Thursday, December 25, 2014

Abraham, Abraham, Abraham.

There is so much to be said about my Abraham. I could write for days and days! Unfortunately, I have a few more minutes until one of my boys wake up, so I will write what I can and hopefully continue it later. I wish I was better at doing my monthly posts, but goodness... it's harder than it seems! Life has taken us over the last month and a half and not been kind! I will, maybe, get into more of that later. But we are working our way out of it and trying to enjoy the little things in life!

Abraham is truly an angelic, content little boy. My mom says that Heavenly Father sent me a low-maintenance child because he knew everything I was doing with Jude. THANK YOU!!! I am truly grateful for his mild demeanor. Here we go... everything I can think to share about my boy!

He eats anything and everything. He eats mostly everything Jude eats but we also give him Kerrygold butter and yogurt made out of raw milk. Also, some grass-fed beef and other things that Dan and I may be eating that Jude can't have at the time. He has never had a bite of baby food or grains or processed foods! He eats only organic and as close to the Weston A. Price foundation guidelines as we can. We have learned so much in the last few years with everything that has gone on with Jude. We are doing things a lot differently this time around! We are sticking with meats, vegetables, fruit, dairy, eggs, homemade bone broth and fats for now. He is always happy to eat and never turns food down. Really, he would eat and eat for hours if we let him! After a while, we just stop feeding him because he would never stop. We are so thankful for a good eater with a good appetite! If I make something for Jude and he doesn't finish it, I can always count on Abraham to finish it off. One time I made Jude some broccoli and it fell all over the floor as I was taking it to him. Because of Jude's allergies, I couldn't feed it to him so... I gave it to Abraham! He's still a great little nurser and loves to nurse, but mostly when he's tired. He doesn't love nursing quite as much as Jude did, who would have exclusively nursed for every meal had I let him!

He is a great sleeper! That is another thing I have approached completely differently with Abraham. I didn't even know what a "sleep schedule" or "sleep training" was until Jude was about ten months old! Eek! I reread "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" when I was pregnant with Abraham and reread the applicable parts when he was a few months old. He was not an easy sleeper the first few months of life and had to sleep in my arms. We sleep-trained him at four months old and it has been great ever since! He goes to bed at 6:30 - 7:00 pm and sleeps twelve hours in his bed. I used to rock Jude for what felt like hours/nurse him for hours/rock him next to his crib while nursing standing up! (Why?!) Now I nurse Abraham in bed, take him into the bathroom where his pack n play is where he sleeps, rock him for about 30 seconds and lay him down. Once I lay him down, I will not get him again or look back. I just lay him down and leave. At first he would cry every time but now he usually lays down happily, turns on his side, and sticks his little thumb in his mouth. If he cries, he flips over onto his hands and knees and starts rocking backing forth and moans/sings to himself. It is so great. Then usually sleeps another half-hour to an hour with me in the morning in my bed. So he usually sleeps about 13 hours every night! Then he takes a nap around 10:00 and a nap around 2:00. Sometimes they are only half an hour or so and sometimes they are an hour and a half! I wish he napped longer but I know once he switches to one nap he will sleep longer. It will be so incredibly wonderful when the boys nap during  the same time. Right now they are pretty much on completely opposite schedules!

Dan watched the boys when I work and it has been so great for them. It is always such a bonding experience and I'm so glad Dan has had the opportunity to take care of them for extended periods of time. He will watch Abraham (and Jude) sometimes from first thing in the morning and then put him down for bed at night. He is such a wonderful father and I'm so grateful for him. Abraham has always been a mama's boy and sometimes didn't want to go to Dan as much. After Dan watched him more and more, he really warmed up to him and bonded with him. Here's is Dan's recollection of some of his favorite memories of watching him:

"When I get him out of bed, he just hugs me so tight and rubs the back of my neck and gives me a big squeeze. When we're playing, he'd just crawl over onto my lap and just want me to hold him and lay on me. He loves playing the guitar and every time I play the guitar for him, he gets so excited and comes over and tries to play it and dances and bounces up and down. He would want to come to me more and smile and look at me more after I watched him for those few days. He's so happy and I love teaching him how to crawl and walk and stand. He always likes looking out the back window into the backyard."

Starting around December 20, Dan worked with Abraham and he has been standing up to ten seconds by himself! Yesterday he took his first step after standing on his own! He is crawling so fast. Abraham's favorite thing to do with Jude is probably when Jude gets on his hands and knees too and chases Abraham around. Abraham just starts to giggle and laugh and crawls away as fast as he can. Sometimes when he's crawling and gets going too fast he gets ahead of himself and just plops right onto his tummy.

He is such a social little smiler. Papa calls his "smiles." Anytime someone calls his name, he looks over at them and looks into their eyes and smiles. He is such a happy, pleasant little guy. He has the biggest, darkest eye and the softest cheeks that are just heaven to kiss. When we're holding him we'll say "give me a kiss, Abe" and he'll grab your face with one hand on each side and give us a big open-mouth smooch. It is pretty nice.

We are so grateful to have this little guy in our family. He is such a special little boy and a perfect addition to our little clan. It is so fun (and sad) to see him growing so quickly and see his little personality develop.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

That bond.

I've been working every night this week from about 10:45am-8:00pm. Tonight I was running behind, and I told Dan to not wait up for me to put Jude to bed. Earlier this morning I had told Jude I would be home to put him to bed tonight and we would read stories together. (To which he always replies, "a bunch?!" And I reply, "yes, a bunch." To which he replies, "In the family living room?" To which I reply, "Yes, under the lights of the Christmas tree!" And then everyone is happy.)

