30 September 2013

High chair triplets...

It's hard to find humor amidst those nasty veggie sticks (you know they're bad when Stone will not eat 'em). But seriously, how cute are these three...

In lieu of flours.

Get it? Funny play on words? I know, I know.

So the family is in a tizzy. Let me just catch you up. This may be a tad detailed, as this is a family blog and often serves as a reference later on. Best to write it all down.

My family is one of many auto-immune disorders. I married into a family of auto-immune disorders. Our potential for auto-immune children is greater than most. In the past few weeks, two more of Andrew's immediate family members were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. This shouldn't be confused with the gluten-free fad that is sweeping the nation.

Lucy was tested for Celiac when she was about a year old due to her inability to gain weight and her very big belly. Andrew was tested at the same time and came up negative. As his dad tested positive for Celiac 20+ years ago, we have been attentive with all of the kids where this is concerned. A couple of weeks ago, Andrew's brother and niece were diagnosed with "actual Celiac disease," so we're now moving into "hyper-vigilant" stage.

About 6 months ago I started doing research on my own health stuff, which includes a vast and varied history of auto-immune issues. Mostly they're annoying but nothing for which I've had to alter my lifestyle, until the births of Claire and the twins. It seems like a switch was flipped (which is very common for AI issues) at some point and my body went a little whacky. Thankfully, the medical professionals I've seen have been pretty relaxed and only a few of them suggested crazy treatments. I opted to start doing research on my own and it turns out that gluten issues are very common for Ulcerative Colitis patients. When I developed chronic mouth ulcers, iron-deficiency anemia, dishydrosis and erythema nodosum, I just added them to my incredibly long list of "that's probably related to whatever I've got" and moved on. The mouth ulcers are the worst part because they really do affect everything I do. Horrid. The other stuff, I can live with. The problem with auto-immune disorders is that sometimes you know what you've got, sometimes you never find out and sometimes it's all just a symptom of something else. Does that seem crazy or what?!

I do know that I can't live my life, and my children's childhoods, searching for the right diagnosis. I'm too freaking vibrant to be a patient and I don't want my kids to remember Mommy as being "sick." Mommy's too fun for that. I think the UC is a symptom of something else, but I may never know what that is. I don't need a name for what's wrong - I just need to enjoy my life. I have frequent bloodwork and scans for complications of the UC and that seems okay.

Oh, so, gluten and UC. Research shows that they're closely interrelated, and when I googled "gluten intolerance symptoms," I had 4/5 of them. So I went off gluten. Six weeks later I was sent for a celiac panel by a stupid doctor who didn't know I needed to be eating gluten to return the accurate results. My celiac bloodwork showed me as being "borderline" and my MD said that a gluten-free diet was necessary. He gave me the option of going back to gluten for a few months and redrawing the numbers, but felt that due to my symptoms the numbers would be higher and he'd just suggest going gluten-free anyway. So I opted to skip the second round of testing and continue to try to get the gluten out of my system. It's been about 4 months now and removing gluten has been life-changing. My mouth ulcers went away, my UC presents as not present at all, my energy is good, my whacky skin disorders are gone and my mood is more even as long as I'm not eating gluten. I believe that they refer to my specific gluten issue as "NCGI," which is "non-celiac gluten intolerance," an issue that I've read affects about 15% of the population. They refer to it as non-celiac because without a biopsy there is really no way to know if it's Celiac, but I'm not willing to eat gluten long enough to find out. It's a moot point anyway, because if it was, it's healing up and I'm moving on, right? If a gluten-free diet continues to heal me, I should only need scans every couple years for the UC and that may heal over time, as well.

So we know gluten intolerance runs in both sides of the family, and when a first or second-degree relative has Celiac it's suggested that the entire family should be tested and stay vigilant throughout their entire lives. For the kids, we have the luxury of starting very early. They'll be tested this week, along with food allergy testing for Mo and another round of iron testing for Claire. She's also anemic, so we're working on that as well. The boys will be tested for a baseline panel, but we don't expect to see much, if anything, from their bloodwork. Andrew is also being tested, as it should be done about every five years and he deals with migraines and fatigue that started developing about 3 or 4 years ago.

And that's where we are. A real nail-biter, to be sure! I'm sure I'll have a fantastic "when we took five kids to have bloodwork done" post for you coming up very soon. ;-)

29 September 2013

A few quick items.

1) this weekend went by far too quickly.
2) the dry erase board is now the "getting out of bed" board. Stinkin' kids.
3) Andrew shaves his head with a razor that looks like an ATV. No joke. It's called the Head Blade.
4) my mosquito bites are gone.
5) this week is "family celiac testing" week. I am the only one who is exempt because my blood work is all done. I'm not jealous of them. Lucy and Mo have caught on and can't stop talking about their blood tests. They don't know what blood tests are. If they knew they actually had to spill blood, they'd rethink the thrill of it all. More about this fiasco later.
6) I cut Lucy's hair today. We really won't knew how it turned out until next week or so. It always looks great for the first couple days and then goes screwy.
7) still mostly off Facebook. As you can see, the world did not stop turning.
8) we have been busy on the September birthday party circuit. Oh, September babies...
9) grandma will be here in just a few weeks!
10) my October calendar makes me absolutely nauseous when I glance at it. I think I'm going to just drop dead from all the activity. Can I still call "infant twins" and escape the real world?!
11) I have to squeeze about 7300 unique requests out of my upcoming round of grocery money. I hope there's a million dollar bonus in there somewhere.
12) it's bedtime! Wahoo!!

We all have choices to make...

Miles just has WAY better taste :-)

In Stone's dish...

A reflection from our favorite pure bred...

Girls just wanna have fun

Sunday afternoon fun with dad.  Lucy is holding a plastic coin to her mouth (random) and Molly is GREATLY amused by something lol. Right after this photo we skyped with Alison for a couple minutes.

25 September 2013

Oh Dear Max...

If you keep putting your chubby lil leg through your crib rails and getting stuck, you will probably keep waking up screaming mad. If you wake up screaming mad, your brother will probably wake up dazed and confused. To calm down, he and you will probably both need warm bottles of milk.

My night life has BECOME "If you give a mouse a cookie". :-P


Love, dad

Brother gives it his all.

Today a lady came running over as I was loading my children and groceries into my car. She squealed, "I bet people ask you all the time if they're all yours!"

Mmmm...no. when people make a special trip to my car to gawk, they usually offer to help me, as well.

She wrapped it up with a, "but you're so young!"

And Lucy threw herself over the backseat of the van and yelled, "better full and empty!!!"

No child, you're saying it wrong. And answering people when they haven't said anything only makes you look crazy.

I blamed it on her fever and took my whacky brood home.


About six months ago we started talking about taking our window treatments down. I am home all day with the kids and not having enough natural light was starting to get to me.

But when you take them down, what do you replace them with? Anything? We live in a very private area and my preference was nothing at all on the Windows, but was that too weird? I think we must have talked it over for ages, with little progress.

When Andrew's papa arrived a few weeks ago we still hadn't come to a decision, but I was still wanting the light. Part of the issue, we thought, might be the paint. Our house has quite a few sharp angles and with two shades of gray (heh) being at the ceiling, it was time to take it all to one shade of something super light and take the emphasis off the ceiling. But what?

Andrew jumped in and suggested blue and I said no right away. Weirdo. I was all for a light neutral tan, by he was insistent that we were just not doing that.

Right as we started trying to choose a paint color, the kitchen started annoying the heck out of me and I suddenly couldn't stand the floors at all. I just started to feel like the place was closing in on me. So, since they say to try changing the paint first, we decided to get moving on the paint. Andrew won and we chose blue. Well, he chose blue and I just kind of threw my hands up. I had nothing better, after all.

We went to Lowes and bought five gallons of "something icy blue with no green that would just barely make the trim pop but would appear mostly white." 

We held up a few paint chips and just went with "that one." Basically went against every paint-choosing rule out there. We brought it home and it sat in the dining room for a couple days while I chatted with Katherine and told her it was probably the wrong color. We took down all of our Roman shades and pulled out the solar screens. We had taken them down the week we moved in and I don't think we rely gave them a fair shot. While we waited for the house to paint itself we washed the screens and put them back up. And we loved them. We got our view back and still kept our privacy.

Then we started painting. And it was perfect. The kitchen makes sense. The floors look right. The house is open and light and airy. It looks clean and fresh and so inviting. Andrew was so right on the color. It pulled the entire living space together and it truly, truly feels like the home I envisioned from the start. 

Sometimes it can take some time to understand what you really want a space to feel like. I thought "cozy" for me meant dark walls and privacy. It turns out that my version of home is a space where you can breathe deeply, stretch out, see the view and watch the kids run. This feels like home. 



Fab. Thanks, Miles. 9 months is a tad young for exciting poop fun.

24 September 2013

9 months of five kids.

I intend this to be a lengthy and detailed post. That said, we shall see. I always try so hard, but am cut short and find my drafts days later...

I am sitting in the family room, watching a movie while Andrew enjoys a night of quiet out on his own. We're trying to make Tuesday nights a little rotating break for the two of us, so he is out tonight and I'll go out next week.

As I type this Miles is in his bed screaming in protest and Lucy has informed me that she is sick and will be staying home tomorrow so that she doesn't get anyone else sick. She actually looks sick, so she may be right. I can't decide. As for Miles, he's on his own.

So, the boys are nine months old now! They are a true delight. Every minute with them is just precious and fun. We spend so much time just staring at them in amazement. They have the most charming and infectious smiles, and are such easy-going little guys. Grandpa came to visit for two weeks recently and he and I were both shocked to hear Max cry one afternoon. We just kind of looked at each other and wondered what to do with poor Max, who was clearly hoping we would solve his problem. They just never cry or fuss, always cheery and willing to sit and watch it all go by.

Both boys are crawling, climbing and standing, and Max is starting to cruise the furniture. Miles is a little less adventurous in his physical accomplishments, but that seems to be because he's constantly looking for trouble. Miles hits the ground running in the morning and doesn't stop looking for trouble until his head hits the crib. He prefers to have one hand in the toilet, one hand in the dog food and one foot tangled in something most of the time. He's incredibly curious and will persist until he has success at gaining access to whatever he finds. I find it incredibly endearing and funny. Of course, he hasn't blown anything up yet.

Max is far less curious, presumably because he's too busy socializing and charming his sisters. Max would prefer to cuddle, smile, be tickled and generally bask in someone's attention. He's usually the center of attention and spends most of his day smiling and soaking up the love. He likes laps, wrestling, chatting with his sisters and watching Miles get into trouble.

The boys are almost always within a foot of each other and are in sync almost 100% of the time. It's fascinating. One of the most frequent questions I get about them is whether they poop at the same time. The answer is yes. Almost always. They both got their bottom front teeth while grandpa was here, within about five days of one another. I was a little surprised because I had really assumed they'd get their teeth on the same day. I'm not even kidding. I have known many sets of twins and these two are truly like one person in two bodies. One of my favorite parts of having a baby is the first smile of the morning. That smile times two? Killer. They always pop up and grin at the same moment, so happy to see mama.

Strangers continue to ask us how we tell them apart. We still laugh and respond, "we don't!" For most of the day it doesn't matter much right now, and it seems like some days they are easier to tell apart than others. We can always tell them apart if we sit them together and look at them, but even then we often have to look for a few seconds. Their personalities are really starting to make them feel more different, and we can usually tell who's who by what kind of meltdown they're having.  Max sucks his right fingers and Miles sucks his left thumb, so it's pretty simple once they're tired!

Let's move on to Claire. If anyone is running the show around here, it's Claire. She is absolutely adorable and she gets away with murder. Her vocabulary is nearly complete and she's definitely the funniest kid in the bunch so far. She lives to sneak a drink from my cup and say, "it just a tiny sip!" Claire really loves her little brothers and can often be heard yelling, "OH MACCCKKKKKSSSS!!" She can't say "miles" yet, so she calls them both Max. Whatever!
Claire can often be found playing games on her kindle or watching her sisters do whatever they're doing. She's starting to like playing with Legos and will spend a long time building by herself while the house crashes around her. Just like the rest of her family, she's pretty quiet and knew the value of solitude. She lives to snuggle and her last request of the day is always, "nuggo me?" Like I said, she runs the show!
Claire is potty training herself and continues to make progress. She's really too young for me to push the issue, so she just runs naked and does what she wants. I'm pretty sure the other two girls did the same thing at this age. I'm also fairly confident that I will not be potty-training the boys in this fashion.

Molly? She's such a cute little nut. She reminds me so much of myself at this age. She lives in her head, talking to herself, listening carefully, doesn't miss a thing. She often seems like she's a million miles away, but she holds us accountable for everything. She is fiercely loyal to those she loves and will fight tooth and nail to make sure everything is just and fair. She is our judge and jury, to be sure.

Molly spends most of her day coloring and writing stories. She's very excited about learning to read and is constantly asking Lucy to show her how to write this or that. I'm almost afraid to teach her to read, because once she realizes what a book can offer to her big imagination, we'll never see her again!

Lucy is enjoying first grade immensely and is turning into such a cool person. She is in the class she was hoping for and was so excited to learn that she can go to the school library any morning she wants to exchange her books! She is really reading well and I think she's starting to figure out just how amazing a book can be. I'm hoping to see that big click within a couple of months and see her really appreciate what literature can offer.

Our big girl is still into creepy crawlies and flying creatures. She loves all things nature and is happiest sitting outside and feeling the sun on her face. She has a very cute little crush on our handsome little next door neighbor and they chat when they walk from the bus to the front door. I hope he moves before she hits five feet. She's a hopeless romantic like her mother - I'm pretty sure I can already tell you how the boy next door turns out...

Lucy is really developing her character these days and continues to develop her faith. She'll be starting religious ed thus month and I am happy to report we'll be using the Faith and Life series I'm hearing so much about. Lucy is excited to start, as she's really looking forward to her sacrament prep next year!

Andrew is doing great - what a wonderful man I have in him. He will be running the Tough Mudder in Dallas next month, so we're all looking forward to that. His mama will be here to spectate with us as he completes the 13 mile obstacle race. Seems crazy to me, but seeing as I had two people inside my abdominal cavity at this time last year, very little seems crazy to me anymore.

My amazing husband also changed positions recently, and I am super proud of him for his promotion. I don't know that I can give much more detail on the interwebz, but his recognition is due to so much dedication, talent and hard work. He truly deserves it! Congratulations, babe!

Me? I'm doing fine. My days run together in weeks of blissful care and happiness. Strangers comment on how stressed I must be, every time I leave the house, but honestly? I don't know how I could be any LESS stressed. This is as easy as my job as a mother will ever be. It's physical, sure, and maybe I'm losing some sleep here and there, but it's all so simple right now. Every day is a blur of kissing babies, drying tears, making sandwiches and washing dishes. It's uncomplicated and so fun. Sooner than I realize, life will be full of other people's plans, adolescent emotion, spiritual battles and hard decisions. For now, life is paradise and I'm the queen. My loyal subjects adore me and believe I hung the moon. What's not to like?

Life is good. It really, really is.

Half of Tuesday