Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Greyden Roy at 6 Years Old

Hey Greyden Roy, it's time to write about you as a 6-year-old!

You turned six on July 28th. You sure love your birthdays. You usually talk about them for months ahead of time and then expect lots and lots of celebrating (which is exactly what happened this year).

You are right around average for height, weight, and BMI. Your eyes still typically look brown but can show a smidgen of green in certain lighting. Your hair was light brown last winter and blonde again this summer, but it really seems as if it may have turned blonde now even at the roots. We will see come this winter. :)

You started kindergarten in July and you LOVE it. You are actually disappointed when you have school breaks because you like going so much. You are doing great with your math, writing, and reading (you actually taught yourself to read simple books over the last year!). Still, I'd say your favorite part of the school day is probably recess or PE, because you love being active and you love playing with friends.

If I had to describe your personality, I would say the best words to describe you would be happy, joyful, goofy, excited, outgoing, determined, social, and energetic. You always look forward to every day, finding something in it that you expect to be fun or exciting. Every night during prayers you say, "Dear God, thank you for today and thank you that it was so much fun...and please let us have a fun day tomorrow." You cry easily when you have expectations and they aren't met, but you get over it quickly and are grinning again before long. Really, nothing keeps you down; you are always making lemonade out of lemons.

You crave interaction with others and really don't play alone well. In fact, being told to play alone is one of the few things that will quickly send you into tears. You usually don't mind being the center of attention or having others focused on you. You love to talk, talk, talk and you love being with friends. You love to act goofy and make silly faces and talk in a baby voice (which drives us a bit batty at times). You are incredibly competitive and would prefer to turn everything into a competition if possible. Sports are your favorite, basically all of them. Your favorite teams are Notre Dame, Panthers, and NC State, just like a year ago, and your sports jerseys are still your favorite shirts. You currently play soccer in the spring and fall and swim on the swim team in the summer, but you also love to practice basketball in the house or play football in the backyard. You also do great throwing a frisbee (no shocker there for anyone who knows your daddy). You pretty much always prefer to be active, but will sometimes settle down to read a book or draw.

You get distracted SO easily, and your daddy and I have gotten to the point where we just laugh about it because it's so "you". You get distracted while getting dressed, while walking places, while doing chores, while brushing your teeth, while going to the bathroom, while eating. We frequently have to remind you to take another bite during dinner (because you're so busy talking) or to keep cleaning up your toys (because you've noticed something and have started talking about that thing to anyone who will listen). We often hear you singing in the bathroom and have to remind you to stay focused if we're in any sort of rush. We bought you a watch that beeps every day when you have ten minutes left for lunch at school, in an attempt to help you finish your food on time. Still, most days you come home and your dessert is still in your lunch box, and you tell us it's because you "ran out of time".

Your favorite toys right now are hot wheels, bey blades, and anything sports-related. You love to play games still, and it's one of my favorite things to do with you. You also still love the iPad and video games, and you and Krew have been playing the Wii or X-box quite a bit.

Krew is still your best friend, and it makes me so incredibly grateful. You two do everything together and honestly very rarely ask for a friend to come over because you have each other. You really support each other through your different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses and are quite the team. It makes my heart sooooo happy.

Over the last year, you successfully reintroduced chicken, peanuts, and tree nuts and got to keep those in your diet. We also tried reintroducing pork and green beans, but those foods failed and you had your second worse scope results ever. We tried green beans again after you healed, but you became symptomatic again and it's now been many months of lingering mild symptoms. You struggle with stomach pain and esophagus spasms, and occasionally food gets stuck in your throat. We increased your medication dose (per your allergist's suggestion) to see if it would help with the symptoms, and it did seem to, but still you haven't been symptom-free long enough to reintroduce another food. We are planning to look into trying a new GI doctor to see if we can get a new viewpoint and some fresh advice. Other than your EoE, some nightime leg pains, and cyclic vomiting syndrome (which has unfortunately happened three times since your 5-year-old blog post), you really are a healthy kid. You don't get stomach bugs and rarely get colds or flu-like sicknesses. We are very thankful for that.

I mean this with love, but I must say that you have always been incredibly clumsy child. Fortunately, over the last few months, you seem to finally be figuring out your body a little more. You are still frequently covered in bruises and scrapes, but you seem to be falling and slamming into things a little less. Just in the last couple of weeks, your daddy and I have noticed that you seem much more in control of your body on the soccer field. And I actually don't remember the last time that you tripped while running down the sidewalk, which is such a huge relief.

