Back when I asked Kim to write a post as a guest blogger, I don't think she realized how much I trully loved what she had to say. I told her as much but I really really loved her post. Really really. She wrote about relating to your children
. And the more and more entrenched in this parenting gig that I get, it is becoming pretty clear to me that relating to my kids is basically the whole of my parenting tool box. Relating to the emotions of our kids is very important to us. Understanding how they need to be comforted by remembering how it felt for us when we were in their shoes. Our own childhoods acting as handbooks. Daddy Pants will tell you that I probably start about twenty sentences a day with, "Remember when you were (age) and you felt (fill in the blank)? Well that's what's happening here." It probably bugs the cheese out of him. Someday he might admit that but for now he claims to find it helpful.
I've always been a very emotional person. I tend to remember how I felt about an event or a milestone more than I can recall who was there or the details. I lead with emotion. I always have. And I learned that from my mom. I had a moment this week when it occurred to me that I was operating as her. I was channeling all the things I had learned from her and I wasn't doing it intentionally. It just happened. It was all right there. Everything I needed to know during a very scary moment. And I remembered feeling how Plum felt and I knew how to comfort her. It was a moment I had been trained for without knowing it. When I learned it, I was a sick little girl and my mama was comforting me. Caring for me. Teaching me.
Ms. Plum has been a very very sick little lady this week. Sicker than I have ever dealt with. Her fevers were spiking every two hours regardless of the alternating Tylenol and Motrin every three hours. And once they started climbing, they shot right up. Scary fast. I learned the first night that I couldn't fall asleep for more than an hour at a time. Because Strep is a bastard and doesn't care about anyone's need for rest. And it turns out that Plum is like her mama, any fever over 101 was going to lead to puking and that meant the Motrin wouldn't stay down. So every hour I needed to check her. We got through that first night only having to change the bedding and our clothing twice. Not too shabby. I felt in tune with her. I could feel how she felt. I remembered it.
But then on night two I made a mistake. It was 4 am and I had forgotten to set the alarm so that I could wake and give Plum a dose of Motrin at 3:00. By 4:00, she was on fire. Her skin almost burning mine. I was scared. She lay there moaning. When I picked her up she was limp and for a second I wanted to panic. But then it all fell in line. I knew that bringing her fever down was something I could do. I needed to know what I was dealing with and so I took her temp. 104.5. The panic tried to come again. I knew I couldn't give her the Motrin without her vomiting it up and for a second I wished for my mom. And just like that, she was there. I saw her from my own little eyes. And I knew what to do. I stripped off Plum's clothes and quickly soaked some towels in cool water (while running a cool bath should the towels not work). Her body limp, her eyes half closed. I could tell she was not happy with what I was doing but she was too weak to protest. She cried so so softly. I began giving her tiny drops of Motrin, one at a time, every few minutes. And I started singing her favorite song. When I began to sing to her, her eyes locked with mine and her lip curled up on the left side in her best attempt at a smile. As if to say "Oh hi, Mama. I love that song". It was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Because eye contact meant she was aware and I became less afraid. And also because I remembered my mom singing to me when I was very sick. I don't remember many details but I knew I was extremely sick. It's very blurry and most of my memories of it are just seeing my mom at my bedside. She'd sing Chiquitita
. I can still hear it. But mostly I remember the feeling
of her singing it to me. How it made me less afraid. How I knew that that I would be ok when she sang to me. And I hoped that it did the same for my Plum.
It took about forty minutes to drop a teaspoon of Motrin drop by drop. But the towels were working and I pressed her to my skin and soaked us both in the cool water. When I brought her to my skin, her soft cries turned into hums. And in that moment I knew that she did feel safe. She hummed until she fell asleep. I could feel her fever coming down. And for the first time in an hour, I exhaled. I removed the wet towels and wrapped us in a cool thin sheet. I kept her to my skin until morning so that I could feel if her fever should begin climbing before 7:30. I watched her breathe and sleep. I realized that my mom no doubt watched me sleep that night so many years ago. That 30 years later I lay there understanding her fear and worry and love for her baby. The ache she must have felt for me. The same ache I was now feeling for Plum. And somewhere between 6:00am and 6:30, I got a few more minutes of sleep myself.
You can find tips for bringing down a high fever and when to page your child's doctor here.
