Family Life, Random Thoughts

A New Year

I’m a sucker for newness; I love a fresh start, new possibilities and opportunities. I realize that not everyone operates that way, Charlie and Faith, in particular, are much more thoughtful and prefer advance warning when something is new and then ample time to adapt. I have a hard time remembering that sometimes. I’ll have a day when I wake up, rearrange all of the furniture in the house, go some place we’ve never been, and then make dinner using all completely new foods and wonder why they are so uneasy. Meanwhile, June and I are in “what’s next” mode. It’s so great that God made us different because their hesitancy when something is new slows me down when it’s necessary and my fast paced, always looking for the next thing pushes them out of their comfort zone a little. Charles…well, he just goes with the flow no matter what we are doing with very little complaining (unless I’m cooking dinner of course, he saves all of his complaining for then). I just love that child.

I think everyone can appreciate the newness of the New Year and want to set goals for themselves. I recently heard somewhere to not set New Years resolutions to FIX something because you’ll almost always fail- to set a goal, and the habits will follow. I think of things I want to do or goals to work toward all of the time, but if I write it down and publish it for the entire world to read, it has to happen right? So here are a couple of my goals for the coming year and some of the habits associated with it.

1. Goal: Vary my personal knowledge

I haven’t always loved to read, in fact, I absolutely dreaded it in school. I was queen of cliff notes for book reports. I never read for pleasure until college, when I had some health issues so I had to take a semester off and somehow I started picking up books for fun. Since then, I’ve read a portion of a book, probably almost every day and crave it. I have complete ADD when it comes to it (which I need to work on) because I’m constantly reading at least 5-6 books at a time. I can’t get enough of it and want to encourage our kids to love books as well, which I believe starts with the parents reading.

Some of my current reads, not including a couple novels I’m working through

What I’ve found though is that I am what I consume. If I’m reading all about functional medicine, diet and autoimmune diseases, that’s all I’m talking about (sorry guys, been a bit consumed lately about Faith’s diagnosis). If I’m digging into the Bible and reading about living Biblically, I’m more positive and encouraged to live more like Jesus. If I’m reading about living in the woods with limited contact with actual humans, I might start feeling a little depressed and sorry for myself. That’s the power of reading and stories, they really affect you as you invest yourself in them, which is amazing, but also important to be mindful of.

For that reason I want to ensure I’m varying what I’m reading and to do that I want to start purchasing a new book every month for myself, different books, novels, short stories, non fiction -all different subjects and authors, pushing myself out of my reading comfort zone. We go to the library weekly and I’m always putting books I want to read on hold, but there’s something to be said about actually owning a book for yourself. I see the importance for the girls when they get a book they get to keep “forever and ever”. They are in awe that they don’t have to return it to the library and show it to everyone who enters our house.

Personally, there will be times that I’ll come across a book I want to read and the library either doesn’t have it or there’s a long waiting list so I just shrug it off and forget about it. So, if I’m in the habit of purchasing a book every month, I’m able to gift myself a new book when I’m actually interested in it and I get to read it over and over (and write and highlight and do whatever I please) gaining new perspective and knowledge each time I, or anyone in the family, pick it up.

2. Establish a Daily Routine

I’ve read and heard from multiple sources that consistency and routine is essential for young kids. I’d argue that it’s also essential for adults, but this past month has put us in survival/Christmas/birthday/get through the day with as little crying as possible (for everyone) mode. With everything going on, routine has been thrown out for the most part. I guess that’s normal around the holidays, but I’m ready to establish a routine again even though part of me loves the freedom. It will look a little different than in the past since we are home much more than before and less mobile because of Faith’s condition, and I feel like I run a restaurant cooking all day every day trying to battle this disease with diet (more details on that to come). This has been sort of a blessing for us because we needed to slow down as a family, spend more time at home, but with that, we still need structure to our day or the girls will ask if it’s time for lunch at 9:30 am and ask to watch TV all day, and I’ll just keep losing my patience with the constant fits they throw every time I tell them no.

Planning the days and weeks also prevents me from getting to the end of the month thinking “oh whoops, all those homeschool activities I wanted to do this month have to be done this week!” I’m learning to give myself a lot of grace in this area, especially recently, but I still want to be intentional with our time together, even if it just means an established reading time every day.

I have other long term goals that I’d like to work toward but these are my immediate habits I’d like to adapt, I’d love to hear some of yours! Also, are you a sucker for change like me or prefer consistency?

