Friday, November 18, 2011

My Sweet Belle

We are in the process of getting little sleep.  In other words, I decided it's time to night wean Annabelle.  Yes, my 15 month old still nurses in the night.  I hear these moms tell stories of their children magically sleeping through the night at the ripe old age of 3 months (or sooner!  WHAT?!?!) and I just don't understand.  I don't make children that do that.  I don't know why, but my children love their nighttime snacks.  And before your head starts analyzing what I'm doing wrong that causes this problem, save yourself the time.  She puts herself to sleep independently and has since 5 1/2 weeks old by her own choosing.  On the plus side, all this round the clock nursing leads to a rockstar milk supply (too much information perhaps?). 

Showing her sad face - Photo by Evelyn

 So last night was night was night #3 of this venture. 

Night 1 was not special.  The 2 of us were up for over an hour trying to get her calmed down and back to sleep without nursing.  She ended up nursing twice.  Fail.

Night 2 she slept from 8-5:15 and then wouldn't go back to sleep and I decided to be more firm in my resolve to not nurse her in the night.  So at 6 after she had been talking to herself for 45 minutes I just got her up and we started our day. 

Night 3 started ok.  She woke up make weird squeaking noises and coughing at 11:00.  I watched her on the video monitor (best invention for babies EVER) and she was just sitting up in bed for several minutes before laying down again and falling back asleep.  At 4:30 she woke up again and was crying a little bit.  I decided to give her a few minutes to see if she would just fall back asleep, but no luck.  I went in there to comfort her and when I opened her door I instantly knew what the issue was.  There is nothing quite like the smell of vomit in the middle of the night.  It makes me really thankful that she is still nursing though because right now food = puking, but nursing = happy, non-dehydrated baby. 

Photo by Evelyn

 I realized I talk a lot on here about Evelyn, and not quite as much about adventures with Belle.  It part it's because she's just plain easier that Evelyn.  And she doesn't say random hilarious things like Evelyn does yet. 

Showing off her teeth (she has 12 now!) - Photo by Evelyn

 Seriously though, she is such a fun kiddo.  She is sweet and lovey.  So easy going.  She does have this loud, high-pitched scream that is an all-purpose noise in her world.  It works equally if she's mad at Evelyn, wants something she can't get, is stuck, or is just plain happy.  Being in public means nothing to her in terms of whether or not the scream is appropriate to use at any given time. 

Running around the house then collapsing on the chair - Photo by Evelyn

 She's learning to be more vocal and use sign language.  She will sign more, please, and all done.  She mostly babbles, but can also say please, more, mommy, daddy, and dee (a sound always accompanied by pointing at something, not sure what the English translation is). 

Most days at some point she will bring me her shoes and/or coat wanting to go play outside.  She also gets excited whenever she sees footie pajamas and would wear hers all day if I let her (so much like her mom).  If she wakes up from her afternoon nap before Evelyn does, she will happily play alone while she waits for her.  As soon as she hears the stairs creek though she gets really excited, walks up to Evelyn, and gives her a hug. 

Rocking her hippie shirt.  Yes, there are flowers and peace signs on that puppy.
 Other favorite activities include watching things spin around in the microwave, refusing to eat real food but acting starved when she sees a bag of chips, running around the circle in our house while we say, "Go Bella, go!", and pushing things with wheels around the house.  True story.  We were at Costco a couple day ago and she walked up to a monster truck in the toy aisle and goes, "OOOOOOHHHH!" 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

No, We Didn't Boycott Halloween

Life is just crazy, busy and I haven't had a chance to post about it. 

I love how every year Christians come out en masse to boycott Halloween.  They talk about it's origins and the evil that happens on that day.  For sure it's not all pure and holy, but seriously?  I guess I just don't get it.  Here's a holiday where you get to go around and knock on every door in your neighborhood and work on building bridges with your neighbors.  Or, you can stay inside and boycott it and live in a Jesus bubble in your home, leave your light off, and let your neighbors know that you disapprove of their choices and want nothing to do with the fun they are having. 

That's my thoughts.  Feel free to disagree, I promise, I won't be offended. 

Moving on.  My children dressed up as wild animals.  Not much of a stretch for them.  Evelyn picked out both of their costumes because she's the oldest child and is therefore inherently bossy and thinks she gets to do things like that.  Next year will be interesting when Annabelle is 2 and has a distinct opinion on life as 2-year-olds are known to have. 


Halloween lasted 3 days in our world.  Evelyn proclaimed each day that she loooves Halloween.

Day 1, Saturday: Halloween block party in the new neighborhood.  Met some neighbors including an inter-racial family with two adopted children.  Awesomeness.  I have pictures, but they are all on my iPhone.  I don't yet know the new-fangled technology that will allow me to blog these photos.  So sorry.

Day 2, Sunday: Evelyn wore her costume again, thankfully not to church.  We carved pumpkins, drank hot chocolate, and played outside in the amazing weather.  We did not have this kind of weather growing up at Halloween.  I distinctly remember wearing a snowsuit under my costume.  Be we also trick-or-treated on Thursday every year and had to tell jokes at each house.  The non-Iowans who read this are very confused right now.  The Iowans are thinking, so what, that's not weird.  But yes, it is weird.  Moving on.

Evelyn was a little wary of cutting into her beloved pumpkins.

She picked an ideal spoon for scooping and scraping.  
Clearly, this was her first attempt at cleaning out a pumpkin.

She then decided she was bored with this whole pumpkin carving business and took my camera to take some pictures of Scott and me finishing up the job.

Jack-o-lantern faces were no good in her mind.  We all needed one with the letter of our name.  My name is mommy though, so I didn't get to carve a E, I had to carve an M.  

Look!  We're the Des Moines Education Association. 
My past comes back to haunt me this Halloween.

Day 3: Actual Halloween and therefore trick-or-treating.  This was a big day for Evelyn.  She had to say both "trick-or-treat" and "thank you" to adults she didn't know.  Very challenging for her, but she conquered her fear due to the promise of candy.

Again, all the photos are on my phone.

She decided that of her basket of candy she wanted to eat the candy with the handle.  My poor deprived child doesn't know what a sucker is called.  So I googled to see if she could eat it and indeed she could.  She ate maybe 1/4 of it and decided she was done.  After seeing how candy made her behave (holy bouncing off the walls batman) it may be her only experience with candy for a while. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Please Tell Me You Aren't Really Doing That

The carpet is laid at the new house, so I finally feel safe letting the girls roam around there while I try to accomplish things like measure for curtains and vacuum up mass quantities of carpet fuzzies.

While doing this today Evelyn became very quiet.  She's a sneaky, naughty little thing so silence is never positive.

I called out to her and her response was, "I not doing any-ting."  Which of course means, she didn't want caught.

Much to my surprise she wasn't just doing something naughty, she was sticking a screw in an outlet!  Are you kidding me child?!?!  I thought we had covered outlet safety ad nauseum after I found crayons broken off in multiple outlets in our current living room.

She looked so sullen as I explained what could have happened to her.  I didn't mince words and think I may have scared her into never touching metal ever again.

Does that face not have naughty written all over it???

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Store Updates

So, um, it's NOVEMBER already.  Yeah.  Crazy. 

This month is going to be a busy one for our family. 

The new house is almost done, or at least done enough to move in.  The plan is to head that way right around Thanksgiving.  Sorry Iowa folk, you won't be graced with our presence this year.  :(

We are working on getting our profile book ready to go for the adoption.  It's essentially a scrapbook of our lives to show to prospective birth moms.  Soooo not my thing to create, so our consulting agency is helping big time.  But it's still a lot of work.  And more paperwork.  Always more paperwork.

So my little store.  I love it, and it's super fun to make things for people, but I have to pace myself through this season of life.  So if you have an order you want to place for Christmas gifts for the kiddos you have 1 week to do so!  November 10th will be my cut-off for accepting new orders.  Around Thanksgiving I will list what I have already made and is ready to go and sell that off as well.  But, if you know you want something specific, the time to order is upon you.  That sounds so serious.  I just need to not be pulling my hair out and hosting all nighters of sewing in December for my sanity's sake, ok? 

Now go on and order now.  You know your littles want felt Christmas cookies.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Explaining Evelyn: Part 2 - Defining Gluten, Celiac, and What It Means For Our Family

 If you're saying, "Hey, wait a second.  Part 2 of what?"  Then start here.

I was going to go right into what Evelyn's diagnosis means for our family, but much of my explanation of that makes no sense unless you have a full understanding of what gluten and Celiac disease really are.  So bear with me while I put on my nerdy former teacher hat and geek out on you here.  I love teaching.  So it makes me all giddy inside to get to do this part.

What is gluten?

Gluten is the protein portion of wheat.  Wheat is a seed and as such, has several parts.  Remembering back to elementary school here?  At one point in your life you were able to cut out these words and paste them onto a diagram.  Just sayin.

So when you go to the store and buy whole wheat flour, you are buying the endosperm and bran layer ground up (so really, it's not whole wheat, fyi).  If you are buying all-purpose flour, they took out some of the bran to make it make your baked goods come out fluffier.  If you are buying white flour, they took out all the bran and left the sugar of the seed (endosperm) and bagged that up.  The gluten is found in the endosperm, but even the wheat germ and the bran are going to contain traces of gluten because they were in contact with it. 

