Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Shellfish

 

This girl. She is strong and brave and fierce and smart and independent. She can handle any situation. From the time she was tiny she could do just about anything for herself. 

Here is the most recent story of Ruthie. 

Two weeks ago on a Wednesday night we had shrimp pasta for dinner. We have this dish fairly often. Ruthie used to like shrimp but for a few years has said she doesn’t like it anymore and picks it out of her pasta. So Wednesday night she picked it out. Thursday was leftover night. Ruthie chose shrimp pasta and picked her shrimp our like normal. She hung around the table for awhile after she finished eating then went upstairs. She came back down a few minutes later because her eye was itchy. Her right eye always gets itchy and swells when she has a reaction to something environmental (like dust or cats). That evening Paul had changed the batteries in the smoke detectors upstairs so we both immediately said oh it’s just from the dust that was probably stirred up. No big deal.

Oh but then little Miss Independent says oh no it’s from the shrimp. Ummm...no it’s not. Why would you even think that? Then she informed us that she stopped eating shrimp (a few years ago mind you) because it made her itchy!!! Little friend. Would have been nice if you’d informed someone of that fact! Instead our little bit who can handle pretty much anything just stopped eating shrimp. (We won’t mention the fact that she was still eating the food that was cooked with the shrimp.) 

I was not convinced at all that it was the shrimp. So we saved a piece of shrimp and the next day I rubbed it on her arm. She got a tiny ant bite sized hive on her wrist. So I figured we should get it checked out just to be safe. I talked to Dr. Williams (our fabulous OIT allergist) on Monday morning and he sent me an order to get blood work done for shellfish allergy. We had the blood work done Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning the pediatrician called me to let me know the blood work was back and she is allergic to ALL shellfish but especially lobster and shrimp. 

To say we were disappointed is an understatement. We had gone through so much to ensure that we didn’t have to worry about food and now we have a new allergy. The good thing is that shellfish is much easier to manage than peanut. If I had to have one of those allergies I would absolutely pick shellfish. Nobody puts shellfish in granola bars or grinds it up to make crackers! We are coping. It was a bit of a shock. But it’s ok. We’ve dealt with a harder allergy. It also helps a LOT that she is older. She knows what shellfish are, she can tell people she is allergic to them, she is old enough to ask before eating something. 

And she’s Ruthie so you know she’s on the ball and can handle it. I also have full confidence, based on past experience, that she will speak up and tell people that she is allergic to shellfish. 

So where do we go from here? We will do blood work again in a year and do a skin test. Lots of people have asked me if we would do OIT and the answer is no. Having to eat multiple shrimp every day is a lot different than eating peanut every day! Plus when you traveled you would have to make sure you had access to shrimp. OIT is supposed to make life easier not more complicated. We may look into SLIT (similar to OIT but it is drops under the tongue and doesn’t provide the same level of protection as OIT) at some point in the future or, who knows, there may be another option available down the road. The wonderful thing is that there is so much more awareness of food allergies right now and much research being done so there is hope for the future! 

So that’s where we are. And I still can’t get over the fact that she stopped eating shrimp because she was itchy and she never told anyone. We had a discussion about that. 🤣

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Happy Birthday Ruthie




 

Dear Ruthie, 

Happy Birthday my little Firecracker! It is hard to believe that 7 years ago you came into this world and lit up our lives. From the day you were born you brought us immense joy. Your eyes have always sparkled with mischief and merriment. You are tiny but every inch of you is packed with personality! You can be rough and tumble and you can be a little fashionista. You can be completely wild and then sit calmly for hours and work on an art project. You are full of life and there is never a dull moment when you are around. You know what you want and you figure out how you are going to get it. From the time you were just a tiny thing we would find you in all kinds of hard to get to places as you tried to get your own snack or brush your own teeeth or pick out your own clothes or get the toy that was just out of reach. You are determined and a little bit stubborn. When I told you that you were old enough to drop your nap and could instead play quietly in the playroom while JP napped I would find you fast asleep many days in some strange place (often on top of a toy bin or right at the top of the stairs). You knew you were tired but you were NOT going to take a nap in your bed because you were BIG. Ruthie, I know that your determination, persistence, and your ability to set and achieve goals is going to serve you well in life!

