Thursday, November 13, 2014

And then life got crazier.

Life. It has been a bit insane lately, friends.

We’ve in a very backward way stumbled across a lot of health issues with our littlest guy, Greyden. The last month has involved various doctors’ appointments with a urologist, a pediatric surgeon, and a pediatric GI doctor, along with a testicular ultrasound, an upper GI (x-ray), an abdominal ultrasound, testicular surgery, possible diagnosis with cyclic vomiting syndrome, an endoscopy, diagnosis of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), and now allergy testing and strict diet changes in the very near future.

Meanwhile, I have been undergoing a strict elimination/autoimmune diet for myself, which has drastically changed my health around but unfortunately takes a ridiculous amount of my time and energy to maintain. And holy camoly is it expensive. I am still struggling with fatigue, some GI issues, brain fog, and other autoimmune-type responses, but they are drastically lessening in intensity and frequency, so I’m grateful for that. I’m undergoing an endoscopy next week to further investigate my GI issues. I will be curious to see if I have signs of EoE, which Greyden was just diagnosed with, since it is hereditary.

All in all, we’re holding on. I am researching and reading CONSTANTLY in my free time, trying to learn about autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, and how to turn them around through diet and lifestyle changes. My thoughts are constantly spinning and I feel like I’m back in grad school with the way my brain hurts daily. At the same time, my faith in functional medicine and the importance of diet has skyrocketed as I’ve seen their effects on my own health over the last month and have learned about numerous others who have experienced similar results. I don’t want myself or Greyden to be required to take medications for the rest of our lives, nor do I want our health to worsen. And obviously I also want to protect Krew, who so far has seemed to avoid the inheritance of my unhealthy genetics, but who knows what potentially lies in his future.

In the midst of all this, I, for the first time in my life, found myself in a situation where I was reaching out to people, uninhibitedly leaning on them, and asking for meals to be brought to us because the stress of keeping up with our lives was too much. It was a new place to be in, but it was enlightening and taught me the importance of honesty and transparency with those around us. It showed me how much people care, how they’ll lift you up in prayer and show up in unexpected ways to support you, if you only tell them your struggles. I also found myself in a new place in my relationship with God. In the days leading up to Greyden’s examinations of his abdomen, I wrestled with the realization that we had the potential for receiving very bad news. I somehow internally accepted this possibility, and yet I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God would give me the grace and strength to get through it. I cried many tears and ate very little during those days, but I also reached a new acceptance of the brokenness of this life and the sovereignty of God’s will. It was this internal peace and calm, this steadfast knowledge that whatever was coming, I would make it through with God by my side. I know that this new leap in faith for me was only one of the many “good” things that God brought through our recent and current struggles.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” - Romans 8:28

To finish up, I want to share an excerpt from a book I’m currently reading called “Women and Stress: Practical Ways to Manage Tension” by Jean Lush. Jean shares the story of a woman who experienced miscarriage and the woman's thoughts as she walked through her intense grief afterward. This woman’s words really touched home with me regarding my recent growth in faith through the struggles we’ve been experiencing:

“I know without a doubt that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Rom 8:28). Some people may read this verse and interpret it this way: God works pain and joy, good and evil into my life for my good. Thus miscarriage, stillbirth, or any other loss is inflicted upon me by God in order to accomplish good in my life. I prefer to look at it another way. God did not afflict us with the death of our baby to work a certain “good” or growth into our lives. Rather, our lives were touched by the pain of human experience, and in the process of groping for answers and understanding, growth was produced. God’s involvement with us in that growth process gave us hope, strength, tenacity, and comfort. As we came to grips with our anger and depression and guilt, God stepped into our human weakness and lifted us out of the depths of despair. That is how God worked good into our lives during our loss.”

Amen, sister. God is by our side.  He loves us, He’s using the horrible fallenness of this world to grow us, and He’s holding us through the struggles and pain.

Friday, September 19, 2014

I am not my body.

If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know that I was diagnosed with celiac disease three months ago and discovered that I have soy intolerance shortly after. You know it’s been a rough adjustment in terms of changing my lifestyle. If you’re a friend of mine outside the internet world, you may also know that despite valiant efforts, my health is still far from fixed. I’m still bloated all the time and almost daily battle with nausea or abdominal cramps and pain. I’m tired a LOT. I still get hit by brain fog that feels like a massive hangover. I still get smacked with anxiety and brief times of depression.

Additionally, my eyes and mouth are now dry 24/7. I can no longer wear contact lenses due to this dryness and due to new allergies I have developed in response to the deposits my tears put on the contacts. I get headaches, which are a fairly recent development. Within the last month, my hair has started falling out more than usual. Somewhat surprisingly but I guess not so much so, I had bloodwork done this week that suggests that I have another autoimmune disease beyond celiac disease. I’m headed in to see a rheumatologist for further testing sometime in the near future.

Basically, it seems that my body is falling apart. And not because something is attacking it. It is falling apart because it’s attacking itself.

This is something I’ve had a hard time grasping and accepting. It’s very disturbing to think that my body is hurting me, trying to kill me. I’ve pondered this countless times, wondered at it, struggled with it as my new reality.

And I’ve come to a new realization through this, a realization that gives me some hope and comfort. It’s this:

I am not my body.

I am me, Kara, a soul. I live in this body. Yes, I tend to identify with it and call it me, but it’s not me. I am the soul living within this vessel, this transportation device I’ve been given to drive through this life. My body is not me, and I don’t have to accept it as me. I should see it as my vehicle, a vehicle I need to care for and mend during breakdowns. It is my responsibility to maintain it, but it isn’t actually me. I have no need to get too attached to it or to take its failings as a sign of failure on my part. It is a fallible vessel made from dirt, trying to function in a broken world.

I am my soul. I am Kara, and God knows my name. I am something bigger and deeper and so much more amazing than this body. And God loves my soul, so much so that he sent His Son to die for me so I could be with Him in eternity and have hope in this life.

And although this is the one body I’ve been given for this world, and it’s not treating me so well right now, it’s not the end-all-be-all. It’s what I have now, but it’s not what I have forever. I now put my hope in heaven, my hope in that day when we’re all healed and the suffering ends and we’re all together in our resurrected bodies. In moments when I literally feel like I’m falling apart and my face is stained with tears of frustration and pain, I can look upward and know that a better day is coming. God loves me, and He’s given me far more to look forward to, even after this body fails me.

I am not my body.  Praise Him for that.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Roy Boy at 2 Years

Two years old, Greyden Roy. The wonderful, terrible twos.

You are now talking and walking and running like a little person. You play with your brother and do boy things instead of baby things. Just last week you started jumping, getting both feet off the ground. Your run is smooth and you’ve become fairly adept at going up and down the stairs, so much so that we rarely feel the need to watch you on them anymore.

You love to swing, color, play cars, play with (fake) food, run around everywhere, and copy everything your big brother does. You enjoy many of the same things as him - music, singing, dancing, and puzzles, to name a few - and I don’t know how much of it is a learned behavior from watching him vs how much of it is what you would have liked even if he weren’t around. You sing the ABCs song and recognize several letters and numbers. Your vocabulary is well developed and it makes talking with you really fun.

Your ability to communicate also makes it easier to discipline you, because I can say things such as, “If you don’t stop it, you have to go to your room until you’re ready to be nice,” and you understand what I mean. On the other hand, your communication skills also make it easier for you to be manipulative, and you’re now using every excuse under the sun to delay bedtime at night, including “I can’t lay down,” “My foot hurts,” “My eyes hurt,” “more water please,” “I can’t sleep,” “door open!”...the list keeps going.

You are very difficult to shop with, either demanding to walk on your own and then refusing to stay close by, or demanding to be held when you can very well ride in the shopping cart or walk. These ridiculous expectations you have, of course, result in discipline from me and wailing from you and a lot of stares from fellow shoppers. It is a rare day that I get through a shopping trip with you and I’m not exhausted and sweating.

