Sunday, September 23, 2018

Celebrating JP

We had a wonderful 2 days celebrating JP turning 3! Friday was his actual birthday so the day was all about him!
After we dropped Ruthie off at school I took him to Chick-fil-A for a birthday breakfast (I had free chicken minis!) and some play time. After CFA we ran some last minute errands to get ready for his birthday and then did a super exciting thing...we went to the car wash! JP LOVES the car wash. He was quite thrilled.

After that we went home and read books until it was time to pick up Ruthie. After naps we headed to the Plex for the activity that JP had been waiting DAYS to do...bounce houses! He spotted them when we went to the trampoline park the other day and I promised him we would come  back on his birthday and do the bounce houses. He had the BEST time...and Evelyn, who is like another sister to him, came along too.

After the bounce houses we headed to meet Paul at Moe's for JP's birthday dinner and then off to Duck Donuts for dessert!

After eating we headed home to let him open his presents. We already had his family party where he got his gifts from Aunts and Uncles and grandparents so he had cards from family and presents from us. He got $3 from each of the grandparents (he loves "moneys"), a Winnie the Pooh card from Aunt Ruth and Uncle Ben, some superhero dress up outfits from the Novaks and a Spiderman action figure from his sisters, and a big firetruck from Paul and I. GiGi and PaPa also sent JP some pictures of Paul when he was around JP's age. JP loved the pics! He and Paul went and played with his new toys while I put the girls to bed. They had a great time! We thoroughly enjoyed spending some alone time with our sweet baby!

JP went to bed on his birthday a happy boy. He felt very celebrated all day...from bounce houses, to cards, to birthday phone calls/face time lots of people made our boy feel oh so special!

On Saturday we celebrated his birthday with his friends with a party at My Gym! He didn't really know what to expect because we didn't do birthday parties last year because we went to Disney and  Ellie is the only birthday we've had so far this year and she chose to have a friend over to spend the night. But by the time the day was over JP thought birthday parties were great fun and he's ready for the next one!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dear JP

Dear JP,

Happy Birthday sweet boy! I can't believe you are already 3! I still remember holding you in my arms for the first time and you were so shocked and overwhelmed with the great big world! Since that day 3 years ago you have more or less decided that the world is ok. You have adapted to the wild and crazy family you found yourself a part of. And sometimes, though you might not admit, you think your people are pretty great.

I love watching you and seeing how different you are from your sisters. You are a boy through and through. You love to make noise (although you don't necessarily want someone else making still hide from the vacuum cleaner).  Every thing you do comes with a sound effect and you think any *ahem* noises that come from your body are hilarious. You love superheroes, trucks (especially fire trucks), trains, blocks, sports and your absolute favorite toy is your sword that you got when we ate at Cinderella's castle at Disney World last year. You can be rough and tumble and you get into things that your sisters never would have even thought of. You love Franklin but aren't so sure about any other dog. You love cats...especially our next door neighbor, Robbie and Tim's cat Keekers.You love bounce houses and trampoline parks. You enjoyed the pool this year, as long as you didn't have to get your face wet. You love, love, love the beach and are always asking me when you get to go back. You are a man's man. If there is an adult male around you'll be right beside them. You love to be one of the guys. This year you have made some friends who are your age (you've always had your buddy Ruth at church and she is still one of your favs!) and I love seeing you interact with them and how excited you get when you see a friend!

You can be loud and rough and wild but you also have a sweeter, calmer side. I have loved seeing this sweet side come out recently.  You LOVE to crawl in my lap and read books. And you want me to read them over and over and over again. If you're getting sleepy you will wrap your arms around my neck and lay your head down. If you're scared or tired you'll hold your arms up and say "hold you". You love to sing songs...especially the ones you learn in Sunday School. The other day you were looking at your Jesus Storybook Bible and you kept singing "Jesus Loves Me". So sweet..

