Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School 2013

Today was our first day of school for the 2013-2014 year.  

This year, Caleb is in 3rd grade and Piper in Kindergarten.  She was so excited about starting school today, even though we've done a bit of school work here and there.  When she got up this morning, Piper asked me, "Is it time for Kindergarten, today?"  When I said yes, I thought her top was going to blow off, she was so excited!  She has ended up talking and talking about her math lesson today and says she loves it.  Who knew!
Caleb was sort of nonplussed about the whole thing.  This is his 4th year of school with me, so he knew what was coming and I think he knew how much work this year is going to be.  His work load has increased substantially with this year, so this year is going to be a bit of a challenge for us, but fun nonetheless! 

In our house, we have a school room, something I was adamant about having so that we can finally separate school stuff from our life stuff.  I'm not 100% happy with the desks that we were able to get, but getting these were like an act of congress, so I'm making the best of them.  I think I'll need a little organizing unit in between the desks, but the kids were so excited to have their own spaces to do their work.

Here they are right before we started working.  Everyone was happy, happy, happy...

As expected, P finished her work far faster than Caleb, so she got some time in with her tea set and her favorite animals while her brother and I continued working.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Piper's New Journey

Many of you know that we have been going through the process lately to have Piper tested to determine if she has Celiac's disease.  However, this journey has been long coming.  Many of you have asked what has been going on and I've been slow to report anything until we had all the answers, which we received today, so here's the long and short of it, from the beginning.

Three years ago, Piper was 2, almost 3, and was having some major digestive issues.  We were in the midst of potty training, so her issues (let's just leave it at that) were very obvious and very troublesome.  I took her to the pediatrician and she ran an allergy panel, which showed nothing food related, save a VERY low level reaction to wheat.  This isn't something that isn't totally abnormal for a child that age to appear, so no one even thought twice about it.  Jes has always had issues with milk, so I decided to start there and eliminate milk from her diet.

Miraculously, her issues became manageable, but never completely resolved.

As Piper aged, she began to constantly complain of a stomach ache and would cease eating for days on end.  Naturally, this was very disturbing to us, but we thought it was typical 3-4 year old behavior and her asserting her will, trying to control one of the only things she was in control of.  Needless to say, mealtime became a struggle and a time of day that we all dreaded.

This past May, I took Piper into the doctor for what I thought was a sinus infection.  We left with a strep diagnosis and strict instructions to rest.  That turned out to be a non-issue, as my normally happy, bouncy, funny, full of life 4 year old turned into a non-eating, sleeping all the time (like 18 out of 24 hours a day), grouchy, difficult to be around child.  I knew in my gut that something was amiss and was determined to get to the bottom of it.

At the end of June, Piper had her 5 year well child check up where we discovered that she had grown a bit in height, but had actually lost weight and was lighter than she was at 4.  If you know Piper, she really couldn't afford to have lost weight, much less grown at all upward and not gained a pound.

Along with all the symptoms that Piper had been having, the pediatrician decided to run a full Celiac's panel on her and see what that brought about.

About a week later, I got a phone call informing me that P's blood work showed that she had the antibodies (these show that the body is actively attacking something, in this case, the lining of her small intestine), which set the wheels in motion to have all the testing done.

In mid-July, Piper had an endoscopy, where they took biopsies as well as drawing an extensive blood panel to check for thyroid issues (one can't be too careful with her genetic pool).  Those results came back as showing mild inflammation, but normal thyroid function.

So, 2 weeks ago, we drew more blood to test Piper for the gene and see if she has genetically inherited the predisposition for this disease.  Today, we received word that Piper has 1 copy of the gene, so the conclusion is that she does, in fact, have Celiac's disease.

Many people think that Celiac's is an allergic reaction to wheat, when in reality, it is gluten (a thickener found in most every product, food related and not) that causes an auto immune response within the body.  So, basically, when a person with Celiac's disease eats something with gluten in it, their body thinks that their small intestine is a foreign body and starts to attack it to destroy it.  Almost all absorption of nutrients happens in the small intestine, which is a very cantankerous organ, so if there is even any mild inflammation, that drastically reduces or even eliminates nutrient absorption.  In a growing child, that's a really problem.

So, that's what was going on inside my poor baby's body.  I feel a certain amount of guilt that we didn't know all these years, but am thankful that we did the testing now and have a solid answer.  Piper has been gluten free for about 2 weeks now and she doesn't complain near as much of her stomach hurting and when she does I think it's her being hesitant about eating in general.  She eats small amounts but much, much more than before.  She's actually hungry which is not something we've experience with her much in all her years!  Her mood has improved, she's more alert, and sleeping less (but normal amounts for a 5 year old).

All in all, this is not the end of the world, but will certainly be a journey and learning experience for my girl and I.

Oh, and as a side note, Piper's GI doctor is highly suspect that I might have Celiac's too.  So, this might get even more interesting...

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Catching Up

The funny thing about getting behind on writing here is that the further you get behind, the less you want to catch up.  So, that leaves us where we are, with me having this picture heavy post to get all caught up.  This basically covered mid June to present day.

So, here we go:

I drank lots and lots of this during this whole time to get through.  I was still packing up our house, working 4 nights a week until 10:30 or later, and keeping up with the kids' activities, all with Jes living in Houston 6 out of the 7 days of the week.

We made a trip to the hospital that we have frequented over the past decade to see a couple of doctors for check ups before the big move.  While there, the kids had to play in the play area one last time.

We spent some time with our friends at a new indoor trampoline park.

Caleb and Piper attended VBS at the same church that we went to last year, which happens to be the same church that we had MOPS at as well.  

