Monday, June 30, 2014

Guest Post {Lindsey Bush}

Well, long time no post!  I had planned to have several guests on my blog while I was on my recent trip to China, however, once I arrived I found out that the government there regulated access to sites like Google (which affected my Gmail and blogger accounts) as well as Facebook.  You literally CANNOT access certain social media sites unless you have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) in China, oh and you can't get one of those once there, you have to pre-purchase it in the US before traveling.  So to say I was a little frustrated was a bit of an understatement.  But in light of the reason I was on the trip, it was clearly a First World problem!  I'll have many blog posts about the trip in the next week or so once I get over the jet lag and reconnect with my family.  So, without further adieu…

Lindsey Bush is a self-employed editor, writer, and stay-at-home mom. She and her husband, Mitchell, and their kiddos live in a suburb of Nashville, Tenn.  Lindsey also happens to be my cousin.  She is loving and strong and I'm so grateful to call her my friend.   When you see her picture you will be able to see the family resemblance, we look a lot like sisters! I am so glad she was willing to share a little bit of the journey God has had her sweet family on specifically with their little boy.

Perhaps it was mother’s intuition. When our son, Aiden, developed eczema at four months, I remember thinking then that he was going to have food allergies. His father had asthma as a child, and I had a mild childhood dairy allergy that I quickly outgrew. Yet once I learned that eczema, asthma, and food allergies are likely to appear together—and that 1 in 13 children now have food allergies in the U.S.—my gut just said to avoid nuts.

Fast-forward to Aiden at 2 years old. Finally finding the courage to make the attempt, one small lick of peanut butter caused immediate facial swelling and hives. We rushed him to the E.R., giving Benadryl along the way and praying that his airways would stay open. The doctors stabilized him with large doses of steroids and referred us to a pediatric allergist, where we got an official diagnosis of allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, molds, and cat dander.

Becoming a food allergy mom changed everything. I cried myself to sleep for several weeks wondering how I could possibly keep my child safe in a world of PB&J sandwiches, Honey Nut Cheerios, Nutter Butters, pecan pie, and banana nut muffins. Cross-contaminated foods are literally everywhere. Baseball games became too risky. The grocery store turned into a minefield. Restaurants were virtually inaccessible. And forget ever having a birthday cake from a bakery.

Yet with tons of prayer, research, and discussions among other food allergy parents, today things have gotten easier. We see Aiden’s allergist annually for skin and blood tests to gauge whether he might outgrow the allergies—1 in 5 outgrow peanuts, and only 1 in 9 outgrow tree nut allergies. We carry Epi Pens (epinephrine) everywhere we go—the only way to treat life-threatening anaphylaxis. We’ve trained babysitters, family members, and parents of our son’s friends how to both recognize and respond to an allergic reaction. Aiden’s medical I.D. bracelet has become a permanent part of his daily attire. We know what foods to avoid and how to carefully plan every meal and snack. We’ve even found several restaurants where he can safely eat out. But for this food allergy mom, the work feels like it’s just beginning.

Recently Aiden graduated from Pre-K, so this August he’ll begin Kindergarten. Not only are we concerned about our child’s acceptance, if he’ll fall while hanging from the monkey bars, and how he’ll adapt to formal instruction; there are now class parties, field trips, and a lunchroom to navigate. Will his teachers understand his needs? Will other kids and their parents be sympathetic? Will he be overcome with anxiety? Will he be left out of birthday parties and sleepovers? Or worse, what if he doesn’t take his allergy seriously?

Just recently, formal testing with the allergist revealed that our 3-year-old daughter, Bailey, is allergy free. Praise the Lord! She hasn’t had the same symptoms her brother exhibited, but it was nonetheless a relief. Bailey got to pick out her own celebratory donuts at Krispy Kreme. Hopefully one day soon we’ll do the same for our son.

In the meantime, we’ll keep raising awareness about food allergies. So from a mom who has helped navigate several allergies the last few years—celiac disease/gluten, dairy, egg, soy, pineapple, and nuts just from our circle of friends—here’s how you can help the people in your life who are or may become food allergic.

