Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 recap


Oh 2012, you've been good to me.

* This year I watched my boy grow from a baby to a toddler.



 



* I published my first book! It's a self-published ebook, but I'm still claiming it.
* J and I grew our first vegetable garden.


* J built a few things.




* I whipped myself into the best shape of my life with long walks, a healthy diet and lots of breast feeding. I've lost 50 pounds since Bennett was born. Let's be honest, 15 of that was probably lost when my two bags of water broke during labor, but still, 50 lbs!!

* I did more public speaking than I ever thought I would.

* And I watched this little blog continue to grow. Parenting is a whole lot of fun, but it can be a lonely, isolating job. Thank you for coming alongside me as I navigate the joys and frustrations of raising my Bennett while missing my Charlotte.

On to 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

it's not ideal, but it's okay


I hauled B in to the doctor late yesterday afternoon for a rash look over. I thought it was fifths disease with a little eczema thrown in. Turns out it's just a really bad case of eczema, which means it's time to pare B's diet way down. I think he had too much sugar over the holiday, and, of course, his sensitive system can't process sugar.



They pop B on the scale every time we're at the doctor because he's small and we need to be aware of his growth. When the doctor came in we talked about his rash - Oh hey, just eczema, again, we know what to do for that. No steroid cream, thanks. - then I asked about his weight.

"Oh, let me check," the doctor said as she turned to the computer. "I noticed how skinny he is around the ribs."

She clicked on his weight chart and winced. "Just over 17 lbs. He was in the 1st percentile at your last visit, now he's below, down in the negatives. How is he feeling?"

"He's fine. He's busy and active. His development seems on track."

"Let's check his height."

She measured him, then consulted his height chart.

"Well, his height is increasing, that's good. I worry if the height isn't increasing."

I lifted B to my hip. "Do we need to do anything? Are we to that point?"

"I don't think so. His weight is low. It's not ideal, but it's okay. Keep feeding him, let him tell you when he wants to eat, have him eat a variety of foods. I know it's hard with his numerous allergies. If you notice any lethargy at all, bring him in right away. I think this is going to be a rocky time, with some weight issues, because you are weaning and struggling to find a good milk replacement. But he is doing fine. We can continue as we are for now."

I thanked her and we left.

When I came home I checked in on a facebook group I participate in. It's a group of natural minded mamas who use the same midwives I do. There was a discussion going about baby weight at birth and I wanted to see what others had posted. Everyone's babies were 7 lbs, or higher. I was the only one with a 5 and 6 lb baby.

I'm inclined to believe B's size is mostly due to genetics. We are not big people. Many of our relatives are not big people. But when I see how small my babies are in comparison to others I wonder if something goes wrong during gestation, which puts them at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives. Or, in Charlotte's case, causes death. I know, I know. Irrational loss mom thoughts here, but that's where my brain goes.

I worry about B's future. There are days when I want to punch the next person who says, "Hey, your 9 month old can really run! That's crazy!!" I wonder if he will always be small, and how that will affect his life. I worry about him being the smallest boy in his class. No mama wants their little to get beat up. J and I joke about teaching him to run really fast, but there may be real necessity behind the joking.

I have to remind myself: He's alive. He's breathing. He can walk, run and climb. His development is right on track. He may look 9 months old, but he's doing just fine.

Friday, December 28, 2012

when your little has food allergies


On the advice of a family member I finally wrote out a card listing B's allergies, date of birth, doctor information, location of the epi pen and put it in the diaper bag. Um, why didn't I think of that months ago??


I worry constantly about what goes in B's mouth. Whenever we leave our home environment, he breaks out. His skin is very sensitive so everything from soap to carpets to food bothers him.

Most of his allergies aren't very severe. If he gets his hands on wheat or dairy, it's okay. He will rash up, but it's not life threatening. The only allergy we really worry about is peanuts since we ended up in the ER when he was nine months old for that one.

