Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Greyden Roy at 4 Years Old

Hey there Roy Boy,

It seems to be my rhythm these days that I post the yearly updates for you and your brother a few months late. Better late than never, though, right? I just want to be able to remember your personalities and quirks, the things that made me and your daddy laugh when you were these ages, the things that made you YOU.


You turned four years old on July 28th, 2016, and you were excitedly talking about it for at least the six months prior. You just couldn't wait for the big day.

We had a few small get-togethers with family and friends, and those were good enough "parties" for you. You of course got more presents than we knew what to do with, but you loved it all.

Let's see, what are you like at age 4...


You are loud and excited. Oh so loud and excited. You really struggle turning the volume down, even in just normal face-to-face conversation. You just can't help but belt out whatever you want to say with extreme enthusiasm. You are vocal and expressive and SO excited about life. It takes very little to get you wound up, wiggling and jumping around and shouting out goofy words. It's hard to get you to sit still long because you're easily distracted and ready to move on to the next thing. You're a very happy-go-lucky boy about most things, and even when something upsets you, you brush it off a moment later. Tears rarely last more than a minute or two, and you're incredibly quick to forgive.


You have never-ending energy and really don't sleep much. You're always wired at night time and rarely fall asleep quickly. Almost every night you get out of bed at least twice between the time we officially tell you goodnight and the time we climb into bed ourselves. You have all kinds of excuses for getting out of bed - you're hot, you're cold, you can't get your covers pulled on correctly, you need us to wipe your bottom, you need water, you can't find your stuffed animal...the list goes on and on until Daddy and I are about to pull our hair out. And then you're almost always up early in the morning, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to seize the day. You have to wait until your clock turns green at 7am to come out of your room, and then you'll go wake up Daddy and stick your face into his and announce, "Daddy, it's green o'clock!" Sometimes you'll sleep in until 8:45 or so, but that's a rarity. I swear you need less sleep than me. I'm not sure how you do it.


You love music and singing, and if you're not talking then you're usually singing. You frequently sing about things as you're doing them, making up words and the tune as you go. You can still sing on pitch fairly well, as you've been able to do since you were two. It still impresses me and I just hope that you continue to like singing as you grow older. You have a strong, clear voice and I'd hate to see your ability to sing go to waste...but at the same time I am determined to not force my dreams onto you or your brother. I want to let you grow to pursue your OWN dreams, even if that doesn't include singing as I've always wished I could. :)


You still have an ornery streak as you have for a while. It's not uncommon for you say things that are intentionally hurtful or self-serving, and so we've been working on learning to use our words to love people and not be mean. You can be very sneaky and are very quick to use white lies to cover up things you've done if you're worried what you did was wrong. You're incredibly skilled at coming up with quick excuses that sound logical, and I oftentimes find myself stumbling over my words as I try to respond to your reasonable-sounding explanations for your misbehavior. When we do discipline you, your face will become downcast and you'll immediately apologize in a remorseful voice. But then two seconds later you'll be grinning and laughing again. I'm never sure if our lessons and disciplines are getting through to your heart, or if you're just acting the way you believe we want you to so that the moment will pass. It's a tricky thing.


You're still very accident-prone and give me about 800 panic attacks per day. Every time I hear a thump or bang or yell, my heart jumps through my chest wondering if you're hurt. You always have bruises and scrapes and cuts. When you run on the pavement, your daddy and I both cringe inside because you trip and fall so frequently. You're falling less than you used to, thank goodness, but it still happens.


You love cars and action figures and all kinds of sports. You love, LOVE playing on a soccer team. When your team scrimmages, you keep track of the score and run over to me and daddy on the sidelines to enthusiastically update us on the points after each goal. You always want to play football in the house or throw a frisbee outside or kick a soccer ball or swing a bat. Or wrestle. Basically anything physical and competitive, you love it. In fact, you turn almost everything into a competition. It seems to be in your blood. It doesn't matter if you're getting dressed, brushing your teeth, cleaning up toys, or getting in the car - everything is a race or a test to see who can win. Oftentimes we don't even know we're competing with you until we lose.


You also love to play make believe, and even when playing by yourself, we'll overhear you talking for your action figures, having them live out their pretend lives. You love playing nearly anything with your brother. He is most definitely your best friend and I would say you are probably his now as well, although he may not willingly admit it. Your daddy and I felt like we waited so long for you two to get along, and sometimes we wondered if the day would ever come when you'd play together. Now you've become favorite playmates and do almost everything together, and your daddy and I talk quite frequently about how incredibly happy it makes our hearts to see you loving and enjoying each other.


