This, That and a Little Bit of Everything

Has life ever run away with you? Have you ever just wished that you could stop time and catch your breath? Well that is me this past month or so. Since last I posted so much has happened. So much that I should make it into three or four blog posts but life, time, kids have made that nearly impossible. (I know it has been way too long, I hope there are still people out there paying attention!) My plan is as follows: I am going to give you the bullet point version of events and you can comment on what you would like to hear more about! The topic(s) with the most interest I will “flesh” out and make into a longer blog post with more details. MMMM-kay here we go.

Disney vacation IMG_2331
1. This is the year of the Disney World birthday celebrations. So Far this year everyone in our party of five has celebrated his or her birthday at Disney World Orlando. It’s definitely a perk to live only an hour’s drive away. Our trip in May was to celebrate our daughter, Aubrey, turning one. We threw in a dinner with my niece and her family too! This visit was my 6th with small children in tow….. I know, I know I am crazy!!! Here are a couple of my lessons learned:
*Don’t do Disney with a broken toe! It is way less fun.
*Perfectionists (myself included) need to get over themselves and just let their 3 yr old stand in the middle of the walk way and let the Alladin ride camel spit on him- it doesn’t matter that you are going to miss your fast pass! Cancel it! It is not about you!
*The baby care centers are not just for babies!! It is a great place to take little ones who need a break from the heat and noise. The best one is at Animal Kingdom but they’re all great for a family break.

Mystery Fever 2017
2. Aubrey came home from Disney feeling puny and so began our 3 week self inflicted quarantine. (Three kids stuck at home not able to go outside due to extreme heat and lots and lots of rain…. yeah it was as bad as you think it was!) Here are a couple mommy tips I’ve picked up in my almost 6 yrs of parenting. (NOTE: I am not a Doctor! I just take their advice!)
*According to my pediatrician: The number on the thermometer doesn’t matter until around 104 degrees in children over age 2. It starts to matter for infants to 2 year olds around 101 degrees. So Mom and Dad need to calm down and evaluate their kid before freaking out and running to the ER. (ER’s are gross and filled with germs! Also no-one wants to be in the ER with a little one at 2 am – NO ONE!! Trust me!)
*Sometimes calling the on-call doctor line for your pediatrician’s office can save you a few hundred dollars in ER costs!
*Things to look for if your child is sick with a fever: Are they acting normal? (running, playing, talking, etc.), Are they drinking and eating? (Drinking is more important that eating though.) Are they peeing and pooping? Are there any other symptoms accompanying the fever? (runny nose, cough, trouble breathing, hives or other skin discoloration/rashes) acting as if in pain or discomfort, extremely tired and hard to rouse?
*You know your kid – you are their parent- If you think something is really wrong never hesitate to seek medical attention! I have learned that “mommy intuition” is very real and should absolutely be trusted! (Goes for Dads too!)

First Birthday Parties
3. This is our 3rd first birthday party. I look at it as a celebration for both the parents and the child. I mean come on…..you’ve just successfully kept a tiny, uncommunicative, helpless human being alive for a full year! It is totally worth celebrating!! This is why I keep it small and simple: Family only, a birthday deco kit from Party City, a set of balloons, and a homemade cake. This way I am less stressed and I get to enjoy the party too! I go all out for the rest of the birthdays though! Some of you may remember that we have children with food allergies, because of this I have learned to make a fantastic egg free cake and I’ve learned some things about cake decorating too! Let me know if you want the recipe and a blog post “how to”.C5155DB0-C965-426B-BB82-1B460AEBF83E

Honey-do lists
4. I am a list maker! Much to my husband’s dismay. I make lists and I enjoy checking things off. So when my hubby was able to get a few days off around the 4th of July I had a full page list of things I wanted to accomplish!!! What I love about my husband is that once I get him going he gets on board and goes above and beyond!! It was so awesome to knock out some projects we had been putting off. Here are couple of tips for your honey-do list:
*Be specific and prioritize! Don’t say clean the whole house. A- it sounds daunting, B-it will take forever to be able to check off your list; which is discouraging, and C-Men need a specific task i.e. “pull out old dead bushes in the front yard” not “yard update” that leaves too much to be interpreted! LOL
*Be an active participant – My hubby and I sat down and we discussed which projects would be best completed by him, by me, and by us as a team. We even considered which projects we might need child care to be able to complete and which ones we could include the kids in.
*It is OK not to finish everything and it is important to take time to enjoy what you have accomplished. DO NOT become slave to the to-do list!
Potty training
5. We have a 5 year old, a 3 and 1/2 year old and a 14 month old… I’ve researched just about every possible method to help potty train our kids. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to potty training! They say boys are harder to potty train; I’ve heard that so many times but I have to say I’ve found it to be true. With my oldest, it took longer due to a fear of the big toilet, and with my 3 year old this is our 4th attempt at potty training….
*Boys are busy and hate to stop to go potty.
*Kids can be terrified to poop in the toilet – google it – it is an actual thing and it happens a lot to kids.
*Kids need to be physically ready to go potty – when they are – potty training can be very easy!!
*You can not force a kid who isn’t ready to go potty – the result will be a ton of laundry, frustration for all involved, and possibly urinary tract infections or bowel blockage for your child. Read this article by a pediatric urologist. https://www.babble.com/toddler/dangers-potty-training-early/
*Your kid will not go to Kindergarten in diapers – so breathe and relax! It will happen for them eventually. I have adopted the try for 2-3 days – if unsuccessful stop and wait a month or 2 and try again. This time when we tried with Hudson; he was ready and it happened pretty much within a day!
*Praise goes a long way!

