Monday, February 19, 2018

Listening to our gut

If anyone is still out there reading this, my apologies for the lack of posts. Apparently parenting takes like 30 hours a day, and we've only got 24!

The kids started school in the end of August/ beginning of September, and it went off without a hitch. We got our drop off and pick up routine memorized and life was good.

Then came November.

And a little boy complaining of stomach aches.

We went to our pediatrician at Kaiser, who diagnosed Sal with gas, told us about gasX and Tums and sent us on our way. A week later he was begging to go to the doctor because of his belly pains, so we went to Kaiser's urgent care, where it was suggested he just needed to go to the bathroom. Two weeks later, we went back to his pediatrician who then suggested it could be anxiety. Anxiety was a diagnosis I could get behind. Afterall, I was the kid whose mom became "room mom" in kindergarten because I would make myself sick if she were to leave me there.

 I definitely saw a parallel with my kindergarten year and what Sal was experiencing. HIS awesome teacher and I communicated regularly about what was going on trying to identify if something had triggered his feelings of dreading school. I won't lie, It broke my heart taking him to school.

Throughout it all, he insisted his belly wasn't related to being worried about anything and got angry whenever we suggested it was. December brought on uncertainty and stress for my Montecito family, evacuated for the Thomas fire, then reunited with their homes and weeks later, the area was devastated by mudslides and the loss of many community members. Life was stressful. I figured Sal was feeding off my emotions, and the lack of consistency with winter break and family in and out.

Our insurance switched from Kaiser to a PPO again on January 1st, so once we had our new cards, I gave Sal's pediatric gastroenterologist a call. We saw him a few years ago, and I was hoping he could ease my mind that we were in fact, dealing with anxiety and not missing something more serious.

We saw our GI doc and a battery of tests were run. A week later, while preparing dinner one night, I got a call from the doctor.

"I have a preliminary diagnosis for Sal." He says.

I'm nodding my head waiting to hear the A word....

"Sal has antibodies indicative of celiac disease. We need to confirm by doing an endoscopy under anesthesia. My staff will call you and set it up for Monday morning."

Click. We hung up.

Celiac? What the hell? He can't have celiac. Isn't celiac related to diarrhea? He doesn't have that. I googled celiac and was floored. So many of the symptoms fit Sal. Could it be? Could he have celiac?

Long story short, my brave little guy underwent an upper endoscopy the following Monday, and multiple biopsies were taken from his intestinal walls. Two days later, another call, and a final confirmation.

He does indeed have celiac
So, this pasta living Italian family has been crash coursing in all things gluten free,  as living 100% GF is the only way to treat celiac. We are two weeks into this lifestyle change, and it's been going well. My grocery bill has tripled, but I think within time we will only buy the items he shows a taste for versus right now I'm buying anything and everything I see that is certified GF in hopes that he will like  it. The last thing I want is for food to be a punishment for him, it'll be nice for him to find things he actually prefers over his old standbys that were making him sick.

If any of my readers are GF or have celiac, please feel free to share some of your favorite finds with us!

In ending this post, I am so very thankful that I listened to my son, and my gut, that kept telling me that something just wasn't right. My kid, who freaks out at doctors, requested to go back to the belly doctor and willingly rolled into an OR in hopes of fixing his belly aches. I feel mama guilt for shoving the idea of it being anxiety down his throat, and more so for not pushing our old kaiser doctors to let us see a GI specialist harder. While no mama ever wants anything to be wrong with their babies, I'd be lying if I didn't feel a bit of relief now having an answer and being able to do something to help Sal feel better.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Gino starts school

     Gino finally started his "teacher and me" program in mid September. Both Sal and Carla both attended this drop off class as two year olds and loved it. He has the same teacher as they did, and has done really well with drop offs  (he only cried twice).

     I was initially really hesitant to enroll him because he is quite aggressive and dare I say it, hot and cold at home. He is my biter and my hitter, and my look- you- in- the- eyes- and-raise-my middle-finger kid. Okay, maybe not the last one, but he does bite and, a lot.

     He really loves his teacher and asks me if his friends are there every day we head to school. His teacher says he behaves well and participates in activities, although he is much like Sal in the art department. We did discover that while he doesn't care to paint, he does love to glue.

    It is so fun to watch my kids grow and learn and become independent. Even my baby.  He's full of sentences and jokes and questions and I can't get enough. With the older two both in kindergarten and preschool, Gino has three mornings a week with me solo. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know this little boy of mine without big brother and sister around. He's my sidekick and loves to help me grocery shop and point out trash trucks.

  Three more years and he will be off to Kindergarten. I am acutely aware of how fast time flies, and I'm gonna hold onto this one and keep him my baby, forever. Even if he does grow up.