His pediatrician isn't quite sold on the idea that what he eats causes his eczema, but we are. We've seen a direct correlation between food and rashes. And we decided we didn't want to live that way. Your baby doesn't have to live with painful, itchy eczema and an upset tummy either. It's hard to change the way you eat and cook, but it is doable.

I miss peanut butter SO much. When B weans I am checking myself into a hotel and ordering peanut butter toast. People often shake their heads when I list his allergies and say, "I don't know how you do it." I have to refrain from replying, "Hey, I've had a baby die. This is much easier."

Back in the rashy days




I felt really lost when I first realized just how many allergies B has (nuts, eggs, wheat, dairy, most seeds, fennel). I've managed to figure out how to work with his specific needs, but there has been some trial and error. If you are facing something similar here are some guidelines:

- Check every. single. label.

- Cook from scratch as often as possible.

- Don't let anyone give your child food.

- Always have something your child can eat in the diaper bag, just in case a situation arises and you can't access appropriate food. (This is one of my recurring nightmares. Yay breastfeeding for helping me avoid it so far).

- If your child breaks out revert to the basics: fruit, vegetables, rice, plain chicken, anything you know doesn't irritate or cause a flare up. I usually have two-three iffy items going at once. If he breaks out I immediately drop all iffy items for a couple weeks.

- Be creative with food. B's diet is so limited I try to make what he can eat exciting.

- Find a cream that works. We use an herbal salve we found on Etsy and Curel Itch Defense lotion. When things are really bad I have used steroid cream, but that is a rare occasion. Most medical doctors will go straight to steroid cream as a solution. I think it's better to try diet changes first, but if your little one is miserable alleviate the symptoms as quickly as you can.

- Try homeopathics. I buy urtica urens from our local health food store. It is meant specifically for a rash due to food allergies. It really cuts down on B's itching. It comes in a blue tube, Boiron is the manufacturer.

- Use gentle soap, and not too much of it. We use Earth Mama Angel Baby in the bath and Allens Naturally laundry soap.

- Give your child fish oil.

- And probiotics.

- Use coconut oil for everything, including the skin.

It's hard, but you will adapt. And when your little one is happy, you will be motivated to keep going. To cook gluten free, to find egg substitutes, to try new dishes, to rely heavily on fruits and vegetables. There are days when I wish I could just feed him without worrying, but most of the time I no longer notice how restricting his diet is.

If you have any questions, ask, and I'll do my best to answer.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

his/hers


Our little cottage requires a fair amount of shifting. Or maybe I just like moving rooms around. Either way the guest/family room is finally done, and J and I both have desk areas (area may be a generous term in J's case).

The shorter couch, on the left, folds out to a full bed.



J built the shelves, designed and built the cord hiders, and built the coffee table. J often says he isn't very good at building things, but now that we have something he has built in every room of the house I've told him he must shut up and accept how talented he is.

And now for our work stations! J is in the closet in the family room. There is a teeny tiny designed in 1939 closet in that room and we've manged to put some shelving and an Ikea desk in there. If J wants to use his desk (play computer games) he opens the door, pulls out his chair, and sits half in half out of the closet.


I have a little spot in our room. I need to frame and hang the scripture print behind Charlotte's picture, and as I find more things I will frame and hang them on the white, white walls, but this is my spot.


We've had to be creative with our space, but as the house transforms and becomes a home I find myself falling more and more in love with it. I'll probably declare it perfect the day we decide to move.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

resolution


I have resolutions this year! I never make New Year's resolutions, but last year I tossed one out, and was able to keep it, so I thought hey, why not make FOUR this year?

1. Stick to our budget!! No more tossing the budget out for a month (hey there December) because we didn't factor in Christmas presents. And no more laziness when it comes to recording receipts. 

2. Set aside time every day to read the Bible.

3. Set aside time every day to write. I already do this, but less blogging, more focused writing. I need to fix up my office area upstairs and do the work of putting together the book I was writing before Unexpected Goodbye came along and asked to be written. Writing a paragraph on a napkin when it comes to me as B is eating breakfast isn't working very well.