 

Eye Exam Chaos
6. My husband is a genius, he has a high IQ score, he’s read all of Tolstoy’s books (understood and enjoyed them), and he is really annoying to watch jeopardy with because he knows all of the answers. Fun fact: he can remember the lyrics to almost every song! I love him and he is wonderful! (No he did not pay me to say that!!) So my highly intelligent, wonderfully helpful, husband decided that he, myself and our five year old all needed eye exams. He called and scheduled them, he made a plan for how we would swap the little kids, and then came the day for the appointments…….
*Eye exam appointments take longer than 30 mins??!!! Uh oh!
*3 yr old, cape wearing, newly potty trained children do not do so well in an eye clinic setting.IMG_3159                                                                                          *1 yr olds always pick the worst times to poo their diapers.
*Leaving the diaper bag in the car because “this is just going to be a quick hand off of children”….was not my best decision!
*Changing a poopy diaper in the front seat of a mini van in 300 degree heat when you hear “I have to go potty!!” at a volume that would wake the dead – can cause a panic attack.
*Why for the love of GOD are there so many buttons, cords and hidey-holes in an eye exam room????
*Yes I can totally hold a squirmy 1 year old in my lap and read a chart with letters the size of ants from across the room….. said no mom EVER!
*Eye dilation + Florida sun + driving = a headache
*Genius or not – Hubby will not be making any more appointments for the family medical needs! LOL

So there you go! The shortened, mildly comedic version of our last month. Please comment with which topic(s) you’d be interested in reading a full blog post about!

Struggling to find “Normal”

Do you remember your childhood? What are some things that you loved as a kid? Myself, I loved being outside all day, having sleep overs, and playing little league sports. I’m sure some of you would agree that those things were some of your favorites too. You might even say those things are “normal” childhood experiences.

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Myself playing little league softball. Age 8

Here is where my struggle begins. You see I want my children to have “normal” childhood experiences but my kids aren’t “normal”. My oldest son is 5. He is funny, sweet, and has an incredible vocabulary. He’s amazing if I do say so myself! But…. He has food allergies, Asthma, and is allergic to bug bites. So in my need to protect him and keep him healthy he often loses out on “normal” childhood experiences.

I was asked recently if I had signed him up for summer t-ball. Of course I didn’t sign him up for summer baseball! They play baseball out side in the evenings in Florida and the mosquitoes swarm in the evenings. When my son gets a bug bite his body reacts in a way that is painful for him. The bite will swell, itch and get hot. The swelling will not stop until the bite bursts and oozes. The swelling can last for days and the itching and tenderness can last for weeks. So, of course, I want to try and protect him from this. I could cover him in a DEET bug repellent but did you know that DEET has been linked to 3 deaths? Google it! So in other words, I could cover my first born in a chemical spray so that he can play ball outside…. UMMM, how about NO!! We have tried the organic bug sprays, the bracelets (one on each arm and each leg), and a few others but Florida mosquitoes are aggressive. I let the boys have lunch out side last week around noon; I put the mosquito bracelets on them just in case.

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Sawyer’s first mosquito bite. 

I was thinking that there should not be any mosquitoes out because its the middle the day. About a half hour later my middle child had 8 mosquito bites and by the next morning his eye was almost swollen shut! So no I did not sign my son up for a summer sport. I am a horrible mother! At least that is how I feel. I want him to have the experience of playing a team sport, of winning a big game, of having buddies that become life long friends. I want all of that for my kids but the short term pain they would suffer isn’t worth it… is it? How do I knowingly put them into a situation that will yield pain? Or on the other hand, will they remember the experience of playing ball, making friends, and having fun more than the constant pain and irritation of the bug bites?
This is my struggle!

