Home For Christmas 2015

2015 12 24_4022‘Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house we were celebrating Christmas in the calm before the storm. We decided early in the morning (when we happened to wake up a couple hours before the kids) that it might just make things go smoother and less overwhelming for the kids to have Christmas  a day early in order to space it out from seeing the relatives and travel. It was definitely far more relaxed then Christmas other years or even this whole week leading up to Christmas to spend the morning with just the 4 of us, and to have a less overwhelming pile of presents to choose from!

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Of course there were still plenty of presents, and Santa came through with full stockings and the Dinosaur SuperD asked him for last week!

Baby R had to try out all her presents as she opened them

Mom and Dad guessed right when picking out presents this year and R was enthralled with her new doll stuff!

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And How CUTE is this! Our neighbor and dear friend MADE this doll carrier that we gave R!!! Its perfect and now she can carry her babies, just like mommy!

D got some pretty great things too! A LeapPad and a REAL (kids) Camera were among his faves, and of course he never tires of new books!

2015 12 24_4104 Then it was time to clean up…and R was delighted to help with her new brooms (one from each grandma!)

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All finished off with a yummy breakfast! All in all it was fantastic to be able to take breaks as the kids needed, avoiding sensory overload meltdowns and having less new stuff all at once made this Christmas “day” a lot less crazy then I had anticipated, we have already played with toys and calming down back into routine…We are still looking forward to having a big Christmas with all the relatives later this week, but I think we may be onto something having a small family Christmas and then visiting with the rest of the relatives on another day! A Very Merry Christmas to all of our Friends and Family!

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Merry Christmas from us to you

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For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  – Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV.

As we approach the holidays it is time to write a bit of an update. This year has been very full. Full of joy and full of stress, full of family, full of learning, full of new friends and new directions, and full of God stretching us in every area possible! These verses represent both what we have seen in the past year and what we pray for the coming year. So with no further ado, a glimpse at 2015!

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4.5 Years

Super D: This kid keeps us on our toes! He still loves SuperHeros, especially Batman this year! Batman costumes, Batman Lego, Batman pictures is the name of the game! Recently his interest has also turned to Lego, building and destroying is an activity he enjoys to do and it seems to be almost calming for him. He also likes to be creative with coloring and crafts and proudly shows his latest artwork to hang up in the kitchen! He is very curious and interested in “why” lately…why are things the way they are? how are things made? Why did they make them that way? Why do we have separate garbage cans for the organic garbage and recycles and trash? We are definitely in a why stage these days!

He also loves hanging out with the kids on our street, there is a boy a few houses up who he has really connected with a few months older who he likes to play with on a regular basis, they ride bikes and like to color together and of course make up superhero or hide and seek games. He is never shy to try and make a new friend.  He is turning into a great big brother! He adores his little sister and always has to stick up for her if he feels she isn’t being cared for to his standards. Of course not without the expected “sibling revelry” that also comes with the territory!
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Batman and a neighborhood buddy

We have had some fairly significant challenges with him this year that have required extra work and a lot of prayer and energy to try and help him feel secure in our family, and that is going to be an ongoing challenge for some time, however we have seen encouraging signs over the last six months  that gives us hope. We do not yet know what life looks like long term regarding some of these behaviors and diagnoses, but we do believe that God is and will continue to work in his life and in our family.
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1.5 years

Baby R: R has changed so much in the last year! Of course going from a 9 month old baby last January to a 20 month old toddler is crazy amount of changing and growing in just a year! She is a little person now! With opinions and a stubborn streak!
She still is not very 2015 12 11_3966_edited-1verbal and only has a handful of words that she uses regularly, but communicates very well. (Apparently I stole this line right out of my own babybook…). She points and nods and shakes her head, knows some signs and learns the important words like what an owl says “Hoo hoo” and what you need to go outside…”boots”. She loves to go outside, to go see her friends at church, coloring (not always on the paper), LOVES OWLS and points them out on everything she can find. Has a new favorite food every day, but don’t you dare give her leftovers! Those will go on the floor, even if they were her favorite the day before!
She is quite sensitive and is the one you often find crying BEFORE the other kid touched her or BEFORE brother took a toy away,  but also with that she LOVES hugs and cuddles and on a bad day the Lenny Lamb (baby carrier) is still the easiest way to help her calm down.
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First Birthday Cake Smash

