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August

Just like the previous “new start months”, January and June, August gives us a chance to reset our schedule, make new goals, and find a new family rhythm for the season.

Unlike my resolutions in January and my summer bucket list in June, I generally don’t write down any goals in August; I just make more promises to myself…. ones that I have really good intentions of carrying out through May.  I’ll always put a handwritten note in her lunch.  I’ll take the girls outside everyday, even when it’s snowing.  I’ll volunteer in her classroom so I can get to know her friends.  I’ll occupy Bea’s time with manipulatives and busy boxes so she will learn this school year too.

And then by September, those promises sound a lot less golden and take some mustering to execute.

Finding our new rhythm always takes some floundering too.  MG is off to school two early (for us) mornings a week.  And it makes sense after I drop her off that I do my errands while I’m in town.  So I’ve had to readjust our schedule a bit to accommodate.  Bea is adjusting (rather quickly) to life as an only child on those days, and I find I’m really enjoying my solo time with her.  For one thing, the house is a lot more peaceful without any bickering or fighting over toys and for another, my mind isn’t being constantly occupied by questions, so I have more space to devote to her ever expanding vocabulary and communication.

As far as MG and school, she is transitioning slowly (her general M.O.), but well.  When I drop her off, I get the I don’t want to go to school today schtick.  But by the time we get there, she is eager to carry her backpack in, hang it on her hook, and jump right in to playing with her friends (only one of whom she can ever remember their names….progress…).  She takes a nap every single day which seems a little strange for my non-napping 4.5 year old, but I think it’s good for her brain to rest after all of the new stimulation.

Speaking of naps, can I get a hallelujah that Bea is still a great napper?!?  When MG was the same age, she had already been consistently skipping naps on a weekly basis and it was a struggle for both of us.  Bea still sleeps a solid 3 hours in the middle of the day and not only that but I lay her down and I don’t hear from her again for that time.  The two days a week when MG is at school, this time is especially golden.  Three solid hours of uninterrupted time!  I can tell I am especially refreshed on these days and have much more energy to tackle whatever the evening holds.

I would be remiss if I didn’t post something of the heartache August has also brought us.  I lost both of my living grandparents (dad’s side) within three short weeks.  They both lived till their nineties and a few health issues between them, their loss to our family still feels like a cold shock.  I eulogized them on FB and IG but it was especially sweet to spend time at the funerals and hear others’ eulogies of them as we sat and mourned together.  Right now, I’m saving up some sweet stories and memories in my heart.  Maybe someday, it won’t feel so raw to type them out.

Less noteworthy, but also sad, we lost Teacup this month.  We played with her on a Saturday morning, left for an hour, and when we came back, we saw her body, unmoving, on the side of the road (thankfully though MG was in the car with us, she didn’t).  With the kitties being outdoor cats, we knew this was a possibility, but it still felt especially tragic to lose her, like this, on the day of my Grandfather’s death.

While I distracted the girls inside, N recovered her body and buried her in a special spot in the yard, with a handmade cross.  We took the girls outside and explained (to MG really) what happened.  We fumbled our way through it, trying to use gentle words, but direct the conversation as she began to ask questions.  It took her a few minutes of asking questions and processing before the wave of grief overcame her and she sat in our laps, bereft, for over an hour.  Her first broken heart.

Like a sweet sister cat, Birdie sat attentively on her lap as MG sobbed into N’s shoulder, and she has been good to her ever since.  I had no idea what to expect her grieving process to look like but after a good day of sadness, she seems to have emotionally moved on.  She still asks questions every once in a while, and she asks me to check on Teacup (her grave) while she is at school.  We concluded that since my Grampy loved animals so much, perhaps he is spending his first few days in Heaven taking care of Teacup.

I sure hope September gives us a break because our hearts are a little tender over here right now.

-smk

 

Summer Wrap up

Today is the very last day of summer break.   The alarms are set, the lunches are packed, the outfits are neatly laid out.  This is it.

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(the first day outfit still needed some finishing touches in this picture, but I’m having   SO MUCH FUN creating some fall pieces  for MG)

Just like all summers before it, this one went by too fast.  But unlike summers before it, I’m not left with any lingering feelings of regret  nor that nagging feeling of desperation…a state of denial that it’s really over.

Over the years we’ve worked really hard on our delicate summer balance of trips, work, and play and this year we concluded that we hit it pretty close to perfect.  It’s similar to the feeling of not receiving a tax return check because you had just the right amount of exemptions taken out of your paycheck.  Disappointment cloaked in diligence.

IMG_2507On July 22, we celebrated 9 years of marriage.  Our big trip was really the celebration, so a quiet dinner out was the perfect endcap.  Our anniversary has always felt like an indelible summer line.  I try to hold off on my feelings that summer is over until we’ve reached it, and then once we have, I know it’s time to begin the grieving process.

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Our little garden experiment went fairly well, all things considered.  We had a ton of rain especially in June and I don’t think I watered more than 2-3 times the whole summer.  We also lost a futile battle against crabgrass.  Next summer, we’ll do more prep work to keep it at bay.  But we’re still getting tomatoes and beans out of it and we’ve eaten quite a few already along with several kinds of peppers.  Valiant rookie year, next year we will go for the gold.

