Monday, December 31, 2012

A Good Way to End the Year

Take it from the person who helped load the car: we dropped off a TON of loot for the kids at Children’s. Sammy and Wren have been watching the toy pile grow in our office for some time, and they wanted to know what this was all about, so we took them along.

Dennis took one car and I took the other (we needed both), and we made the drive down Preston. By the time we turned into the Children’s parking lot, I was just trying not to lose it under the pressure of the familiarity of the drive, pregnancy hormones, and all the slow, sad music coming on the radio. Though it was familiar, I still managed to get lost in the parking lot with D and the kids following me patiently because I did not want to be a basket case when I got out of the car so I just started driving random directions.

The valet delivered a wagon for us to cart the goods in on, and we still ended up carrying some. The valet also started grabbing bags. Wren helped lug the toys she could lift and Sammy attempted to pull the wagon, though he had to have some major assistance. By the time we left, we had filled up every donation box to capacity.

None of this would have been possible without the donations from you. Family and friends as well as people we have never met contributed selflessly to make sure the kids at Children’s over the holidays will have a wonderful Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Imaginary Friends

Wren released a bird in the house. Technically, it was an imaginary bird, but the effects of said bird made it seem real.

During breakfast, Wren was pretending to be a princess who holds a bird on her finger and then releases it lovingly back into the wild. I think in the cartoons these birds are supposed to be able to do things like clean the house, but her birds never do that. Anyway, as she released this bird, she looked back to where the bird flew and said, “look at my bird.” I think I half glanced that direction and said, “oh, that bird’s pretty.” Sammy’s reaction was different. He stopped what he was doing and stood up in his chair completely naked holding a fistful of roast in his hand. I asked him to sit down and he said, “no mommy, the bird will get me.” By this point, both of my kids were staring so intently at “the bird”, that I was afraid to look behind me for fear that I was going to see some kind of hybrid bird/dragon creation flying around my living room. Luckily, I just saw a bunch of dust on my ceiling fan. However, I did catch the look on Wren’s face. This innocent bird plan had taken an interesting turn and she was enjoying it. Technically, she never said it was an attack bird; Sammy assumed. She couldn’t get in trouble if her brother stood paralyzed in a chair for the better part of a day scared of something she never gave him reason to fear. But she could still find it hilarious. Finally, I looked at the bird again.

“Sammy, it doesn’t look like a mean bird, does it Wren?”

“Uh, no, I guess it’s a nice bird that probably won’t hurt you.” She was obviously not thrilled to give this answer but felt her options were limited since Sammy’s refusal to sit meant she would have to eat her breakfast while staring at his full frontal nudie parts. I think she chose well.

Sammy plopped his bare butt back on the chair and continued to shovel roast into his mouth for breakfast. I looked at the clock and noticed it wasn’t even 8 am. If these kids slept later, would this stuff still happen?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guys and Dolls

I’m worried about Sammy. He’s been playing with Wren’s Tinkerbell Barbie for months, which doesn’t bother me at all. What disturbs me is I thought he was just playing with the doll because he has an older sister and he’s very secure in his manhood. However, Tinkerbell is naked and has been since I can remember. This never struck me as odd or a reason for a boy to be interested in her until we entered the Disney store yesterday and Sammy saw a fully dressed Tinkerbell. He went and gave her a long hug before looking her in the eyes and saying, “Take your clothes off!” Now I get why he's been so enamored with the Tinkerbell at home.

The problem is this: real women don't look like naked Tinkerbell. The disappointment my son is going to experience in the real world of women after having lived his childhood with naked, 24 inch waist, boobs so big and perky she shouldn't even be able to stand, no cellulite Tinkerbell Barbie is immeasurable. Talk about having your hopes dashed!

I think to solve this problem I'm going to create a real doll that boys can play with which will actually prepare them for the real world. This doll will wear sweats; she won't shave during the winter months; her hair will always be in a ponytail, but not a cute one. Her skin will be dry because she doesn't have time to put lotion on and her boobs will be lopsided and saggy. Her butt and thighs will qualify as one body part creating the "buthigh", a term my friend coined when we realized an unfortunate shift down had cause the line between where one body part began and the other ended to disappear. If a young boy undresses this doll, God bless him! He will put her clothes back on quickly and probably be pretty uninterested in seeing a real woman naked for the immediate future. One of my goals in life will be accomplished!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Little More Information

Okay, here are the basics of this pregnancy laid out for those who will be praying for us. We will need specific prayer for different things at different times throughout. This is kind of like a marathon, except at the end I hope to get babies instead of a medal, and I’m planning on doing absolutely no running.

Now-24 weeks: This is what I call the Sitting Duck Stage. I go in for sonograms every two weeks alternating between my OB and a maternal fetal specialist. They check that the babies are alive, growing, and not playing any games that involve tying their umbilical cords together. The sitting duck part is that if they are in trouble, especially where cords are concerned, we can’t do anything about it. Oh, patience, why did I not learn that skill before now? God apparently hasn’t given up on my ability to learn new tricks.

24 weeks-32 weeks: This is when inpatient monitoring starts. I will be in the hospital where the babies can be monitored. If something starts looking suspicious and is caught in time, the babies can be taken via c-section and placed in the NICU. At 24 weeks, they have a shot at survival outside the womb. However, we are praying everything stays good until 32 weeks because 32 weeks still means NICU time, but the outlook is much better than 24 weeks.

NICU stay: We will be at a hospital with a Level 3 NICU, so if we can get to this point we’re not out of the woods, but it means the other portions of the pregnancy have gone well enough to land the babies in the outside world in the hands of experienced doctors and nurses. I’m sure we will have a ton of requests at this point, but I can’t predict what they’ll be.

I’m adding a link here of a woman in Oregon who just gave birth to two beautiful momo girls. I’ve been fortunate enough to run across some great success stories, as well as receiving contact information from friends of families in the area who have had successful momo babies. It’s good stuff, and I want to share it as we go.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Things To Do The Night Before a Life-Changing Sonogram

 Order gluten-free Pei Wei spicy chicken;

 Forget to order extra chicken in your husband’s so selflessly give him some of yours;

 Think about taking it back when you’re down to only rice and veggies in two minutes;

 Watch Inception, because nothing is more distracting than trying to follow that story plot;

 Scan The Bloggess blog even though it has some serious issues with language. Nothing is really not funny about what that woman has her elf on the shelf doing.

 Consider going to bed early, but for the first time since pregnancy began, you can’t sleep.

 Practice in your mind what you will do if they don’t find a membrane and what you will do if they do find a membrane. It’s a lot like preparing your acceptance speech for the Oscars but also having your gracious loser face on stand-by, just in case.(Winning the Oscar would be equivalent to finding a membrane.)

 Realize your husband has fallen asleep with the kids and you can eat all his chicken now, especially since he sent you out for chicken at seven at night and then didn’t even wake up to eat it!

 Remember that your husband has been fasting in reverence to prepare for the sonogram tomorrow and feel kind of bad for the previous thought. He hasn’t eaten in 24 hours, so he may not be asleep; he may be unconscious.

 Finish blogging.

 Check on husband.

We’ll keep everyone posted when we get some news. Keep us in your prayers tonight.  Nighty-night!

This is What Awesome Looks Like

We’ve had an unexpected change of plans for Santa from Sammy drop-offs. We are still taking donations up until the 20th, but we are going to have to do a first drop-off this week. Here’s why:

Above is what we have so far, and we still have at least three different places we are picking up donations from. Plus, those pictures actually don’t do the donations justice because we ran out of room on our floor and had to start stacking toys to even get them in a picture.

Since Children’s has volunteers come in and sort the toys by age groups and wrap them, we are going to go ahead and drop off this portion this week. We don’t want Santa’s helpers still wrapping gifts on Christmas morning!

To all of you who have made this possible, thank you for showing what Christmas is truly about. For our family, it doesn’t get any better than this, and for the children who will be receiving these gifts, you’ve made a huge impact on their holidays.  We feel blessed by each and every one of you.

A Quick Interview with the Birthday Girl
Wren at 4

Color: pink
Outing: park
Book: any princess book
TV show: Strawberry Shortcake
Food: ice cream (it’s what she was eating when I asked her)
Fruit: strawberries
Veggie: broccoli
Superhero: Spiderman
Activity at church: playing
Princess: Sleeping Beauty
Thankful for: Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A First Time for Everything

As odd as it sounds, I had no issues giving up gluten. I mean, I struggled through the carb flu complete with nose bleeds and vertigo and generally hated everyone for about four days, but that was it. I wasn’t tempted to eat gluten ever again. After what it did to my child? After what it did to my husband? After what it had probably done to me and would have done to Sam if given the chance? No thanks. Gluten: enemy number one.

This outlook maybe did not make me the best sympathizer when Dennis would have a struggle day, a day where he would pine for Pop Tarts, Jack in the Box tacos, and just crap that kills people in general.

Me: “Pop Tarts? You would risk your intestinal health and up your cancer chances for a faux bakery pastry that can sit on a shelf for seven years and not change consistency?”

Dennis: “I will not eat them for all the reasons you just mentioned, but if not for those reasons, yes.”

I was fairly superior in my approach to his “problem”. How could you struggle with killer food? I mean, just look at me and how easily I resist sugar (or not, but I don’t always live a self-aware life. I get tired.).

