Elijah James Birth Story

ImageYou know you’re the third little one in the family when the blog falls silent for months. To say we’ve been busy around the house would be a huge understatement, but Elijah’s birth day is a day that I will never forget.

I literally limped to the finish line with a multitude of curve balls thrown at me until the very final hours before Eli’s sweet debut. Between Jonah’s EoE regression, severe asthma attacks landing him in the ER multiple times, including 6 hours before we were to check in at Labor and Delivery, my two kidney stones, kidney stent surgery under no anesthesia, a double ear infection that left me with a myringotomy and moderate hearing loss until delivery, and finding out my regular OB had pneumonia the night before…let’s just say it was an eventful 9 months of medical emergency that made my awful morning sickness the first 19 weeks a walk in the park. 

When I walked myself into the OR, I was emotionally overwhelmed. Overwhelmed that the pain of a rough pregnancy would soon be over and that I would finally hold this new little boy whom I had longed to see in such a different way than I had my other two. I requested my team to be calm in the OR, quiet and have calming music playing to give me the most “normal” birthing experience I could have with a C-section.

This song began playing as I walked in and as they began prepping me for delivery and it perfectly fit the echo of my heart as I fixed myself on meeting our boy. All the pain, I waited for our Eli. I would have done it every day of my life if it meant the last day he would finally be in my arms because I loved him so much before I even saw his face.

http://youtu.be/rtOvBOTyX00

I laid there looking into TJ’s eyes for a center of calm and confidence and when we heard his first cry, we rejoiced that he was finally here. He looked so unscathed from all the turmoil that had happened without him even knowing and relief hit me like a tidal wave that we both made it through it all. I held held, kissed him, smelled his sweet head, and took in the beautiful creation God hand knitted for us to care for. It was a sweet, sweet delivery.

Elijah James was born at 7:39 am weighing in at 7 pounds 12 ounces and 19 inches long.

The next best part for us as parents was to watch the joy on Sadie and Jonah’s faces when they came to meet their new brother for the first time. They were so excited, so gentle, and so sweet with this little life they had waited for so patiently. We pray the closeness we know they felt then continues on throughout their lives.

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Sadie’s 4th Birthday

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Sadie,

We love you for so many reasons. The way you are with your little brother. The heart you have for other people. The way you feel emotions so intensely and internally. The way you are so eager to learn. The way you say the most funny, yet insightful things that go far beyond your little four years of life. They way your smile brightens our home.

We could go on and on…

Just know that you were the first to give your Mommy and Daddy the greatest calling in our lives as your parents and we thank God every day that we have you to enjoy to the fullest.

Mommy interviewed you about life as a 4 year old and here’s what you had to say…

  • Favorite color…Pink and purple
  • The coolest person on earth…Jonah or Karis
  • Favorite toy…My princess lunchbox
  • What you want to be when you grow up…A real princess
  • If you could go anywhere in the world…To the pumpkin patch again but I don’t want to fall off the tree again. That was not good.
  • Your favorite thing to do with Jonah…Run around the house and tickle
  • Favorite thing to do outside…Play soccer with Daddy
  • Favorite snack…Watermelon
  • Favorite drink...Orange juice
  • Favorite movie…Beauty and the Beast because the Beast changes into a nice person
  • Favorite animal…My princesses (sense a theme?!)
  • Favorite song…Jump into the Light
  • Favorite book to read…Jonah and the Whale story in my Bible
  • Best friend…Jonah Dylan
  • What you like to take with you to bed at night…Usually my bear, my light, and my Bible with the Goliath story to be brave
  • Favorite dinner…Vegan Pesto

We love you, our little Rae, Rae…Babushka…Sadie Roo!!!

Menu Plan

eggplant

When your husband says he wants to eat much more plant-based for the coming week, you outwardly agree very nonchalantly while inside you’re doing cartwheels like you’re a hyper seven year-old girl who just got out of school for the summer.

