The Wiener Book

Moms. Do you ever have days where you just have no idea what you’re doing? I have them often. Well…every day, really, because seriously…I don’t know what I am doing. Help me, Jesus!

I am indecisive about everything. The smallest of decisions can give me problems, so when it comes to decisions that affect my children….well, you can imagine. It might take DAYS before I decide on how I should handle something. Every possible scenario and consequence will pop into my head. My brain is like one of those choose your own adventure books.  Like…is giving my son a chick-fil-a french fry today somehow going to lead him down the path of becoming a serial killer tomorrow? You know…those types of things. Or maybe you don’t know because you’re not a freak like me. Whatevs.

But I am like this EVERY. DAY. So imagine my level of confusion (on how to handle things) when my son handed me The Wiener Book. Yeah…you read that right. THE WIENER BOOK. What in the world, right? My thoughts exactly.

Read on.

Harper told me this morning that he wanted to make a book. I handed him a folded blank notecard and told him to have at it. He came back and handed me his creation. He had it folded closed, and was calling it My Name Book. I opened it to find the letter H written inside. I smiled and told him what a great job he had done. He immediately asked for it back saying that he wanted to draw a picture of himself inside. I handed it back and he ran off. A few minutes later he returned and excitedly told me that he had drawn his wiener. I opened it up to find a self portrait that indeed included his “wiener” and I was speechless. IS THIS REAL LIFE?

He also informed me that it was no longer called My Name Book, but instead was now called The Wiener Book.

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I sat frozen, not really sure of what to do. On the one hand, I was really impressed that he had put it in the right location. That’s what she said? Sorry, I had to. But seriously, y’all…he just started really drawing about a month ago and has already made so much progress. I think it’s awesome!

On the other hand, though, what if he starts drawing pictures of his junk at school? Or worse…AT CHURCH? Holy Moses, that would be embarrassing.

Though I was frozen in my indecisiveness, my insides were BURNING with laughter. Phew. I held it in, and put on a shaky smile. I kept quiet, aside from a quick thank you, and acted like his wiener picture was the most normal drawing I had ever received. I just didn’t want to decide what to do right then and there. Instead, I texted Benji to see if maybe he knew where our family stood on wiener drawings. He thought it was funny.

So now I feel like I need to decide on what kind of mother I want to be.

Here are my options:

A). The Hippie Mom: The human body is a work of art and should be valued and appreciated as such, even by the littlest of souls. Wieners are no laughing matter. They are beautiful. Any time one is drawn, it will be proudly displayed upon our family fridge, full of organic non-GMO food.

B). The Conservative Mom. No wiener pictures allowed. Ever. No ifs, ands, or butts (none of those either!) about it.

C). The Hipervative Mom. A mixture of A & B. The kids are allowed to draw any and all artsy fartsy pictures so long as we are at home. When in public, no wieners or butts allowed. But where do I draw the line? Can they draw boogers? Farts? Etc. I need to go ahead and write the laws on this because these scenarios WILL COME UP.

So…these are the mom choices that are before me. I’ve got my #2 pencil sharpened and ready to go, but I have no idea what I’ll pick. Stayed tuned for my decision. I’ll let you know in about a week. Not really, but it’s fun to hope.

Four Years

IMG_6971Harp will be four tomorrow. FOUR! What? That just seems so old to me. Sigh. Each birthday that comes and goes absolutely blows my mind. I imagine it will always be like that though.

Admittedly, I am a little sad that my baby is growing up, but at the same time, I am SO excited about age four. We are leaving the “terrible” threes behind, y’all! As each day passes, Harp is acting less and less like a wild animal, and more like a civilized human being. LOL…I’m somewhat exaggerating how he has acted over the past year – three really wasn’t so bad for him – but he definitely had his days ;-) Even though three was mild for us, I’ve still noticed a drastic difference in how he handles himself here lately – he is a lot calmer these days!

Since little ones change so often, I figured I’d write a little bit about who he is and what he likes in this current season of life. So here goes nothing:

Although he has changed in many ways, one thing has remained the same - he still loves things that spin. This obsession started when he was right at a year old, and has stayed with him.  He loves motors, propellors, box fans, air conditioning units, gears, windmills, etc. ANYTHING that spins.

He loves music. His favorite songs right now are All About That Bass, Shake It Off, Oceans, Problem, Thrift Shop (the clean version lol) and oddly enough, the Anfield Rap by the Liverpool FC, thanks to his daddy. He seems to gravitate towards songs with a sick beat. He’s a lot like his mama in that way.

He is a cautious individual when it comes to the physical world. He is a rule follower and doesn’t usually test the boundaries that are given to him. His memory is KILLER sharp. If he gets hurt doing something, he will generally stay away from whatever it was that hurt him for like…forever. And it only takes one time! He is not someone to stand back up, dust himself off, and then forget about it. For example, when he was a year old, he got hurt after going down a slide. This caused him to have a fear of slides, which he only just now overcame this year. I’m serious, y’all. He holds onto and remembers everything. This can be a good and bad thing.