You're in the 4s class at preschool now, and since starting this school year you've finally learned how to hold a pencil correctly, hurray! And you're totally a lefty, which is just yet another genetic quirk of yours that we've found. (Add that to your brown eyes, two partially webbed toes on each foot, and, bless-your-heart, rare health conditions.) Now that you can hold a writing utensil, you're starting to write and draw more which is precious. You still really don't like coloring much, and your coloring pictures from school often crack me up. It always looks like you scribbled the absolute minimum necessary to get your teacher's approval so she'll call it done. But you are now writing your name and drawing pictures on your own accord, and that's very exciting.


In terms of health, you're growing well, learning well, and abounding in energy. At your 4-year checkup in August you were 40 inches tall (42nd percentile) and weighed 37.9 lbs (67th percentile). You continue to be on your restricted diet and handle it like a champ. You're very trustworthy and careful with your restrictions, but at the same time you don't let them get you down. Very rarely do you seem sad or left out when you can't eat what others are eating around you. I thank God for your easy-going personality, because it's made this journey with you so much easier, on both you and everyone around you.


We're so grateful to have you in our lives, little buddy. You make us laugh and challenge us, and we can't imagine our lives without you.

Love you lots,
Mommy

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Greyden Roy: 4-Year-Old Interview

Our littlest man turned 4 years old last Thursday! We had a fairly low-key celebration with him this year, having several little mini-parties with just a couple friends or family. I'll be writing a longer post about him in the near future, with pictures and updates on his big 4-year-old personality. But in the meantime, in keeping with tradition, I decided to start doing interviews with him at each of his birthdays as I have with Krew. So below you'll find his 4-year-old interview. Enjoy. :)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Krewson Lee at 6 Years Old

Dear Sweet Krew,

You are now 6 years old.  You've actually been 6 for 2 1/2 months now, as your birthday was on March 5th, but your mommy here is still working on getting her act together and so is a wee bit behind on writing life updates. :)

I look at you standing next to me sometimes and it feels odd to have a child this old and large.  Not that you're large at all, you're actually still on the smaller end of the spectrum for your age, but it still amazes me that a baby that came out of my body is now so big and not at all a baby anymore. You're a KID.


Your personality has stayed pretty consistent over time.  You are our deep thinker, deep feeler, questioning, creative child. You are very independent, responsible, and eager to please, often gladly helping around the house and doing lists of tasks we ask you to do (e.g. get dressed, brush your teeth, put on shoes, and finish your breakfast). You are a perfectionist, wanting everything to be done just right, and because I have personally struggled with this myself I'm trying to teach you at a young age to let it go.  You cry very easily and often, not because you're demanding attention (really, you most often hate having attention on you) but rather because everything strikes your heart and stirs up emotions in you, and you have a hard time turning off the emotions before they pour out from your eyes as tears. We have to be very careful about what movies we let you see or what stories we tell you, and you actually encourage us to implement these restrictions.  We've all come to learn that if you're exposed to anything emotional, whether it be happy or discouraging, you will have a hard time erasing it from your mind and will feel consumed to the point that you are sometimes unable to fall asleep at night.  Mommy here understands this, because I'm also this way.


We have to handle discipline with you carefully. When you are in a stable mood, we can talk to you about our frustrations or concerns and you are very receptive and understanding and will quickly adjust your behavior. However, if we have to discipline you in a time of high emotion, it can easily derail you into a full meltdown. You will sob and scream and find yourself unable to calm down and begin saying self-deprecating things such as, "I'm never going to [allow myself] do XYZ again because I'm a such a bad person!!!"  The frequency of these types of meltdowns goes up and down over time, with weeks or months without one and then a period of time where you'll have one every other day.  I've determined that there is a direct correlation between the frequency of these meltdowns and the number of parenting books I'm reading at any given moment. :)


You are a very creative boy, frequently building things out of cardboard boxes, tape, paper, and markers. You also love to draw and your drawings always fascinate me because you include details I never would have thought of.  Legos are your favorite toy, and you will spend hours building, either following the instructions that come with the sets or making up your own creations.  You never played make-believe much as a toddler, but it is one of Greyden's favorite activities and so I see you doing more and more of it as you and he become better friends.



Speaking of which, you two really are becoming good friends.  And it makes my heart SO happy. You do all sorts of things together and genuinely seem to care about and love each other.  Yes, you get into your sibling squabbles, but on the whole you do way more playing together than you do arguing or fighting. It's become such a blessing as you've started turning to each other more for entertainment and expecting it less from your daddy and me.  Also, you watch out for your little brother and oftentimes do things to take care of him when it's within your abilities.  It's the sweetest thing ever. You've turned into an awesome big brother.