So Dan told me Jude was very sad that I wasn't going to be home to put him to bed. He is famous for this line... "I want Mommy put me to bed!" (And that is very literal. He's okay with Dan getting him all ready for bed but he wants me to be the one to physically lay him down in his bed. It is so funny.) He kept saying, "Mommy said she would put me to bed!!" And Dan said he was just so down. He told him I got held up at work and was so sorry. They went upstairs and after he brushed his teeth, Jude got a big frown on his face and just BURST into tears as he realized I really wasn't going to be home to put him to bed! 

My heart was literally broken and pained and when Dan told me this I could hardly take it. I showered as quickly as possible and hurried into his room. I stared at the precious little soul who made me a mother with so much love and gratitude. I gently caressed his little tummy and a little hint of a smile appeared on his face when he looked at me as his little eyes eventually opened. I scooped him up and told him that I missed him so. He mumbled a reply. We laid down in our spot in the teepee and he just melted right over me, creating the most delicious tummy sandwich. Both my arms were wrapped around him and his little face was nuzzled up so close to mine. I felt his soft, smooth breaths. I heard his little mouth smack open and shut. I grasped his little body in my arms and felt overwhelmed with the adoring love only a mother understands.

That is what waits for me when I get home. A little boy who absolutely adores me and loves his mama more than anything else. I am so humbled by our tender little relationship. I laid him back down in his bed after squeezing his little body so tight against mine. I leaned over and kissed him. He looked up at me and I told him, "I love you so much, baby." He mumbled back, "I love you." Then I caressed his little face and stole one last kiss. I all but wept inside as I looked down at that beautiful little baby!

Sigh. Working is pretty stinky, but moments like that make it all worth it.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Oh, Jude.

I can't even begin to tell you how funny you are, jude. You made Daddy and I laugh so much tonight. You were so excited when Daddy asked you if you wanted to go with him to "Bass Pro." You were more than willing to leave Trace's house and were telling everyone where you were going. Daddy told me that you were talking nonstop the entire trip. You guys called it your "date." :) he said you asked "are we there yet?" about fifteen times and you screamed out in joy when you saw Bass Pro Shops.

You were excited to tell me about your trip when you got home. You showed me the fishing line and the worms. I made a funny face when you showed me the words and you said, "they're not scary, though, Mom. They're nice. They're sleeping. They're nice to each other in there." 

It's always a process with you goingn BM at night. We usually sit there in the bathroom for at least 20 minutes (usually much longer) while I try to coax you to "push your BM out." After you (finally) went tonight, I got a quarter, nickel, and dime for you to feed your "potty pig." The penny for the potty, the quarter for the BM, and the dime was the extra special one because you didn't want to go but you were brave and you were a big boy and you went (with no squeezey at all!). So you put the penny in, put the quarter in, and then were so excited to put in the extra special dime. You excitedly grabbed it and it bounced out of your fingers and plopped right into the toilet. You had a look of shock on your face as did I. We just looked at each other for a minute and your look of concern turned into alligator tears as you literally BURST into tears. You were so upset! Daddy came running up because he was worried and after a while we consoled you enough and told you it was okay for the dime to go in the sewer system just this once. You were finally convinced it would be okay and you calmed down. 

You had slept from 1:30-5:00 this afternoon but you were still pooped and ready for bed after your busy evening! 

You are so loving and always tell me you love me, you still want to hold my hand when we walk up and down the stairs,  you give me lots of kisses and hugs every day (probably ten of each just today!). I am one lucky mama.

I saw your little boots lying on there tonight after you and Abraham were in bed and the house was quiet and my heart jumped and I smiled as j thought about how one day I will miss seeing those little turquoise boots lying around the house. I just want to bottle up my 2 4/5ths year old Jude and keep you around forever. Sometimes when j tell you you're my baby you say, "I'm not your baby, I'm a boy!!" To which I say, "you will always be my baby!!" There's no getting around it. I love you forever and ever, hundreds, to the moon and back Jude!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jude says...

I just want to have a recorder on me all day Ainu can always remember the priceless things Jude says. He has the most vivid imagination and the most remarkable memory. That boy keeps me on my toes! 

Calls out to me while sitting in the bathroom yesterday, "this gentleman's wipe?" I walked in to the bathroom and he holding a Kleenex tissue. He then told me he wanted to use a gentleman's wipe (as opposed to plain old toilet paper). I still don't know where he got that!

Later that same night, he called out to me randomly, "You a beautiful Mommy."

Dan was reading scriptures with him a few nights ago and talking about how we need to try to be like Jesus. Jude said, "I not want be like Jesus." Dan asked him why and Jude told him, "I want to be like you, Daddy."

We were all standing in the kitchen we Jude said, "we're so blessed to have our own garden and grow food!"

From the back seat of the car, "Someping's on mine arm. I have stretch marks, Mommy?"

And to never be forgotten... Jude has said to me, literally 40 or 50 times today, "Mommy? I love you." "I love you, Mommy."

This boy!!!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

My babies

Oh, Abraham. Earlier today you, Jude, and I were playing in the living room. You were trying to climb up on the couch.  A realization came to me and I started to say in a distressed voice, "oh no, oh no." Jude seemed concerned and asked me what was wrong. I said, "oh no..." again and told Jude that I just realized yesterday was Abraham's eight-month birthday. I wasn't happy. I wasn't proud. I wasn't excited. I was just about to cry. Why? When? How? SERIOUSLY. MAKE IT STOP. This is getting ridiculous. It's upsetting to me because people always say, "They'll be going off to college before you know it." And unfortunately I BELIEVE THEM!!! Can I just quit my job, hire a cook and maid and spend all my time cuddling and giggling with my children? Because seriously... eight-months and almost three?! It's just rude!

Anyways, this post wasn't meant to be a downer. I just want to write some things down before they turn into a forgotten memory!

Oh, Abe. I really dropped the ball on your monthly posts and photo shoots. You are growing so fast and I couldn't keep up! On Saturday, October 11, you said "na-na" clear as day when we were feeding you a banana! We even tested you and took it away and you said it again! Daddy and I were both there and it's undeniable that you knew what you were saying! You say "mama" when you want me, and you have (maybe) said "dada" a couple times, too! You love your Daddy though. Whenever you first see him you get the biggest smile on your face and you won't take your eyes off of him. You just grin and anything he does makes you giggle. You are so smart and intuitive. You love your brother, Jude, but still get a little weary if you can't see me when you're together. Whenever you are upset or sad, though, I am the one you want! You will cry and then as soon as I'm holding you, you are better. Within the last couple weeks, you have developed some stranger anxiety. But you are still the most well-natured, peaceful little boy!

You are really mobile and can get anywhere you want to go with your army crawl. Within the last few weeks, you have started to get up on your hands and knees but you aren't real interested in it. I think because you can move so efficiently with your army crawl. You stood up onto the dishwasher all by yourself about three weeks ago. I was so excited and proud of you! We still take naps together sometimes in the afternoon and I love it soo much. You are eating a few things - organic banana/avocado/blueberries, soft-boiled egg yolks from free range, local, backyard hens, homemade bone broth, and some of Jude's turkey sausage and chicken. Sometimes sweet potatoes, too. You love it all! You have a voracious appetite and still love to nurse. You get a little upset if you sit at the table and aren't eating or if we stop feeding you before you're done. You always surprise us with how much you eat!

Whenever you do a new trick that you really had to work at like climbing over something or launching yourself onto your hands and knees, you get a big smile on your face and are so proud of yourself.

And Jude, you are...


Really something! You are incredibly smart. You have a vivid imagination. You are constantly telling made-up stories with the conviction like they just happened. You spend a lot of time just playing by yourself, usually with different household items as opposed to toys. It's either the wagon, the recycling bin, Dad's tools, the couch, our bed (your firetruck), kitchen utensils, etc. You are so creative and never get bored. You've watched TV a couple times on desperate occasion and once I told you we don't watch TV because "your brain's still developing." A few weeks later (without ever having mentioned it again), you walked into the living room and noticed the TV and asked me, "my brain's still developing?" Once I told you that it was, you just said "okay," and went on to doing something else. (You obviously wanted to watch something on TV but were okay with the fact that you couldn't because your brain was still developing.) Your memory is baffling.

A few months after our summer trip, we had rented a book from library about dolphins. We picked it up to read it and you said, "those dolphins?" I told you they were and boy did you have a story to tell.

"I went on ship. I climbed up big stairs. I saw Mimi and Papa sitting up on top. Mimi and Papa saw dolphins jumping out in water. We went Canada. We saw flags. We looked at things..."

Literally two months later after not having talked about this experience since, you recounted the whole situation to me!

You literally know the whole passage of food from when you put it into your mouth to its final resting place in the sewer system! It is so amazing and funny.

"I eat food. Goes down esophagus. Digests in my tummy. Goes in testines. Testines do peristalsis. Turns into BM. I push. Goes in toilet. Goes down pipes. Goes under street. Goes sewer system."

It's the best. Especially when you do the motion with your hand like it's squeezing down and you say over and over again, "peristalsis, peristalsis, peristalsis." It is the best.

You love Daddy so much. I have realized there is a direct correlation between how you are feeling and how much you see Daddy. If you don't see Dan for a day or two (or more!), you get a little cranky and down. And then as soon as you spend some time with him, you are back to you happy self.

You still love to talk about the moon. You love tractors and construction sites. You love roads and bridges and tunnels and trains. You love to go on walks around the loop and pull Abraham around in the wagon. You love your friends (Trace, Ella, Nathan, Sammy,

Man, you two. I absolutely love you whole-heartedly, to the moon and back, forever and ever... HUNDREDS! ;) Thank you for being my babies and loving me and needing me and playing with me and giving me lots of hugs and kisses every day. You make my life complete!

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Take heart."

Conference weekend in October is one of my very favorite times of year. It marks the beginning of a magical and pleasant season filled with pumpkins, slow cooker soups, turkeys, friends, family, football, and of course- Christmas. It is my favorite time of year. Conference helps me realign my life with what truly matters and "get back to the center." (It's a stretch, but I had to quote the beloved Anthony Green.) 

Before I share my answered prayers from Conference, a little side note. As j was watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing so exuberantly, I imagined Anthony Green, Max Bemis, Jesse Lacey, and the other greats standing in the MoTab Choir in the millennium singing the songs of the Restoration and...

My heart was full. (Seriously?! How great is that?!)

Okay, back to more serious things. Here is what I was blessed to receive during the few and far between moments I could half-way pay attention during Conference.

(I wrote the following the day of Conference.)

.... .... .... .... ....

Just like the single mother in the days of Christ, "feast" upon the words of Christ and he will likewise feed and nourish my children and myself.