He loves people. One of my favorite things to do is to just sit back and watch him at the park. He will walk up to random people and excitedly say “Hi, I’m Harper!” and then just start up a conversation with them. I really admire his bravery in this area. I often pray that this part of him doesn’t change as he ages. It’s just so amazing to watch him greet new people without a single ounce of fear in his body. As someone who struggles with anxiety, it inspires me to do the same.

His interest in drawing recently peaked about a month or so ago. I’m not sure if it’s because of preschool, or what, but he has just taken off in this area. Up until recently, he didn’t really care to draw all that much, but now he wants to often. And he draws with purpose versus the scribbling he would do a few months ago. He enjoys drawing letters, numbers, logos, flowers, fans, people, etc. He recently told me that when he grows up, he wants to be able to draw as good as his daddy. Holy moly heart melt. <3

Now. Take his love of drawing, and multiply it by about 75, and you’ll have his love of building things. Boxes, cups, legos, blocks, books, etc. Whatever is available, really. He enjoys using anything around him to build towers and structures that his sister destroys within 3.7 seconds of seeing. The cycle is pretty cute to watch. That girl always has her eye out for his creations.

And then there’s food. Harp loves to eat. We sometimes refer to him as a garbage disposal – should I be writing that here where he might someday read it? LOL. He eats and eats and eats, and yet his waist never grows. It’s so unfair!

Food has always been a pretty easy area for us, and I’ve never considered Harp a picky eater. Once he tries something, he almost always likes it. It’s the getting him to actually try new things part that is hard. Like I said above, he is very cautious, and unfortunately that flows over into his eating habits sometimes.

Luckily, we introduced him to several fruits and veggies before he reached the point of not wanting to try new things, so we have a pretty solid foundation of good foods to pull from for his meals. We try to add one new item to his plate a day, and it’s a 50/50 chance on whether or not he will actually stick it in his mouth. I just keep offering and introducing new things in hopes that he will get over his fear.

The foods that he already knows and loves though? He could eat those all day without stopping. Seriously! His favorite meal is scrambled eggs, a piece of toast, with a side of raw spinach. We call it the Harper special round these parts.

One of the weirdest things about his tastes is that he doesn’t like chocolate. I’d really like to know where this trait came from and how can I inherit it? lol.

So that pretty much sums him up at the moment. He is such a sweet, joyful, loving little boy. I often think that he must mirror Benji as a child because he is just so sweet. I know he didn’t get that from me. I was a terror child :-P

I sure do enjoy being this little boy’s mama <3

I’m Praying To Have A Disease

Earlier this year, I started to suspect something might be wrong with my thyroid. It all started around March. I had recently stopped using birth control because it was giving me a lot of problems. Benji and I weren’t quite ready to add Martin Baby #3 to the family yet, so I started tracking my basal body temperature in order to prevent pregnancy. On several occasions, I had a temperature in the 96 degree range. One morning it was even close to 95 degrees. On most mornings though, it was right around 97.0-97.1 degrees. After a few days of seeing what I thought to be incredibly low temperatures, I decided to Google it (as I do EVERYTHING) to see if it was normal. It wasn’t. It was an indication of hypothyroidism. No shocker there. I have a huge family history of thyroid dysfunction. 

My interests really peaked when I read about two symptoms linked to hypothyroidism: inability to dilate during labor and low to no breast milk supply. Check and check. 

After reading that, and a few other things, I was absolutely convinced that I was suffering from hypothyroidism and possibly had been for years. I had SO many of the symptoms. I quickly set up an appointment to discuss it with my midwife. I just knew my life was about to change for the better. I devoured everything I could on thyroid disorders in preparation for that appointment. When I finally went in, I had a full page typed up of symptoms that I had that lined up with hypothyroidism. My midwife examined me and said my thyroid *was* enlarged, and she also did blood work. Since I actually had a thyroid goiter, I was hopeful that this meant I was right and that the problem would show up in my labs, and would therefore get fixed. Wrong! So so so wrong.

My labs came back completely normal. Sigh. I can’t even begin to tell you how deflated I felt after that phone call. I knew something was wrong with my thyroid…but what? If everything was supposedly okay, why was my thyroid enlarged? My midwife told me that it was probably just “my normal”. I got the feeling from her that I might be making a mountain out of a mole hill, so I dropped it. Except…not really. I didn’t mention it to her anymore, but I did Google the crap out of thyroid disorders that can go undetected on your labs. To my surprise, there were several. I was most suspicious of Hashimoto’s disease. The internet was full of folks talking about how hard it was to have their Hashimoto’s diagnosed and how hard they had to fight for it. Blah. I mean…who wants to fight with doctors? Not me. So I basically gave up. I just didn’t feel up to it. I put my suspicions away. I changed my diet, and tried to “heal myself naturally” in the meantime.