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(hallway, taken at night)IMG_2568

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(new bed, still needs to be styled but had to show off N’s handiwork)

One of the big pushes this summer was to cross a lot of house projects off our list.  As far as production goes, it was a huge success!  And I can’t tell you how it feels to be relieved of that burden. We only have one big project left (replace the bathroom vanities) aside from a few other little light fixtures here and touches up there.  I’m so glad we can head into the busy part of fall and not have these to-do’s hanging over us.  N installed two new floors, made a bed, had new wiring installed for an industrial light fixture, added a window and new door in the sister room, and finished up some painting.

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(new upper, upper cabinets to extend the height)

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(sister room inspo, silhouettes by N)

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(creative collab with Hello Maypole,  “this one’s for the girls” color way)

Our kitchen received its finishing touches and there is a new sister room coming to the schoolhouse soon.  One of the floors N laid will be the base and I’m envisioning greens, pinks, and bright colors, along with this succulent quilt I made (copycat from an Anthro pineapple quilt I was inspired by)

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The kittens have been a wonderful addition to our lives this summer.  They are (still?) so sweet to the girls and MG has been doing a great job of keeping them fed and watered for her chores.  Whenever we are outside, at least one of them is around and purring.  Dream come true.

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I had nearly forgotten until almost the end of the summer what a treasure (??) Taylor Lake is. The local moms start arriving around 11:00-11:30 and spread their blankets under the ample shade trees like a giant patchwork quilt.  The kids eat their pb&j’s and dip their hands into Costco sized bags of pretzels or chips as sides while making visuals as to where their friends are.  Sunscreen and floaties are applied and then sand digging and swimming can begin.  The moms begin their seaside vigil (with the help of lifeguards) but we cover the hours and back with stories and our best offerings (advice).  The kids get dirty feet and track sand all the way back to the car but they leave tired and happy.  And so do the moms.  We will certainly miss it when we are hibernating this winter.

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MG met her teacher last night and school commences tomorrow.  I’m not ready.  But I’m ready.  She’s ready.

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I spent an hour last week carefully sharpie-ing her name onto all of her supplies, envisioning her using them to make beautiful creations.  I wondered who her new friends would be and if she would love her teacher to the point of obsession, like most pre-schoolers do.  I wonder what books she will be introduced to this year and how long it will take for her to feel comfortable speaking up in class.  Our home-dictated schedule is coming to an end and we are about to embark on the next chapter of MG’s life.  The one that starts and ends with school.

Happy School Days to you,

-smk

The Sick and the Sad

 

**ive just been doing a little reflecting on how far we’ve come in a year.  This was in my draft folder and I decided to publish it today to remember where we were and how our circumstances have changed**

There is nothing much worse than waking up to the sound of your 3 year old retching.

There is nothing more pitiful than realizing your 3 year old knows how to throw up all by herself and is past the point of even alerting you anymore.

Up until April of this year, mg had literally never thrown up in her three years of life.  She wasn’t even a spit uppy baby.  Oh how I dreaded the day of the stomach bug and did everything natural I could to prevent it.  I’ve gotten a stomach virus every year since being pregnant with her and the thought of getting it again, in all how att, keeps me awake at night. Some people are good with vomit and bodily fluids and the like (bless your hearts, nurses)  But as for myself, I just can’t and don’t.  And pray it doesn’t come out way.  Just the mere mention of those two words together and my palms start to get a little sweaty. I start to feel nauseous (sympathy belly) and I avoid that person like…well..the plague

I hope this isn’t too gross but there is something about vomit that is just so visceral.  I like clean, calm,control (I’m working on it, yall) and the norovirus threatens to wreak havoc on all of that.
But anyway, back to the story.  Just so we’re clear that I ABHOR vomiting…

Her first bout of it literally was one episode andfeeling great the rest of the day.  I felt proud of myself for surviving that.  I felt proud of her that she wasn’t scared when it happened (that is such a weird concept to explain to kids, huh?).  And amazed that a stomach bug entered our house and we all remained relatively unscathed.

Three months later, she picked up another stomach bug.  This one was easy to trace to a source and having been exposed we figured it was only a matter of time before one of us
succumbed.  She was the first to go down but once again it only involved getting sick once and great spirits prevailed.

Forty eight hours later I was starting to relinquish a bit on my bleaching and homeopathic remedies for bug prevention.  I thought we’d once again gotten off pretty easily considering and I felt my anxiety towards stomach bugs in general, lift a little bit.  Maybe this was God’s way of showing me I don’t need to fear (I literally do fear these things) vomit in the house.  By day 3 I was sure we were all clear.

So that’s why day 4 caught me so off guard when I woke up to a revisit from the bug, and the victim was once again MG.

And it happened again on day 5, and day 12, and day 18, 19, and 20 with good and bad days in between.  Around day 6 I started to come down with it and then Bea and N both caught mild versions around day 8.  So we knew it was a contagious bug but our guts (pun unintended) told us there was something bigger going on.

We visited her doctor a few times during all of the sick days.  At first they told us that it’s normal for kids to take a while to recover from bugs like these.  But then they too, started to grow more concerned, as the sickness stretched from a week, to two, to almost a month.  We followed their advice and began to cut certain food groups out of her diet: unfermented dairy, gluten, and raw vegetables.  This seemed to help, but it obviously didn’t cure.