I ended up teaching Caleb's class at the last minute and Piper was just down the hall in another class and we all had so much fun!

The next 2 weeks after VBS, Piper took swim lessons with her friend Kaylie.  I was a little nervous about how she would do as her swimming skills were akin to throwing a cat into a bathtub full of water.

The girls had a great time and now Piper can actually swim a bit!  She improved so, so much!

The first week that Piper had swim lessons, Caleb went to a half day camp.  This may not seem like a big deal, as kids go to camp all the time, but Caleb has some anxiety when separated from me, so the fact that he went AND had fun was huge!  

Half way through swim lessons, Piper picked up a stomach virus from her little friend and spent a couple of days vomiting.  Such fun.

Caleb had to have some surgery and it all went well and was considered a success.

And then the day after surgery, he came down with the same stomach bug that his sister had.  The hard thing was that he then became very dehydrated and went nearly 24 hours without urinating or having any pain meds in his system.  So, Caleb and I made a late night run to Children's Hospital, where they got him all fixed up.

Later that week, I got the same stomach virus, on the same day that we closed on our house.  However, the show must go on and I took 2 of Caleb's anti-emetics, made it long enough to sign the papers and get back home and collapse on the couch for the rest of the night.  No fun!

That Saturday, we had Piper's birthday party.  She wanted a Hello Kitty party and had been requesting it since the eve of her last birthday party, so what she wants, she got!

Here she is with her cake, made by the same lady who made Caleb's cake for his party.  It was pink and sparkly and just what she wanted!

We decided to have a small-ish party at a local McKinney place called Walls of Clay.  

Here, the kids were able to choose a piece of pottery to paint and then they glazed and fired the pieces.  It was so fun!

Caleb decided he wanted to paint an XBox controller.  Of course.

That cake was huge and was so lit up!  She loved it!

Piper's birthday was the day after her actual party, so I put candles in her donut and we sang to her that morning too.  She thought it as hilarious!  *As a side note, I always put candles in something and sing to the kids on their actual day.  One year, I put candles in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sang to Caleb since his actual day was in the middle of the week.  They love it and I think it's funny.*

On the kids' birthday, we always let them pick a place to eat.  Piper wanted to go to Red Lobster and had been asking for lobster for weeks prior.  When we got there, though, she decided to go with her macaroni and cheese norm.

Once her birthday was done, I was left to do lots and lots of this...

and this...

and this.  No fun, but had to be done.

We went to see fireworks on the 4th with our friends and the kids had so much fun.

They even slowed down for a few minutes for a photo with their mother...

Piper and Emalyn had some deep conversations.

The kids ate watermelon.

And sat on blankets and watched the fireworks.

My 2 had so much fun!

And Caleb and Emalyn snuggled the evening away.

The next day, we all went to the zoo for the last time for a little while.

It was pretty hot, so the kids and I rode the monorail before they closed it for high temps.

Later that week, Piper had an appointment with a GI doctor.  A week prior, P had a blood test to check for Celiac's disease, which came back positive, so we got a quick appointment with a doctor before we left for Houston.  

Two days later, we were doing this.  

And I was taking one last photo of my house in McKinney before we pulled away.  I love that house and was so, so, so sad to leave it.  It was the house that we brought both of our babies home to, but it is just a house.  We will find another.  It still made me sad.

It took longer than we anticipated to get out of the house, so the kids and I stayed another night in Dallas with my parents and started out early on Sunday morning.

We made it to our home in Houston around mid-day and commenced the unpacking.

It took some teamwork, but we have managed to get about 85% of the boxes unpacked and the things put away.

The first week we were in Houston, it did this every single day.  And then it stopped and hasn't rained again since.  We were thankful for the rain when it was here, though.

Jes took Caleb to a Houston Astros game and they were pleasantly surprised to see that the stadium was covered and air conditioned!

Meanwhile, Piper and I went shopping...

and brought home some fun things that she bought with a birthday gift card.

I managed to find my old Barbies, which thrilled Piper to no end.  She loves Barbies, unlike her mother did, so I just let her have them and she loves to play with them all the time.

We took an impromptu trip to the movies to see Turbo.  The kids loved it!

And we decided to go to the beach one Saturday.

Piper and I played in the sand and she shot me with a water gun.

The kids played and played and had so much fun!

We all played in the ocean and had a great time.

The kids and I had to make a trip up to Dallas and P wandered around my parent's house taking picture with people.

And acted silly with her grandmother...

The next day, Piper had an endoscopy to test her for Celiac's disease.  I'll write a post on that later, but we were able to get some good information from this procedure.

True to form, she was NOT happy after the procedure, but recovered much faster and better than she did after her tube placement.

P has been asking to try out gymnastics, so I signed her up for a trial class.

She enjoyed it, but we ultimately decided to go back to dance.  She feels more comfortable in the dance world, so I've been working to find her a dance studio to join.

Late last week, the kids and I drove about 45 minutes north to a big homeschool convention to get our curriculum.  

They both had fun looking at all the options and fun things out there for them to do.  And we even saw friends from McKinney!  So it was a good day!

Our neighborhood has 4 playgrounds scattered throughout, with one just down the street from our house at the local elementary school.  The kids have been begging me to get down there so they could play, but it's just so hot here, but we haven't been yet.  So, we walked down early Saturday morning and they had some fun playing around the mounds of mulch that were laid out.

When we returned home, Jes found a frog in our backyard as he was prepping to mow.  Of course, Piper had to get down on its level and get familiar with our little visitor.

P endured a car wash, without freaking out, a huge accomplishment for her!

And practiced her dance moves in the living room.  
All in all, we are settling in here in Houston as much as possible.  I miss my friends and family like crazy, but we are making the best of our situation!