Tuesday, September 30, 2008

through the night

It's 7 a.m. and Thea slept through the night last night without nursing. OK, she woke a few times but went right back to sleep each time, and I put her to sleep at 7 p.m. and didn't feed her till 6 a.m. That, my friends, is substantial progress. I'll take it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I'm always posting about the harrowing days. Yesterday was a superstar day. It took a lot of planning, but I pulled off the impossible - a day-long shopping trip with no meltdowns.

I've been wanting for quite some time to take a trip to Home Depot and get some cabinets and wood to build shelving in the living room. When we built the addition on the house, we designed it with cabinets in mind on one wall - even had a special light figured into the plan. But like everything else, we stopped all progress the second Liam came into the world. Long enough, say I.

So off to Kenai we went - after packing a zillion snacks, lunch, iPod charged with Henry Huggins book on tape, etc, etc. Thea slept the whole way up - an hour and a half - and woke about 10 minutes before we got to the store, so she was well charged and ready to go. I loaded her into the backpack and Liam onto a cart and we went in search of cabinets. After a couple false starts, we actually found them! Cabinets for not a million dollars. I even found someone to help me load them on my cart and find the right doors. Yay.

Then it was off to look at carpet to try to find a little piece to fill in a missing spot in the living room. Then I looked at tile, but opted out of purchasing it. Then it was shelving material - seven 8-foot pine boards - and trim. And still, the kids were going strong.

I got ambitious. I found a new sink faucet for $35 and a light for that hole in the ceiling I've lived with for how many years? Kids still going strong. Made it through the checkout - gulp. Got someone to help me load really heavy cabinet on top of the car, and spent a good 1/2 hour roping everything down. Kids start to get antsy. So, we head to the park... first I had to find the park, but I did, and into the sunshine we go. Kept Thea from destroying Liam's dragon lair and eating her body weight in sand, snacked everyone, bathroom break, new diaper, and we're off to mission No. 2 - the bulk food store.

An hour later, Thea is starting to wiggle, and we're done with the food shop. But there's one more stop I want to make - the fabric store for several yards of fabric to make an ottoman out of. Thea, of course, fell asleep before we got to the store. But I was determined, so I went to pluck her out of her car seat and thought, well, I'll put a blanket on my shoulder and just see if she stays out. Would you believe she slept the whole time? Me neither. But it happened. We got our fabric, and out of the store, and back in the car without her waking. And all the way home, too.

Now, I've got the cabinets all put together (that took some brainpower, trust me) and just need a few more things to build the shelves. Success! Sometimes it is possible to actually function with children. Not often, but sometimes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

riding the waves

The elation I felt earlier in the week at getting a diagnosis has amped down just a bit these last few days as the reality of the "rotation diet" starts to hit home. Tomorrow, I go to the store to get colored stickers for all the food and liquid Thea eats. Then I will color up the calendar so anyone watching her can see it is a "pink day" which means rice milk, rice cakes-type snacks, rice and chicken as dinner, etc. Yellow will be corn and beans and almond milk. Red will be potatoes, oats (oat milk) and red meat (buffalo, bison, elk, moose) and blue will be wheat, oat milk again and turkey or pork. Daunting as it may seem, I think I will figure this out and it will get easier. But right now it is exhausting.

And worst of all is the realization that all this effort will never keep her from exposures. She's had a running nose all week (not drippy, like a cold, but more like flooding ) and today she broke out in a rash. I was trying to figure it out until I remembered that I caught her chewing on one of my sister's dog's chew toys under the table yesterday - a cow hoof. Gaaaahhhhh.

Today was a big home-work day. We worked on the rental, trying to keep water out and warm air in. We also mapped out on the floor how much space our stove and hearth will take. Then we tried rearranging the furniture to fit that space. I was inspired after we moved the dining table. So I started moving living room furniture around, too, since once we build the cabinet wall it will change the position of the tv and the couch - I thought we should try it out. I actually really like it. It somehow makes the whole house more cohesive - your back isn't to the rest of the house when you are on the couch.

Liam was most impressed when he came home and found the furniture moved around. He instantly suggested we move this one chair "just a bit this way." Control freak, already? I know - apples and trees, right? Anyway, Matt had no comments, other than to say I must be on meth because I keep cleaning, which I take to mean either that he doesn't like the furniture position but is going along with it, or that he just doesn't care.

The other thing that happened today was that Liam went on a hunger strike. I'm trying really hard to be tougher and not cater to his picky eating habits. Right now, he will eat only three things for lunch - PB&J, mac and cheese, and tuna sandwiches. I told him he could have soup for lunch - even gave him two options for what kind. He opted for door No. 3... don't eat anything, the consequence of which is that he doesn't get any other food until dinner. Which of course makes him nutty and grouchy. Which lands him in his room. It was a long day, but he sure did eat a bunch of dinner.

My camera is acting up, but I'll try to get some new shots on soon. I promise.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I knew it!

Today we spent two hours in the doctor's office to find out what I already knew, that Thea was severely allergic to milk. And yet, somehow knowing that definitively is wonderfully uplifting.

It's funny how as mothers - parents - we have gut instincts about things, but our society isn't really set up to indulge gut instincts. I knew back when Thea was an infant that she had a problem after I ate milk products - cheesecake, milk shakes, ice cream - they all produced the same result. Nights of writhing pain and 30-minute naps followed by hour-long cryfests. And then the extreme response to her own ingestion of dairy, I knew for sure but still didn't know. And then when she smeared cheese all over her face and got red blotches all over, I knew again, but still didn't know.

Today, I knew.

They tested her back with little pin pricks of everything from dust to feathers to roaches and pollen. And the one that swelled up like crazy? Milk.

But, also swelling pretty substantially was beef. And swelling very slightly was wheat.

But not swelling: Soy! Dust! Cats! Dogs! Mold! Not that I'm going to let my house fall into a dusty, hair-ridden place now, but I'm just happy to narrow things down a bit.

The biggest challenge I walk away from this with is the fact that if I don't offer her a varied diet, she will likely develop other allergies. And I can't feed her beef and fish is off limits until they are a year old, so that leaves ... chicken and pork, right? Well, we are going to start some new things now - buffalo, for example. The goal is to not feed her the same thing on a four-day cycle. Quail? Duck?

Anyway, I am overjoyed and energized by the things I now know, and trusting of my instincts more than ever about the things I knew all along.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Week one done

Our first week getting out of the house each morning with two kids, three lunches, jackets, hats, computers, breast milk, snacks, mail, and the rest of the kitchen sink have concluded, and wow, am I tired. Matt leaves the house at 7:45, so Liam is just barely up and Thea's often still asleep, so there's not much help there. What a circus. But by today, we were starting to get some pattern to it all. And I'm hopeful it will only get easier.

Thea has done very well at daycare. She seems happy or asleep every time when I come to get her, and we all know she's not one to mince words if she isn't getting what she needs, so I can only assume that the stimulation of all those kids is enough to keep her going sans boobs. Quite a liberating feeling to go through my morning with no kids and no guilt, I gotta tell you. And such a contrast to the first time around, when being away from Liam was agony.

The other big thing that is happening is I am shrinking. This dairy-free diet has me at a size I can only remember from years gone by. Actually, my weight is that low, but my dimensions ... not so much. It is certainly not exercise that is doing this. And now I've gone from enjoying being able to fit into my clothes to not really fitting any of them because they are all for someone 15 pounds heavier. And last of all, I can't help this nagging feeling of what if - what if it isn't the dairy free thing that is doing this.

At the same time, I am zooming around removing carloads of crap from the house daily. My purge continues to swirl through the house, and I'm starting to feel like I'm making progress, though there are plenty of corners yet untouched. But, trying to take it one day at a time - or rather, one nap at a time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thea's first day

Today was Thea's first day of daycare. She entered the room and was instantly enveloped in appreciating 2-year-old girls, who kissed her (a couple knew her, to make things even better) and hugged her and let her pull their hair. After I left, she apparently went down for her morning nap with little fuss, then slept for hours. I went to pick her up at 12:30 and she was still down, so I went and got Liam, who had his first day back at Raspberry Lane (thank yee gods) and ran a couple errands. It was funny how liberating it felt to go to the grocery store with just my big kid and know that Thea was well cared for and comfortable. A new day, to be sure.

