This dude is feeling much better these days. Slow but steady progress up in here, and that's just fine with me. Not much time for blogging lately, which actually feels just okay, too. I'll be back, once I catch my breath and catch up on some sleep. ;) 
When I was in (fast and furious) labor with Otto, without pain medication, I quickly learned to use the breaks between contractions to come into the present moment and breathe. Just before he actually emerged from my body, I felt I was about to come apart at the seams. My midwives encouraged me to "Look! Taylor, look, here he comes!" but my eyes were shut tight, and I screamed "I need a break! I need a BREAK!" There was no break. Then, he was here, and everything in the entire universe was utterly perfect, quiet, warm, still, and I hadn't split in two as I'd felt I was surely going to.

For the past ten months, Kaspar has been under siege as Austin's allergy "season" has inundated him with ultra high levels of one type of pollen, or two, sometimes three at a time. And molds. Within minutes of playing outside, his skin is red and splotchy, -- it looks like he's been clawed.

He has indeed been literally clawed while indoors, as well. He's scratched himself bloody. It has been impossible for me to leave him alone in a room -- he scratches immediately. Once he starts, he can't stop. This goes on, more or less, 24 hours a day. Between that, and a nursing baby, I have been averaging, maybe, 2-3 (interruped) hours of sleep each night. For months, and months and months.

This is what it was like when he was a baby. Then he was better. For SO long. And everything was entirely different. Normal. Normal-ish. (Normal ish with epi pens present.)

Now it is back and it has been relentless, and I yelled at Kaspar yesterday, because he wouldn't stop scratching. Then I felt like an asshole, all night, all night through his shuffling and scratching. I have practiced, over these past months, breathing during the breaks -- the days when the pollens are lower and he is better, playing, laughing, not scratching for several hours at a time. Today, he had acupuncture and was instantly relieved, lay there relaxing. We were given new herbs. We're going to start allergy shots, "very unlikely" risk of death and all (this is what Western Medicine has to offer... not for food allergies, but for seasonal allergies. There are no guarantees, but they help many people, so maybe they'll help our guy). Everyone keeps saying the pollens are about to get better... They've been saying that for a long time, though, so... we are going to relocate, because two weeks of springtime pollens and crisp ocean air compared with 10 months of relentless allergens combined with two months of crippling heat is NO CONTEST. We won't stop and we won't give up and we are still laughing a lot and making things and you may have noticed that I haven't been writing but I HAVE been marveling at this beautiful (easiest ever... thankfully) baby and appreciating the resilience of spirit in this poor allergic boy. And mostly not losing my shit at him. Today, I'm not yelling. But every cell in my body is screaming "I need a BREAK." And there isn't one. He's scratching again. Right now. Because I took him for a walk.

Aaron and I recently watched Ken Burns' Dust Bowl documentary. In it, Burns describes the way the women would clean their homes every day, after everything had been covered in a later of dirt. They'd clean everything out, sweeping and polishing and scrubbing and dusting, and the next day, the tsunamis of dust would blow in again, covering everything. Indoors and out. Sisyphusian. I can relate.

I know I won't split in two, though. I hope this feeling means we are close, almost delivered, and that we will savor sleep, and normalcy, almost-normalcy, all the more, every day from that point on.

A dear friend of mine who is battling cancer (like a total badass: Sarah you are amazing) said to me yesterday that making lemonade out of lemons is simple enough, but making it out of shitballs is another thing entirely. Truer words have never been spoken. It's pretty difficult to find the meaning behind a child's suffering. We're just making our way through the shitball storm -- an exhausting, costly, frustrating endeavor. But one thing I can say with confidence is that our lives are filled with wonderful, loving people. We lucked out in that department. And although I am barely holding my work together, let alone returning texts, emails and a whole bunch of Linked In invitations (sorry guys, I haven't signed in there since, like, 2008, and do not plan to any time soon), know that your every kindness has counted for a LOT. (And by all means text/email/etc me again if I haven't gotten back to you, because I have just simply forgotten.) When this storm clears, which it will, I will be here to help you through yours. Because yours will clear, too. Storms always do. Even after a decade of dust tsunamis.

I'll prove it to you.

Thank you for the love and patience and for not telling me that I look awful even though I do. Thank you even more for sending thoughts and prayers Kaspar's way. Please keep doing that.




We were all super sick for a while there, so I missed a week (whatever hit Austin hit HARD this year). Happy to report we're all back to 100% now. 
Kas and Otto: You love each other.
Otto: You're scrumptious.
Kaspar: Here you are with your teacher, Miss Elizabeth. Too cute.



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Kaspar: You've had a cold this week (we all have), but there's no stopping you.
Otto: Evidently, I am hilarious.




Kaspar: This morning, you sang Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" while playing with your helicopters. "You got me searching for a heart of go-o-old... Gettin' old."
Otto: You're a happy, mellow little man, especially when you're held. Which is pretty much all the time.
We're happy about hemp seed butter on sliced bananas.
I can't even begin to count the number of times I've gotten excited about a grain-free dessert dish looking all pretty on Pinterest, only to discover upon clicking further that it calls for nut flours or butters, or both. I can usually hack my way around the flour problem by substituting with quinoa or coconut flour, but I've been stumped by the nut butter problem for a while.

Not anymore.

Enter: hemp seed butter. It's a hypoallergenic wonder-food, full of essential fatty acids and a sweet, nutty taste, and a texture that gives ants on a log its proper place in a nut-allergic home, and – yes – subs in perfectly for peanut or almond butter in all of those Pinterest-sourced Paleo recipe finds. And the truth is, Paleo friends (love you as I do), you probably shouldn't be eating as many nuts as you are via baked goods. They're tough on the digestive tract. But hemp seeds? Green light. Go to town. (Trust me, once you taste this stuff, you'll want to eat your face off...)

Here's What You'll Need:

  • 1 cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons raw hemp seed oil
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey

Here's What You'll Do:

Use a food processor or blender to combine all ingredients. Enjoy as you would a nut butter. Yum.




I think this little dude might be teething.
I took this photo last week; Otto's been chewing on his hands -- and now an actual teether -- like crazy. He's going to pop a tooth one of these days. Exciting!

No portrait of Kaspar from last week -- he's so busy -- it's hard to catch him still long enough even for a very fast shutter. 
I'm replacing Friday Snapshots with The 52 Project this year: a portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014.
Kaspar: You have discovered superheroes. You're fascinated. (And you've been chasing a lot of bad guys.)
Otto: You're four months old. You're rolling over like a pro, and I think you'll soon be army crawling.
This afternoon, Kaspar and I made a "stained glass" luminary for the DIY-fly mantel display we've been pulling together over the past several weeks. It was a perfect after-school, pre-holiday project, offering a variety of high-tactile tasks to keep my busy big-man interested and absorbed, but not with so many steps that I lost him along the way. He loved every minute of it -- all twenty or so. This project could work with younger toddlers, too, as well as bigger big-kids, who could experiment with creating actual shapes and images with the paper collage portion of the project. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take it from the top:

Materials for this project are simple, green, and probably items you already have on hand. Gather up some tissue paper (just whatever you've amassed over birthdays and Christmases past... recycle!), a mason jar, and some Mod Podge and you're good to go. (Regular Elmer's glue might even work, but I haven't tried it.) Oh, and a big paintbrush, or something else to apply your glue with; we used a sponge already glittered from another craft project... and our hands.
Tear up the tissue paper into pieces of various shapes and sizes. Then, apply a first layer of Mod Podge/glue all over the mason jar.
Apply your tissue paper to the outside of the mason jar, adding as many layers as you'd like, and applying more glue over each layer. Be sure to flatten your paper out as you go; it can fold over onto itself in all kinds of messy ways, but flattening it so it's flush against the jar will make for a better-looking final product.
Finish with a final layer of Mod Podge/glue -- we also added some glitter for holiday sparkle -- and let dry.
Voila! You're finished! Just add a tea-light candle and some old-school Gene Autry tunes and boom: instant Christmas magic.