One of your favorite ways to start sentences when explaining something is by saying, "Well, exactly...", which is super cute. I was shocked to look back at a video from a year ago and realize that it was sometime over the last 12 months that you learned to say your Rs and Ls. I didn't even remember that it was a struggle for you! But you definitely have them down pat now. Which is a good thing, because you absolutely love to sing and have now joined a nearby Glee Club, where you learn songs with a few other children and sometimes perform for the local farmers' market. You are also now taking piano lessons and really seem to have an interest in music.

One of our biggest struggles with you is still bedtime every night. Due to your EoE and maybe some growing pains, you seem to feel pain and discomfort a lot at nighttime. Probably five out of seven nights you come out of your room complaining that you are experiencing pain in your stomach, throat, or legs. On the nights you aren't experiencing pain, you come up with some other ridiculous reason for getting out of bed (you can't get your covers on the right way, you feel an itch, you are thinking about something, you have a question, etc.). It is a very rare night that we put you to bed and don't see your face at the top of the stairs within the next hour, voicing a concern. Sometimes your daddy and I have a hard time controlling our tempers when you come out of your room three times in 30 minutes. But then, you've been this way ever since we can remember, so I'm not sure why we expect otherwise. I really don't remember a time when you didn't get out of bed at night. You rarely fall asleep before 10pm, and sometimes it's even 10:30 or 11 depending on the night.

Along the lines of bedtime, there is something you do at night when saying goodnight that I never want to forget. It is one of my favorite things that you do right now. You always hug me tight around the neck, wait for me to kiss your cheek, then turn your little face and put a kiss in the center of my cheek. Every. Single. Night. And oh my gosh how it melts my heart.

Alright Roy Boy, I think that sums you up pretty well at age 6. We love you SO much!!

Mommy (and Daddy)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Greyden Roy: 6-Year-Old Interview

Our Roy Boy turned 6 years old on July 28th! As is typical, given all our extended family who visits with us at different times, his birthday celebration lasted a couple weeks. He had several mini parties with relatives, and we also had some friends meet us at the nearby park on his birthday morning. :)

My usual yearly blog post with fancy pictures will be coming hopefully soon. In the meantime, below is his 6-year-old interview! I've also included his 5-year-old interview (same questions) and 4-year-old interview (different questions) for fun if you like to compare. (The way his voiced changed from age 5 to age 6...oh my goodness I couldn't believe it!)


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Krewson Lee at 8 Years Old

Dear Krew,

You’re 8! It’s so great! (Yay for cheesy mom rhymes!!)

Of course I am two months late writing this again, as I am with every one of your birthdays or your brother’s birthdays. Since I have to find a good time to take photos of you and then edit them, and then I have to write a long post, it just takes me some time. But I always get it done eventually. :)

What can I say about 8-year-old Krew? We sure love having you in our lives. You make us smile and warm our hearts daily. You love deeply and love to show people that you care through your words, hugs, and drawings. I have countless cards with hearts and poems on them where you've expressed your love for me. It's adorable.

As I say almost every year, you are our sensitive, introspective, and inquisitive boy. You are very consistent in those characteristics.

Also consistently from years past, you are still very cautious, careful, and responsible. You follow the rules, do not like to take risks, and are always concerned about safety.

Interestingly, we’ve discovered that at times you will decide that you cannot or should not do something (such as write a school paper that you don’t feel equipped to write according to your own personal standards) and you will adamantly refuse to do it no matter the rules. Your teacher even commented on this, mentioned that she’s had to learn work-arounds with you, because if you decide that you cannot do an assignment well enough, you will absolutely refuse to try no matter what anyone says. I tried to discuss this with you once and sway your thinking. I told you that you get grades at school, and that if you do not do any writing at all you will get a bad grade. Then I said, isn’t it better to write something and get an average grade rather than write nothing at all and get a bad grade? You replied by telling me that you don’t care what grade you get, all you care about is if you think it’s written the way YOU think it should be written. (Insert mom face palm emoji.)

You will react similarly in other situations, such as soccer practice and piano lessons. Some of it seems to be issues with perfectionism, a lot of it seems to stem from your struggles with anxiety.

