Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Best of 2015 in Photos.

2015 was a big year for us.  Here are some of the biggest and best moments in photos.  There have been, of course, many little moments (good, bad, and ugly) throughout the year, some blogged and Instagrammed, others simply tucked away as memories.

Trevor's interview and acceptance to the U of MN School of Dentistry.

It's a Boy! Niko was born. I highly recommend waiting until birth to find out the sex ;)

Birth photography by Angie Knutson Photography.

Trevor graduated Cum Laude with a BS in Biology-Biomedical Sciences with a Chemistry Minor.
Made it through three weeks without Trevor while keeping our house spotless for showings.

They missed Daddy

Sold our first house and moved closer to MSP.  I've been able to maintain my part time job despite the move.

Trevor started dental school.

Trevor's view from Moos Tower.

Myra and Niko started a new school, too.

Trevor's White Coat Ceremony, his formal welcome into the medical community.

Myra passed all her food challenges and we could declare she outgrew FPIES! (More info on FPIES tab at the top of this page)

One semester of dental school in the books, thoroughly enjoying Trevor's brief break!

Go Gophers!

Break from school, yes.  Break from studying, never!

Putting all these photos together really puts the year in perspective.  All the long days, sleepless nights, cooking, cleaning, packing, unpacking...we accomplished a LOT this year.  Just a few years ago, I can remember some years that seemed very different with a miscarriage and Trevor leaving for a deployment.  We've lost grandparents, good friends, and watched friends say goodbye to their children.  We have learned a lot and accomplished a lot, too, and here we are years later, finally chipping away at the big long term goals, no more baby steps and unknowns (will our house sell? will Trevor get into a dental school? where? will we have to move across the country? will our baby be healthy?  boy or girl?  will Myra outgrow her allergies? will Niko have FPIES, too?) to get there, we're here.  Looking at how far we've come in a year is a nice reminder to not wish these difficult years away.  I think we do pretty well with not doing that, but it can be challenging (we're broke college kids again LOL).  Kids grow up fast, first homes get sold, your number one choice of a dental school asks you to be a part of their program and...poof! onto the next year.

Thank you all for being a part of our lives, for supporting us, and for reading along.  However sporadic these posts may be, they're fun to write and even more fun to look back on.  It's been almost four years of blogging and I'm so glad I've kept it up!

We are excited to see what 2016 has in store, a little less of the BIG big stuff would be fine.  Sometimes boring is good.  Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

"I Outgrew FPIES!"

The video says it all.

As many of you are aware, it's taken me a long time to write this post.  The video above is from November 23, 2015 when Myra passed her final food challenge (a retrial of a food that had previously caused a reaction-in this case, avocado).  It's just that I don't even know what to say.  For almost 3 years, our lives revolved around FPIES and special diets, first mine (for Myra's breast milk as proteins do pass through to breast milk) then Myra's.  You guys, kids eat a five times a day, if not constantly.  And for us, basically all of that food had to be separately prepared.  No restaurants, no potlucks, no friends hosting meals...I mean, those things happened, but always with our own food prepared ahead of time for Myra.  Her health and all of our sleep and sanity depended on it, don't get me wrong it was well worth it, but now that's all just done.  No more FPIES!  I got her a kids variety basket at Joe's Crab Shack a few weeks ago and didn't even read what all came with it.

Of course, we've gotten off to a great start of feeding Myra, and now Niko (who shows no signs of FPIES at all) nutrient rich foods like quinoa, spinach, and squash.  Myra is used to hearing no, and doesn't really argue if I tell her she can't have something.  It hasn't been all bad-I know a lot about nutrition now!  She's still a toddler who wants what she wants even if it's the same thing she's had for the last two weeks (and two years!).

I have to thank everyone who has been mindful of Myra's FPIES and special diet over the years.  It really means a lot when people remember, ask, leave labels out, and especially prepare things so that she could be included, too.  It's not easy, trust me I know, but it hasn't gone unnoticed.

I also have to thank the wonderful people I've met along the way.  Thanks to medical professionals and the world wide web, I've crossed paths with some great people who have understood our struggle and shared their wealth of knowledge and that has been such a blessing.

People have been asking me if it's weird just feeding her whatever now.  Somewhat, yes.  But we've been so hopeful and optimistic this day would come, it's like we shut the door on FPIES as hard as we could when it was time.  But yes, it's weird and great and exciting and relieving name it.  We ditched her MedicAlert FPIES bracelet and got her a new bracelet with our phone numbers on it since she really did like her jewelry.  And that, my friends, is a wrap.  For the FPIES/allergy families who are following along or will read this sometime in the future, please don't hesitate to contact me!  I am happy to share our experience, offer insight, or listen to venting at any time. I mean it!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Niko at 10 Months.

I missed a nine month post, Niko turned 10 months on December 11, and I am already procrastinating this one in the name of waiting until I "really have time to sit down and write it." #thingsthatwillneverhappen So, here goes a speed post.  Photos first because I accidentally did it that way and I'm too lazy to redo it.

So proud of himself

Pulling up in the crib that has since been lowered

Children's Museum

Children's Museum
He crosses his fingers while sucking his thumb


We all got slammed with a nasty cold

Sick baby


Niko now has four teeth with a fifth on the way.  He is completely mobile now, does this dolphin kick/worm thing to get around, though he can actually crawl, too.  He is pulling up on anything and everything and we finally lowered his crib more so he can't flip himself out of it.  We're making good progress with solid foods, he loves pizza, spaghetti, yogurt, and any of the melty baby treats (puffs and the like).  No concerns about FPIES or allergies, though we haven't given him peanuts yet (no specific reason, just hasn't happened, maybe tomorrow!).  He's starting to figure out sippy cups and straw cups, but they're mostly fun to bang around.  "Dada" was first, but "Mama" is his new favorite.  He dolphin kicks his way to me and climbs on me while repeating "MAMAMAMAMAMA." I haven't weighed him, but maybe I will tomorrow and edit this for posterity.  At his 9 month check up, he was 21.5 pounds (80%ile) and 28.8 inches (70%ile)...with a 18.5 inch head (93.5%ile).  As amazing as my memory is, no, I did not remember that.  I just looked it up on our clinic portal.  He's in 18 month clothes, some 24 month, and growing quickly.  Still the happiest baby ever, Niko is a big, jolly fella who smiles with his whole face.  The ladies who watch Niko at Myra's school during her class know when he's ready for a nap because he simply stops smiling so much.

Niko usually thinks Myra is great.  She likes to stretch him and roll him over, neither of which he actually needs assistance doing.  They make each other laugh and she's a little protective of "her" things, but very good about giving him something else instead so he doesn't usually mind.  Rowdy is getting a lot more attention from Niko these days, now that he can follow him around.

I'm sure I could add plenty more, but this will have to do!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Niko At 8 Months.

Gone are the days of baby not realizing there's a giant sticker on his shirt.
Niko hit 8 months on October 11, so all of this is as of that date even though I'm a little behind. He is 21 pounds and wearing size 18 month clothes for most things, some 12 month stuff.  The 8 month mark was a big day for Niko.  His first two teeth poked through (his mandibular central incisors, to be specific...since that's how we talk around here now).

OK, I fibbed, this photo was taken on October 17.
I was letting Niko air out his bum by doing some naked time on a blanket.  He pooped and before I realized it was poop and not a fart, he ate some.  Excellent!  So, he got a bath, a diaper, and some clothes.  After that, he pushed himself into a seated position from tummy time--another first.  The grand finale of the day was when he barfed a little, twice, at bedtime.  As it turns out, poop does not agree with him.  Imagine that.

Niko is doing well with solid foods, still going slowly but we are almost through enough 'risky' foods to set him free and stop being so cautious.  He seems fine with grains and dairy.  We'll be careful through soy, eggs, and peanuts then relax.

He still wakes to nurse at night, usually "only" twice.  I blame how distracted he gets while nursing during the day and the fact that he's not actually ingesting much for solids yet.  Though I'm not totally convinced the latter has much to do with it.

Still the happiest baby in the history of the world, still Myra's most favorite little brother ever, still adores his big sister.

And, the best part, photos of Niko at 8 months old.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Day In The Life: Fall 2015.

I love these posts.  Looking back I would do more photos.  I make a conscious effort not to be attached to my phone all day, so it's a weird switch when I do these posts.  They are kind of a pain to put together, but it's really fun to look back and read them.  I haven't been totally consistent with them, and I wish I had done it at the really busy times in life.  I didn't because we were so busy, but those would really be the times to remember.  This past spring, for example, with a newborn, toddler, house on the market, preparing to move, husband really busy with school and the Guard, etc.  Anyway... Here is this edition of ADITL.  I keep track of our day for 24 hours, from midnight to midnight.  Click the 24 hours or A Day In The Life tag to read the others.  Click here to see all the others who participated this time.

There really is no such thing as a typical day, so I just picked a day after seeing the reminder post from Julia.  At the end of the day, however, it turned out that this day was incredibly atypical.  Trevor was home most of the day (this never, ever happens), Myra had a totally off night at bedtime, and morning ECFE messed with Niko's nap, so he slept most of the time we were at home, late bedtimes.  It is what it is, but you all should know Trevor had been essentially gone for a week prior to the day I chose.  He was away for a three day drill weekend and had a really busy week with school and was on campus studying before I woke up until 9/10 at night.

I am 28 years old (I recently had to do math to make sure I had my own age right), Trevor is 33.  Myra is 2.75 (will be 3 in January) and Niko is 8 months old today.  Rowdy is 5.5 years old.  Trevor is in his first year of dental school.  I am working part time for a transitional housing non-profit organization.

2:30am Niko waking up to nurse, he's pretty quick (10 minutes at most?) then I go to the bathroom.  It's the worst crawling back into bed then realizing you should have gone to the bathroom first.

6:55am Niko awake.  I realize Trevor is still in bed and panic thinking he overslept.  It turns out he doesn't have to be on campus until this afternoon (see? we seriously hardly spoke the last week it was so busy).  I'm lazy in bed for 15 minutes looking at emails then get the kids up.  They are both usually happy in their cribs and just messing around, singing, doing whatever.  Myra is in this stage of wanting to do things herself, and she can do a lot herself, and I try to let her, but it takes so long and sometimes she gets frustrated.  How can you get one arm out of your pajama shirt, but not the other?

7:45am Both kids are dressed, Niko has nursed and Myra is eating a muffin (or a cupcake, as she calls it, this recipe with minor substitutions).  I sent Trevor this post sometime last week and we briefly discussed it.  It's short but I hadn't even finished reading it when I sent it to him.  The part about this being the particularly chaotic and exhausting part of our lives stuck out so I just sent the link.  I know life will always be exhausting in ways, but with two small kids, one who requires mostly separately cooked meals, dental school, me working part time (even though much of it is from home), plenty of time spent on military duties (both at home and away from home), etc. It's busy.  I digress.

8:00am I get in the shower.  Trevor is entertaining the kiddos.  Check out Niko's jungle gym of laundry (hey, it's clean, folded, and sorted by person!).  Myra's "little plate" with her "cupcake."

I'm out of the shower for all of 10 seconds and Myra bursts into the bathroom with this musical toy.

8:30am I get Myra another muffin.  She left half of it on her "little plate" on the couch when she came into the bathroom and Rowdy got a hold of it.  I start the dishwasher.  We have a portable dishwasher so I can't really use the sink while it's running and I can't just let it run at bedtime (I could, but the faucet drips a little so I'd really rather not).  I try to time it well, but it usually results in dirty dishes backing up more than I'd like.  Better than no dishwasher, I know, don't throw tomatoes at me.  I nurse Niko and change his diaper (in hopes that he will be fine in the sibling care room all through Myra's ECFE class).

8:45am I'm ready to go.  I had yelled to Myra, who was in the living room with Trevor, that we had to leave for school.  I assumed (there's where I went wrong) Trevor would get Myra's shoes on.  Don't get me wrong, I love that Trevor got to spend some time with them this morning, but both of our routines were thrown off which can goof us up.  So, Myra gets socks on with help, can't find the other shoe, have to take the socks off and wear sandals, she wasn't happy about that.  Parents: you know how these things happen.  It wasn't a huge deal, but any little thing like that can slow us up.  So, I get grouchy and we're all hurrying to get out the door.

9:00am-11:00am is Myra's ECFE class.  The set up is different than what I am used to.  Myra seems to love her class (which is awesome, but I do still miss our old teachers and I know she does, too).  The adult part is more chatty/conversation/social hour style than an actual 'class' setting, which is fine, but different.  

Myra has a lot of fun with the other kids, but no photos for them because who knows how their parents would feel about them being in bloggy world.  She did painting, dress up, read books, a hand print class project, played with blocks and toy tools...all in the time I was with her.  Then we do circle time, bathroom and wash hands, then snack.  There are limited options for snack and so far it's been things she can have.  Then the parents separate and go to a different room.  I had to go change Niko's diaper, who was tired but struggling to fall asleep, before joining them.  Our weekly topic was discipline and it was nice to hear what other parents are doing and struggling with.  We had two dads and a grandpa this week and that's a nice perspective.  Half way through, I got called down because Niko was sad.  He was so tired (this class is right during his morning nap time) and just couldn't fall asleep.  Usually he's the super happy baby no matter what, or one time he just passed out, but not today.  I nursed him and he fell asleep, but he just perked right up so I brought him back to the adult classroom with me.  A friend is in our class and she had her baby there, too, so Niko and his baby friend got to stare and swat at each other.

