Recently, we have been witnessing first-hand how BAD Kya's allergies really are! We discovered that she can break out in hives after sitting in the same place where someone ate tree nuts, in this case, cashews. One night, I ate a couple handfuls of cashews while sitting in my bed. The next morning, Kya sat on my side to watch a cartoon on my TV and she broke out in hives. And it's not like when I eat cashews, I get them all over. But there must have been enough of the oils that got on the blankets that it affected her.
We also learned that we cannot have tree nuts in our house at all! Only a few weeks ago, while we were at the store, we passed the nuts, and the cashews just looked SO good! I suggested to Russ that maybe we could buy some, since Kya is older and knows she cannot have them. He was wary, but I insisted, so we bought a can. We made sure to keep the can up high, and we only ate them after the kids were in bed.
One day, Russ took a handful, put the can back on a shelf in our room below the TV, and one tiny piece fell onto my desk below. Just one. It wasn't even a whole cashew! And guess who found it? Kya. And she ate it, ironically, as I was standing right next to her and talking to her about her tree nut allergy.
The second she put it in her mouth, she started reacting. She then took it out, handed it to me, and asked "Mommy, is this a tree nut?" You can imagine how I reacted! Actually, I think I was pretty calm. The inside of her mouth started swelling, then the coughing started, the gagging, then the throwing up, and there were hives around the one corner of her mouth and down that side of her neck, and all over her tummy and back! During all of that, we administered Benadryl and got to use the epi-pen for the first time!
She was really brave, cried a lot, but handled it very well. Luckily, the epi-pen did its job, and she didn't have to take a trip to the ER!
We learned our lesson. We will not be buying any tree nuts again! Because this is Kya here....she will find them!
The next week, she had another allergic reaction. (this one is of the pictures posted) We are not sure what exactly she reacted to. The only logical thing I can think of is we had fresh lemons that night with salmon that I baked for dinner. Right before dinner, Kya took a bite of lemon, then complained a minute later that her mouth felt funny. At dinnertime, she wouldn't eat, and kept saying her tummy felt funny. So I put her in the bath instead. As I rinsed her head with water, she rubbed her eyes, and that's when she started reacting to the unknown allergen.
Minutes after she rubbed her eye, I noticed two little hives under her right eye. So I got her out of the bath immediately, and then she started coughing non-stop, and started gagging and telling me she was going to throw-up. Her eye just kept swelling bigger and bigger. We gave her Benadryl, which seemed to help the coughing a bit, but her poor eye just got worse!
Her eye stayed swollen all night long, and when she got up the next morning, both eyes were swollen. I took her to the Children's Clinic, and we got an oral steroid prescribed to help the swelling, though it took 48hrs before she was looking like herself again, and only had a "black eye" remaining.
I love this last picture! Even though she had been through a lot, she was still very happy and didn't act too bothered by it all. We realized we need to educate her more about her food allergies, as well as the rest of the kids, because a little tree nut to her is life-threatening.
She gets to visit our local immunologist in a few weeks and get tested for further food allergies, so I am anxious to find out the results. It could be lemons, or maybe it was something the lemons came in contact with, or maybe it was the fish, or something totally unrelated! Either way, we are learning quite a bit, and hoping we don't have to use another epi-pen for a long while!
* Russ has been encouraging me to blog more like I used to. It's a lot harder these days. Our days are full of everything they should be, from the mundane chores to the crazy hyper kids bouncing their faces off the furniture! So, it is easy to see how writing got lost down in the cushions. But in my earnest effort to bring it back, here is a post:
So...I am attempting to write something that has kinda remained a bit jumbled in my head. It is more than likely it will come out just as jumbled. But for posterity's sake, it's gonna be written none the less!
Okay, so, first off I think of myself as a pretty average, normal person. I am happy most days. I work hard for what I have and what I want and need. I know I have some weird quirks and I for sure make mistakes. Sorry guys. Yeah, raising my hand to the "Who is not perfect?" question. Clutter still drives me crazy. Also, crumbs on the kitchen floor. And I get so annoyed when I step on a wet spot with socks on! Nothing is ever as clean as I want it to be, and I always think I need to be doing so much more.
But there is this little shadowy thought that tries to work its way into my average, normal, mostly happy and imperfect life, and it sounds a lot like this:
"You are invisible."