I lived a few months like that, and some of my symptoms *did* get better. But…I still felt off for the most part. 

Then I got pregnant (Yes…on purpose).

And then I miscarried. Sigh.

I know, I know…this is awkward. I can’t believe I’m even writing about it here because I’m still kind of in the thick of it. It just happened last Monday. But it happened, and it’s part of this story…so…yeah. I miscarried, and once again I could not stop thinking about my thyroid. To make matters worse, I was having some swelling, pain, and pressure in my neck. Any time I turned my head, I could feel extra…neck? What in the world. I don’t even know how to describe it. I didn’t think it was visibly noticeable..I just felt like something was off. Thinking I was being a psychotic hypochondriac, I took a picture of my neck and compared it to one I had from June. My plan was to prove myself crazy, so that I could DROP IT. But I wasn’t crazy: 

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I weigh MORE in the picture on the left than I do on the right. But…check the neck on the right. 

So I called my midwife to tell her about the miscarriage and to talk about my thyroid concerns. She sounded totally annoyed that I called. I mean…it *was* a holiday, but still. Really? She was very dismissive of my thyroid concerns: “Your labs are probably still normal” and “that pain and pressure in your neck is probably not because of your thyroid.” Etc. There was no sympathy in her voice, only a tone that was suggestive of wanting to get the eff off the phone with me. I was completely shocked. Although she had seemed to think I was overreacting about the thyroid stuff back in April…I never got the sense that she didn’t care or wouldn’t do anything to help me. This time was completely different though. I knew I couldn’t trust her to help me, so I decided to switch practices. Exactly what you want to do when you’re having a miscarriage. Ugh.  

So I had an appointment with a brand spankin’ new OB on Thursday and she was freaking incredible. I cried during my appointment. CRIED, y’all. She didn’t make me feel like a crazy head for thinking something was wrong. Instead, she ordered a thyroid ultrasound and more blood work to make sure everything was okay. I didn’t even have to ask her to do it! 

The ultrasound was on Friday. Being the awesomely nosy person that I am, I got a copy of the report before my OB even had a chance to see it. 

Big ole’ fatty fat mistake.

I mean…I had prepared myself for what I saw, but when it was actually there…staring me in the face…well, I freaked the freak out. No…for real…I cried off and on for almost a solid 24 hours. 

Basically, my thyroid is full of nodules. Most of them are 1-2 cm in size, but there is one that is over 4 cm and requires a biopsy to make sure it isn’t cancerous. Ugh. Why, why, why did I look?! So now, because of my impatience, I am stuck with this scary news, and have no other option other than to just wait until my OB calls me!  

I’m praying my butt off that she calls tomorrow. But more than that, now that I’ve calmed down, and returned to being a semi rational individual, I am praying that I was right all along and just have Hashimoto’s disease. Yes…I am PRAYING to have a disease. I’d rather have that over cancer :-) 

So…will you join me in this? Thyroid cancer wouldn’t be the end of the world. It’s one of the easier ones to cure, in fact…but still. I just really don’t want cancer in my body. AT ALL. All I can think about is how I would manage to care for my littles while going through surgery and treatment, etc. It’d just be so much easier if all of this was Hashimoto’s and I could just take meds. Will you pray with me? :-)

Recycled Air

Recycled Air. The whole time we were flying home, I had this song stuck in my head. Specifically the lines: 

Knuckles clenched to white as the landing gear detracts for flight
My head’s a balloon inflating with the altitude

I felt like it was my theme song for the day. I am terrified of flying. My knuckles were definitely clenched to white. I was breathing in a steady stream of recycled air. All. Day. Long. But it would have been a bit more accurate if there had been a line or two about toddler tantrums, or being covered in toddler vomit on top of everything else. I guess Ben Gibbard wasn’t really writing about flying with toddlers though, was he? 

Sigh. Flying with toddlers. That was an experience. Pretty much the opposite of everything I thought it would be. I had expected my daughter to be calm and collected during the flight. I had expected my son to freak the freak out because he is afraid of heights. Out of the two of them, I expected Harper to cry. I expected the strangers surrounding us to be mean and impatient when he did cry. 

None of these things happened, however. Emrist cried screamed the entire duration of our first flight. And I do mean screamed. She also flailed and kicked the guy’s seat in front of her while I was trying to restrain her. Harper *was* terrified, but he didn’t panic or cry like I thought he would. He only asked to hold my hand during take off and landing. And the strangers. Well I experienced nothing but kindness and grace from the people on the plane. Honestly, I had boarded the plane prepared to give the bird to anyone who so much as looked our way, but Mr. Middle Finger stayed down. Instead, I was tempted to hug people I had never met before. It was horrible and beautiful all in one sitting. People tried to help me comfort my kids. They offered both of them food. They tried to make them laugh. One lady even gave Emrist her iPhone to play with! I never once felt like someone was annoyed with us. I was humbled by the experience to say the least. 

That was the flight there.

The trip home, which I thought would be easier for some reason, was so so so SO much worse. From Houston to Atlanta, I succeeded in keeping Emrist happy. She threatened to cry a few times, but I always managed to settle her back down. It was a lot of work and I was on edge the whole time. Harper asked to hold my hand for the entire two hour flight. Juggling her while holding his hand was pretty interesting. Upon landing in Atlanta, I was emotionally spent. It’s difficult to meet the emotional needs of your children when you have your own anxiety and fear of flying to deal with. I would have much preferred to have been knocked out for that flight, but that wasn’t possible with two littles in my care. So I was just…spent. I was already on the verge of tears, and I was NOT WANTING TO GET ON THAT SECOND PLANE. But I did. I forced myself to board and settled down with my kids and just prayed that God would get me through it. 

Everyone had boarded, but the cabin door was still open. A passenger nearby commented a couple of times on how cute Emrist was. I turned to talk to her and joked that I still hoped she thought so in a minute. It was like I was a prophet. Almost as soon as I said it, I felt warm liquid running down my arm. I turned toward Emrist, who was sitting in my lap facing me, and saw that she was puking. And it just kept coming, and coming, and coming – projectile style. We both looked at each other, me with a WTF expression and her with a do something expression. But what do you do when your daughter is recreating a scene from the exorcist on a plane? My brain finally caught up with what was happening and I began to rub her back in an attempt to comfort her. I also began to catch her puke. This is something no one tells you about motherhood. You will actually involuntarily hold your hands out to catch your child’s puke. It’s the weirdest thing ever. So yeah…that happened, and everyone was staring…just as unsure of what to do as I was. At one point, I said “I think we need to get off.” The lady who had said Emrist was cute offered to go get help. She got the flight attendant and she said we could deboard. Even though we were covered in vomit, the passengers around us all offered to help. The pilot stopped to check on Em because he was worried. Again…just absolute kindness from strangers. It was amazing. 

So we got off, and then I fell apart. No seriously. For about 30 minutes, I wandered around the Atlanta airport (which by the way is the largest airport in the entire WORLD! Crazy, right?) puke-covered and crying. Yes…crying. Because I just didn’t know what to do. I had packed extra clothes for the children, but none for me, and it was going to take Benji three hours to get to us. And I know I should be ashamed that I took this picture, but I knew I would want to remember it after the craziness passed…so for your viewing pleasure…this is what I looked like: 

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Yeah, I know. Gross. GROSS. You probably want to puke yourself right now, don’t you? I just needed you to know.

So imagine seeing this person wandering around with two children…crying. I mean…I was getting some wide-eyed stares. I finally found a little store with some twelve dollar shirts and got changed. After that, my mood improved and I stopped having a pity party for myself. I realized that I could either laugh it off and enjoy my time with my children, or I could wallow around in it and feel sorry for myself. I chose option A and took them to a piano bar while we waited for Benji. We had fun. We laughed. And I’m sure we probably smelled great too ;)

Emrist threw up three more times that night, and was sick all day Saturday. It turns out that she had some sort of stomach bug. I thought that we had all escaped it, but Harper hasn’t been feeling well today and is also running a fever. Hoping that maybe it’s just a fluke.

Anyways, I just had to write about this experience before my memory was blocked out. It was CRAZY! And though I was blessed by the kindness of strangers and some good did come from it, I don’t think I’ll ever get on a plane with toddlers again. At least not if I can help it! 

Here are some more pictures from our trip! 1795544_10152580464201772_4980065698630417565_n

This was taken right before we entered the airport. 
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Making sure she met the carry on requirements :)

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Just before all hell broke loose. Look how scared Harper looks. Sweet baby. 2014-08-08 05.58.45

 

Looking at our plane. 

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We were able to sit with friends for our second flight <3

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Em fell asleep right when we landed. She was exhausted!

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Successful transfer to the stroller

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At the piano bar…eating, which was a mistake, in case you were wondering. Haha.

 

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I found this note at the Atlanta airport LOL

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And this is how Em spent all of Saturday. Poor baby was SO SO sick :( 

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She finally perked up after some ibuprofen though. She has been mostly better since then, thank the Lord! :) 

The Date.

Maybe this will be long. Or maybe it will be short. I’m not really sure what it will look like considering I’ve never done it before. But be warned. I’m going to write with no purpose or plan…because I just need to do that today.

I’m going to write about my sister, Megan. Well…technically she was my stepsister, but I really hate calling her that. “Stepsister” makes me think of the mean stepsisters from Cinderella and she was nothing like that. Perhaps just calling her my best friend would be more accurate? That’s really what she was…we just happened to also be related by marriage. 

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned her in a post or two before, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually written a post solely about her here. To be completely honest, when it comes to talking about her, I kind of avoid it like the plague. It brings up all sorts of feelings, good and bad, and I still feel raw from losing her. I’m not a “feelings” kind of gal…I mean, duh, I am. I have feelings. I just don’t enjoy talking about them. Whenever I do talk about them, I feel naked with a bunch of onlookers or something. I just don’t love it, mmkay? When it comes to grief, well that’s an especially private matter for me and I usually just keep it to myself.

So why am I opening up now? Well, one reason is because today is the date. If you’ve ever lost someone, you know what “the date” is. It’s the one day a year you wish you could wipe off the calendar. The date that reminds you that you still aren’t over it. The date that you dread for weeks in advance because you will be reliving what happened on that day. Today is the date for me…and this one is extra hard because it marks 14 years since Megan’s passing. She was 14 when she died, so she has officially been gone as long as she was here, and that’s a hard concept for me to swallow.

So there’s that. And then there’s the fact that I was thinking about her yesterday and I couldn’t remember what her voice sounded like and that really upset me. I started panicking over what else I may have forgotten since she’s been gone, and I started recalling some wonderful memories with her. I decided it would be good to document them before my faulty brain decides to trash them. So that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m just going to write memories.

Here goes:

*She loved, loved, LOVED Taco Bell. Whenever we would go, she would get the Nacho Bell Grande, and it would take her half a century to eat it.  She wasn’t done until every last drop had been cleaned off her plate (she would take her finger and drag it across, then lick the cheese off her finger lol). I’m so serious when I say it would take her 45 minutes to eat it!

*Driving. Yeah, I know she was underage, but she loved to drive. She actually scared the crap out of me one time by taking me for an unsuspected spin on the interstate. Yes, folks….14 years olds driving on the interstate lol. I still can’t believe it myself.

*When we would go to our favorite Mexican restaurant, she would always order cheese dip. She would get so mad at me for first dipping my chip into the salsa, and then into the cheese. She HATED having them mixed.

*She was boy CRAZY! Anytime we went to the beach, we would have to take disposable cameras so that she could walk by and snap pictures of any guy she thought was cute.

*When we’d go to sleep at night, we would give each other timed back rubs until we fell asleep. I would do a minute and then she would do a minute. Occasionally we would draw pictures on each other’s backs instead of a plain back rub.

*We would tell people we were twins because our birthdays were one day apart and we had the same middle name.

*While at school one day, I received a threatening note from a girl in my grade that wanted to beat me up. I was pretty much resigned to getting my butt kicked. I told Megan about it and she came to my school’s football game that Friday and stood by my side/defended me when the girl approached me. I didn’t have a problem after that lol.

*She sometimes called me Nicky.

*She loved to sleep and was NOT fun to wake up.

*We snuck out of the house together in the middle of the night once. We walked to the park, hung out with some of our friends, and then crawled back in through the window before dawn. (All of you reading this who have teens…is this scaring the crap out of you yet?).

*One time we visited my great aunt,  and we rolled down the hill in her front yard until we both had holes in our jeans.

*Y2K. We celebrated by mooning our entire family. Happy New Years, y’all!

*She was brave. She really wasn’t afraid of anything. She was always game for anything exciting. She loved knee boarding, riding roller coasters, skating and just going fast. She was always trying to get me to ride roller coasters with her, and I was too afraid. She said I would love it. I finally did it when I was 18, and she was right. I loved it!

*We rarely fought, but when we did…it was intense. One time we got into a fight over a basketball (lol). I walked away with a cut to my gums and she left with a bright red, perfect handprint on her skin. We were also fond of pulling each other’s hair.

 

 

Okay. I’m going to stop here because Benji needs the laptop, but I plan on making this page a running log of memories of her. I just want to remember everything!

If you knew her, and have anything you’d like to add, feel free to comment! This can be a page for you as well :)

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A love letter to summer

Something in me has shifted. I think I’m a fan of summer. When did that happen? I’ve always been more of an autumn kind of girl. My heart just matches the season of fall. It always has. I love the cooler temps, and the patchwork of oranges, reds, and yellows you see while driving down the road in October. I especially love hiking trails covered up and almost hidden by a layer of crunchy leaves. These are my favorite things nature has to offer.

I’ve never been a fan of the hot humid days of an Alabama summer. And I hate the beach, with the hot HOT sun bearing down on you while you sit in the sand. And good lord…the sand. That stuff is just gross! Yes. I’d much rather be tucked away somewhere on a cold foggy mountain, than to be on a hot beach. Any. Day.

My heart does not match summer. I am always happy to see it go. Always. And yet…here I am in early August, a time when I normally rejoice because September is right around the corner, and my heart is breaking because, for our family, summer is over.