You have had a big year this year Ruthie Roo! After an amazing 7 months of kindergarten with the BEST teachers you were suddenly stuck at home doing kindergarten with mom. You missed all your sweet friends and teachers so much but you adapted pretty well. This year we are doing 1st grade in virtual school. It has been a big adjustment as you were not too keen on mommy being the teacher but you have adjusted pretty well. I know you are ready to go back to school but you are pushing through. You were a little behind in reading but you have worked SO hard this year and you just had mid year benchmark testing and wow! You have come SO far in just a few months. I am so proud of your determination and it makes my heart happy to see you pick up a book and want to read it to yourself. 

This year we also moved to Greenville. You made moving look easy! You have made so many new friends and you love living down the street from grandparents!

This year we really settled into the maintenance phase of OIT. I am incredibly proud of how well you have done with taking your dose. I love those moments when you want to eat something with peanut in it and we can tell you YES. There are times when I can tell you don't really remmener what it was like to have to wrorry about every bite of food that went in your mouth and that makes me happy. Eating is fun again for you and not full of fear and even better you don't remember all those years of fear. I love that you have taken charge of your dosing. We will sometimes let you skip a dose in a week and you will plan out your doses for that week so that you can skip the day that you want to skip (for instance, you made sure to dose on Christmas so that you could skip on your birthday).  When you "free eat" peanut during the day you have to rest for 2 hours afterwards and I love to watch you debate the pros and cons in your head. Is that peanut item worth having to rest afterwards? I feel like you are developing such important life skills early on. When we went to Disney you did amazing with your dosing and would get right out of bed and eat quickly so that by the time we got to the park you were ready to do everything! 

This year you learned to ride your bike without training wheels and you were SO proud of yourself. You didn't want to learn but then JP was working really hard on it and you were NOT going to let your little brother ride his bike before you could ride yours! We were so proud of you and JP for earning your bells at Kiawah this year! 

You are fierce and you will ALWAYS stand up for yourself, especially against one of your siblings! Nobody puts Ruthie in a corner! When you were born I think someone forgot to inform you that you were the youngest. You are positive that you are the oldest and therefore should be in charge of everyone. We often tease that you don't have a "nice" bone in your body but you actually do have a few of them! Just when we least expect it you will show your sweeter side. You can be snuggly and generous and kind (when you want to be!). But you don't ever pull any punches! You are bluntly honest with everyone and you make sure they hear you loud and clear too. You keep all of us in line...and we love you for it!

 I am so proud of all the changes you have weathered this year. Things have been so different than what you were used to, between moving and the pandemic, and I know there were times it was really hard. I hope when you look back at this year you remember the good and the fun. I also hope we didn't turn you into more of a germaphobe than you already were! 

Ruthie, I know 7 will be an amazing year for you. I look forward to seeing what new adventures you have and watching your personality grow! I love you fiercely my little sparkly eyed baby and am so proud of you!

Love, 

Mom

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(PS. I really miss those curls!)

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Happy Birthday Emmie!


 Dear Emmie, 

Happy 11th Birthday sweet girl. I'm not quite sure how you're already 11 but here we are! 

This year has been a wild, strange year full of lots of change. This year we moved, switched to virtual school and are in the middle of a pandemic! Whew! Never would have predicted the craziness of this year. I have been absolutely blown away by how you have handled all the change. In the course of 2 years you have gone from a child who was so anxious you wouldn't get out of the car at school some day to a child who faced a year of big changes, many of which were very sudden, and met them head on. When school went to virtual in March you handled it like a champ. Literally overnight our day to day lives changed drastically. We went from busy busy busy to home all the time. You transitioned so easily to e learning and rolled with the new normal. You had moments where you were sad and missed seeing your friends and teachers but you did amazingly well with the change. 