Anxiety has been a hard thing this year. You’ve struggled with both social and situational anxiety. We had you seeing a therapist for a while, and we also do some workbooks together to help you with cognitive behavioral tactics. Your daddy and I are also reading books and listening to podcasts to learn how to best help you. It’s been a relief to see some progress lately, now that we’ve figured out some methods that seem to help you.

You also have times of what appears to be depression, which usually lasts a couple weeks to a month. We haven’t been able to figure out what triggers these episodes or what helps you eventually pull out of them. However, we’re always watching you carefully, ready to get some outside help if we need it.

You feel things so deeply, both emotionally and physically. You still avoid almost all movies and sad or scary stories. It’s rare that a day goes by without tears springing to your eyes over something. Sometimes it’s that you’re concerned about another person or worried you’ve done something wrong, and sometimes it’s because your socks are too scratchy or a sound is too loud or you feel too hot or too cold. Oftentimes it’s because you’re being asked to do something that makes you feel anxious, and you become so overwhelmed that you can’t help but cry. But I love this sensitive side of you. It makes you YOU. You wouldn’t be Krew if you weren’t tender. And because of it, you tend to see more quickly when others are hurting and reach out to try to offer comfort.

I't's not all tears and struggles with you, and I don't want to give that impression. You are also a very smart, witty, and giggly boy. You crack jokes and frequently use sarcasm (I credit that acquired skill to your father's influence). You can be goofy and silly and so much fun.

And interestingly enough, if you get overly comfortable or self-assured with someone, you can swing to the opposite end of the pendulum and become CRAZY. You’ll become loud, somewhat obnoxious, hyper, and smart-alecky. It’s something we’re working on learning to manage together. ;)

You have great body awareness and control, and when you put your mind to it you can do well at many athletic activities including soccer and swim team. It is usually the mental component that causes you to struggle. You get incredibly anxious when you think about others watching you, which causes you to panic and shut down while playing sports. But with enough encouragement and external motivation, we’ve kept you active with both swimming on the swim team and playing soccer. We've give you the option to switch to different activities, but you tell us that if you have to do something then you guess you'll do sports. (Insert mom shrug emoji.)

You are also still taking piano lessons, and it’s so fun to watch and listen to you read music. The last recital a couple weeks ago was hard for you due to all the people watching, but with a little extra encouragement you DID IT and we were SO PROUD of you!!

You love to read and it makes me so happy to see you in your bed or on the couch with a book in your lap. Your favorite things to read are nonfiction books full of facts and graphic novels (long comic books). You are also still very much into Minecraft and will spend hours playing it if we let you.

You are an amazingly creative child, coming up with all kinds of fascinating ideas, drawings and other artwork, and creations out of Legos. You also love to learn about science and really enjoy science kits.

You are still small (17th percentile for height), but we don’t notice it as much because you are one of the oldest kids in your grade and so you look average next to most of your friends. You’ve lost six teeth. You have longer hair now because you requested to grow it out, and I think you wear it well. :) Also I think your eyes are looking more and more gray rather than blue.

Alright buddy, I think that’s it!! We love you!!


Thursday, May 3, 2018

I'm getting better.

Slowly but surely, I’m getting better.

I felt a surprising lift in my mood within a day or two of seeing my integrative doctor last Wednesday. I’m not sure if it was because I’d finally realized what was going on and had it acknowledged, or maybe because I was feeling the effects of the supplement I’d added back in several days earlier.

This past weekend, alternatively and unfortunately, was pretty low for me. Every conversation, every activity, everything I did, it just hurt. It hurt down to my core, like I had just experienced some great loss although I hadn’t. I felt both raw and numb, if it’s possible to feel those things simultaneously. I don’t even know how to explain it. My gut hurt, my heart hurt, my soul hurt, I just hurt and didn’t want to be experiencing anything. I wanted to sleep until I knew it would go away.

Dave encouraged me last week to let myself cry more, so I tried to let myself do that over the weekend whenever I was in a safe place. Ironically, our pastor’s sermon this past Sunday was about pain and learning to safely express it and cope with it rather than trying to ignore it and letting it pass on to hurt other people. I took in a lot from his message, but one of the most fascinating things to me was when he said that toxins are actually released when we cry tears of negative emotions, but not when we cry tears of happy emotions. We are literally expelling the ugly things when we cry an ugly cry. So I’m officially trying to let myself ugly cry a little more. It’s apparently good not only for my soul, but for my body too.

This week, probably starting on Monday, I felt the cloud begin to lift. I no longer was feeling a heavy dread 24/7. Greyden had some slightly alarming EoE symptoms over the weekend and then on Monday also, and Dave and I found ourselves trying to somewhat quickly contact his doctors at the beginning of the week to decide on a plan of action. It took a couple days, but as of yesterday the doctors all agreed that it appeared that Greyden is having an allergic reaction to green beans and we need to permanently remove them from his diet. Of course this made me a bit sad for him, because the kid loves green beans. I was texting a friend about all of this and without even thinking I typed to her, “It could be way worse.” And then I was like, whoah, where did that come from. That’s an old Kara thought. That’s a “this sucks, but we got this” thought. That’s not a depressed Kara thought. And that was the moment that I knew my depression must really be healing.

There have been some other signs I’m getting better, including a new passion to write some support blog posts for other parents of EoE kids. I found a void in others’ lives and I want to help fill it. And again I’m like, where is this coming from? How do I all of a sudden have the energy and drive to do something for others, something that requires effort? And then I’m like, praise the Lord, it’s because I’m feeling better. The real Kara, the Kara I want to be, is slowly starting to emerge.

I’m on my way back.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

[My] Symptoms of Depression

For me, from what I can remember, it started with moments, then hours, then days, of feeling overwhelmed with life and all its responsibilities. It all just seemed like too much. At first these feelings would come and go, but then they started to stick around.

I found myself looking at my friends’ difficulties around me and my heart breaking for them and then I started wondering how anyone had the energy and motivation to continue fighting through their lives.

I started becoming tired, needing more sleep but never feeling rested.

Then I found myself wanting to explode. I felt so overwhelmed, but I felt like no one saw me. They didn’t see who I really was, what I was struggling with, and I then I simultaneously felt overly demanding and guilt-ridden for wanting that recognition.

I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. No chance of feeling carefree ever again. My life was doomed to be a long, tired fight. A fight against disease, mental health, hard parenting, health problems, people dying, hard diagnoses, exhaustion, mean people, people who didn’t get it and didn’t care.

I just wanted to sleep so I didn’t have to deal.
I didn’t want to clean the house. Too overwhelming.
I didn’t want to cook. Too much energy required.
I didn’t want to read fiction or anything light-hearted. Entertainment seemed frivolous when the world was so wrong. But then sometimes I wanted to escape my pain so I would decide the book or a funny movie was worth it. (Jumanji actually did me a lot of good last week.)

I looked around at other people with problems, and they seemed fine. Did they not see how messed up this world is? How were they ok?

The little things that used to make me smile didn’t feel worth smiling about anymore. I tried to smile anyway though.

I felt like lashing out at my kids and my husband. Not all the time, but much more than normal. I tried to hold it in, pray through it. What was wrong with me?

Eventually it felt like there was a hole in my chest.

And maybe people who’ve never felt depression don’t realize this, but depression can hurt. Literally hurt. You can feel like you’re in pain 24/7. For me, it hurts in my chest. I feel like there is a hole in the middle of me. And simultaneously, I feel like there’s this heavy, dirty blanket I’m carrying around over my soul, everywhere I go, and it makes even the best, happiest of scenarios feel bleak and heavy and muddy.

I met with my integrative doctor yesterday. She looked at my health history and found a couple possible supplement changes that could have unexpectedly triggered my body to go into depression, so we switched those things around. One of them I had actually switched on my own a couple days prior. She also gave me some new supplements to support my brain and help it calm down and heal. We are meeting again in 7 to 10 days to see if I’m seeing any improvement. She agreed that if we can’t get me healed, antidepressants are a reasonable solution. I’m so thankful to have found a crunchy professional who helps me with my health issues in a natural way whenever possible, but who also acknowledges that sometimes conventional methods and medications are warranted.

Already last night I felt better than I’d felt in at least a week and a half. And today a song came on in the car and I felt my heart leap with happiness and joy for a split second. And then I thought, “Whoah, what the heck was that???” and I realized that that feeling had been completely absent from my life for quite a while. I used to feel it many times a day. My eyes teared up, but they were good tears, because I suddenly felt tangible hope that I would be ok again.