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Mom and Dad (Alternately known as Paul and Katie)
As stated above, we have been stretched a lot this year, I (Katie) have had health issues show up that have had a big impact on the way I live and how much I am able to take on. It is further compounded by stress, which has been difficult to avoid this year. On top of being new parents (to 2 kids!) and also new to being parents to a child with some extra needs; We have lost an income as I gave up my position at work and stayed on as causal after my maternity leave ended.It was a hard decision to make but my health was suffering and I really felt that one of us needed to be home with the kids due to their individual needs right now. Luckily Paul’s work has been more steady this year then any years previously, and it is a job that he continues to enjoy.
But as God stretches he also provides. Paul volunteered to take the Santa Pictures for our church’s breakfast with Santa event last Christmas (By the way, awesome event….if you didn’t get tickets this year, ask me about it for next year!) and from Saturday to Sunday we went from feeling like we didn’t really know anyone to having people knowing us by name the next day! We were invited to join a homegroup shortly after and found real encouragement and love and learning and real community in this group. It has helped that it is full of couples with children close to our children’s age as well as some with teenagers and grown children – to give us a glimpse of whats ahead!
Paul is also on the setup team and I am back in the nursery loving the babies. Another mom and I also started up a play group at the new church community Hub, that I am looking forward to see how God continues to use that to bless us and the community.
 Prayers for a peace filled holiday and 2016 for your family and ours. We couldn’t have made it without our family and friends support!
  – Katie and Paul.
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Hypothyroidism – My Journey thus far

3858108794b9892f451936c680e4c824With the promise of a future. I am finally able to talk about it… I have alluded to it, wondered about it, cried over it, not understood it, questioned God, questioned myself, questioned our medical system…and finally, feel like yes, it sucks, but no, it doesn’t have to be what defines me from here on out. Doesn’t have to be my stealer of joy and hope (although some days it still has a pretty hard push). I have learned so much over the past 8 months, about my illness, treatment and about how God still works.

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A little background
1990’s – Sometime before the year 2000 I was diagnosed hypothyroid as a child. Took a pill every day, never thought anything of it.

2000’s – I knew I was a moody teenage, but I was a teenager, I was suppose to be moody… As a young adult I started being able to recognize the lack of energy or the connection to depression or weight gain and sure enough every time I felt like something was off, my bloodwork would show a need for a dose increase. It was pretty easy to manage and I would hear here and there about how its a chronic illness and kind of thought, “hey its really not that bad, just take a pill and your fine, I don’t know what the big deal is about…people just want an excuse maybe”.

2013-2015 – Pregnancy was hard on my body. I had 0 energy, was sick for almost the whole time and my thyroid med doses kept going up and up, but I was assured this was normal and they would go back down after pregnancy. After the birth of my daughter, nothing seemed off, I was tired, but I was also not getting any sleep…and could excuse it. I was surprised when my post-partum bloodwork showed I needed another increase, but didn’t think too much of it. We began to care for another child, with some emotional needs that greatly effect daily life. I was exhausted, but had so much to deal with that I didn’t give it much attention.

It wasn’t until the baby was 12 months old that I began to think, “oh I feel like I need a dose increase” – was feeling extremely tired even though the kids were sleeping better at night and I was no longer nursing, I couldn’t blame those on how I was feeling. Depression was setting in, extreme moodswings, LESS energy then when my kids were not sleeping, and my hair was falling out. (TMI ALERT: My period had also returned and was terrible…unpredictable and extremely heavy).

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I at one point in the spring could count over 50!!! I stopped counting there because it was very depressing and the last thing I needed was to fuel that fire.