Pray for them. Nothing could help us more than knowing others are lifting up in prayer our children’s safety. We daily petition God that Aiden will be safe wherever he goes. And we dare to dream that one day a cure will come. Send safe food. If your child is friends with an allergic child, talk with his or her parent about what you can safely pack in your child’s lunch. Many allergic kids are secluded in the cafeteria. I can guarantee you they’ll appreciate having a friend’s companionship while they eat. Additionally, classroom snacks and birthday celebrations should be fun and safe for everyone involved—especially those children with allergies or other struggles like diabetes.
Educate yourself and your kids. Simple things like handwashing post-meals, learning how to read a food label, and using separate food preparation areas will make major strides in protecting the allergic. Want to take it a step further? People who genuinely care about cooking safe food for allergic kids are few-and-far between and a true blessing.
Remember the Golden Rule. Food allergic kids and parents need compassion. Teach and model for your own kids a loving attitude toward the hardships of others. You might be surprised to know how much it truly means—and how much you may need it in return someday.

So, what’s been your experience with food allergies? Do you have other ideas you can share to help keep allergic friends safe?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Guest Posts

For the next couple of posts, Courtney has planned for a few special guests to share some life. I will do my best to post since she is currently unable to. Be gracious.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Beach Vaca- Part 3

Our family trip at the beach was really such fun. You know it’s been a good week when everyone has a lump in their throat and tears glistening as we all load up to leave. I’m so thankful that Bill and Donna had the vision to try and find one week every 2 years to get all the siblings, their spouses or significant others and all the little cousins together. As my Dad likes to say, “we built a memory”. And what fun memories at that!

Oh how I love these kids.

This man is wonderful. I can't imagine a better life partner; one who sees my faults and imperfections and loves me still.

More family pictures.

And a little look behind the scenes. It's a quite a feat to get all 17 people looking at a camera but I think we were able to capture the groups very well thanks to a trusty tripod!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Beach Vaca- Part 2

Like I said in my last post, I'm so glad we made the effort to bring the bikes and trailer. The beach is a perfect place to ride with kids because it's so flat and they can actually do it pretty well without getting overly exhausted.

Adam and Joseph decided to take all the big boys and go ride bikes one afternoon before dinner. It's quite an ordeal to get everyone helmeted, sun blocked, snacked up and ready, but they did it and were off. Cousin time is a fun time…

But when they returned within just a few minutes we knew there was a problem. But not a problem that an Allen wrench can't fix! So the next day we took all the kids and rode 6 miles (down and back) to the nearest "snack spot", which ended up being this adorable little Shaved Ice place. Turns out the couple who started this cute little flavored ice stand are from Little Rock no less! How crazy is that? She was extremely kind and we will definitely visit them again!

We honestly didn't think that we'd make it too far so Adam didn't even carry his wallet with him so when Lawson kicked it into high gear, headed straight for the nearest place that he could get a "treat" we knew we were in trouble. So I pulled out my trusty i-phone and called everyone at the beach house, thankfully Sidney answered so she and John brought us some money, which saved us from a major meltdown!

One of the first evenings, after all the children were down, we took this personality test to help get to know one another better (and ourselves I might add). It's interesting that out of the adults most of us have completely different personalities based on the test results, while 3 out of 10 had the exact same. It was a fun night of chatting and getting better understanding about one another. I highly recommend the quiz, it's only 4 questions and takes less than 5 minutes…go on, you know you want to try it!

Adam is a great breakfast maker so twice he's used his sous chef skills and made the boys all time favorite, pancakes and sausage as well as omelets with all kinds of fillings, its been delicious!

And here's Missy Hollywood! Is she not adorable?

We took a little Mother/Daughter walk along the beach, have I mentioned that she LOVES the water?

I love this precious little girl and look forward to the days we can talk and share what's on our minds. For now, I just do most of the talking and asking of questions, although she's beginning to babble along with me and sings a whole lot as of late, though I'm not sure what song. For now, I'll just imagine what she's thinking and try to anticipate her needs as they come. I'm certain she's thinking, "my goodness, that's a lot of water" and "oh how pretty the color of it is!"

Oh how I love being these kids Mom. It's one of THE.HARDEST.JOBS I've ever had, but its also quite rewarding. All week long I've been thanking God for all His many blessings and enjoying most of the moments. And during the hairier ones of this week, I just kept saying my life mantra..."joy in the journey".

These are memories I will cherish! I love their ages and how good of friends they are!

As I sit here looking through all the pictures and processing the last few days, my heart swells with love and gratefulness that God has been so kind toward me, that He's filled my quiver and satisfied my desires. He is such a good God and the fact that He desires a personal, one on one relationship, with me is amazing. The fact that He knows me and cares for me just as much (and more) then I care for these precious little people that He's entrusted to me, is an overwhelming thought right now!

What a great trip this has been. So thankful we have another day to soak it all up!

Lake Day With Friends

Back in March, Adam and I began setting aside weekends on our calendar to go to the lake this summer with friends and family.  It felt a lit...