I can not imagine a greater gift. I struggle over the daily battle of trying to nourish my children. I prepare for a meal, they eat, we clean up and then it's time to plan and prepare for the next one. There are few jobs I can imagine that are more meaningful that me spending my time truly nourishing my children. Trying to do that properly has been weighing down on my soul. I've needed help. I need help. I came to conference with that desperate plea deep in my soul for help. Although I didn't have the energy or time to really pray as fervently as I probably should have or come to conference really "prepared," it was deep in my heart and I yearned for help.

Although I had hoped my answer would come as a recipe and detailed plan of exactly what I needed to do and how to care for my child, the "answers" or comfort or guidance I needed was given to me as a quiet thought and impression. 

How can I assist my child to physically "feast" upon nourishing foods under my hands if I am not "feasting" upon the words of Christ myself? I know that as I feast upon the words of Christ consistently in my home every day, I will be guided to know how to feed my children both spiritually and physically. As I fill my home and my life with the powerful Spirit of God, I will be given the guidance I desire to know those details that I so desperately need to know. I will be made more than I naturally am and be able to do more than I naturally could to help my children. When I am discouraged and down, I can draw upon that Spirit that is abundant in my home to comfort me, lead me, and guide me to what I need to know. 

As my sweet friend said to me in Instagram after I posted about how I'd been having a hard time lately, "Take heart." (Quoting the words of Elder Holland)

I will take heart. I will move forward and not if, but when, the winds of trouble blow through my little home, I will stand strong with my two sons in my arms, unmoved and unwavering.

.... .... .... ....

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

BIG EoE update!!

Well, this post is long overdue. But I'm excited to be writing it now and just want to spill everything out as thoroughly and clearly as I can. Everything is


and I am grateful, humbled, overwhelmed, anxious, and pretty much everything else I could be. But this isn't about me... it's about...

JUDE! I just glanced at my last post (and an email I sent out to family and friends) so I will update from there.

(For those of you who did not get the email, I will attach it here because it's a good synopsis of where we were:

Hello dear friends and family! 

As you all know, we are battling a nasty allergic autoimmune disease with Jude (Eosinophilic Esophagitis). I think you all know bits and pieces, but I want to share an update and ask for your help.

His last EGD (or "scope") was PERFECT. Thank you for all your encouragement and prayers! The only problem is, he was on a steroid prior to that EGD, which heals the erosive esophagitis and inflammation in his throat. (We had been trying to avoid it up to that point, as it's kind of like "cheating." He could still be eating "unsafe" foods but look perfectly clear due to the steroid. But the steroid is not healthy to be on long-term [or even short-term, really]). Although his diet was drastically more limited, it had been over a year that his throat was damaged and we were desperate for healing. 

Well, he has been off the steroid for several months now. So, this next EGD is the true test. Right now his diet consists of all fruits, all vegetables, chicken, turkey, olive oil, and sugar. If this next EGD appears clear and the biopsy returns no eosinophils (white blood cells that shouldn't be there at all) then we KNOW all those foods are safe. That would be an incredibly HUGE step as it would give us a large foundation to be the basis of his diet and start adding foods to. (It can sometimes take YEARS for these kids to get this many foods on their "safe" list.)

We have felt so guided in this journey and are making lots of important decisions through the guidance of the Spirit. We have learned that Heavenly Father truly guides us to receive revelation and inspiration to help our children and puts people in our lives that we need.

Last EGD, I had some friends and family pray and fast in his behalf. I felt the power and support in that but believe there is so much morepower that can be utilized. Much has happened since then and I have witnessed first-hand a literal healing through faith, prayers, and the power of the priesthood. Healings occurred in the times of Jesus. Healings occurred in the times of the pioneers. And now I truly know that healings occur today, and just as miraculously. I am fervently asking you all to join me with your faith and call upon the powers of heaven and pray for Jude...that he will heal, that his scope will be clear, and that we will be able to move forward. I have faith in your faith. I believe that God is ready and willing to bless us, but many times he is waiting for us to ask. Please pray for this precious little child. Please fast for him or include him in your fasts. I know that the priesthood is real and so are the desperate pleas of a mother. 

I so appreciate all your love and support. We are excited to move forward and form our army of faith for our truly angelic little child that fills our days with so much joy. We have an appointment with his gastroenterologist on September 20th and will schedule the EGD for shortly after that. I will let you all know the exact date when I find out.

We truly love you all and are so blessed to have you in our lives. Thank you for standing behind us!!!!

Rachael (and Dan, Jude, and Abraham)

Moving on...

A couple months ago, we began introducing our "new foods," which were ginger, cilantro, basil, garlic, and hemp hearts. I have continued to study different approaches for healing through diet, spoken with some other EoE moms, and just been constantly praying and pondering and trying to figure out what to do. I started to get nervous about his next EGD. He had an appointment with Dr. Brigman on September 22 and an EGD to be done later that week. A month or so before the appointment, I decided to take him off all his new foods because I was afraid his EGD would not be clear (because he had been given the steroid the last time it was clear, which is kind of like cheating, in order to heal). I thought the risk was too high to have all the foods he was already eating, be off the steroid, and introduce the new foods previously listed.

If the EGD was not clear, we would be in such a hard place. What is causing the eosinophilic reaction?! Is it the "normal" diet he has been on, the lack of steroid, or the "new foods?!" I felt there were too many unknowns and answering these questions would be extremely difficult. I thought that if he was just on his original diet of turkey, chicken, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, sugar, and salt and pepper, then that would be a really strong foundation and if we could just KNOW that he was 100% clear on those, that would be such an incredible base to move forward with.