I went to get my bloodwork, and was SHOCKED when it came back normal. I had recently started setting intentional time aside to spend in prayer and bible reading, had gotten back involved in church, was trying to eat better…doing everything I could to take care of my spiritual and physically life and was feeling like I was barely existing, definitely not living! I felt like Job. I was having daily conversation with God about how hard it was to trust him when I feel like everything I care about is being affected. I couldn’t be the wife or mom I wanted to be, or even the person I knew God was calling me to be, but I knew that my only option was to seek out God, to seek prayer. I couldn’t get through whatever was going on by myself. And if its not my thyroid, then what? Was my new normal going to be merely laying on a couch forever? What kind of childhood would that leave my children with? would I ever be able to work again? What if it was something far more serious?

Coincidence or prayer. I have no doubt that the next steps had God’s hand all over them. When I went into the Dr to tell her that despite the results, despite another dose increase, I was feeling much worse then I had ever felt in my life, she suggested to test for everything else that might make a person feel like I did. Iron, Glucose and 20 other markers….and unknown to me she had included a full thyroid panel. Everything came back “in range”. The days between getting the results and seeing the Dr to formally go over them were some of the hardest most depressing days I can remember.

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But God had a plan. He had me at a Dr who, unlike many dr’s who do not look beyond TSH, would have, still suspected a thyroid problem. She told me that looking at the test results even though they were both in range my T4 (thyroid storage hormone) was at the high end of the range…thanks to my synthetic medication, but my T3 (the thyroid hormone that actually gets to your cells) was at the very bottom of the range…which would explain everything! If my body wasn’t able to actually use the medication then I was falling more and more hypothyroid. Switching meds seemed to be the next step…I will post about it in an upcoming post!

4th of July

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Because I’m a suckered for dressing my kid up in themed clothes as long as she will let me!

Guilt: The Worst Symptom

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I cried today. I cried because I found a blog post that talked about everything I have felt for the past months. I want to blog about my experience, about how I was soooo mistaken when I thought that people who called hypothyroid a chronic illness were overreacting having lived with it for 15 years…it’s an easy fix with a pill once a day right? Until it’s not. Until the day you realize you can hardly make it through the day and something is utterly wrong. That symptoms that used to be easily fixed by a medication are not going away. Maybe tonight I will elaborate. Maybe this week…maybe next week. But in this moment the guilt and the emotions are winning. So I will just leave this here until I have the energy to come back to it.

Guilt: The Worst Symptom.

Essential Oils and the Bible

I started using essential oils this past year because my daughter was getting yeast rashes that medications both prescribed and over the counter were not helping at all. Shortly after starting to really  look into them my 4 year old started to get strep…..every couple weeks, was determined that he is more “likely to get it” then other kids, and react badly to it with scarlet fever symptoms. It scared me to have that much continuous antibiotics in his little body…so I looked into not just what could aid (I wasn’t going to take chances or skip the antibiotics) but more what could help prevent.

At the same time I have been convicted over the last number of months about my lack of prayer. I have no doubt God can provide for our needs, no doubt that he loves me and my family, so why was prayer not commonplace in my life. I had a million excuses – not getting enough sleep, 2 small children, too busy….all excuses. I have since set aside the first half hour of my daughters nap time to prayer and bible. It’s not a lot of time, and I think that in itself was part of my excuses – that I didn’t have a lot of time to set aside, but making ANY time allows God to work and he has been giving me more of a hunger for that time, and for further prayer and reading and fellowship. 30 minutes isn’t taking “too much time”, but its the beginning of renewing my commitment to what I believe is important, and acknowledging that my relationship with God needs to be given some room.