Ok. So bear with me here. I am going to be a bit vulnerable and honest for a minute. I know, you are probably like, "What? You are SO not invisible!" I know! I really do. But that doesn't stop thoughts from trying to tell us so. Let me ramble: so, as a mom, I do a lot of things each day. I wake school-aged kids up, usually later than I should, for school, make sure they are fed, clothed, and off to school on-time....sometimes tardy....but mostly on-time except that one time I was really sick and I slept right through my alarm and they were an hour late! oops! Then I feed the two littles at home, clothe them, and monitor screen time while trying to endorse other healthy and creative activities. Sounds easy, right? Wrong! But I do it anyways, because I have always liked a good challenge. I think I clean a LOT. Pretty much I end up cleaning something, or cleaning UP something just about every hour of the day. But hey, I am a mom, it is just part of the deal. I am actually getting really good at cleaning, and fast too. Thank you offspring. I try to feed my kids healthier snacks and stay away from foods packed with preservatives, but don't judge me when you run into my cart at Wal-Mart and I have a package of Oreos or a box of Captain Crunch in it. Honestly, the Captain Crunch is more for Russ anyways. And we all know Oreos are one of my weaknesses. I have to pack into one afternoon with four kids lunch, naps, one on one time, snack time, reading time, chore charts, outside play, homework, and dinner prep. We also encounter the usual play dates with friends, babysitting, responsibilities with the PTO and church callings, as well as the unexpected that knocks at the door here and there too. And then there's laundry. It deserves its own sentence. Can't forget FHE. Visiting Teaching...that gets missed more than it gets done. Also, those random acts of service. And evenings packed with urging kids to eat "five more bites", surviving the bewitching hour that turns kids into little monsters, trying to remind monsters to brush teeth and get on pajamas and to stop playing around, and for crying out loud, stop putting the Hungry Hippo balls in the heater! Then we have drinks for dry little throats, and breathing treatments upside-down on the couch, that trip to the bathroom that was supposed to be done and finished a looooong time ago, scripture reading with most likely crying in the background, prayers that usually have an accompaniment of crying as well because it is too hard to take turns, then hugs, kisses, bonks, lights out and the final "Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" finale.
I promise I am NOT complaining. I actually get a weird amount of satisfaction from somewhat accomplishing a percentage of that ramble. I CHOSE this life. It is nothing and yet everything I expected it to be. Each day I have to choose what kind of mom I want to be. I can be distracted by Facebook and Pinterest or I can be distracted by my kids. I can be patient or impatient. I can make everything a battle or only the important things a battle. But at the end of the day, I made choices. And each choice does have an effect on the lives of my little ones.
But as a mom, sometimes I get lost in the ramble.
And that is where that sneaky little voice tries to creep in and say things like "You aren't important", "No one cares about you", "You are not good enough", "You need to do more", "No one appreciates or notices what you do" and that little bugger of a one that says "You are invisible."
The thing is, none of that is true. But there are times I feel pretty inclined to believe it all. Why? I don't know! But I have a feeling I am not the only woman who feels this way. And all of us need to STOP feeling invisible! Except for ghosts. You are. My apologies.
Anyways. One particular day, after weeks and weeks of me feeling like I was just giving, and giving, and working hard to be helpful and kind, patient, non-judgmental (working on that one still), optimistic and thankful, just giving and giving and giving....well, that shadow was making me believe that none of the favors were being returned. I am not nice because I want others to be nice back. I am nice, or at least give it a good try to be mostly nice, because I know it is the right thing to do. And one of the blessings is that usually good things come back to you. And good things have ALWAYS come back to me, tenfold! But this day I couldn't see it or feel it. I felt crummy and defeated. And as I went about my day CHOOSING to feel that way, I sent a little thought Heavenward that sounded a little like this: "Heavenly Father? Are you really there today? Can you really hear my prayer? Do I really matter?" And, me, knowing of course HE was hearing me, then put it out there, "Please, if you are aware of me, please just let me know today. I need to know."
And my day continued, full of the ramble.