Maybe it’s because my babies love summer so much. Or maybe it’s the fact that Benji is going back to school tomorrow. I don’t know. But in spite of all the things I hate about summer, today I am truly sad to see it go. I’ve been in a funk over it all weekend. I’ve been trying to soak up every last minute of it. Trying to hang on. Slow time. Anything. I just don’t want it to go. Sigh. But it must. We’ve finally arrived at the end. So to say goodbye to this wonderful season, here’s a cheesy little love letter to summer (pictures included, duh).

Summer, you were good to us. Thank you for the bounty of bugs you brought to us. Watching my little boy chase one creepy crawly after another, with a huge smile on his face, and hair flapping in the wind…well, it lit me up. Thank you for the heat, which always made me see my childrens’ father in them: their tiny frames drenched in sweat, with deep rosy red cheeks. Thank you for the sun-kissed skin you gave to all of us. Thank you for the humidity, which made me daughter’s little curly curls really come to life. Thank you for frogs, and for picnics in the backyard. Thank you for visits with friends, old and new alike. Thank you for evenings spent barefoot in the backyard, watching the kids delight in each other and our trampoline. Thank you for the rainstorms that always seemed to creep up at the perfect time: nap time! Thank you for all of these “little” things. Yes. But most importantly thank you for the gift of time. The gift of being able to wake up each morning, with nothing on our plates, and a whole day ahead of us. The gift of just being together. It really was wonderful.

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The Allergy Monster

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It has been about three weeks since our visit with the allergy doctor.  To my surprise, Snowflake did great, and even seemed to have fun during her appointment! I expected her to cry since the appointment would involve being scratched by complete strangers (doesn’t that sound like fun?!). She didn’t shed a single tear though. I was very impressed by her. Our suspicions were confirmed – she is indeed allergic to cats and dogs. Sad face.

After talking it over with the allergist, we decided not to test her for food allergies. He said the scratch test for foods at this age is really unreliable and that we would probably know if she was allergic to certain foods, as food allergies try to kill you ;-) He said she may have some intolerances (like dairy), but nothing dangerous. Phew. That made me feel better. He also said the mosquito bite reactions were nothing to worry about. He said since she was having localized reactions, and no facial swelling, we were safe. No risk of anaphylaxis here! Hallelujah!

He prescribed her some medications, and then we were on our way home. The daily regimen was to include 1/2 teaspoon of Zyrtec twice a day and some steroid cream. He also prescribed another medication for whenever she is bitten by a mosquito. I bought everything except the mosquito medicine because it was hella expensive. That’ll just have to wait a month or two. For now we’re bathing her in California Baby bug spray anytime we go outside. It smells awful – she smells like a lemon dipped in citronella with it on – but it works!

We decided to only use the steroid cream on an “as needed” basis. After reading through the potential side effects, I just do not feel comfortable using it every day. We decided to only apply it whenever she is having a severe reaction (aka: bleeding rashes). We put coconut, lavendar, and melrose oils on her to manage the in-between-reactions stage. Desitin also seems to help, which is kind of weird. We started the daily doses of Zyrtec a couple of days after her appointment.

Fast forward to earlier this week. Em had been a diva-monster-girl for what seemed like forever. For a little over two weeks, day in and day out, it was nothing but crying, whining, and tantrums from her. I get that a certain level of those things are normal for this age, but seriously…if we were at home and she wasn’t being read to or taught something, she was PISSED and letting everyone know about it.  She was even being a little booger butt when we were outside of the home (this is not the usual for her). Grocery store trips had become a nightmare. We went out to eat once during this period and she threw down the entire time.

Exhibit A (she acted like this the entire time we were there)

Exhibit B (happy while being read to, but fussing if you stopped…this was ALL day)

She was not herself. And it wasn’t just because of the grumpies either. She was also showing hardly any physical affection at all. This little darling is extremely affectionate and loves to randomly hug, kiss, lay her head on you, etc. She wasn’t doing any of that! She also seemed to be tired all the time.

At first, I thought maybe we were just entering the terrible twos early. I kept that mindset for about two weeks, until one morning earlier this week, when I was giving her a dose of Zyrtec. She was fussing. AGAIN. I was exhausted, and feeling defeated. I didn’t want to go through another day with her being like that. It was demanding, and tiring, and I really just missed my cuddle bug. I gave her the dose, all the while wondering what had happened to my sweet girl. Almost immediately after I gave her the medicine, I realized what had happened to her.  The freaking Zyrtec. Her behavior changed exactly when the daily doses started. It was so clear. I still can’t believe I didn’t think of it before!

That was the last dose we gave her, and I am happy to report that the Allergy Monster has officially left the building. No more Ms. Grumpy Pants. THANK GOD. Sweet Em returned to us about 24 hours after the last dose. Crazy, right? I am so relieved that we realized what the problem was and that it had a solution. I’m not sure why the Zyrtec was affecting her in that way. We think maybe it was just making her tired or something? Who knows, but no more Zyrtec for us!