Your children are watching you. Oh yes, they most certainly are. Make sure you are teaching them the important stuff. Like how private reading time on the toilet is priceless and that trashy magazines are ok as long as they are bathroom readers.
Sometimes you just aren't The One. Even if a lot of the time you are. It's just not always going to be your day. And sometimes your children will not chose you. Often this is the day wherein you almost duct tape your kid to the floor so that you can just go to the bathroom alone for a good pee cry without being attacked with your pants down. Or the day that your precious lamb stares you in the eye and as he tears the stuffing out of the couch cushions with that "What?!?" look on his face. Or maybe your angel has learned that the sprayer on the sink is fixed and trains it on his toddling sister. This is the day when you just aren't The One. And that's ok. You'll be The One again. But not today. Today, someone else is The One. So instead of letting that tick you off or make you feel bad. Just let it be. Remember that no one gets along all the time with everyone. Even two year olds know that.
And so tonight, Daddy is The One. He gets the sweetest parts.
And Mama's peeing alone for the first time all day.
That's a win.
Hit the road mama. Go ahead and pee by yourself. Daddy's got this.
When your baby is allergic to foods, eating out becomes difficult. Every menu becomes suspect. Because milk and eggs seem to be included in just about every american food. Chicken is breaded with it, the fries are fried in peanut oil and no one offers vegan grilled cheese around here. So this week we started looking for safe place for us to go out and eat. Just into town we found a little mediterranean place that is perfect. Perfect because 85% of the menu is safe for Plum, cross contamination is unlikely and also because they carry the chicken strips and fries required by Mr. Pants. The only thing we didn't know was if Plum would go for it. I knew she was down with falafel but the rest of the menu would be new flavors for her. So we set out to give it a go and crossed our fingers that we'd found our go to eatery.
Some context for the rest of our story...
About a month ago, Plum started to show her appreciation for her favorite foods by triumphantly holding them in the air and yelling out their praises. Like this cucumber that won her heart. We call this her "F@#K Yeah!" reaction. And when she gives it, we know we have scored. She doesn't give this reaction to just anything. It's got to be the best food ever at that particular time. The opposite of a "F%^k Yeah!" is a "Oh no you didn't" reaction. This is when she brings a new food to her lips, makes a horrible face and looks you straight in the eye as if to say "Oh no you didn't" and chucks it to the floor with disgust. Also not given lightly.
Cucumbers! F$%K Yeah!
Ok, so we head to the little mediterranean joint for a family test drive. We order the traditional strips and fries for Mr. Pants with the hopes that he will also try the falafel and grape leaves. He does not go beyond the sniff test. But at least he sniffed it. That's
progress. He goes on to be completely adorable and spends the remainder of our family dinner flirting with the counter girl. Classic.
Plum is offered falafel, grape leaves, and some lamb from daddy's gyro. Bypassing the lamb, Plum dives into what she knows. Falafel. She loves falafel. I make a mental note to try and make tempeh for her at home. A few minutes go by and she has trained her eyes on the grape leaves. She thinks about it. And then...
What the hell?
This could go either way. Lemon flavor is new for Plum.
Daddy and I watch and wait. What does she think? Does she love it? Does she hate it?
Placing it back to her lips, she tried again.
And with a squeal she reserves only for good food, she lifted that grape leaf into the air to
proclaim it awesome. And Daddy and I smiled. We have a winner!
Grape leaves! F$@k Yeah!
So the Pants Family has found a place to eat out. Approved by both tiny humans and both parents. Good food. Safe food. A counter girl who thinks Mr. Pants is a sweetheart and chicken strips. The search is over.
When worlds collide
When your almost three year old sneaks into your closet, finds your pink purse adorned with felt boobs on fire and makes it the new home for his duck family.
I woke up this morning with that awesome feeling you get after having just hung out with your friend. That feeling of relief and readiness to tackle life because you spent some time getting filled up. Talking, laughing, sharing. It's a really excellent way to first wake up to the day. But then after a minute in my waking haze, it occured to be that my friend was gone. And that I only get to see him in my dreams now. That's the part that slaps you across the face a bit. Pulls the rug out from under you. Hurts your heart. And takes you back to that first moment that you knew he was gone. At least it does for me. I made my morning coffee with a lump in my throat and I needed to have a good cry. Because still, almost two years later, I miss my friend. And my tears flowed without any help from me. So happy that I got to see him and so sad that he is gone.
It didn't take very long for me to realize that today is April 14. And that this day is significant. It is two years ago on this week that I last saw the real Bo. We went to lunch with our work pals. But at that lunch I saw the beginnings of the end for him. I hadn't seen it before that day. For the last year and half he had been seeking alternate treatments for the cancer in his body because he had been told he had just a month, maybe two to live. I mean, what the heck right? You'll try anything.
There was an awkward moment at first between us when I first suggested that there was encouraging research about breastmilk and it's ability to kill cancer cells. I mean, that's bit unconventional. Bo was a father figure to me and here I was suggesting that I pump my milk for him. AWKWARD! But that subsided quickly. Because while we didn't actually talk much about it, he left a note on my desk at work a few weeks into it. All it said was, "I feel GOOD!". I closed my door to my office and had a good cry. Because even though I knew I couldn't cure him with breastmilk, maybe, for just a bit, it could help him feel better. And it did.
After that we had a little fun with "The Exchange". I would bring it to the shelter and stash it in the basement freezer, he'd arrive and we'd pretend not to see eachother as he jetted by with his cooler toward the basement to get the goods. There was a milk deal going down. Then after he stashed it in his truck, he come back in. And as if it were the first time he'd seen me that morning, he'd say, "Oh hey Colleen". He always greeted people like that, "Oh hey (your name here)".
Well he lived for another year and a half after that initial two months left prognosis. Nine months of which he took my milk with his morning oatmeal. Or a smoothie. And until that lunch date (three weeks before he passed), he was strong and very much himself. He died a few weeks later. I had seen him twice after April 14 but those two times, he wasn't able to speak. The lesions on his brain were growing too fast and rendering him unable to get words out. So it was April 14 that I got to last talk
to my friend. No wonder I dreamt about him last night.
So, the dream was simple. I knew Bo was coming over to visit. I go to the bedroom to get a freshly napped Ms. Plum when I hear the door open to the living room and I hear his voice. "Oh Hey, Mr. Pants.", Bo says to my boy. And then calls out to me, "Where's that sweet baby?". I head out with Plum and he reaches for her. The kicker is that she reaches for him too. And if you know Ms. Plum's current stage of development, then you know that she's not so keen on anybody but mama right now. Willingly and eagerly going to others isn't currently in her skill set. But in my dream she reached for him. He held her. And he talked to her, "Well aren't you so pretty?", "You're such a big healthy girl!", "Are you being good for your mama?" and "She's so perfect" are what he said. And they are only parts of the rest of the dream that I remember. Everything else is blurry.
I have written before
about my struggle with knowing what, if anything, in this life goes on after we die. And the practical part of me knows that I have had a few moments recently when I wished that Bo and Ms. Plum could have known each other. I found out she was on the way about two months after he died. And I'm sure the science of the brain intervened to help me bring these two together in my dream last night. But maybe, just maybe, a part of me hopes that he came to visit from somewhere in my heart instead. Or even better, from his.
I hope that he keeps coming back to watch my children grow and to have coffee and chat. Because I still miss my friend. And even though it makes me sad when I realize all over again when I wake, that he is gone. It's ok. I'll take it, if it means I get to hang out with him.
So today I will honor him. I'm going to put a little extra love into the world today. Maybe, you can to.
I am not very creative in the kitchen. I can make a few things that are pretty easy but beyond that, I'm lost when it comes to cooking. Praise the heavans I married a chef. Seriously, praise them. Because this guy has been feeding me for six years now and I am grateful for his talent. So so grateful. Because when he found me, I was eating bagels for dinner on the reg. But it's time to chuck my fear of making crappy food out the window. I mean, I'm never gonna get any good at it if I am too afraid to try. All because I am too afraid of the look on the faces of my loved ones when they are trying not barf through dinner. I think this fear grew unmanagable on my Dad's 60th birthday. I had invited the whole family to my house for a celebration and I was making a roast. I was so excited to play hostess and serve up a delicious down home meal. Long story short it was awful. Shoe leather and raw potatoes. We ordered pizza. Since that day my confidence in my cooking has never recovered. Until tonight.
I can't sit back like a whiny baby anymore and indulge my fear of cooking for people. Because now my lil lady has food allergies and I have to make her food because if I don't, that makes me a terrible mother. And I'm not one of those. I'm not! So here I go. I have no choice but to cook more. And I have to be creative. Because when one kid is the pickiest eater that was ever born and the other is food allergic, well, you have to get creative. And I can't fear the face anymore because it's gonna happen. I can recall a few meals when I was child that were downright awful (Mom! I love you! Don't hate me!) but that happens. I also remember that my mom made killer meatloaf.
So tonight I made a safe dinner for the whole family. I am not a foodie. I am no expert. But it was good. And I know this because Plum ate it hand over fist. I made this.
It's nothing fancy. It's corn pasta carbonara. It's gluten free, dairy free and egg free. And it has bacon. These are all good things. Because I don't want to live in a world without bacon and I don't want my baby girl breaking out in hives because of food ever again. So I'm going to keep looking for new and exciting things to cook for all of us that don't exclude her. I will embrace the fact that I'm gonna mess up. There will be nights when we have to pull out the "peanut butter" and jelly and cut up some fruit because Mama ruined the shiz out of dinner. But I'm not gonna let it stop me from trying. Because this lil chunker right here, gave me all the confidence I needed to keep on cooking.
Do you have dietary restrictions in your family? I'd love to know about them. And maybe, just maybe, you'd want to share it here? Cause one of these days my Friday idea is gonna stick.
Come this August, Mr. Pants is gonna take the school system by storm. Because today Mr. Pants was approved for an Individulaized Education Plan (IEP) through the school district. Which is such a blessing for us because we would struggle to get him the speech and occupational therapy he needs without one. As I sat down to to the table to discuss their findings today, I expected to hear about his need for speech and occupational therapies. They had gone to observe him in his early intervention classroom for several days and from what I understand, he loaded them up with tons of Pantsinese conversation and side eyed them frequently while sauntering by. I am very familiar with the saunter by side-eye. It's one of my absolute favorite things he does. I know from this description that he was observing them, not the other way around. He was taking note of their likability and trustworthiness before deciding to interact with them. That's my boy.
His scores came back exactly how I knew they would. Off the charts in gross motor development and low in speech, fine motor and adaptability. But there was a catagory that I didn't expect.
He scored extremely high in "atypicality". Bwahahaha! Well of coarse he did. He's not your typical kid. I could have told them that. I hadn't known they would be scoring him on his unique-ness from the other kids his age. But it cracked me up that they did. "What does that mean?", I asked between laughs (because I knew exactly what it meant). She chose her words carefully, "Well, just that....his behaviors...are.....different from other kids his age". She was afraid this would upset me. Of coarse it did not. I know full well that my kid is totally bizzaro. And that it might be something that school personel might feel the need to rein in. But that we love about him. And his future teacher sitting next to me, smiled. I think she will to. She was the only one at the table that had yet to meet Mr. Pants. But I'll be keeping a close eye on her. Because while I know that he needs to adapt in certain areas to be successful in school, this mama will not take kindly to anyone trying to take that part of him and change it. I cannot for the life of me think of why anyone would want to.
There are plenty of typical people in this world. I mean, seriously. Mr. Pants has more creativity in his pinky finger than I do in my whole body. And Daddy and I just love him that way. Cause he's a cool cat. And come this Fall, he's bringing a new brand of typical to pre-school. And I have a feeling that he's gonna kick ass and take names.
Typical is overrated
Someday he will stop drawing on his face. But until that day comes, I will appreciate the fact that he found the blue highlighter that I'd been looking for for three months. Thanks dude.
This is what it looks like when your child's mind is bloooooown. He didn't move from that spot for ten minutes. And if you have an almost three year old sensory seeker, then you know that is completely insane. Wild African Cats is now a permanent fixture in the "Mama's got to go potty/make dinner/needs a break" Netflix queue.
I swoon everytime I catch these three playing all together. Every. Time.
Immediate egg reaction. First few seconds.