You’ve started preschool on Wednesdays and Fridays and are always unhappy to go into the room but then very much enjoying yourself when I come to pick you back up. Your teacher says you are always immediately fine after I walk away, so I think you just like to put on a show when I drop you off so that I feel loved. ;)

You've now moved out of your crib and into a bed on the floor in Krew's room. At first it went great, then it went not-so-great, but after a few nights of crying it out and learning that you can't just call for me or Daddy and get out of bed any time you please, you're finally staying in your bed calmly now like you used to do your crib. (Praise the Lord, I was losing my patience - and sleep!)

You are still a very picky eater and it kinda drives me insane trying to get nutrition in you. We fall back on vitamins and “fruit” packs which are actually entirely filled with vegetables these days. (You haven't noticed yet, hehe.) To top it off, you’ve been struggling with digestive issues, and I can’t help but be paranoid that you’re going to end up with celiac disease like your momma here. We had you tested and you were negative, but I also know that the blood tests are not as sensitive in children. Right now we have you drinking almond milk instead of cow’s milk and taking a daily dose of probiotics to try to get your system back in check. Sometimes I wonder if you may be lactose intolerant - we’re still trying to figure it out. Fortunately you seem fine other than the obvious digestive systems (I’ll spare the details) and it’s not affecting your daily life or your demeanor.

Your hair is what I would consider light brown with blonde highlights. You have brown eyes with a hint of hazel in them. You are currently getting your 2-year molars which I believe are leading to some occasional fussiness. You still have some chub on your arms and legs, but your torso has completely slimmed down and you now look fairly lean. Your torso actually seems to be very long, and so oftentimes your shirts look a little small compared to your shorts. You’re in size 18-24 month shirts, 18-24 month shorts, size 6 or 7 shoes, and (shockingly) still size 3 diapers. How you fit in size 3 diapers is beyond my comprehension, but they really do still fit. We stick 4s on you at night to help hold more pee, but it’s still 3s during the day. At your 2-year appointment on July 30th, the nurse measured your length at 35 ¾ inches, but honestly think that was a little off. I think you’re more like 35 inches. So that puts you around 63rd percentile for height according to online sources. You weighed 28 lbs 4 ½ oz (52nd percentile), and your head was 19 ¾ inches (84th percentile).

You are a handful at times, resistant to discipline and completely unphased when you disappoint others. You grin at the same reprimanding words that would have sent your older brother into a fit of tears when he was your age. You are persistent when you want something and will beg, whine, cry, and tantrum until your daddy and I are about to lose our minds. On the flip side, you are an incredibly loving little boy. You will frequently come up to me and say, “Mommy….” in a sweet, loving tone and then wrap your little arms around me and just squeeze. You do the same to your daddy, and it melts our hearts. You love doing “nose-nose” (eskimo kisses) and laying your head on our shoulders. It’s super precious.

Life is so much fun with you little guy. We love you!


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Happy [Very Belated] 2nd Birthday Greyden!!

Happy belated birthday Greyden Roy!!!

Yes, I am almost a month late writing this post. You turned two years old on July 28th. It is now August 23rd. Life has simply gotten away from me and I’m struggling to keep up! On the other hand, this blog is starting to become a collection of belated and overdue posts, so maybe that helps this birthday post to fit right in with the rest. :)

Nevertheless, you had a nice 2nd birthday. We didn’t do anything super exciting, but you got to be celebrated various times with relatives and friends. You enjoyed all your gifts, although your brother tried to jump in and open 90% of them for you.

I’m going to keep this blog post short and write another longer post in a few days that will cover your life over the last couple of months. I’ll include more details and pictures in that one.

However, to sum you up at your second birthday, I’d say that you are loud, talkative, outgoing, somewhat demanding and stubborn, but also sweet and incredibly loving. You keep us on our toes, that’s for sure. You’re opposite from your brother in many ways, and the combination of the two of you sure keeps life exciting!

To finish up this [unfortunately severely belated] birthday post, here are some 2-year-old pictures of you. :)

We love you, Roy Boy!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Perks of a Celiac Diagnosis

Yes, this is another post on celiac disease. I realize I’m writing about this a lot right now, but honestly, it’s because it’s somewhat taken over my life and it’s now something I feel passionate about. It fascinates me and frightens me and bewilders me and challenges me. Sometimes I feel defeated, sometimes I feel empowered. When I’m feeling good, I want to jump for joy and shout to everyone that I’ve got this conquered. Celiac disease has nothing on me! But then something goes wrong and I get sick. And suddenly I want to punch the wall in anger and I find myself unable concentrate on anything else in life, not just because of the effects gluten has on my brain but because I’m scrambling to figure out where I went wrong and how the disease managed to score against me again.

For today’s excerpt of my never-ending rambling regarding celiac disease, I want to share with you the perks of a celiac diagnosis.

No, the perks do not include “an excuse to participate in the gluten-free diet fad” nor do they include “an easy-to-manage solution through a gluten-free diet.” I have many words I could say on both of those items. Neither of them fall anywhere close to qualifying as a perk. But I’ll save those explanations for another day.

Rather, here are the perks I’ve come to appreciate:

1. I got my brain back.

I just realized this the other day, and this is by far the best outcome I’ve received from my celiac diagnosis. For many, many months...perhaps years...I’ve had issues putting what I’m thinking into words. From what I can remember, I never had this problem prior to pregnancies and gluten issues (which both plummeted into my life simultaneously and are very likely related). But I increasingly noticed that I was struggling to verbalize what I was thinking. I couldn’t remember simple words, words such as “table” or “sofa”. I struggled to make my sentences flow. The worst was when I would have to give directions or state the location of something. For example, Dave would ask me where I had left the laptop. I would know and would see it immediately in my head, laying on the floor next to my bedstand. But to be able to verbalize that to him felt nearly impossible. I would have to stop everything I was doing and focus 100% on how to communicate to him the location of the laptop. “It is…” that place up there...”upstairs”....laying down on that thing... “on the floor”...positional word, what is the positional word…”next to”...that thing next to the place where I sleep, what’s it called…”the bedstand.”

I know this sounds absolutely crazy. But that is really the process I would go through, every time I got asked a similar question. Speaking, about anything, could be very hard. I had no idea what the reason was for my inability to put my thoughts into words, but I had accepted it as who I was and did everything I could to not let others know about it.  I wanted to appear competent.  I often thought it was just a concentration issue and if I would just focus more instead of being so scattered, maybe I would talk well more easily.  It frustrated me and sometimes concerned me. It made me feel ridiculous and embarrassed. And I kept it to myself. I guess I didn’t realize anything was wrong because I know I had focusing and attention issues, and I figured it was related to that.

Now, since my celiac diagnosis, and hence eliminating all sources of trace gluten and gluten-cross contamination in our house, I can suddenly communicate again. Friends, it is AMAZING. I cannot even explain to you how wonderful it is to think something in my head and then be able to speak it out loud without feeling like I’m trying to shove my brain through thick goopy syrup in order to find the right words. And I am absolutely blown away that I was experiencing such neurological issues simply from trace amounts of gluten. Remember, I was eating completely gluten-free, and had been for three years, when I got this diagnosis last month. Any symptoms I was experiencing were from accidental ingestion. Last night I told a friend about the issues I’d been experiencing with being able to verbalize my thoughts, and her eyes were wide and she replied that it sounded similar to what she’s seen in people with brain injuries. That solidified the seriousness of this for me even more. My brain isn’t something I want to mess around with. And I am SO GRATEFUL that I got it back.

2. Renewed Health

This one is probably a given.  I feel better.  I’m no longer experiencing intense daily fatigue. I’m no longer getting a new cold every other week. (Yes, I previously seriously got a new cold every other week. Now I haven’t had one since my diagnosis.) I’m no longer getting canker sores. My anxiety and ADD-type symptoms have lessened quite a bit. I’m starting to be able to concentrate at work. As long as I haven’t been previously glutened, I’m not bloated and I have no abdominal pain or nausea. (When I do get glutened, it seems even more intense now. But that will be another post.) I’m not running to the bathroom in sprints at random moments. Overall, it’s a complete 180 compared to prior to my diagnosis.