This year has been a year of milestones. You started talking so much more and I have loved hearing all the funny things in your head. This year we ditched the pacifier completely. You actually did remarkably well with getting rid of it at night! This year you were potty trained. You figured it out pretty quick but it definitely took a while for you to be super consistent (it didn't help that you got really sick with pneumonia about a month after you were potty trained). But now you wear big boy underwear all the time and are doing great! We still have the occasional accident but you are getting better and better about telling me you need to go ahead of time! This year saw you sending your best buddy to preschool 5 mornings a week. That has been pretty hard for you but you're adjusting and you are already looking forward to it being your turn in preschool next year! This year you moved to a big boy bed and you and Ruthie started sharing a room which you both love.

I love to watch you with your sisters. They love you to pieces and you are becoming a little more willing to join in with whatever they are doing. You still prefer to play with them one at a time though! I still remember when we brought you home from the hospital and they crowded around you and your eyes got so big and you looked terrified. You pretty much reacted like that around them for the first year or so of your life. Emmie is your nurturer. She loves to read to you and take care of you. Ellie loves to be silly with you and makes you laugh. And Ruthie is your partner in crime. The two of you are going to give me lots of gray hairs! You LOVE having Ruthie in the room with you and she loves it too! If Ruthie isn't in the room at bedtime you are so sad. I had been separating y/all at naptime so that you would actually nap and not play but I finally had to relent and let her sleep in your room at naptime. You were just so sad without her. (And y'all have done an amazing job at not playing and taking if only that would transfer to bedtime!) And this year you will get your first are pretty excited about the new baby although you were a little perplexed when we told you the baby was in Aunt Ruth's tummy!

JP, I can't wait to see where life takes you. You are all boy but you are growing up with 3 big sisters. Your life is never going to be boring for sure!

I love you sweet boy and I am so looking forward to all the fun adventures we will have this year!





Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Day for JP

It's been a rough week for JP.   He was stuck inside all weekend because of the weather and then Monday Ellie was sick so he spent an hour Monday morning at the pediatrician's office. Then Emmie had a dentist appointment Tuesday morning so he had to go to that. He was just pretty much done. So I blocked off this morning so we could have some time that was all about him. We dropped Ruthie off at school early and headed to Hiwire to jump on the trampolines! He was SO excited when we walked in! He had a great time playing (and I got a great work out!). His favorite things were to swing on the ropes and drop into the foam pit and playing a game where we pushed each other in the foam pit. I had the best time just BEING with him. It is so rare for us to have time together where we're not doing a "task" such as walking Franklin, going to the grocery store, or running other errands. We went to the kid jump this morning and we were the only ones there...even better!

(his favorite game...pushing each other in the foam pit!)

(sorry for the crazy camera work at the beginning...I was trying to video him so I could get the great giggles at the end!)

When we left Hiwire we headed home to get him a snack (because the boy must eat about every 2 hours!). We left early to go pick up Roo so that we could stop and get chick-fil-A for lunch as a special treat.
Apparently jumping on trampolines is exhausting...I woke him up from his nap when it was time to go pick up Emmie and Ellie and he went right back to sleep in the car.
I'm hoping as this school year goes on I will have many more opportunities to have fun adventures with my last baby!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Ruthie's First Day of Preschool

 Today was Ruthie's first day of 4k! She has been SO ready to start school pretty much since school got out last year. This year she will go 5 half days. Yesterday we went to Meet the Teacher and Ruthie got to play in her classroom and meet the other children in her class. She has 2 friends from her class last year that are in her class this year and my college friend and sorority sister Lisa's daughter is in Ruthie's class as well so that's really neat!
Her adorable shirt is courtesy of Grace at Blythewood Embroidery. And her skirt is courtesy of Blue's mom Lee...she's the one we get all of Roo's cute clothes from and she is my "go to" when I'm hunting down a specific item!

 JP is going to miss his buddy.  He missed her so much today and could not wait until it was time to go pick her up! He doesn't even realize yet that she'll be gone 5 days a week this year instead of 2 like last year!

