The Struggle

My cursor keeps blinking as I sit here staring at the screen.  When it’s been awhile since I’ve written, I find it hard to organize all my thoughts and ideas that I’ve had over the past few months; all those moments where I’ve filed something away thinking “I’d like to write about that…”.

This past year has been a struggle.  It’s been a year full of lots of laughter and wonderful moments, but a struggle in many, many aspects.  There is, of course, the struggle of adjusting to having three children- I’m sorry, but for those of you that told me that going from one to two was hard but two to three was a breeze…you lie.  Or perhaps it was a breeze for you and truth be told, at first I thought it was for me,  but once my littlest started moving, it was all over.    We have a climber.  An adventurer.  A daredevil.  A child who at the age of 15 months has already fallen in love with the word “no” (and even though it sounds cute now I’m wary).  He also happens to have a great sense of humor, a terrific laugh, and a very sweet spirit most of the time.  So that helps when I feel my sanity fading.

The real struggle, though, has been in an area that was new to us- the world of food allergies. Food allergies were foreign to us and we were shocked when we discovered that they were the culprits of a horrible diaper rash that lasted from a week old to a couple of months old, congestion and slightly difficulty breathing, and major spit-up issues that required more clothing and clean-up than I ever imagined.

Because I was (and am) breastfeeding our littlest guy, those food allergies required a change in diet.  When the pediatrician told me at his two month well-child visit that I was going to have to cut out dairy (one of the most common allergens in babies), I literally cried on the way home.  What about pizza?!?  Milk chocolate?!? What on earth am I going to eat?  I’m one of those girls who loves dairy.  I’m the granddaughter of a former dairy farmer!  I began the journey of educating myself on what had casein in it, as simply cutting out milk isn’t sufficient.  Of course yogurt, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese and milk had to go.  But the myriad of foods that have some form of milk in them is remarkable.  And as I also cut out soy (due to that being a common allergen along with the dairy), I was quite overwhelmed at the number of foods now off limits (soy lecithin is in just about EVERYTHING).

After eight weeks or so of cutting out those two things, the rash finally went away, his congestion began to clear up, and the spitting up did get somewhat better.  But Mr. J did not end up fully symptom free.  This tormented me.  As a nursing mom, I was responsible for everything he ingested, and knowing that something I was consuming was causing him to be in pain or uncomfortable was very difficult emotionally.  At one point I was dairy, soy, egg, peanut, chocolate, and tomato free (only for a week or so with all of them but that week was a loooonnnnngggg one) in an attempt to narrow down possible causes.  Other times I took out gluten for a month, or avoided certain other foods for specific periods of time.

Thankfully, the older he got, the easier it became (unless out to dinner, at a potluck, or at a party) and the more his symptoms cleared.  Around six months, eczema became the most concerning symptom as it was more severe than I had ever seen from my kids or myself (we all have had quite minor eczema issues here and there).  I read everything I could find on food allergies and eczema, and I became pretty efficient at recipe substitutions.  I developed a decent taste for regular almond milk or coconut milk (still doesn’t beat dairy in my book) and rejoiced at discovering chocolate almond milk- which is pretty great and helps my need for a chocolate fix.  I found alternatives for yogurt and began making even more things from scratch, like cream of chicken soup.  Let me just say though, that I gave up on finding a cheese substitute that is worthwhile.  I miss cheese. Anyway, as J began eating solids, I was able to pinpoint a bit better what he seemed to react to, because we had really been shooting in the dark in many ways.  (We had not opted for allergy testing as one, it is SUPER expensive and we self-pay; two, the unreliability of it for a child at such a young age did not make the cost worth it; and three, his allergies didn’t appear severe enough to warrant a visit to the allergist, praise God.)

The eczema continued to be our biggest problem and was the source of many tears and much prayer.  I rejoice in being able to type “was” as a few weeks ago, it just started to clear up.  We hadn’t done anything different regarding food or lotions or such; I believe it was an answer to the many prayers that had been offered up.  I never understood how eczema could really cause so much difficulty but I have definite empathy for those that struggle with it as well as with food allergies.  Eczema can seriously interrupt a life, and serious food allergies, of course, can take a life.  And many people, myself included before J was born, just don’t understand.

All that to say, it’s been a journey.  A hard one honestly.  I don’t need to list every difficulty it has brought as this post is quite long enough already and this is a condensed version of our story, but I did want to share in case anyone comes across this that is facing something similar.  I’m hopeful that he will outgrow his allergies (dairy and peanut are definitely culprits).  And on the positive side, my formerly food-picky self is now eating things I never would have thought I would consume before, so that’s been a great part of this adventure.  But… when J has weaned, I am going to inhale a large pizza all by myself with a cheesecake for dessert to celebrate.