This is where the "tender mercies" part comes in. For those of you who made it this far, congratulations. You are one of a kind! Anyway, that day a pretty special friend of mine, a friend who has lived far enough away that we have not even been able to see each other for years and years, but this friend, yeah...you know who you are, the one who I just want to put in my pocket and carry around forever because of sheer awesomeness....well, she sent me a text message that day. And her simple words were exactly what I needed to hear. An answer to my prayer. And in that moment I knew I was loved. Loved by my God and Savior, loved by my friend, and loved by my family. I surely am not invisible. And though some might take advantage of me, expect much but return little of the favor, not notice or appreciate all that I do, there are so many, many more who love and NEED me for who I am and for what I can give.
So, I am going to keep on giving, keep on keepin on. And as for that little creepy shadow, well, it might try to hang around, and I might still try to feel inclined to believe it, but I know that when I pray, He is there, and when I speak, He is listening. I am HIS child and His love surrounds me. And I have a text to prove it. And a lifetime to write about so many more experiences that prove it too.
If you feel invisible, if you are wondering if God is aware of you, I urge you to pray and ask Him. He will answer, I promise you that.
He is our sensitive child. He gets very upset if his sisters accuse him of saying or doing something he didn't say or do. When he gets hurt or is upset, he is the one who welcomes hugs the easiest. It is very common for him to get quite upset over little things. One day after school he got so busy playing and doing other things that he forgot about having an after school snack. By the time dinner was almost ready, he remembered, and then was quite distraught because I would not let him have a snack because we would be eating dinner in a matter of minutes! He likes for things to be in order, he likes routine, and so he almost refused to eat because he wanted his snack first, then dinner!
Looking back at these moments, it is quite comical, but not very comical....at all....dealing with them in real time. When Carter was younger, he was very OCD about things. For awhile, I actually thought he had Asperger's, but he is thriving and not nearly so bad. He was horribly sensitive to smells, still is but not as severe, did not handle change well at all, threw terrible, terrible tantrums from age 3-4, and would get upset over minor details like me cutting his sandwich the wrong way, preparing his cereal in the wrong order and putting the sugar on the rice crispies before pouring the milk, and could not function if I put a toy away in the improper place at bedtime, or he wouldn't go to sleep until his covers were all tucked in around his mattress.
Once Carter feels comfortable and accepts things the way he likes them to be, it is hard for him to do it differently. For our morning routine before school, he likes things to stay relatively the same. He wakes up, gets dressed, eats breakfast, brushes his teeth, then puts on his coat and backpack. If we really mix that order up, he doesn't handle it well. But as he gets older, it gets better. He is very sensitive to certain things, and as long as we are aware of those things, he is pretty easy to please and get along with.
Carter is naturally athletic and easily learns how to do anything physical. If someone shows him how to do a cartwheel, it only takes him a few tries before he has it down. He is very strong too, and can do almost 10 pull-ups, and one night he decided he was going to do 100 sit-ups so that's exactly what he did! He learned how to ride his bike before Anna, and pretty much shows her how to do things like climbing trees and tricks on the monkey bars and trampoline.
Carter caught on to swimming super fast as well. Last summer he passed his level with ease, while Anna barely did not pass. They were in the same class. She was pretty upset that Carter would be ahead of her. We told her that if she worked on the few things she did not pass from swim lessons during the summer and did them well, she could move up with Carter. He was so cute and would very nicely teach her when they practiced in their pool. This summer they will be taking the same level.
When Carter is sick, he is always so happy. He loves to laugh and has a great sense of humor. Sometimes he gets super giggly...like during scripture study, or family prayer...and has difficulty calming down, typical boy, right, so we have to work hard at times to be patient with him then!
Carter is just so sweet, kind, and very thoughtful. He writes notes to us and leaves them on our pillows, loves to play with anyone and it was so cute this past summer when he decided to invite all the neighborhood kids over for a swim party. He likes to make notes for his friends too, and deliver them to their homes, and really is willing to help with just about anything and has no problems sharing. (there are exceptions, but what kid doesn't have issues every now and again?)
Carter makes friends easily now, and he plays with boys just as easily as girls. He is doing awesome in school and picks up math concepts without even trying. (takes after his dad there) He picked up reading probably faster than Anna did, which is hard for us to imagine since Anna is now reading at a fifth grade level. For Carter's weekly homework, he has to practice reading a short story in one minute, and we mark how many words per minute he reads each time. His improvement from the beginning of the year until now has been great! At the end of April, the first graders should be reading 52 wpm, and Carter is up to 91. We are thrilled, just because we've really tried to put a lot of emphasis on reading, knowing it is so important and vital to their success in school!