4. Baby! My 2012 resolution was to avoid a third pregnancy, but in 2013 I would like to have another baby, or at least begin the journey of having my last baby. I'm a little nervous about this because I'm ready, but I don't know when the next baby will come. Or if the next baby will come.

I'm just ready for more of this. My heart says it's time.


What are your resolutions for the new year?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

this christmas




I got everything I wanted



and then some


I didn't need a new phone, but J knew I wanted one with better picture taking capabilities since I'm ever so slightly enamored with social media and blogging. He is so good to me. I would feel a little less guilty about it if I had a blog that made a bit of money, but I'm not really interested in doing the advertising thing so .... And J still blesses me with a new phone just because he loves me. I'm a lucky girl.

We are on the mend here. Wait, no we're not.

J is still super sick.


He spent his entire week off sick and he has to go back to work tomorrow feeling less than human. And B has fifths disease, also known as slapped cheek syndrome, which is why he looks a bit rough in the pictures above.

Last night J slept sitting up on the couch, while B and I snuggled in the big bed. It's so comforting to have a little one who likes to sleep with his face pressed against mine. That's reason number 426 why I haven't forced B into his crib. He comes and goes as he needs, and most of the time his need for a little extra parent time coincides with my need for a little extra baby love.

I didn't cry this Christmas, which is a first for me since Charlotte died. She was remembered, which helps and hurts all at the same time.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

And I hope it ended like this:


Oh, and, my apologies for making you think the lamb cake was an actual cake made of lamb. It was a cake made to look like a lamb. Sheesh, my communication skills need work.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

merry christmas!! (and one last tradition)



Are you ready? Have you wrapped presents, baked cookies, enjoyed a nice fire? My presents are wrapped, we had a roaring fire yesterday and I've baked lots of high fat foods. I have also  managed to consume more than my share of Christmas calories. And it's not even Christmas yet! I ate SIX cinnamon rolls yesterday (and plan to eat at least two more today).

Last night I invited my parents over at the last minute so they could spend time with my in-laws. How unusual is it that my parents and in-laws like each other? I think they would be perfectly happy spending a day together without J and I around, though they like us a whole lot too. Anyway, I asked my parents over and I asked my mama to bring a picture of the lamb cake so I could share it with you.

She made me promise to share the significance behind the lamb cake as well. My parents wanted us to know the Christmas story was about more than a baby. That it was about our Lord and Savior who died on the cross for our sins so we could be saved and have eternal life. I appreciate the thought my parents put into Christmas and our traditions. And I know the lamb cake was a very special, significant part of our celebrations. When I think about it I can taste the yellow cake and thick white frosting, and remember how excited we were to eat it every year.

BUT

I still find it a little creepy.


I need to ask my mama where she found that cake mold.

Merry Christmas to you and yours from Bennett the snowman, J and me! I hope you have a blessed Christmas, and get everything on your list. And for those missing babies this Christmas, I know that bittersweet ache all too well. Remembering with you.

Angela

Saturday, December 22, 2012

third christmas


I'm in a cinnamon roll coma. It's been a few hours since I had one, I think I need to have another. Keep the sugar high rolling along. Brunch went off without a hitch this morning. I'm getting pretty good at this cooking/hosting thing. I feel so adult, having Christmas for J's side of the family at our house.

I can't believe this is our third Christmas without Charlotte. When I write out the gift tags, I wish her name needed to be penned. When I stack the presents by the tree, I see the empty spaces. When I think about what a two and a half year old girl may like, I wonder what my two and a half year old would want. Life without her is constant wanting and wishing. I cried in the kitchen yesterday when that feeling of someone important missing suddenly and unexpectedly washed over my soul.


Darling, darling Charlotte girl,

You are loved. You are missed. You are remembered. Merry Christmas, baby girl.

Love you to the moon and back.