When we moved you once again did great. In true Emmie fashion you have quickly made new friends. We were so glad that you were still able to zoom with your best friends in Columbia as that really helped with the transition. We have lots of kids in our neighborhood and I am so glad that you have been able to quickly make some wonderful friends. I have loved watchin you experience the type of childhood I had where there were friends right down the street! With the move you also got your own room. I laugh because you love having your own space that you can keep organized and clean but almost every night one of your siblings ends up sleeping in your room with you because you don't really like to be alone at night. It reminds me of when Ellie was a baby and you used to go sleep in the chair in her room after she fell asleep so that you weren't alone. 

When we made the decision to do virtual school this year I wasn't sure how you would do. It was so new and so different on top of all the other changes you had already dealt with this year. But Emmie you have blown me away. Virtual school has been so good for you. I have LOVED watching you grow as a student. I have loved watching you master things that were hard for you. Most of all I have loved watching you persevere even when things are hard. You are SUCH a good student. There are days you are working an hour or more past your siblings but you rarely complain. You just keep plugging along. Your work ethic at such a young age makes me so proud of you. 

This fall, in the spirit of change, you took a break from dance and tried out soccer. I was nervous about it since you were on the older side for a beginner but you did great. You had really great girls on your team who helped you out when you didn't know what to do and you learned so much. We had to work pretty hard on teaching you to be aggressive...you were so sweet and usually stood back to let the other player get the ball, even if they were on the other team! But you learned a lot and did pretty well and most of all you had a lot of fun! You say you want to play again in the spring and I am looking forward to seeing you improve even more.

This year wasn't all weird and full of change. We also took a fun trip to Disney World! It was up in the air for so long as to whether or not we would be able to go but we went and had a blast! You were pretty brave about riding new rides and you had a great time. The last time we went to Disney World you were having lots of seizures and you were terrified to let go of my hand. You had fun but it was overwhelming and you felt out of it a lot of the time. I loved how much fun you had this time. 

Speaking of seizures, we finally have you on a medicine that is working and doesn't seem to have any major side effects. I am so thankful that you are back to your normal self. I am thankful that you had a 4th grade teacher that poured so much love into you and helped calm your anxiety and restore your confidence. This year your teacher is virtual but she has been such a wonderful cheerleader for you. It is a joy to see you back to your normal self and feeling good physically and mentally. You battled hard for many years and I am so thankful for a reprieve from those hard years. Next week you go for an EEG to see if you have outgrown your seizures. We are so hopeful that you have and it would be such an answer to prayer but if you still have them then I am so thankful that we have found a medicine that works for you. It has been hard but it has helped shaped you into the beautiful person you are. 

Over this year I have loved seeing your personality grow and change. I am incredibly proud of the person you are. I could write for days about my love or you and my dreams and hopes for you. Not to say you don't have "tween moments" but overall you are a delight. You love people and strive to make others happy. You are helpful. You are kind. I love you to the moon and back. 

Love, 

Mom

Dec. 17, 2009



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Monday, September 21, 2020

Dear JP

 


Dear JP, 

Happy 5th Birthday sweet boy! I can't believe you, my baby, are a whole hand! Five years ago on Septemeber 20th I had no idea that you would be joining us the next day. I was sure that I had at least another week before you would make your appearance. But at 5am on September 21st I woke up because one of the big girls came to get me to tell me that Ruthie needed me. Ruthie, by the way, NEVER woke up at 5am so that was odd. I walked in the room and she was sitting in her crib just smiling at me. I leaned over to get her out of the crib to take her to the other room to try and rock her back to sleep and my water broke! I told Ruthie I would be right back and when I came back to get her she was fast asleep! I am convinced that she knew something was about to happen.

Ever since that day you have kept us on our toes. We learned very early on that little boys are SO different from little girls! We have loved getting to know you and we have loved getting to experience having a boy. I will say it was quite the adjustment for me. I had gotten really good at the whole girl mom thing. I had to learn to that every toy needs to make some kind of noise (even if I'm the one making the noise) and when you were little you would throw anything you picked up and the messier something is the better. 