So, the morning of the appointment came. I had butterflies in my stomach like I was getting ready for a big date or a job interview. Soo much had changed. Last time I had spoken with Dr. Brigman, we had agreed to introduce beans, potatoes, and rice.

NOW... I had completely shot that idea down and decided to introduce other, weird-ish foods. (Some of which he had not even been allergy tested for, because they don't normally test for those foods). Then I just took him off all new foods altogether. I had called her (Jude's gastroenterologist) a few months back telling her I was considering the GAPS diet and asked her for her opinion. She said it's "not appropriate" and meant for children with Autism. Although I did not have her approval, we have moved forward and are still committed to doing the GAPS diet. I had taken Jude off his Nexium without her approval. I researched the drug and did not feel good about keeping him on it. (If you are interested in the details of this, let me know and we can talk about it). I also completely weaned him off his prescribed Milk of Magnesia and Miralax to help with his "constipation" issues. I had also decided to wean Jude off of his Neocate formula. This has been his main source of nutrition for over a year and a major crutch for me not having to worry so much about him getting balanced nutrition through food. Oftentimes he would just drink a cup of Neocate and barely eat a thing for a meal.

So, I was nervous. I felt like I was defying her wishes and paving my own way and I was worried about how I would be able to explain myself. I felt confident and sure in the decisions we had made and the way we were moving forward, but if it came down to any sort of discussion where she was on the other side, I would not be able to defend myself against a physician who really knew her stuff. I prayed that I would be able to express myself and that we would be able to have a clear conversation. I prayed fervently that I would know what I was supposed to do to help Jude. I wasn't quite sure what path that was and I was desperate to get some answers and clarity. I oftentimes feel like I am Jude's gastroenterologist, dietitian, and allergist because I am the one really defining his plan of care, choosing the foods we will introduce, monitoring his symptoms and adjusting his diet as needed, and even performing mini allergy skin tests at home. We see the doctors every few months and they pretty much just agree with what I say and tell me to keep on going. They don't have a lot of "answers" because everyone approaches this condition so differently. It has been extremely overwhelming for me to feel the weight of having to care for my child and feel like his health is dependent on my efforts. I have in many ways put this great load upon the Lord and asked him to help me because it's obvious I can't do it on my own.

I prayed that whatever the outcome was, that I would feel sure about the path we were supposed to take. We waited in the doctor's office and watched the construction site from the fifth floor window. We studied the picture of the GI pathway on the back of the door. Dr. Brigman walked in and the conversation began. I just kind of word-vomited everything we had/had not been doing. I told her everything I just told you and also about how well he is doing clinically. He had only thrown up once in the last several months (and that was driving on a windy road), he hadn't complained of his throat or stomach hurting in over a month, he has a good appetite, and he has had a normal bowel movement every day for the past several weeks completely on his own. He was doing incredibly well.

She looked down at her paper and then looked up at me, "And he's not even on the Nexium?!"

"No... I said."

To which she replied, "I have chills. I'm speechless. I am so impressed by everything you've done."

Boom. Fireworks.

As we continued to talk, she said several times how proud she was of us and how excited and impressed she is with how well he is doing. As I continued to explain to her about our plan for Jude, she kept saying, "I feel so good about this."

I'm pretty sure at one point I saw tears in her eyes. I told her how I got nervous and took him off his new foods. We talked about how he could, clinically, he looks perfect and how he is on an extremely low-risk diet with no risky foods and we stick to it 100% and never fudge. She said that she did not share my same concerns about the steroid "cheating" on his healing and healing him falsely. She said that the steroid just "seals the deal" and if he was ingesting anything that was irritating to him, he would not have had a COMPLETELY PERFECT scope like he did. She said that she is as fairly certain (as much as she can be) that he is still perfect on the inside and that it was not necessary to do a scope right now and put him through that "just to be sure." She really felt that he was still doing very well internally and it would be prudent for us to introduce a few new foods, monitor him closely for any reactions, and then scope him again  in the Spring, a year from his previous scope.

Hello! Game changer.

It took me a little while to absorb it all, but as I mentioned, I have been very prayerful about all this and prayed specifically that the doctor's appointment would go well and I would feel good about a decision and be able to move forward.

I felt good about this. And heaven knows she did. She had tears in her eyes for goodness sakes. I truly feel that my prayers were answered through her. Heavenly Father knew that I needed that confirmation. I can do all the studying I want and feel good about things myself and have the support of my family and friends, but I still just really needed that support from his doctor. Someone I trust. I needed an experienced gastroenterologist to say, YES, PUT HIM ON THE GAPS DIET. YES, INTRODUCE HEMP HEARTS AND FERMENTED COD LIVER OIL. YES, KEEP HIM OFF HIS NEXIUM. YES, WEAN HIM OFF HIS FORMULA. (All these decisions that she previously did not support).

I truly believe that she was touched by the Spirit to "feel so good" about all this so that she could support me and I could feel confident enough to move forward.

So, no EGD right now. We are introducing hemp hearts first because as we are weaning off his Neocate he is lacking a lot of nutrition and he needs that nutritious "milk."

That same week, a couple other things happened that reinforced to me that this decision was right. People were placed in my path as little angels to help me along the way. I could not and can not deny that my prayers were very clearly answered and that we are moving forward in the right direction. That feels good!

There is a lot more I want to share and a lot that has happened since all this, but that is for another day! My prayers were answered. Your prayers in my behalf were felt and appreciated and answered.

Thank you.

We are excited to move forward and I will try to post again soon with more updates!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

great news!! it's bed bugs.

