Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Finding Solutions to Life with Food Allergies

I never knew I could hurt without having anything wrong with me.  I never truly understood the saying, "it broke my heart".  I never fully understood wanting to take on another persons pain for them.  Sure, I have compassion for others. I empathize when others are sad, I have felt grief through  a loss.  But when my child hurts, it is like nothing I have felt before.  Before I worry folks, everybody is OK here.  Everybody is healthy and enjoying the rest of summer.  The pain I felt came on the eve of my beautiful daughters 7th birthday.  She was lying in bed with me, and we were talking about all the very cool things a 7 year old gets to do.  We were discussing birthday present wishes and parties at the lake.  We said our bedtime prayer and after we finished, she looked at me with her beautiful eyes and said the words that made my heart hurt to the core.  She looked at me and said, "Mommy, when I turn 7, me don't want allergies anymore."  I looked at her while taking in a shaky, hold in your tears kind of breath and watched as a tear ran down her cheek.  I said a silent prayer for help because I didn't have the words to make this better.

  Lily Rose has never seemed to resent her food allergies, she doesn't remember  life without food allergies.  We have been very intentional in staying positive about food.  I have taken a proactive approach in finding foods that are healthy  and fun to eat, not just for her but for our entire family.  When folks give her that sad look, we are quick to correct them that she can eat so many wonderful foods, that they might just be different than what is on their plate.  We have also been proactive in making sure Lily Rose understands that she can only eat her "safe foods".

I don't know where her plea came from.  I suppose it was only a matter of time before she wished for things to be different.  Maybe she recognized the extra work safe foods can be when traveling and at other peoples homes.  Maybe she just got sick and tired of me saying, "I'm sorry, it is not allergy safe."  It doesn't matter where it came from, I just had to find a way to turn it around.  I told her that her allergies and celiac won't just go away, that just isn't how it works.  I told her how sorry I was that she was sad.  I told her how happy I was that we know what she can't have and know what she can have, because that keeps her healthy.  I told her how much we all love her.  I held her for a moment and kissed her head.  I took a deep breath and told her I had an idea.  She perked up and excitedly asked what?  I said that when we returned home, the two of us would come up with new recipes and find some new foods to eat.  We talked about what we could plant in the fall garden and what we could fix with it.  We are home now and that is exactly what we have been doing. Lily Rose loves to cook and she loves to eat.  We have some good ideas going and we will share later how some of them turn out.

I am looking at this as a learning experience.  I would take her food allergies away from her in a second if I could, but I can't.  I would take them on myself if it worked that way, but it doesn't.  I am sure that this won't be the last go around she has while she grows up with what are dangers (unsafe foods) all around her.  But I don't want her to look at food as the enemy.  I want her to know her body and the limitations that are there and that are there for all of us in one form or fashion.  I want her to accept the things she cannot change and change the things she can.  I want her to know that God created her for a purpose and know how much our heavenly Father loves her.  I also want her to know how much her Daddy and I love her; part of the way I can do that is to help her when she needs help.

  I know that there are parents out there who are dealing with things so much harder than food allergies.  There are too many children cancer centers and hospitals.  So many of those parents have wiped the tears of a child facing great sickness and so many have felt the unimaginable pain of loosing a child.  I pray for these parents and when I do I am so grateful that our cross is "just food".  How many would give their right arm to only have food allergies.  I am so thankful to have my daughter in the time of epi pens and Er's and knowledge of food allergies.  What a blessing that is.  I thought of that blessing after giving her an epi pen shot in the thigh when she couldn't catch her breath after breathing in an allergen this past Christmas season.   Yes, this burden is small compared to some, but it is the cross she bears.  It is one that we will continue to learn from. And that night, it was the cause of her tear.

She is excited to try new things and is loving coming up with new recipes.  She is especially looking forward to her special birthday party treat this coming weekend.  Her tear is gone, but not before leaving a stain on my heart.  That stain will be a reminder of the blessings in my life and the blessing of my  children who have been entrusted to our care.  The stain will be a reminder to remember and to pray for the parents whose stain runs much deeper than mine.  My stain will be one of many that comes from being a parent.  Oh, but the joy they give me.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Jacob

Sunday the 22nd, our middle son turned 12 years old. We arrived home from a family vacation in Florida around 3 in the morning, so we will have a small party for him and his sister at a local lake this coming weekend.  But I wanted to share with you what an amazing son I have.

Jacob on Easter morning before Mass, 2012

Jacob was born an old man.  He was a content baby who cried only when ready to nurse.  He was and is a sleeper.  I actually took him to the doctor as an infant because I was afraid something was wrong when he didn't cry out all the time, Our first born had colic and I assumed all babies did.  Our pediatrician laughed and sent me home assuring me that he was just fine.

I was so happy to see the relationship with Jacob and his big brother by 22 months form.  They became friends fast and are to this day.  Of course that doesn't mean they don't fight, believe me they do. But they are the first to defend each other.  When one is gone the other is lost.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Jacob loves classic cartoons and old books.  He has read every book written by L. Frank Baum.  He loves to collect junk and build and create new things.  It amazes me what he can make out of bottle caps, string and other such things.  He is so funny and quick with his comebacks.  He has us rolling sometimes.  He is a protector of his sister and her food allergies.  He has a heart for God and takes his catholic faith quite seriously.  Jacob is very smart.  I know all moms say that about their children but he does have numerous awards from academic team and honor roll certificates to back me up.