This was a big year for you. You started preschool, we went on a Disney Cruise, the world stopped when we had to quarantine because of Covid, and we moved from Columbia to Greenville. I will say you came out the winner of Covid. You loved that everyone was home and you didn't have to go anywhere. You would spend the entire day outside and you were dirt stained after a few weeks! I loved that you got to experience kind of an "old fashioned" childhood. There was nowhere to go and nothing to do. You went outside after breakfast and came in when it was dinnertime. You dug holes in the garden, rode your bike, and played on the swing set. It has been such a wonderful time for you. You have loved our new neighborhood as there are so many other kids and even some boys around your age! You went to preschool last year but that was cut short due to Covid but this year you are back in preschool and you love it so much. Everyday you come home eager to share what you learned. I was so proud of you the first day when I had to drop you off at the door and you walked right in without any hesitation. Oh, and your favorite trip of the year was a Disney Cruise we went on last fall. You had SO much fun and are still talking about it! You were such a great age for the cruise and loved seeing all the characters, the shows, and most of all the pool!

This year I feel like you have grown up SO much. We have really gotten to see your personality shine and it has been so fun! You say the funniest things and love to make people laugh. You are so well spoken and will have the funniest conversations with other kids your age. In general you are very outgoing and love other kids, especially other boys. You have discovered some other boys on our street close to your age and love to play with them. In March you learned to ride your bike and the wilder the better is your motto. Within 9mo of you getting the bike (a few of those months you were still on training wheels) we had to replace a tire because you had skidded your tires so much it had worn the tread off. You earned your bell for riding to the Marsh Tower at Kiawah with Grandaddy and you are very proud that of all the kids you accomplished that at the youngest age. We laughed at the beach because there wasn't a single bike ride we went on where people didn't stop and tell us how big you were riding your bike with no training wheels. It was like being around a celebrity! You love any kind of sport. You love stuffed animals and your current favorite is Marshmallow (aka the Pokey Little Puppy). I will often find Marshmallow wearing your underwear...apparently they are his pullups! You love to help me cook in the kitchen. You have your own unique sense of style. Your favorite outfits are ones like your daddy wears (khaki shorts and a polo) but you add your own flair. You often will throw a bowtie on with whatever you are wearing and you always have your bike helmet on! You are so YOU and it always makes me smile. You love your sisters so much. I am so glad you were there to be Ruthie's buddy the last 5 years. You have such a special bond with all of  your sisters but especially Ruthie and I hope you are always as close as you are now. 

One of your very favorite things is spending time with your daddy. I love how much you adore him. I hope you grow up to be the kind of husband and father that he is. If he is home you spend all your time following him around learning from him and helping him with whatever he is doing. You will give up playtime with your sisters and friends to help him cut the grass and it melts my heart. 

When you were little you always stared at the world around you with absolute fear in your eyes, especially if all your sisters were around. You just weren't sure what was going on and you definitely didn't trust that it was safe. I think you might still feel that way as you wear your helmet all the time! We get such a big kick out of it. You're all about safety!

You are my last baby and my sweet snuggler. You still love to curl up next to me and read a book. You still let me pick you up and you will wrap your arms around my neck and squeeze and it melts my heart. You are quickly growing up and I treasure the times when you just want to sit and snuggle with me. I am so thankful that God sent you to us sweet JP. You have blessed our family and we love you so much!


Love, 

Mom


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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Happy Birthday Ellie!