I never thought I would be excited to hear that my seven-month old son was covered in bug bites, probably bed bugs. It's funny how life is. When I first noticed the bites and thought it might be bugs, I was horrified, terrified, and guilt-ridden. 

Then I started to wonder. What if it's more? What if it's some external response to an internal problem? (much like eczema) What if he has an autoimmune disease? What if he has a communicable disease? What if he has a horrible disease? Having a child who does have an auto-immune disease and reacts to just about anything makes me a little paranoid, and also aware, that these things do happen. So when we went in to get the opinion of our very well-practiced pediatrician, my heart lept and my sign escaped when I heard her say... 

"Bugs. Definitely bugs."

So besides the fact that it's kind of a nightmare and my husband is leaving town tomorrow for four days leaving me to fight the bugs myself, I'm grateful it's just bugs.

It is kind of a mystery though. He sleeps with me for a couple hours every morning. Wouldn't you think Dan and I would have them too? He has most of them on his back, a few on his abdomen, his feet and hands. Sigh.

And here's a recent picture of the little guy. Can you tell he's my second? With Jude, I took photos of him every day with my nice camera and documented very event that occurred. Abrahams picture is a "selfie" we took to get a free jar of Mayo at Whole Foods. He was still excited about it. :)

Also, he did this completely on his own last week. How come he is so incredibly talented and smart?! Can't help it. He's perfect.

Monday, September 29, 2014

"I'm the hero of this story..."

I remember driving to work when I lived in Tuscaloosa. 10:30 at night and newly married, and the windows down as I drove. Singing along to Regina Spektor, I distinctly remember her words, "No one has it all. No one has it all. No one has it a-ha-all...." and thinking. "That's what she thinks. She doesn't know me; I have it all."

Everything seemed perfect and right in its place to me at that time. I revelled in the simplicity of life and the promise of the future. I lived innocently and easily and didn't have too much to worry about too often.

I got older, wiser, prouder, and bigger and learned and lived a little more. It didn't take long for me to realize that I really didn't have it all. That Regina was right. No one has "it all" if you write it all down on paper. We have a checklist of what a "perfect" life looks like and envy our friends who seem to have tidy little checks in all the appointed spots. But we are all just trudging through our own journey with hills to climb and rivers to cross.

As I've lived more and learned more I like to think I've come a long way since the naivity of that time. Life has taught me many lessons and continues to all throughout every day. Sometimes I feel like I don't remember what a carefree, easy day could be like. I could be vacationing in an exotic locale across the world right now and would still be fretting over my children. 

Lately it has just felt like a battle. A struggle (that I'm loosing) to try to "do it all." I find myself wondering, "how does anyone do it all?!" And I was reminded of my late night drives to work listening to Regina, how I so innocently thought I "had it all." I realize that I am being just as naive if I let myself believe anyone "does it all." We prioritize what we feel is most important and the rest falls by the wayside. I don't do it all. I probably won't have a clean house for more than two hours and finished laundry for the next ten years. I change the sheets out of necessity. I clean the tub when I start to feel guilty putting my kids in it. I really struggle showering. Like, in my dark and harder days I showered once a week.

But there are things I do do. And I can feel good about that. And I'm allowed to be proud of myself for my little victories. Even if the toilets are screaming at me, and I thought I saw a 42-year old me when I walked by the mirror, and there are used diapers strewn about the house, my kids won't remember that. They will remember how they felt at home. They will remember how their mother made them feel loved. They will remember feeling important and special. They will remember reading stories with Mom in their teepee and sitting down to carefully prepared home cooked meals. 

So that's good too. Here's to another Monday and enjoying a bright, imperfect week. (Who wants perfect anyway? That would just be boring.)

Friday, September 19, 2014


It's one of those days where your baby wakes up at 6:15 and you just want to throw in the towel already.

It's one of those days where your toddler spills his nutritious, green smoothie that took a good 15 minutes to make all over himself, his chair, and the floor. And it's not even 8:00 am.

It's one of those days where you pass by the pile of laundry, the sink full of dishes, the unmade bed, and the bathroom that is just screaming at you to be cleaned and you kindly ask (plead with) your toddler if he can play by himself so you can please take a mini-nap while the baby sleeps.

It's one of those days where you walk by the mirror and wish you wouldn't have because well... ^^^ all of the above.

It's one of those days where you wake up to those chubby little "jowls" smiling up at 
you because he is just happy to 1) be alive and 2) be next to me.

It's one of those days where your toddler drinks everything that was left 
of his nutritious, green smoothie and almost a full plantains worth of homemade 
plantain chips with homemade fermented salsa (score!) and gulps down 
about 6 oz of homemade bone broth to wash it down. (another score!)

It's one of those days where you lay happily in your unmade 
bed and read new stories from the library with your toddler and just 
giggle together while your baby sleeps.

It's one of those days where your husband comes 
home for lunch and you hear giggling from the kitchen 
and come in the living room and see this...

It's not easy and it's not perfect, but it's mine. And I wouldn't change a thing. ;)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Staying Home" like it's my business...

Since I was a little girl, I have known I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. There was never a question. There was never an option. My parents lost their first child to SIDS at eleven months old. My mom had a great job before he was born and the company she worked for really wanted her to stay. They offered to pay for all of her child care costs on top of her salary, but she resolutely declined. They had waited almost ten years before that sweet baby came into their lives and she was sure in her decision to stay home with him. She left him only once in those eleven months, and it was the one time he was filmed on video. The babysitter was filming her child and him and just happened to mostly film him. This is the only video my parents have of him and they treasure it. This little angel passed on to the next life and my dear mother and father could not have felt more grateful that they made that pivotal decision to stay home with him and spend every precious moment they could with him.