So you can imagine my amazement when my superior self got slapped down by the first trimester of my first ever gluten-free pregnancy. Smacked down and trampled might be a better description. Suddenly I was in a place where I wanted the following: seven chicken fried steaks, pigs in a blanket with cheese (oh dairy, I’m adding dairy to the offenses!), donuts from a donut shop in my hometown, and a big bowl of noodles, nasty white noodles covered in butter. I wanted to lick the bottom of the noodle bowl when I finished eating them just to make sure I got all the butter.

Dennis pointed out the GF options I had available, and I told him to jump off a cliff. I did not want a chicken fried steak rolled in Bob’s Red Mill and cooked gently in coconut oil. I wanted it rolled in regular, kill-me flour and fried in lard until it was crispy. I wanted to feed my babies lard covered death flour in the womb! I wanted it so badly I dreamt about it and woke up near tears.

Add to this that nothing I eat settles on my system well. Protein, fruit, veggies, and GF snickerdoodles all rendered me ill 15 minutes after consumption. I never suffered like this while pregnant and eating the death flour. Of course, both my kids came out with gut issues, so there's that.

Luckily, in some ways I am a rule follower. I have never smoked or done drugs.  I follow some rules, and not eating gluten is one of them. So I did not consume any of the above mentioned items. I did spring on some GF mac n cheese, a completely forbidden indulgence in our house. It was good going down; it did not do well when it landed.

I think God put me through this so I will stop being a jerk. I think I'm maybe supposed to be the kind of wife who lets my husband pine for Pop Tarts once in a while because he will never have the ones from his childhood again, even though they are not food, they are bad for many reasons besides that they contain gluten, and I have never drooled and teared up over memories of a Pop-Tart. He gets a few hours to be sad about this before I remind him there's a banana in the fruit bowl and if he so hungry all he can talk about is food, he can go shove that in his mouth. I am a work in progress. And I still want a chicken fried steak.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


We are pregnant. Actually, I’m pregnant, but Dennis helped get me that way. I’m eight weeks along and we are having identical twins. Yes, we were trying; no we were not assisted by fertility drugs. We’re just awesomely fertile. We do have twins on both sides of the family, but that did not affect our odds. Identical twins are a 1 in 250 shot for everyone.

Here’s why we’re breaking the first trimester rule and making this announcement now: we need the prayers more than the privacy. It was determined yesterday that there is a possibility the little ones are sharing a sac. That makes this a mono-mono pregnancy because they are basically sharing everything. As much as sharing can be a good thing, in this case it’s really not. Because they are bouncing around the same sac, they stand the potential to do each other and themselves substantial damage (think tangled umbilical cords, twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, and other complications). This is the most high risk twin pregnancy out there, and it only happens to 1% of women carrying identical twins. (You know how when you hear there is only a 1% chance of something happening so you just know it will never happen to you?  That's because it happens to us!)

Honestly, it’s a scary situation. The current stats give mono-mono twins a 50% survival rate, which means 50% do not survive. We’re trying not to make that the focus, but it’s obviously a kind of big thing to try and ignore, so we’re facing it head on.

Here’s what we need specific prayer for:

That there was an error yesterday. I have another ultrasound on December 10th to confirm that there is not a membrane separating the twins and that they are in fact mono-mono. We could find out at that point that they are not mono-mono which would be fabulous. This is what we really want.

That all our kids will be okay.  Pray for our babies. They are at risk every step of the way even after they are delivered if they end up coming early, which they very possibly will. Also, pray for Sammy and Wren. If this is mono-mono, I start inpatient monitoring at 24 weeks. That’s going to be a huge change for my kids who are used to me being around pretty much 24/7. They may actually enjoy it for a couple of days, but I have a feeling they might start missing me, and I will be totally confused, disoriented, and lost without them all the time.

That we have peace and trust in Christ through this process, whatever happens.

I will be blogging about some of the amazing things leading up to this (like how I knew I was having twins three weeks ago), and I’ll share progress as we go so we can update prayer requests. I realize we’re taking a chance putting this out there; we really have no idea how this is going to turn out. However, these babies are my kids. Whatever happens, I’m celebrating their existence. I’m putting it out there and falling head over heels in love taking the chance that the end could be devastating. Life’s not worth it if you don’t.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Already Seeing Results

A reminder that if you are dropping off gifts for Santa from Sammy in Athens or Tyler, the deadline is November 22nd.  That's the last time we'll be in Athens to pick them up before Christmas.  For those dropping off in Frisco or the DFW area, you still have until December 19th.

I also want to thank everyone who has donated.  You have been a blessing.  After seeing pictures on Facebook and boxes filled at drop off locations, I drove by Children's last night on my way home from work.  Even driving by Children's is usually an anxiety inducing experience, and sometimes I still get teary just seeing the hospital out of the corner of my eye.  But last night when I drove by, I looked directly out my window and into the over lit hallways of the hospital.  Running through my mind was wow, some awesome people are really going to bless those kids this Christmas.  For the first time ever, I am looking forward to pulling into the parking lot of that hospital and walking in those doors because so many kind individuals have so much to offer.  So, thank you. That is something I did not think I could ever be given. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hopefully Helpful

I’ve received phone calls, emails, and messages from friends embarking on food journeys. Some have to give up gluten, others dairy; some are just trying to make some positive life changes where food is involved.

I remember a bit too vividly last May when we started what I consider our whole new life where food is concerned. I felt like I was in a blender spinning high speed, and I was hungry. To be entirely honest, the first 8-12 months were mind-numbing, stressful, and just kind of a hanging-on-for-dear-life experience. I really don’t want that for anyone else.

That being said, I will offer my two cents on ways to survive and then some resources we found hugely helpful. Remember, our journey was not standard; we were definitely not in the worst place someone can be, but the extreme way Celiac attacked Wren’s system put us in a much worse place than most. There’s nothing to say you will suffer for a year, or even months.


 Take some time, alone. There are TONS of resources for whatever food issue you’re dealing with. The best first step is to take your laptop away from all distractions and dedicate a whole day to locating helpful resources. I did not do this; it was a bad decision. There’s no reason to just barely survive when there are others who have done it before and can help you.

 Rally support. Other people may not be going through the same thing, but that doesn’t mean close friends and family can’t be great resources or help. Have others keep their eyes and ears peeled for resources that can help you along, and see if someone wants to buddy up and go through the journey with you.

 Feel free to screw up. Everything we’ve cooked has not been a masterpiece medley of goodness on our taste buds. That’s okay. You are learning to cook again in a whole new way.

Here are a few resources I look at regularly. We eat Paleo about 90% of the time, so most of these sites cater to that. Be sure to read each recipe as every person contributing recipes has their preferences; some are absolutely no dairy and some use butter on occasion. Some sites are gluten-free and others are gluten-free in 90% of their recipes.


Health Bent-Great recipes, and most are dairy optional meaning there is usually a non-dairy option for people like us who don't consume it.

PaleOMG-Hilarious as well as delicious.

Everyday Paleo-Great dinners, the first Paleo website we found and the author of the first Paleo cookbook we purchased.

Elana's Pantry-When we want bread, we make the almond bread.  Yum!  I have also convinced my kids to eat the spinach casserole.  They thought it was a dessert!

What Runs Lori-She has a recipe for Knock-Off Hail Mary Chocolate Macaroons.  I made them last night.  I ate 13.  I don't even feel remotely bad about it.

Food Renegade-Great recipes and advice on nutrition.

Mark's Daily Apple-There are always recipes and great information on this site.  Read the apple everyday!

The Food Lovers Kitchen-So many of these recipes are staples for us now that I can't remember how we ate before my friend introduced me to this site.

If you are on a food journey or have recommendations for people with special diets, please comment.  The more resources, the better!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Update on the Boobs

Amy’s thermogram came back. It was not good, and it was not bad. It was troublesome in the sense that heat was definitely picked up in the boob region, both sides, and you don’t want heat on a thermogram because heat means inflammation and inflammation means ripe for invasion. The last two years of my re-education about how the body works have led to this: inflammation is bad.

The good news side is this: Amy’s 29 and has this knowledge. She is following up with blood work to check hormone levels and then will work with the same woman who did the thermogram to figure out what needs to be done to decrease inflammation. Diet, exercise (she’s already kind of doing this since she runs about 1,000 miles a week), supplements, decrease in stress, increase in sleep, chiropractics, all these are options. There’s no sitting and waiting. This is a very do kind of diagnosis. I like those; I’m a bit of a doer, waiting being the thing I do when all other options are gone.

Preventative care is what this is, and I’m still amazed at how as medically advanced as our country is supposed to be that we don’t actually practice preventative care much at all. Insurance companies in no way I have seen support preventative care. Most doctors do not preach it or even seem to know much about it. It seems the way we usually do it is wait till illness strikes and then treat symptoms as opposed to root causes. It is so tremendously backwards, and for my sister it could have meant breast cancer in the not so distant future.