This year her teachers are Mrs. Shelley and Mrs. Teresa. Mrs. Shelley also taught Emmie and Ellie and Mrs. Teresa has been at the preschool for a very long time and has taught many of our friends and so we know she's wonderful as well! We're looking forward to a wonderful year!
Ruthie had a wonderful first day today. She walked right in like we'd never had summer break...I barely even got a hug! When she came out to the car after school the first thing she asked was when she could bring her lunch and stay after school! This girl is READY for big things!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


**This post has a LOT of information in it. If you just want cute pictures of Roo you can go ahead and scroll to the end ;) **
Today we started peanut OIT with Ruthie. Oral immunotherapy, in a nutshell (pun intended), is like allergy shots but for food allergies. And instead of getting a shot you take a small amount of your allergen by mouth.
Nobody in Columbia offers OIT so we are going to an allergist, Dr. Williams, in North Carolina. His office is about 2 hours from our house and it's straight up the interstate so it's not a bad drive at all.

So how does OIT work? Different allergists have different protocols. To get to our "graduation" goal I think there are 31 dose increases. On the first day you dose every 15 min until you get to dose #10 or have a reaction. Each dose is repeated once. After that you go home taking your last dose once a day every day for 2 weeks with a mandatory 2 hour rest period after each dose. After 2 weeks you go back to the office and they go up one dose and they watch you for a little bit to make sure you don't react and then, as long as you don't react, you go home on that dose every day for 2 weeks. That one updose every 2 weeks cycle is repeated until you reach the end! The end goal is 12 peanuts. After 2 weeks of that you are challenged with 24 peanuts and you officially "graduate" if you pass 24 peanuts!

What does graduation mean? Graduation means that you move on to the maintenance phase. Graduation means that you can "freely" eat peanuts. I put it in quotation marks because if you do eat peanuts you still have to observe the 2 hour rest period afterwards. Graduation means that you still take a dose of peanuts every day, observing a 2hour rest period afterwards. Ruthie will take this dose of peanuts (our doctor does 8 peanuts) every day for the rest of her life. This is because OIT does not "cure" a food allergy but it desensitizes the patient. So in order for the body to remain desensitized you have to ingest your allergen daily. There are patients who after years of maintenance have been able to only dose a few times a week and take a lower daily dose.

Who can do OIT? Anyone! I've heard stories of people in their 60s successfully completing OIT and I know of people who start it with children as young as 1. They are finding that generally younger kids do really well. How young a doctor will start depends on the doctor's comfort level. Dr. Williams won't start a child until they are 3 years old. Also, they do OIT for LOTS of food allergies! I know Dr. Williams does peanut and I think milk and tree nut as well and I'm not sure about any other allergens. Most doctors start with peanut (because the most research has been done with peanut OIT) and then add on other allergens from there.  I've heard of people who have done OIT for eggs also and even shellfish! You can also do OIT for multiple allergens! Some doctors will do 2 allergens together and some will only do them one at a time. Some people have really high blood levels and some have really low blood levels...success does not seem to be dependent on your starting labs.

Why OIT? So why did we choose OIT? Why not just avoid peanuts forever? Because it's not that simple. Peanuts are hidden in lots of things (how many of you reading this know that Lance uses peanut flour in ALL of their sandwich crackers so even the cheese crackers have peanut in them?). Ruthie has a contact allergy so if she touches peanut she will break out in hives. Because for over a year she has introduced herself to people by saying "my name is Ruthie and I'm allergic to peanuts". Because not everyone is going to look out for our child with the vigilance that we do. Because we want to have a Halloween where Ruthie doesn't say "trick or treat" and then immediately say "does your candy have peanuts in it because I'm allergic". Because I already have anxiety about her going to kindergarten with a peanut allergy and trusting a teacher with 20 other kids to watch to catch that Ruthie is having a reaction and get her epi in her before it's too late. Because we want to be able to ENJOY a football game or baseball game with Ruthie instead of constantly worrying about if the people around us are eating boiled peanuts. Because I dropped her off for the first day of zoo camp this year, where everyone brings their own snack and their are no allergen restrictions, and thought I was going to throw up because I was so nervous.  Because our 4 1/2 year old already has anxiety about her peanut allergy and about having a reaction...and that's with her unable to remember having a reaction as her last one was at 14months.