Your wish is my command, hubby.

Here’s the plan, man:

1. Eggplant and Goat Cheese Sammy with Tarragon Tomato Sauce & Roasted Broccoli (adapted from recipe to make allergy-friendly for Jonah)

2. Pumpkin Corn Fritters with Honey Sauce

3. Falafel

4. Black Bean Soup with Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice

5. Roasted  Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Acorn Squash, Sweet Potatoes & Salad

 

Do Hard Things

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Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. -Deut. 31:6

Funny how being a parent forces you to not only teach hard lessons to your own kids, but reminds you of your own shortcomings where you really aren’t practicing what you preach.

Sadie has done swimming lessons before for two summers in a row now. Neither time has she become totally trustworthy and water-safe. But thanks to her awesome Grandparents, we are at it again and confident she will get it.

Her first lesson happened this week. She was a screaming, crying mess. I figured it would be no big deal like times past and she would move on quickly.

She has been an emotional, weepy, sleepless, little being since.

She woke up this morning after a late night of worry and couldn’t stomach eating any breakfast. She sobbed the entire morning, begging me not to go in the car on the way there.

She clung to me asking me to pray for her bravery. She asked Him to be in the water with her.

Although to you and me, it’s just 20 minutes of swimming, to Sadie it was an impassable mountain she couldn’t conquer.

TJ and I both held firm that the more she did it, the easier it would be even though part of us just wanted to let her let it go.

We said,  “Sometimes we all just have to be brave and do hard things.”

She listened, got in the pool despite her fear and trusted in Ms. Sherry. The first five minutes were torture for her. And me.

And then something clicked. I don’t know if it was Ms. Sherry’s constant encouragement, that Sadie was audibly praying for bravery, or that she saw me right on the side like I promised I would be.

She hit her stride and before we all knew it, she was swimming unassisted under the water to grab rings on the stairs to bring to the surface. Every once and a while Sadie would pop up from the water, boldly confessing something to Ms. Sherry. It was as if getting over her fear of the water was purging other uncertainties in her three-year-old life. She confessed to being afraid of the dark at night, or that Jonah liked the water but she wasn’t so sure.

Each time, Ms. Sherry assured her again that she was still good enough despite her fears.

How powerful to watch my child bring to the surface, openly confess, and move forward with no more chains to bind her.

It was the perfect picture of how God longs for us to come to him with all of our stuff, no matter how bad or how messy. He sits ready to not only listen, but to reassure us we are His. When we openly come to Him, He stands waiting to give us the courage we need to move forward boldly and confidently.

Sometimes it means we simply have to do hard things and trust that God is with us in it.

I am so thankful for my three year old and how she points me to our Savior in such tangible ways.

Getting Over Yourself: The Emotions Behind Anaphylaxsis

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You can easily picture how horrifying it is to watch your child go through Anaphylaxsis. If you’re like our family, we’ve encountered those life and death moments five times now.

You beg and plead with God to make them keep taking a single breathe, just one at a time until help arrives.

You panic as you watch your child swell into something unrecognizable, changing colors everywhere from pink, to purple, to blue.

It’s simple as a parent, whether you’ve been in that scenario or not to understand where your heart aches in those moments of uncertainty in the frailty of life.

But there’s more to it.

I remember sitting in the hallway of the hospital ER this last time I had saved Jonah’s life by giving him the EPI-Pen after TJ had discovered he was crying in his bed because he couldn’t breathe. I was holding on to him while digging for my phone with our allergy list, because in an emergency I can’t trust myself to remember all fourteen of them. The nurse ran through their typical questions and in my blur of sadness, worry, and panic another unexpected wave hit me, just as it always does.

Guilt.

Inadequacy.

Remorse.

Unforgiven.

Whenever I know we are in the clear, immediately these emotions rear their ugly head screaming at me, telling me I’m not good enough to take care of my son for weeks after the fact. Even bringing myself back to the scene in my head takes me there.

I could have double checked the nutrition label instead of wondering if people around me would think I was paranoid. I should have asked to speak directly to the chef at the restaurant to see if the recipe changed instead of relying on the waiter for right information. That I should have stayed at home instead of trusting him with another person because I would be in close proximity standing at the ready should something go wrong. That I should have been more of an advocate for him.

Especially in the beginning of our journey, I made a lot of rookie mistakes.

But the reality is that I am learning along the way. I was thwarted into this new allergy world and have taught myself everything I can every day that I get. I have dedicated my life to researching food, making my home a safe haven, planning ahead, cooking, double-checking cross contamination, educating those around us for his safety.

I have endured the looks, the disbelief, the rude comments, the sh-luffing off by general society all in the name of keeping my son alive. Breathing. Laughing. Playing. Happy.

Whether I could have prevented any episode of Anaphylaxsis or not, the point is that it is never my fault. What I am doing will always be enough because I’m giving him all that I have and all I am capable of giving.

And whether or not I feel it that day or not, my daughter and my son’s lives rest in the hands of a God who made them perfect just the way they are. Anaphylaxsis and all.

I will always be enough of a Mom for them.

I pray that where ever you find yourself on your journey, you have a renewed confidence knowing you are exactly who God had in mind. Imperfections and all. -Psalm 139:14

Menu Plan

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Being pregnant with morning sickness all day long means we keep things insanely simple around here.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

Last week I had stuff to make some allergy-friendly Chicken Piccata on hand.

Well, that’s just hilarious.

Somebody please keep telling me to menu plan while I’m throwing up so I have realistic expectations of myself.

Seriously.

This week is simple. So simple that if the do-it-all hubby can’t do it, we’re going to be eating cereal for dinner. I’m okay with that too at this point.

You’ll notice that we aren’t eating as plant-based as we normally do. We’ve hit a whole new level of picky with Jonah refusing most plant-based protein sources. Since it’s imperative for him to eat enough protein for his conditions, we are temporarily winging it with him until we can move past it.

I still prefer to augment my meals to more plant-based because I’m picky too, I guess.

You know, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast here. A cup of lentils there. Yadda, yadda.

Here’s what we’re eating:

1. Organic Angus Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

2. Ancho Lentil Tacos & Salad

3. Roasted Cajun Salmon & Roasted Broccoli

4. Cheese-less Skillet Enchiladas (adapted)

5. Brinner (Blender Oatmeal Waffles & Green Smoothies)

DIY: Kombucha

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I was elated when my sister-in-law called me, SCOBY in hand ready to get Kombucha started with me. I’ve only been obsessed with the idea thanks to a slight love affair with my Synergy Kombucha that leaves me easily busting my well-controlled grocery budget and my pins on Pinterest drooling over the flavoring possibilities. And I have to admit, I sort of get a thrill out of grossing TJ out with another “crunchy” idea fermenting in the house.

He’s absolutely grossed out and I’m just giddy.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea made with a starter culture (SCOBY), tea, sugar and water that is left to ferment for 5-30 days. You can drink it plain or add fruit, ginger, fruit juice to flavor to your liking.

Why drink it?

Kombucha is known especially for it’s probiotics, but it also contains ingredients from fermentation that aid in cancer prevention, immune boosters, joint relief, and detoxification properties. If you want details, this is a great article on the benefits.

How do I make it?

Making it is way more simple than I pictured and I’m loving the project. Save yourself some money and give it a whirl.

When you break down the cost after recouping money spent on the jars if you had none in the beginning of your journey, you’re looking at $0.12 cents per serving vs. $1.50 if you drank half the bottle of Kombucha bought at your local health food store. I don’t know about you, but I drink that whole sucker right down in one sitting.

Please say you do too.

Severe weakness for Whole Foods salad bar and my Synergy Kombucha.

Severe weakness for Whole Foods salad bar and my Synergy Kombucha.

Supplies:

  • At least 2 4-gallon glass jars with flip lids and tight seals
  • White sugar (organic)
  • 5 black tea bags
  • Filtered Water
  • SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) If you don’t have a friend with an extra SCOBY of their own ready to share, you can always order them online and they will be shipped to you in a dehydrated form ready to go.
  • Ginger, fruit or juice of your choice
  • Rubber band
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mesh strainer

Directions:

1. In your glass jar pour 1 1/3 c. sugar and 5 black tea bags.

2. Boil water and pour into jar about 2 inches full so it is enough to dissolve sugar and steep tea.

3. Stir tea and sugar with a wooden spoon and let it sit for 10 minutes.

4. Fill up the rest of the jar with cool water and take tea bags out.

5. Place SCOBY on top.

6. Cover top of the jar with a dishcloth and rubber band.

7. Set in a dark place at room temperature for 5 days.

8. At the end of 5 days, remove the SCOBY and prepare a new jar (repeating steps 1-7).

9. In your first jar add something that has sugar in it (1/2 c. grated ginger, berries, non-pulpy juice, etc.).

10. Seal the jar with the air-tight lid and let it sit for at least 2 days.

11. Strain out the fruit or whatever you added with a mesh drain and transfer to serving jars or plastic tea container in the fridge.

*Be careful when you open your air-tight container. The longer it sits, the fizzier it can get and will explode. It is recommended to hold one hand over your lid while you open with the other hand to maintain control.

Five Things to Never Say to a Pregnant Woman in Her First Trimester

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People are funny. So often they mean well, and it comes out wrong. Or sometimes they just don’t have a filter and say whatever they want with no thought of any emotional repercussions for the individual their comment is geared toward.

Although somewhere down the line these comments will be a distant memory that will most likely make me chuckle, I still have to just put it out there that these are the top five comments I am encountering on the rare occasions I attempt to make it out of the house and away from hugging my toilet for dear life.

Oh, pregnancy…

1. Wow! You look like you’re ready to pop!

This is my third pregnancy. By now, my uterus is like a deflated balloon that easily remembers how to stretch itself back out and didn’t take long to do it. It seems like we found out we were having a baby and the next day I was in maternity clothes and looking down at the familiar round hump almost blocking my toes. I’m okay with it.

2. Want a glass of wine?

This just makes me want to cry. I blame the tears on fluctuating hormones, really.

3. You having twins?

Although we did have a few days of waiting for a diagnostic ultrasound to see if we did in fact have twins. We do not.

4. My pregnancies were a breeze.

This pregnancy so far has really taught me that each one is so different. I felt like being pregnant with Sadie was a breeze until we actually had her in our arms and things for me went downhill quick. Jonah was pretty uneventful and predictable. This one has already thrown me for a loop with the excessive amount of morning sickness I have been experiencing. Some days I have honestly felt like I was dying…not that I’m dramatic or anything.

I never thought in my life I would take any sort of medication while pregnant, certainly not in my first trimester. You’re talking to a crunchy granola, natural medicine cabinet, currently trying my hand at brewing Kombucha, moisturize with Coconut Oil and wash your face with Olive Oil kind of a woman.

My idea of a natural pregnancy is out the window since I’m currently as medicated as I can be and it’s still not enough.

In all seriousness though, when I am struggling through my day with two busy toddlers and attempting to function like a person with the flu, the least encouraging thing you can tell me was that you didn’t even feel like you were pregnant most days.

I love you. Tell me later.

5. Three kids is a lot.

When you have one kiddo, it’s a lot. Two rocks your world. No matter the number, each one is a gift, each one is completely unique, and each one is exactly what we prayed for God to allow if it was His will. It will always be a lot…a lot of just what we were meant to have.

So there you have it….the next time you see me, don’t speak. Just hug it out!