You just graduated from transitional kindergarten at the preschool this past week and will start kindergarten at the local elementary school on July 14th in Track 2. I'm excited for this new stage in your life and really think you're going to do well once you get over the anxieties of dealing with new people in a new place.  I know it's going to be scary and overwhelming and basically your worst nightmare at first, but then I know you'll make friends and it will become your new normal and you'll love it.


I really think math and science are going to be your favorite subjects in school, as you love learning science facts from books and can already do quite a bit of addition and subtraction of numbers in your head. You also know all of your letters and their sounds, but you're not yet reading a ton of words and cannot yet sit down with a beginner's reader book and read to yourself. Which is totally ok with your daddy and me. You'll get there at your own pace.



You're now in your third season of soccer (they run twice per year) and, as it's been from season one, you fluctuate between having rock-star days and days where you're just not in the mood. You're a pretty decent little soccer player when you apply yourself, but being aggressive isn't quite your thing. So you tend to keep your distance from the mob of kicking children and wait for the ball to pop out so you can kick it without being body slammed by five other kids.


We also just had you join the swim team at the nearby pool. You've only gone to three practices but you've already learned to do a kneeling dive and the breaststroke kick which is so neat to watch. It took a lot of talking and some tough parenting and bribing to get you to attend the first practice, but now that you've gotten past the anxieties and awkwardness of that first time, you seem to be pretty happy to go.  We're going to have to do some major praying before the first swim meet.  I'm not sure how you'll feel when it's unfamiliar children swimming next to you and there are a million parents watching. That's really not your cup of tea. But I really do think you could be awesome at it if you can be brave and get past your fear. You're a pretty good little swimmer. :)


Alright buddy boy, I think that's about it for now. You bring so much joy to our lives and we love you so much. I'm so excited to watch you continue to grow into the young man you're becoming. You challenge me, and God grows me through that, and at the same time my heart just swells with my love for you. I can't wait to see what the future holds for you and to be there by your side. :)

Love,
Your Momma

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Emotions in the days before an endoscopy, and other ramblings on empathy and life.

(I wrote much of this blog post in my car on my work commute using voice-to-text. Ahhhhh the luxuries of technology! Also, to all you people unfamiliar with endoscopies [which is a very large proportion of you I'm sure], the term "scope" is just a shorthand way of saying "endoscopy," and it's when they put a person under anesthesia, put a tube down their throat with a camera to inspect the esophagus, stomach, and intestine, and also oftentimes take biopsies while they're looking. Also, if you'd like to catch up on our health journey with Greyden and know why he's having an endoscopy tomorrow, you can read about that in the following posts, listed in chronological order:

And then life got crazier.
Where We Are Now
God (in)couraged me
National Eosinophil Awareness Week: Greyden's Story
Update on Greyden and Me
Cyclic Vomiting? FPIES? Whatever it is, we don't like it.
The Teal Pumpkin Project and Reflections on a Year Ago
Snoke Family Update Christmas 2015

And now, on to our featured presentation...)

Greyden has an endoscopy tomorrow. But Sunday was the day when all of my anxieties over it crashed in on me.

Ironically, Sunday morning’s sermon at church was about anxiety and worry. And yet, I had the hardest time figuring out how to filter my concerns over the endoscopy through the lessons in the sermon. I found myself choking up during the service, with a knot filling my throat, if I allowed myself for even a moment to ponder on the upcoming scope. Instead, I thought about all the other anxieties or worries in my life that would fill my head on a more typical day, and tried to let them be the focus of my sermon application. I succeeded somewhat. I didn't cry during the service, but I'm also not sure how much I actually learned.

That afternoon Dave was at frisbee practice, I was home with the kids, and I found myself just falling apart. I was snapping at my children over everything and felt like there were a million inputs flying at me from every direction. My head was spinning, my heart pounding. My whole life felt like too much, everything around me was screaming at me to pay attention to it, fix it, clean it, or do something with it. I was trying to maintain everything and get on top of it, but I couldn’t, and my boys were constantly interrupting me and I wanted to scream. I felt so out of control. I knew I was overwhelmed with anxiety and was on the verge of a panic attack. But I had no idea why. When Dave finally came home from his frisbee practice, I immediately told him I was really struggling with anxiety, and without warning my tears started to fall. We went upstairs and laid on our bed for a while and I just cried and cried to him.