I didn’t need an allergist to tell me that my girl is allergic to milk. She blew
up like a red balloon the day I let her have cow’s milk for the first time. It was her first birthday. And I felt like a giant butthole for having given it to her and then leaving to decorate her cake at her god mommies’ house. I got a call from a frantic Daddy, “How much Benadryl can I give her?” his voice shaking. “Half a teaspoon, WHY?” I shot back. “She’s covered. COVERED in hives”. I think I shot home faster than I have ever driven before. I probably would have led the Po Po on a chase had they decided to try and pull me over. I needed to get to her and see her. “Watch her breathing, if she starts having trouble, call 911!” I immediately called her pediatrician (who still didn’t think she needed allergy testing, I might add. Yeeeeah, she’s fired) to see if we needed to take her in to the ER. She hemmed and hawed and told me that as long as she was breathing ok, then to just watch her and give her the Benadryl. The Benadryl got her hives under control and I stayed up all night long watching her breathe. It sucked.
The next day, the hives were gone. And I knew I wouldn’t be giving her any dairy until we saw an allergist. But there had to be something else. Because even after I eliminated dairy for both her and myself, she was still having hive outbreaks and it never really coincided with what I could determine was a new food. And something truly sucky about eczema is that stress makes it worse. And having hive outbreaks and itching like a mo fo falls squarely into the stress column. So her eczema went berserk. Cracked and bleeding, she woke upwards of ten times a night. Crying. Itching. She broke my heart. Pediatrician be damned, we were going to an allergist. Can I get a what what?
Well after what felt like four years, our appointment day finally arrived to find out the score. It was egg. Egg was the evil little hider in her foods that was messing with her calm and sweet sensibilities. Eggs, the food that even though I put them in front of her probably about 5 different times, she never even touched. Actually she wouldn’t even look at them. I guess she knew all along.
So milk, eggs, peanuts and shrimp are no longer welcome in mine or Plum’s diet. And after just five days her eczema is back under control and she’s had no hives.
So here we are. New normal town again. The Pants Family knows a thing or two about adjusting to a new normal. It’s gonna
take some time to figure it out but I have no doubt we will. Plum needs us to figure out how to eat so that she can too. And you know what? I really needed to give up the chocolate anyway. Like for riz. Also I’m thankful that we figured this all out a few days shy of Easter. The day when you give your kids hard boiled eggs, deviled eggs, quiche and chocolate. I’m super thankful for that.
I’ve got some new rules and attitudes in place. It's just new. We will figure it out. And it's ok to be stoked about going to Trader Joe's again. Hey, you gotta find a silver lining somewhere. And driving forty minutes to grocery shop is like an adventure. I think we'll head there once a month to stock up on stuff.
Not a bad first haul
So this week I've learned more than I ever thought I could about one subject. The good news is that there are places to go
and get this information. Our biggest issue right now is in keeping Mr. Pants from giving Plum non safe foods. So the first order of business is to replace all snack foods with ones that are safe. At least for now. Until he gets out of the "Isn't it fun to throw food around the house" phase. I mean, that's a phase right? Someday he will stop crushing graham crackers into the floor, yes? Sigh. And any not safe foods are only during meal times at the table so that I can be there to monitor.
Second order of business? Become knowledgable about labels. Read everything. Reading labels is completely insane and takes forever. Did you know there are seven million different ways to say “milk”? Cause there are. And even if a food is free of milk, eggs and peanuts, they are often made on machines that have those things on them so cross contamination is possible. It sucks so hard to get excited that a food is safe and then go on to read that it was a neighbor to and may contain traces of the devil, er allergens.So I thought it was super nice of these folks to make this particular label a little quicker to read.
In related (completely unrelated?) news, I’m 36 years old and I am finally going to give tofu the old college try. I am super proud of myself for this because I have always considered tofu a non-food. But maybe, just maybe I'll like it? And just when I got super stoked about all of this, Plum reminded me that she is still in charge. Because no matter how excited you are to offer your food allergic baby her first safe “peanut butter” and jelly sandwich, she is still a baby and she will probably still chuck it to the floor. Silly girl.
And finally, these last few weeks I have been shown that I am surrounded by amazing people. We have the luxury of not doing this alone. Along the way I have made friends that have been through this. Most of these friends I know only through the magic of the internet and have never met face to face. And still more that I haven’t seen in years. All of these amazing people have messaged me recipes, support sites, information and practically came through my computer screen to hug us and tell me that it's going to be just fine. That we can handle this. These friends of mine are amazing. I am this confident, not because of my superior adjusting skills but because I know we are not doing this alone. Not anywhere near alone.
You know who you are. Thank you. From Ms. Plum and all of us, thank you. Thank you.
Does your child have food allergies? Do you have any words of wisdom to share? I'd love to hear it.