Dear Ellie, 

Today you are 9 years old! It is hard to believe that our teeny tiny Ellie is 9...but you are!
When I think of you I think of joy. You bring so much joy to our lives and you get so much joy out of life. You are bright and sunny and full of excitement over everything. Let me assure you, when you were a baby I never dreamed that one day I would use the word joyful to describe your outlook on life. You were kind of a grumpy baby (sorry, it's true!). You were never really a screamer as a baby (except every time I touched the brakes in the car) but you just grumbled all the time. But one day you woke up and were happy and you've been that way ever since. You have a delightful personality and I hope you stay that way. I love how excited you get over things, especially little things, and your whole face lights up and you bounce around like tigger.
Another thing I really love about you is your love for learning. You have always loved big words and I love when you come home from school and tell me all the cool things you learned that day. Of all the kids I think you love the classroom the most. Emmie loves school because she loves people but you love school because you love to accumulate knowledge. You absorb every single thing you hear and you don't ever forget it. I hope you always have your zeal for learning. Keep it up and you will make an excellent Jeopardy contestant one day!
This year you did theater as your extracurricular activity. This was your second year of theater and you once again loved it so much. I love watching you shine on the stage. You are normally so quiet and not an attention seeker but you just light up when you get up on stage and it makes me so happy to see that you've found an activity that you love. I hate that you haven't been able to do your spring show but maybe one day.
This year was a big year for you. We went on a Disney cruise, which was pretty much amazing and your favorite thing ever. You had the BEST time and especially loved the pool and Aquaduck. The year got a little crazy from there! You found out we were moving, you did 2 1/2mo of e learning and had quarantine, and we moved to Greenville. You were definitely NOT a fan of e learning. You didn't like being on the computer, you missed being in a classroom and you missed your friends and teacher.  But you powered through and made it to the end of the school year and did a great job learning the material you needed to with e learning. You did pretty well with the move. You were sad to leave your friends and your school and your theater people but you were excited about getting your own room (which you have thoroughly LOVED) and moving onto a street with lots of kids and friends that you already knew. I have been so proud of how you have handled all the changes this year. You have had hard days (as we all have) but you have powered through (usually by hiding in your room and reading) and you have adapted well.
Ellie, your 9 year old year should be an interesting one. This year we are doing virtual school. You were really sad about not going to actual school but you were more ok with the idea when I explained that school this year wouldn't be like normal school. This year you might also try a new activity (you're still thinking about what you might want to do) as I'm pretty sure theater won't happen or will be very different than normal if it does. I'm looking forward to see what new interest you want to explore! This year you might get to try skiing as I think we will be swapping out our planned Disney trip for a ski/snow tubing trip. You're pretty excited about learning to ski. AND most important, this year (in just a few days in fact!) you get to go to Bonclarken for the first time! We have been holding our breath for months waiting to see if it would happen and it is and you are so excited! It won't be like normal but you don't know what normal is so that won't matter to you. And I know that you will have an amazing time!
One of my favorite things is your love for reading. You remind me so much of myself and I love how much you love books. I hope books are always your friends and that you always love reading as much as you do now. This year you discovered how to check out ebooks from the public library...thank goodness...it was rough when the library first closed and you couldn't get new books.
Oh and before I get, this has been the year of you losing teeth! I call you my little jack o lantern now! Also, I'm pretty positive some of those teeth weren't lose when the day started and by the end of the day you had yanked them out! You have been really slow losing teeth so you get so excited every time one falls out.
Ellie Belly, I love you so much. I hope your 9th year is wonderful and full of many fun adventures, joyful moments, and new books. You are the calm in the middle of the crazy, you light up our lives and I am so proud to be your mom.

Love, mom

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Monday, June 8, 2020

End of School

Last Day of School - 6/5/20

Friday was our "official" last day of school. What a year it has been! We started the year in Columbia at our school and ended in Greenville doing e-learning. I have loved watching all of my kiddos grow throughout the school year and thought I'd do a little blurb on each of them!
First day of school!

JP - JP went to preschool or the first time this year. He was in the 2 day a week 3 yr old class. He was with our beloved Mrs. Terri who has taught all 4 of the kiddos and he also had the wonderful Mrs. Jodi! He was never 100% sold on the whole school thing and some days were easier than others but he sure did love his teachers and he made some sweet friends in his class. His teacher was great about posting videos during quarantine and some days he would just sit and watch video after video. His favorites were the books she would read out loud. He learned so much in school this year and we are so proud of him!
Mrs. Terri has been there for all of our babies and we're so glad we were able to squeeze JP in for her LAST year of teaching!