 

Early 2012 Fun

Things I am enjoying so far about 2012:

– exploring the wilds of Pinterest

– the crazy things my kids say and do (for example…Eila now likes to take a handful of her hair, drape it across one eye, and say (very dryly) “I’m a pirate”)

– working out!  Okay, I enjoy it during and once I’m done.  Until I get started though, I am not so into the idea.

– that the beautiful and mild weather days are outnumbering the cloudy, cold ones.  I do like cloudy, cold days on occasion, but I cannot deny it is a wonderful feeling to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and warmer temperatures in the afternoon!

– watching Once Upon a Time.   We aren’t big television fans (in fact, we only watch a handful of shows)- but I am really enjoying this new series.  I learned about it through a couple of friends and was hooked after the first episode.

– having conversations with my newly turned 2 year old (well, as of December)

-hanging out with my husband, who also doubles as my best friend

– homeschooling/preparing to homeschool Eila.  Now, I should probably clarify that I am enjoying certain aspects of this, such as watching her mind work, celebrating when she can pick out certain words while reading, talking about things she is interested in, and so forth.  I also quake with fear when I think about needing to start picking out curriculums in the next year or so.  And teaching her advanced math.  That scares me.  Thankfully, my husband has better skills in that area.  Oh no.  I just thought about chemistry.

– Cooking and baking new things.

– stirring up controversy/debate- yeah, just kidding on that one.

– Making slow but steady improvements around the house.

– Spending time with friends.

– Reading!  I love having time to read.

– Learning to hem curtains on a sewing machine.  In fact, using a sewing machine for the first time!  We won’t go into whether or not the hem was straight…

I’ll stop there for now.  2011 was somewhat of a rough year so I’m enjoying this new start.  I didn’t really make any resolutions- that’s never been my thing.  I am, however,  trying to remember that pretty soon, these days are going to be the days I look back on and wish hadn’t gone by so fast.  Which is good to remember since one of the things I am NOT enjoying so far about this year is my kids’ increasing tendency to fight with each other.

Good thing they are so cute.

Flowers, Grocery Store Flirts, and Grease

Since I’m blogging while the kids are napping and I have no idea how long I will have, I figure I will at least get some quick thoughts down on “paper”…

1) Speaking of paper, I have noticed how much easier it is for me to write online than actually picking up a pen or pencil.  And I really don’t like that I seem to have succumbed to our technologically driven culture so much that my hand actually seems to cramp if I write too long of a letter.  Each year I write a letter to my kids around their birthdays to share special things that happened that year and special things I love about them (during their first year I write one for each month).  I’ve noticed in doing this that I’ve lost something of my ability to write like this over the years, and I absolutely love handwritten letters.  Am I the only one who has this problem?  I really hope not.

2)  I am so thankful that God brought me together with a man who not only brings me flowers “just because”, but also brings home a bouquet for our 3 year old daughter.  My husband is amazing.

3)  Being a married woman, I am not used to men flirting with me, so when I was at the grocery store last week and one of the store employees that often is stocking near the milk (an area I visit frequently) said something rather flirtatious (I think) to me, I was stunned.  And uncomfortable.  Then I started to worry it may happen again and so I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond… maybe something along the lines of “My husband often says that too”?….I almost always have my two kids with me so it is extra surprising.  Needless to say I quickly veered down a different aisle today when I saw him in the dairy section.   I’ve heard others talk about men flirting with them at the grocery store…is this a common occurrence?

4)  I have talked about my love of Pandora.  Yesterday, in the midst of some country and contemporary Christian, the song Summer Lovin’ came on from Grease.  Not sure how it got mixed into that rotation, but it made me smile.

5) I still need to write a post on Asher’s birthday but am waiting to upload some pictures from our camera. Also, hoping to soon post on some DIY projects in our bedroom- I’m overdue on the door headboard we made!

Back to “normal”

I finished working part-time (covering for a former co-worker while she was on maternity leave) a week or so ago.  While I enjoyed the opportunity to use my brain in a more clinical way again and serve at the Yahweh Center Children’s Village, I am very happy to be able to give 100% of my attention back to my kids again during the day.  My time back at work really reassured me of God’s calling to be a stay-at-home-mom and refreshed my perspective in regard to what a blessing it is that we have been able to make it work!  Not to mention that trying to make phone calls and sound professional with your 2 year old and 3 year old yelling in the background is quite a challenge and one that I was tiring of quickly!  It’s bad when you have to bring out the M&Ms to buy a few seconds of silence.

