Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

Not only did I miss posting yesterday, I missed out on an epic meet up of awesome bloggers.  I have no good excuse except that yesterday was the second time I have fallen asleep in the middle of the floor this week, and this was following consumption of an amount of caffeine I am ashamed to admit to.  After recently stopping at a green light for an embarrassing amount of time, I'm trying hard to pay attention to my sleepiness levels before driving, especially for hour long trips containing beltway driving during prime traffic hours.

He's going to start sleeping through the night soon, I can feel it in my bones.

At least that's what I keep telling myself to make me feel better.

Anyway, I'm linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter today for Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real!


My beautiful little ballerinas, having a lot of fun with pipe cleaner beading this week.

Clare is finally past (ok...almost past...) the stage where she compulsively eats tiny objects.  Unfortunately she's not past the stage where she drops half of them onto the floor, where her brother who does still compulsively eat small objects resides.

This was ridiculously adorable - Emeric was passing Ava blocks from the basket.

Tea and Lincoln Logs.
I think the morning sun coming in the windows is so pretty.
My phone camera skills leave a little to be desired when it comes to capturing that beauty, though.

I love how intently he is studying this leaf :)


Ava is obsessed with all things blueberry at the moment, and has been asking me for blueberry popsicles, which have proved impossible to find...

 But I finally did find some, and she was very happy.

And Uncle Tim came for a visit, bearing a wooden snake from Costa Rica!


My sister Emily got Emeric this hilarious bib at Muir Woods...I love being on the receiving end of my siblings awesome travel souvenirs :)

The girls are adamantly opposed to wearing anything other than a dress.

I'm guessing the other shoppers assumed I was a hillbilly from the sticks who came into town for a rare shopping adventure and got everyone dressed up all fancy for the occasion.  Even Emeric is wearing his little Ralph Lauren polo (scored at the consignment shop of course...)

We checked out the cakes at Wegmans before Ava's birthday.  She's been asking for a blue cake - and I'm not exaggerating here - since her last birthday.  I planned on making one having my mom make one but I thought we'd just see if we found anything that caught our eye.  Well one did catch Ava's eye - the most hideous, neon orange monstrosity.  It was $18.  I told Ava I would be happy to pay $18 for a beautiful cake, and that I would be happy pay $5 for an ugly cake, but the cake was neither beautiful nor cheap.

Maybe I'll regret this someday when I'm shelling out $18x10 every week for her therapy...


Anyway, this was her real cake:

(Thanks, mom!)

 And this is the way Clare ate it...

 That's kinda the way Clare eats everything.

I tried to make pickles...

They were pretty bad.
If you have a great recipe, I'd love to hear about it!!

Go check out Like Mother, Like Daughter for more lovely moments from the week!!
I will probably see you tomorrow.
I'm trying here, I'm trying!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Food Allergy PSA

Well I have a lot of fantastic excuses for not blogging, but this one takes the cake.  A few weeks back on Friday morning - coffee was brewed and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood was mesmerizing the girls.  I was ready to sit down and type out the most fabulous quick takes that have ever been written.  But Emeric had been up alllll night nursing yet still seemed ravenous and so I searched the depths of my cabinets and came up with a few sample packs of formula from the hospital.

I can haz a snack??

While I was mixing, I noticed the first ingredient listed - nonfat milk.  Wait, why are we supposed to wait until babies are a certain age to introduce dairy products but babies who are formula fed can have it right from the start?  I ponder on that as I try to get him to try a little formula from his new sippy cup, but he's not having any of it.  In fact, he almost scratched my face off just for offering it, which reminded me I needed to trim his nails.  I went to grab the nail clippers and started trimming away as he squirmed and cried.  That might sound like perfectly normal behavior for a 7 month old, but Emeric has always been strangely docile during the whole procedure.  But you know - babies go through phases and all that, so I pressed on....until his cry started getting raspy and weird.

I turned him around and saw a frighteningly similar scene to the last week's pecan fiasco - swollen mouth, chin, neck.  And I panicked.  Even though he looked similar to Clare, he was clearly having some respiratory issues and I hadn't gotten that expired epi pen refilled yet, shame on me.  (In my defense, I did have an appointment with the allergist and was planning on getting the new prescription then.)  I ran to the medicine shelf and started frantically grabbing bottles - things were a little unorganized because of packing/unpacking toiletries after a trip down to North Carolina.  I grabbed a big brown bottle that I thought was right, measured it out, and started pouring it down his throat...and then thought to myself "is the Benadryl usually this purple??"

No.  No it is not.