So how did today go? It was GREAT! We went up to NC last night and stayed with Paul's cousin Mark and his wife Kelly. They are so nice to let us come spend the night (we also stayed there last year when we had our consult) and Kelly made Ruthie cinnamon rolls this morning which absolutely thrilled Ruthie! This morning we headed to the doctor's office and yes Paul and I were SO nervous. For 3 1/2 years we have been hypervigilant about avoiding peanuts and now we're allowing a doctor to give her small amounts of peanut.
When we arrived at the office they called us right back. They have a special room for OIT patients which has a TV, video games, playdoh, games, coloring stuff, etc. The doctor came in and meet with us and explained how the day would go and answered our questions. Then he checked out Ruthie to make sure she didn't have any rashes, wheezing, etc. and then we were set to go! The doctor came in the room with the nurse for the first dose and then after that he popped in a few times throughout the day to check on us. The nurse came in every 15 minutes with a new dose (right now her dose is carefully measured peanut flour mixed with Kool-Aid). She was super punctual so I'm pretty sure that today her job was just to take care of Ruthie! Dr. Williams also explained that he stays in the building the whole time we are there and they schedule fewer patients on days when someone is starting OIT. Every time I'm around Dr. Williams I am so impressed with how much he cares about his patients and how dedicated he is to OIT. The nurse that came in and gave Ruthie her dose was always so relaxed and calm and that definitely helped me not feel so nervous!
Ruthie made it all the way through dose 10 with no reaction. We were so thrilled! This means we have 21 updoses left! This means that sometime in February Ruthie will eat her first peanut and in around a year we will be in maintenance. Now of course this is if everything goes smoothly with no reactions. We're taking this one day at a time, one updose at a time. Generally if you have a reaction they go back one step for about 2 weeks and then try to updose again.
We left the office after about 5 1/2 hours and headed back to Columbia. Ruthie was worn out by the time we left!
Ready to start!

She got lots of Daddy snuggle time!

They gave us a paper to track her doses. Perfect for my Type A self!
Headed home!

What do I want to remember from today? I want to remember a conversation I had with Ruthie. She complained at one point that she was having to take a lot of "medicine" today. I reminded her because we were doing this so hopefully next year at Halloween she wouldn't have to worry about what candy she was getting and that hopefully sometime next year we could go eat at an ice cream store. Her little eyes lit up and she said "so I won't have to worry about people touching me anymore?". It made me tear up that, for my 4 year old, even more than ice cream stores and Reece's cups (granted she's never eaten a Reece's cup or been to an ice cream store like Marble Slab) the most exciting thing about this process is  not having to worry about someone touching her after they have eaten. She is excited about being able to sit down to eat in a public place and not having to worry about what the other kids are eating. This is why we have chosen OIT.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Summerville Trip

Last week we had a wedding shower to go to in Summerville so we went down a few days early to hang out with GiGi and PaPa!
JP loves playing with all the boy toys!

Friday morning Gin-g and I took the kids to  the beach! They all love the beach but JP in particular had a fabulous time...he was definitely in his happy place!

Friday night we went to CFA for dinner (where JP got his much coveted ice cream cone) and then we went to the Berkley game to cheer on PaPa's team! We had a great time but unfortunately had to leave early because of lightening. We got to see a few Berkley touchdowns though while we were there and the kiddos loved celebrating! Blake and Emily arrived not  long after us and Paul almost made it to the game...he was a few minutes away when we left.

Berkley shirts that Aunt Emily made. 

JP didn't want his picture taken!

After a few minutes this little guy said he wanted to go on the field and play football!

Emmie and Uncle Blake
Saturday Paul and I took the kids to the pool in the morning and Gin-g came and met us.

After lunch Emmie, Gin-g and I headed to the outlets to do some shopping. I had so much fun shopping with my big girl!
That evening Gin-g and Fred treated Paul, Blake, Emily and I to dinner out AND they watched the kids! We had a lovely evening and enjoyed our adult time.

Sunday we went to a shower for a childhood friend of Paul and Blake. It was really nice to see people we don't see very often. We brought the kids over for a little bit at the end and  they had a great time. Mrs. Joy, one of Gin-g's friends, brought Emmie some flowers to arrange and it was the first thing Emmie did when we got home!

We had a wonderful was a great way to finish off our summer!