P.S. Please send me your book recommendations!

Family Life

Faith

Our family has been through a lot in the past couple of months, so I’d like to take some time here to fill you in on what’s been happening with our little Faith, what’s to come, and how to pray for us. I truly believe that prayer changes everything, and God is in control of every single detail of our lives so thank you so much for praying and caring so much.

We’ve received so many questions about what exactly happened, and because this case was such a mystery to us and many doctors, I’ll provide a lot of details in case the details of what we went through is helpful to anyone else who finds themselves going through something similar.

In the middle of the night on October 31, Faith came into our room screaming saying “my foot doesn’t work really well”. She couldn’t put any weight on it but there were no more symptoms, no injury that we could recall and her foot looked identical to the other, just extreme pain. The next day she spiked a fever, redness started to appear on the top of her foot and she was in even worse pain, especially at night, all night. The following day we were at the pediatrician with an infection, cellulitis, in her foot and were given antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading as it can very quickly with this type of infection. Antibiotics weren’t helping so days later we were admitted into the hospital with IV antibiotics for 4 days. They feared a bone infection which can be very serious so she had an MRI. It showed no bone infection, just cellulitis so we continued IV antibiotics until she could walk and then she was sent home with oral antibiotics. Faith is tough y’all, I’m absolutely blown away with her courage. She didn’t understand fully what was going on but she became everyone’s favorite patient because she was so sweet and tolerated everything so well.

A week after finishing her antibiotics her foot swelled and a fever crept up again. The pediatrician put her back on the same antibiotic (clindamycin-a very aggressive and yucky antibiotic) and after 6 days on it, still the same symptoms. We were sent back to the hospital fearing that a bone infection was either not picked up on the MRI or had developed since we were there before. She went back on IV antibiotics, this time a different, stronger one- vancomycin, and started to show some improvement. She received a bone scan of her entire body (our child laid completely still for 15 minutes, amazing) to see if a bone infection showed this time, as well as rule out any other scary cancers like leukemia. The bone scan came back clear, Praise God! But what was causing this pain and swelling? We saw so many doctors there and they all seemed stumped. Three days later we were discharged with a prescription for a NSAID and instructions to follow up with a Rheumetologist.

We don’t have autoimmune diseases in our family; and except for the occasional sickness, we are relatively healthy, eat very well (organic, vegan and gluten free- a diet we adapted a few years ago to combat chronic issues I was having), so we were skeptical. We met with a pediatric rheumetologist and he confirmed that she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease. Her immune system is essentially confused and attacking her own body. There’s no telling exactly how she got it, it could have been her body fighting cellulitis. She could have not had cellulitis at all and this was the arthritis all along (which drives me CRAZY because of all the antibiotics that she was on to treat what we were told over and over was a very serious infection). It could have been a prior infection or illness that she experienced but her identical twin, June, did not which would explain why she had this and not June who has the same DNA. But he was confident that he could treat this and she’d be fine, just put her on long term anti inflammatory drugs and steroids when she needs it and no one will ever know she has this. I couldn’t handle the idea of putting our sweet (almost) 4 year old on so much medication and so I asked if there were any environmental causes or dietary changes that we could make to alleviate the symptoms instead of medication and he didn’t seem optimistic about that approach but agreed that we could try no medication for now and see how she does.

This appointment was about two weeks ago and she has seemed very stable, not worse or better but she is still limping and her foot gets tired occasionally. It’s truly heartbreaking seeing a child who loves to run around and explore to refuse to go outside because she’s afraid her foot might hurt. We do understand that this could be a lot worse and consider it a huge blessing that we are able to treat this hopefully before it becomes debilitating. We are working very hard to get to the bottom of this to get our sweet girl back to normal. In addition to our own constant research, we are working with a great dietitian who practices functional medicine and specializes in autoimmune diseases. We are looking at our diet primarily, nutrient and mineral deficiencies, that may be making symptoms worse for her as well as working on healing her gut after all of those antibiotics. And most of all we are praying for wisdom, healing, and direction.

I’m constantly reminded that God has His hand in this and He will guide us, give us peace, and that His love is never failing.

