With Josh returning to school next month, it seems that we're on the home stretch of summer - according to our calendar, not the weather. We've been blessed with a slower summer that will hopefully become an official slow summer before school hits. Being able to take a breath, re-evaluate, and enjoy the now has been a gift.

So, here are some highlights thus far:

We planted a garden - 64 sq ft of soil for the tilling. It has definitely helped me with my fantasy of living on a farm. We've harvested gigantic cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries. The watermelons are coming along and some squash pest killed off all of our zucchini, pumpkin, and butternut squash...except for the rouge butternut squash plant growing out of our compost bin, which happens to be the healthiest looking plant in our backyard.

Kip passed the 20# mark. He is now eating 13 foods (if you count water) and has tested negative for all of the things we hoped he'd test negative for during his check-ups. We're at a point where his doctors seem comfortable saying that he is just a genetically small guy with food issues that he should outgrow. It is a new and very welcome calm. Now we just keep trying new foods and enjoy our silly little boy.

We took the boys bunk beds apart into two twin beds. Kip's showed us that he could climb the ladder to the top bunk completely unassisted. Really Kip?

We've been cheering on G-daddy and G-mommy as they buy a house in the neighborhood. We're really excited for them to move in and be so close in the coming months.

We celebrated Brian's birthday. It was a quiet birthday weekend at home. Josh and I baked and decorated a big chocolate chip cookie for him. Josh chose the theme - dinosaurs stepping in piles of dinosaur dung. Wilton didn't have a sample cake for me to copy, so we just winged it with some chocolate icing, plastic dinosaurs, and my cake decorating supplies.

Josh has been in swim lessons for 5 weeks, thus far. Originally, he was signed up for 2 weeks of lessons at our community pool. Josh resisted and protested the entire first week of lessons, but as requested, he dutiful stayed in the water and participated to the point that he was comfortable. I was very impressed by his willingness to speak up and let the teacher know when he was uncomfortable doing something. When we returned for week two of lessons Josh decided that he really liked swim lessons and wanted to continue. Amazing! Josh is putting his head underwater, kicking on the kick board, and floating on his back. He's having a fantastic time and knocking our socks off everyday.

We've played with our neighbors and friends more days than not. Having multiple families that we love nearby is wonderful.

Fun stuff! I'm eager to see what the remaining few weeks hold! Hope you are enjoying the summer too!


Many Apologies to Mary

Kip had his first taste of lamb last week and the omnivore was unleashed. Kip loves lamb! We are so excited that he has a new source of protein in his diet.


Patch On, Patch Off

We're home! Thanks to everyone who prayed for and with us during our trip.

Though we didn't return home with many solutions or cures, we were very encouraged with the confirmation that we received through the doctors and testing. The specialist confirmed that Kip has Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES). His immune system thinks certain food proteins are foreign invaders and attacks them which results in damage to his GI system. The good news is that the damage can be prevented through diet modification and that he should outgrow most or all of the food sensitivities by the time he starts kindergarten.

Since this particular type of food sensitivity doesn't test "positive" with traditional blood or skin allergy testing, we went to Houston for delayed food allergy "patch testing." Kip was tested for reactions to milk, soy, chicken, beef, corn, wheat, egg, potato, sweet potato, and bananas. We would have tested more foods but we ran out of space on Kip's back. According to Dr. Mom he reacts to all of those except the potatoes. I was pretty sure sweet potatoes were fine and we had not yet tried white potatoes, but I thought they were a pretty safe bet since Kip tends to do well with vegetables.

The results were "amazing!" At least that is what the nurses said as they gathered around to "ohh" and "ahh" over his test results. The doctor took pictures and asked if Kip's results could be included in her presentation at an upcoming allergy conference. She had "never seen that before." As nice as it is to have people amazed by your child, it seems best for that to happen outside of the doctor's office.

We were not surprised that his results were impressive based on his reaction to the 48 hours of testing. Twelve hours after testing began he started getting the hiccups repeatedly and then 28 hours after testing began he woke screaming and stopped sleeping for any reasonable duration. If you like Thomas the Tank Engine marathons, you should join us next time.