So let Amy and everyone trying to jump on health issues before they get jumped on serve as an example. It is worth the cost (I can say that as someone who has paid right around fifteen hundred dollars out of pocket since June just to try to heal Wren and prevent her from a host of other ugly problems that want to attack her because of Celiac being a stupid auto-immune disease). God has provided all we’ve needed, and we’ve been willing to prioritize needs over wants as a show of gratefulness for the healing and His provisions. While you’re at it, let’s rally for an overhaul in how health is viewed in this country. Let’s start some proactive instead of reactive behavior. Let’s raise kids who make healthy choices, choices they were taught by their parents and members of society who said, “yes, you’re worth it.” If enough of us get on board, who knows what is possible? I’d like to find out.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Update on Santa from Sammy

We already have donations coming in! I wanted to also let everyone know that another drop off point is available in Tyler at my step-sister’s apartment. Let me know if you need the information, and thank you to everyone who has helped spread the word and donated!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Santa from Sammy Christmas

If you have met me in the last two years, you know I have a son who almost died of pneumonia. The picture above is on the day we finally left the hospital, and I love it because Sammy looks so calm.  The previous days were not calm.  They were a fight, and no one knew how they were going to turn out.

It’s hard to even write about that time in our lives because I now have an almost two-year-old who spends his days in his big boy undies jumping off the coffee table, but the truth of it never leaves. The truth of it also makes it hard this time of year. Sammy was born on December 21st, he was admitted to Children’s in Plano December 30th, and we didn’t leave until January. It was eleven days total, it felt like a year, and New Year’s will forever be my least favorite holiday EVER.

Still, we were blessed for sure. There’s a plan for Sammy’s life that did not include him dying of pneumonia at ten-days-old, and I am grateful for it. I am also grateful for the people God led us to at Children’s who took care of my child like he was their own. For just under two years I’ve been thinking that we really need to find a way to thank those people and help other children and families going through the same thing. I’m just slightly behind.

So, this year we’re going to collect items from the Children’s wish list for the kids in the hospital at Children’s at Legacy in Plano over Christmas. Santa makes his rounds at Children’s on Christmas Eve, and we want to make sure his bag is full! We’re also going to collect packaged food for the staff who works the holidays. The sweet lady I spoke to in the Children’s Life Department said she has seen the staff, “Go crazy for food.” Another reason these are my kind of people.

Here are the top wish list items for Christmas:

 Coloring books and crayons

 Infant and toddler toys (they love the ones that light up and play music, but any are great)

 New stuffed animals with the tags on

 DVDs, new or used

 Books

 Stickers

The staff accepts any packaged food you feel like buying.

We have three drop off points: Our house for people in the Dallas/Fort Worth area (we’re in Frisco), my Dad and stepmom’s house in Athens and my sister’s house in Athens. We will be accepting donations in Athens until November 22nd and donations in Frisco until December 19th. Email me or use the comments on Facebook or the blog, and I’ll get you drop off addresses and times.

Donations will be delivered to Children’s December 20th by Dennis and me. If you feel led to help, please do. Whether you do or not, please pray for those who are not well, and please especially pray for the children, families, and medical staff who are affected by or taking care of a sick child.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Hard Stuff

My friends and I met a nanny at the park during our weekly playdate Monday. She had a set of twins and two two-year-olds. None of them cried, puked, ran around crazy, and she looked completely unstressed. Obviously, we had to pick this woman’s brain.

After pelting her with questions for around three hours, the playdate mommies and I discovered we may be the only people in our zip code raising our kids without assistance from a paid helper. She could work 24/7 if she chose since she is both a day and a night nanny(yeah, night nannies stay up with kids so parents can sleep. That’s why some moms come to the library with color coordinated outfits, lipstick, and highlighted hair and I show up with one of my kids’ underwear sticking to my shirt because of static cling. I also don’t wear makeup and went three days without brushing my hair once because I forgot. Yes, forgot. I don’t look in mirrors much). She has had clients who she night nannies for and then turns them over to a day nanny, never seeing the parents except when she is interviewed.

This affirms a story one of my friends told me about a mom in her son’s swim class who brings her nanny along to the lessons because a) she refuses to change her child’s diaper, b) she refuses to change his clothes, and c) she refuses to feed him herself. She basically jumps in the pool, splashes around and then hands him to someone else.

I’m still having a hard time believing this stuff really exists. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known for a long time that our family set up camp in a community we don’t have a ton in common with. It doesn’t mean the people aren’t nice, and we love that there are tons of families around, but we know we’re strange in the don’t-like-to-buy-things, don’t-care-if my-kid-goes- to-Harvard-or- plays-sports (and the sports one can get you shot), still-breastfeeding-my-almost- two-year-old, wear-children’s-underwear-to-the-library-on-the-outside-of-my-clothes kind of way. However, the nanny thing confirmed it: we are in a foreign land. Or maybe this is a widespread thing. I’m really not sure.

The sadness I feel about this whole situation is not in being left out. I have met equally odd individuals, like the ladies I was at the park with, and we’re forming our own community within whatever this other mess is. I just feel bad for the parents who aren’t changing diapers, feeding babies, staying up all night because someone needs you to; all this stuff is good. It’s where the relationships are built. Some of it is frustrating and gross, but it’s wonderful and sweet, and there is so much blackmail that comes from it to be used when your children sass you as teenagers. I wouldn’t want to miss a second and just jump in on the “easy” parts of parenting, if there are any. The messy and the crazy are where I think we’ve all learned the most about each other. And let me tell you, if you want to know someone, spend a ton of time with them when they’re sleep deprived. The four of us have information on each other we will have to take to the grave (or I’ll blog about what I know if antagonized). The inside jokes, the meltdowns, the little things about people’s personalities, it’s all there in the everyday, but you have to be there for it. Those crazy parents with full-time nannies and their uninterrupted sleep; just give me the wrinkles that come with sleep deprivation and I’ll be good to go. I get the moments to go with the wrinkles, so it’s worth it.

Friday, October 12, 2012


We fish sat for a sweet friend. Fillmore the fish served as further evidence of why we do not need fish. For example:

They eat gluten which means after feeding Fillmore, I had to scrub down and place his food out of reach of everyone. The kids weren’t allowed to feed him because before I can utter, “don’t put your hands in your mouth” they are swallowing their arms.

Fish don’t freak out when you don’t feed them. Kids do. Or my kids say passive aggressive things like, “you can make me eggs now” or “what are you eating?” which is code for “because if it sounds good I’m going to eat it and you’re going to wonder why you never get lunch later in the day when you’re starving.” Anyway, during my morning conversations with Fillmore, he never mentioned that he had not been fed breakfast, so let’s just all thank the Lord he survived.

There’s a lot of guilt involved with fish. It’s a fish. You can’t walk it or hold it or “take it out of the bowl to pet” as Wren kept asking to do. Yet, I still felt guilty just sort of leaving him on the counter, periodically feeding him, chatting it up with him while I loaded the dishwater and then forgetting about him for pretty much the rest of the day. My friend said her son does tricks for him and shows him all his toys and just generally hangs out with him. I think I may not be that much of a giver. Fish don’t even smile, so I am not tap dancing for half an hour so Fillmore can continue to swim around looking bored.

Fish always look depressed, or at least they do when they’re with us. This is the second time Dennis and I have ventured into the arena of fish sitting, and the first fish literally almost died of depression. We did so much for that fish including purchasing things to clean its tank, and it just basically pretended to be dead every day, floating around the top of the bowl until one of us started having the is-it-appropriate-to-flush-someone-else’s-fish-or-do-you-keep-it-for-some-kind-of-memorial conversation within ear shot of the fish. Then it sort of rolled over in a very non-committed to life sort of way and stared at us. Ungrateful.

Luckily, the kids have not asked for a fish. Wren was more upset about the idea that Fillmore was not hers simply because that meant he belonged to someone else, and she has not been okay with anything not belonging solely to her this week. It’s a fun new phase we’re getting through. Anyway, if you ever need somebody to fish sit for you, we will. However, I beg you to consider the mental anguish your fish may suffer in our presence. Is it really fair to the fish?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Update

I’m writing because I need to write, but focus has not been my thing lately. Here comes the randomness:

We’re going to the fair tomorrow, and I’m excited! The kids have never been and Dennis and I have never been together, so this should be a new experience for us all in a way. I used to make my way around the fair with a corny dog in one hand and a funnel cake in the other. That will not be an option this time, but I’m very okay with that.

Graduate school is going well, so of course I feel I should probably be more panicked. My laid back attitude is nice and has managed to keep me both not crazy and doing well in my class, but I’m so not accustomed to not having school consume my brain like a black hole that the peace is kind of weird. Which is weird in itself. Weird.

Wren and Sammy are sleeping in their own beds. I take zero credit for this awesomeness, but I am so very happy about it. I love co-sleeping and will do it again if we have more kids, but this new phase is equally great in a whole different way. I remembered this week that I love spreading out to sleep. And I like to cuddle with the hubs. And I like people not laying on my head when I sleep. Plus, there’s the bonus of believing if anyone starts puking, I may not be the second person hit by it (D is always the first one hit because he refuses to wake up quickly when I scream “that’s a puke cough”, or he wakes up and argues that it’s not a puke cough right until someone pukes on him. I take cover.)