“”Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. ”

– Isaiah 54:10

I don’t think I’ve lost faith that God has us in the palm of His hand and loves us through every circumstance, but I’ve wondered why is this happening to Faith, why has our family been so rocked these past couple of months with hospital stays and doctor visits stressing and separating our family, and why now? Oh and why add in a stomach bug shared by our family during her second hospital stay, a baby who decided to stop sleeping, and extreme separation anxiety by everyone? It has taken me a while to see anything positive in this situation and I’m usually an optimistic person.

I recently thought about the what ifs- what if the opportunities and commitments we had in November didn’t fall through before all of this started? We wouldn’t have had the time to dedicate to getting Faithy better.

What if we didn’t decide to homeschool our children? She would have missed at least a month of school, all while June would have gone to school which would have made things really complicated and would have pulled them apart even more, isolating Faith.

What if we are going through this NOW and looking at diet triggers and changes so that we can avoid a more serious illness LATER in our family? What if this started now instead of when she’s older and I have less control over what she eats?

What if my husband and I were not on the same page about any of this? Thank goodness this experience has only brought him and I, as well as our entire family, closer and given us all a greater appreciation for all that we have and especially our health.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:8-9

I’m starting to think that God has used all of this to remind us that He IS in control, no matter what we do, read, or treatment route we decide to take. I started looking back over the past couple of months and really saw how He ordered our steps. He timed all of this during the holidays, a natural season of thankfulness, celebration, and a time of reflection so it’s been very hard to forget His amazing love and sacrifice for us by sending his Son to the world.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” -Matthew 1:21

We are so grateful for this community, our family and friends who have helped us so much through this time by praying with us, listening to our concerns, encouraging us, offering advice, cooking for us, helping with the kids and just loving us so much. I can’t say thank you enough for all of you!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and time with your family. I will try to keep you updated as much as possible about how things are going. Thank you thank you thank you for all of your prayers!

 

 

 

Random Thoughts

Grateful

My fingers are still numb from running this morning in the freezing cold, but I couldn’t help taking advantage of all the family in our home to help with the kids and get out for an hour of peace, and now some quiet to share what’s on my heart. I felt all sorts of feelings on my run as I reflected on the past year and where we were a year ago. I took in our sweet new neighborhood, the beautiful fall leaves and the crisp air and felt an overwhelming sense of thankfulness.

I’ll talk a little about our home in another post, but for a little background, we moved to our current home a year ago when I was about 8 months pregnant with Charles. Every single day that goes by Charlie and I say to each other something we are grateful about with our new house.  God was so faithful through the entire process and we are forever thankful for all that God has done for us in this past year, our family expanding, and the people we’ve been able to have in our home, our lives feel so enriched.

Since moving, our house has been slowly filling with furniture and we are forever adding things to our to do list. If we’re being honest, we kind of feel underwater with our to do list and very little time (or energy) to do any of it.

Yesterday, the day before Thanksgiving, Charlie and I were bustling around the house cleaning and doing last minute preparations before our family arrived. We both were a little stressed. Our entire house was littered with toys and dirty laundry. It was 1 pm and I still hadn’t cleaned the kitchen from breakfast. I wasn’t being the nicest mom (or daughter-sorry mom) either. The girls asked me every 3 minutes when their grandparents would be there and every response I gave them was a little less kind than the last. In addition, I was growing bitter cleaning up the house on my own while they simultaneously made it messier.

I’m always telling the girls when they’re grumpy that they need to go upstairs and have an attitude adjustment and come back downstairs when they can be sweet to their family again. So once my inlaws arrived, I did just that…I went upstairs and took a nap. Lord have mercy I needed that nap. God used that time to completely shift my perspective. Something hit me, my kids will not remember what the house looked like, if the turkey was dry or if dinner was “on time”. They will remember the mood, and something I’ve learned is that momma’s mood tends to dictate everyone’s mood. The last thing I want our kids to remember about the holidays is that mom was stressed out, paying no attention to the kids or sitting down to enjoy our family, but that was exactly the track I was on yesterday. Thank you God for stopping that train.

Moms and dads, enjoy days of rest, especially today. Don’t let your to do list or idea of perfection take the joy out of the holiday season. Even if your home is not perfectly decorated, you burned dinner (did that last night…), or your kids are having temper tantrums every hour, what matters is the time spent with loved ones because you never get that time back. Use it wisely, tell them why you’re thankful for them. Or if that’s awkward (I know that can be awkward) write it down for them to read later. Give yourself grace every day and always remember to be grateful for His faithfulness.

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving!