Happy Birthday, Sweet Little Girl

How is it possible for a year to go so fast?
...for a tiny, sleeping, pink bundle

...to turn into a crawling, clapping, dancing, giggling, smiling, babbling little girl

It happened right before my eyes and still... I can't believe it! My baby girl is ONE today!

We just love this girl...she makes our world go 'round... Happy, Happy Birthday, Ella-Girl.


on my mind

In the hopes that I might get a little sleep tonight I thought I'd put my thoughts to paper, uhh, screen.
When I was in beauty school I worked on a LOT of older women - they were my main clientelle. It was fun to talk them into color or a new haircut; most wanted a new do and it was fun to give it them. There were a few, though, that I just didn't get. These were the ones that came in for a shampoo set week after week with nothing to talk about but their ailing health. They were the ones who didn't wash their own hair because they couldn't lift their arms over there heads in the shower and didn't dare lay down in the tub incase they couldn't get back up. As much as I tried to steer the conversation away from their health problems, it always came back to that. I thought, "does this lady have NOTHING in her life besides her bad health?! Can't she think of ANYTHING else?"
I understand now. When you have bad health it IS your life. It's not that you have nothing better to think about, it's that it's all you can think about. It is what you are, it is your lifestyle, it just is the way it is.
The words, Severe Food Allergy, don't get the same reaction from people as diabetes, or such and such syndrome, or cancer. But for me, the words have the same meaning - a "disease" that has to managed, and dealt with and lived with. Something that can become, and sometimes is, debilitating. Something that could ultimately take my boy's life.
I have great empathy for people whose children suffer with life-threatening illness, people whose children are confined to wheelchairs, people who have to give their kids around the clock care, people who try to give their kids as "normal" of a life as they can have. From the outside looking in, no one would think of me as a mom with a kid like that... and I am grateful that my son's issues are quite manageable. But when I see him scratching his skin, all over, until it bleeds, when he starts panting and asking for benedryl, when his lips swell and he gets hives around them and in his eyes, I just wish people knew that he DOES suffer and THIS IS A BIG DEAL.
I have a nagging feeling that no one would question me if I said Austin had diabetes; people would make an effort to give sugar-free snacks, or even non-edible treats for birthdays and class parties, no one would think twice about not giving a diabetic child candy.
Yet, no matter how I say it, people don't seem to understand. His teacher let someone bring a jar of peanuts to be served at a buffet. More than one friend, has given out PBandJ's or even handfulls of pistachios and almonds while Austin was there. I've picked kids up for carpools and they've brought their peanut butter and jelly in the car with them. "sorry, it's all I had." they say. I understand. Who am I to say what someone can or can't feed their kid. All I know is that I panic every time Austin is around nuts. And I panic at people's indifference and lack of understanding. And I flashback to seeing his unconsious, blue little body at 2, after an anaphalactic reaction.
Everytime Austin leaves the house, I send him with his own food. Before a birthday party, I call the mom and find out what she's serving. I try to make the same thing for him to bring - so he gets to eat what they're eating and still be safe.
On this day, I called the mom, explained the allergies, told her Austin could only eat his own food, asked if peanuts would be served, asked if she could have the kids wash their hands after ice cream. It's hard for me to do that, becuase I feel intrusive and annoying. But if they saw him after a reaction they'd understand. She didn't understand. She said, "gosh, good thing {her son} didn't want to have Rocky Road!" In a rush I think: he's not safe there, she's annoyed that I'm making this a big deal, people are going to stop inviting him because it's too hard to worry about handwashing and what food is safe, I should teach Austin to use his own Epi-pen, no. still not old enough, do I tell her about that now too?!..." I give a courtesy laugh, hang up the phone, and start crying.
It's hard to find a balance, even here at home, with living a "normal" life and paying attention to what's in the food we eat, and even what we don't eat. I picked up Landon from scouts the other day and he jumped in the front seat with a bowl. It had pinecone bird feeders in it, that they had just made. He had peanut butter smeared on his shirt and pants, the peanut butter smeared strings were hanging over the sides of the bowl, his hands had peanut butter on them. I wanted to make him get out of the car, walk home. Instead I calmly got out a napkin, told him not to touch anything. We hung his feeders up high in our tree and threw the bowl in the garbage. He went in and took off his clothes and put them in the washing machine. We washed our hands. I wiped down the door handles to the car and the house.
After Young Women's, the other night, I was cleaning up. There was extra cake (it was Costco - I LOVE Costco cake - the filling is like bismark doughnut filling). We were putting pieces on plates for us to take home. I said no thanks. Of course everyone said, "Come one, just take some." They think I'm trying to be nice or something. Really I don't want it because when someone offers me food all I can think is, "is it safe for Austin? Do I have something similar to give him? Do I have time to make something?" I can't bring it home because...well, how would you feel if everyone was eating cake and you couldn't have any. It's just easier to make my own that Austin can eat.
Managing food allergies has been a big adjustment for us. And it continues to be. Austin has been having other reactions lately. He tested positive for wheat allergy. The allergist said not to worry about it because it was such a low positive. But then he started having symptoms. I live in a city with NO health food store - in order to buy the ingredients I need to put him on a wheat,peanut,and dairy free diet I have to drive 55 minutes (one way). It's hard to fit that in because I have 3 kids with 3 different school schedules, and going at night after Cameron gets home is hard too because I barely can get there before the store closes. So, I try to organize and figure out ways to make it okay. I've heard of all the new research, we haven't found a doctor that's willing to try to desensitize Austin, yet. I've heard of chiropractic therapy to help. We'll see. For now I have to get his allergies under controll. That means, figuring out what's causing his reactions, that means restricted diets, that means I really have to organize and plan meals better. I'm overwhelmed by it all, to be honest.
One thing I have discovered is a great shake recipe - it's one of our favorite breakfast/afterschool snacks:
in a blender (I use a Ninja, that I love, thanks Mom!) put a handful of spinach (yes, spinach, you won't taste it, I PROMISE!), a cup of yogurt (we use SOY) a couple handfuls of frozen fruit, some grape juice (grape or fruit punch is best because it hides the green spinach color - but we've this with OJ and it tastes good too), and some soy milk to make it extra creamy. Mix it all together until it's smooth and you'll kids will ask for it everyday, especially if you give them a straw!
I just love Austin. He's happy and energetic. He is such a good helper. He's a fort building, stuffed animal loving, book reading, ball bouncing, couch jumping, great kid. He is dependable and responsible. He is hillarious. He has a great ability to sense what someone needs and to do it. He is always trying to make someone happy. He handles all of this very well. He's learning to ask, "does this have nuts in it?" instead of, "can I have this?". He's careful about handwashing. He's excited to bring lunch next year when he finally gets to have a full day at school - another thing I worry about, since the school won't go peanut free. And so the circle continues, maybe it does for every mother, the worry...
*edited to add: The comments I've recieved have reminded me that I have so, so, so much support from so many friends and family. And for you, I am grateful.


Sports Day: Once a Hawkeye, Always a Hawkeye

The kids met their "AR" goals for the quarter so they got to dress up in their favorite sports team gear. Landon was beyond sad that he didn't have an Iowa shirt that still fit him. "Can't we go get one?" well, no...Mountain Home's Walmart doesn't sell Iowa shirts. So I told him to wear his AirForce shirt (he didn't have a Utah shirt that fit him either) and I would paint his face for Iowa.
An artist, I'm NOT. But, the little stencil I made turned out okay.
And it satisfied Landon's desire to wear all things Hawkeye. Except, when he got home from school and told me he was FURIOUS because "everyone" kept asking him why he was wearing an Idaho Vandels "I" with a Boise State Bronco's shirt. Landon said he had to point to the Tigerhawk and say, "it's Iowa!" and point to his shirt and say, "it's an AirForce shirt!" "don't they know how to read, Mom?!"
...Still I think he was happy to have his face painted.
Isaac and Austin wore their Iowa shirts too. Austin wanted to wait until JUST before his afternoon Kindergarten class to paint his face, "so it doesn't scratch off, Mom." {The lighting in my kitchen is much better at 11:45 than it was at 8:00 that morning.}
He said everyone in his class thought it was cool his face was painted.


Christmas 2010 and {other} December Highlights

MORE than you ever wanted to know about our family's December...

We started the month off right - getting in the mood for Christmas at our Stake's creche. This year was a little extra neat for the kids because they were excited to show us the pictures of them dressed up as Joseph. Also, the girls I teach at church (the mia-maids) were singing in the chior...I feel like they're my own and I was proud of them.

Landon, for some reason, was OBSESSED with the idea of stringing popcorn for our tree. We got a real one this year (of course, that day I forgot the camera but we had so fun picking it out and throwing snowballs at eachother!), maybe that's why. I was sick of all my cheap tree decorations anyway, so I threw everything away (except the ornaments we've been collecting for the kids for the past 8 years) and set out to decorate our tree "the old fashioned way". We spent a night stringing popcorn and cranberries while we watched "Enchanted".

We spent DAYS making BATCHES of different cookies. After Austin's allergy reactions at Thanksgiving, and a few reactions at Christmas parties earlier in December, I was determined to keep him safe. We froze bags of cookies and took them with us to all our parties, his class party, and our trip to Utah.

The kids had wrestling most nights the first 2 1/2 weeks of December. The boys love it because the High School wrestling team coaches them - so they get two on one coaching. Plus, Cameron wrestled in high school so they all practice at night after he gets home from work.

Our Christmas Eve was everything Christmas Eve should be...minus the grandmas and grandpas... it was peacful, cheerful, and fun. I cooked crab, rolls and baked potatoes, Landon made pistachio pudding, we had green salad and cranberry salad too - "a FEAST", Austin kept saying.
We ate, the kids opened their Christmas PJ's, we watched the Nativity, and we finished our 12 days of Christmas stories (I wrapped 12 pictures and scripture stories of Jesus' life from the Bible. Each night one of the boys opened one and we talked about ways we could be more Christ-like and the reasons Christ was born. Some nights the boys were crazy and barely listened but other nights we had a good discussion and they seemed to really catch on to what we were trying to teach. At any rate, it brought us together at the end of the night to have a little family time.)

Christmas Morning was our most christmasy-magical Christmas morning yet. Landon kept telling my how happy he was, "and not just because of my presents, Mom, it's just such a good day!" Ella slept through our morning present-opening so we saved her stuff to open when we got to Utah that night. The kids were so happy and grateful for everything they got. And they were so excited to give eachother the little things they bought at their school store. They each got two gifts from Santa and three from us, plus each boy got motorcycle goggles and helmets to go with...
...the motorcyle! We only got one for them to share. Landon's about to grow out of this size and Isaac is growing into it, so I'm sure our motorcycle collection will grow as time goes by - especially when we are done moving with the Air Force (when you know you're moving again soon, less is more, I say ;) )

They took rides right away. Cameron was as happy as they were - he is an awesome "boy-dad". I love how he really knows how to have fun and it's contagious for the kids.
When they got too cold they ran in the house, got dressed, and went right back out.

While I made French Toast the boys rode around the neighborhood - if anyone was still asleep I'm sure they weren't for long.

We took a little more time to play with some of the other stuff the kids got. Then we booked it to clean up a little, pack the cars (yes I said cars - we drove the van and the truck 'cause we had Cameron's snowmobile and a bunch of other stuff, crayZ) and take off for Utah.

We got to my parents house and opened even MORE presents! Ella got to finally have her first Christmas. The kids had a great time with the things they got. We ate more and hung out.

We spent the rest of the week with our family. Cameron took a couple days to snowmobile with his dad and brother... and my dad too. We had a cousin gift exchange with the Perigo cousins. We "forced" ourselves to play cards a couple times. Stayed up way too late talking and laughing with Steph and Jared. We saw Tangled, went shopping, ate at our favorite places. Grandma Perigo spent at least 2 hours playing games with Austin. We spent a day with Grandma Meier, played with cousins, the kids told her they were hungry the second we walked in the door, lost her TV remote, ate her bannana bread, probably drove her her crazy! We went down to Spanish Fork and picked up a cow (litterally - it was butchered! we went in on it with Cameron's siblings and parents) and while we were there we visited with Grandma Ruth and Cameron's aunt and uncle. We got sick, and everyone else sick, so we spent some time resting. We had so much fun I didn't even take time to take pictures. These were the only ones I took the whole week.
...and THAT officially wraps up 2010...



...getting the house back together after the holidays
(every room needs an overhaul; Ella, at least, keeps the cupboards organized)
and fighting colds... and ear infections (me and Ella both had one in our left ears, mines gone, hers isn't), and sinus infections... now that I've joined the Land of the Living again - seriously, I've been so sick, I even slept through picking the kids up from school; luckily they started walking and I picked them up along the way - 20 minutes late! I needed prescription cough medicine just so I could sleep- I'm hoping to spend this week getting caught up on everything I've been putting off; Cameron's on TDY again this week so we'll see how far I get.