I grew up knowing this story and being taught since I was a child the eternal importance of family and that nothing else matters, especially money or anything you can buy with it. I made that decision young and didn’t really think much more about it until my son was born.

I had been working as a nurse and had to continue to work five days every two weeks in order to maintain our health insurance. I felt nothing short of ill when I had to return to work and anytime I left him. As he has grown older and we have added another son to our family, this feeling has not diminished. (When I’m going to work that is. I have become a lot more comfortable and much less anxiety-stricken with leaving them for a few hours to go on a date or run an errand.) I’m sure that anxiety I felt when leaving them stemmed from a combination of many things, including those experiences in my family and really just the incredible obsession I feel for my children. Once I became a mother, as far as I was concerned, that was it. I could not have cared less about being a nurse or anything else. I WAS A MOTHER. That was everything. That was enough.

I had no idea how all-encompassing motherhood would be. I gladly and instinctively gave every facet of my eager soul and every speck in my beating heart to these two little boys. I worked part-time like that for a few months, and then when we moved I only did short travel-nursing assignments here and there so I could continue to be home with my dear children. Like I said, my world was completely overcome by these little souls. From morning until evening and every moment in between, my every move revolved around their well-being, safety, and happiness. And although I liked it that way and chose to be as obsessive as I was, I would get worn out. I was tired. I was never off-duty. And it was exhausting. I would try to explain to Dan that when he was working, he would get home and be done. When he was on a break from school, he was truly on a break and was able to turn off his worries and relax. I told him that I never got a break or took even a short hiatus from worrying. The work was literally never done. I went to sleep right there in the “office,” spent every waking moment tirelessly working, and even woke up several times in the night continuing my work! (Every mother reading this is smirking and nodding in empathy.) This is motherhood and it is work in every sense of the word. It can truly be so difficult to try to find that balance and find a way to let your busy mind and worrying heart take a “break” every once in a while.

When we moved to Texas, I got a job as a Med-Surg nurse working two to four shifts per month. I went through an orientation period where I worked full-time and more part-time orientation before I went on my regular two to four shift per month schedule. Leaving Jude (only him at that time) was miserable. Even when my mom flew down to watch him, it was treacherous to leave him. Although it was nice to get paid to sit and watch orientation movies and listen to speakers all day, I missed him. He was my heart and a part of me was missing when I was not with him.

Before long I was out on the floor working. Friends would ask me if it was kind of a “break” to work and get out of the routine. I told them it would be if my job wasn’t so incredibly tedious. (Thirteen-hour shifts where I would rarely sit and was constantly running from one patient to the next medicating for pain and taking doctor’s orders and everything in between). It was utterly exhausting and I longed for the days of story times and sitting at the kitchen table eating an hour long lunch with my babes. I began to dread leaving them in every sense of the word. Although normally a very low-anxiety and confident person, I would get full-on, almost debilitating, anxiety even up to two weeks before I had to work! I found myself not able to truly enjoy my days with my children because I was so worried about leaving them. It was more so with Jude when someone other than Dan was watching him as I would fret over his needs concerning his allergies, knowing how to care for him, prepare his foods, and give him the medications he was taking at the time.

I gladly took a four-month maternity leave after Abraham was born but quickly realized my altered reality was coming to an end as I depleted all our savings and had to start making plans to go back to work. Since I worked so infrequently, I still was not “on my own” as a nurse. I was still working with another nurse on orientation and that was nice, but I worried about going on my own and not having that help. They allowed me a few more shifts of orientation after I returned to get back in the groove, but before long the apron strings were abruptly cut and I started working on my own.

While setting up shifts with the staffing coordinator, I expressed my difficulty in working the 13-14 hour shifts (I was always behind). I would wake up before the children were awake and get home after they had gone to bed. I would not see them all day! I had to pump several times a day as I was nursing Abraham. The staffing coordinator mentioned the possibility of doing 8-hour shifts and I told her I would absolutely love that. She was able to get them approved and I started working 8-hour shifts, from 2:45 pm – 11:00 pm (more like midnight or later). I was entirely delighted. I got to spend the whole morning with my darlings, put them both down for their naps, and then get ready for work and go. I only missed them for a few short hours between naptime and bedtime. And I only had to pump once during my 8-hour shift. (I need to pump more, but I can get away with once.)

Dan reminded me that after one of my first 8-hour shifts, I admitted that I might have actually “enjoyed” it a little bit. (WHAT?!?! Have I gone crazy?!) I was working on my own. I got to do my own thing. I was on an off-shift so I didn’t receive typical report during a busy shift change and immediately take on a full-load of patients. One day, I even did tech work and another shift I was a sitter for the last four hours and got to watch HGTV while sitting by a confusing patient who was soundly sleeping!

I started to understand what people meant when they said work might be a nice break for me. Although most days I was very busy and I missed my children dearly, I knew they were being safely cared for by their father and I was really only away from them (awake) for 3-4 hours.

I began to notice a change in myself when I was home with them. The day after I worked, I was the most pleasant, patient, and jovial mother this household had ever seen. I would laugh and giggle at everything they did. I noticed little things about them that I had not appreciated or even seen in the past. I was entirely content to spend my whole morning playing horsies with them, reading stories, and going on walks. I felt I could accomplish nothing greater than just to laugh with them and enjoy the perfection of their presence. Dan would come home and ask me what I did that day and I would joyfully and unapologetically and proudly tell him I “had a wonderful day enjoying being with my babies.”