I now start frantically wiping the adult tussin out of Emeric's mouth and let loose my first outloud bad word ever right in front of my 2 and 3 year old.  I stand up and assess the situation: The skin around Emeric's eyes is starting to swell.  Stephen is already at work and just moved to a new building the day before and I don't have his new phone number yet.  I'm still in my pajamas, and so is Clare.  I skipped my shower the day before and am a little less than fresh.  Everyone has bed head and Clare is still wearing half her breakfast across her face.  We live on the second floor in a large apartment building and getting everyone to the car and strapped in takes 15 minutes minimum on the best of days, and then there's that pesky 15 minute drive across town to even get to the ER.  My alternative to packing everyone up and heading to the ER is to call an ambulance...with a 2 and 3 year old in tow.

What Clare looks like on any given morning.

I take a deep breath, throw on a maxi dress and tell Ava to help Clare with her shoes (which I discovered were on backwards after we arrived at the ER) and start running while yelling to the girls to try and keep up.  I keep running and yelling as they stop to chat with a man in the lobby about how their brother is sick.  I keep running and yelling across the parking lot to the minivan, strap everyone in, and ask Ava to please tell me if Emeric starts turning blue or looking otherwise distressed.  She chimes in with helpful comments all the way: "Mom, Emeric looks blue but I think it's because the sky is blue and it's shining on him!"  We tear into the ER and I realize each of my children has officially had their own visit to the pediatric ward.  Hooray for milestones.

An approxmate recreation of the scene.

Emeric is hooked up to the monitors ASAP and his oxygen levels look just fine, but his entire face is red and swollen by this point and he's strangely lethargic - not crying, not itching, just sitting and staring while being poked, prodded, and carried around by the nurses. The doctor says the accidental Tussin won't hurt him and they start him on Benadryl since he seems to be breathing ok.  An hour later he was starting to clear up quite a bit and after a few more hours they cleared us to go home.

This is your child on Benadryl.

First and foremost, I wanted to share the information I received from my allergist regarding how to respond in a situation like this.  Benadryl is a great drug for hives, but if you notice any voice or breathing changes (usually accompanied by hives around the mouth to indicate this is an allergic reaction to something eaten) FIND AN EPI PEN IF POSSIBLEAND CALL 911.  In other words, trying to hightail it to the ER with multiple small children was the wrong choice.

And I've also learned a few other things from this fiasco that I thought I'd share.  I apologize in advance for the excessive use of caps lock and dramatic language.

1. Take a shower everyday.  I am really bad at this.  Whether it's a run to the ER, the dishwasher leaking all over the floor, or just unexpected company, emergencies happen.  Best to tackle them smelling fresh for a little extra boost of confidence.  

2. You know how you check your smoke detectors when you change your clock??  Yeah, well get in the habit of checking your medicine cabinet too.  Make sure you have enough of all those emergency drugs like Benadryl and syrup of ipecac.  And for the love of all things good, if you need an epi pen - KEEP AT LEAST 10 ON HAND AT ALL TIMES.  Guilty confession - still don't have any syrup of ipecac.  Hopefully that admission doesn't jinx me.

4. Label said medications well.  Have current dosing info for each of your children written on the bottle.  Target brand medicine all comes in similar looking brown bottles and is apparently indistinguishable in an emergency.

Bright tape helps, too.

3. Keep a bug out bag ready with fun games, a water bottle, an extra cell phone charger, etc.  We have an amazing pediatric ER that brought out a set of brand new art supplies for the girls (including watercolor paint!!) but in an emergency you might not be so lucky.  Also, Clare's attention span isn't quite robust enough for long stretches with art supplies so an extra bag of tricks would have kept her out of the biohazard bins just a little longer...

And if you are looking for a great service project, 
consider making up some activity bags to donate to local ERs for 
children who are accompanying a sick family member...

4. Have a pair of shoes for you children that they can put on quickly in case of an emergency.  That means no saltwaters, wop wop.

5. Rehearse the drill with your kids.  Instead of putting on her shoes and helping Clare get hers on, Ava was very busy asking me approximately 4 million questions about what was happening to Emeric and if he was ok.  If you have kids with food allergies or other health issues that increase the likelihood of these kind of emergencies, make sure any children that are old enough to understand have been given a rundown of what to do and expect when a crisis happens. 

Even if you have never had any kind of emergency, I would highly suggest going over some practice scenarios with older children.  For younger kids, try rehearsing a special code word - for example, when I say "code red" to Ava she now knows it is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that she obey quickly and not talk or ask questions.  Practice this with the little ones so they get the hang of it.  It's kind of fun and exciting for them if you use it in the very rare occasion of an actual emergency, but for heaven's sake DO NOT give into the temptation to start using this every night when someone asks whats for dinner for the 500,000th time.  