Kip tested positive - or sensitive - to everything except sweet potato and white potatoes. After we discussed the results, we met with a nutritionist to talk about how we can ensure Kip gets the fats and proteins that he needs to grow properly. Since Kip is still breastfeeding (which according to the nutritionist provides most of his fat and protein), he and I will both continue to avoid the offending foods for another year, try a few new foods in the coming weeks, and return to Houston to retest next summer. We'll also have Kip's growth monitored quarterly and have the results sent down to Houston. He is currently underweight. We'll make an annual "vacation" to Houston until his food sensitives are resolved. Good thing we had some fun while there!

Between our appointments and vain attempts at catching up on sleep, we visited Hermann Park each morning and afternoon. It amazes me that we spent two days doing different activities in the same park. We walked around, played on the playgrounds, went to the zoo, and went on a train ride. Brian and Josh also played at the Houston Children's Museum. Another aspect to the whole adventure was staying in a small one bedroom hotel room - myself, G-daddy, the boys, and for the later half of the stay, Brian. We ate "in" at every meal and borrowed at least half a dozen videos from the hotel's lending library. On our way home yesterday, we agreed that we wanted to visit the museum, zoo, park, and train again next year - and maybe even ride the paddle boats. However, we'll probably look for slightly larger accommodations, especially considering Kip's potential reaction to the testing. Still, it was one of those experiences that we'll look back on, laugh about, and know that we're all closer because of our time together.

The visit provided an important mental shift for me as well. All along, I've been viewing the "Kip diet" as a temporary thing. Now, knowing that he could have these restrictions for several more years, I'm motivated to incorporate the "Kip diet" into our entire family's meals. We need to eat together again. I need to cook 3 meals a day instead of 9. So, I'm now working on compiling Kip friendly recipes so that we can at least share one dish at meals together. Ideally, we'll get to where we can share entire meals.

It's really good to be home.


Today's the Day!

We are (finally) headed to Houston this morning and will be there for the remainder of the week. We're taking Kip to see a specialist at Texas Children's Hospital this afternoon and on Friday morning. So excited! Please pray for our safe travel, that our time in Houston is fruitful, and praise God for providing this opportunity for Kip and for us!


Yes Lord Yes Lord Yes Yes Lord

Josh repeatedly asked me if I knew the "Yes Lord" song. No, I didn't. "But it is my favorite song about Jesus." It was obvious that he was singing the chorus of a song, so I googled the chorus and found the song on YouTube - Trading My Sorrows by Darrell Evans. Now instead of asking if I know the song, Josh asks if I can play the song again, and again, and again. I'm not complaining. I love seeing him dance and sing "Yes Lord." What an awesome song to have in his heart. The last 10 seconds of the video are the best, IMO.


Testing, Testing, 1 2 3

Kip will be 14 months at the end of this week. The "Kip Diet" will be about 12.5 months old then too. Yes, the Kip diet continues.

Since Kip's food sensitivities did not magically improve at 12 months, he has begun seeing specialists to hopefully help identify what he can and cannot eat (and therefore what I can and cannot eat). He is quite the trooper.

So far, three doctors have confirmed that Kip either has FPIES or EE. Whichever one we land on doesn't change the plan of action much. Since his reactions are delayed, traditional allergy testing doesn't produce positive results. The next step is to go down to Houston for a 3rd round of allergy testing, which we will do in April. So far, his blood and skin tests have all been normal or negative of any allergy, which is exactly what we expected with his diagnosis. This 3rd round of testing, called patch testing, is specifically for delayed reactions and will hopefully provide some useful information. I did read a journal article saying that a small percentage of kids don't test positive even with this specialized testing. What a bummer that would be! The test results will hopefully suggest which foods to trial him on and which ones to continue excluding from our diets. Of course, I have a list of 20 something problematic foods and we'll only be able to test 6 or 7 of them during our (possibly first?) stay in Houston.

It has been wonderfully encouraging to talk with the specialists. They have confirmed that continuing the Kip diet is the best thing possible. In fact, according to the GI specialist, the Kip diet has prevented Kip from having to undergo endoscopy and take medications. It is priceless to be told that you are not crazy by someone with an MD after their name. Kip has also expanded his menu up to 5 items: rice, sweet potato, avocado, squash, and carrots. He sure isn't lacking for Vitamin A! Months ago, he seemed to react to rice and avocado, so we're hopeful that means he will continue to outgrow his sensitivity to the other culprit foods. All it takes is patience, prayer, and lots of turkey, rice, and avocado. Yum.

Sweet Valentines

I recently read that 4.5 years of age marks the rise of potty talk. This has proven to be true at our house. Josh does all he can to work "bathroom words" into completely unrelated conversation. For instance, when a car passes, instead of asking if I saw the back of the car, he'll ask if I saw the car's bottom. Ha-ha, so funny - NOT!

Fortunately, he still gives his mom kisses with that potty mouth - and compliments too. Brian has joked that Josh has a bit of an Oedipus complex, but Josh has been ramping up the charm lately with constant compliments. Here's a conversation from last Thursday:

Josh and I were talking about what heaven looks like.

J: Will Heaven be prettier than Earth?

M: Yes, better than we expect or imagine.

J: But not prettier than you.

M: Ya think?

J: Yeah, I know. You are the prettiest thing in the universe.

As sweet as it is (and possibly blasphemy) these recurring conversations fast forward my thoughts to Josh as a young adult. Though Josh is risk adverse when it comes to physical activity, when he invests emotionally, he is all in. Oh, how easily some girl will crush his heart. I will be so mad.

The picture is of the boys on Valentine's Day. My grandma made their heart shirts. Josh picked out the fabric months ago. When we took it to the counter to be cut, the fabric store employee asked Josh what hearts mean. He said, "Love." She then asked him who he loved and he grabbed my hand, looked up at me, and sweetly said, "my mom."

This year, the boys surprised me with flowers (I was pretty sure the delivery driver had the wrong house), a heart necklace, and a necklace holder that Josh and Brian built (for free) at Lowe's on Saturday. My expectations (which were along the lines of some sweet potato fries from Terra Burger) were definitely exceeded. Thanks guys!

OK. The next post will not be all lovey dovey. I promise.


Bad Boy

Sure, he is cute.
But, he is also dangerous.

Watch out ladies.


A good day

Today was a good day.

Josh did great at school today - listened, was helpful, and ate his lunch. This is a wonderful turn around after having behavior issues three times last week. (I know, Josh?)

I took a shower AND ate lunch while Kip napped.

The weather was beautiful this afternoon so we walked to the park after Josh came home from school. Then, on our way home from the park we played with some neighbors and ended up riding bicycles around the block. We were outside for two glorious hours.

Josh bravely fell off of his bicycle twice. No tears, no whining, just picking up his bike and getting back on. The first time he did comment that it was the first time he ever fell off of his bike. I was so proud of his response to the falls. Even our neighbor said she was proud of him.

The boys are in bed and I don't feel like I must race to mine.

God is gracious to gift us with a day like today. Even the "bad days" are a gift, I know, but today was really nice.

Hope you had a great Tuesday.


Hello 2010

We're alive.

2009 was a doozy! Since we last posted, we had an awesome Halloween in CA, Kip learned to walk, we discovered more foods that Kip CAN eat and others that he should definitely avoid, Josh learned to ride a bike, we've been bowling, played mini-golf, and enjoyed ice skating, Brian got a new job title, we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with family, and we moved to a wonderful home with the friendliest of neighbors. Basically, we've laughed, we've cried, and we're still sleep deprived.

So, welcome 2010.

Today the boys got haircuts. It was a day of firsts - Josh's first "big boy" haircut with clippers and Kip's first haircut ever. Here are the before and after shots.



With a little luck, we'll post again before Spring. Take care!