Almost everything you eat has some quantity of protein in it.  It's just that in some foods we have given the protein a separate name such as gluten in wheat and casein in dairy.  All of these proteins are treated as protein in your body, but they have different markers on them that say what food source they come from.  It is these markers that cause problems in your have an allergy, sensitivity, or auto-immune reaction to a protein.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disorder.  It is not an allergy.

A person who has an allergy consumes something they are allergic to and their body treats it like a foreign invader and attacks it.  Just like when your body attacks a germ, it can result in uncomfortable and/or dangerous symptoms ranging from a runny nose to your throat swelling.  These reactions are generally immediate.

With Celiac though, if you consume gluten, your body reacts not by attacking the gluten as an invader, but rather the gluten triggers your body to attack itself.  This starts in the digestive tract and can have far reaching consequences throughout your body ranging from indigestion and rashes to failure to thrive and cancer.  These are not immediate reactions.  They usually start within 24 hours and can last for weeks.  The long term damage of your body attacking itself is what leads to things like slow weight gain, infertility, and cancer in Celiac patients.  These reactions can be a result of the consumption of mere molecules of gluten.

How Does It Affect Your Family?

Picture yourself making homemade bread, slicing it up, making a sandwich, and sitting down on your couch to watch TV and eat it.  Let me describe to you everywhere in your home that is not contaminated with gluten or "glutened" and we call it.  You have to think of gluten as you would tar.  It sticks to EVERYTHING it touches and can't just be brushed off. 

The bag of flour and anything it touched including other food items in your pantry have been glutened.  Your mixer is glutened because flour does get up into the motor and comes out in future uses.  The baking pan is glutened because it is most likely impossible to get every molecule washed out of the corners in particular.  You oven mitt is glutened because you probably touched part of the bread when you pulled it out of the oven.  Your cutting board is glutened.  Your counters are glutened.  Your dishrag that you washed them down with is glutened.  The stick of butter, jar of peanut butter, and jelly are glutened because you probably double dipped your knife into them after touching your bread.  The glass you are drinking out of is glutened as is the water in it because there are particles of gluten on your mouth after taking a bite.  Your couch is glutened from crumbs.  Your remote is glutened because you touched it after touching your bread.  If you answered the phone during this time it's glutened.  If you checked your email, your whole keyboard is glutened.

Starting to get the idea?

Now enter your child who cannot consume even molecules of gluten.  She can't touch hardly anything in your house because she's a toddler and often puts her fingers in her mouth after touching things.

This is why our whole house is gluten-free.  We can't make her whole world gluten-free, but we have to keep where she is 95% of the time safe for her.

Restaurants are almost completely off limits.  Even those that claim to have gluten-free options most often do not keep things separate enough in their kitchens.  The pizza place uses the same vat of sauce for all their pizzas so it's cross contaminated.  The same pans and ovens are used.  The same knives are used, or the same frying oil is used.  If it's nearly impossible to avoid cross-contamination at home where I am super careful and am personally vested in the result, I can't trust most restaurants to be even more careful.

So if you want to know how it would start to affect your family, think of how many times your family runs through a drive-through, goes out to dinner, or picks up a frozen pizza for a night off from cooking.  Now take that away.  Now add to that how many times you go over to a friend's house to eat and have a night off from preparing food and take that away too.  Add on birthday parties, people bringing you food after you've had a baby or surgery, days at amusement parks or the zoo, visits to family, and family vacations and take away those times off from cooking as well.  I can't even put her in the church nursery without preparing, packing, and bringing along a snack for the entire class.  Forget preschool, those rooms are swimming in gluten.

So you pretty much never get a break from cooking and/or packing and preparing food and can't really leave your child in the care of anyone else because it's usually too hard to get others to understand and accommodate.

Add on the feeling of a tightness in your chest during a trip to the park when someone pulls out a box of goldfish or animal crackers.  Or you walk into the library to let the kids play and you see visible crumbs all over the floor and can only assume that they are gluten.

So that's a bit stressful, no?

Then add on to that the reality that she does sometimes consume gluten despite our best efforts.  Unless we lock her in the house, it's bound to happen.

Reactions generally last a little less than a week.  It starts with a rash.  It progresses into knock down drag out tantrums.  For there it becomes sleepless nights.  And finishes off with loose bowels and potty accidents.

I promise I don't write all this for you to pity us.  I don't need pitied.  I don't mind compassion toward our situation though as does any parent of a child with some sort of special need.  I say these things so that you understand why I don't want you to bring snacks with you over to our house, or ask you to have your child wash their hands if they've been eating gluten before playing with Evelyn, or don't come out for play dates as often but rather invite people over instead. 

That's our world.

Part 3 - My favorite resources for going gluten-free and answers to cooking/recipe questions I'm often asked.