Well, how about a sleep over? Why can’t my child do sleep overs? I mean those are inside so there won’t be any bugs. Sleep overs were the best when I was a kid: staying up late, eating junk food, watching movies, telling ghost stories, etc. Who doesn’t want their kid to experience that? Well, that is all fine until you get to the food part, or the going to bed part…. My oldest has to have several medications at night to keep his asthma under control and of course there are his food allergies to consider.

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Just some of Sawyer’s nightly medicines. 

It is a lot to put on a friend to make sure that they don’t accidentally kill my son by forgetting to read a label or assuming that just because the food doesn’t contain the allergen that it is safe. Cross contamination is one of my constant worries. I understand that most moms don’t have this worry. So here is how I see my sons first sleep over going awry: the Mom makes s’mores she uses chocolate bars that do not contain peanuts but are made on equipment that processes peanuts. My son has a reaction and his EPI PEN is not used quickly enough, 911 is not called, and my son dies! Okay, Okay, I know this is a long shot and I’m sure that I would give the mom plenty of training and information about my son’s allergies….BUT COME ON!! It is a lot to put on another person to say “Hey it’d be great if you could not kill my kid in the next 12 hours!” Again, this is my struggle: to give my kids the normality I know they deserve. I know my fear is keeping them from these experiences but my fear is justified, my fear is real and it is powerful. How do I overcome my fear and place my precious child in the care of some one who might not take his allergies seriously? If I had a dollar for each time a trusted family member has not been cautious enough or not taken this seriously, I’d be a very rich woman. So if his own family isn’t careful, how can I trust someone I barely know?

There are so many things that are more difficult because of my son’s allergies: going to the movies, flying on an airplane (I physically threw a bag of peanuts back at the flight attendant once! I didn’t hurt them, it was just an automatic response. It surprised both of us.), school, and well just going out anywhere really. Peanut protein can survive on a surface until it is wiped off with disinfectant or a really strong soap. So going to the park is really hard because I can’t wipe down the equipment like I can the seats at the movies or on an airplane. So when I see a kid running around eating his PB&J sandwich on the jungle gym.. don’t be surprised if I remind my son to not lick his hands, rub his eyes or his nose! IMG_2146Birthday parties are difficult as well because I always bring food for my kids. Other moms and especially the hostess can be offended. I guess I could call and have her go through each food she is going to serve and have her send me pictures of all the labels… but I know that she has a lot to do in planning a party for her child and guests. So I just bring safe foods with me. I’m not trying to be rude but I have to keep my son safe.

I wonder how it is going to be for my kid as he gets older? How am I going to deal with the new challenges, like say, a girlfriend? Did you know that my son is going to have to ask “What did you have to eat today?” before he kisses his love interest? Like your first kiss isn’t awkward and nerve wracking in itself! Kids are mean. I know because I am a former school teacher. Is my kid going to feel left out sitting at the peanut-free table? By the way, as a teacher, I know that this table is not always peanut-free… well at least it hasn’t been at the schools in which I’ve taught. The peanut-free table, the EPI PEN kept in the office and not with my child, and the food in the classroom were some of the factors that went into our decision to homeschool our son. It wasn’t the only reason but it definitely played a part. (I’ll explain more about our decision to homeschool in another post.) So now I struggle with that decision because he isn’t having the “normal” school experience his friends are. I am a worry wort, I know this and I own it but when it is your child’s life on the line the worry can be all consuming. So how do I give my kid a “normal” childhood without going insane with worry?

I pray. I think through all of the awful scenarios and then breathe. I come up with a plan and I educate others. There is going to come a day when my little boy is a man and I want him to look back on his childhood with fond memories of me cheering him on at a swim meet (Those are inside! Ha! See what I did there!!), having all of his friends come by for sleep overs, and taking him to fun parks. I don’t want him to remember my worry, my fear, or a constant NO. I have to teach him to be his own advocate, how to handle his own allergies, and how to be responsible for his own safety. So at five years old my son can tell you what his allergies are. If you offer him food he will ask you if it contains any of his allergens. He is able to administer his own daily medications, and he knows to tell someone if he doesn’t feel ok. What a champ, right?! Me? I am going to trust that it is okay to create our own “normal” and I am going to pray for a cure.

*******1 in 13 children suffer from food allergies and 1 in 12 suffer from asthma; so chances are you know a child / family that deals with creating their own “normal”. You could make a difference in their lives by educating yourself about these issues. Below are links to follow for more information.

https://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma