I finally created a chocolate chip cookie Kaspar can eat. (In *almost* a single mouthful. Wow.)
This summer has been nothing compared to last year's record-long stretch of 100+ degrees days, but it's still officially August in Texas (and today was officially 104 degrees at 4:30 PM, or so said my car). Which basically means it's hotter than hell outside, which you may or may not know if you actually live here, because chances are you're indoors for most of the day rockin' the non-stop AC. It's a basic instinct, for sure, to move inside when the weather gets hostile, but it's not a great plan with a toddler. Not for season-long stretches, anyway. As much as I appreciate indoor climate control, the New Englander (and, frankly, the World Citizen) in me is also a little uncomfortable with the unsustainable nature of the Texan A/C habit (and its cousin, the car-transport fix); I rebel by turning ours off, opening our windows, and heading outside with el kiddo in the morning hours. I'm okay with being a little warm in the summer time! And I like the backdrop of outside sounds -- cicadas, wind-blown trees, birdsong -- to flow into our days and home.
Last year, the weather really did hit a too-hot spot, and we had cabin fever, for real. This year, the heat is bearable until about 11, when the sun beats down oppressively and it only makes sense (safety first) to head in for a light lunch and a long siesta (with the windows, unfortunately, closed). But before then, I make a point to run the boy around in the fresh (if sticky-hot) air, because littles are meant to run, swing and splash; I refuse to let mine stare at screens all day long. Last year, this meant he was literally drawing on our walls. This year, I know the enemy -- Texas heat -- and I've learned a few tricks for outsmarting it. My motto is I ain't afraid. Read on for our summer survival basics, toddler-style.
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I took Kaspar to the doctor's office to get some blood drawn yesterday; we're seeing a leading TCM specialist in New York (at the hospital he was born in, actually-- interesting full-circle moment) in August and she requested some additional blood work in advance of our visit. As I've written before, Kaspar endured many a stick when we first caught on to his allergy stuff, and we've approached blood testing sparingly since then; it's extremely helpful for making comparisons, and marking progress, but it also sucks to get stuck with needles (I hate it, myself, despite my tattoos... In fact, I cry when faced with syringes).
Kaspar asked where we were headed when he climbed into the car after school; he had swimming lessons (which he loves) later, but I told him up-front that we first had to make a trip to the doc. I told him we'd first pick up his lab form in one building, and then walk over to the hospital next door so they could do a blood draw in the lab. Kaspar has a toy doctor's kit at home and we mimic blood draws when we play with it, so I braced myself for a screech in protest, even in the car. He didn't elicit one. He continued smiling and singing and kicking his feet to the beat in his head, and I wondered if he missed what I'd said. He repeated the bit about getting the form and then jumped to swimming lessons... But, I figured I'd said my piece and wasn't going to freak him out, unduly. (I felt it was important to be forthcoming with the plan, however, because I vividly remember shots being sprung on me when I was young, and being told they wouldn't hurt. It's no fun to get a needle in your arm; it's even worse to get a spoonful of BS along with it).
We arrived, form in hand, at the lab, and hung out at the desk, signing the necessary paperwork. Kaspar sat on the counter and asked the receptionist about her office supplies. The phlebotomist came out at one point and said hi; all of us adults were smiling-smiling-smiling, somewhat tense in anticipation of what was coming, knowing that genuinely-happy Kaspar would, shortly, be quite unhappy. When they were finally ready for us, he chirped "My turn!", and strolled into the lab room like he was ready to party. They had Sponge Bob going on a flat-screen TV, bubbles, happy hellos from two nurses, ready to teamwork it. Kaspar sat on my lap and one of the nurses looked at each of his arms, then tied the big rubber tournequet around one of his small biceps.
In the past, he's always cried at this point. But he sat pretty calmly yesterday, watching what was happening. The other nurse asked, "What's your name, mister?" and the nurse with the tournequet (who was sweet, but had a booming voice), said "Kaaaaspaaar." I kissed his head and hummed, "Yep, you're my brave Kaspar," and he looked up and declared himself "Kaspar PEACE." (His middle name is actually Quincy.)
"That's a nice name!" the nurse who'd asked told him. "Kaspar Peace. I like that."
"Me too," I said. Kaspar grinned.
He cried when they drew his blood, but they were fast, and he got over it pretty quickly. We blew more bubbles and he chose a small toy from a bin. He said "That hurt, my blood draw," as we were leaving, and when the nurses asked for high five's he said "I don't feel like it, no." Which was fine. They waved, "Goodbye, Kaspar Peace! I hope these tests come back good and you get to try some new foods!" and he smiled and waved at them, walked confidently out of the building, holding my hand.
Juggling multiple, and mostly unrelated, forms of employment is a constant balancing act, but its primary perk is that I run my own daily routine. Sure, I attend meetings and speak at events here and there, I meet competing deadlines, and I massage people in person (I've finished my internship, and am taking the state licensing exam in a few short weeks... One step away, baby, then this sh*t is for real); all of this requires a high level of scheduling. But when it comes to my morning coffee, I'm not carrying it on any kind of commuter train. In fact, I've recently begun to embrace my internal work rhythms in a way I haven't before; working at night blows, and while it's sometimes necessary, it's also not a very productive practice for me (the work gets done, but through blood, sweat and proverbial tears), so I've lately been shutting it down. Trusting I'll get the work done on time without making myself miserable has been liberating in this respect, quite literally.
I noticed, too, that I'd been procrastinating before digging into my daily task lists in the mornings; we'd get Kaspar off to school and then I'd sit at my computer, coffee in hand, ostensibly 'starting my day', but in fact catching my breath and switching gears via some down-time on Facebook (or the NYTimes, or your blogs, or whatever). But I'd be feeling like I should be working, and thus end up stewing in low-level internal conflict before finally jumping in. When I realized, however, that I was consistently getting productive (and when I'm productive, I'm a powerhouse), in earnest, around 10:30 or 11 a.m., I began giving myself the chunk of time leading up to that point for doing non-work things I also value and enjoy: Buddhist practice, yoga, the gym, making stuff with my hands. On one morning I cleaned both of our bathrooms. This may seem like a blatant example of work avoidance, but it wasn't; I was at it right on schedule, 11 a.m. And instead of having little or nothing to show for having merely behaved as if I was working up until then, we had really clean bathrooms, and I felt focused when I finally sat down at my desk.
I've worked in enough office settings to know how much time is wasted by employees staring into cyberspace (or, running their mouths in pointless, endless meetings...) under a pretense of getting stuff done; I think this down-time is necessary to the productive time, though. It's the other side of the getting-stuff-done coin. Ultimately, everyone's self-scheduling, whether in a cubicle or in their own homes. I just decided to let myself have what I set out to have in setting my life up in the way it is, though; I wanted a high quality of life (instead of a cubicle) in that work-life equation. For me, this means letting the two (work, and life) flow alongside each other as they do, and jumping back and forth between them without bringing any baggage along. Freelancers frequently lament that their enjoyment of their freedom is inhibited by an ever-nagging sense that they should be getting something work-related done whenever they're not; it's harder to leave your work behind when you don't leave its physical proximity, and when your paycheck depends on your product, point-blank. But truly enjoying the freedom is what makes this deal so very sweet, and it's well worth the mental leap. (Today, I did my work outside, a breeze blowing through my hair, the wildflowers, and the trees).
This week, in my morning hours, I kissed Kaspar off (Aaron brings him to school; I pick him up at three and am then in Mama mode 'til after bedtime, unless I'm particularly swamped, in which case Aaron will pinch-hit on afternoon watch), went for quick runs around the neighborhood, and then sipped my coffee while sewing a picnic/play quilt for the little man. It was meditative, boring at times, but mostly really fun. It's a work of imperfection, as with the last one, and it isn't quite finished (I plan to stitch across the entire thing in several places; is this the proper 'quilting' part? I'm still a novice...), but -- as you can see (above) -- it's already in use. Hooray for making stuff, instead of excuses.
