Project 52 – Week 3 {Kisses}

18 Jan

These two. They bring so much love into my life.



Project 52 – Week 2 {Shadows}

12 Jan

36 weeks pregnant.

I have been wanting to attempt taking (and editing) an image like this for a while. Happy for the little kick of motivation to make it happen.


Pregnancy Journal: 35 weeks and {quickly!} counting

5 Jan

In classic second pregnancy fashion, I am already 35 weeks along and just barely getting one pregnancy journal post in. The sad thing about this is that I just re-read the few I wrote when I was pregnant with Claire and they made me so happy! But a lot of things make me happy. Like spending time with Claire. And sleeping. And a lot of things just need to be done. Like more sleeping. And, let’s be honest, I waste a lot of time. But let’s call that resting. It sounds better. Sometimes I start drafting blog posts, or even letters to Claire, in my head while I’m doing something where I can’t actually write but I think my success rate for getting those thoughts into written words is…oooooh….zero. So here we are.

Very soon, our family of 3 will be a family of 4.

2nd Pregnancy Announcement

This pregnancy has been a bit more physically difficult than my first, though still nothing to really complain about. I was still nursing Claire when I got pregnant and my diet was pretty restricted due to her allergies. Most notably absent to a newly pregnant woman: wheat. Ohhhhh how I just wanted some carbs. Claire was doing well though and I was finally confident she would continue to do well without breastmilk so we weaned her fairly soon after finding out. As with many of these “my baby is growing up” moments in our relationship, I was sad and she did great. Of course, I’m not totally convinced she understands that she won’t be getting more milk from Mama when the baby comes. That may be an interesting bridge to cross when we get there…

I was again lucky to have no real morning (or any other time of day) sickness and I’m pretty sure any cravings I was having were mostly due to the freedom to eat whatever I wanted again and not necessarily the pregnancy. But I was tired. Oh so tired. For so very long. I was well into my second trimester before I felt like my energy returned at all. That is really not so good for getting anything done. I’m pretty sure that by the time my energy returned, my lower back had started hurting. Also not good for getting anything done. So, essentially, I just accepted that I would no longer be getting a whole lot done. Problems solved! ;)

2nd Gender Reveal

Like her sister, this baby is a mover. Only she’s sitting lower and squishing my organs more and I’m pretty sure just kicks and jabs harder. Her movements still make me laugh (generally in disbelief) and I love the reassurance that she is growing and doing well. But I could do without the threats of heartburn each night that seem to be the result of all of this.

And then there are those Braxton-Hicks contractions that my body likes to get so early. They started 2 weeks ago and most certainly freaked me out again. Too early. We are not ready. More importantly, she is not ready! They seem stronger than I remember from this early with Claire. But with each week I feel better knowing that she is getting bigger and stronger and will do great whenever she decides to arrive.

Project 52 – Week 1 {Resolution}

3 Jan

Hello 2015!

Yes, I’m still here. Still wishing I blogged more. Still needing to finish up my venting about allergies. And filling you in on some of the other, more fun, things going. But sometimes needing to get “caught up” keeps me from writing anything. So we’re jumping around a little today.

I’m part of a very helpful and supportive photography Facebook group and one of the other photographers in the group decided to start a Project 52. This is essentially a photography challenge encouraging everyone to take a photo each week meeting that week’s theme. I’m not gonna lie, I think a lot of her themes are going to be difficult for me to turn into an image. But I realized recently there were far too many months last year where I did not pick up my real camera and take any pictures of our life. So what’s a challenge without a little bit of…challenge, right?

The first week’s theme was “Resolution.”

I had a hard time with this one because I don’t usually make New Year resolutions. But since I need to push myself to participate, after much reflection, I came to the realization that, for several years now, the New Year has brought me increased creative energy. And the word “Create” encompasses so much of what I love and want to do this year. So I’ll make it my resolution to create in 2015 and will fill in the blanks of exactly what that means on any given day as it comes to me.

This image isn’t necessarily how I hope to interpret most of the week’s themes. But I’ve also been sick in bed the past several days and it’s the best I could do. Representations of at least some of the things I know or hope will be part of what I’m creating this year: nourishing food, the baby growing in my belly, photography and photoshop, happy memories, and a lovely, organized home.