We fell into a predictable pattern.  MG would complain of a stomach ache upon waking up but then would be seemingly normal throughout the day.  She would have a normal appetite and act completely fine.  Then early the following morning, she would wake up, throw up mucous, and then experience stomach cramping, diarrhea, and more mucous-y vomiting for the next three days.

The lowest point for me was once again, the middle of the night, retching, after over a month of sickness.  I begged N to take her to the ER (I was still breastfeeding Bea at the time).  I was sure that a different doctor needed to see her (and was pretty convinced she had giardisis which requires antibiotic treatment)

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He complied. And it turned out she didn’t have it. We were stuck again waiting.  Waiting for her to be healed, but knowing that until something gave, we probably wouldn’t see that.  We just didn’t know how to get treatment or answers.

All of the up and down was really grating on me and all of the sickness was really starting to make me panic.  Even N, the ever calm one, was staring to worry about our sweet girl.

Finally after yet another bout of sickness, her doctor told us to once again follow the diet (which we’d already been doing) but even more strictly.  If she gets sick again in the next four days, I will refer her to a pediatric gastroenterologist, she said.

So when MG did, the doctor immediately got us an appointment.

We didn’t have to wait very long to see this doctor and we were pleasantly surprised when she instantly diagnosed MG with “delayed stomach emptying”.  Basically after a stomach bug, your body produces a high amount of acid for some time while it regulates (can be up to six months later).  That seems to be the root of her stomach aches.  The mucousy vomitting is probably caused by her intestines which aren’t fully healed and are reacting to certain foods.  So for the next three months we were to put her on a low-acid, low-fiber, low-fat, no gluten, no dairy diet.  (so what is she supposed to eat??)  The doctor did say that processed dairy was okay, like cheese and yogurt.  This was all MG heard and immediately began asking me if she could have cheese.

OKay, why not, I thought.  If this doctor said it was okay.  So I gave her a tiny amount with her lunch that day.

Sure enough, the next day she fell ill.

Well, we strictly adhered to the diet from that moment on and she didn’t become sick anymore!  She did complain of stomach aches some mornings and we remedied those with a homeopathic heart burn medication.

I thought we were in the clear until this past week.  The symptoms starting showing up and like clockwork, she became sick in the early morning hours.  Something must have snuck into her food.  That’s all we can figure.  But it is discouraging, as now, three months later, it is another set back.  And it means she isn’t as far along as I was hoping.  The way the doctor described it, I thought it owuld be temporary condition, but now I’m starting to have my doubts.  We go back at the end of Nobemebr, so I guess we will know more then.

She had amazed me with her discipline and strength.  Said someone to her at a restaurant, “how about a grilled cheese or a cheeseburger?!”  “No I can’t eat cheese.”  She has only had one breakdown, and it was over fries.  Fries are okay in moderation but this was just a few days after an incident and we had to watch everything, including her fat intake.  She just looked at me with her hand pressed to her eyes (I suppose in a vain attempt to keep from crying) and said, “but I really want French fries”.  And then cried quietly and bitterly for about fifteen minutes.  That’s about how long she needed to grieve and then she was able to move on.

A few times she has slipped up (like in SS we were old they were going to eat a snack but someone served frosted cookes).  At home she asked if it was okay she ate one.  It broke my heart that she has to think about this things and can’t enjoy her childhood, gifted cookies and all, to the fullest.  It definitely is impactful though when she pays the consequences for getting off track.  And it helps us and others realize this isn’t something in our heads.  We really don’t know what the doctor is going to say in November.  Last time we left with good news but we’ve had a few bleak moments since then and certainly by now I thought we would be mostly in the clear. Until then, however, we forge forward and pray for the best.

I truly admire your strength and discipline, MG.  you will grow beyond your years because of this

 

,-smk

Updates

The summer days are quickly winding down.  The strange thing is, the dog days haven’t even hardly begun yet…at least here anyway.

Tomorrow is our anniversary (9 years–woohoo!) and it always seems to be a marker for the beginning of the end of our summer.  N has already had a few days he’s put in and we kind of flounder around without him in a weird, unstructured, depressed kind of way.   I kind of forget all of my SAHM experience and have to re-learn how to single-parent again.  MG is especially aware of his absence on the days he is gone and I’m not really sure how to prepare her to do this full time again.

This year will also be the start of official pre-school for her.  I know I should be excited, and I am sure she will love it, but this too also feels like a definitive marker.  Soon she will no longer be fully mine.

I’m dreading all of these small changes that will be here in less than a month.  It seems that the first few weeks of August are one of the busiest times of work for N and we lose our little, tight-knit family for a while.  It’s painful at first and I get anxious thinking about what it will look like.

Grandma Mary cleaned out her sewing box (she said she’s retiring :)) and gave me the contents.  I found quite a few treasures (the bag of buttons was especially exciting) and set to work almost immediately on the first inspiration that struck me.

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The poms & fawn patch both came from her box, the straps from a friend’s yard sale, and the fabric was from my stash.  This is one of my favorite projects I’ve made because it’s so meaningful.

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This past weekend we took a short little weekend trip to Chattanooga.  We trailblazed down I-65 at a snail’s pace, stopping more often than I’d like to remember for construction and road blocks.  But we made it to Chattanooga by dinner time on Friday night and that Southern Chick-fil-a with all of the double-first-named soft-drawling children running around (and another MG!!!) was plenty to revive our travel-worn spirits.