We talked and I just let all my fears and anxieties pour out. It allowed me to sort through my thoughts. I was able to realize that the pending endoscopy for Greyden had my insides in turmoil. I felt so at a loss for control as a parent. It’s like we had this huge life-altering test coming up, but there was no way to study or prepare for it, and the results of the test could affect our future dramatically. I then realized that because I felt so helpless when it came to Greyden's endoscopy, I was trying to tighten my control on everything else in my life around me. I wanted my kids to do exactly what I said, I wanted my house to be perfectly clean and in order, I wanted my to-do list to be completed. So it felt like everything that wasn't perfect was screaming at me to make it perfect. I was fighting ridiculously hard for all these things to be controlled to a T, unleashing my frustrations on my children if they dared to cross me, all the while knowing that none of these expectations were even slightly reasonable at this time in our lives. I was just desperately seeking a sense of control in the midst of what was going on. Obviously I could not attain that control, and so I was feeling panicked and anxious because of it. All of these thoughts and realizations poured out of my mouth, and once I was able to acknowledge it all and cry to Dave, I finally felt the pressure around my heart and in my throat release. (He sure is an awesome husband, btw, handling my crying fits so well.)

Since then, I have been much calmer. I still feel anxious at times, but I haven't had that constant lump in my throat like I'm about to have a breakdown. These endoscopies are just so incredibly nerve-racking for me. The results that we obtain from them are so influential on our lives, and especially Greyden's. After every scope we’ve had to make changes to our lives, sometimes drastic changes. The scopes also give the status of Greyden’s health, which is obviously a huge concern for us and the whole reason we’re going through any of this. At this point for this endoscopy, I’m allowing myself to neither feel hope nor fear the worst. His last scope was the first improved (although still not good enough) one of the four he’s had in the last year and a half. The first three were bad and got worse with each one. I told a friend this morning that I think after a lot of bad news you get scared to let your mind set on something good because then the bad would be that much more painful. That’s simply where I’m at - not expecting good but not assuming the bad, either. On top of concerns over the results, there is the difficulty - emotionally, mentally, and logistically - of putting Greyden through these procedures. It absolutely breaks my heart to see him scared, and there is no way around it. We’re taking him to the hospital and allowing strangers to cover him in tubes and stickers, poking and prodding at him. The worst part is when they roll him away from us on his hospital bed, wide-awake and completely unsedated, to take him back to the procedure room. I know that is always the scariest part for him, and I’m pretty sure I cry every time. Then we sit in the waiting room and wait. Usually my heart pounds the whole time and I can’t do anything but sit there and try to keep my mind blank so I don’t freak out about my child being under anesthesia with a bunch of medical professionals poking at him. Then after a short but seemingly long time, we meet with the doctor to hear the initial results, and my heart continues to nearly pound out of my chest. Then, whether the results are good or bad, there is the walking into the recovery room and seeing your baby covered in tubes, sleeping on the bed, with monitors hooked up to him all over the place. It all wrenches at your heart on so many levels.

So as we approach Greyden’s endoscopy tomorrow morning, I would love any and all prayers we can get. Although we are in a much better place than we were a year ago, it is still very emotional and stressful, wondering what the results will be and what the future holds.

I share my emotions regarding Greyden’s endscopy for two reasons. One, it is an outlet for me. Sometimes I just want to get things off my chest. But two, I want to give a glimpse, even if just a little, into the intricacies of what it’s like to go through such situations. We are very obviously not the only family struggling with a child with health issues or other issues. And really, we are surrounded by so many loving people who are supporting us. But there are so many hard things in life that so many people go through, much much worse things than us, and although we are aware that they are going through those things, we never understand the depth of the emotional, mental, or physical difficulties of what they are experiencing. It has been on my heart for a while now that we need to stop raising awareness and start raising empathy. We can be aware of so many hard life situations, sicknesses, diseases, or losses, but until we think about what it's like to be in those people’s shoes, we don't understand the complexities of what they are going through and really can’t know how to support and love them in the best way. But once we are able to even briefly experience what they are experiencing - even if it’s just through the description in a blog or an honest conversation - it brings to light so much, and gives us so much direction as to how to love them best in this season of their lives. I'm not just saying this for Greyden or for Dave and me, but for all the kids and families of kids in similar situations, and even beyond that to the hurt and suffering I see around me. I see all of these awareness campaigns, but really I think we need empathy campaigns. We need to love on one another, not just see and acknowledge each other and say, “I see you’ve got that difficulty. Bummer.” It’s not just a bummer. This is someone’s life.