3. A Support System and Place to Belong

Perk #3 is all the supportive people I’ve met and the feeling that I “belong” somewhere with my gluten issues, resulting health problems, and need for a strict gluten-free lifestyle. I’ve joined online support groups, started reading celiac blogs, and have learned such an incredible amount about it all. I, in a way, feel like a member of a new club, and the members of this club are rooting for me and helping me get my life back. I feel validated and understood by these people. It’s so motivating.

4. A New Sense of Self-Control with Food

This perk started somewhat even before my diagnosis, back when I started eating gluten-free, but it’s now been solidified even more since needing to follow such a strict gluten-free lifestyle knowing I have celiac disease. I have now learned to say “NO” to foods that I know would taste absolutely delicious. I’ve learned to walk away from snacks, drinks, even entire meals, if I think there is even a remote chance that those foods will damage my body. I’ve learned to read labels. I’ve learned about cross-contamination, manufacturing practices, GMO, organic, and certification processes. I know SO MUCH MORE about foods and what I put in my body, and I actually feel in control of it, rather than led by my cravings. Yes, sometimes I still feel downtrodden. I miss certain items. I’ve even been known to cry over it occasionally, when I’m feeling very frustrated and left out of the “normal” world where people get to eat together while they socialize. I can still remember the taste of Oreo cookies, cinnamon butter and rolls from Texas Roadhouse, and Pizza Hut pizza. I still wish I could easily go to my friends’ houses for dinner and partake in whatever dessert they have to offer. But I know that I can’t, I know it’s not safe, and I know I have the ability to say no. It’s empowering.

5. A New Understanding of My Body

Since my diagnosis, I have started to pick up on many of my body’s quirks. Perhaps this is because I’ve now had the opportunity to feel like a normal, healthy person for a short bit, and so when things go awry again I’m able to pick out what is wrong and what was likely to have caused it. Based on my symptoms, I can tell when I’m dehydrated, when I’ve probably consumed gluten, and when I’ve probably consumed soy. I know what it means to feel good now, which means I better understand what it means to feel bad. Feeling sick had become my normal prior to my diagnosis, and so I really had nothing to compare it to in order to figure out what was causing what. But now I have had at least brief times of normalcy and health, and so I know what to look for as a signal that something isn’t right.

These are the perks that have stood out the most to me. There are many others I could list, but these are the ones that have struck me as most significant. I asked a gluten-free Facebook group what they considered to be the perks of a celiac diagnosis, and here were the most common replies:
  • No more symptoms (symptoms listed included swollen legs, pins and needles in legs, night terrors, migraines, exhaustion, searching for bathrooms everywhere they go, falling asleep while driving, asthma attacks, eczema breakouts, bloating, brain fog)
  • Newly diagnosed (and hence malnourished) children starting to grow and thrive
  • Being healthy again
  • Being able to live life again
  • Easier to say no to junk food and fast food
  • Knowing you’re not damaging your body
  • Just knowing what’s wrong
  • Knowing you’re not the only one
  • No more people and doctors acting like you’re a hypochondriac
  • A deeper sense of empathy and compassion for others with disabilities or illnesses
  • Learning to cook and eat healthier foods

We all have different experiences, different symptoms, and different levels of sensitivity. But I was excited to see how many people could look on the positive side of things and realize that there ARE some perks to an celiac diagnosis, as much as it makes your life difficult at the same time.  So kudos to all of us.  We got this. :)

Related blog posts:
Celiac Diagnosis
The Gluten-Free Insanity I'm Now Living In
To My Family and Friends - A Letter and Guide from Your Celiac

Friday, July 11, 2014

And then there was soy.

When I got my celiac diagnosis about a month ago, part of me was excited because I thought I had an answer to why I’d been feeling so sick for months. I suddenly “knew” that all my sickness had been due to hidden gluten in my diet, not some other food item as I had been worried.

I dramatically increased my efforts at avoiding hidden gluten and cross-contamination, and meanwhile I rushed out to the store and filled my cart with gluten-free pretzels, gluten-free granola bars, and other similar snacks, as a way of making myself feeling better about my diagnosis.

The extreme fatigue I’d been experiencing started to dissipate. I stopped feeling nauseous for the first time in months. But to my shock, in the days following my diagnosis and my gluten-free shopping trips, my other GI symptoms weren’t any better. In fact, they almost seemed worse. Tons of cramping and abdominal pain among other symptoms.

Now, I had had issues with soy in the past, and I had been wondering if I had soy issues for months, but for some reason I decided to erase these experiences from my memory. Probably two years ago I switched to using coconut aminos instead of gluten-free soy sauce because the gluten-free soy sauce made me as sick as regular (gluten-filled) soy sauce. Also, gluten-free pretzels had made me very sick in the past. But with my new diagnosis, I convinced myself that those pretzels must not have been certified gluten-free (meeting a very low threshold for gluten) and so must have contained trace gluten (which clearly made me sick), and so as long as I stuck with certified gluten-free pretzels I should be fine. Right?


The gluten-free pretzels knocked me out. I lived on the toilet for 24 hours following the two times I ate them and then I gave them away to a fellow celiac friend.

I did all kinds of reading and studying the foods I ate. I hoped it was something else. Maybe it was just GMO soy. Maybe the pretzels contained something else. But all my reading led to one consensus: soy did not settle well with me. At all. I was eating products with non-GMO soy that were certified gluten-free and I was still sick. Even products containing soy lecithin, which supposedly shouldn’t bother “most” people with soy issues, left my intestines rumbling. I just couldn’t believe it. But as someone told me yesterday, I should know by now that I am not “most” people, and so I should believe it. Ugh.

I didn’t want to admit that soy was an issue, because it meant that I couldn’t eat about 75% of the gluten-free items I’d filled my pantry with. I was so frustrated. But then Dave told me (for the millionth time) that I really needed to get my health back and go as extreme as that required. I knew he was right. So, alas, I listened to his advice finally, and I said adios to the soy.

The GI problems stopped afterward. It really was nice. And now, I’m starting to figure my body out. I’m starting to notice that when I ingest soy (as I’ve accidentally done since giving it up), it’s a short-lived issue. I get really sick with cramping and bloating, then it exits my body, and I’m done. No fatigue, nausea, anxiety, depression, or short-temperedness. Within 24 hours it’s usually over. (This is in contrast to gluten which WIPES ME OUT. But that’s a long post for another day.)

There’s always the possibility that I react so strongly to soy because my intestine is damaged from gluten and therefore has problems digesting the soy. This does happen to celiacs. More frequently it’s lactose intolerance that is the issue, but other intolerances can happen as well. So there’s always the slight chance that if I stay super duper gluten-free for a long time, and my intestine heals, then I may be able to eat some soy again. But I know I shouldn’t get my hopes up. I should adapt a soy-free lifestyle and assume it’s for the long haul. Because such is my body and life.

Goodbye soy. And hopefully, hello health.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

31-Day Water Challenge

Last night I read an article about a woman who drank almost a gallon of water (3 liters) per day for a month and experienced amazing beneficial effects.  Many ailments she'd been struggling with disappeared and her face started to look much younger.  Her before and after pictures looked dramatically different.  Now, I am no fool and realize that her pictures could have been easily enhanced by lighting and digital effects (in fact, the pictures could have been taken on the same day), but this article still got me thinking.

I have been struggling with a lot of health issues lately (in addition to my celiac symptoms) that are caused by dehydration or could be alleviated with more water intake.  These include:

severe dry eye syndrome
dry, chalky mouth
dry skin

I KNOW I need to drink more water.  I am absolutely horrible at it.  I could easily go all day just sipping on coffee, with only a small glass of water in the morning and at night when I brush my teeth.  Water just isn't something I desire to drink.  It's boring.  I like taste.  But I'm also pretty darn sure that I'm very dehydrated. So I should probably fix that.