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Saturday was spent swimming, eating out, lots of family time, and a movie in the park to top it off.  MG is definitely our movie girl.  She is riveted by anything on a screen and pays close attention to the plot line.

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I set a lofty goal for myself to make (sew) the majority of MG’s fall wardrobe (Bea already has a large wardrobe of hand-me-downs, but I’ll make a few coordinating things for her too).   I’ve been day dreaming some ideas that include corduroy, velvet, stretchy denim, and structured shirts.  Wish me luck!

I found a deeply discounted Scan N Cut at my favorite TN store Essex…AKA Bargain Hunt.  My brother-in-law spotted it first and in my memory, he carries it across the store to me, holding it high above his head in a victory march.  I have been wanting one of these things forever but could never swallow the price tag.  As soon as I got home, I began playing around with it and my imagination is exploding with ideas.  I’m trying not to ignore my family too much 😉 so I can tackel it.

I’m (slowly) reading Go Set a Watchman.  I’m still early into it, so I haven’t encountered the controversial Atticus yet, but I am especially struck by her talent as an author.  Ms. Lee can tell a story.  That is my number one aspiration with this blog, to be a teller of my girls’ stories until they are old enough to take over.

-smk

 

CA

It seems a lifetime ago we packed up what felt like too much of our little family and caught an early flight to California. 

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The girls are becoming old pros at this flight stuff and we breezed through Dallas and made it to Sacramento before 11am (PST).

After experiencing an extremely rainy summer thus far, we ran to the pool with open arms.  The dry CA heat and sunshine never felt better.

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The next morning, N and I kissed our girls goodbye and left them in the very capable hands of Granny and then went to the airport BY OURSELVES.  We drank coffee and ate a snack without having to share it with anyone constantly monitoring our contents.  And we strolled leisurely around when our flight was delayed an hour because IT DID NOT MATTER.  

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When we did board our flight, we sat in the exit row and I read a book from gate to gate while N  prepped some doctoral work to work ahead a bit.  It was glorious.  

Our flight took us to LAX and our final destination was Marina del Rey; only about a 15 minute drive if you don’t hit traffic (a rarity in LA). We had booked our place months ago through AirBnB and we were a little excited/nervous finally see it in person.

(I need to interrupt for a minute to give a shout-out to my sister/brother in law who found our place AND sent us a ton of restaurant and entertainment ideas that really panned out for us.  THANK YOU!!)

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We were so excited when we finally cracked the door open and took in our condo for the week.  It was a one bedroom, one bath with a kitchen, eating space, and a balcony (perfect for breakfast and lunches)

We had decided in advance that we weren’t going to rent a car because of our location and the prospect of beach cruisers that came with our rental.  Biking post-kids is a luxury and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the city by bike. LA is a pretty bike friendly town and we explored all over Venice, took a bike path to Santa Monica, explored Abbott Kinney Blvd (my favorite!) and even ferried  groceries back home several times.  For the places we went to that were too far by bike, we bused (for when we had time, it rarely cost us both more than $3 for an hour+ride) and ubered (when time was important to us).  

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Some of the sights outside of Marina del Rey/Santa Monica we saw were the Getty art museum and Hollywood.  

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We chose to do a bike tour of Beverly Hills (another suggestion by my personal travel agent :)) and it was my favorite thing we did.  We had our own personal tour guide who took us through celebrity neighborhoods (we saw some A-list celebrity homes, heard many celebrity stories, and saw some vintage celebrity homes as well.  No celebrity sitings, and most homes had such high privacy fences that you couldn’t see much of the home; but it was still fun to be casually riding our bikes through these mulit-million dollar streets!).  On this tour we also stopped and explored this old mansion (Greystone Manor)  that has been the site of many A-list movies.  It has beautiful grounds and a ghost story to boot.  Exploring that (and peeking in the windows) was probably my favorite part.

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(just casually riding our bikes down Rodeo Drive!)

The bike tour met in West Hollywood and afterward we made our way over to North hollywood for Graumin’s Theater and Madame Toussad’s wax museum. It was the closest we came to seeing any real celebrities.

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We ate really well on this trip and got quite spoiled by all of the gluten free bakeries and ice cream shops nearby.  Our condo had a pool and we spent a few afternoons there reading and relaxing….by definition my favorite way to spend vacation.

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When our six days were up, we were ready to get back to our girls!  They hardly seemed to notice our absence; Grampy and Granny kept them entertained (swimming 2-3x a day, walks, movies, snacks, and all of the new-to-them toys {including my old barbie dolls]).  

We spent the remainder of our vacation soaking up the fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk CA rays and doing more of the same; walks, swimming, shopping, and movies.  

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IMG_2005 IMG_2023 IMG_2035I don’t know yet when we will be back to good ol’ California but it certainly has been good to us

-smk

MG and Updates

First of all, I’d like to take a quick second and apologize, so to speak, for my last post.  Even don’t enjoy reading that one.  It is obvious it was written out of a place of stress.  I’m over it now.  I nearly delated it about an hour after writing it over delayed embarrassment, but then realized all of you that subscribe already have a hard copy in your inbox.  It was pointless at that moment…so….

Moving on…

Today I’m not in that place of stress anymore, I’m just feeling a bit sad for my eldest.  Eleven months ago she was struck with some kind of severe stomach bug that did a number on her body and left her with what is a hopefully temporary, but still devastating in the moment condition, called gastroparesis.  I’ve alluded to it here and there but I don’t think I ever fully wrote out my feelings on the subject because well…I wasn’t really sure what to say.