I share all this info because yes, it’s therapeutic to do so, but also because I really, really, really don’t want others to have to suffer through depression and not realize it’s happening. If you see yourself in any of this and it’s been more than a week or so, please please talk to someone. Depression affects everything. It makes it hard to maintain quality of life, hard to maintain relationships, and honestly, hard to maintain your relationship with God. I don’t know why God allows depression and other mental issues, and gosh it’s frustrating because everything seems impossible when your head and heart are aching and nonfunctional, no matter what you say or read or do.

Also, some people may disagree with me, but in my experience, very little of depression is a thought or heart issue. It is a physical illness. Your brain is misfiring. Your body is not working. Sometimes it's a response to a traumatic experience. Sometimes it's a bodily response to other life stresses and changes. Sometimes it's just your body stops working the way it should for one reason or another. Trust me, when I’m depressed, I know what thought processes I SHOULD be having. I’ve studied lots of cognitive therapy recently for helping Krew with his struggles. I know much of the Bible, I know much of God’s truths, I know what it is to pray and feel close to God and surrender and know He’s holding me in His hands. But when I’m in a depression, which I’ve now experienced several times? Those things are all still in my head, but I can’t process them. I know them, but they’re inaccessible. They make no sense. And because of this, I know I have to heal my body first. Once my body starts to heal, then I can start thinking those right things again and get myself the rest of the way better. But until I get some bodily healing (which for me has been through medication or supplements), trying to climb out of depression is pretty futile.

Alright, I think that’s all for now. Hopefully these depressed posts will stop soon. Thank you to all of you who have reached out recently to send love and support or let me know you’re praying. It means the world to me. You all rock.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Depression. It's sneaky.

I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I think it was probably about a month ago. Maybe longer. You’d think I’d recognize it by now, given that I’ve been diagnosed with it several times in the past (and have come out of it each time, thank goodness), but depression can be sneaky and you don’t even see it slowly creeping in.

Yesterday I started crying and I couldn’t stop. Literally, couldn’t stop. I was curled up in bed while Greyden was on the iPad downstairs and Krew was at school, and I saw no end to the tears, so I texted Dave to tell him I was falling apart. Bless that man’s heart, he asked if I needed him to come home, and I said yes.

I think I cried for two or three hours. I cried until he got home. I continued crying after he got home. We talked and I cried. The tears would start to dry up a bit, then I’d try to talk about something else and they would start pouring again. I just couldn’t get all the pain out.

I’m not sure which came first, the overwhelm with life or the depression. It’s a chicken and egg scenario. Either way, I’m filled up with both right now.

Dave and I chatted and agreed that I’m not ok and that I need help. I immediately texted my integrative doc and she scheduled me an appointment for this afternoon. If she can’t get the depression to lift quickly through her herbs and supplements, I’ll call a conventional doctor to get an antidepressant prescription. I know my integrative doc will support me in that decision, because she’s pretty awesome and reasonable like that. I’ve used antidepressant meds in the past, and I know they work, and despite how crunchy I may now be, I am 100% willing to be on them again if it will take this horrible feeling in my chest away.

Speaking of horrible feeling in my chest. I feel like I should share the symptoms I’m experiencing so that anyone else who is feeling this way can recognize it and know that there is hope and help. It will have to come in a future blog post, but I will make sure it is soon while all this is fresh and clear in my mind. But for now, just let me say: “You guys, THERE IS HOPE AND HELP AND I KNOW IT AND WANT YOU TO KNOW IT TOO.” I know because I’ve been here before and I’ve come through. (One of my experiences was postpartum depression, which you can read about here: http://www.just1step.com/2011/05/postpartum-depression-my-take.html.)

I also want to ask for extra grace for a while. I’m having a very hard time being a kind, reasonable human being right now. I’m trying, goodness I’m trying, but everything in me wants to say “Screw you, world” and go curl up under my covers. If you’ve seen that side of me, I’m sorry. I’m trying very hard to fight it. Hopefully it will be under better control soon.

I’m thankful I have the type of people in my life where I can share this and know I’ll receive love and understanding. Thanks guys.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Krewson Lee: 8-year-old interview

Krew turned 8 years old on March 5th! Yaaaaay buddy!

He had a bagillion mini birthday celebrations with family and friends, as seems to be the case for birthdays around here. :)

Here is his annual interview. I love seeing how there are some consistencies with years past, but he's still grown and changed so much. I've posted the other years' interviews below, too, so you can reminisce if you'd like. ;)

We love you Krew!!

Age 8:

Age 7:

Age 6:

Age 5:

Age 4: