Thursday, October 20, 2011

Delusions of Grandeur

"Denial ain't just a river in Eqypt" ~ Mark Twain

Scootch enjoying his lollipop after having his blood drawn

It has been one heck of a month. September felt like I was just riding things out, but October...October feels more like a perfect storm. Besides Monkey's birthday, her fractured ankle, and Little Bear being sick, plus the regular stress of everything that has been going on at home, today was the day we got the results to Scootch's large scale allergy bloodwork.

Let's go back and refresh if anyone doesn't remember. At Scootch's one year appointment he still was suffering from horrible eczema. So bad that he would scratch himself until he was bleeding. The pediatrician had given us prescription cream after prescription for it since he was about four months old, but it never seemed to go away completely. And I had already noticed he suffered mood changes after nursing when I had ingested certain foods from about 6 months of age. So I basically told them I think it was something inside that was bothering him, and wanted some allergy testing done. The did an infant scale RAST test that tests for the 5 common allergies in babies, and Scootch came back positive for egg white, egg yolk, and peanut. The RAST test measures the concentration of antibodies the body has created against a particular food allergen. The concentration results are scaled in severity from Class 0 - which indicates negative reaction (i.e. not allergic) to Class 6 - which indicates a 100% chance of reacting if exposed to the allergen. On his initial test scores, Scootch scored as a Class 2 and Class 3 for egg yolk and egg white, and a Class 4 for peanuts.

When we were referred to this allergist, he tried explaining how allergies like egg and milk are actually very common in small children, but that kids tend to grow out of them between ages 3 and 5. He indicated that since Scootch's reactions were so low on the scale, it was highly likely he could outgrow it. I might have latched onto that statement a bit harder than I realized. Of Scootch's two allergies, the egg allergy is the one that I have a severe loathing against. If you haven't already noticed from all my dejected whiny posts about my baking issues from being egg free, I also have indulgent fantasies about going out to breakfast almost daily. Fluffy pancakes, Belgian waffles, hot corn cakes, eggs over easy with bacon on the side. The list is endless. When someone asked me where I would go out to dinner if I had the option, IHOP was actually my first answer. I'm a cheap date, what can I say? The bigger underlying issue is that I've been in denial. My whole mentality through the last two years was that this was just a short endurance race. If we just wait it out for two years, Scootch will outgrow his egg allergy and we can go back to having a real breakfast, and baking marathons with repeated successes instead of repetitive failure. Imagine how crushed I was when we got Scootch's in depth RAST results back at today's appointment.

This time around, we opted to test for 13 different allergens; egg white, egg yolk, whole egg, peanut, walnut, pecan, cashew, pistachio, almond, lobster, crab, shrimp, and clam. We knew he was allergic to the eggs and peanuts, but we had been avoiding tree nuts and shellfish as a general precaution, so we figured we should check to see if he did in fact have these other allergies while we were at it. The test indicated he was allergic to everything except the almonds and all the shellfish (the former of which I was hopeful about after we experienced this). The fact that he tested positive for the tree nuts didn't surprise me after the reaction he suffered over New Years (his walnut and cashew results are both in the Class 4 category). His peanut allergy tested even higher than the last test, and takes first place as the sole Class 5 reaction. But the biggest bummer was that his Class 3 egg white allergy had merely dropped to a Class 2 to join the egg yolk, which had stayed the same. And just like that, my hopes of jumping over to sample IHOP's Trick or Treat All You Can Eat Pancake Special after his appointment were whipped out the window. Le sigh.

Scootch's allergist recommends him being re-tested in another two years, when he turns 5. He was very optimistic that since the levels were already falling it was a good indication that this is an allergy he could outgrow with time. At this point though, I think I need to adjust my way of thinking. We are an egg free family. For the comfort, health, and happiness of our Scootch, I need to whole-heartedly embrace this assignment. And maybe enroll Scootch in preschool and have a late brunch by myself at IHOP every couple of months. Just to take the edge off.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hell's Kitchen

"Recipe: A series of step-by-step instructions for preparing ingredients you forgot to buy, with utensils you don't own, to make a dish the dog wouldn't eat." ~Author Unknown

You think I'd learn something after 5 years. Every year I think I've found something easier to do for the kids birthday parties, and every year it usually becomes this ridiculous fiasco that ends in incessant cursing or tears of disappointment. I guess it would be such a shame to stop the tradition this year!

Enter the world of cake pops by Bakerella. I thought this looked way easier than cupcakes. Yes, it involved cake, but the recipe calls for you to mix the cake with icing and shape into balls. Which means even if I have rising issues with the cake nobody has to know. So I showed the Monkey my discovery. She enthusiastically agreed to ladybug cake pops, but added that she wanted pink cake inside. "Strawberry cake!" (Sounds gross to me, but hey, its her birthday!) The week before I made sure I had everything I needed so I could do this over a couple days and not a last minute mad rush like usual. Unfortunately, what I wasn't aware of, is that there is next to nobody who makes white chocolate that isn't contaminated with nuts. I did find a small bag from a local chocolate supply shop, so I thought I was in business. Just add a little red candy dye and we were on our way to ladybugs!

Of course it all started going downhill the day before. Especially when this is how far I got trying to melt the white chocolate before it started burning.

I realized at 12:15am on the morning of Monkey's party that this wasn't going to go as planned. From my previous trips to the store I knew that I didn't have the option of any backup chocolate from the baking aisle of any supermarket, and the opening hours of the candy supply coincided with the very moment Monkey's party was scheduled to start. So I did what I always do. I improvised. Thank goodness for Magic Shell. I busted through the doors of my local supermarket 11 minutes after they opened at 6am and bought some White Chocolate Cupcake flavored Magic Shell ice cream topping. Stirred in a little red candy dye, and presto - red ladybug candy coating.

Little did I realize that it was the beginning of the end of my good luck streak. In my sleep-deprived haze, I forgot the temperamental properties of Magic Shell. Basically, it starts out as a liquid when warm, and hardens when it comes in contact with the cold ice cream. This wasn't a problem in the beginning, because I had frozen the cake balls so they would firm up and hold their shape. However, when you have the cake pops sitting out on the counter so you can decorate and bag them, all sorts of shenanigans start going on. Long story short, we went from cute little blue eyed ladybugs,

To carnage of canniballistic proportions.

So in the end, Kira's friends went home with ladybugs nested in cupcake wrappers.

At least I didn't hear anyone complain that the eyes that had slid off tasted any less delicious.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dear Monkey

To my beautiful little princess Monkey-bean,
Today you turn 5 years old. I can't even begin to describe how this happened so fast, but here you are, grown up before my eyes. Last night I was snuggling Little Bear and crying remembering when it was you who used to fit on my chest all snuggled up. But now you're a tall little lady, worming into my clothes and shoes and somehow even managing to walk straight in the heels I kill myself in. You're smart, and funny, and love to make everyone around you laugh at your antics. Your brothers adore you, even if Scootch only shows it by jumping on top of you on the couch and smooshing you. I love watching you learn and grow. You amaze me everyday with the knowledge and worksheets you've completed at school all day. How you're pointing out the words you know in the books we read at night, and when we're driving in the car and you're looking at the signs. And the questions you ask me. How they keep me on my toes! I feel so proud when I see you do something well that we've taught you.
But most of all, Monkey, I feel proud of what you've taught your Daddy and I. Before you came along, we were just a couple. We didn't have the special second names of Mommy and Daddy until you arrived. We never heard those names until you spoke them to us (even though you felt the need to name balloons before you named us). You, my little darling, were the extra 7 pounds and 2 ounces that made us a family for the first time. All the first things we learned about parenting, we learned from raising you. In many ways you are our teacher, and we are your students. And I hope with all my heart that we can stay in your class for the rest of our lives.
Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Invisible Life

"I like hugs and I like kisses,
But what I really love is help with the dishes!" ~Anonymous

Last night I got into one of those fights with my husband. You know, the one they wrote that joke about where the husband comes home to find the house trashed, the kids gone wild and when he asks his stay-at-home wife (who is in the bed reading) 'What happened today?' his wife replies 'You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day? Well, today I didn't do it!'

Yeah. That type of fight.

I love my husband. I really do. And I know he has an actual legitimate issue that makes him forgetful and absent-minded. But it doesn't mean I have to like it. And it certainly doesn't mean he gets a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card for being expected to act like an adult. Especially when I'm feeling petulant and undervalued. Which I am was. Still undergoing this adjustment period to being a SAHM on little to no sleep will do that to a person. Not that it gives me any passes for being bitchy, but it is what it is. So last night, he made the mistake of needing guidance for something I thought he should be able to figure out himself, and instead of said help he got an earful.

What I laid in bed thinking about this morning while Little Bear had me up 2 hours before the alarm went off (no sleep, remember?) is how much he probably doesn't know or doesn't see about my life at home. My invisible life. The one I share with countless other moms and dads and caretakers who are at home meting by the hours in invisible increments of diapers and tickle wars and wiping jam off the countertops, instead of having projects or deadlines or production to show for their labor all day. A good day at my house is when everyone is alive and intact by the time Daddy comes home for dinner. I'm not even striving for alive and happy - that is a whole post in itself for a different day. But it makes me wonder what he sees when he comes in through the door. Maybe it looks like the house is the same level of messy, but what he fails to realize is that is still a little messy because I cleaned up all day so the mess didn't get worse. The dog is alive because I watched the kids to make sure they didn't abuse her, or unlock the front door and let her run out into the street (Thanks, Scootch!). When he gets interrupted at work by text messages from me with the kids height and weight stats, that's because I made them appointments and dragged them to the doctors. When he gets exasperated over me stressing out about bringing food to parties we have planned on the weekends, its because I made those plans to make sure we still see other people, and want to make sure that all the kids (Scootch) have something they can eat. And when he grumbles about me asking for money to buy the kids clothes, its because I sorted through all the kids things (which are organized in meticulously labeled bins in the attic) to make sure they have stuff that fits and still came up lacking. I don't even want to get started on how the clean underwear and socks magically replenishes in everyone's drawers.

I have this feeling that if our brains were projected on the wall for viewing, my screen would resemble CNN - with news stories going on between the opinions of newscasters and correspondents and the status of my kids and my schedule speeding along the bottom like a NASDAQ ticker - and his playing out like cartoon network - a mildly amusing main show always on with limited commercial interruptions. Sometimes I wonder if he finds himself at parties or the occasional doctors visit and wonders where he is or how he got there. Many times I feel as if I'm living a role out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Like the last time we went to Scootch's allergist appointment, he was standing right there as I scheduled the next visit where we would get the blood test results. I asked him if the date and time were alright with him and he said yes. And then this afternoon he's asking me what day Scootch's next appointment was because he scheduled an appointment for himself the same day (and near the same time.) Does he even remember being at the previous visit? Or was I there with his pod person?

Its these types of things that make me feel like we are the commercial interruptions in his life, instead of the scheduled programming. And the resentment grows when he comes home from a day of work and gets to relax in front of the television with a drink after the kids are put to bed, while I have to transition to the next leg of housework; i.e. laundry or dishes, that was impossible to do while running after the kids all day. Ignoring my invisible life is indirectly ignoring me. And that hurts.

(I'm still sorry I yelled at you last night, babe.)

What does your invisible life look like?