JP with Mrs. Jodi...what a fun treat to have her for JP's teacher this year! (Her boys are Ellie's age so we've known her for years!)

End of year picture!


Ruthie - Ruthie was SO nervous to start kindergarten. This sweet girl had major separation anxiety all summer which was something we had never dealt with before with her. However in true Ruthie form I walked her to the door of her classroom the first day and she walked in without even telling me bye and it was smooth sailing from then on out.
Meet the teacher night with Mrs. Crosby and Mrs. Kuhn. We were beyond excited for Ruthie to be in their class this year!

Ruthie had the BEST year in kindergarten. Her teachers were amazing and we just loved them to pieces! Ruthie, like Emmie, likes to have a project. Very early in the year Ruthie found a buddy who needed an extra helping hand and she designated herself as his helper. Also, every time I saw her with her classmates she was dragging some little boy around talking 90 miles an hour, no doubt telling him everything he should/shouldn't be doing. The world better watch out for Ruthie! Ruthie also excelled in the classroom. Her reading is starting to click and she loves math! Ruthie has really missed her teachers and friends but her sweet teachers made a website where they would post videos of them doing things like telling jokes, talking to a local police chief, or doing some dances with the principal and her daughter! Ruthie loved watching those videos so much! They also did a weekly google meet up  and she would count down the days every week until Friday when she had her meet. My favorite week was the week each kid got to tell a joke. Kindergarteners telling jokes was great entertainment! We also had a special treat when her teachers came to read a book to us "socially distant style".

We are so thankful for Mrs. Kuhn and Mrs. Crosby and how much they loved our sweet Ruthie!
(Also, a huge shout out to Mrs. Kuhn who had to deal with a very nervous allergy mama at the beginning of the year. Ruthie had just finished OIT and I sent her 2 pages of information about OIT and what to do if Ruthie had signs of a reaction. She sent me an email back that just made me feel like she could handle anything and it sure did make me breathe easier as I sent my baby girl off to kindergarten!)

Ellie - Ellie is my kid that is a bit more "go with the flow". She also LOVES school. However, I know she started this year a bit nervous. Third grade is a big year. You get grades in all the subjects and start standardized testing. Ellie was also in class with very few kids from her 2nd grade class. In addition to these things Emmie had had a pretty (very) rough 3rd grade year and I think that made Ellie more nervous. Ellie's teacher, Mrs. Sharp was so sweet. She was so loving and soft spoken and Ellie thrived in her class. I think Ellie's teacher loves to read as much as Ellie and she really encouraged Ellie's reading. Ellie also really liked the other kids in her class and made quite a few new friends! Ellie excelled in school. I LOVE how much she loves to learn! My favorite is when she sits at the dinner table and tells us random facts that she has learned. She's like a little sponge and it's so fun to watch! Ellie's teacher always read to them from a book and at the beginning of e learning she posted some read alouds and Ellie would get so excited when there was a new one posted. She loved just sitting and watching those over and over. I think Ellie might have been my kid that missed being at school the most. We drove by the school one day on the way home from running errands and Ellie teared up and said "it just feels like home there".
Meet the teacher with Mrs. Sharp. We loved getting to know her this year!

Emmie - What a difference a year makes! As many of you know Emmie's 3rd grade year was pretty awful for all of us, most of the problems stemming from side effects of her medicine. She ended last year begging us not to make her go back to school. This year we started the year with new medicine and lots of prayers. This year she finished the year crying because she couldn't hug her teacher and her friends goodbye!  Emmie had an amazing teacher this year. She puts such a focus on emotional health and I always felt like she was so in tune with her students and what was going on in their lives. She totally "got" Emmie and she loved Emmie, and her other students, so well this year. She also gets a big e learning shout out. She started doing daily google meets the first week we were out of school and she did them daily until the very last day of school. I am positive that having that little bit of "normal" made a world of difference in Emmie's adjustment to e learning. Emmie looked forward to seeing her friends and Mrs. Harter every single day. She was so diligent about checking in the kids to make sure they were doing ok and I am so thankful for how much she loves her students.
Meet the teacher night with Mrs. Harter. Everyone who heard Emmie had her said how nice Mrs. Harter was and they were so right. This teacher took a kid who had come to dread school and helped turn her back into a kid who once again looked forward to going to school.