Carter loves his sisters, and plays really quite well with Kya, probably because she doesn't mind being a super hero or power ranger! They do have their fights, more so recently than ever before, but they get along as much as a parent could expect. Carter adores Brennen too, and he is very kind, patient, and helpful with younger kids.
Carter really loves being outdoors in the spring and summer, hiking, rock climbing and riding his bike. He loves camping and cannot wait to be eight so he can start scouts and make a derby car. He always asks me questions about everything, why is this that color, why are these particular words on that sign, and he loves to watch YouTube videos about how things are made. I know that anything he puts his mind to learn and master, he will accomplish and we are so happy he is a part of our family. I know he will grow up to be just as awesome as his dad and be a great person!
So much happens every day in my life with four kids. I am finding more and more that as my kids grow older and we become busier, it is certainly harder to remember all the things I want to, like all the funny things they say and do.
Kya has a pretty extensive vocabulary. Every few weeks she learns a new word that she starts using in the cutest ways. This weeks word is: absolutely. I've heard her saying things like, "I absolutely, absolutely need to go potty!" "I absolutely like candy." and "It's absolutely cool!"
A few days ago I took her to the store with me. One thing she loves is when I run while pushing her in the cart back to the van. She usually screams "Faster! Faster! Faster!" I'm sure I get weird looks but we do it anyways. Well, after our most recent trip, instead of yelling "faster" she started yelling "Mush! Mush!" Honestly, the way she orders me around at times, I feel more like her dog than her mom!
A few other tidbits about Kya: she gets dressed by herself and adamantly refuses help, even when she is super frustrated because she can't quite do it herself. She prefers to wear just shirts and underwear, but half the time she puts her undies on wrong and comes walking out of her room with bum cheeks hanging out. I have convinced her to let me help her wipe her bum after she goes poo, but heaven forbid I flush the toilet!!!
Kya is our little allergy girl too. Not only do we know for certain she is allergic to cashews, but also walnuts because she ate a piece of English toffee last week, then touched her face, and started breaking out in hives and her eye got very red. A few weeks before that she must have done the same thing, because she came out of her room with a red swollen eye! She also has the same reaction if a dog licks her, but doesn't seem to have problems when she pets them.
Miss Kya also has a "reactive airway" which could mean asthma, but we aren't certain yet. What I do know for certain is for the past year, whenever she gets an upper respitory infection, she has asthma-type reactions. She gets very bad wheezing, shortness of breath, retractions when breathing, and lots of coughing. She has this awesome little inhaler that she uses now which has been SUPER helpful! Her last episode a few weeks ago was so bad that while we were in the van coming home from Rexburg, I heard her say, "I just can't breathe in the van!" She was breathing so quickly and each breath was so shallow that I think she felt like she could not breathe, and on top of that, she was continuously coughing, so it must have been pretty frustrating for her! We have a pretty incredible pediatrician, who talked to me about preventative maintenance when it comes to "asthma" and prescribed her with a steroid inhaler that she uses once a day and will continue through March since this time of year is the worst time for upper respitory infections. Our hope is that as we do this "preventative maintenance" she won't get such bad episode after episode.
She is pretty awesome, and takes her treatments like a boss!
She has hair exactly like I did when I was little, white as can be, wispy, and not very much!!! Now that she is 3 years old I can finally get her hair into tiny pony or pig tails! She is also obsessed with scissors and cutting things, so she has tragically cut chunks of her already sparce hair right out of her head!
Kya LOVES birthdays, especially when it is FINALLY her birthday! It was really, really hard for her to watch Carter have one, then Anna, then Brennen, and then have to wait 2 more months before she could have hers!
This girl loves to dress up in hats and princess dresses. Often she will dance around and make up songs about being a princess or want me to make up a song and sing it for her. She also loves wearing swim suits...probably because she loves to play in the water. She is constantly filling up the sink with water and getting water everywhere. She fills up her tea cups and tea pots and just makes a big mess! If she is being particularly difficult, I will just put her in the bath with a bunch of toys and let her play to her hearts content...well, almost....and she usually comes out feeling much happier.