Since incorporating oils AND prayer regularly into my life and parenting, I became more and more curious about how my faith and perspectives on medication and science and oils and “natural remedies” interact. Because I don’t have a ton of time, rather then type out all my findings, I am going to point you to an article that I found really insightful. It make sense that a God that loves us and wants to heal us, has already created things that will interact with our genetic makeup as humans in a helpful way. And after 3 rounds of antibiotics basically back to back, the preschooler has not tested positive for strep even with symptoms present since despite spending time with friends who tested positive within days of seeing us! And the baby, well I can’t remember the last time she had a bad yeast rash! I can’t say its 100% the oils, but I can say that paired with prayer and trusting God to strengthen my children, both my children have benefitted significantly since we started to look into ways to live a more natural and God centered life!
http://simplelifeabundantlife.com/2013/09/26/biblical-look-use-essential-oils-can-apply-lives/

Look Hoo’s One!

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Happy First Birthday Baby Girl!

Another time I might try and share some thoughts and reflections on the year, but today its your Birthday, and we are too busy celebrating! You had a hoot of a time with your friends and your grandpas and grandmas and aunties came too! Mommy made all sorts of decorations to celebrate your first year of life and you even had your first cupcake! Everyone gave you such wonderful presents,  you are going to have a great summer playing with them all!

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Learning to be Cheapskates Update #1

Well….when it rains it pours! Just when my maternity leave runs out and we officially become a one income household (and a *mostly* stay at home mom becomes my career title) we have had some fairly significant expenses come up! Rather then go into detail about that, I thought I would share some of the little things that have helped cut some costs….

1. We cancelled (well as soon as we can take the dang box back…they sure don’t make it easy!) our cable and home phone. With Netflix we never really “needed” the TV anyways.

2. We took one of the cars (that wasn’t running well) back to the place we bought it from and got a refund…we are now a one car family…. This has been challenging, more for my husband who has been biking/bussing/skateboarding to work and back, as if he takes the car I have no way to transport the kids.

3. I reduced our groceries bills in half…mostly by only going every other week instead of every week and still not spending more to make up the difference, we have had to go into the pantry a lot more and eat what we can find…also all those box foods that say to add butter….you don’t really need butter…..or the full amount of milk… Ironically buying produce from a local farmer has actually helped too…the prices are not a lot higher then the store and with smaller bags of things like spinach and sweet potato, we actually get to eating it all and have a lot less waste.

4. About waste….did you know that if you REALLY want to use up all the toothpaste in the tube….theres probably at least a weeks worth left after we previously would have deemed it empty….squeeze harder….cut the end off…theres still some hiding! Also watering down shampoos, bodywashes, not only help them last longer, but also makes them easier on the kids sensitive skin. Have also made rags out of some old T-shirts and by using them instead of paper towel or cleaning cloths….have already seen the papertowel last a lot longer!

5. I have sold $50 worth of maternity clothes on a local bidding site….and bought R’s adorable Easter dress of f the same site for $2.

6. Thanks to the great weather this week have been able to hang laundry instead of use the dryer  as much…which when I do at least 10 loads a week (between clothes, cloth diapers, cloths and towels…we produce a lot of dirty clothes!)…having only used the dryer half the time if nothing else is at least better for our ecological footprint as a family!

Will keep posting things as I think of them and make more adjustments, but I thought I need to start somewhere!

Thoughts on Breastfeeding

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Exactly one week before her first birthday we are done nursing. After months of me having doubts about my supply levels and trying to make it happen….to reach my personal goal of nursing until at least a year, she decided for me that we were finished. This makes me irrationally sad…I am proud we made it this long, and I commend all moms who try and BF as long as they can and I commend all moms who formula feed for many reasons….I did not expect to be sad about this day. I am only writing about it because it feels surreal to me, and that maybe somewhere there is another mother out there who can benefit from knowing she is not alone in her feelings. So lets back up…to the very beginning.

Pre-pregnancy: I had no desire to be pregnant, and full intention to adopt. I love babies, but giving birth to them was just not something I craved. Because of that expectation I never expected to ever have to even think about nursing. Even after deciding we were indeed going to try and conceive prior to looking into adoption more, Breastfeeding was not something on the front of my radar.

Pregnancy: I felt bombarded with information about nursing. The benefits, the judgment of those who don’t, the messages of trying to normalize it, but I still didn’t feel like it was something that I would ever be passionate or emotionally involved in. I was quick to defend those who formula feed and while I knew I would try and nurse for the sake of my child, it was never something that I was fully committed to.