Up until mid-July of last year, MG had a completely normal and healthy relationship with food.  I, myself, have some sensitivities and so I was always careful with her and things like gluten and dairy.  It seemed like a healthy enough balance that we wouldn’t keep gluten in the house, but to allow her to have things like Cheerios in the church nursery or cupcakes at a friend’s birthday.  Yogurt and cheese were commonplace in our house but she never really took to milk, and since I don’t care for it either, I never pushed it with her.  The only thing I noticed was that if she did not have gluten for a long time and then would eat it, she would break out around her mouth.  It seemed minor enough not to warrant a change in behavior but it was something I mentally took note of.

Fast forward to late July.  Our family went on a little vacation that month and we were exposed to a stomach bug.  MG got it first, but had just a minor reaction.  A couple days passed and I thought we were through with it.  But then…she got it again.  And then one by one we each contracted it, over the course of about two weeks with MG having relapses every few days.

I took her in to see a doctor after the third day of vomiting.  She reassured me that sometimes viruses can last up to two weeks in children and possibly MG became reinfected as we were passing it around to each other.

So it was put to bed for a few days.  And then, it struck her again.  Again I called her pediatrician.  She told me not to come in but to call if she wasn’t over it in a week.

A week felt like a lifetime to watch my little frail girl suffer again.  Not to be melodramatic but this week was literally one of the worst of my life.  On the days she would be sick, we would be awoken to MG vomiting in the bathroom (she nearly always made it to the toilet and it just made me weep to think this little 3 year old already knows how to drag herself to the toilet in the darkness of the early morning without even alerting us first).  This would come around 4-5am.  Then she would lay on the floor by the bathroom and sleep for another few hours.  She would want very little to eat for the day, maybe some toast and “fizzy drink”.  She would lay in her bed and watch Sleeping Beauty on repeat (it was one of the few children’s movies we owned and we didn’t have cable.  Later we wisened up and started checking out more movies from the library).  Too tired to play, she would sleep off and on throughout the day and then fall asleep exhausted in her bed at night.

The next day she would wake up, a little off, but fine and we would grow optimistic that the terrible illness that had her in its clutches was behind us.

And then 1-2 days later she would relapse and we would start the terrible cycle over again.

At the end of the week, I called the Ped and begged her to see us again.  She seemed rather surprised to see us and a little alarmed too.  She immediately referred us to a pediatric gastroenterologist and our appointment was just a few days later (I think at this point it was September).

I was very pleased when that Dr. immediately seemed to recognize the problem (we saw three other doctors over the course of that month and none of them could tell us anymore than  it was just a long-lasting virus). She diagnosed MG with “stomach-emptying syndrom” or gastroparesis and put her on a special diet.

When you have this condition, your stomach doesn’t clear food out as quickly as it does for someone in good health.  So you feel fuller more quickly, you are more prone to stomach upset and bugs, and you have to watch what you eat as high fats, high fiber, high acids, and dairy seem to set stomach aches on the mild end to vomiting and diarrhea on the more severe end.

The diet was pretty stringent and our whole family shifted to accommodate her while we adjusted to this change.  Eventually we added fiber and fat back into her diet, but in moderation or else she would get a stomach ache (still ongoing as of this month).  Dairy has been a constant issue ever since and will still set her off violently if she is exposed to it.

Unfortunately she has had two of these “violent” incidents since first meeting with that doctor back in September. The first one was because this doctor told us “processed dairy” like cheese and yogurt would be okay.  MG heard “cheese” and begged me for some for lunch (I had taken her off of it when the stomach bugs were reoccurring.  I conceded when the doctor said it was okay but we paid the price for it.)

The second time happened about a month later when I didn’t ask enough questions at a potluck and she was exposed to it again.  Both of these times brought me to my knees and after the second time especially made me strictly guard everything that went into her mouth.

We went back for a follow-up appointment in December and the Dr. seemed pleased with her progress and then dangled a little hope for us that maybe in 6 months we’d be able to reintroduce dairy, slowly.

Well here we are six months later.  MG has held onto this hope that after today she would be able to start eating cheese and yogurt again if nothing else.  It is amazing how much she picks up on as I never told her this would be a possibility nor tried to encourage it.

I’ve also been similarly pleased and a little heartbroken for her as she carefully tries to explain her “condition” to other kids.  “My doctor shut me off of dairy” she says confidently when trying to relate to other kids. Some mistake this for a sense of pride when she talks about it but I know that it is different.  There is a sense of sadness that I intone when she says this but at the same time, she is unwavering.

In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen her cry over it was after the very last incident.  We ratcheted down on her diet again to give her stomach time to heal.  We were out of town at the time and thankfully found a Chick-fil-a to eat lunch out (fast food places are nearly impossible on this diet).  I wouldn’t let her have ketchup to dip her grilled nuggets into because it is high in acid.  She broke down in the booth.  Not in an agressive temper tantrum, but in silent tears.  This was by far one of the lowest points for me.

Fast forward to last night.  As I was getting her ready for bed I explained that she was going  back to her doctor in the morning.  She was laying on her back and she pumped her arms and legs in the air and said, “I can’t wait to be on dairy again!”.  I tried to explain that the doctor might not give her the green light yet and even if she does, we would have to take it slow.

It was too late though, the hopeful seed was already planted.

This morning we saw the doctor and she asked the usual questions.  She seemed a bit concerned that MG hasn’t put on weight since December (and she is already on the slight side).  She asked us a lot of questions about her appetite and we addressed some concerns.  At the end, I could feel MG staring at me, waiting for me to ask the question.  I did.  The response was that dairy would not be a good idea at this point and probably not until she turns 5 or 6.

I waited until the doctor left and then looked at MG.  She asked me what that meant and I explained that we would have to stay away from dairy for a little longer.  “Like how long?”  “Until you get a little bit bigger, like 5 or 6.”

Her face fell and she got really quiet.  She said, “But that’s not fair.”

She was right, and I knew it.  And I could only agree with her.

So another year we will press forward of bringing “special” dairy free snacks to Sunday school and birthday parties, and always packing lunches for dinners out.  If I’m being honest, I’m mad that this is the way things are for her.  Four year olds should be able to eat whatever they want without having to worry about stomach aches and doctor visits and having something strange about them that sets them apart from their peers.

And she knows it too.  But that little frail one is pretty resilient (and she comes by it honestly).  And so we press on.

-smk

Summer Break under the stress

Summer break officially began for us sometime last week.  But it seems these past 8 days or so have found N and I trading kid duties while we both work on our “second jobs”.  (his being doctorate, mine being Sweet Mama Makes).  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a welcome relief from the pace of normal life, but I don’t think either of us are feeling very well-rested.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so frenzied is that I just launched a new line of Shorties and Bloomers  (I’d add pictures, but apparently my Internet connection will only allow me one at the moment).

Since this was my first time making them, I had to create the pattern, perfect it, make one in each size in the range, make an example in each fabric to give customers an idea of what they would like, press them, photograph them, write Etsy listings for them, and then advertise and sell them.  And finally to create them!

This has been an interested venture to say the least and not all of my handmade things have been very successful sellers, but I’m thankful for what I am learning from being my own businesswoman.  And while I don’t think SMM will be a permanent fixture in my life, I am counting all of the life lessons I’m learning.

So far in the 9 months Sweet Mama Makes has been opened,  I’ve noticed a predictable cycle…first I drive myself into a frenzy, then I get overwhelmed and swear I’m going to quit after the next round, then I take a few weeks off and enjoy it so much I say I’m never going back, then I get that itching urge to create again and then make something I want to share.  And on it continues.  I do love having an outlet that lets me express myself when the urge strikes but I also realize I’ve got to find a better way to balance my time or else I’m going to burn out quickly.

I’m just nearing the end of a frenzied period and taking some time off this week to create for myself (the girls really).  I saw this Eric Carle fabric and had to have it.  Today it turned into a pinafore for Bea.

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We’ve also been pre-gaming for an upcoming vacation (where we can’t wait to rest HARD).  This means we’ve given up refined sugar for 2 weeks (honey and maple syrup are okay). I’ve been eating a lot of desserts like “ice cream” made out of frozen bananas and “brownies” with an avocado base.  I don’t hate it…but that first vacation shave ice sure will taste good.  So will that first vacation night of sleep.

Bring it on,

smk

Summer and Kittens

Although there is not much new around here, I’ve been itching to write something this entire week.  I said at the beginning of the year that I was going to take a more spontaneous approach to the blog and it seems like the desire comes in 2-week spurts. 

One small, but exciting bit of news: we got kittens!  We’d been talking about doing this for maybe a year now. When N opened up the barn this spring to find a toss bean bag broken open with its contents strewn everywhere (dried corn), he soon discovered that mice had gotten in.  With the barn being right next to the field, it only makes sense that it would be a harbor for them.  He set traps but that’s when we started to have the serious talk about whether we should add some kitties on land patrol, if you will.  

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Plus, what is a farm without farm cats? :)

We didn’t pursue the thought too much, as it doesn’t seem like kittens are too hard to come by, especially out here in the country.  We just figured when the time was right, the right ones would come along.  Sure enough, we saw a few signs in yards that said, “free kittens” and one of them worked out.  

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These two kitties are sisters and were abandoned by their mom at three weeks (mom and dad both were strays, mom stumbled into a neighbor’s garage to have her kittens…can you imagine???). There were three girls, the third one was placed by a friend.  With these being barn kittens, we thought two would be a good number because they can watch out for each other and keep each other company.  

So far, this theory has proven true.  They sleep, eat, and play together.  It is adorable.

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Just like two human sisters I know…

And have they ever been a source of entertainment for us!  Of course, MG is obsessed with babies, so she babies these kittens and they are too little to say otherwise.  She carries them in baskets and in their arms.  N and I always sneak out to the barn after the girls are in bed to get some uninterrupted kitty time.  This has been a stressful week for both of us, but there is something about petting (two) kittens that evaporates your stress level.

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The black one is my favorite, she is quick to purr and more playful than her dainty sister.  Her hair is black but long and tipped with gray/white. She has a small diamond of white under her neck.  I’ve always loved long-haired cats so I can’t help but fawn over her looks.

The grey tabby is cautious and timid.  She does not love easily but tolerates being held for a lot longer (she will nap in MG’s arms as she is transported on many adventures).  The black one is always the aggressor in play but the tabby is the stronger eater of the two.  All this strikes me as ironic because she is the runt.  

We didn’t bring the kittens home the same day we looked at them.  We waited 24 hours to talk through all the details and buy supplies.  In that time, we also started brainstorming names.  We liked literary names, famous sister names, names that connected us to our past or present.  MG liked princess names.  

N said that MG would get to choose one and name it and since Bea was too young to name the other one that I could.  Fair enough.  He did use it as a learning opportunity for MG, saying, “names are very important.  We spent a long time thinking about your name and your sister’s name, because it is something that sticks with you your entire life.”  He told her she had to think about it and not tell us the name she chose for 24 hours.  When we picked the kittens up, she could then bestow it.

She instantly agreed to these terms and said she already had a name picked out.  It was the same name she had liked since yesterday, she said.  I, of course, assumed this meant “Snow White Rapunzel” or “atticus the girl” as she had been throwing out these suggestions all day.  But something in her confidence made me think she was hiding something a bit more clever.  

Sure enough, she chose Teacup, which was a huge surprise to us because we’d never heard her say this previously.  Apparently “Teacup” is a “disney palace pet” that belongs to Princess Belle.  So it has the Disney connection but thankfully not an unbecoming princess name.  I do think it’s an unintentional but very fitting choice for such a small, dainty little thing.  You did good, MG.  

Since we weren’t going to have a pair of say, “Scout and Boo”, “Charlotte and Fern”, or “Delta and Dixis” the naming options for the black one were blown wide open again.  I narrowed it down to a few choices, “Minnie the Mouse catcher” (I liked it because it fit our disney year), “Little Black Olive”, and “Junebug” (we picked them up on the first day of June).  But after hearing Bea say, “Bird-EE”, I was sold.  And that’s how Blackbird AKA Biridie and Teacup came to be.

As I mentioned earlier, this has been a stressful set of weeks for us.  N is wrapping up his school year and his summer break officially started yesterday.  It was a sprint to the end, especially combined with doctoral summer classes which are on more of a condensed schedule over the summer.  

I introduced a new product to SMM which meant a lot of time spent perfecting the pattern, photographing, and writing listings for it.  It was a successful launch so now I have to fulfill these orders and if that goes well, then I will probably offer it again in some new fabric choices.  I’ve already been scoping some out (fabric shopping is an addiction), but I also need to figure out what to do with the ever-growing mound of scrap fabric I have.  I have soooo many ideas of things I want to make for the girls, my shop, the house, myself.  This summer will afford me the time to pursue some of those ideas but I also don’t want to walk away from the summer feeling like I spent the whole thing working.  

Summer is typically a little slice of relief for our family.  We soak up time together and N gets to join us on our day-to-day life.  There’s always a few hiccups as we adjust to each other’s rhythms but by the end of the summer we are so enmeshed that it is painful for him to return to full-time work.  

On his first day off yesterday, he gave me the day off to tie up the ends of my launch and took to the girls to story time after making waffles and before smoking some meat for dinner.  We reconvened for dinner and ice cream and separately, but both around the same time, the girls took tumbles and needed some comforting.  They both refused my arms and went straight to Daddy.  

One day with Daddy…that’s all it took for me to be dethroned.  One day.

-SMK

Happy Birthday, Bea

Today marks the second year of life complete for our Bea.  What a great two years it has been!

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Bea was born early in the morning of May 18, 2013.    I held her with a second-time mother’s confidence and also a second-time mother’s love.  Loving her and all of the wonderful things that came with her, came easily.

Bea was an easy babe from the start.  Still to this day, it is rare for her to have an “off day”, be fussy, or to not have a toothy smile pushing up her chubby cheeks no matter what the day brings..

When she walks, she bounces, curls dancing behind her.  There are two things that strangers always comment on: her smile or her curls.  bDSC_0172 2 bDSC_0178_2

The only trial she’s given us is keeping her safe.  She is curious, a risk taker, and a mouther.  Each day that has brought us closer to the two year mark has helped me breathe little sighs of relief as she learns boundaries and we are able to communicate more effectively with each other.  Still, we have a much better ER track record with this one (0 times vs. 4 times for MG), and despite being a mouthy baby, she does stay relatively healthy.

Watching the sister relationship grow and form has always held intense interest for me.  MG has played a mothering role in Bea’s life upon meeting her and it has yet to cease.  Bea only half-heartedly accepts having another “mother” in her life.  I think it is only as of late that she enjoys MG’s company and companionship.  This is one of our most earnest prayers that their relationship will strengthen and flourish.

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One thing I have noticed lately is that whenever MG is not around, Bea is a bit lost.  She looks for her, asks about it, and doesn’t seem to know how to entertain herself when she realizes she is on her own.  Sharing a room, I think, has brought them physically, as well as emotionally closer.  They both find one another’s presence reassuring.  I do not regret that decision one bit.

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Bea is a great source of joy in our family.  She keeps me lighthearted when I am feeling off.  She shows her love with kisses and full-body hugs.  She is loud and boisterous and social, in a way I find totally intriguing.  I often catch her waving at strangers and they find her perma-smile nearly irresistible.

As I look ahead to year three, I anticipate many big changes coming down the lane….losing paci, potty-training, moving to a “big girl bed”, and joining us for the church service (rather than the nursery).  Year three is a hard year….but I do think our joyful little girl will do just fine.