Kya also loves being wrapped up like a baby. I think she suffers from middle-child syndrome and has some jealousy issues with her baby brother, so she often will talk or act like a baby and ask to be wrapped up in her blanket and want to be held like a baby. Dealing with those certain issues is always a work in progress, but I think she is getting better. She LOVES attention and needs a lot of it, so it is hard for her to share the spotlight with Brennen, who also LOVES attention.
Ever since she was little, she loved being outside. Even when it is very cold, she won't care one bit, and has been our only child so far who is eager to go outside to play in the winter snow.
She loves anything sweet, strawberry or chocolate milk, frosting, and it is a struggle to get her to eat normal food quite often, unless it is spaghetti, meatloaf, or pizza.
She is very outgoing, not afraid to let you know exactly how she feels, very stubborn and determined, smart as a whip with an incredible memory, isn't afraid to try anything, loves playing with friends, and has been such a fun addition to our family!
Ever since Anna was a toddler, I always wanted to be the kind of mom who had those really cool, organized, and genius kinds of "chore charts" for the kids. I've met many a moms over the years who have found a system, a schedule, routine....whatever you want to call it, and I leave feeling amazed and inspired to get one of my own for my kids!
But, I kinda came upon a problem. My good intentions rarely evolved to much more than just intentions! And if I did actually end up trying something, I just never stuck with it long enough! So much for being cool, right?
I also discovered a few years ago, when Anna started kindergarten, that I was the kind of mom who pretty much liked to do it all, and hardly ever expected Anna, being a very capable 5 year old, to really clean her room on her own, brush her teeth, or get dressed by herself! I remember one crazy morning, as we were rushing to get her ready for school on time, she just sat around waiting for me to do everything for her, and it finally hit me that I wasn't doing any good for her by doing it all!
Over the past 3 1/2 years, I've been trying to teach my kids to be more independent and not let myself do the things for them that they can and SHOULD and need to do themselves. I also tend to be a bit OCD when it comes to the way I like certain tasks to be done. It is very difficult for me to let my kids do certain tasks themselves, and not want to "fix" what they did afterwards! But I know it is very rewarding for them to be able to clean their rooms, wash windows, vacuum, clean the bathroom, etc and have me say "Great job" and accept the conditions of the job they did!
With that said, last year I came across a blog post about a chore chart a homeschooling mom came up with for her kids. Each task is worth points, and 3 points earns the child one 15 minute time "stick" (which is a Popsicle stick). At the end of each day, all the points are added up. At the end of the week, the kids get their electronic time sticks to use for the following week. In order for them to watch a show or movie, they have to use the time sticks they earned.
I really liked the idea, so I did the same for my kids. There are a few chores, like laundry, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathroom that they do only once a week, and the rest they do everyday. On the back they even have spots for extra chores if they feel so inclined to earn more points.
I still have to work hard at being consistent.....and cool (for example, we fell off the wagon completely during the holidays) but it has worked great for us and the kids stay motivated because they know that the less they do that week, the less tv time they get the following week! It's still a work in progress for us right now, it still feels new, and we will probably make a few changes here and there as we go along, but I really believe that families need to implement some sort of "routine" for their kids, to help them be actively involved in helping around the house, teaching them vital skills they need to know for when they become adults, as well as helping them become more goal-oriented. This particular chore chart we are doing is great too, because it teaches kids to save and spend wisely.
Anyways, I wanted to share this because I know that other moms might be interested if you are like I was, searching for something for your kids that actually works, that everyone will stick with!
And believe me moms....it's a pretty awesome and.....genius kinda thing....when you realize how much help kids can be around the house....especially when you look back on the previous week and realize you only had to do half of what you normally did before you became that kind of mom!
I know I don't comment enough on the blogs I love, but comments are the best! Some of you have made my day by your simple comment. Thank you for those who have taken the time. Be a follower and if you have time, take a moment and share your thoughts with me.
Those who make my heart happy:
Anna Belle-9 years old!
Carter John- 7 years old!!
Kya Lyn- almost 4 years old!
Brennen James- 2 years old!
Married 10 years this October!
BEING HAPPY doesn't mean everything is perfect. It means you decide to see beyond the imperfections.