I’m not thinking about food as much so I am actually having less issues with sugar cravings. Go figure! When I try to count how many grams of devil sugar have entered my body, I go nuts and find myself eating something atrocious and then beating myself up for two days. When I don’t think about it, I take one swig of Dennis’ gluten-free, caffeine-free, weirdly delicious root beer and stop at that. Then I burp and that’s good enough.

The Old Testament has been a bit rough to be immersed in, so I am thinking about combining some New Testament with it. There are so many good things in the Old Testament, and I do feel like I’m learning more about who God is and how He operates. But not fully understanding that particular time in the world makes some of the reading refuse to mesh with my current understanding of Christ and now and my own very narrow perception of how things work. So I’m pushing through the Old Testament(currently in Joshua), but I may start reading through the New Testament simultaneously. It’s a good idea to brush up on Jesus’ birth this time of year anyway before our soul-sucking materialistic world completely kills the true meaning of Christmas before it’s even the end of October!

Ta ta for now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Part Three of Series

More tips in case you end up in possession of our children upon our demise:

There are gluten-free grains out there, but we don’t really eat them. They are okay to use to make goodies for a very occasional treat, but definitely do not let the kiddies get addicted. Their guts can’t take it. Also, if the flour comes from garbanzo beans, prepare to hear, “Stinky farts, stinky farts” for the rest of the day. You’ll probably smell them too.

Wren particularly has issues with sugar in any form. Honey, agave (though we don't love this one), maple syrup, and fruit in small controlled portions are okay. Any other kind of sugar causes a weakening of her immune system. No bueno.

The kids just drink water or So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk. It’s great for their guts, and they have never had anything else except coconut milk and breast milk, so they’re happy with it. There’s no hidden sugar.

Eating out: this should only take me two hours to explain. Many restaurants and fast food joints offer gluten-free menus. That does not mean someone with Celiac should eat there. In fact, you will generally see a disclaimer on the menu that says something to the effect of “We can’t guarantee not to kill you”. That’s not a good sign. While there may be gluten free items on a menu, cross-contamination is the devil, and most places are not knowledgeable enough about how to make 100% sure food does not get contaminated. Plus, with employee turnover, even if you assume everyone on staff is trained to handle contamination, unless every new employee is thoroughly trained, the risk is still there. There are a couple of places Dennis will eat out when work functions arise like PF Changs and its partner Pei Wei because they are known for their practices and can be researched on-line as to what they do for customers with food issues. That’s pretty much it, and the kids still don’t eat there. Sammy has never had fast food or restaurant food. Wren will always have a hard time eating out due to her inability to eat gluten, dairy, corn, soy, cane or granulated sugar, and a few more I don’t have on the tip of my tongue. I know of two bakeries in the Dallas area that are completely gluten-free establishments, but once again, reference foods Wren cannot ingest above. It’s not worth the hassle at this point in the game. FYI-My one adventure attempting gluten-free pizza at a restaurant where I asked every question, they took every precaution, and they were super smart about everything we discussed ended in me, the toilet, and about five hours of my life gone that I will never get back. I had my doubts when the waiter delivered my GF pizza and put it on the bottom of the pizza rack at the table with my friend’s gluten-filled pizza on top. What about crumbs? Why would they do that? Well, maybe none of the crumbs got on mine. Bad decision, and I paid the price.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Why I May Never Be Tested for Celiac

I got wind of a test that could detect Celiac without a person needing gluten in their system. However, I have not been able to confirm this, which is disappointing. The very, very last thing I want to do is go on a gluten-challenge, ingesting loads of something I’m pretty sure has spent my whole life trying to kill me. Now that I have more information, I don’t believe I will.

Here’s myCeliac tale: I have had Hashimoto’s disease, a thyroid disorder, since I was 9. I developed endometriosis sometime in my teen years and it was discovered in my twenties. Also discovered in my twenties was the fact that my bones are deteriorating at a very fast rate. All awesome news! (I hope you read sarcasm well). All of the doctors I went to for diagnosis and management of these issues were nice people and decent doctors, but not one bothered to ask why I kept developing problems. In their minds, thyroid and uterus and bones were all separate issues that needed to be medicated into submission. How could those random organs be related? Holistic approaches in medicine? What?

Add to this I was often mistaken for a bulimic in school because of my ability to eat anything and race to the bathroom within five minutes to expel it from my system. Mind you, I didn’t do it on purpose. Intestinal issues also found me sometime in my teen years, so I got another drug: Prevacid.

By the time Wren was diagnosed with Celiac, every doctor, nutritionist, naturopath, person in the grocery store who knew there was a genetic connection pointed to me. It makes pretty logical sense seeing how every one of the above issues are calling cards for Celiac. Wren and I don’t half-way do anything; if we’re going to have health problems, we burn down the whole place. No silent symptoms for us.

Dennis was tested first basically because I told him he was going to be, and he picks his battles. My reason was sound: I would happily live like a Celiac because I felt so much stinking better! Cramps from endometriosis? No, though having children probably helped that one. Thyroid out of whack? No, and my medication has not needed to be tampered with since the gluten-free diet. Bone deterioration? I haven’t had them tested yet, but I haven’t broken any hips. Frequent bulimic-like potty episodes? Way, way down from what they were. And now if food makes me sick, I know it’s because I ate rice, or slipped in some butter, or I ate too many grapes in one sitting (like two pounds). I am not reactive to every food I put in my body because I’m not eating gluten, and my gut is starting to heal. I don’t cry because I can’t sit through an entire movie due to my constant need to be sick. I go weeks without potty episodes (then I get cocky and eat two pounds of grapes). I don’t need a test result to prove gluten made me feel like death

Dennis was living gluten-free at home after Wren was diagnosed, but he would indulge at work away from Wren if the opportunity presented itself. I told him to get tested because that was a very bad idea if he had Celiac, and we needed to know. I think he agreed because he thought he’d be able to eat burritos at Chuy’s in peace once he offered tangible evidence that he was in the clear.

Except he wasn’t in the clear. He has Celiac. It will be a year Sunday since he was diagnosed.

I know enough about science or math or stats or something to know that him having Celiac doesn’t mean I don’t. One doesn’t change the other. However, I still couldn’t get tested because I was nursing Sammy, and he had already started displaying Celiac-like symptoms. Gluten travels through breast milk. Besides, what does it matter? I want to live this way. I take all the precautions with cross-contamination as the rest of my family.

Only, a strange thing started happening after Dennis got diagnosed. People I knew started grabbing me on the sly making me aware of where the gluten-filled snacks were “just in case you can slip away from the family and grab one”. When I continued my diligence in not being cross-contaminated, I received strange looks. The confusion apparently stems from the fact that I haven’t been “officially” diagnosed. Being healthy without the junk in my body is apparently not proof positive. Invasive medical procedures must be performed!

I started to cave, mainly because I wanted to stop being viewed as eccentric and just viewed as someone trying to manage my health. But then I started research on Celiac testing. An article I found from a company trying to offer a better Celiac test helped confirm my decision to not get tested. Here’s the link, and here’s the jest of it if you don’t want to read the whole thing: The initial blood test that leads doctors to decide whether or not to use endoscopy to further diagnose Celiac is wrong about 70% OF THE TIME!

The long and short of it is the blood test really only confirms Celiac if it has majorly destroyed your gut. You can have Celiac, a fairly hanging in there gut, and a liver that’s about to pass out due to Celiac, and you will not get enough “indicators” for the doctor to refer you for further testing. Or your mind could be attacked. Or your joints. All common with Celiac. That’s why the endoscopy is the “gold standard”. Yeah, when your fall back choice has a 70% failure rate, you need a gold standard. But even the gold standard can be inaccurate if your gut is not leveled enough or if your endoscoper(is that a word?) doesn’t know how to find Celiac. If your gut is not the primary target, you could still be misdiagnosed. Too bad for all those people who have non-alcohol related cirrhosis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and a whole other host of issues related to untreated Celiac. Their bodies weren’t attacked properly for the test, and we are just now coming up with new ways to test them.

The blood test diagnoses very accurately the Wrens of the world whose guts looked like a place an atomic bomb landed twice before a tsunami came in to smash the rest. Wren had, and still has to some extent, damage to many organs in her body due to Celiac, but her gut was undeniably leveled. Wren got a gold star on the blood test! Dennis had to have the endoscopy for confirmation, and even the GI said he would not have referred D for an endoscopy based on his blood work. He would have been one of the 70%. Thankfully, we listened to the chiropractor who did refer him after seeing his blood test. After D was diagnosed, the GI basically said, “my bad”. I think he really did feel pretty bad.

So, no, I am not shoving loads of poison into my temple with the express purpose of destroying my intestinal lining enough to get the gold star on the blood test so I can have a tube rammed down my throat to be told what God has given me the sense to figure out on my own: I don't react well to gluten. I’m somewhat competitive (actually I’m not, I’m too lazy for that), but I am not competing for the Dumbest Person on the Planet Award. However, I do HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend you get tested if: you are still eating gluten and suspect you might have Celiac (keep eating the gluten for now, push for the endoscopy if there are any indicators in your blood work, and find someone who knows what they’re doing); you think you have Celiac and the idea of avoiding gluten or even crumbs of gluten seems impossible to you without a test result (follow same parenthesis rules from above); there is a family history, even if you don’t have symptoms (eat the gluten, follow rules from above). Also, consider Cyrex, the link above, for testing. The test looks to be pretty sensitive, though it’s still in the early stages, and I don’t know what insurance will have to say when you want Cyrex instead. I would go with Cyrex if I was going to do this (but I'm not because it looks like you still have to gluten up for the test) and just ignore my insurance company  My thoughts on insurance companies are for a whole different day.