Mama

Friday, December 21, 2012

christmas traditions: box of letters


Oh my word, I am knee deep in the kitchen today. This is my year for big holiday meals: Thanksgiving dinner for my family, Christmas brunch for J's family. I can't believe we're celebrating one family Christmas tomorrow! It doesn't feel like we're a few days out from Christmas actual.

Growing up, Christmas was a big deal. On Christmas Eve my parents let us open one present - always a family game - we would read the story of Christmas from the Bible and exchange letters. I'm sure we went to church as well, but I honestly can't remember, and then there was the lamb cake.

The letters were for our siblings, parents and Jesus. I think. Goodness, it's been so long I can hardly remember. Perhaps we would only pick one sibling to write a letter to? Anyhow, we would write something nice and then offer to do a kind thing - make the bed, take over a Saturday chore, etc.

We would work on our letters for a couple weeks before Christmas, place them gently in the box and wait. In the box there are letters in my mom's handwriting that we dictated when we were very young stacked below letters with handwriting that improved over time.

When my parents moved from the house we grew up in my dad hauled the beat up, falling apart letter box out and read the letters out loud. We laughed so hard as he read each one out. It wasn't just funny though, it was sweet too. Letters full of sibling love, crayon drawings and, "Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross."

I have no idea why my parents started this tradition. I should ask, I suppose. I should also ask why we had so many traditions. I appreciate the traditions, but I don't know where they stem from. I have so many wonderful memories from Christmases past.

As we create, and carry on, traditions for our little family I find myself wondering what others do. So tell me, what are your holiday traditions? Have you carried on traditions you grew up with? Started your own?

And there goes my oven timer. I better get back to the kitchen. Apparently massive amounts of cooking and baking need to be added to my list of traditions!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

christmas traditions: sugar cookies {egg, dairy, gluten free!}



I grew up with a slew of Christmas traditions. Every time I talk with others about their family traditions they mention two or three while I go on and on and on. Making sugar cookies is at the very top of my list. It's a tradition I knew I would carry with me when I started my own family. On the other hand, the lamb cake my mama made every Christmas Eve can stay with my family of origin. I understand why we ate a lamb cake every Christmas Eve, but it was still a tad creepy odd.

I was a bit worried about making sugar cookies with Bennett. I haven't had a successful gluten free baking experience. My dough is always weird, and it usually doesn't taste very good. Add in the dairy and egg free component and I was sure this would be a fail.



But it wasn't! I adapted a gluten free recipe I found online, and it worked really, really well. It tasted pretty darn good considering its lack of the good stuff (butter).







May I please have more dough?



SUGAR COOKIES (adapted from Delicious Gluten Free Baking)

Ingredients:

2.5 cups gluten free flour (I used King Arthur. Check the ingredients for xanthan gum. Don't add more if the flour blend already has it)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 t xanthan gum

3/4 cup Soy Free Earth Balance (or other butter substitute)
3/4 cup sugar
2 T ground flax seed 
3 T warm water
2 t vanilla

Process:

Combine warm water and flax seed. Set aside.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. Set aside.

Cream Earth Balance, sugar, vanilla.

Add flax seed mix (this is your egg substitute. It will make your cookies spotted!)

Add dry ingredients to butter mixture.

Mix well.

Chill for at least 30 minutes. 1-2 hours is better.

Roll out on floured surface and began cutting!

Bake at 375° for 8-12 minutes (until cookies just start to brown)

For the frosting I used the coconut oil recipe we found for Bennett's first birthday. It was meh - possibly because I don't like coconut! And possibly because I messed up and J had to rescue the operation. I made the frosting because I wanted the whole experience for Bennett - from mixing the dough to cutting shapes to slapping frosting on to throwing sprinkles everywhere but on the cookie - but next year I may skip it and just do the cookies.

FROSTING (from this site)

















I found coconut frosting in my hair while writing this post. I love my life. I apologize for the insane amount of pictures, and the fact that we look rather rough due to days of illness. Baking in your pajamas, life doesn't get much better than that!

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