given election year.