As for me, I'm going to embrace the idea that others think I'm an eccentric weirdo. I will continue living life as a Celiac sans the piece of paper as proof.  I may also stop showering and start wearing long evening gown gloves all the time. Now that I'm not stuck in the bathroom for hours a day, I have time to really mess with people.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On A Wednesday

I never doubted that the hardest part of having kids for me was going to be letting go. As they grow older and want to do more on their own, I simultaneously rejoice and internally weep. What I didn’t realize was how Celiac was going to cause hiccups in the growth process, not because we don’t want to let them have some autonomy or because they don’t want it, but because in certain situations it’s almost impossible.

When Wren was two and suspicions of Celiac were lurking, we put her on a gluten-free diet while waiting for the test results to come back. At the HOA pool on a summer day, Wren’s gluten-free snacks were prepared for when she became hungry. She walked around the pool with her friend while I held Sammy and chatted with her friend’s mom. Then it happened: both of us saw the girls squatting to the ground, and before I could stop her, Wren put Goldfish crackers in her mouth. I sprinted to her and attempted to fish the crackers out of her mouth, but it was too late. Her stomach was distended within minutes, and she fought stomach aches for the next several days. Celiac was confirmed for me that day, as well as the fact that this was our new reality. Until she understood, she would live in arms distance of someone who did. I attached myself to Wren so hard after that I was fairly convinced even when the time came I’d never be able to let go.

But on Wednesday I had a chance to prove myself wrong. We were at the park with the usual neighborhood crew when Sammy decided he wanted to swing. Wren didn’t. Wren knows not to eat food off the ground now for many reasons, but I am still a little weird about being too far away from her. What if someone offers her food? What if she thinks something is gluten-free that isn’t? However, I left her playing in the sand with her friend and told her I would be a little ways away swinging Sammy. I reminded her not to eat anything and she said, “I won’t, mom.” It was a polite response, but I can tell by the time she turns five she’s going to be sick of hearing the reminder.

When a butterfly net was added to the equation, the situation took a turn. A small garden area with tons of butterflies is attached to the park. The kids started venturing that way with the other little girl’s mom accompanying them. This is the park rhythm. It’s a village mentality with everyone looking out for each other’s children. It’s nice, except I’m usually the one looking out for my kids and someone else’s by my own choice. I held back and waited. I took a breath and slowly released it. Wren wondered into the garden armed with a miniature net ready to look at butterflies way more than catch them.

As I stood making idle conversation with the mom of the child swinging next to Sammy, I came to the realization that my instincts were almost never wrong with my kids, and in that moment, my instinct was not to run to the garden with Sammy screaming after being forced to leave the swing to watch Wren do something I could catch glimpses of her doing from where I stood. True, if she had picked something up off the ground to eat, there’s no way I would have been able to dash over there and swat it out of her hand in time. But with all the squirrels and birds in the garden, stray food doesn’t make it long. And though the mom supervising speaks Russian with English as her emerging language, I’ve known her for over a year. We’ve pieced together enough words for her to know not to feed Wren. More than anything giving me comfort though was my trust in Wren. She knows. She’s had to learn young and she will always have to be aware. And she understands.

I watched wisps of purple float past the black gates of the garden as she ran after butterflies. Her laughter was recognizable from a football field length way. When it was time to leave the park, I went to retrieve her, and she was covered in glee from head to toe. She was hunting butterflies so she could talk to them with her friend, and no one was pestering her about anything. She was the happiest kid ever.

This doesn’t solve our issues with cross-contamination. It doesn’t fix everything. But for a Wednesday, it was pretty good.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Part Two of How Not to Kill My Children

Best title ever, right? Okay, here are some more tips for what to do if Dennis and I die together and you end up with our kids.

Make sure all gluten-free food also says it is not processed in a facility with wheat. If it says gluten-free but processed in a facility with wheat, the kids can’t eat it.

We voluntarily do not feed the kids artificial or processed food. When I say voluntarily, it is our choice, but it’s also the best decision for the kids. They cannot have gluten, soy, corn, dairy, and specific types of sugar (Wren especially on this one), so attempting to feed them anything artificial or processed is a joke anyway. We don’t want it in their systems, their systems don’t want it in their systems, so we just don’t do it.

To make it easy, if you don’t cook it yourself from real ingredients that do not have an ingredient list that looks like an unfortunate 8th grade science project, we probably don’t eat it. Meat, chicken, fish, veggies, fruit, some nuts and seeds are all easy things to grab for the kids. And avocados, lots and lots of avocados.  Season them with McCormicks spices (not seasoning mixes because those can contain gluten) and you’re good to go. McCormick’s will list if they use a gluten containing ingredient. The words barley, rye, oats, and wheat (BROW) mean don’t eat it. So do all of these ingredients. Enjoy. The kids live on a whole, real food diet. Paleo or primal cookbooks are our guide.

Now I'm hungry for fish and avocados.  Hmmm...

Monday, September 17, 2012


Visiting the naturopath has been awesome. I feel like it is one of the major steps in Wren’s healing that has offered tangible results. I like to chart progress, so this has made me happy. Liver issues, adrenal problems, nervous system malfunction, and all kinds of other problems have started to fade when her body is supported by the right supplements. She is actually taking a ton less supplements now than she was 12 weeks ago, and her body is learning to hold its own. Exciting stuff.

One side effect of the machine that reads Wren’s body to tell us pretty much everything about it is the information you find out that is relevant but not alarming, information you probably wouldn’t know otherwise, but it’d still be there. It’s good to know, but then it’s in your brain and it’s hard to have it not in your brain anymore. A piece of that information we found out today: something is up with Wren’s chromosome 13. This chromosome carries probably between 300-700 genes, so anything minor could have shifted to cause an alarm to sound and let us know. However, chromosome 13 contains BRCA2 or the early on-set breast cancer gene. This is among hundreds of other genes. So does this mean Wren is predisposed for breast cancer? No. Does it mean this even has anything to do with breast cancer? No. Is it good that my grandmother had breast cancer and a mastectomy and that was the topic of discussion today after finding out this information? Probably not.

Here’s the good news: the naturopath imprinted a homeopathic treatment to basically tell Wren’s body to shut this chromosome 13 crap down. She literally said, “No big deal, we’re just going to shut it down. We turn it off and she’s good to go. We can tell her body what to do.” Hear that medical community? Get on board with holistic care!!! Does this work on adults when you don’t catch this until later in life? I don’t know but should probably ask. This was not an issue for Wren six weeks ago. Chromosome 13 was just chillin’ a few weeks back, so we know we jumped on this early.

My fear for Wren pretty much dissipated with the whole, “we got this chromosome, it’s going down!” conversation. I’ve seen this woman work homeopathic magic that has taken down a host of problems since June. I almost feel a little sorry for whatever crazy junk is trying to mess with the chromosome because Brenda is going to hunt it down like a hungry dog. Almost. Fear of breast cancer for myself didn’t really arise. I started internally freaking out at having to tell my sister. Brenda implied in a very don’t-freak-out way that if this was a BRCA2 problem, it more than likely did not just jump over a couple of generations and hit Wren. Fabulous.

And here’s where I wonder if TMI can be a little much sometimes. I am super grateful for all the information I can get. We need it since Celiac is a gateway disease and we need to kick all the potential visitors to the curb before they get through the gate. It’s been a blessing to have so much information. However, it was a different story trying to explain this to my sister. It was a lot of me saying, “Don’t freak out” and “But I thought you should know” and “Don’t freak out, it probably means nothing, but I still had to tell you.” And she really wasn't freaking out.  Still, how do you process that information? Maybe you have the BRCA2 gene. Maybe you don’t. Maybe Nanny’s cancer was a fluke. Maybe it wasn’t. The fun part of the conversation (fun may not be the perfect word because talk about cancer is never really fun, but this was a less perplexing part of the conversation) was discussing what boobs we would get if ours had to be lopped off. Amy chose practical. I chose as close to non-existent as possible minus the nipples. No high beaming, no bra ever, I’m a happy woman. My boobs have never brought the boys to the yard and are just present enough to cause me to have to wear a bra, which is agitating. I’m glad they’re small, but I hate that I have to buy bras. Once they’re through feeding my kids, I don’t see me having any sentimental attachment to them. Now my butt, that’s a different story.

I pray we don’t ever really have to deal with this, and I hate that me having too much information meant having to share it with my sister so she can obsess over the what-does-it-all mean part of it. And I hate that cancer was a normal idea for me at such a young age. When breast cancer came up, all I could think of was when my Nanny Morris would somehow make it to the grocery store without her fake, jellyfish like bra insert (it was the 1980s), realize it at the check-out counter and scream, “I left my damn tit at home again!” I actually don’t remember a time when my Nanny had two real boobs, and I never remember a time when she actually remembered to wear the “damn tit” to the grocery store.