I've decided to take on a 31-day water challenge.  I'm going to drink at least the recommended amount of water daily, if not more, and see what happens.  Perhaps (hopefully!) I'll see many of the above-mentioned issues disappear and I'll want to continue with the hydrated lifestyle after the 31 days are over.  It just so happened that I decided to start this on July 1st, so I'll do the challenge throughout the month of July.

I'm using a free iPhone app to help me along on my journey.  It's called Plant Nanny.  It makes drinking water fun, because I get to grow plants as I drink water, and anyone who knows me well knows I like plants. :) Based on my body weight and activity level, the app says I need at least 77 oz of water per day, so that will be my goal.  That's about 0.6 gallons.  I'm going to carry my Nalgene around and see what I can do.

I'll provide updates throughout the month to let you know if any changes occur when I actually adequately hydrate myself.  Exciting times ahead. :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Greyden - 23 months!

Roy Boy, you turned 23 months this past Saturday!! That means that in less than a month you’ll turn 2!! I just can’t believe it. I feel like the second year of your life has gone so much faster than the first, and the first went by quick as it was.

Lately you've been walking around with your hands on your hips. It cracks us up.

You are such a fun little boy. You are spirited and determined. You are also extreme - either happy or sad, very rarely in between. The only time you become quiet is when you are around new people or very tired. Otherwise you are happy and full of grins or screaming your head off because you’re upset. You’ve been this way your whole life, and I’ve always wondered if it’s just a stage you’ll grow out of or if it’s your personality. I’m starting to think it’s actually the real you.

You pull cereal off the shelves in the grocery store when I'm not looking.

You love to run now and tend to throw caution to the wind and have gotten many bloody knees as a result. You also still love to climb, and you’re working on learning how to jump. You can go up and down the stairs on your own now, but I still get a little nervous about you going down and like to walk in front of you.

You love to swim right now.

Your vocabulary has exploded and you talk, talk, talk. I would guesstimate that you know a few hundred words, if not more, and you’re now stringing them together into short sentences. You love to narrate and comment on everything that’s going on around you. “I running! I run hard! Airplane! Daddy go? Whaswong? (What’s wrong?) Whadoin? (What are you doing?) I eat. I hungry. Hi Krew. I do it! Oh no! I get da balls!” One of your favorite things right now is to run up to me (or your daddy) and say, “Mommy, mommy, (or daddy), come eah [here], I see sumting,” and then you grab our hand and pull us away. It’s pretty darn adorable and we have a hard time resisting you when you do it. You also demand to be independent and do everything on your own now, with a defiant, “I do it!!”, and it of course makes everything take ten times as long as it should.

You go through phases of being a daddy’s boy like your older brother, but you still choose me sometimes and I’m so, so glad. For example, if I ask you to go to the store with me, you’ll usually gladly agree without bribing. Your older brother would never (and still won’t) do that.

You love shoes and daily state your preferences between your crocs, flip flops, or other shoes. You also request to wear socks on a daily basis. I usually tell you no given that it’s summertime and hot everywhere right now, but your daddy occasionally gives in and sticks them on your feet. :)

You are wearing anywhere from size 5 to size 7 shoes, depending on the brand, size 3 diapers during the day and size 4 at night, size 18- or 24-month shirts, and size 18- or 24-month shorts. You have a very long torso and so shirts are a bit more difficult to fit on you than shorts. Your bottom incisors came in and so you now have 16 teeth. Your birth mark on your nose is still there, although very small, and your hair varies between looking light brown and blonde depending on how much you’ve been in the sun, the lighting, and the last time I cut it.

You are still obsessed with electronics and it still drives your daddy and me batty. It is a daily fight. We’ve now put all the kids DVDs high up in a cabinet in the kitchen so you can’t reach them (you were bringing them to us all day long and having tantrums when we said no), and we frequently have to hide the iPad, our phones, and the iPod touch.

You go to bed fairly easily without much fuss. Even if you’re not tired, you’ll usually just lay quietly in your bed until you fall asleep, sometimes reading books. You typically take one nap per day, and I can put you down anywhere between 10am and 2pm and you’ll sleep anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. You go to bed between 8 and 9pm and wake up anywhere between 6:30am and 8:30am.

You are a picky eater and will eat very few fruits or vegetables. You love bananas and apples, and about 50% of the time you chow down green beans, but every other fruit and veggie is hit or miss. We’re still letting you have a lot of fruit packs (pureed fruit and veggie pouches) because you love them and it means you’re getting fruits and vegetables in your body.

You still suck both of your thumbs, and your daddy and I have decided to start trying to wean you from them since we can see that your teeth are starting to buck a little. It’s going to be a hard habit to break, though. You sure love your thumbs.

You trail behind your older brother almost everywhere he goes, and you absolutely adore him. I love the way you say his name, and you call him both “Krew” and “Krewson.” You and he have actually started to play together some now that you can copy what he does, and it makes me soooooo excited to see you interacting. Despite your very different personalities, I really hope you can grow to be best friends.

Discipline is starting to show more results now that you can communicate well. If you’re throwing a fit I’ll say, “Do you want to go to your crib?” and you’ll wail, “No cwib!!!” Then I’ll say, “Ok, then stop crying right now,” and immediately you’ll pull yourself together and stop the sobs. Also, when we tell you to start doing or stop doing some behavior, we know that you can understand us. Although you respond to discipline in terms of your behavior (you’ll stop the forbidden behavior, or obey, or do what I said after certain consquences), training your heart is going to be a whole different issue. You very rarely act remorseful for anything you do that upsets anyone. Many times you grin through the entire discipline session. Hopefully this is something that will change with time as you mature and learn that other people have feelings, too.

Little trouble maker.

Alright that’s all for today. The next post about you will be your two-year birthday post! Wow!

To finish up, here are some pictures with your new haircut that I gave you last Friday. :)

Love you little man!

Monday, June 9, 2014

To My Family and Friends - A Letter and Guide from Your Celiac

Dear family and friends,

I just want to say sorry, now, ahead of time.

I'm genuinely sorry for the anxiety, frustration, annoyance, and confusion I'm going to cause you. I hate it.

I'm sorry for your time and money that I'm going to waste when I don't eat a gluten-free food you've prepared if it wasn't prepared to the standards I've been told to follow.

I apologize for the times I may be irritable, exhausted, or complain about feeling sick.

I apologize for all the times you're going to hear me say the word "gluten."

See, I have this disease. Celiac disease. It's an autoimmune disorder, and I'm going to have it for the rest of my life. When I eat gluten, my body attacks my small intestine, the nutritional gateway for my body. And when that happens, a whole slew of other things go wrong.

When I consume even a trace amount of gluten, invisible to the naked eye, I can experience any or all of the following:
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Sharp intestinal pains
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Canker sores
  • Fatigue so heavy I could collapse
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Chicken bumps on the back of my arms
  • Acid problems in my stomach
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Inability to concentrate
These symptoms could last for hours or for weeks.

I have been struggling with these symptoms for years now, some of them for as long as I can remember. You've probably been unaware of them most of the time because they had simply become a part of me. I had accepted them and tried not to complain as best I could. Some of them I'd almost failed to continue to notice. They had become my normal.

But now it's time to face them and deal with them. Now I know that when I'm experiencing these symptoms, not only am I struggling with the symptoms themselves, but there is a war going on in my body that can set me up for many health problems down the road.

I am now at risk for a whole bunch of other diseases, autoimmune disorders, and other symptoms of celiac disease that I have been fortunate enough to escape thus far.

This disease could also be responsible for my anxiety, my depression, my under eye circles, and my severe dry eye syndrome.

I know this is overwhelming to you. It is to me, too. I don't want to inconvenience you, I don't want to put a damper on our social times together. And I don't want to have this disease. I don't want to live life paranoid about a tiny protein, unable to eat the delicious foods that millions of others enjoy. It really honestly sucks. But it's the hand I've been dealt, and unfortunately it's the hand you've been dealt as my family or friend. So let's work through this together.

When I'm at your house and you're cooking for me, I may request the following, and I kindly ask that you please not get offended. If the below is all too much for you, and I 100% completely understand if it is, I have no problem bringing my own food or running to the store and picking some up. I have gotten used to not eating what everyone else is eating, and I really don't mind. So if you're feeling leery about serving me, just say so ahead of time. If you do want to take a go at it, here are some things I kindly request:
  • Pull out a new kitchen sponge and scrub any hand-washed items you're about to use to cook for me. Kitchen sponges hold gluten and hence your dishes that were previously cleaned by hand may have gluten still in them.
  • When you dry kitchen items that are going to be used to prepare food for me, use a new dish towel that has not touched other glutened kitchen items or glutened hands.
  • Whenever possible, use non-porous and non-scratching items for cooking. These are less likely to hold gluten from your previous cooking. This includes:
    • Metal mixing bowls instead of plastic
    • Metal kitchen utensils instead of plastic or wood
    • Glass cutting boards instead of wooden or plastic
    • Stainless steel pots and pans rather than non-stick.
  • If you touch gluten (such as pasta, bread, or a condiment that has gluten in it), please wash your hands before touching anything that will be used to cook for me.
  • Let me read every label. Even if you saw "gluten-free" on the package, please let me still read it. Some of these "gluten-free" items still say "May contain wheat" on them or something similar, and I simply can't take the risk.
  • Understand when I don't use a jarred condiment that has been previously used. Double-dipping into condiments leaves gluten in them and it can make me sick.
  • If you realize that something with gluten has touched something you are about to serve me, please be honest and say so and realize that I probably won't eat the item. Even a crumb falling into a bowl of veggies means that I can no longer eat any of those veggies.
  • Have separate serving spoons for each dish, and instruct other guests to not use switch spoons between dishes as it could lead to cross-contamination. If you are concerned about his happening, let me get my plate of food first.
  • With bags of gluten-free snacks such as chips, I cannot eat from the bag if a glutened hand has previously been in it. I can only eat from new bags of snacks or bags that have not had any hands in them.
  • Finally, please don't get too upset if I get sick. I get sick at home, too. This is a learning process for all of us, and gluten spreads so easily that it oftentimes feels like an impossible battle.
I love you all dearly and hate that this list of guidelines has to rule our meal times and snack times together. However, I wanted to write it out for you, to help you, because I'm sure that the thought of me coming to your house for food is enough to send you into an instant state of panic. Honestly, I'm not a fan of food time in general anymore. I kind of wish I didn't have to eat. But, alas, I do, and so I have to work around this. I'm taking it one day, one meal, at a time.

Thanks for your love, support, and understanding as we navigate this together. :)


Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Gluten-Free Insanity I'm Now Living In

I’m starting to understand why some families with a celiac person decide that the whole house should go gluten-free.

I always knew there was a remote (apparently not so remote) possibility that I had celiac disease. By following a gluten-free diet for my GI issues for the past three years, I figured I was following all the important precautions, and if I did happen to be celiac I was fine either way. Sure, a crumb slipped here or there, or I’d bite into my son’s mac n cheese noodle to see if it was done cooking and then spit it out. Sometimes I used vanilla extract without knowing 100% if it was gluten-free. I really didn’t think these little things mattered. I assumed that I had gluten-intolerance and not full-blown celiac disease, and so no need to be crazy with my anti-gluten lifestyle.

Now, thanks to my recent diagnosis, I know that those little things added up and were messing up my body and making me sick. And people, this gluten stuff is crazy. It’s EVERYWHERE and spreads like WILDFIRE.

Let me share a few of the crazy things going on around here right now:

  • I can no longer use plastic containers for mixing, cooking, serving, or storage if they have previously had gluten in them. (They scratch and hold gluten.)
  • I can no longer use plastic kitchen utensils if they have previously touched gluten. (They also scratch and hold gluten.)
  • I can no longer use non-stick pans if they have touched gluten. (Same deal. Scratches and hold gluten.)
  • I can no longer use our colander because gluten gets stuck in the holes, and I am supposed to go buy a new one exclusively for me.
  • If I touch my child’s gluten-filled waffle in the morning, I have to immediately wash my hands so I don’t cross-contaminate my own food or by chance put my fingers in my mouth.
  • I have to have my own dedicated toaster that doesn’t have any gluten items in it.
  • We have to buy a new cutting board (so sad, I LOVE our fancy wooden cutting board!) and new wooden mixing spoons.
  • I have to make sure my shampoo is gluten-free or else pay special attention to never open my mouth in the shower while washing my hair.
  • I have to make sure my lotion is gluten-free so I don’t accidentally transfer it to my mouth.
  • I have to check all my medications and make sure they are not made with any gluten products.
  • The stickers on produce tend to have gluten in them. I have to try to select produce with no stickers or take a risk and scrub the produce before eating.
  • I can no longer lick envelopes. The glue often has gluten in it.

Everything I put in my mouth is a possible attack on my body, and I have to scrutinize and consider every possible source of gluten on the thing about to touch my lips.

It’s insane, people. Insane.

I can’t lie. I had a slight adult pity party tantrum last night. Like kinda lost it and sobbed to Dave. “I have this chronic autoimmune disease, I’m going to have it for the rest of my life, and I know I was already eating gluten-free but I am NOT ok with this, and now I feel like I can never eat at a friend’s house or a restaurant again because I might get sick, and I can’t take chances because it is a health risk, and previously it was kind of like oh, I shouldn’t eat gluten because it doesn’t make me feel good, but now I CAN’T eat gluten and it’s for FOREVER and our kids are at risk and I’m paranoid even in our own kitchen and I’m at risk for all these other autoimmune diseases and THIS SUCKS!!!”

Yeah, that was me last night. Tears pouring, nose clogged up, a pity party mess. I think I just needed a moment. A moment to let out all my insecurities and grieve. I never thought that if I was diagnosed that I would need to grieve. I didn’t think it’d affect me that much. But I was wrong. The diagnosis has been an emotional blow.


Honestly, since being way more careful about cross-contamination the last few days (although I still use a lot of cross-contaminated kitchen items because I haven’t bought new ones yet), I feel SO MUCH BETTER. Not 100%. Still a little nausea here or there, maybe a slight amount of bloating. Still in the bathroom more than normal. But SO MUCH BETTER. I’m starting to think that all of my issues over the last several months haven’t been another food issue, as I was concerned about, but rather just cross-contamination of gluten. And I’m so glad and relieved to have the pain dissipating and to know that I probably have an answer to all my recent issues.

Last night Dave said he’s just relieved to finally know what’s wrong with me. And I know he’s totally right. It’s a relief and a blessing to finally know.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Celiac Diagnosis

Yesterday I found out that there is approximately a 95% likelihood that I have celiac disease.

When I got the call from the nurse reporting my lab results, at first I was close to elated. I felt so validated. All my gluten-free eating over the last three years had actually been a smart choice.

Then the reality of it all came crashing down on me. Celiac disease. Disease. I have a disease. An autoimmune disorder, to be exact. My body hurts itself. I’m at risk for a ton of other health issues. I can no longer just say, “Oh, that’s probably safe to eat, I’ll be fine.” I can no longer base whether or not it’s ok to eat something on whether I feel sick afterward. If it has gluten in it, then it’s hurting me. Whether I feel it or not. Period.

Now I’m overwhelmed.