She sent Emmie this rock in the mail today and I love the note she wrote to go along with it.

I have to give another shout out to Emmie's math tutor, Maggie Inman. She started working with Emmie last summer and then here and there during the school year when Emmie was struggling and she was so wonderful. Emmie loved working with her and would even ask to go see her if she was struggling with a math concept. Maggie saved both Emmie AND me many, many tears this year! Also, she helped so much in building back up Emmie's confidence in math. I am so proud of Emmie for being willing to do the extra work in math AND was so happy for her when she could see the payoff of all the hard work!

We have loved our school so much and we sure were sad to say goodbye to Bookman Road! I toured many schools before Emmie started Kindergarten and Bookman was the second school I toured. I left the school and knew that it was such a great fit for us. I looked at other schools that were also good schools and would have been excellent choices but Bookman just felt right from the minute I walked through the doors! We had some amazing teachers over the past 5 years who have loved on all of our kids and nurtured their hearts and their minds equally. I am thankful for everyone at the school who made us feel like family from day 1 and all the teachers, staff, and administration will always have a special place in my heart!

**We did manage to take our bench picture with Evelyn before we moved!
May 2020
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The girls...May 2020

The Girls...August 2019

JP May 2020

JP August 2019

Monday, May 11, 2020

Food Allergy Awareness Week


This week is Food Allergy Awareness Week so I thought I would do a quick recap and update on Ruthie, our little food allergy warrior.
For those of you who don't know our story Ruthie, our third child, was diagnosed at about 16mo with a peanut allergy. She had had a few mild reactions (hives and some slight facial swelling) to peanut butter right before her 15mo appointment so at that appointment we got a referral to see an allergist. When we went to the allergist I had him totally convinced it was just a skin reaction. She had severe eczema (most likely the reason she has her peanut allergy...treat that eczema early and aggressively friends!) and her skin was super sensitive to lots of things. He was ready to send us home with instructions to come back "sometime" to get skin tested for peanut. I pretty much begged him to do it that day because I already had childcare for my older kids. So they did the skin test, she had a pretty large reaction pretty quickly and we ended up leaving the office with lots of instructions for what to do in case of a reaction, an epi pen, and a prescription for a blood test. The allergist was pretty impressed with how large her reaction was. We had the blood test done and it was positive and we found out some months later that not only was it positive but they had done a peanut protein test and it showed that she was more likely to have an anaphylactic reaction. Well we had been nervous before but now we were terrified! We also knew that not only was Ruthie going to have a reaction if she ate peanuts but she was also contact allergic so she would react if she touched peanut.
I don't think I can ever describe what it feels like to know that your child could stop breathing if they put the wrong thing in their mouth or you forget to read a label just once. Every meal was scary. Every trip out of the house involved watching not just what our kids were doing and eating but watching what everyone around us was eating as well. Ruthie's allergy affected not just her and Paul and me but our other kids as well. The big girls were fiercely
protective of her and could often spot someone eating peanut butter faster than I could. For years we walked around with what felt like a big rock sitting on our chests making it hard to take a deep breath. Praying that she would outgrow her allergy.
And then we got our miracle. She didn't outgrow her allergy but somehow (I can't really remember how) I learned about Oral Immunotherapy (OIT). The first time I read about it there were only a few places in the US doing trials. I thought it would be something she could maybe do many years down the road. But I kept my eyes and ears open, waiting. Then I stumbled across private practice OIT. Drs who weren't part of trials that were doing OIT on their own. They were using very well developed protocols. There were so many success stories. I found a community of parents who had searched for a treatment, who had traveled hundreds and thousands of miles for the hope offered by OIT and who had found freedom from the restrictions of food allergies. I started looking around and there were doctors in Atlanta doing it. But Atlanta is over 3 hours each way. But it was a possibility. Then there was a doctor in Salisbury, NC doing it. Only 2 hours each way (AND you don't have to drive through Atlanta traffic!) and we have family in the area so we would always have a place to stay if we needed to.
We went for a consult with our OIT doctor in October of 2017, did some more labs in the spring of 2018, and started OIT on August 29, 2018. The week before and the 2-3 weeks after were absolutely terrifying. We were constantly on edge watching for a reaction. We went to Salisbury every other week for 11 months. It was a lot of driving but it was pretty easy driving and we just got used to it. Once we reached 12 peanuts for 2 weeks Ruthie did a 24peanut challenge in the office on July 29, 2019. Our child who had started having signs of being airbone allergic to peanuts right before starting OIT ate TWENTY FOUR peanuts with NO reaction at all. It was amazing. And terrifying to watch her eat all that. And then we were sent home with instructions to eat 8 peanuts every day and come back for a follow up in a year.
Her shirt says "Be Fearless" and that was our goal with OIT! (She's also fearless on a bike...she may have taken the message a little too close to heart!)

The freedom that has come from OIT is wonderful. Less than a month after graduating from OIT we sent Ruthie off to kindergarten. I had been dreading the first day of kindergarten for YEARS. I was terrified that they wouldn't be as diligent as we were and I was worried about the social isolation that often comes with food allergies. I was worried that if she did have a reaction they wouldn't catch it fast enough. But her first day of kindergarten was so different from what I had envisioned over those many years. I dropped her off in her classroom (with her fabulous teacher who had been given a crash course in OIT) and walked away confident that my girl was safe.
Over the course of the last year OIT has been come just a part of our everyday routine. Ruthie eats 8 peanuts every morning and then has a 2 hour "rest period" where she can't do things like PE or recess that would elevate her heart rate. She does most of her rest period at school and it's been easy breezy. Her teacher is wonderful and Ruthie is her own biggest advocate. I cried the first time she came home from school and told me they had cookies and her face lit up when she told me she was able to have one. That was something she wouldn't have been able to do before OIT (almost all baked goods are cross contaminated with peanut). We are also allowed to skip a dose or two every week if we need to. The flexibility that we have with dosing really allows us to control the allergy...it doesn't control us. It means that if field day (which wasn't an issue this year...sigh) is in the morning we just skip her dose that day and she can get out and run around with everyone else. We didn't want to trade one thing that socially isolates (food allergies) for a treatment that also isolates. Ruthie is also allowed to freely eat peanuts however if she does eat them she has to have a 2 hour rest period afterwards so she doesn't eat them often but every now and then she will. She got to try her first boiled peanut this year and deemed them delicious and ate a whole bunch of them! I am so proud of how she remembers to ask if her rest period is over before she goes and runs around. I think she vaguely remembers all the restrictions she used to have but she has mostly forgotten and for that I am grateful. The first few weeks of school I would get a report on all the food in the classroom/lunch table every day but by Christmas break I no longer heard anything about food. When she was debating about getting school lunch for the first time her worry wasn't about what if there were peanuts in the food but it was what if she couldn't get her milk carton open. We lived many years in fear and did a lot of educating her about asking one of us before she ate anything and teaching her VERY early to say "I am allergic to peanuts" so to know that now food can be enjoyable and not a source of fear is wonderful.
We are so thankful for everyone that supported us along our journey and we are especially thankful for Dr. Williams, our OIT allergist. He was there every single step of the way during our OIT journey, even when we had an issue on Christmas morning. He is still only a phone call away whenever we need him (that is ONE phone call my friends...not calling and waiting for a call back...one phone call directly to him...it's unheard of and amazing and gave me an incredible amount of reassurance when we were starting out).

OIT isn't for everyone but for our family it was an answer to prayers. It was a little different than what we had been praying for but it was the perfect answer! My hope now is that our story can give hope to others who are living with the fear that comes with food allergies.