Now we are just trying to find a new home for Emmy, our cat. Em’s allergies are so bad, that she doesn’t even have to touch Emmy to react to her. Just the pet dander around our home is causing her to break out in rashes. I had hoped that finding Emmy a new home would be easy, but so far it hasn’t been. She is 13 years old, and I guess people just aren’t all that interested in older cats. I’ve had two people contact me about her, but one sketched out on me and the other had five dogs and a doggy door. Emmy would run for the hills in that scenario, and since she is declawed, getting outside could endanger her life. So that was a no. Sigh. I’m just posting about her online every day for now. Hopefully someone will take her in soon – until then, Em will have to be an itchy miserable mess because of her reactions :(

But the good news is that at least she’s smiling again!

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Allergic Reactions…AHHH!!!!

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Left. What Emrist looks like when she is reacting to something.
Right. What her skin looks like whenever it decides to be normal.

Poor thing. Her little cheeks are almost always red. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out in public with her and had someone approach me to tell me how cute her rosy red cheeks are. On a normal day, when her cheeks are only mildly reacting, she does look like something out of a fairytale. Curly blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin, with a hint of rose on the cheeks. Of course, it is cute to a perfect stranger….but not to me. I know it’s an allergy, and I get to see what kind of torment those little rosy red cheeks bring her when we’re home. They itch. Well…all of her itches, really. You see, that rosiness isn’t just exclusive to her cheeks. It covers her torso, and is behind her ears and knees as well. The worst places are behind her knees because she scratches…constantly. We have to keep her covered, even on the hot days, to keep her from tearing at her skin.

Eczema. Have you heard of it? Well we’ve been battling it for months. I knew it was her body’s way of telling us that she is allergic to something, but I wasn’t really sure what. We’ve suspected dogs for a while, and wondered about our cat too, since the redness never truly goes away. We’ve also wondered about dairy. But we haven’t known with 100% certainty what is causing her reaction, and with her pediatrician wanting to wait until 2-3 years of age, we’ve just had to battle it to the best of our abilities with what little knowledge we have.

About a month or so ago, we were in the backyard playing when our neighbor’s dog came for a visit. Emrist was having a particularly good day in regards to the condition to her skin, so I decided to let the dog play with her. My thought process was that since her cheeks were pretty clear before playing with the dog, if she reacted then I would know for sure that she is allergic to dogs.

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Here she is playing with him. And within 5 minutes her face looked like this:

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It was terrible. Her face flared up worse than it ever has before. She got welts, and her skin started developing scabs almost immediately! I felt like the worst mom that day. I took pictures so that I would have it for our next pediatrician visit. I decided that day, that we would have her tested with or without a referral, because I was afraid of what other scary reactions could be waiting to happen. I called our insurance company later that afternoon, and to my relief, found out that I did not need a referral. Awesome! The only thing was that we would have to meet our deductible (around $400). So we’ve been saving up for that ever since, and just waiting. I had planned on taking her once Benji was out of school for the summer. However, last week we went to visit with some friends in Birmingham, and Em had yet another allergic reaction. This time to mosquitoes.

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This is just one bite. She had a total of five. This one was by far the worst, but the others were nasty and painful too. These pictures were taken over the course of 2-3 days. The one on the left is the day after it happened. It was huge, swollen, and flashing…like a strobe light. I’ve never seen anything like it. It scared me. I mean…what else is she allergic to that I don’t know about?! And what if she’s deathly allergic to bees or something like that, and I don’t know until she’s stung? To be completely honest with you, it terrifies me.

So we are taking her for allergy testing on May 16th. That’s the soonest they could see us. I’m excited and ready to have some answers. I’m also nervous. I have no idea what to expect, and I’m worried it’s going to be traumatic for her.

The reason I’m posting is to ask for pointers/advice. Any of you who have done this, could you tell me what your experience was like? Was it painful? Did it take long? Did you get answers that day, or did you have to wait?

Also…I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the mosquito allergy. We have a creek behind our backyard, so they are ALLLLLLLLLLLL over the place here. Mosquito paradise. How on earth am I supposed to keep them away from her?! We’ve been drenching her in bug spray, and so far, so good…she’s only gotten one more bite since using the spray. But still…it was one more bite. I’m interested in buying something for our yard. Torches. Candles. Electrical equipment. Anything. I just want to keep them away. Any advice on what I can do? HELPPPPPPPPPPPPP me :)

The Story of Us.

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May 1, 2004. I went on my first date with Benji. I still get goose bumps when I think of how God brought everything together. I don’t think I’ve ever shared about it here, so I’m going to today. Get ready for some cheese :)

Fall of 2003. I’d recently gotten out of a two year relationship and was struggling with feeling alone. I spent the months following the break up feeling like I *needed* a boyfriend. I was young and dumb, and convinced that if I didn’t have a boyfriend at 18, I’d end up alone for the rest of my life. From September through March, finding someone was all I could focus my thoughts and energy on. It didn’t help that all of my friends had boyfriends. I’m pretty embarrassed to admit that every time I went somewhere, I would look at the boys there and wonder if any would be interested in me. Y’all…I was SO desperate.

Sping of 2004. The Passion of the Christ was the thing to go see. Everyone was talking about it. EVERYONE. My youth group took a trip to see it, and I went with them. Honestly…it was half out of boredom, and half out of curiosity. At the time, I was pretty cynical and didn’t care for “popular” things, so I sneered a little on the inside at the thought of this movie. I was a jerk. I sat down in the theater that day knowing that it was going to be super cheesy, that it would not live up to the hype, and that I would leave unchanged. Buuuuuuuut as usual, the Big G had different plans. I ended up crying like a baby for the entire film.

After seeing it, and getting an honest picture of what Christ had done for me, I was so torn up over what I had been giving my life over to for the past few years. It hurt me to think that after Jesus did all of that, he had to see me be more interested in boys than I was in him. I did a lot of praying that day. Truly knowing for first time what God had done for me, I told him thank you over and over again. I also told him I did not care if I ended up alone for the rest of my life, because he was enough for me. It was pretty freeing to say that and actually mean it. I truly did not care if I grew to be 102 and never married. I wasn’t afraid of being alone anymore, and it was the coolest feeling!

I was on cloud 9, and I blogged about it that night. Livejournal. Do y’all remember good ole’ LJ? Well…it was the Facebook of 2004. And it’s also how Benji and I met. Yes…we met online. Surprised? He denies it to this day, but it’s true! We did!

Anyways, I blogged about the movie and how God had used it to change my heart and my focus, and guess what! That’s the first thing of mine that Benji ever read. Neither of us know how, but somehow we ended up being friends on LJ. We had mutual friends, so it wasn’t creepy or anything like that. We were just…online friends lol. So he read my Passion of the Christ post, and over the next couple of months, we continued to keep up with one another, commenting back and forth on each other’s posts.

I even left him this comment on a post he wrote about feeling lonely (note…I am SUPER embarrassed to share this because of how corny I was, but it’s cool, so I’m sharing in spite of my embarrassment):

“Hey Benji,
Just a few words of encouragement. I know how it feels with the whole being lonely stuff and it’s not a lot of fun. I don’t know what your situation deals with or why you are sad, but I do know that God is there. He’s got you in His hand and He is never going to let you go. One day He is going to bring someone into your life that is going to bless the mess(a little rhyme for ya) out of you! Just wait and be patient…it’s all in God’s timing…and believe me when He does bring that someone….you will know!! I am praying for ya my friend and if it helps for you to know…I’m in the same boat haha =) I hope you have a blessed day!
*Ashley*”

This comment makes me laugh so hard because #1) “bless the mess”…what a cheese ball and #2) Because I had NO idea whatsoever that I would one day marry this boy. I was essentially telling him to be patient…FOR ME. Isn’t that mind blowing? Maybe not to y’all, but it is to me. I found this comment sometime after we got married, and my jaw dropped.

God. Is. Hilarious.

We met in person, by accident, in April 2004. I went to try out for a voice scholarship at the college he was attending. My friend (Anna) and I went to the library to check our LiveJournals while we waited for my audition. Benji and a friend just happened to sit right across from us. We overheard them talking about Livejournal and I thought we were about to get in trouble for using the computers, so we got up and left. When we got downstairs…there they were AGAIN….except this time they approached us. We talked and realized we all knew each other from LJ – crazy, right?!

A couple weeks later, a big group of us went skating in Tuscaloosa. My mom had just gotten me a new car, and buddy…I knew she was not about to say yes to letting me drive it 45 minutes away. By some miracle though, she let me go. I had so much fun that night, and I thought Benji was great, but I didn’t even think about dating him. He was probably the first boy that I had met in months that I didn’t size up, because I was finally in a place where I recognized Jesus was the only thing that would ever complete me, and that everything else in my life would just fall into place.

After our skate night, Benji and I started emailing on a regular basis. I did eventually fall for him, obviously. He was just so darn cute, and hilarious, not to mention into Jesus. He eventually asked me out and we went on our first date on May 1, 2004. Ten years ago today. Wow.

We got married two years later. He grew a beard, I grew children, and we haven’t really looked back since. I’m so glad that God orchestrated it the way he did. He is hilarious, and all about the details. HE CARES. Oh, how he loves us! <3

 

My First (and probably last) Ever Video Blog! What?!

For the record, I can’t believe I actually made this haha. Enjoy my stellar awkwardness.

PS: You gotta love the frame YouTube chose as the cover picture. Good. Lord. Can’t you help me out even a little bit, YouTube?!

And here’s the donation link:

http://www.gofundme.com/6uygj4

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