Thea's other big accomplishment for the day was cruising. She crawled over to the coffee table, pulled herself up to standing, and began inching around the table - then transitioned to the couch and moved around it. Yikes.

I had another cleaning frenzy today. I can't seem to stop shining things and picking up crap, and yet there is so much left to do - I noticed today how much fuzz my plants have on them. It's like my bar has been raised and I cannot settle for less. I'll post a picture of the inspiration room in Victoria.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

whirlwind of days

Since we got home, it has been a whirlwind. I suppose it has really only been a few days, but it feels like a long time. The trip home from Victoria was not bad - first to Vancouver for an epic gathering of Baddeck folks, as well as a fabulous late-night conversation with Anika, which reminded me that next time, it needs to be four days in Vancouver - no question.

Perhaps the most comical part came when we tried to figure out how to get me to the airport - cabs don't have car seats in Vancouver and I didn't bring Thea's and had too much stuff to use public transportation. So we finally figured we would use Anika's then pay for the cab fare back to her place to return it. Later we found a friend who had one I could take home with me - which wound up costing me $25 because I had an "extra bag" in the eyes of the airlines - you just can't win. And then at the last minute we realized Liam's booster had taken off with the cab on the way to her house.....
There was also the moment when we arrived downtown at the bus depot in Vancouver and I tried to use my debit and visa cards to get money, but for some reason the ATM in the station didn't accept Visa - so I had to carry all the stuff, which was sizeable - Thea on my back in the backpack, the stroller loaded with bags, and my rolling suitcase behind me - around a whole block until I found an atm that worked enough to give me $20 for the cab ride to Anika's house. It probably took me a 1/2 hour - I should have just sat down on the sidewalk and panhandled. Would have surely got the money quicker. That's the way it seems to always be when traveling with kids - a swirling mass of logistical mayhem.

We got back to Anchorage after a mellow flight around 3 p.m. and found a cab right away with car seats (YAH AK) and off to the car repair shop, where the car was ready to go. Then to the store in search of kid gates, and another store, and finally giving up and heading to Jerzy and Paula's to pick up my shoes and a sleeping bag and then off on down the road, where we found a nutty storm with rain and gusting winds, but the kids slept most of the way, and we got home at 9:30 p.m. and collapsed.

Matt oggled a bit as he watched Thea move around with her new confidence and I oggled a bit as I watched her nose start to flow from the moment she entered the house. Cat? Dog? Dust? Mold? Combined with the experience of staying in Tiffany's pristine apartment, I am now obsessed with cleaning the house and getting rid of junk. I've been at it for several days now and show no signs of slowing, though I am getting a little tired of it all - overwhelmed. But it is really grossing me out - the dust, the grime, the junk that has built up over the years. It doesn't need to be there, and I want it all gone.

Thea has proceeded to learn to pull up on things, and eat furniture (she especially likes the wicker coffee table) and take lots of falls and so forth. She is changing so fast, I can't keep up. And today, when we went to see the new baby Lukas, I couldn't believe how big she seemed in comparison. And it's time for another round of clothing swapping, too, and didn't I just get her 12-month stuff in there????

Oh, yeah, and I started a new job and on Monday, Thea goes to daycare for the first time. Does it ever stop? And the freelance work is WAY backed up, too.

The thing is - all that chaos, I think, is a result of moving too fast - rushing. Don't have time to get dressed so you rush and dump your pjs on the floor. Don't have time to put away the dishes properly, and all of a sudden your tupperware looks like a mosh pit. Shoes dumped at the door - papers pile up - it's all about time, rushing, and the mess is just the byproduct. So . I . am . trying . to . slow . down.

Camera is having battery issues, so pics will have to wait. Sorry - but good video coming soon - stay tuned.