What we are going through with Greyden is just a little blip compared to what some other parents are going through with their children. But the experiences we've had with Greyden have helped me to understand more fully and feel so much more deeply when I hear about other families’ struggles. When I hear about a parent with a scary health concern for a child, my heart now breaks on a much different level than it did before. When I hear about a child going into surgery or going through a difficult health procedure, I just want to reach out and hug those parents and that child as my heart aches with a new level of understanding. I don’t think God has us go through these situations simply so we can understand and comfort others going through the same, but I do think it’s a silver lining to it all. We can now empathize and offer sympathy and hope to someone who may really need it in a trying time.

At the same time, through all of this, I have learned to have such a new hope and joy in simply living the life that God has given me here and now. I can’t even describe it. Just this solid, constant drive to continue moving forward in life no matter what comes, to continue seeking Him and His will, to continue doing what He wants me to do and continue taking care of what He charges me with. And to do it with an uplifted heart. I have my down days, my days filled with attitude, don’t get me wrong. But I now know what it means to struggle and hurt and be afraid, but to still have hope for a better day, most likely here on earth but if not, in heaven. And I am more satisfied and fulfilled now than I ever was in the past, even before health scares and endoscopies and food allergies galore. Perhaps it’s spiritual maturity or life maturity, but either way, it appears that I’ve grown up in a way I didn’t know I could. Thanks to Jesus, God’s got my heart in His hands and I know I’m taken care of. And so even though I’d say life is more difficult now than I expected it would be, it also feels more right and acceptable than I knew it could be. It’s like I now know that I’ve got the correct life focus, and things feel constant even when they aren’t, because I’ve got my eyes on my Lord and I trust Him to lead me where He wants me, even if it’s a downright miserable place in my opinion. And really, I’d much rather have that than a life down easy street. It’s much better to know that you’re where you’re supposed to be and have it hard than to be where you’re not supposed to be and have it easy.

Alright, how’s that for some long ramblings? :)

Thanks for reading, friends. Go love someone with some empathy. And thank you for any prayers you send up on our behalf - they are appreciated more than you know.

Monday, April 25, 2016

My Favorite Podcasts

I'm a learner.  I love, love, love to learn. Which typically would mean I'd want to read and research a lot, but I'm finding it hard to find the time to sit down with a book these days.  Too many other things screaming my name.

What's a girl to do?

Enter podcasts.

Podcasts are the bomb-diggity, people.  I love them.  No matter my mood, no matter what I'm interested in, there always seems to be a podcast for that.

I listen to podcasts while I cook, while I clean, while I do laundry, while I work in the yard, and while I drive.  Basically anytime when I'm doing something that does not require all my brain power, and I'm simultaneously also not also talking to someone (such as my husband or children), then I flip on a podcast. It allows me to ingest information like I would from reading, but I can keep my hands and eyes free to do other things.

I'm subscribed to so many different types of podcasts; homemaking, whole foods diets, natural living, green living, autoimmunity, clutter control, organization, productivity, Christianity, parenting, even biostatistics.  If there's something you're interested in, there's probably a podcast for that.

If you're not familiar with podcasts, you can listen to them on any podcast app on your phone.  You can also often listen to them in iTunes on your computer or even through the podcast's associated website.  I almost exclusively use my iPhone.  I don't use the iPhone's generic podcast app, ever since a time period when the app stopped working for me and I was devastated to lose track of all my subscriptions (it was quite a long list of podcasts to try to remember).  Since that frustrating situation, I've been using the app iCatcher! which I've been very happy with.  It did cost a small amount of money, but it's been totally worth it.  It's incredibly customizable which I love and it allows me to keep personal lists of podcasts so I can easily select the topic I'm interested in at the current moment.

Below are my current favorites, sorted by category.  You should look them up in your favorite podcast app or iTunes if their topic interests you. :)  I have a ton others that I listen to also, but these are the ones that I currently tend to gravitate toward when new episodes come out.  My favorites tend to fluctuate over time, so in a couple months I may have a different list.  After you look through this list, let me know if you have any personal favorites in these categories that I should know about!

Kara's Current Favorite Podcasts as of April 2016

Cleaning/Organization:
A Slob Comes Clean
Organize 365 Podcast

Christian homemaking:
The Homemaking Foundations Podcast

Being a mom:
Power of Moms Radio

Christianity:
The Busy Mom

General Health:
The Paleo Women Podcast
Healthy Living with Angela Busby
Balanced Bites
The Paleo View

Autoimmunity:
Autoimmune Adventures
Phoenix Helix