Newborn: Hello oversupply! The first weeks were hard, constantly correcting the latch, leaking all over the place, and actually nursing was painful, not enjoyable, …and what I would have done for more then a hour of sleep at a time…but I had decided that I would give nursing 6 weeks, and go from there. 6 weeks came and by then it got easier….still dealt with oversupply, but learned patterns that helped even things out and pumping became routine, I was able to pump enough for our needs and donate monthly to a little boy who was having a hard time digesting formula and his mom had really wanted to give him breastmilk that she couldn’t provide. (if you would like to donate please contact your local milkbank or Human Milk 4 Human Babies )

6 months old: Pumping stopped working….no mater how long or how often I would pump, I could never pump more then 1oz….this was also about the time nursing started to be more bonding, something I finally can even say I cherished. It helped that I was getting up to 4 or 5 hours of sleep at a time….maybe that was part of the beginning of the end. Either way, not being able to pump I think did make me care more about trying to make it to the goal of a year.

9 Months old: I began to question my supply…there were a few things going on…like a constantly hungry child, even with eating more solids the number of nursing sessions was going up during the day not down, she also was getting constipated a LOT. I no longer felt engorged, even when away from her for more then just a couple hours. I posted the following on a mom’s group after about 3 or 4 weeks of these observations.

Question for breastfeeding moms or finished breastfeeding moms: How do you know when you have stopped producing. Nursing has been challenging lately, with teething and distractions and eating more solids….its been about a week of her hardly eating on either side before bed and acting like she is still hungry (crying if I take her off, but just playing or coming off every two seconds when trying to nurse)…and today just out of curiosity gave her a bottle after she was “done”…and she drank almost all of it…. I stopped pumping months ago because my body stopped reacting to the pump….does this mean we are done BF? Should I bother trying things like nursing tea/fennel if I’m not sure if I am producing anything? Wanted to make it to year…but not sure what’s going on

11.5 Months: After doing everything I could short of medication to encourage nursing (nursing more often, drinking nursing teas, applying fennel, cutting back solids etc ) it just seemed to make me stressed and R more upset and grumpy I decided it was time to let my body and my child decide if we were done and not push it anymore. I stopped offering unless she asked, I let her have that full bottle after nursing if she still seemed hungry, and that brings us to today…

Over the last 2 weeks she has rarely indicated a want/need to nurse, only comfort nursing before naps(a whole lot of sucking and zero swallowing) she started to even refuse those. Saturday. A week before her first birthday, she did not want to nurse at all….I didn’t get engorged, or even feel ‘full’ instead I felt sad. I know I should feel proud and happy about making it to a year, but I feel more surprised and uncomfortable. I realize I had an assumption that nursing would either come “naturally” and last as long as there was a child to nurse, you hear the stories of the moms who are still nursing their 2 and 3 year olds, or it wouldn’t and you would have come to terms with not nursing in the first number of weeks. I somehow expected it feel more like I had a choice in the matter then my body and my baby deciding without me at this point.  It was an odd feeling today getting up and putting on a regular bra…in a size I haven’t worn in close to 2 years and it fitting, putting on a top that wasn’t specifically chosen to be able to pull down easily at a moments notice. A part of me is eager to have my body back…but I feel like I don’t recognize it either, and I am glad that weaning seems like its not going to be a bad experience….and I am not sure I am fully ready to admit my daughter no longer needs that intimate nourishment in the same way as has sustained her until now. IMG_0373_edited-1

Easter 2015

Easter was split up into a full weekend event this year! The boys were invited to a Egghunt at a local daycare, Then one set of grandparents came over and brought Easter treats over, then on Saturday we headed over to the other grandparents to have an egghunt and dinner and finally on Easter Sunday we all got dressed up for church and to celebrate what Easter is really about…Jesus fulfilling God’s plan and making it possible for us to be in relationship with the creator….followed by an easter egg hunt!

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