6. If you are one of those people that likes to slow down juuuust a little bit when the vehicle behind you is riding your tail a little too closely, knock it off.  Crazy eyed mom in the minivan might be driving a sick baby to the ER, not just late for soccer practice.

Experienced food allergy people, do you have anything you'd like to add??  Because I'm still a n00b at this, and I'm all ears.

See you here tomorrow for a rundown of what I'm reading!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Ava Story

Yes, I've decided to let Jen whip me into shape via 7 in 7.  Ava's FOURTH birthday was on Saturday so I thought I'd start with a birth story because EVERYBODY LOVES BIRTH STORIES!!!!

Stay tuned for a blogging therapy sesh at some point during the week when I ask you to help diagnose my issues of why I can't get a blessed post pulled together these days for heavens sake.

***In case you skipped the above paragraph, this is a birth story - so if you don't like hearing about mucous plugs, TURN BACK NOW!!!

July 19, 2009:

I am 4 days overdue.  For at least a week I had been attempting most of the usual suspects when it comes to labor inducers - lengthy walks, spicy foods, pineapple, Hawaiian labor dances, etc. - to no avail.  Stephen's sister Anne was staying with us and for some reason we decided tonight was a good night for...arm wrestling?  I'm pretty sure that's what put me over the edge.

Hawaiian labor dance.  Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

Anyway, we all got in bed around 10 or 11, but I couldn't fall asleep.  I had that nervous butterfly feeling in my stomach.  I got up again around midnight and Stephen and Anne were having a hard time sleeping too.  We all sat around playing 20 questions and I started to notice the nervous butterfly feeling was coming and going periodically and I started timing these little nausea episodes.  It wasn't super regular but definitely coming at intervals between 7-10 minutes or so.

After 3 kids, I only wish I could look this good at 21 weeks postpartum...
Stephen and Anne decided to get back in bed some time before 2am (they offered to stay up with me, but I insisted they sleep - it was a Sunday night and Stephen had to get up for work in the morning) and I ordered "New in Town" with Rene Zellweger on On Demand - I may be biased because I wasn't feeling great, but that was one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life.  As the movie went on the nausea episodes were turning into actual contractions, but I wasn't in any substantial amount of pain so I just kept on watching and didn't wake anyone up.  I was timing the contractions periodically, and they were pretty sporadic - around 3-7 minutes apart and sometimes longer. Most of them were pretty short in duration.   I was wary of going to the hospital too early thanks to the Bradley book I'd read, and the midwives I was working with had said to come in when the contractions were 5 minutes apart, lasting for 60 seconds each, and had been continuing for at least an hour.  Everything I'd read insisted that "real contractions" were regular and that irregular contractions were more indicative of Braxton Hicks so I wasn't even convinced that I was in labor at this point.

30 weeks.  There's that cute little belly I was waiting for.

I suddenly got hit with 2 strong contractions that came one right after the other and I woke Stephen up and asked him to draw a warm bath so I could try to relax.  Stephen watched me as he filled the bath and suggested maybe it was time to go to the hospital?  I reminded him that first time moms labor an average of 14 HOURS and that I had only just begun!!!  As soon as I got into the bath I lost my mucous plug and although I didn't realize it at the time, my water broke.  I quickly got out and decided Stephen was probably right about heading to the hospital.

However, he was not right about the
purpose of a Boppy pillow.
And also about the proper usage of a baby bjorn.

I got dressed as Stephen and Anne rushed around getting my hospital bag ready.  Oh, I had the bag "packed" - and I also had a list on top of the bag of all the last minute items I would need to collect from around the house that I was using on a daily basis, such as my pillow, hair dryer, hair straightener, makeup, etc...yeaaaa I'm a real piece of work sometimes.  Since my water had broken in the tub, the contractions had ramped up to a whole new level - and while Stephen was doing something ridiculous like deflating the giant bouncy ball to transport it to the hospital room to labor on, I sat down on the floor and whined that I DIDN'T CARE ABOUT MY BAG I JUST WANTED TO GO.  Stephen and Anne helped me walk down to the car and I suddenly remembered we were supposed to call the midwives before showing up at L&D and also told Stephen he needed to call my mom since they were planning on making the drive down from New York for the birth.  So Stephen was trying to make all of these phone calls while driving and meanwhile my feet were up on the dash and I realized hey - bearing down relieves some of the pain and pressure!!

36 weeks with baby #1.
About the same as 16 week belly with baby #3.

