Month: June 2015

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