Let’s hope I can keep up with this. :)

The Allergy/Eczema Blues – Part II (FPIES Diagnosis)

30 Sep

So picking up from where I left off in Part I

I started this post by writing the not so fun details about Claire’s first reactions and how we got there. But after it was all written I didn’t feel any better. (In fact, I may have felt worse reliving them.) My point in sharing anything about her allergies at all is that it’s difficult for me to just go back to posting pretty pictures. The experience has been draining and the day-to-day management of it all is still difficult. Even on a good day, her allergies impact everything. And until you live with allergies, I’m not sure there’s any way to really know what that means. I’m hoping that by writing the story I can let it out, explain where we’re coming from, educate others, and continue my efforts to find some peace within it all. I don’t mean to just give details and complain. Her reactions were scary but they could have been worse. There are a lot of things she can not eat but that list could be much longer. Unfortunately, we have no guarantee the next reaction won’t be worse and that the list won’t grow longer. So it’s that uncertainty that can cause me so much anxiety.

But let me back up. And jump into a whole lot of educating. Feel free to skip if you don’t care. ;)

Claire’s first reactions were all between 6 and 8 months. First to cow’s milk and then to turkey. I know what you’re thinking. “Turkey?! No one’s allergic to turkey!” Yes. Turkey. She is allergic to turkey. She has a rare allergy called Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis, or FPIES for short. The fact sheet below from the FPIES Foundation highlights a few of the things that make this kind of allergy unique.



There is no test for FPIES. The reaction is in the gut so standard allergy testing like skin pricks and blood work generally produce negative test results (thought it is possible in some cases to have both types of reactions present at the same time.) FPIES is diagnosed primarily based on patient history.

The “Top 8” common food allergens that people are becoming increasingly more aware of are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. However, the common food triggers for FPIES tend to be those that kids are fed first – cow’s milk and soy are most common but rice, oats, bananas, and sweet potatoes (among other things) are also very common and, as noted in the fact sheet, FPIES can occur to any food.

My last two points mean that there is no way to know what your child is allergic to without feeding it to them. Let that one sink in for a second. Every time you give your kid a new food there’s the fear they’ll vomit profusely. (I realize that technically this risk exists in all children. But there’s something different about having seen it happen. You already know their body is reacting inappropriately to some foods and so it’s hard not to worry there are more. Plus, like I said, for this allergy, there’s no test.) To manage the severity of reaction, the recommendation is to introduce new foods one at a time and in small, increasing amounts. There is no standard protocol for what that introduction period looks like but, since reactions don’t always occur right away, common practice tends to be to increase the amount up to a full serving over 7 days, take a 2-3 break, and then feed full servings again for 4 more days. The logistics of these food trials, as they’re called, for every single new food, spice or oil that you give a child are overwhelming and complicated.

What complicates things further is that FPIES is not very well understood within the medical community. Patients are often misdiagnosed or bounced from one doctor to another looking for an explanation for their symptoms. The sheet above describes an acute reaction but babies can also have chronic reactions which are milder and more difficult to identify but can result in weight loss and a failure to thrive diagnosis. So often, parents will stumble upon a diagnosis after googling symptoms like “infant vomits after eating sweet potatoes.”

Current medical research does not always align with what parents are describing within the Facebook support groups, likely because the sample sizes in the studies are so small. For example, current research suggests most kids only have 1 to 2 triggers, will grow out of their allergies by 3, and the only siblings who have FPIES are twins. But patient experience indicates those things don’t always hold true. The difference between the two can lead to difficult relationships with the medical professionals so desperately needed to help the families going through this. It also means that doctors don’t really have a ton of answers. The problem with any type of allergy is that each person can react so differently. So the doctors can give you their suggestions and try to guide you towards foods that will be more successful based on the history of reactions but, ultimately, the only thing you can do is try.

So that’s a lot of information, no? And it’s just the summary of it. If you’d like more information, the International FPIES Association is another fantastic resource, and they lead the way in trying to get more research done. So, I’ll get to what this all means for us in a future post but how about I stop here to let your head stop spinning. :)


The Allergy/Eczema Blues – Part I

18 Sep

Oh, where to start?

(First with a little foreword. I wrote everything except this paragraph back in the beginning of April. It was a time when I was really not doing well. I’m not sure why I didn’t post immediately but I’m finally coming back and will just post as-is and follow up with the rest of the story in another post. So here goes…)

How about we just get it out there…Claire has severe allergies and eczema. If you know me in real life you already know this. It can, at times (lately? since she was born? it’s hard to remember), be all-consuming.

A friend asked how I was doing recently and I responded that I was about the same as usual – I have a bad case of the allergy/eczema blues. She said that could be the title of my book. True story. Except I just googled it and Eczema Blues is already a blog. I’m not surprised. This is a very real thing.

But let’s back up.

Claire is awesome. She is stunningly beautiful, wickedly smart, super funny, and the kindest, most thoughtful little girl I could ever hope to meet. The fact that I get to call her my daughter and watch as she discovers this world brings me endless joy. I mean, just look at that glimmer in her eye and those silly little faces!



(And, as a side note, for an amazing read on keeping that glimmer, read this Dear Bee – what a beautiful gift these letters are to her daughter!)

But her allergies are complicated and anxiety-inducing. Mostly because we don’t even know what they all are. I am bombarded (by mostly well-meaning, so I don’t mean this personally against any of you) questions, comments and suggestions on a regular basis. It can be exhausting. So let’s write down what I know. (Or maybe just what I think? Feel? Don’t know? We’ll see where this post goes.)

Claire’s pediatrician told me on her second day of life that the rash she had indicated she’d probably have food allergies. In my postpartum bliss, I put this aside. Neither Pete nor I have food allergies. I did pretty much everything they recommend you do to protect your children from food allergies (not specifically with that intention, necessarily, but I did.)

We had trouble nursing. First latching. Then with how long my milk took to come in. And then with a baby who would get very upset after eating.

Looking back, I don’t even know what order a lot of things happened in.

Did I know then that eating was the problem? She nursed all the time so I don’t know that I did.

When did her eczema start? I don’t know that either. I don’t think the doctor called it that specifically for a while.

What about the back arching? Hmmm. I don’t know that either. But I specifically remember thinking when she was around 3 months old that the books had lied to me. My baby was getting fussier, not settling. Everyone would tell me what a good baby she was and it just made me feel worse. Don’t get me wrong, she was a good baby. She is so good. For the reasons I listed above and a million more. All babies are good.

But it was hard. And I’m sure all babies are hard. But I think this baby was hard to me because I was the one feeding her. She’d be kicking her little legs (which I now think was the eczema on the backs of her knees bothering her) and she’d go on and off, on and off (which I think was because her stomach likely hurt.) My grandmother, who nursed 5 of her own babies and has witnessed who knows how many more nursing, said she had never seen a baby nurse like that before. Hmm.

I tried eliminating dairy. I tried eliminating acidic foods. Maybe soy too? I don’t remember when any of this was either (maybe Pete will write a post that contains actual details? Pete?) but I do know it didn’t seem to matter. I felt like I was not eating well at a time I needed to the most and it wasn’t helping one bit. I added them back in and then one day finally did see the connection to too much dairy. So I cut back.

She didn’t seem as uncomfortable but she still had her rashes. I was told to just treat the rashes with steroids and oral anti-itch medication, that they likely weren’t a sign of food allergies. I think it’s something like 66% of eczema that really is just a skin rash and her eczema was limited to specific areas. Unfortunately, with what I know now, I should have been more careful. I should have tried to identify whether any other foods I was eating were causing her problems. I don’t mean that in a guilty kind of way. I didn’t know. But I wish I had.

Entryway {in progress}

6 Feb

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

Those are the crickets around here. Except that I live in the Midwest so we don’t have any crickets right now. I’d actually be surprised if we ever have crickets again. I’m convinced that our climate has moved from Humid Continental (I had to look that up) to Tundra. Permanently. The cold and snow this winter have been no joke. I’ll take some pictures of the mountains of snow piling up in my front yard from shoveling the driveway. (To be clear: From Pete and our super sweet neighbor kids shoveling the driveway. I take no credit for the actual shoveling.)

But that’s not what I came to write about. I have many, many things to catch you up on. And no time. It’s hard enough to move down the list of things I need to do, let alone even get onto the list of things I want to do. But I miss chronicling our projects and adventures so hopefully blogging can get some more of my attention soon. It’s been a HUGE year for us and I’ve been plotting a master recap in my head but let me spoil some of the fun and skip to one major, important to this post, highlight: We bought a house!! And so of course I’m in the process of plotting, planning, and decorating. Just even slower than usual given that toddlers aren’t really into that sort of thing. :)

And so that brings me to the real point of this post. I have a favor to ask. Our family photographer is having a fun give away for the client wall gallery that gets the most “likes” on Facebook. Our is very much a work in progress still but I threw this together to show what we’ve done, where we are, and where I’m headed.

Entryway Gallery

Please help us win a $200 credit for our next session (which would be huge because some of our other big news is that I just quit my job to stay home full-time!) by clicking {HERE} and “liking” the photo in her Facebook gallery.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any true “before” photos (I’m just lucky to get things done!) but close your eyes and picture a blank wall. That’s my before. I’m so excited to have the added functionality of the coat hooks and can’t wait for our gallery wall to be complete. The theme for the wall is based on something Pete’s grandfather would tell the family – Safe Journey, Safe Home – so the photos and artwork will combine that phrase, some of our favorite places (including our old condo!), our grandparents old homes, and family photos. I think it’s going to be great. And the icing on the cake? One of Claire’s favorite words is “home” too. It makes me so happy (and very teary!) that our home is somewhere she loves to be.

To see the inspiration for the wall, here’s my Entryway Pinterest board!