When I do not work out of the home, I oftentimes find myself getting caught up in everything I need to “get done.” I’m running busily from laundry to phone calls, to making appointments, to checking “something important” on my iPad, and before I knew it I’m putting Abraham down for his nap and suddenly missing him because I realize I hadn’t taken the time to bounce him on my leg or make him laugh all morning. Working, although not often, helped me really savor those little moments that may not seem like much to an outsider, but to me, those little moments are sheer, unadulterated HEAVEN.

Sometimes it is easy to take things for granted when we always have them.

After I had worked, I felt proud of myself and accomplished for working and making some money, but a  million times better and an ocean’s worth of smiles that I was now home with nothing on my calendar for the day and I got to spend the whole day (and next week!) just being a mom. What could be better?! I have convinced myself, believe, and know that the answer to that question is – absolutely nothing.

I fear that as stay at home moms, we can get so caught up in the days and the routines and looking at motherhood as a “job”, we lose sight of the BREATHTAKING and BEAUTIFUL moments that slowly and simply create the masterpiece of motherhood.

Although it’s been a roller coaster of a journey, I am grateful that I am able to work. It helps me maintain an eternal perspective on motherhood. I put myself in check and reevaluate how I’m doing as a wife and mother when I am taken out of that role. And, for the record, absolutely nothing beats that feeling of leaving work and stepping into that ancient elevator on my way to the parking garage, knowing I will be seeing the most beautiful faces in the world in a few hours and that they will be all mine.

Sometimes it takes “losing” something (or someone) to realize how much we love and appreciate and desperately need them.

Here’s to PASSIONATELY and DESPERATELY loving our families and our roles as mothers whatever our circumstance may be.

Monday, September 8, 2014

When allergies get harder.

When your six month old's diet (besides breast milk) consists of 90% egg yolks and your toddler has an anaphylactic allergy to eggs... It's adds a whole new dimension to the allergy game. >> Mom Paranoia <<

The boys and I were sitting down for lunch together today eating avocado, homemade bone broth, and homemade cultured salsa (not Abraham on that one). I poured Jude some broth and told him it's like medicine, that it will help him grow big and strong and help his allergies to get better. (We often talk about how as he gets older, his allergies will get better and there will be more foods he is able to have.)

His eyes lit up and he said, "My allergies get better?!"

I then explained further and tried not to get his hopes up so much... :(

I noticed him thinking and while furrowing his brow he said, "Why me have allergies? I not touch bread...?" (He knows if he touches bread he gets allergies.) He went on, "When I get bigger, I eat bread? When I get bigger I eat bread like Daddy's?"

Heart ---> broken. I almost cried right then and there. (But I kept it together.) When we were first finding out about Jude's allergies, I read a mom somewhere write about how we, as the mother of an allergic child, need to be aware of what kind of attitude we have and how we deal with the allergies. If we complain and carry on and "poor baby" our child, and act all "wo is me/us" about it, then that is how our child is going to act and grow up feeling so bad for themselves. We need to face them in a matter-of-fact manner and just move forward. I try to approach it this way and not act like I feel bad for Jude if he can't have is or that. (Even though of course I do!)

I think this has made a huge impact on how Jude sees his allergies and how we approach it as a family. He has literally never complained about not being able to have something. There are times when he will ask, "I have that?!" and when we say no and explain why, he understands. 

I try my best to have food for him and other things that he CAN have. It is incredibly difficult at times, but it is also a huge blessing that he has never had Goldfish, macaroni and cheese, fruit snacks, Puffs, or any of the other CRAP foods (excuse my French, I'm referring to a reference from the book "Super Nutrition for Babies") America feeds their children. We have learned so much and have completely altered how we eat for the better!

A more detailed update of his progress is coming soon. We are in the middle of lots of big decisions right now!

He really enjoyed his green smoothie this day. "I want strawberries in it. And salad."

"Take picture, Mom!" 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Somebody, somewhere...

Somebody, somewhere just realized what love is when they saw the face of their tiny little newborn baby for the first time.

Somebody, somewhere just got married to that person they love so much and they can't believe their dream has really come true. 

Somebody, somewhere just plopped on the floor of their first home, surrounded by boxes, and in a surreal state of exhaustion. 

Somebody, somewhere just fell off something really high and broke their leg... but at least they feel alive. 

Somebody, somewhere is skinny dipping in the ocean and feeling small as they look up into a sky full of stars. 

Somebody, somewhere just spent their last moment in this life and is now passing on to the glorious next one and realizing there is so much life yet to be lived. 

Somebody, somewhere is laying in bed with an adoring husband by her side and two incredibly angelic little boys nearby, marveling at how blessed she is and how magnificent life is and how she never wants to forget it.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Homemade hemp milk

Jude and I just made our first batch of homemade hemp milk... and let me tell you... it is delicious! I am so excited about it. Jude likes it! Plain hemp milk is good, but I added some frozen mangos and it made it colder and sweeter and THAT is the good stuff. I want to try blueberry hemp milk soon, too. Hemp is one of the new foods we are introducing for it's many health benefits. We will have another EGD come September and if that's clear, we can keep the hemp. If not, we'll pretty much have to start from square one. Let's pray!!!

Having hemp milk will open up soo many doors for us. We can make creamy soups, milkshake/ice cream type concoctions, creamy sauces and dips. Maybe we can even make a type of cereal! We will certainly have more luck baking having a milk to use as opposed to just water. I will certainly try baking something soon with our banana flour and hemp milk! Please share if you have any ideas for us!