I guess it’s good to have this information if God gives you the perspective to deal with it. He is really helping me in that department. Every day I remember I am here for His purpose for a set amount of time, and I don’t control that. I can’t control how long I’m here for me or my family, but I do try to take care of us so the quality of the time I’m here is good. Besides, with my lack of coordination and near legal blindness, I’m probably much more at risk for getting hit by oncoming traffic.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

First Blog Series

Three events occurred around the same time, and that’s why I am starting my first blog series. There’s too much to write about this topic in one post, so I will break it down and organize it into parts. Here’s the back story on what led to this.

Dennis and I have not given very many directions on how to feed our children because we haven’t really wanted other people to try. We also haven’t offered a ton of explanation as to why we feed them the way we do short of Celiac diagnosis. It’s complicated right now, it took us over a year to get as close to right as we are now, and we’re still learning. However, my sister brought up a good point back in July. As we were all eating and discussing why Wren could have this and not that, Amy said something profound: “What if you and Dennis die at the same time?”

This was the first major event, and here’s why. My sister does not talk about death, even though she is in the medical field and sometimes sees people die(maybe because of that). She actually gets pretty upset if anyone else tries to talk about it even in practical, planning terms. I knew if she was bringing up the d-word it was important enough to think about, and upon reflection I realized she was right. I just didn’t do anything about it.

Not long after this, I had a dream, and not of peace and harmony. I actually had a nightmare where Dennis and I were about to meet our demise at the same time. As we clutched each other and waited for the end, we were weeping, not because we were scared to die, not because this was not going to be a peaceful death. We were weeping because we had not left directions for how our children should be fed, and we were petrified. Sign number two.

Finally, the third event occurred when Dennis met some really nice people the other day and was explaining to them that our family has Celiac. They chimed in with, “Yeah, our kid’s friend has that. When she comes to the house all we can feed her is Cheetos.” Dennis relayed this story to me and we sat on our couch horrified.

Dennis: “Do Cheetos have gluten?”

Me: “Who cares? Why would you feed a person with a compromised gut a food that is a color nature could not have possibly created? How is that a good idea?”

Turns out, my preliminary searches show Cheetos to be gluten-free but not particularly made in a gluten-free facility, which is a problem (you’ll know why after this series).

All that to say this: I don’t seem to take cues well the first time. I think God was known to show Peter things three times before they sunk in, so maybe I’m sort of like that, just not as awesome of a disciple. And we need to leave some directions for our kids because even people with Celiac do not choose to eat the same way. Hopefully they choose to not eat gluten, but even within the range of gluten-free foods, there are a ton of choices.

This post and series may interest no one but family or people who could end up caring for my kids in the event of an emergency. Still, I’m going to share some information and assure you that a file with updated medical records will be available for easy access to what you need if something does happen to us. Know that we are on the more extreme side of crazy when it comes to food. We don’t take chances, and the guts in our house have proven they will not tolerate a diet of artificially colored food (that’s code for a snowball better fly straight through hell before anyone in their right mind feeds my kids a Cheeto).

So, without further ado, here are a couple of basics to start:

 Wren has Celiac. We’ll leave the test results for you.

 Sammy has not been tested for Celiac, but we act as if he has been given a positive result. That includes making sure he does not get cross-contaminated, just like Wren. The reasons for this are he showed early signs of Celiac as an infant that cleared up on a gluten-free diet, he is allergic to dairy, and no one in our house eats gluten anyway. I’m not going to focus on feeding healthy food to the family except for Sam, and that’s what I feel we’d be doing if he was on a diet full of gluten. If he ever wants to be tested, he will probably have to go through a gluten challenge which means three to four weeks of putting gluten in his system so the test will be accurate. Even if he does not have Celiac, weeks of exposure to an inflammatory food that he has never ingested except via breast milk before we knew about Celiac will make him sick. I will not be the one who makes the decision to put him through that; it will have to be his choice when he’s old enough to make it, and I’ll support him if/when he decides to. I’m the one who got to sign the papers that allowed him to get a spinal tap at 12 days old, so it’s kind of nice to wash my hands of causing my child anymore intentional pain. There are rumors of a test that does not require gluten in the system, but I can’t confirm the accuracy of it right now. Please make sure you follow a gluten-free diet for Sammy as well as Wren, who has obviously been confirmed to have Celiac. If Sammy does for sure have Celiac, and most doctors we’ve seen believe he does, then allowing him gluten or to be cross-contaminated will cause long term problems to his health that can lead to early death.

Kind of a heavy start. I promise Dennis and I are not planning on exiting the planet at the same time, but having a contingency plan never hurts. I’ll try to post something related to this series weekly or more, so either read all this and memorize it, or just book mark the page if you might end up in possession of our children.

And by all means if I’ve made you hungry for a Cheeto, go eat one. No judgment here.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Combining Passion and Intent

I’m a little over a month into my Jesus Year. I’ve read four books of the Bible and a book called Radical by David Platt which I highly recommend. Dennis and I have been discussing regularly what direction this year is going to take us and where Christ is leading us. A few things have become obvious:

We are supposed to be helping others more than we are;
We are supposed to be going on missions;
We are supposed to be embedded in a community of believers, not so hermit-like;
What the Christian life looks like in modern day America is not at all what it looked like in the book of Acts, and that’s kind of concerning.

The biggest struggle we’ve had is living in grace, which should be the easiest thing on the planet. The problem is when you realize all the actions that should be coming out of your outpouring of love for Christ and then you look at your life, for us at least, it’s been a bit disappointing. I feel like I tell God I love him, but I don’t really show it much, which is not the kind of relationships I tend to enjoy with other people. The temptation we’ve tried to resist is checking off a to-do list of items we need to accomplish to be good enough for the salvation that’s already been given to us. We can never earn the grace we already live under as Christians anyway, and our actions need to be motivated by obedience and love, not fear and an overwhelming joy in checking off a list.

Some of our actions really will be motivated by obedience more than actual desire, at least in the beginning. I love Christ, but I have no desire to leave my family for any amount of time. If I had to name my idols they’d be Dennis, Wren, and Sammy. God wants me to love my family, but Jesus made it pretty clear in the New Testament that He is still priority, even over family. I need to be doing more mission work, more taking the Word to the ends of the earth. And I will. Dennis and I feel it’s inevitable in both a good and really scary way. We already have a trip in mind, though we won’t be going together so one of us will be with the kids. I am excited about going, but I know it will take constant prayer to leave my family and fully live in the moment away from them. I’ll do it out of obedience. D feels the same way. We always thought people needed to be “called” to missions. Turns out, Jesus called all of us. There’s really no loophole to slide through in that department. It is His will for our lives, so we’ll go.

We’ve found a lot of joy in some of the other commands, so they’re easier. Several details are still working themselves out, but the first month of my Jesus year has been eye-opening, scary, and oddly peaceful all at the same time. I’m on the right path, I think. God is teaching me balance, something I’ve never been even remotely good at. When I veer too far into the legalistic, check-off-list mode, He reminds me I can do nothing to make Him love me more or less. That doesn’t free me of the responsibilities I should be willing to take on as a Christian, but it puts the motive in the right place. My whole life feels more balanced than it has in a while, even having just added grad school to the mix. That’s saying something. I’m enjoying the exploration and the fact that I have absolutely no idea where we will be or what we will be doing next month at this time. Probably a lot of the same as now with a few modifications and improvements, but who knows? The question we’ve struggled with the most is will we really take up our cross and follow, do whatever we’re asked or have already been instructed through Gods’ word, whatever that means? I think after a long time as flailing baby Christians, we’re moving towards a more definite yes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Its’ not exactly like forgetting a birthday, but…

Further evidence I have lost a considerable amount of brain cells came today at Sammy’s vaccine appointment. It actually ended up being Sammy’s 20-month well baby check-up. But wait, there aren’t 20-month well baby check-ups are there? Actually, no, not unless your mother has actively endangered your health through negligence for the last eight months.

When the nurse told Sammy to step onto the scale, I reminded her he was just coming in for a vaccine.

“We do them one at a time. I don’t like to overwhelm their systems.”

“He’ll get his vaccine after the doctor sees him.”

“But he isn’t here to see the doctor.”

“He’s seeing the doctor.”

Alrighty then. She checked his height and head measurement and went on her merry way.

When our pediatrician entered the room, she stared me down and said, “So why are we skipping well baby appointments?”

These people are thoroughly confused today, I thought.

“His next well baby is in December when he turns two.”

“His next well baby was supposed to be at 15 months, then 18 months. We haven’t seen him since he turned one.”


“Wait, we’ve been in here every month since April getting vaccines.”

“I know. I’m not sure how this wasn’t caught until now.”

Then it hit me: each nurse at the last two appointments asked if Sammy was healthy and if he had seen the doctor recently. My answer: yes, at his last well-baby. I wasn’t lying, they didn’t check the medical file since I must have looked somewhat sane that day and that was that.

At this point, I started punting. If Sam was my first child, I would have started crying, claiming sleep deprivation and ignorance and lamenting on how hard it is for first time moms. But evidence to disprove my first time mom status was sitting next to me: Wren.

So I started looking for other outs. God forgive me, but I started attempting to throw my husband under the fast approaching bus.

“Well,” I said in a hushed tone, “Dennis took him to the one-year well baby. I had just started my library job and worked that day.”