Now, I guess I cannot claim 100% that I actually have it. I’ve done a ton of reading about the blood test that was performed, and there is supposedly a 5% chance that I don’t have celiac disease and that the test gave a false positive. But the people who get false positives for the blood tests typically have another autoimmune disorder which affects the blood results. And as far as I know, I do not have another autoimmune disorder. (At least I hope not…)

To knock out that 5% chance that I do not have celiac disease, I am supposed to get an intestinal biopsy. But there are some major issues with this. First, obviously, it would cost money. Yuck. Second, I am currently on a gluten-free diet, which makes it very unlikely that the results of the intestinal biopsy would come back positive. (The blood test actually shouldn’t have come back positive, either, but more on that in a moment.) So, prior to having the biopsy performed, I would have to eat a ton of gluten, daily, for at least six weeks prior to the biopsy (based on various sources I’ve read).

Just shoot me now.

Seriously, gluten makes me so sick. Some friends aren’t aware how sick I was prior to going gluten-free, but it wasn’t pretty. Daily severe abdominal bloating. Cramping. Stabbing pains. Diarrhea four to five times a day (no exaggeration) alternated with days of constipation. Chicken bumps on the backs of my arms - a condition I’d had as long as I could ever remember that disappeared when I stopped eating gluten.

And you want me to go back to this for a minimum of six weeks?? You’ve GOT to be kidding me.

I just don’t know what I’m going to do.

And to discuss another very interesting issue, I was supposedly eating gluten-free when they performed the blood test. I’d been eating gluten-free for THREE YEARS. I told my allergist that the test would be negative even if I had the disease since I was eating gluten-free. And that’s supposed to be true, if you’re doing a good job with the diet. He said he wanted to run the test anyway. And whattayaknow. Positive for celiac disease. Apparently the guy knew what he was talking about.

What this means is that I’m apparently eating a significant amount of gluten from somewhere. It must be hidden in items that I’m not catching, or I’m getting cross-contaminated. Cross-contamination is very likely, because I honestly haven’t worried about it much. A crumb here, a “contaminated” spoon there, eh, I figured it didn’t matter. I didn’t seem to get sick from it, so it I assumed it wasn’t hurting me.

And now that’s all out the window. It is hurting me. My blood antibodies are elevated, so it’s hurting me. Even if I don’t get noticeably sick after eating gluten, if I have celiac disease, it’s hurting me. So much pressure. So much to learn. So much to investigate and be aware of. So overwhelming.

I don’t know what to do next. I don’t have a doctor seeing me for GI problems or celiac disease. This whole discovery was somewhat of a fluke; I was at the allergist to get tested for an avocado allergy and mentioned my gluten issues. When I got the call with the lab results yesterday, the nurse said she’d send the results to my primary care doctor and that I should go do some reading at I was like, really? That’s it? “You most likely have this autoimmune disease, here’s a website, we’ll tell your doctor, have a nice day.” For real? What does that even mean? Is someone from the doctor going to call me? Do I call them? Do I need to go see a specialist? What are the next steps? Help?

So...yeah. That’s where I’m at. Gluten-free diet of three years failed. 95% likelihood of lifelong autoimmune disease. Absolutely no gluten whatsoever for the rest of my life. Gotta get the kids tested, because it’s genetic. Feeling somewhat alone, because only 1 in 133 people has this disease, and up to 90% of them are undiagnosed.


  • I have an answer. I have a diagnosis. My gluten-free eating has not been in vain.
  • I am aware and can get my kids tested, and if they have it we can do early intervention so they won’t have to face as many health problems.
  • I actually know several people with diagnosed celiac disease who live nearby to me. Yay for support.
  • It’s a totally manageable disease without medication, requiring only a dietary change. (A somewhat difficult dietary change, but one that’s getting much easier as more people jump on the gluten-free bandwagon.)

Things could be much, much worse. This really won’t be that bad, especially since I’ve been eating (supposedly) gluten-free for three years now. I just need to be a little more strict about watching what I eat. Ultimately, it just feels weird to have a new label, and to know that I actually have to be cautious so I don’t cause long-term damage to my body. It’s no longer simply avoiding GI problems, but now it’s also managing a disease. It’s just weird.

Alright well I suppose that ends my ramblings on this for today. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about this. I’ll have to restart that gluten-free blog post series I attempted to begin over a year ago.   It will have a lot more value to me now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Happy birthday to me

It's my 31st birthday today. :) It kinda feels like any other day, but I'm trying to do a few things to feel special. Like I'll be picking up a free Caribou Coffee latte and a free Rita's italian ice. I'm also hanging with some friends today and hopefully painting some frames I've been wanting to paint for a loooooong time while our kids play together. (Is it weird that my birthday request was to knock off something on my to-do list?)

This past weekend one of those friends I'm seeing today bought me a pedicure (felt fantastic!) and last night Dave took me shopping to a new local consignment shop where I got three new pairs of skinny jeans and two tanks tops. All for the cost of one regular-priced pair of jeans. Yay. :)

Krew made my day this morning when he came down the stairs and announced "Happy birthday, Mommy!" with a big, genuine grin on his face. I asked him if Daddy had told him to say it and he said, "No, I just thought you would like it." It melted my heart. He doesn't display unprovoked affection like that for me very often, so I absolutely cherished it.

My 30th birthday last year was rough for me emotionally, but now that I've gotten past the 3-0 hump I feel just fine. I'm an adult with a 3-1 instead of a 3-0. That's cool. :)

Alright, time to end this random rambling birthday post. Hope you all have a great day.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Insane April

Hey there my remaining two blog readers, nice to see ya.

Can I just say that April has been CRAZY??

Seriously crazy. I’m exhausted. I need a breather. The calendar has been jam-packed with something on almost every day, plus a few of us have gotten knocked out by sicknesses. I’ve had to check my calendar every night just to make sure I don’t forget what I have planned the next day. Some days I’ve even had to write out a play-by-play of what I’m going to do every hour.

Thankfully, May should be much slower.

So, for now, I will leave you with a picture of these sweet boys to hold you over until my next blog appearance. :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Ramblings on Refinement Through the Pain [Depression]

My emotions have been all over the board lately. I've mentioned that I've been struggling with anxiety, and I've now returned to seeing my counselor who helped me through my anxiety in the past.

The counselor, and a book he gave me to read (Anxiety Gone by Stanley Hibbs) have really helped to alleviate my anxiety issues. I've found that my heart is calmer, my mind more clear. It's such a relief.

However, now that the anxiety is decreasing, I've found something ugly hiding underneath, jumping to the surface now that there's room.


There isn't an easy way to describe depression to someone who hasn't experienced it. It's a weight, a heaviness, an ache, a complete lack of joy. The things that normally bring happiness to your heart - your children, your spouse, funny jokes, coffee, sunshine, music, exercise, friends - they all seem bland. As if you are looking at them through a dirty, filmy window - the brightness is gone, you are seeing and shallowly experiencing them, but you're not engaged and can't get engaged because you're stuck behind the filthy window and can't get through.

And then I feel guilty when I feel this way. Not necessarily ashamed or embarrassed; I've been openly discussing anxiety and depression for years now and don't feel that it's something to hide out of shame. Rather, I feel guilty because I don't want to bring down the joy of those around me. I want to be happy Kara. I want to be happy Wife, happy Mom. I want to show others God's love, show them that there is a reason to be joyful no matter what is going on in your life.

But how do I do that when I'm not feeling it myself?

Some people seem to think that one should be able to think him- or herself out of depression. That it's simply a result of poor mental habits, a product of looking at the glass half empty instead of half full. I tend to think that these are the people who haven't experienced the true weight of depression. Because I can guarantee you, when you are experiencing the weight and heaviness of depression, you are trying everything you can to get it to go away, including all the mental tricks in the book. You tell yourself, "Be happy! Look at the smile on your child, it should make your heart swell! Feel that warm sunshine! What a gift from God!" You tell yourself these things, and you know them to be true, but your heart won't cooperate and the emotion behind them that you once felt is now gone. You try so hard to trick yourself into feeling the joy you once did, but it is out of reach. You know it exists, but you can't find it. It's lost, or you are lost.

