Eight

Eight years ago, you came into our lives and changed it forever. When I look at you, I see me. You keep us on our toes on a daily basis and there are many days that we doubt if we are doing a good job. Your energy, stubbornness and independence make us worried for your teenage years! But, we love you with all our hearts and we can’t imagine our lives without you in it.

Here’s what you had to say about today:

Best part of today: Blowing out my donut cake this morning and opening up my present.

What you hope will happen this year: Keep doing everything better; like play kickball better, take pictures better.

What do you want to be when you grow up: I want to be a teacher, an artist, and a journalist.

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Love her.

Damn These Allergies

I’m probably more of a pessimist than an optimist, but I’ve always had at least a sliver of hope that Madelyn would outgrow her peanut allergy. As the years went by, and her skin prick test was unchanged, the pessimist in me reared her ugly head and tried to squash the little hope I had left. Instead of allowing that to happen, I looked toward desensitizing for her allergy. Every year I heard, “We’re so close to having a safe way to desensitize. Just a couple more years.” Lately, I hear “By college, she should be desensitized.” College??? Really??? I had my heart set on kindergarten. Then, it got pushed on to Jr high. She’ll be driving by college. Dating probably. I can’t even fathom thinking about how far away that is. It’s a far cry from “just a couple more years” away.

As each year past, I could see how much it bothered her to have this allergy. She’d cry and say how she wished she was like Asher and Dave, who don’t have allergies. She wanted to go to the ice cream shop in town and try all the different flavors. She wanted to go to a bakery and pick out a sprinkled donut. At least once a week, I heard her cries and I knew there was nothing we could do but wait. I just kept reiterating that hopefully soon she would out grow it or we can desensitize her.

Starting school was hard. She’d be disappointed when kids at school would bring contaminated treats, like cake, to school to share (even though notes were sent home at the beginning of the year so parents don’t bring in contaminated food) and she couldn’t have any. I hated that she was excluded. That year, we just brought her cookies/chocolate that she could have while the other kids had contaminated treats. The next year, teachers were making kids take their treats home unshared because of the potential risk for Madelyn. That’s a hard one. Obviously, I want Madelyn safe but 5, 6, and 7 year old don’t understand food allergies unless they have them and when parents bring in treats that are specifically on the “Do Not Bring” list, it puts Madelyn in an awkward situation. Kids can be mean. All the other child sees is that they can’t have birthday cake because of Madelyn. It’s hard not to be upset with the parent for putting Madelyn in a situation that allows other kids to be upset with her for something that’s out of her control and risks her life. I know the teachers do a great job at explaining to the kids about no one wanting a friend of theirs to be hurt, but I wonder if the times Madelyn has come home crying because someone wasn’t nice to her is in any way related to a treat that was sent back home.

Up until August 31st, Madelyn had a peanut allergy. We knew her allergy. We knew what foods/restaurants to avoid and what was safe. Things changed from time to time and we had to always keep an eye on food labels for any change in manufacturing practices. Yes, there were disappointments like not being able to eat at a bakery and most ice cream shops are out of the question. But, there were many things she could eat because the food was either not contaminated at all or it was with tree nuts, which Madelyn could have. It ended up allowing her to have so many more foods.

We tried numerous non peanut butters to no avail. She thought they tasted terrible. Nutella was a lifesaver. Most days she had a serving of it with an English muffin or with apples. We also found an brand of almonds that was not contaminated with peanuts. Basically, she’s been exposed to tree nuts on a daily basis for years.

This past July, we had an peanut check up with the allergist and her skin prick test was getting smaller (for the first time ever!). I felt a small piece of hope get bigger. Maybe she could out grow this allergy before jr high!!!! He asked us about tree nuts and I reiterated how she has them daily, for the most part. Then he told us that she has a 50% chance of developing a tree nut allergy. I was pretty surprised because in the almost 7 years that she’s gone to see allergists, this was the first time I’ve heard this statistic. I kept it on the forefront of my mind but since she’s been fine with so much exposure, I figured she’d be OK.

It was the first day of school and while she was getting ready, I noticed red marks on her face. I yelled down to Dave and asked if she had these red marks around her mouth when she woke up and Madelyn instantly announced that her face has been dry and she’s been itching it. I knew she had Nutella a few minutes before so I gave her a Zyrtec, just in case, and put lotion on her face. By the time we walked to school, she was all clear.

The more I thought about it that day, the more I suspected the Nutella. So, after school, I decided to do my own food challenge and gave her a spoonful of Nutella. Hives developed quickly and a few minutes later she said that her throat felt funny. Benedryl, Zyrtec and a phone call to the allergy nurse soon followed and we were set up for a skin prick test. I hoped we somehow contaminated the jar and not another allergy.

Here’s our results: It’s hard to tell but 7 out of 8 pricks had a hive on her lower arm greater than 5mm (positive is >/= to 5mm)


All tree nuts, except for Brazilian nuts, are positive. My sliver of hope died within minutes of starting the skin prick test. My fears confirmed. Fears of a higher risk of exposure. Fears of more tears. Fears for her social life and how I can never let her go to a friends house unless the parent knew how to use an epi pen and understood food allergies so well that he or she could protect my child. I would have to give them all of my trust. I have more fears about eating outside of the home. Even hotdog buns in our house were possibly contaminated with tree nuts! How can I trust any restaurant to have peanut/tree nut free bread when I was only able to find one brand of non-contaminated hotdog buns at the grocery store? Today, I emailed McDonald’s to make sure their cheeseburger buns are not made in the same facility as tree nuts or peanuts.

This sucks. I’m more worried now of one day having to use her epi pen. I’m terrified of one day seeing the fear in her eyes of not being able to take a breath. I’m worried that she will then see the fear in my eyes. I’m scared to let her sleep over at a family members house because I worry if they will react quickly. What if they’re not sure what to do and I don’t hear my phone ringing when they call to ask me? This is what runs through my mind. I’m scared for her.

I know I can’t put her in a bubble, but I wish I could. Instead, I have to put on a brave face and not let her see my fear. I need her to see that she can still do anything and I’ll do everything in my power to keep her safe.

Summer Vacation 2015…more pictures than words

Wow! I had no idea it’s been 4 months since I have written. It’s been so crazy around here getting the house ready to sell, that I just haven’t found the energy for anything else. From building and decorating to organizing and hiding away toys, our time has been completely consumed. Finally, it’s on the market and waiting for the right buyer to see it.

After all that work we needed a vacation. Here’s a glimpse:

We only planned on visiting Tennessee since we were going to attend Dave’s cousin’s wedding. However, after unsuccessfully trying to find stuff in TN that would excite the kids, we decided to head to Disney World following the wedding. We figured that we were already half way there.

First, Tennessee and this beautiful wedding:

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Madelyn is a HUGE fan of American Pickers and one of their stores happens to be in Nashville. A stop there was at the top of her list of things to do.

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We also decided to take a quick hike before the evening wedding. Sadly, I don’t even know if we walked a mile.

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Isn’t this venue beautiful???

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Can you see how sweaty we all are? Asher’s hair was sopping wet! It was a bit hot in TN.

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I danced just about every song with Madelyn. She was out there even when I took a break. On the other hand, Asher didn’t like dancing nearly as much as he didn’t appreciate being photographed.

The next day we were off to Florida with an extra passenger, my mother-in-law. I’m surprised after the trip down with my children who professed about every 30min that they needed to stretch their legs, go potty, or they’d ask “How many more minutes until we get there”, that she didn’t take the first plane back home. Thankfully, she persevered through our kids breakdowns and hopefully, she had a good time.

We played games and posed for pictures in-between rides. We took frequent trips back to the hotel room to unwind and swim.

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We ate with princesses and met as many characters that the kids were willing to wait in line for. We even had a night to ourselves park hopping, thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law who watched the kids for an evening.

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We rode some great rides. We didn’t ride as many as we had in previous years, but it was so hot that we weren’t willing to wait an hour for a ride. Madelyn was always my roller coaster partner and I’m not sure what happened when we stepped onto Disney property this year, but she was terrified of any roller coaster ride. I figured that she would remember how much fun these rides were if she would just ride them. So, I did what any good parent would do, I forced strongly encouraged her to ride. Sure, there was some begging midst ride to let her get off. There may have been some screams and a tear or two. But, as you can see from some of these pictures, she is terrified having the time of her life! Asher had fun on the coasters this year, though. Maybe he’ll have to be my partner next time.

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All in all, we had a great time and we can’t wait to go back.