After driving all the way around the hospital because we missed the ER entrance the first time, I insisted that Stephen pull up to the door and I leaped out and hustled myself in before another contraction hit.  I love this part - I said to the man at the desk "I think I'm in labor!"  I think??  I THINK I'm in labor??  Spoiler alert - I was fully dilated at this point.  Stephen ran back in after parking and they had just asked my name but another contraction hit and I couldn't answer. Someone ran and got me a wheelchair and told me to sit down.  I just stood there gripping the desk white knuckled and the orderly and Stephen had to physically sit me down.  I was wheeled up to L&D and we bypassed triage and were put right into a delivery room.  As I rolled into the room I had another contraction and my body completely involuntary started some full on pushing - that is seriously one of the weirdest feelings ever.  The orderly had left to get a nurse, and as soon as the contraction had subsided I jumped out of the wheelchair and tried to climb onto the bed but didn't make it all the way up before the next contraction hit.  Stephen was frantically trying to signal a nurse and when one finally arrived I informed her about my pushing urge.  I was still dressed at this point and she and Stephen were trying to yank my pants off so she could check my progress during the next contraction.  Jamie's second awesome quote of the day: I yelped "I THINK I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!!" and the nurse calmly informed me that actually my child, not a bowel movement, was coming out.

I might not have been ready for this moment, but at least the crib was.

What happened next is all a blur to me.  I think I actually went into shock.  I fully expected to be in labor for many more hours, and instead was just told that it's time for me to have a baby.  NOW.  Even though I was 5 days overdue at this point, I just expected to have more time to mentally prepare for this moment - or you know, at least get checked into the hospital.  (Side note - signing papers immediately after giving birth is not the easiest task in the world.  Shaky hands and all that.)  The room was buzzing with people now, and my midwife had arrived and was telling me not to push because they were trying to get an IV line into me.  Because of my history of passing out due to mild amounts of pain, there was concern about how I would be able to tolerate labor and they wanted to have some precautions in place in case I needed any emergency medication.  Despite their repeated warnings, my body was pushing and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  They were having a horrible time with the IV on me, and when they FINALLY got it set I was given the green light.  3 pushes later, Ava Marie Gewand was born at 6lbs 4oz. and about 30 minutes after we pulled up to the hospital.

Ava, you bring so much joy to our world!

Happy birthday, you crazy awesome 4 year old :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Five Favorites and What I'm Reading

Double dipping my link ups this week for Five Favorites and What I'm Reading!

1. Feed Your Face (What I'm Reading)

Heads up, this is an affiliate link because I'm not
sure if I'm supposed to link to Amazon images outside of the program...halp??
All you health nuts out there (I think we've established I'm not one of those) might find this book to be boring stuff you already know - basically: eat all those "superfoods" you hear tell about. (You know, the stuff with Omega 3's and...stuff)  But I loved the depth the author went into on the research that has been done on the skin and what effect the food we eat has on it.  For instance, did you know that eating cooked tomatoes (like - tomato paste/sauce) can improve your sun tolerance by up to 40%??  Yeah ok you might know that already.  But anyway...I thought she did a good job explaining all the science for skeptics like me.  If I'm giving up my daily Nutella crepes there better be a darn good reason.  The food/skin connection has been on my mind quite a bit lately thanks to the food allergies and eczema we've been dealing with lately.  I imagine more reflections on this will be coming soon to a blog post near you...

2. Shower Speaker

You wanna talk first world problems?  I hate taking showers.  In my defense, I have issues - fainting issues and achey legs standing up too long thanks to varicose veins (TMI?? Sorry...) and by the time I get out of the shower my feet hurt from swelling and I'm about ready to pass out.  So I finally picked out a birthday present that I'd been eyeing for years but feel really ridiculous spending money on - a bluetooth shower speaker.

Another affiliate link, you've been warned...


Listening to audio books in the shower not only distracts me from the agony, it makes me smuuurter.  (Did typing that sentence just negate my newfound intelligence??)

3. Candy Kirby Designs

THE CUTEST LEGGINGS among other things...I want one of everything.

And to top it off?  She's a mom of irish triplets.  Check out her blog and story - so sweet.

4. Strength for the weary

I am really tired right now.

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
29 He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31 Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.

-Isaiah 40:38-31 New American Standard Bible

5. My Husband

He take the children on walks to collect rocks and then helps them glue the rocks onto construction paper.  He makes sure our children have vegetables with every meal.

And at the end of a long day at work, he comes home and rescues me from the swarm of ants congregating around the baby seat covered in banana mush in the middle of the kitchen floor.
Be afraid, ants.  Be very afraid.

My hero.

Thanks for hosting Hallie and Jessica!