I have gone in circles over the last few weeks trying to decide what to do about these depressed feelings I'm having. They came and went a couple days at a time for several weeks, never severe, but just enough that I wasn't enjoying my days. Then this past weekend, the feelings were heavy. Very, very heavy. I walked around feeling like I weighed 500 lbs. I had no energy, no motivation for anything, and I just wanted to sleep. I didn't want to spend time with anyone, but made myself in an attempt to feel normal again. There was nothing wrong, nothing making me sad, but I wanted to cry and crawl under my covers and avoid my life and everything in it. I was starting to catch glimpses of how I felt during my postpartum depression.

I had tried everything on Saturday to alleviate the pain - family, friends, exercise, sunshine, coffee, shopping, quiet time - and nothing was working. I started wondering if I needed medicine again. What was wrong with me? How could I get rid of this ache?? And then suddenly I realized the one thing I hadn't done.

I hadn't prayed.

The moment I realized it, I immediately lifted my heart up to God. I silently called out to Him in desperation, and begged that He would take some of the pain away.

And you know what?

He did.

Immediately. Just like that.

Literally, within three seconds, the pain was gone.

I stood there shocked. I looked at my kids, and they seemed bright and beautiful again. I looked outside, and the sunshine felt like a glorious gift from God. I felt motivated to take care of my house. I felt happy at the prospect of seeing people.

God is amazing, people. AMAZING.

Now, the pain didn't disappear for good. It began to return again maybe 30 minutes later. But do you know what I did when it returned? I prayed. And then I prayed 30 minutes after that. And 30 minutes after that. And continued to do so through the rest of the day and the next day whenever I felt that ugly ache start to creep up.

I don't know the reason for these depressive issues, but I do know that God is using them to grow me. He's teaching me to be dependent on Him, to turn to Him FIRST (which is what I should have done!), to trust Him to give me what I need to get through the day.

And right along these lines, I read a Lent devotion this morning which specifically talked about God growing us through our pain. I've actually read a lot about this topic recently, but I enjoyed the devotion I read today because it followed up right behind my own revelation on the subject. I truly believe that God is refining me through these struggles. Do I believe He caused them? No, but that's a discussion for another day. All I need to focus on right now is growing closer to God, and learning to lean into Him as I know He wants me to.

If you'd like to read the devotion, it's below.

I pray that any of you who are experiencing pain are running to God and letting Him carry you through.

God bless.

{For a video that helps to explain the symptoms of depression, I recommend watching the video "I Had a Black Dog", linked in my previous post here:}

Friday, March 28, 2014

Greyden - 20 months!

20 months! Time for an update!

Greyden Roy,

Oh how we love you, little boy! You are keeping us on our toes, but you bring so much joy to our home.

You are a very perky little boy, eager to look around and meet people and learn. You seem to be getting over your stranger anxiety, and now instead of crying you’ll somewhat cautiously but completely willingly walk into your Sunday school room at church. You frequently chat with strangers when we’re out and about (you’ll say “hi!” and then respond to any questions they ask, and even sometimes jabber at them), and you talk, talk, talk, all the time now at home. You blow my mind with your vocabulary and how well you just seem too young in my eyes to be able to say the things you do. Sometimes I wonder if you walked so late because you were focusing so hard on learning other things (such as speaking). Who knows. You are now putting three words together, such as “Mommy up please.” My favorite of your three-word phrases are “I got it!”, “I did it!”, “there you go,” and “I love you.”

You are going through a phase where you respond to everything with a very bratty-sounding “NO!”. When we ask if this is your favorite word, you reply “Uh huh.” We’re working on reeling in your behaviors. In the last month you have tried to run from me in several public places, you’ve yelled “No!” at me and hit me with both hands at the same time, you’ve taken things from your brother quite a few times and yelled “No!” at him when he asks for them back, along with many other similar situations. You also love to whine to get out of the store carts, run in and out of the clothing racks, and rearrange store shelves. So far, a tight squeeze on your arm or hand and a stern, “NO, we do NOT do that,” has worked for the most part for most behaviors. I’ll also say things such as, “If you do not come here, you have to ride in the stroller,” threaten to put you in your crib if we’re at home, etc. I try to stay firm with discipline until I see your face drop a bit, showing that you understand that your behavior is not acceptable. I also make you apologize if your behavior was directed toward another person. I have to use such different tactics with you than I did (and do) with your older brother, because you are a lot more outwardly defiant than he was. Oh, he threw his fits and still does, but they’ve always tended to occur at home where he feels secure. You, on the other hand, have no issues with showing your true colors in public, and so I’m working to build my box of tricks for public discipline.

Your motor skills are coming right along considering how late you started walking, and you’re even starting to run (which is super cute!). You still love to climb, and so we have to watch you carefully whenever there’s something climbable nearby.

You love to do everything your big brother does and tend to follow him around the house. Just in the last week or so, he has finally started to see you as somewhat of a peer and is beginning to let you join in on his activities, or at least watch. I cannot tell you how excited this makes my mommy heart. I want so badly for you two to play together and at least be acquaintances if not friends.

Your favorite time to wake up over the last couple of weeks is whenever I wake up. Apparently you prefer to supervise my morning quiet time. I pile food on your high chair tray and hope you’ll give me a few moments of silence, but most days you just jabber, jabber, jabber.

You are still a ridiculously picky eater. It is a daily battle to decide whether to let you starve or to just feed you what you want (bread, cheese, mac n cheese, fruit packs, and bananas are your preferences). You still won’t eat many veggies, but you will inhale a can of green beans. You’ve seen your older brother eat a lot of raw broccoli (he loves it raw, not cooked, so weird), and so now you’ll request some too. I’ll put it on your tray and you’ll exclaim, “BOCKIE!!” and you’ll put the little florets in your mouth. Then you’ll scrunch up your nose and spit them out. Then you’ll see Krew eating them and once again exclaim, “BOCKIE!!” and you’ll put the florets in your mouth again. Followed by nose scrunch and spit. You’re trying, you really are, but you just don’t like them. I really feel it’s this way with many other foods, too.

Your daddy and I were getting slightly worried about your obsession with electronics, so we’ve pretty much eliminated them from your life for the time-being. This includes iPad, iPhone, and TV. You get maybe five minutes per day, if that. I am relieved to say that within a couple days you stopped requesting them 24/7. You still find them and request them, but you no longer fall apart when the answer is “no” (which it usually is), and you’re now doing much better at playing by yourself with your toys. Thank goodness.

Along those lines, you have always enjoyed books, but since we took away the electronics, books are your new big thing. You bring us books all day long. And expect us to read them to you. If we set you down with one and tell you we need to do something, please read to yourself, you fall to pieces. You’ve decided that you must have us read them to you or it’s just no good. All day we hear, “Mommy READ!” “Daddy READ!” “BOOK!” “AGAIN!” (And yes, most words are said very loudly with extreme enthusiasm. That’s your way of speaking about most things.)

You still want to be held when we want you to walk, and you want to walk when we want to carry you. You make the cutest facial expressions that crack us both up. And you love the dogs, telling them what to do, and giving them treats. We often find you sneaking into the dog cabinet, trying to pull out some food for them.

You go to bed very easily most nights. We do pajamas, brush teeth, turn on the sound maker and the night light, turn off the overhead light, sing a song, pray, and you go down. Maybe a ten minute ordeal if that. It’s wonderful.

Your hair is still stick straight and fine, very difficult to cut but I’m doing my best. It’s a darker blonde now due to wintertime and lack of sun, and some days I’d question if I could call it light brown. We’ll see what happens this spring and summer when the sun rays hit it again.

Your little birth mark on the ridge of your nose continues to fade, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s close to gone by the time you turn 2. Your top incisors have broken through, but we’re still waiting on the bottom ones, so you now have 14 teeth. You are wearing size 18-24 month shirts, 18 month bottoms, we’re squeezing you into size 3 diapers but you should probably be in size 4, and you wear larger size 4 and smaller size 5 shoes. You seem to have a longer torso than Krew did and so we’ve had to go up in shirt sizes just to keep your little belly hidden, even though everything but the length in 12-18 month shirts fits you great.

Alright well you’re hanging by my side, begging me to read you books right now, so I better end this. Happy 20 months little man. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Krewson Lee: 4-year-old interview

On Monday I did a 4-year-old interview with Krew. I had seen others do this, and I thought it was such a neat idea, so I opened up another blog I found with some questions for 4-year-olds and went to town.

The interview didn't go quite as I anticipated. A few notes:

1. I tell Krew that pepperoni pizza is not a fruit, it's a food. I want to assure you that I fully realize that fruit is a food too, and that pepperoni pizza falls into other categories besides "food." However, on the spot, that's what came out of my mouth.

2. I have no idea what banana peas are.

3. I was not expecting Krew to ask ME questions.

4. At one point he says, "Blahsh**," which I believe is a word he made up and not an attempt at cursing. I decided to let it slide rather than discuss the use of appropriate language in the middle of his 4-year-old interview.

5. I was not expecting Rogan (one of our dogs) to whine and grumble through the whole interview. Please excuse my "Rogan, NO!"s.

6. A "rollover" is Krew's word for a "roll-up" which is a tortilla filled with deli meat and cheese.

7. I am fully aware that "What's your favorite clothes to wear?" is not proper English.

8. Although I may seem calm when he refuses to answer questions and won't stop singing, you can't see my face, and believe me, I was losing my patience at many points. Watching this video made me realize that he really didn't delay that long and that I do need to work on my overreactiveness.

9. His left foot is apparently his best friend.

10. If you make it far enough into the video, Grey will make a guest appearance. Yay!

Enjoy. :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

The day the life guard rescued my son during swim lessons. (yes. for real.)

Two weeks ago, Krew was terrified to put his face in the water. This obviously made swimming in pools difficult, and jumping into pools pretty much impossible. Which really put a damper on going to the pool in the summer.

Knowing that we were going to Florida the end of March, Dave and I decided to put Krew in swim lessons twice a week for the month leading up to our trip. We were hoping it would help prep him for a little more fun in the water.

The first two lessons, Krew made a little progress, but was still freaking out if he had to put his face under water. The swim instructor told all the parents to get their children swim goggles, so we followed his instructions. We had no idea what a difference it would make. We put Krew in the bathtub that night and showed him how to put his face underwater with the goggles, and the change in his attitude was amazing. All of a sudden he realized how awesome being underwater was, and he did a complete 180. In fact, he became OBSESSED. He wanted to stay in the bathtub for forever that night, taking a deep breath and throwing his his head into the water, over and over and over. Then he began requesting to take a bath at least twice a day after that.

Since then, he has done AWESOME at swim lessons. The change really was mind-boggling. At the next lesson after buying the goggles, the instructor chuckled quite a bit and informed us that we had created a "monster." Krew now jumps off the side of the pool, can float on his back, and can swim probably 8 ft on his front with his face underwater. Today he even rolled (with the instructor's help) from his front to his back while floating and then swam for a short bit doing the front crawl with his arms. When it isn't his turn to do something during lessons, he's constantly underwater, looking around and practicing floating, only coming up to take a breath and go back down. Last night, he even started putting his head under water in the bathtub WITHOUT his goggles, opening his eyes! Dave and I are completely baffled. The kid has gotten so brave.

Apparently a little too brave.

Today at swim lessons, I was chatting with another woman, glancing up once in a while to see if it was Krew's turn to do something. One particular time when I looked up, I didn't see Krew in his normal place on the steps. The instructor was busy with another child, closer to me. I stood up and still couldn't see Krew. My heart started to race. I dropped Greyden, who was in my lap, at the feet of the woman next to me and quickly jogged the few feet forward to the edge of the pool, my eyes darting everywhere looking for my child.

Then I saw Krew, on the other side of the instructor, blocked from my view by the instructor's body, and completely out of the instructor's eye shot. All but the top of his head was under water, and he was rapidly kicking with his legs, hands in front of him clasped to the end of his floating kick board. He was facing the side of the pool, away from the steps where I knew he could touch the bottom. A quick assessment told me he was fine for the moment, but I didn't think he had the strength or ability to hold his breath long enough to get back to the steps. I didn't want to make a huge scene, especially for Krew's sake, but he was out of my arm's reach, on the other side of the instructor, so I said loudly to the instructor, crouched next to him at the side of the pool, "Can you please get him??", and pointed my finger at Krew. The instructor didn't respond, deeply focused on working with other the child in front of him and oblivious to my voice due to the loudness in the room. I saw Krew change directions to face the steps, so I knew he was consciously swimming toward the steps, but I knew my little guy couldn't hold his breath so long. "Please GET HIM," I said, my panic starting to rise, poking the instructor and jutting my finger at my underwater son. The instructor still didn't respond immediately, and at once I had a million possibilities running through my head, from screaming at the instructor to full on jumping over him into the pool myself. The instructor finally looked up at me, and what was happening must have registered based on my face, and as he twisted to see Krew, we were both thrown back by a huge SPLASH as the life guard jumped into the water and scooped Krew into her arms.

As Krew came above water in the life guard's arms, he seemed unfazed and wasn't choking on water or anything (such a relief). She placed him on the safe steps and climbed out of the water, her clothes drenched. My heart had fallen through my stomach and I was shaking. The instructor apologized to the life guard, and immediately turned to Krew and assessed what had happened. Krew's kick board had apparently floated away, and Krew, being so sure in his swimming abilities, had decided to go after it. The instructor talked with him about how we need to make sure we follow the rules and don't go past the line on the bottom step. Krew was completely calm up until the point that he realized he had disappointed the instructor. Then he looked at me, and I saw his face register the tears that had unavoidably started streaming down my face in the aftermath of my panic. It only took a split second for his face to fall and I knew that he was crying inside his goggles.

The instructor sympathetically smiled at me and asked if I was ok. I nodded yes, and he apologized, and said next time please just yell at him. I fumbled out a few words but I was too shaken up to say much. He assured me that I was much more traumatized than Krew was, and I knew he was right. Krew hadn't seemed scared at all.

Krew sat on the steps, crying, just staring at me, brokenhearted. I went over to him and pulled his goggles off his eyes, and he sobbed to me, "I broke the rules!!!" I reassured him it was ok, rubbing my hands up and down his little wet arms, telling him that we all make mistakes, that no one was upset with him, but he just cried and cried. I finally put his goggles back over his eyes and told him to get back in and swim. The instructor called him at that moment, told him it was his turn, and the kid must really love swimming because he stopped crying long enough to take his turn. But as soon as his turn was over, he sat on the steps and looked at me and began crying again. The last five minutes of the lesson went this way, with him pulling himself together emotionally just long enough to take his turn swimming and then falling apart into tears again as soon as his turn was over.

We talked in the locker room afterward, and I asked if he had been scared. He said no. I asked if he had just been swimming, and he nodded. I told him that we had all thought he couldn't breathe, and so we all got scared. Based on his blank stare, I could tell that no thought of being unable to breathe had ever crossed his mind. Sweet boy. He then cried nearly the whole way home, so disappointed in himself. This kid sure takes things hard.

Now that I'm home, I can't help but have the scenario run through my head over and over. Even though it all came out fine, I keep wondering, did I do my part as a parent? Should I have reacted more strongly initially, based on the fact that the life guard jumped in after him? Or was I correct in assuming that he was fine at that moment, based on the fact that he hadn't swallowed any water and didn't seem scared at all afterward?

It's one of those moments that really makes you step back and assess yourself as a parent. Did I react the way I should have in an emergency, if it even was an emergency? There's no way to practice for these scenarios...the moment your child is at swimming lessons and under water next to the unaware instructor and you have to decide if he's ok or not...and so what are we as parents supposed to do??

So there you have it. The story of my typically overly cautious water-loving child nearly drowning himself at swim lessons because he decided to be brave and take a risk.

Let me tell you, parenting is not for the faint of heart.