He is quick to help others and sometimes he catches me off guard with it.  While on vacation, we were caught in a sudden rain storm that came our of no where.  While we were taking shelter under a store sun shade, I look and couldn't find Jacob only to find him a few minutes later, soaking wet.  I fussed at him for taking off and purposefully getting soaked.  He looked at me with those big blue eyes and told me he was just helping the store keepers get their stuff covered up.  A lady running one of the shops waved and told him thank you.  I was embarrassed by my harsh tone.  I looked at him and told him I was sorry and how happy I was that he thought to help out.  I guess we should all take a lesson in his actions.  

Yes, he does get in trouble sometimes but it is not often.  Jacob makes my heart melt and I could not imagine our life without him.

Happy Birthday Jacob, I will love you till the rivers and creeks run dry then I will love you some more because that is what Momma's do.
Enjoy being 12, it is a pretty cool age.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Daughter

I can hardly believe that this little girl turns 7 this week.  Lily Rose came into our life and filled a hole that we didn't even know was there.  I suppose every new baby completes a family in a way they never even expected.  She came into this world a fighter.  Her body fought food allergies before real food ever touched her lips. Trace amounts in my milk turned her body into a battle ground.  How thankful we were to find what was hurting her and removing it from my diet so she could nurse and begin to heal.  People find out that she cannot have milk, eggs, peanuts, gluten, red dye and many corn products and they think it is a bad thing.  I am hear to tell you, it is not.  She has never had them, so she really doesn't miss them.  Our entire families diet has improved because of our introduction into life with food allergies.  She is a little girl who happens to have food allergies; they do not define her.
 Who is she?  She loves to be outside, walls truly confine her.  We do many of her school lessons outside, she retains so much more this way.  She is determined and strong willed.  She does things on her time.  She has reminded us how to look at the things we so often overlook.  She delights in finding new rocks for her collections, and new weeds for her picked flower bunches.  She prefers the weeds to the flowers, she sees a  beauty in them.  

She is the number one fan of her Daddy.  In her eyes, he hangs the moon just for her.  And isn't that the way it should be.  If you spend  any time with my husband, you would see he feels the same about her.

She loves the lake and any day spent there is a good day in her book.

She makes my eyes light up.  The funny things she says and her ability to turn any frown upside down.  If I had to narrow down my favorite things to do with Lily Rose, they would include reading to her, craft time, for sure snuggle time, but I think more than anything, it would be watching her explore this world.   She is my girl too.

She keeps her brothers on their toes.  My heart melts as I watch the bond between the three of them.

Any man who wants to come into her life will have quite the interview process.

I am pretty sure that this picture above and the one below were just taken days apart, but I know they weren't.

Lily Rose, You have made the last seven years happy ones.  You have taught me that change isn't impossible.  You have brought love, laughter, and great joy into our family.  I have so many dreams for you but my prayer is you will find God's purpose for you and fill that purpose with all your heart.  I want you to always choose to dance, and to go for it.  Never let fear keep you down.  You can do all things with God and I pray that you learn to call upon him daily.
And for the record, you will always be my sweet baby girl, even when you are celebrating your 70th. And don't you ever forget it.  I am so glad God sent you to be apart of our family.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer is Slipping on By

Summer is in full swing around here.  We are in a drought in my area and the days have been over 100 degrees, which is not the norm.  How thankful I am to live in a house with air conditioning.  I have emptied the rain barrel and have been watering my veggie garden with the hose in the morning and evenings.  At least we have that option.  I have beans ready to pick this weekend most likely and I am hoping for a ripe tomato in the next week or there about.  I love watching and working in my garden.  A garden mirrors our own lives in so many ways.  They can get sick, they grow, they show signs of stress, and when conditions are right, my how happy the plants do seem.

Yesterday was the 4th of July and we didn't do anything special.  We had a ban on fireworks here, so that made things quiet.  It seemed weird with no fireworks, I do love them.  It has been so dry, they would have been such a danger.  The fire department was called twice down my little road this week alone for grass fires.  We did get a small rain storm today, it only lasted about 15 minutes so I don't think it did much for the drought but it felt so nice and smelled so good.  Does anyone else think the rain smells good?

Confirmation went well and I was so proud of the kids.  Where we are at, they get to have breakfast with the bishop the morning of their confirmation.  We, the adults stand back and this is their time.  They were all so nervous going in.  I had to laugh when we asked afterwards why they didn't eat much, they responded with they were afraid to get up for seconds.  I would be willing to bet that is the only time teenagers would turn down seconds.  The bishop directed the homily towards  them, which was so nice.  It really was a special day for them and their families and for our entire parish.  I pray each one of the kids grow to call on the gift of the spirit and let it guide them in their everyday.

The rest of my weekend will be spent working a yard sale with my sister. Oh fun? And of course picking beans.   We have a busy couple of weeks coming up with a big family reunion coming up and our family vacation to the Sunshine state.

What is going on in your neck of the woods?