Kaspar made something this week, too. Today was his final day of school for the year ("summer camp" begins in a week: same place, same time... Thank god), and his teacher, knowing how much Kaspar loves his juice, asked if we'd like to make popsicles for him to share with the class to mark the occasion. Now, his classroom's had a snack-rotation going all year, for which one kid brings snack for the class each day for a week at a time. Kaspar, of course, brings his own separate snacks due to his food allergies, and while everyone's made an awesome effort to ensure he never feels either excluded or unhappy about his allergy sitch, his teacher and I both thought this would be a fun opportunity for him participate in eating a treat alongside his peers. Plus, he'd get a sense of satisfaction and stardom for having made and brought the treat himself.
Kaspar totally rocked it. We made his favorite juice (apple, strawberry, carrot, beet) last night and poured it, together, into ice-pop molds. They did their thing in the freezer over night, and Aaron dropped them off (in a cooler) with Kaspar this morning. This afternoon, before everyone dispersed for the break, his teacher busted the popsicles out of the school's freezer. (She was smart to strip the kids down in advance of doing so... beet juice stains). She reported back later that Kaspar was as proud as could be, and his popsicles were a full-on, messy success. I'm so happy for Kaspar and his project, and I'm looking forward to making real-juice popsicles with him all summer long.
What are you making lately? Where do you find the time?
Last time I wrote about juicing, Kaspar didn’t yet share my enthusiasm for it. Recently, however, little man has come around in a serious way. We’ve tried some new foods with him lately; strawberries, apples, cucumbers and beets (all of which used to cause either immediate hives or next-day eczema flares) are now safe for him to eat, so I’ve been throwing all of those items, as fresh, organic chunks – plus carrot, ginger and handfuls of spinach – into the juicer every afternoon when Kaspar gets home from school. He likes to help me drop the produce into the juicer’s feed, too; and although juicing collaboratively takes a bit longer (because I turn the juicer off each time we reload with new handfuls of fruits and vegetables, so as to avoid accidentally juicing any wayward extremeties), being involved in the process makes Kas twice as excited for the finished product. He sucks his servings down within a minute or two of my filling his cup, and then asks for what’s left in mine.
Interestingly, his eczema has disappeared (as in, it's actually gone) since he started pouring liquid vitamins into his system on a daily basis. We also have the Ayurvedic treatments, vitamin D3, and the usual probiotics (and such) going, and I'm guessing we're seeing the benefits of their combined effects. TCM and Ayurveda, plus time, have strengthened and normalized his system, enabling him to tolerate more foods. And his system likes the nutrients those foods contain, and is better able to heal itself when receiving fresh vitamins and minerals, especially in the form of juice, which is more easily assimilated in the body.
I won't be surprised if Kaspar has another eczema flare in the near-future, but we appear to have turned a corner, regardless. We’ve gone from managing eczema all the time -- and we have developed an effective system for that -- to ceasing all use of petroleum-based moisturizers (coconut oil massages, baths and a full-body slather with this each night are getting the job done), and I haven’t needed our homeopathic hydrocortisone cream alternative in weeks; despite its being non-steroidal, homeopathic and cleared by our naturopath as harmless (even in large and ongoing doses), we’ve been quite reliant on it for over a year, so suddenly NOT needing it indicates to me that things are truly shifting. Since Kaspar’s skin is in such good shape, he’s also sleeping better. We got two full, uninterrupted nights’ sleep this past week, which, after two full years of not getting those, ever, counts as a huge win for Team Newman. Here’s hoping we score more of the same in the coming weeks, even—perhaps? – making all-night sleepathons a regular thing. Ongoing.
Aside from these most notable positive changes, I love that Kaspar’s a fan of fresh juices because he’s otherwise, lately, disproportionately fond of eating organic (wheat/filler-free… gotta check for that) chicken hot dogs. Lots of chicken hot dogs. Which is fine, except that my trick of telling him pureed spinach is a dip for hot dogs that equals ketchup (another new, and hugely popular food item) in deliciousness only worked for... one meal. (Why did I even try? Because I’m an optimist, that’s why). But getting Kaspar to drink whole handfuls of leafy greens, and a host of other veggies, in juice form? Well, that requires no trickery at all. Happy boy, happy mama.
Aaron left for a round of networking action in San Francisco and LA at the beginning of last week, which I support and am proud of him for (he totally rocked it). It was not, however, an ideal week for solo-parenting on my end; Aaron’s trip coincided with Kaspar’s spring break (read: no childcare), as well as a crucial work-week for me (deliverables due for my university job, for ongoing freelance stuff and for an additional project I took on from my best client… because this is America, where life with kids costs mucho money). Suffice to say, I accomplished very little of any of that.
I knew I’d be preoccupied with parenting, but figured I’d find my pockets of time for work during Kaspar naps, and at night. I usually work while he’s at school in the mornings, and then do less brain-intensive tasks once he’s gone to bed. I expected I’d be tired by the end of the week, but also that things would go relatively smoothly. I intended to keep things pretty close to home—I set up a few playdates and stocked our fridge—where our environment is perfectly conducive to our normal routines. Things got off to a rocky start, though; on the night that Aaron flew out, Kaspar suffered an allergic reaction to fish, which he’s previously eaten without a problem. It was borderline epi-pen territory; he developed hives around his mouth after taking his first bite, and proceeded to frantically rub his eyes and face… with his fish-covered hands. I moved him to the couch, grabbing my phone and the epi-pen on the way, gave him a Benadryl, held his hands (as he rubbed his head on every cushioned surface within reach) and closely monitored his symptoms for any sign of lip-swelling or breathing difficulty. The Benadryl worked, thankfully, but not as quickly as I’d have liked, and not before my own adrenaline stores had fully emptied into my bloodstream. I skipped my own dinner that night and, after getting Kaspar into bed, checked on him obsessively until I climbed under the blanket with him several hours later. He slept like a rock. I did not.
We were up, the next morning, by six, and I got him situated on the couch with his hemp milk and Thomas the Tank Engine looped on Netflix. I then moved on to preparing something caffeinated so that I could move on to actually parenting properly. I gazed over our kitchen-bar-thing while boiling water and saw Kaspar contentedly nodding along with Thomas’ musical number… while also clawing the crap out of his own legs. Now, Kaspar’s usually at least a little itchy all the time, but he’ll normally stop scratching when I remind him that it worsens the situation, or when I both moisturize his skin and distract his attention. In this case, none of these interventions worked. It took me until that afternoon (after some Googling, and sending phone pics to our pediatrician) to realize Kaspar had Poision Oak all over his legs (unrelated to the fish incident , obviously). As a result, the next several days were spent on constant scratch-patrol, and Kaspar slept terribly, despite a steady Benadryl supply. (I’m not a big fan of medicating, at all, but the boy had Poison Oak) Naps were nonexistent. He’d sleep for two-hour spurts at night, then wake up and remain awake for hours-long scratching/talking marathons. I’d give up entirely on getting back to my work by about 1 or 2 am, then bring him into my bed—where at least we had some room to spread out. I’d settle him down and start to nod off myself when-- scratch. Scratch-scratch – I’d snap back to a semi-wakeful state to keep Kas from shredding his skin.
This situation felt just about identical to what we went through in the thick of Kaspar’s eczema/allergy days, right after he received his nine-month vaccinations and before we had any clue what was going on. I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to be kept awake all night, for nights on end. At a certain point, the body determines that you’re staying awake because, clearly, you’re being hunted by a bear or something, so it offers up (more) adrenaline, which you can feel surging up and down the spinal cord and into the base of the skull. It doesn’t stop when the baby goes to sleep, finally, either. I tried to be nice throughout this process, but I was also exasperated. And stressed. And tired. And, later, guilt-ridden about my own double-personality that resulted from being denied even a hint of personal time or space, as well as the most basic of tools for human functioning (sleep), when all I wanted was to feel like a human. By day, I’d feel badly about the night before, and badly for Kaspar, in his discomfort, and I’d do my best to be patient and fun and super affectionate. By night, I’d hold out for a while, but I’d eventually start sighing loudly, groaning in frustration, swiping Kaspar’s hands away from his body and imploring him to “Sleep! Just sleep.” He didn’t seem disturbed by my outbursts, really, but I didn’t like hearing myself speak that way. It sounded mean, in the dark, before dawn.
The most frustrating part of all of this was that I couldn’t just leave my kid awake by himself so that I could go get some sleep in order to be a nice mom (sometimes we have to cut our losses). He not only insisted on my company, but he was (and always has been, to some degree) awake because he was uncomfortable. He was scratching. He’ll do damage if left to his own devices. If someone else were hurting my child, I’d fuck them up, you know? But this is my child hurting himself. (Albeit not deliberately) It's excruciating. Worse for him, of course, but tough for me to cope with sometimes. Calamine lotion was a big help in the midst of this; it helped to quell Kaspar’s poison oak itch (and to dry up the rash), and by Wednesday we were coasting pretty well—scratching was at a minimum, our days were happy, despite lack of sleep—but he continued to wake endlessly throughout the night. He just wouldn’t stay down. I’m sure some of this had to do with Aaron being gone, and with Kaspar’s normal school routine being concurrently absent; things had changed without much warning, and Kaspar has no idea what “a week” or “California” (of “work” for that matter) even mean.
On Thursday night, I sat down to do some work at 10 pm. Kaspar woke at 10:15. I called Aaron at midnight. I knew he was working on an animation test for a big studio where he’d toured with a hiring big-dog that day—he had about 18 hours to complete the thing —but I felt myself on the brink…. With Kaspar sitting up next to me in my bed (I’d gotten him to sleep twice since he first woke up, but he called for me within minutes after I snuck out of the room, both times), I told Aaron I can’t take this, I can’t juggle several jobs and be a mom to a kid who never sleeps, who’s never slept like a normal person and who now wouldn’t let me leave the room. I told him the week had been a bad thing for my work, and that I was going to need time, once he was back, to do damage control. I told him I was getting emails and that I couldn’t even write back. I told him I couldn’t shower without Kaspar pulling the curtain off the rod and getting water everywhere in the room. I told him Kaspar was demanding I turn on Thomas all day and screeching the second he didn’t have his way. Then I told him not to worry—I was fine, we were fine, we were having fun — but I was losing my mind and looking forward to seeing him-good-luck-on-your-test-I’m-sorry-to-have-interrupted… Oh, and our car broke down, so I’d had Triple-A take it away. (The car ended up being okay …).
I’m sure I sounded actually crazy.
Aaron listened very sweetly and reassured me that he’d provide the time I needed, and agreed that Kaspar, while delightful, presents us with some unique challenges that can really, really suck. The next day, I apologized profusely to my editors (via emails, sent from my phone) explaining the situation and emphasizing its temporary nature. Luckily, the people I work for mostly have kids of their own, and were understanding and flexible. Empathetic, even. I got the bare minimum of work done for the week—what had to happen did, thanks to my wonderful friends who came and held down the fort while I escaped to my office for an hour or two, twice — but I mostly just surrendered to the situation. I had a clingy, poison-oak-covered, and surely very tired kiddo on my hands. He clearly needed my full, 100% (200%, counting the night shift) attention. And I could, I would, give him that. (Because someday he’ll be fifteen and not want my attention at all… and long before that, his dad would return and we’d trade nights, per usual, so we could each get some freaking sleep). I can take this; I can do all of these things. Sometimes better than others, but I'm doing it.
Despite running on way-under empty, despite the poison oak, and despite those rough nights, I think we did pretty well, all things considered. I gave in to Thomas requests more often than I usually do (survival, yo), but I also kept Kaspar busy (and happy) with walks, swing-time, books, and even some South-by-Soutwesting (a la our favorite rock star friends, Jessie Torrisi and the Please Please Me). Kaspar had a fun week, I’m sure of it. That’s what really counts, for me. And although I wish I hadn’t lost my patience with him at night when he was uncomfortable, there were a few times during the day when he wanted my attention and I—in the middle of something else—told him he needed to wait. Without two parents and a whole family dynamic, Kaspar was forced to adapt to adjusting to my needs, too—to some degree—as I sometimes couldn’t respond immediately to his desires. He didn’t like this, but I think it was important for his two-year-old self to realize that, while I love him with my entire being and will do everything within my power to keep him healthy and well, I am not his personal slave. (Moms: we’re people, too).
He was, surprisingly, a little shy with Aaron when we all finally reunited at the airport. Kaspar wanted me to hold him, and wasn’t quite ready for a Daddy-hug until we made it home (though he was perfectly happy to receive the little gift Aaron brought back from Cali during the ride). He’s continued to be a bit clingy with me this week, but has mostly returned to his usual easygoing self. He even slept through the night, alone, in his bed, two nights ago. (Last night? Not so much) Aaron’s stood by his word and helped me to some much-needed family-free work time, and my mom arrived yesterday for a short visit, during which she’s mostly babysitting… which is exactly what she wanted to do (we’ll see them again next month when we all travel to Asheville for her birthday). That’s good, because, honestly, I love my son but I’m a liiiiitle burnt out on him at the moment. Just kinda getting over that now, and it’s been almost a week since Aaron returned.
I’ve gotten my work done. I feel sane again, if still somewhat exhausted. I started to feel myself getting sick—like, physically depleted—toward the end of last week, so I’ve been cooking some extra nourishing meals, downing fresh juices and attempting to go to bed before midnight, with mixed success. That’s all helped. The Ayurvedic practitioner I recently saw, for myself, made the point that when the body and mind go at it, working against each other, the mind will hold out for a long time (especially with people as good at this particular trick as I am), but ultimately—every time—the body wins. It’ll force a person to rest by developing illness. I really felt this happening last week, and I was frustrated that I wasn’t in control of the circumstances so as to address it, but I guess making that crazy call, and carving out the time this week by enlisting help where it’s available, are my ways of finding my way back to a place of semi-balance. (I actually also had a two-hour phone appointment with the pediatric Ayurvedic specialist in Colorado I’ve mentioned a few times… It was very promising, and I hope Kaspar’s allergy and sleep situations will continue to improve, steadily, under his care).
I’ll admit, after last week, that I don’t think I could survive being a single parent, all things considered. So knock on wood that never happens. And if I never hear the sound of scratching again in my life, I’ll be a very happy woman. As it stands, I appreciate my husband very much, and am planning to take a little (NON-networking) vacation of my own, sometime in the fall, when my UT work cycle slows… I will not be bringing my lovely husband with me, though. Or our loveable little boy. I’ve never had a night away from my mom-post, and I think it’s about time I got one… or five. Stay tuned.
Do you ever parent solo when your partner’s out of town? Or, all the time because you’re a single parent? How do you make it work?
After taking a year off from allergy testing, Kaspar rocked rounds of both skin and blood tests last week. While allergy testing is notoriously inexact, the results reflect indisputable progress.
Our new allergist, although limited in his knowledge and treatment options by the bounds of Western Medicine, is also, to his great credit, pretty open-minded; he has another patient, a five-year-old, who’s ‘outgrown’ eczema, as well as multiple nut allergies—this is, statistically, an unlikely event—and avoided albuterol asthma treatments for years thanks to TCM doctors in New York (this boy’s mom called me yesterday, and we’ll meet with their family in the coming weeks to learn more about their story). He also has solid instincts, opinions, and—most usefully—interpretive skills, around this whole business of testing. Although I didn’t know it at first, this is just the medically-minded guy we’ve been looking for. (Yeah, I said it).
I was hesitant to subject Kaspar to countless blood draws as we did last year, when we hunted desperately (and with questionable oversight— the first allergist we saw lacked the above-mentioned skills entirely) for foods Kaspar could safely eat. The up side of having run those tests, however, is that we now have a lot of baseline info against which we can measure subsequent results. Kaspar’s numbers on last year’s tests came out markedly high; even our new allergist remarked, in looking over the records, at the levels of Kaspar’s nut, legume, and egg allergies: Not good. But he was optimistic around some of the others, and suggested we do skin tests for wheat, corn, oats, and some veggies.
Conflicting opinions abound regarding skin versus blood testing accuracy, and I questioned whether skin testing would be useful, given that we’d started with blood tests last year—why switch things up now? But this allergist handled my questions deftly and respectfully (he figured out pretty quickly that I’m savvy with this stuff and expect him to work with us, not to regurgitate some all-purpose SOP); he said that while skin tests do sometimes turn up false positives, they can impart a fairly reliable sense of whether a person’s system will react to a food upon ingestion, without running the risk of anaphylaxis in testing. Kids with eczema, too, regularly turn up blood test numbers that are all over the map (we knew this, and found it frustrating last year: how could we tell what was really a problem if the numbers were probably whack?). This allergist said there’d be no point in skin-testing, say, peanuts, since those results were so very high and pretty much guaranteed a bad reaction—especially since we’ve already landed in the ER once-- but some of the mid-range foods from last year’s tests would be worth taking to the skin first in order to get a sense of whether they’re really problematic, with the express goal of expanding Kaspar’s gastronomic options.
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A fire engine nebulizer. Sold... to the kid in the fire engine shirt!
Kaspar had an asthma attack this week. Which means Kaspar, officially, has asthma. This wasn’t entirely unexpected, since asthma commonly accompanies food allergies and eczema as a little trifecta of doom, but we were hoping to evade it, since our hands are feeling pretty full managing the first two of those challenging conditions. Anyway, no dice; we’re now three for three.
Aaron had asthma as a kid (another clue we’d see it in Kaspar sooner or later), and was distraught over Kaspar’s attack, mostly because he remembers what it felt like to be unable to breathe, and to drive off to the ER in the middle of the night on a regular basis throughout his own childhood. We considered going to the ER with Kaspar; his breath became somewhat short and labored as a cold front swept in one evening early in the week. We had a bag packed and all, but gave him a Benadryl and called his pediatrician after-hours to get her take before setting out. Kaspar’d been suffering from seasonal allergies (along with all of Austin, except for me) for a couple of weeks, which had flared his skin up and killed our already paltry allotments of sleep. He’d had itchy eyes and a runny nose, and it seemed like the breathing was possibly an extension of these disturbances. (As a side, Austin’s year-round high-allergen counts are kind of a deal-breaker in terms of this town being cool. Re-locators beware). His pediatrician said to go ahead and hold off on the ER unless it seemed like Kaspar really couldn’t catch his breath, and the Benadryl (plus some time in a steamy bathroom, shower running) did indeed tide us over until morning. Aaron stayed awake all night listening to Kaspar, regardless. By morning, little man was kind of panting, though still happy and wanting to play; but was clear we were headed in to the doc with something real to deal with. So we went.
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A Happy Chewbacca
We had plans to trick-or-treat with three other families, but ended up canceling the powwow due to our family's current status as total germbags. This head cold that Kaspar carried home from daycare over a month ago has been circulating through our ranks ever since. Kaspar and Aaron, while still snot-covered and coughing (respectively), have mostly recovered. I, however, held out until about Friday, when this thing finally took me down, and hard. I've taken about twelve hot showers since then (the congestion war is on), but haven't changed out of my lounge pants. I feel pretty gross. Omit the pretty. But, I've got my echinacea and my juicer, and I'm skipping class and work today in the name of R&R. Sick days aren't what they used to be (i.e. my R&R is up at noon when K arrives back home), but I've got a whole lot of stuff to do, so the goal here is a fast recovery.
We'll see our family friends soon enough, but I was seriously disappointed to be sick during Halloween; Kaspar was going trick-or-treating for the first time, and we decided Aaron would accompany him, while I stayed home wallowing in my sicky filth. I loaded Aaron up with the Epi Pen and camera (adding that the former better not get used, and the latter better get filled). Then couldn't help myself, and trailed them on their first stop of the trick-or-treat tour (costumed as a, um, crackhead).
Holy cuteness. So glad I did.
Signing for "more" blueberries.
Kaspar and I had practiced the trick-or-treat routine. He was on board for one round, but lost interest after that first house. Aaron took him for a little walk in the stroller and started up another driveway, but Kaspar preferred to keep strolling. Fine by us. I went home, and the boys returned in about five minutes (Kaspar was yawning).
I'd been a little concerned that confiscating Kaspar's loot would traumatize him for life. It just seems so wrong, as a concept; Aaron and I both remember rolling in our giant candy stashes, as kids, at the end of the night, and making ourselves sick on Reese's cups. But, Reese's cups are bad news bears for Mr. Allergy over here, so, confiscate we must. I'm happy to report that trading blueberries for candy went over like a charm. I'm still hell-bent on curing Kaspar of all allergy-related stuff (we're still rocking the Chinese herbs, and adding Homeopathy back into the mix... More on that soon), so am not going to think ahead as to whether this trick will work again next year. We'll take next year as it comes. I'm just glad this year's holiday didn't end with a sad Chewbacca. Quite the contrary.
After Kas was in bed, Aaron and I hunkered down on the couch to watch Midnight Cowboy and eat Almond Joys, occasionally peeking through the blinds at the little flashlight beams trailing up and down the street, and listening to the happy chatter as our trick-or-treaters claimed their prizes on our front porch. In lieu of actually scaring the shit out of all of our new neighbors (my voice is totally shot, so I sound like I'm talking through one of those Christopher Reeve voicebox things), I put out our candy with an honor-system sign and called it done.
Kaspar dipping into our own supply.
What did your kids (and/or you) dress as? And for those of you with food-allergic kiddos who are old enough to know you're stealing their candy... how do you swing it?
And, welcome to November! It's my birthday month. I'll be 27 by the time it's over. That's freaking me out. But that's another post for another day.
I hope you all had a Happy Halloween!
Sorry for my little leave of absence, readers. This week has been a beast (but I’m still rockin’ it! Have no fear). Our move was successful and is almost complete—a few things remain in our apartment that still need to be brought over—and I’ve lovingly dubbed our new house “Le Swankgasm.” That pretty much sums it up; post-apartment living is all it’s chalked up to be. We’re still in semi-camping mode, but once we’re unpacked and fully furnished, I’ll give you the grand photo tour.
Meanwhile, which is to say just in time for the move, Kaspar caught some nondescript germs that sent him into a full seven days of 101-and-change fevers (which we kept in check with Tylenol) and copious amounts of snot, followed by coughing. Which meant no school for him, and more juggling for us. Very little sleep for all involved. We were told his ‘cold’ was viral, but when it didn’t improve by one week and counting, we went back to the pediatrician and came home with an antibiotics scrip. Sinus infection. Good times.
We generally try to skip antibiotics; they take good bacteria out with the bad, and a kid with a food allergy pedigree like Kaspar’s needs the most balanced belly he can get. They’re also rumored to contribute to a major long-term Superbug problem, which is worth noting, but not my focus for today. In the case of Kaspar’s snot and coughing, the drugs performed a minor miracle; Kaspar went back to school yesterday, and slept through the night last night… which should perhaps be attributed to his running around at school above taking the meds, but either way, I was grateful. I’ve been in massage classes every day, plus swinging by my office to take care of things there, and jamming out that freelance project I mentioned a week ago (there’s still time to throw in on that, for those of you I haven’t yet heard from. And many thanks to those of you I have!). I’m loving doing massage, appreciative that my job is so flexible, and enjoying the extra project (maybe not so much at 1 AM, but I’ll enjoy the new couch it will buy, and the editor is a total joy). Sleep plays a significant role in my keeping all of this together, though. Without it, I show up in the wrong place at the wrong time and am extra impatient in traffic. So, thank you, antibiotics, primarily for making Mister Kaspar comfortable again, but also for hooking me up with some shut-eye. I was missing it so.
Now that everyone’s feeling human again (what? You just heard Aaron cough in the next room? Yeah, me too…), I’m being proactive and pumping Kaspar full of probiotics to help his intestines along. I give him probiotic supplements as a matter of course, and, this week, he’s eating yogurt like it’ll soon be internationally banned. He loves the stuff, and while he can’t tolerate straight milk (it gives him hives on his chest), yogurt is A-okay. I think that’s because it’s partially digested by the beneficial yogurt-hosted bacteria or something—the same bacteria that help offset the potentially harmful digestive effects of antibiotic drugs. Doesn’t that work out nicely?
As it happens, I like to make yogurt. It’s easy. In fact, it makes itself while I sleep ("sleep"). And, I told you last week that I’d share my method with you. This is me delivering. Better late than never!
Click Read More below for details on covert raw milk procurement, and my super-slacker yogurt-making method!