Uh, except Dennis wouldn’t have made the 15 month appointment because he never makes advance appointments which is why he only gets his teeth cleaned after he’s received three reminder letters, a phone call, and I just call and make his appointment myself. The doctor didn’t know that, but once I realized it, I couldn’t commit to misleading her into putting this on D. I shifted gears.

“Actually, the doctor who checked Sammy must not have specified when the next appointment was.” There are two doctors and two nurse practitioners in this office. I like all but one, and I was hoping it was the one I didn’t like who was about to get busted(I know, this was not my best hour).

After looking through her notes the pediatrician said, “I saw Sammy at his one year. And I wrote in my notes that I told his parent I needed to see him in three months.”

That did not work out the way I hoped.

“Miscommunication. Weird.”

Anyway, it all turned out well despite my negligence and overall forgetting kids are supposed to be stared at and probed to make sure they are developing properly. Sammy is growing(he’s tall and skinny, just another way he’s like dad), he’s developing properly in every area, and our pediatrician thinks the diet we live on is helping him thrive.

“I can say, he never gets sick. We would have caught this if the little guy had caught a cold, but he just never needs to see a doctor because he never gets sick,” she said.

Not wanting to be misleading yet again I reminded her, “He did kind of get sick the one time.”

She checked her file.

“Yeah, there was that.”

Awkward silence.

“So, bring him to the two-year well baby.”

“For sure. We’ve had that one planned forever.”

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bible Study

My goals it to read the Bible in a year, hopefully less. I must admit that I have never read the Bible the whole way through, despite the fact that I am a Christian and it’s my instruction manual for life, after life, and everything in between. I have read certain books, know certain verses, but I have never sat down and read it all the way through, every word. I’m following this site:

I need a visual to look at and check off to keep me on track.

What I found was that once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop at the daily assignment. With a little-and I mean little-more understanding of the Bible from previous study, I’ve been able to understand more, and that makes it much easier to keep going.

So far, I’ve made it through Genesis, Job, and Exodus. Most of the the site I’m following recommends the Bible be read in order, but not all of it. Here are my thoughts so far:
Disclaimer: I am not a Biblical scholar. I’m not even all that smart. Take my musings with a grain of salt. They’re just the thoughts of an infant Christian trying to learn how to grow.

Genesis and Job: God is big. He is powerful. This is obvious, but that’s what really struck me about these two books. God can do anything. He accepts imperfect people. He makes covenants with them and holds up His end. Sometimes in the selfish pursuit of my own life, I don’t remember that I serve a God who made everything, can move mountains, is faithful to His people, and never changes. It’s too easy for me to get busy and just throw God my leftovers at the end of the day or when I have time. That’s not really what God’s about, and I need to live in awe of His majesty all the time. Also, God doesn’t answer to me. He does what He does and I should do what He says. That’s pretty much the bottom line.

Exodus: Reading the rules God gave the Jewish people was tedious. I hit a point where I wondered about the relevance of this chapter to believers in Christ who are free to live in His grace without having to build a tabernacle or sacrifice animals. But when I hit the half-way point and really thought about having to make these offerings and follow these rituals to the letter, it hit me that one benefit is that the Jewish probably almost always had to be thinking about God. When you make these offerings, follow these rules, live that close to God (literally He appears in a cloud or a fire or gives you stones with rules on them) it seems like daily life would be simpler in a harder way: sure, you have to make these sacrifices and follow small details, but how can you not be living for a higher purpose? Obviously, the rules and regulations didn’t always work, and I am hugely grateful to live in grace. But it made me wonder what “rituals” are beneficial to stay Christ-focused? How can I make every day about living for Christ, and what tools can I have on hand to get me re-centered when grad school, exhaustion, lack of time, going through the motions, and just being an easily distracted person take over my life? There were definite lessons from Exodus, ones I didn’t really expect.

Next, Leviticus. Always a hard chapter anytime I’ve ever tried to get through it, so pray for me please.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reminder to Me

Food is not supposed to be a soother. I’ve tried desperately in the last year to stop looking at it that way. It’s food, not a favorite blankie. But today was kind of a day, and this week has been a mix of good and frustrating and all hands on deck 24/7 coupled with insomnia, and when I can sleep there are vivid nightmares, and I didn’t get to see Piper today which is one of the only reasons I’m even sort of sane every other day of the week. Oh, and I’m not packed for our trip to Athens tomorrow. And Sammy loves working down to where he’s only nursing four hours a day so much (yes people, I said down) that he head butted me in the sternum four times. And it hurts. Plus I spent 30 minutes with children having my on-line banking password reset only to have it lock me out anyway when I tried to sign in again. So, I’m going to get gluten-free, dairy-free, coconut ice cream. I’m eating it all in one sitting. And I am not feeling guilty.* Forget the blankie; I’ll rest easy with my food.

*I know this is not an interesting post. I’m writing it to remind myself why I shouldn’t feel guilty when I start to feel guilty after I eat all the ice cream.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

And Today's Lesson is...

Explaining has become my new thing. It’s actually not new, but lazy set in the last couple of months, and instead of explaining why we can’t stay up till midnight, live at the outside pool, or throw balloons into the ceiling fan, I just started saying no. If argued with I offered a no, no, never, stop, my ears are closing! Call it living with two kids under the age of four for too long.

This week I’ve tried to explain more as kids are still human and deserve explanations. Plus, amazingly, things seem to run smoother when I explain. Even if they don’t agree, I can at least get a grudging okay, or 17 more well intentioned questions about how firm the final answer is.

That’s why, with good intentions, I told Wren before we left for Sunday School that her snack would be blueberries. When asked why she couldn’t take almond bread, I told her we want to try to take care of the needs of others and not everyone in the class can have eggs or nuts, both of which are in the almond bread. It would make them sick, and we don’t even want to take a chance they might ingest it. She understood and was 100% okay with this answer. Score for mom.

So when we made it to Sunday School and snack time rolled around, Wren announced how we don’t share our food, another lesson I wish every parent would teach their kids. It’s not because we don’t share, period; it’s because every other child I meet(including both of mine) can be seriously affected by food, and a child’s very well meant sharing can turn into another child’s nightmare. I was ready to explain why we don’t share food to the very-good-at-sharing three-year-olds who were astounded by this message. Didn’t Jesus say share? What’s up with this kid? To my dismay, Wren explained for me. She told all about how the almond bread she wasn’t allowed to bring to class would give everyone else diarrhea. She then continued with a vivid recounting of the diarrhea she had that morning. “Two times. I think it was the carrots.”

At this point, time just sort of stood still. I’m supposed to be teaching kids about the Golden Rule and the Great Commission; so far I’ve hammered in their brains that we don’t share and carrots will cause liquid poo. Zero points for mom.

To my amazement and horror, diarrhea stories started, well, flowing. Five kids jumped into this conversation as if it was not the weirdest event that’s ever occurred in Sunday School. Highlights from the conversation are below:

“I’ve had diarrhea.”

“Sometimes food gives me diarrhea.”

“I haven’t had diarrhea today.”

Wren, not wanting the last kid to feel left out: “Everyone gets diarrhea. It’s okay, don’t worry.”(I guess she wanted to assure this child that the diarrhea club wasn’t excluding members. You can join, it’ll eventually happen to you.)

The dominant question related to this incident was, “How did I raise a child so comfortable talking about crap?” Then I realized we are a family of Celiacs; we talk about it all the time. Here are some highlights from recent conversations in our house:

“Did the sweet potatoes cause weird poo last time we ate them?”

“Can you make those cookies I like, or will they cause you questionable poo?”

“Man, I am never eating two Larabars in one day again. Too many oxalates messes with my poo.”

And my personal favorite: “What would you score that poo? Are we talking definite intestinal issues or just too many raisins?”

Don’t get me started on how we rate the rankness of farts. I’d need a spreadsheet to fully explain.

As the hours pass by and I pray no one asks me to step down as Sunday School teacher, I’ve realized something: my child has confidence, and I pray it comes from the fact that she was beautifully and perfectly made by God. Plus, she has awesome friends. Not once has anyone in her Sunday School class made her feel excluded, different, or not loved. If she has a new food while they eat animal crackers, they show interest and support her. If she needs to vent her feelings about diarrhea, they jump on board and sympathize. No judgment, no eye rolling. Just a bunch of sweet kids who haven’t learned that different can be misinterpreted as target.

When I’m having a bad day, I’m going to remember our very special day in Sunday School. Three-year-old Jesus lovers accepting others, even when they eat too many carrots; that’s the kind of world I want to live in.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Book Review Part 3

1000 Days:  The Ministry of Christ -Jonathan Fallwell

This was a great book about Jesus’ time on earth during his ministry. Simple, straight forward, and in language that’s easy to understand whether a person is well versed in the Bible or not, I enjoyed it. It takes you back to the basics of what Jesus said to do and the example He set.

The Newlyweds-Nell Freudenburger

I’ve read everything by Freudenburger. This is her second novel, and she has a collection of short stories that were published before anything else. Her writing style is simple yet intricate, and her books always take the readers on a journey, this time from the U.S. to Bangladesh. This story is about a couple who marry only to realize they don’t know as much about each other, or maybe even themselves, as they thought. It’s a great study in how our cultures, our pasts, and our desires can conflict with the life we’ve created. Very good book.

Memoirs of Pontius Pilate-James Miller

Dennis read this one after I did because I told him how good it was. This book is a fictional account of the time of Christ from the perspective of Pontius Pilate. From what I know of history at that time, it seemed accurate, and being able to get into Pilate’s head, even through another author’s view of what he might have thought, really was incredible. Some questions I had about why certain things happened during that time were given possible explanations when looked at from the eyes of others involved. Ultimately, as Christ is about to be crucified and the reader knows it’s going to happen and knows it has to happen, it’s hard to feel anything but one emotion: don’t let it happen. Dennis and I walked away from this book so grateful for what Christ did for us and so saddened it had to come that. This was a very sad book, and I highly recommend it anyway.

A Moveable Feast-Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s account of life in 1920s Paris is both entertaining and informative. Whether he meant this book to be taken as fact or if he embellished is still up for debate, but it’s a good read either way. Hemingway’s straight forward style paired with interesting characters like Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgerald’s and more helped me finish this book in one night.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Maybe Today

A friend reminded me the other day of something I was supposed to be doing: as well as using the blog to chart our growing and deepening relationship with Christ, I was also supposed to be using it to help those who have Celiac, food issues, or just don’t want to eat food with chemicals in it anymore. It’s something I felt kind of called to do by the Lord when this all started, but I stalled out. She said she is still waiting. Here are my issues(this is the very abbreviated list pertaining only to this particular blog topic):

 There’s nothing I have to say that someone else hasn’t.

 I am not an expert. Every time I think I’m even head above water, something grabs my foot and pulls me back to the bottom.

 We are just now crawling slowly out of the trenches praying no one takes shots at our heads as we reemerge. I can’t really do much while in the trenches because my mind shuts down and I just keep hearing, “COVER, COVER!” over and over again in my brain.

 I am so very lazy about trying to publicize the blog or find people who want to read it who could benefit. I have no idea what the privacy settings are on my blog. They may be private or someone in Switzerland may be reading it. I probably need to figure that out.

Still, I have had a bit more time to write lately, and I’m enjoying it. I’m trying to branch out into the world of publication again, though I get distracted by the smallest things like our AC going out or the herd of ants that decided to take cover in our house after the storm this week.

I can say this: I feel like(should I even type this? Everyone please knock on wood!) Celiac is not quite the defining factor in our lives that it was even a few months ago. Yes, I think about it every day in terms of what we can and can’t eat, but most of what we’re doing is almost autopilot now. The think, think, think part is starting to subside. We have come to terms with some realities that are probably never going to change(chocolate people, Wren will probably never be able to eat chocolate. Who cares that she can’t have gluten, we’re talking about chocolate! How is she supposed to survive PMS in the future??) We don’t use the word fair anymore. Our lives are more than fair. There is nothing about our situation worth wallowing in. Actually, we’ve already wallowed, so I think we’re passed it and we now realize we have everything and more, so we need to build a bridge and get over it(I’m still coming to terms with the chocolate, but I persevere). Wren is seeing a naturopath who we LOVE. Sometimes I email her just because she’s awesome. I’m sure she doesn’t see me as a stalker at all! And finally, after 16 months, we’re seeing real, great, healthy change. This is change that could be like setting the restart button on Wren’s gut. She’ll always have Celiac, cross-contamination will still be considered pure evil in our house, but the slew of secondary autoimmune diseases Celiac acts as a gateway for just may have to take a hike. Her immune system is in a fabulous place. Her body is getting the support it needs from Jesus and the food and supplements He provides. Her body should, like everyone’s body, be able to heal itself of damage on its own once she’s been supported enough by supplements. Our bodies were made to do awesome things. I am in awe again about how intricately the Lord made each one of us, and what awesome things can be accomplished.

All that being said, maybe I can start writing about our journey a bit. Our journey is never-ending, but looking back I can see definite turning points and moves that helped as well as moves that did not. I also feel a little more prepared to manage the waves that crash into us over time knowing there’s a bigger plan than I can see. So, even if I’m writing about all this and we hit a rough patch again, I hope not to dive head first back into the trench, cover my ears, and start rocking back and forth crazy style. At the very least, maybe I won’t be down there as long.

Now, I just need to become a computer genius. How do I hyperlink things?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Because You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

A couple of weeks ago it was High Maintenance Toddler Week in our household. I’m not sure if anyone else’s children participated, but mine were in rare form. I blamed the full moon.

Is there a chance this Mars landing I keep hearing about had some kind of effect on the brains of toddlers as well? With only a week break, High Maintenance Toddler Week Part 2 is under way. Let me share a vision of what a day with two, we’ll assume environmentally affected, children under four is like.

Tuesday, August 14th

Popping out of bed like gluten-free pop tarts from the toaster, the two precious angels began burping and bouncing on my head to awaken me. There’s nothing like a child landing on your head then saying, “Oops, I farted!” to really get you ready to move.

I decided to give them the choice between the splash pad or the mall for some it’s-over-100-degrees-again fun. They chose the splash pad, so I told them to hustle because mama burns after 11.

I must say Wren can hustle if it means going to the splash pad. Sammy mistook the word hustle for bend over, touch my toes, find my crack, stick my finger in it. After unsuccessful negotiations that included reminding him how much he liked the splash pad and how much he would not enjoy e.coli, I decided just to tackle him. He didn’t so much like that, so he wiggled away, grabbed his sister’s water glass and prepared to launch it. Now, this kid has broken more glasses than I can count, so I was ready for this. Grabbing under both arms, I put him in the you’re-under-arrest pose and clamped his wrists preparing to take the glass from his hand. Believing I had temporarily immobilized his upper half, I went to grab the glass just as he almost motionlessly flicked his wrist sending the glass sailing across the room. I’m an optimist, so I thought we were still good. It was going to land on the carpet. And it did, but it hit at just the right angle to shatter into a million pieces anyway. So much for hustle. (Why do my kids drink from glass cups instead of plastic? Because I don’t trust plastic, and the oldest never threw things. The stainless steel cups were in the dishwasher, and I had no intention of Sammy actually getting Wren’s glass.)

After cleaning up what we could find of the glass, we headed to the splash pad. That was actually fun. Kids, water, heat that can cause anyone but a Texan to pass out, these are all ingredients for fun on a random Tuesday. We actually had a lull in high maintenance activity until we attempted to get back to the car. That’s when the little one went rogue. Instead of following the concrete path that led to the parking lot, he shot off to the left for the grass that eventually leads to the road. I can’t 100% tell you what he was thinking, but I’ll do my best.

Sammy’s brain thoughts: Hmmm, everyone is walking on this concrete, but I’m not a sheep. Forget the herd, I’m making my own way in this world. I’m headed for the grass! Yeah, grass! Run, run, run! I’m so free…wait, this grass has not been watered. It hurts. Is this even grass? It feels like a million tiny needles pricking my tiny, delicate feet. I want to be a sheep, put me back on the concrete, I hate grass!!! How can I get everyone’s attention? Oh, yeah…scream! Now just stand here and scream. There’s no need to walk back to the concrete myself. That woman who nurses me needs to learn her place. Come get me woman, get me off the grass! I will keep screaming!

If you’re wondering why I was taking so long to retrieve my son from the grass, it’s not because I wasn’t trying. Unfortunately, while running to grab him I found another piece of glass from this morning’s incident. It was in my foot surrounded by blood. The pain slowed me down a bit.

We made it to the car and I gave them almond bread so everyone’s mouths would be too full to say things like: “Can we stay at the splash pad forever?” “Meat!!!”(that’s how Sammy asks to be nursed) “I don’t want to go home.” “Is there fruit in your bag?” It worked. I was able to bleed into my sandal in peace.

When we arrived home I thought maybe we hadn’t done a bang up job of removing glass from the carpet. I grabbed the vacuum and the carpet shampooer. I had no intentions of digging glass out of people’s parts for the next week.

Shampooing the carpet is always an interesting family time. I shampoo, the kids run in front of the shampooer attempting to lose toes. At the very least, it keeps them happy. For some reason, they bored of that game after ten minutes, so they disappeared into the office. Not to sound ungrateful because I love attempting to hit my children with a carpet shampooer, but I was sort of glad for the quiet and for how fast I could vacuum when no one dove in front of me. I did not check to see what activity had drawn them to the office. In hindsight, that was a mistake.

So pleased with myself for shampooing the carpet while caring for two kids, I made my way to the office and found a crime scene drawing of cookie monster on the floor. Blue crayon, light carpet, it looked like Cookie had one too many macaroons and met his end sometime around noon.

Me: “Who drew on the carpet?”
Wren: “Sammy.”
Me: “Remember how I said I would rather you tell me the truth even if I don’t like it instead of lie?”
Wren: “Okay, maybe I helped.”

In the end, I have no idea who wielded the blue crayon. The carpet shampooer was already out, so I guess it didn’t really matter.

Finally, we prepared for nap. When I say we I mean me. Sammy eventually gave in. Wren did not. Somehow we all still survived the afternoon and I escaped to work that night without giving Daddy much of a hint of what he was walking in to. He can just think I’m awesome for cleaning the carpet.