11:00am Class is over, we returned Myra's toy vacuum to the school's toy library and checked out a fine motor lacing toy, a baby toy, and a memory game.  Myra usually insists on "climbing up" into the car seat herself, which is actually helpful, but the dawdling......!!!

11:18am I check my phone, respond to a couple texts (awesome family member might be moving closer to us and another friend whose husband is deploying very soon),  We leave school and head home. Myra is saying "I would like Fritos chips, pweeeaaaase" on repeat.  For a while, everything was "I need ____!!" so we started working on "I would like" and it's adorable and so much easier to hear 100 times a day.

11:25am Home, Myra still would like Fritos chips and she's singing one of the jingles from school "come on over and sit right down..."  Child, why must you always take your shoes off int he car?

So much paper: handouts, flyers, projects.  I take photos of the artwork and do photo books of it all.

11:30am Get us all inside, get Myra set up with her new lacing (big buttons and string) toy.  I check my work emails and quickly reply, put the clean clothes into the appropriate bedrooms (baby steps, people), get lunch ready.  Meanwhile, Rowdy is prancing around whining to go outside to chew on grass and twigs, so I put him downstairs to chill out a bit.  I make coffee (I drink decaf), Niko is whining and needs a nap since he still hasn't really slept all morning.  Myra is trying to share with him (yay) but giving him toys he shouldn't have (boo) while wanting to take his baby toys.  

Noon Myra is eating lunch (peanut butter toast with chocolate chips - FPIES soybean oil trial means lots of options!) The chocolate chips and peanut butter are nothing new, but toast is!  Niko is really not happy now, definitely needs a nap.  Things Myra said during lunch: "Lub dub - is that what Myra's heart says at my clinic? (this hasn't happened for a long time, but she remembers)" - "I got drops in my eye (she had her eyes dilated last week)" - "Daddy, you're in the living room talkin' to me"

How to manage food trials for two kids.  We don't suspect FPIES for Niko, but we are being cautious until he 'passes' all the major FPIES triggers (rice, oats, dairy, soy).
12:07pm Niko is changed (he had pooped), fed, and in his crib.  He falls asleep right away.  I eat lunch with Myra.  Trevor came upstairs to eat and explain the class he has this afternoon.  It's not a 'normal' class, but a team building/working with other medical professionals workshop type class.  After lunch, Myra goes to the bathroom and gets ready for her nap.

12:47pm Myra in bed.  I have more work emails, I read them and reply.  I make a work call and send a follow up email.  I microwave my coffee, Trevor is getting his stuff ready and leaves.  I do some apartment searching for work (my job is helping people with housing -- I won't really get any more specific than that due to confidentiality).  

1:15-2:15pm I tidy up the living room, start laundry, and sit down with my planner to see what's going on next week and meal plan.



This will fill quickly, always does.  Pink checkered is when I will be watching a friend's baby, "hello" is a play date with another friend and her kids.

2:15 Meal planning, which involves searching for some new recipes, digging through our recipe box for some favorites, etc.  Here's my meal planning for dummies system.  We for sure have something new and something we love every week.  We often have spaghetti on pasta night, but sometimes lasagna, sometimes a new pasta dish.  Pizza is usually frozen pizza, but last night we did homemade.  It gives me a starting point so there is far less head scratching involved.  I intentionally left the glare on Sunday because it says Mexican and should say Hispanic.  The week I printed this our Hispanic dish was Mexican Vegetarian Casserole, so I typed Mexican and I do know the difference.

3:00pm Myra is awake.  I get her up, get her a snack, and let her color at the table while I do other random stuff in the kitchen/dining room.

3:30pm Trevor is home (again, totally unusual to have him home this much, I swear).  Niko is awake, but playing happily in his crib.  Trevor and I blurt out all the things we've been meaning to talk about with each other for the last week.  We end up having a conversation about the good old 5 year plan and various avenues he/we could take in terms of the military and education benefit options.  We were, of course, talking over Myra the whole time, trying to acknowledge what she wanted to say while helping her learn that sometimes mom and dad need to talk.  At some point during this time, I got Niko up and fed him, and Myra switched to playing with her scarves.

This is a sunset, she says.
We wrapped up family conversation time with some Bilibo bongos.

4:30pm Part of this workshop class Trevor had is learning about stressors and how to deal with them.  He learned he doesn't spend enough time in nature and suggested we all go for a walk since the weather was so awesome.  Speaking of how awesome the weather was, Trevor still bundled up because he is much less of a fan of fall than I.

Sorry I snapped a photo of you making the weirdest face ever.
Rowdy pooped on our walk.  He's only pooped on a walk one, possibly two times ever.  He really prefers to poop at home.  Trevor scooped it up with the instruction manual for Niko's Burley insert thing then hopped through some tall grass to find a garbage can at a park.  Note to self: put plastic bags in Burley.

5:25pm We are home, Trevor got an Army call as we were unloading kids.  Myra wanted to run around the front yard and play with sticks and wood chips.  Once inside, I got right to work on supper.  Friday is brinner day and this week I was going to make a mash up of hash browns, eggs, and sausage.  I had the eggs on the counter and Myra reached up for them, forgetting that not all eggs are hard boiled.

I cleaned up the eggs, but let her wipe up the Lysol as more of a symbolic/on principle measure.  So, we had sausage patties, hash browns, and toast for Myra/English muffins for Trevor and me.  Niko had squash and applesauce.  Supper clean up is my least favorite.  I want to get the kids to bed on time and not super rushed in the process, but I don't want to be stuck cleaning up after supper after they're in bed either.  Myra's room is connected to the kitchen and the door is just a pocket door, so I try not to be too noisy while she is falling asleep.  It doesn't seem to wake her once she's sleeping though.  I know lots of parents consciously choose not to do house work after bedtime, and I wish I could say the same, but with much of it falling on me while Trevor is in school, there just aren't enough hours in the day.  I am by no means a neat freak, but eventually our laundry needs to get done and dishes need to be washed.

6:55pm I do Niko's bedtime and Trevor is reading and playing with Myra.  Bedtimes are pretty simple here.  Niko gets a diaper change, pajamas and sleep sack, nursed, I read him one story (Goodnight, I Love You), and sing him the ABCs.  I put him in the crib and turn on his sound machine and he goes to sleep.

7:09pm Niko is in bed and Trevor is helping Myra get ready for bed.

Myra's routine is pee, diaper ("only for sleeping, because I'm still learning"), pajamas, brush (and sometimes floss) teeth, read two books of her choosing, sing Twinkle Twinkle and the ABCs.  Then she turns on her sound machine and we "jump her in" to her crib which means we count to three, she jumps, and we lift her in.

Trevor loves a good selfie.
7:30pm Myra is in bed, Trevor and I are watching a Bad Lip Reading video of one of the Republican debates.  Usually this part of the evening is quiet, I can get some stuff done (clean, work stuff) and also relax (read, watch a movie even though I'm terrible at doing that, waste time on the internet), but as you're about to see, this was not the case.  Surprise! Welcome to parenthood.

From about 8:15-9:00pm, Myra whined/cried out to the extent that we went into her room five times.  First for water (she got a tiny bit from one of the medicine cups like a shot glass), then because she pooped, then because she wanted her Daniel Tiger book in her bed, then because she wanted her Daniel Tiger book out of her bed (SO THROW IT OUT...), then because she wanted us to do her saline spray/Nose Frida.  These nights make me so nervous during food trials, especially since we are dabbling into the world of soy with soybean oil, but there was no mention of anything hurting which is good.  [In hindsight, she has a cold and the whiny factor is worse for a Myra-cold than it is for a man-cold; I don't say that lightly]

9:15pm She is still whining about her boogers and asking for "Mommy tuck you in again."  When she does this, which really is not often at all anymore, I just can't relax and do other stuff until she quiets down.  It's stressful to hear and I also worry she will wake Niko up.  So, I waste hours deciding if I'm helping or hurting the situation by going in to her.  But there is really, truthfully nothing I can do to help.  She just feels crappy and we've done all we can, she needs to get some sleep.  I promise, if there were something I could do to help her and make it stop, I totally would.  I think after 5 or 6 times we explained to her that we were all done and it was time to sleep, blah blah blah.

9:50pm Myra has been quiet for a little bit now.  I'm hanging up the diapers I washed this afternoon.  I line dry darn near everything here.  We have two drying racks and a full 5-line clothesline in the basement, plus a dehumidifier.  AWESOME. 

10:11pm I'm sitting on the couch...brain fried.  Must go brush teeth.

10:20pm Myra whining again.  

10:28pm Niko making some noise.  It's a miracle he's slept through all this, despite each kid having their own sound machine.  I go brush my teeth to kill time while waiting to see if he's actually waking up.  Trevor is in with Myra.  I go feed Niko after brushing my teeth.

10:45pm In bed, doing a YouTube loving kindness meditation track a friend recommended.  Fingers crossed tonight ends better than it started...

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