So now life is back to whatever the Adair normal is.  Which means I am diving back (well, some days it’s more like wading) into focusing on homeschooling, potty-training Asher, reading and the occasional blogging.  And pinterest.  Which leads to other favorite  things such as baking, cooking, and decorating/DIY projects around the house.  Eila’s birthday is coming up next month (hello almost 4-year-old!) and Will’s birthday is 10 days after Eila’s.  I will be starting a MOPS group in the next few months and will be holding my first Veggietales event as a Veggietales Ambassador (more on those things later).

Add to that a new debate raging (in my mind) over the timeline on trying for a third child and perhaps life isn’t going to slow back down now that I’m back at home full-time.         And I’m okay with that.

Sunrise, Sunset Part 2

(starting where I left off in Sunrise, Sunset Part 1…)

After the couples massage, Will and me (is it “me” or “I”? “I” sounds better but I think “me” is grammatically correct…) relaxed a bit and got ready to go to dinner.  As nice as the massage was, I actually wish that it hadn’t been included in our bed and breakfast package.  It made things rather difficult because it was scheduled right in the middle of the day and prevented us from going to Ocracoke as we had planned.  Although, let me be clear…if that is my biggest problem, I am very blessed indeed.  It’s not a complaint, more of just an observation.

Anyway, that night for dinner we planned to go to the South Beach Grille.  I had discovered this restaurant through Restaurant.com and after reading through many, many reviews, had scored a $25 gift certificate for $4.   I was a bit nervous because even after reading the reviews, I had no idea whether or not this place would be great or a bust.  Thankfully, my worries were all in vain (as they usually are) and the food was amazing.  Very fresh seafood, great service, and a lot of food for a reasonable price.  If we get the chance to go back to the OBX, we will definitely eat there again.

After dinner (and doing our nightly check-in by phone with the kids), we headed back to our B&B to enjoy our last evening in the OBX together.  We decided to grab some wine and sit outside by the fire pit.  But alas, the young couple who had used it the night before had used the last of the gas and we were out of luck.  It was then that we discovered the tree swing in the backyard, and I was ecstatic.  I love swings.  One of my favorite moments of our trip was Will pushing me on that swing behind that Victorian house with a canopy of stars overhead.  It was so much fun.

After playing some more in the backyard, we decided to head in and watch a movie before bed.  I was determined to get better sleep that night too because I knew I would be returning to the land of disrupted sleep soon enough.

Except…it wasn’t meant to be.  I can’t complain though, because the reason for not getting much sleep that night was that Will woke me around 6:00am (granted, I was kind of awake as that is near the time Asher often wakes) to ask if I wanted to go with him to watch the sun rise.  I quickly debated warm bed vs. sunrise, and the sunrise won, as we have never watched the sunrise together and with young children, the chance to do so doesn’t come along very often.  We dressed quickly and drove about a mile down the road to the waterfront.  We walked out on a pier and cuddled up under a blanket and enjoyed the beauty around us.

God gave us such an amazing world to experience.

Following the beautiful sunrise, we went back, showered, dressed, and ate breakfast.  We packed up our things, checked out of our room, and headed towards Jockey Ridge State Park, hoping to have a couple hours there before we had to head back towards home.  The sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge are incredible and are the tallest on the east coast.  Climbing them was actually an unexpected workout!

The view from the ground (Will took this of me at the top)…

And then, after the climb, we did this…

It was like playing in a giant sandbox, although unfortunately, sliding all the way down didn’t really work.  I discovered a way to do it in spurts, though.

Soon it was time to go home, and after grabbing a couple of sandwiches at a local sandwich shop, we were on our way.  It was hard to leave that “couple time” behind, but I was ready to see our kids again and step back into my mommy shoes.  We started our trip with a sunset and ended it with a sunrise, and while some may think the opposite would have been more fitting, I kind of like to think that it was the way it should be.  This trip we took to celebrate our 7th anniversary is only a blip in the time God has given us together- that last day didn’t mark the end of anything but the trip itself.  I’d rather look at that last day as the start to our next 7 years together.

And you know, we never did get to ride that tandem bike.  I guess we will have to go back!

Sunrise, Sunset (Part 1)

No, the title of this post is is not a Fiddler on the Roof reference, for those of you wondering.  It is, however, a reference to two of my favorite memories of our trip to the Outer Banks last month.

The morning of our trip, we gathered up our bags and the kids’ bags and headed first to my parents house to drop the kids off.  For me, it was a bit of an emotional ordeal.  As much as I was looking forward to the alone time with my husband (and I really, REALLY was), it was very hard for me to leave the kids, even in my parents’ super capable hands.   Yes, there were tears as we drove away (mine, as I think the kids were fine), but thankfully a few miles down the road I was able to switch into wife mode and realize that We. Were. Alone. In. The. Van.

We made our way to the Outer Banks in good time and checked into our bed and breakfast a little after 3pm.  Once we had been given the tour and got settled into our bedroom, we enjoyed the wine and chocolates that was part of the Living Social deal and talked about what we wanted to do that evening.  We decided to grab something to eat and, um… go to a movie.  Yes, really.  We rarely go to movies (maybe once or twice a year) and when we do go, we often have to rush back to pick up the kids to get them home to bed or something along those lines.  I had purchased a deal through Living Social (noticing a theme here?) a while back for two tickets that I managed to get for $5.  We had both been wanting to see Courageous while it was in the theaters, and given that this was the Outer Banks in October, many things were closed for the season.  So…we first set out to find something to eat.  Did I mention that many things were closed for the season?  The place we had planned to eat was one of them- I had heard it had been featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network, and some good friends of ours had also recommended it, so I was a bit bummed that it was one of the places that was already closed for the season.

As we drove around looking for a plan B, we noticed that the sun was going down and the sky was becoming a beautiful blaze of color.  So we decided to stop food hunting and find a place to watch the sunset.  We had about 10 minutes before it was due to set and  drove along trying to find a quick access on the sound side.  Thankfully, we found one and pulled off on the side of the road just in time to get some gorgeous pictures that still don’t do the actual event justice.

Because of that sunset, I’m glad that the place we had planned on was closed.  I don’t think we would have experienced that amazing, spontaneous moment otherwise.

 

 

 

We ended up at Five Guys, which I found hilarious because it is certainly not a restaurant unique to the OBX.  But it was good and fast, which allowed us to get to our movie in time. Being that it was a Monday night in late October, there was only one other couple in the movie theater, which was nice actually.  Courageous is an absolutely incredible movie.  And for those of you that have seen it, you can probably understand why it is not an easy movie to watch when you have left your kids for a few nights in a row for the first time…it was like an emotional punch to the stomach…but in a good way.

We got back to our room and reveled in the fact that we not only had a full nights sleep ahead of us with no little feet padding into our room, but that we could actually watch a movie undisturbed!  Our kids had the last laugh, however, because apparently I am now programmed to wake up at 6:30am no matter what.

That first full day in the Outer Banks we had planned to take the ferry over to Ocracoke Island and get back in time for the couples massage that was also part of the deal we had purchased.  Now, normally I am a planner and check into every little detail.  But I was seriously trying to just go with it on this trip.  Which meant that I didn’t realize it would be an hours drive to get to the ferry, on top of the 40 minute ride to and from Ocracoke.  Oh well, we figured we would be a little limited on our time on the island but could make it work.  That was, until the ferry was late.  Over 30 minutes late.  And we couldn’t easily abort our plan because we were stuck in the sardine-packed ferry lanes of cars waiting to board once the ferry actually ARRIVED.  As we sat in our car contemplating what to do, we decided to call our B&B to see if we could push our massage back.  It wasn’t possible.  We didn’t want to forfeit the massage due to the cost, and knew at this point that there was no way we’d have enough time on Ocracoke if we proceeded with our original plan.

We waited for the ferry (which apparently had been having some technical difficulties) and then managed to extract our car and head back towards Manteo.  I was back in my mode of “not managing failed expectations well” despite my attempts at a laidback, go-with-it attitude, and was not pleasant to be with at the particular moment.  Thankfully, we shook it off, decided to pick up a pizza, and ate it on the beach.

We made it back just in time for our couples massage (okay, about 3 minutes late).  And yet again, because this entry is getting a bit long, I’ll stop now and share about the last half of our trip next time.  I know, I know, I’m leaving you in suspense. Ha.

Yes, we did actually come back from the Outer Banks…

If you thought I was bad about posting to my blog before, now I’m working part-time for the next couple of months!  So ha ha, frequency of posting is likely to get worse before it gets better.  I do intend to write about our Outer Banks trip next time I post.  And I promise that will be within the next week.  Seriously.

And I may even post the picture of me sliding down one of Jockey Ridge’s 100 feet above sea level sand dunes.  It was definitely an experience.