Friday, September 1, 2017

We have a Kindergartner!

     We've officially got a Kindergartner in the house! Our district began school on August 23rd, so we just completed our first FULL week of class, and boy are we ready for a three day weekend to recoup.

    Sal has a wonderful teacher this year. She's open, kind, funny and very very organized. In fact, she had sign up for parent volunteers at the kindergarten information night before school even began! I am really impressed with how quickly she has gotten these kids up and going. There are three incentive/ reward systems that are really working for Sal, including one with pennies that he can save up (or lose) and buy a trinket when the school volunteer opens his "shop". They have a jump rope club, which he can earn a medal when he reaches (and counts to 100) jumps. So far, after only one week, his highest tally is 91. I love how they've incorporated gross motor skills and play with learning numbers, etc.

    He was a bit ambivalent about starting kindergarten and continues to seem unsure about the permanence of school ( sorry buddy, its 5 days a week for the rest of your childhood and early adulthood life!), but has so far--knock on wood--had easy drop offs, and no tears. It probably helps that he knew five kids in his class prior to school starting, and has a couple other preschool buddies in the other kindergarten classes.

   Sal still continues to prefer solid or striped clothing, but branched out with his new kicks, choosing checkers this time! To top it off, he requested a checkered backpack to match his shoes. Thank goodness for Amazon prime! I'm pretty much convinced if Amazon doesn't have it, it doesn't exist.

    As for the little kids and myself, we miss Sal. Our mornings are quiet without the ruler of the roost telling everyone what to say and do. It's amazing how one child changes the dynamic of a group so much. I look forward to one on one time with each of my littles while Sal is at school, as well as finding a few days to volunteer in his classroom.

Visiting Papa Jet + Meme

    Our family (plus my sister) spent a week in Nevada  back in July. This was our third trip to my dad and step mom's property in Northern Nevada since we've been back from China. I wish we could go up there more often, but work obligations and the long drive (7.5 hours) have deterred us from visiting more often. Now that the kids are older and almost all potty trained, I think we'll probably try and get up there more often. We all have SO much fun every time we go.

    We spent the first day hanging out around the house; letting the kids enjoy horseback riding, quad riding and splashing in the kiddie pool while we lounged around drinking beers and  catching up. My dad took Sal, Nick and me "up the hill" to get a view of Lake Topaz and Smith Valley. Little did I realize until we were already fully committed to a one-way switch backing dirt trail straight up a damn mountain what we were in for.  The ride was worth the view though. It was really cool being able to see Smith Valley from one side, and then turning 180 degrees to see Topaz lake. 

   On Monday, Nick, Sal and my dad went fishing at Lake Topaz. Sal not only caught his first fish ever, but also the first one on his grandpa's new boat! He continued on to catch two more! He was quite excited to show us ladies (& Gino) when we arrived a bit later for a boat ride. Nick showed him how to clean it out, and my dad prepped at grilled it for Sal's dinner. He was so excited to try fresh trout, but has determined that he still prefers ocean fish like flagfish and cod. 

We girls went into Reno and had lunch and shopped for Meme's birthday. We found a fabric store called Mill End fabrics--also known as paradise to anyone who loves fabric as much as I do! It was dejavu when I walked in-- recalling being in that very store about 24 years ago with my mom when I was in Reno for a gymnastics competition. I ended up buying some by the pound lycra with visions of bikinis on my mind. 

All in all, another fantastic trip to my dad's in the books. Already looking forward to our next trip up there.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy Campers {Faria Beach Campground}

    Nick and I always talk about going camping, but found out pretty quickly that if we don't reserve months and months in advance, that camping isn't going to happen. It's phenomenal how fast sites, literally within minutes of them being released on the reserveamerica site. Nick asked around and found out that we actually have a few in our area that are first come first served, so he scouted out for spots after work last Wednesday, but got skunked. He went again on Thursday at lunch ( with the knowledge that checkout is 11;00 am) and as he was leaving the campground-dejected--he saw someone pull out of a spot just steps from the beach. You can bet he got over there and popped up one of our tents and paid for the spot!

    We managed to throw everything together within a couple of hours (hooray for being OCD about re-packing after each trip..It's always ready to go!) and hit the road after Carla's last day of her "teacher + me" class for the year.

   The kids had so much fun. A dirt covered, sunskissed, cheeto eating, staying up way too late kind of FUN. These are the memories that Nick and I hope our kids remember from childhood. Time spent as a family, unplugged and free of most of our material belongings. I have to say, there was FAR less fighting this last weekend. It was a beautiful was the beach. I loved being just steps from the sand. The kids climbed on the rocks and we enjoyed sunset cocktails every night before lighting up the fire pit for smores.


I think we're hooked. I'm already checking our calendar to see when we can go again!


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Life, lately

   This post is a smorgasbord of what we've been up to over the last few months. Not having regular access to a laptop has really cramped my blogging style, but I'm not ready to pull the trigger and purchase one of my own since the only thing I really ever use a laptop for IS blogging. Just finding the time to sit down and write is difficult enough with three little ones running everywhere. Hats off to the bloggers who do this for a living!

   Anyhow, we're knee deep into life around here. A few weeks ago, Sal finished his speech therapy for the year, and we're so proud of the progress he has made and improvement in his articulation. He made huge improvements with his therapist, and I can't say enough good things about early intervention and what a difference it can make.

   Sal and I attended his Kindergarten assessment, and he got to check out the classrooms and playground at the elementary school he will be attending. We saw MANY familiar faces from both his PreK class and last year's Preschool class. He's feeling quite confident. He has been practicing counting and writing his name in preparation for the assessment ( not sure where he got it in his head that they were going to require him to do that or "I can't get in to Kindergarten, mom!"). He's super into counting, and his favorite afternoon activity as of late has been listening to my old ipod and writing down the numbers of the songs he likes. He's definitely a mathematically minded kid, which excites me, as I am anything but.

   Carla has been attending a drop off "teacher and me" class all year, and it is coming to an end in the next few weeks. Come September, she will be an official Pre-Schooler, going 3 days a week! She no longer naps, but instead likes to "help" me with my daily chores/ jobs. This last week she got to sew with me, and has asked if I will teach her how to sew a "really pretty fancy doggie dress for [her horse] Silhouette to wear". I suppose I'd better start working on a pattern, because she brought it up again last night. She's at the age of story telling, which is a little frustrating, but we've told our kids that our ears wiggle when they lie, so her hands covering her ears is usually a dead giveaway.

Gino has been a million miles a minute. He decided early last month that he wasn't going to sleep in a crib anymore. The first day went really really well, and made me think"hey...we've got this whole parenting thing nailed." The next day would cause me to put my foot in my mouth. It's been a nightly struggle ever since. We're still trying to find something that works long term, for both us, and him. Singing "Mary had a little lamb" thirteen billion times til he falls asleep works for him, but definitely not for us. We will find a solution, but it's been pretty chaotic around here between 7-9pm this last month.

As for Nick and myself, he's had a few weeks at home without travel, which has allowed him to complete some home improvement projects and keep up with the yard. He's gotten to surf a bit, and enjoyed a visit from his brother just last week. His biggest project as of late has been ripping out our garage shelving and building out our rafters to allow for more square footage of storage space. He completed the whole thing solo. That's some determination (and sore shoulders!). He's currently working on a laundry unit for me, so all of my stuff has a place to go (rather than on top of my washing machine). 

I've been busy with the kids, a few orders for Bucky & Boo carriers and trying to keep the house from burning down. Most of my days are spent cleaning up after the kids, but I have had a chance to sew a little and practice my newest hobby of hand lettering chalkboards. It's harder than it looks! I erase a lot and don't use a projector, so practice makes better! I'm still in the gym 3-4 days a week for lifting and a little cardio. It's my hour of sanity many days, and the kids seem to enjoy the kids' club that is associated with our gym. 

So, yeah, that's what we've been up to. Lots and lots of the mundane everyday stuff, with some fun times mixed in. Oh, and this........

What is this? You ask? 

This is us learning the hard way that three red potatoes do NOT fit down our toilet. Any guesses as to who the culprit was? The very next day, my electric toothbrush suffered a near fatal flush. Do they even sell toilet locks anymore? And if so, could my 3 and 5 year old kids get the lock undone to use the toilet in times of need? Or would I just be exchanging swimming household items for puddles of pee on my floor? These are the burning questions that keep me up at night. 

All the craziness aside, I love our three and know that one day, we will indeed miss all of this.


Carla started gymnastics last month.

This probably doesn't come as a surprise to those who know me.

It was basically inevitable.

She was so so so excited to suit up in her leotard, and sported two Aly Raisman buns in her hair for her first class. Her class started 15 minutes after Sal's, and the wait was almost the death of her (and me!). She got to jump in the foam pit & swing on the bars--but wasn't so sure about the balance beam.

She definitely wasn't the best listener in class ( dare I say, maybe the worst?!), but we're a few classes into the session now, and she's doing much better with both listening and waiting her turn. She also agreed to walk the balance beam last week!

Annnnnd the best move Carla learned, was her "stick it" position. She shouts, " ta da!" and raises her hands in the air just like she's a final five team member.