Dearest Bea,

I’ll never forget the morning you joined our family.  I was waiting for you with big hopes.  I had spent many days hoping for you and many more hoping for your arrival.  I hoped you would be many things: a daughter, a sister, and a friend.  

In your two years of life, you have been a delight to our hearts.  You took all of my hopes, embodied them, and then completely surpassed them.   I can’t imagine there was ever an easier baby born.  Your sister has taken great joy in you and that has brought great joy to me.  You have brought something to our family that only a last-born child can bring…a sense of wholeness. 

Your personality is one that will be envied by many.  You are nearly unaffected by your surroundings, but are happy and content no matter the circumstances.  You are engaging and kind to strangers, welcoming to your friends and family.  I never worry about leaving you with others because I know you will just be yourself the entire time I’m away.  

Your personality, and the many people that love you, will help carry you through this big year full of changes. You are eager for some of the change, I can already tell.  Having a big Sis to look up to definitely gives you some hopes to aspire to.  But you get to do them your own “Bea way”.  That is the fun part about being the youngest.

I cannot imagine our family without you, though only two years ago, that’s where we were.  In my heart, I always knew there was something missing and you came along and filled that hole right up.  

I love you so very much,

sweet mama k

also, a video

Updates

The well has run dry.  I’ve been searching for my creative vein lately and all I can find is unsatisfying dust.  It seems as though I can only tap into this creative source so much before it blows and then I must search for a new avenue to draw from again.

A dear friend encouraged me to write again today…and well here I am, plopping away at the keys, not sure what’s going to come out, exactly.  But writing is a discipline and I don’t intend to ever let it go completely.

It’s 8:07pm and I am typing this on my favorite spot on the couch, feet propped up.  I had to perform tricks and jump through fiery hoops to get an internet connection.  I am typing to the hum of the massive tractor that is tilling our fields and which I find rhythmic and  comforting.

It has been a long evening, one in which I’m parenting by myself; and though the girls have been saints, it is still exhausting.  I’m praying they will need little from me in this next hour so I can use some reserves on this post.

Being a year into this house, I suppose it’s time for some updates.  But I can’t promise any pictures, not tonight at least.  So words, for now.

Since my last update, we have actually finished a few rooms.   The entryway and library are both complete.  That is a very settling feeling as it it is the first thing we see when we walk in the door.  With the addition of some new artwork and exposed pipe shelves, the living room is complete as well.  I’m sure I will still layer in a few pieces here and there but that is the fun part; filling a space with the things that make you happy.

The kitchen is our main push this month.  We’ve been fridge shopping, purchased subway tile & hardware, added a new light fixture, and N is building some new upper cabinets.  I promise pictures when it is complete.

We’re going to skip the laundry room for now, as it hasn’t been touched, nor does it feel like a priority.  Maybe not even a 2015 priority.

Going up the stairs, the stair runner is down, a gallery wall lines the steps, and there is a nice little vignette at the top.  All that is left to hang is a large family picture.  After the kitchen is complete, we will shift our attention to this hallway and add new flooring and light fixtures.  That should be easy to get to this summer.

Finally, we have the bedrooms.  All three need a little TLC, some paint in one, and some decor.  We did something we’ve been talking about for nearly 9 years and purchased a king size bed.  We moved our queen to the guest room, but both beds still lack a character giving headboard.

When those are complete, all that’s left is the bathrooms.  Both could use a partial, if not complete makeover.  We’ve had a few contractors over to  give us bids.  We’ve only received one bid and it was astronomical.  Even if we did scrape together the money to do it, we would probably never recoup it in a resale….so for now, we will probably stick to things we can DIY ourselves…new floors, shower curtains, countertops, and paint.  Our ultimate hope is that by the end of this calendar year we will be 95% done with house projects and can finally feel at rest in our schoolhouse.

Bea’s birthday is in just 4 days.  My parents gifted her a Jungle gym which seems perfect for our adventurous climber.  My dad and N stayed up late putting it together last night and it matches perfectly with our playset. I’m excited to add to this a sandbox for her birthday.  Every schoolhouse needs a play ground, no?

I’m intentionally slowing down on SMM.  Not as in taking less orders, but just purposing my time so it doesn’t consume me.  I never imagined it would take so much of my time, but it takes as much as I give it.  I’ve started giving myself my evenings back to work on fun things or relax and it has made a world of difference in my stress level.  When N has a few days a week off this summer, I plan to ramp up my output a bit more.  I have some ideas of new products to add, I just temporarily burned out the creative flame to pursue them.

Speaking of summer, I am mentally there, though not yet physically.  The weather has greatly improved my mood and all winter coats, gloves, and scarves, have been packed away.  This is the time of year where we start making our summer plans.  This gives us the final push to make it through the last trying weeks but also helps us not to waste our summer days away and forget about the memories we want to create as a family.

Our saintly neighbor tilled up our vegetable garden today.  Our seeds and seedling will go in the ground in between the promised rain storms this weekend.  I’m setting low expectations for our output this year.  I’m just hopeful that it is enjoyable.  That will be enough for this year.

I’m reading a book right now that I don’t really like but that everyone raves about the ending.  I’m only reading it to see how it ends.  Sometimes a good ending is enough to turn my opinion 180 degrees.  Does that make me fickle?

-smk

 

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