Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An update on Russell's food intolerances.

Remember how Russell would complain of tummy aches many times daily?  And how he was so very bloated?  And how his poop was...not right?  And remember how his villi in his duodenum were mildly damaged, so we thought taking him off of gluten would be the best next step?  Then when he went off of gluten, everything got worse?  He didn't want to eat and he had blood in his poop?  So with a strike of mommy inspiration we decided to take corn out of his diet and everything got better?  Remember that?

Well, after many months of having him off of gluten and corn, we decided to try giving him gluten again in hopes of getting him to gain weight a little easier.  His weight gain didn't improve, but he didn't have any tummy aches or other problems with gluten, so we called it a success!

Then, a few weeks ago, I slipped up and gave him some cereal that was made out of corn.  Oops.  But he didn't have any problems with it, so we decided to let him trial corn.  He has since had lots of corn--straight corn, corn cereals, corn chips, corn tortillas, popcorn, etc.  And he hasn't had a single bad poop!  No blood, no mucus.  He still complains that his tummy hurts a few times a week, but that's usually because he needs to take a trip to the bathroom (which we discovered before he even started trialing corn).  And his bloating never went away (not even when he had been off of gluten and corn for many months), but as long as he's not in pain then I don't think it's a big deal.

So it's safe to say that Russell has officially outgrown his corn intolerance.  I wish we had discovered it sooner (he was almost 2 before we finally figured out why he had been in pain his whole life), but let me tell you, it's great to have a kid with no food restrictions!!  It's like a whole new world.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014



Caleb prefers to eat the crust off of bread, the skin off of potatoes, and the burnt pieces off of meat and grilled veggies.


When Russ goes #2, he kindly tells me, "Mom, can you leave?"  He likes privacy in the bathroom.


Ever since Meggie died, every time I make a noise (chuckle, sniff, sigh, etc.), Caleb asks me if I'm crying.  He's turning into a sensitive, sweet boy.  I also mentioned once how he left his feeding backpack on the floor by the bed, and every time I walked past it I had to take a second look because I thought it was Meggie sleeping there (that was where she would sleep at night).  So he said, "Maybe from now on I should leave it in my room so it doesn't make you sad."  His sweet hugs got me through some rough days.  What would I do without that kid?


Many times now, Russ has said, "Mom, I LOVE YOU!  So can I have a skittle??"  Keep up with developing the art of flattery, Kid.  It will serve you well!


Every single night, Russell lays his head on my shoulder (or Nate's, depending on who's putting him to bed) and requests his two favorite songs:  Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and I Am a Child of God.  


We got some new colorful plates, cups, and utensils from Ikea.  The boys like claiming which color they want at each meal (they can only pick out of the ones I take off of the top of the stack).  Caleb has quickly learned that Russell's favorite is orange, so now of course that's Caleb's favorite, too.  When Caleb and Russ claim the same plate, Russ almost always ends up changing his mind so as to avoid a fight.  How is my 2-year-old so mature??


Caleb's favorite movie is Milo and Otis (which he pronounces Milis and Otis).  He would watch it 20x a day if he could.


In Russell's prayers, he always has to thank God for animals.  It usually goes something like this: "Dear Heavny Father, thank dee for Mommy, Daddy, Caleb, animals, Auntie Jessica, Mommy, Caleb, Daddy, giraffes, elephants, Jesus, Amen."  [Auntie Jessica is my sister-in-law and her dad passed away unexpectedly almost two months ago and my boys still remember her in every single prayer.]


Russell is in the habit of putting his shoes in the coat closet as soon as he walks in the door.  That way, he's able to find them easily when he needs them later.  Caleb is the opposite.  He will often kick a shoe off as he's walking to another room, only to kick the second shoe off in the next room.  It takes us forever to find his shoes when we need to go somewhere!  How are two brothers so completely opposite?!


When Caleb is in preschool, once a week Russell and I like to go on a lunch date together, which is something we are rarely able to do with Caleb because of all of his food restrictions.  He is so good in restaurants!  He always says thank you to the server, and asks for whatever he needs ("Can I have some water, please?")  And he's a pro at flirting with waitresses, even telling me as she's walking away and still in earshot, "She's so cute!"


Caleb loves to match Russell.  Caleb usually gets dressed before Russ, but if I dress Russ in something that Caleb has a same-colored shirt or a matching shirt for, Caleb will go back to his room and change so he can match his brother.  He even does it to match me sometimes.


Russell pronounces most things very clearly and properly, but he calls balloons "bum-a-woons."  It's adorable.


When Nate told Caleb that Taysom Hill (BYU's quarterback) broke his leg, Caleb said, "Aww, nuts.  That's not good.  At least we still have Jimmer."


Russell will often ask a person's name (the checker at the store, the doctor, etc).  When they say their name, "My name is Dave,"  Russ replies in his goofy voice, "That's a funny name!"


I was getting out of the shower and Caleb was talking to me from the other side of the door.  He said, "Are you going to wear the towel on your head?  Because I think you're cute with the towel on your head."  Then when I got dressed and came out with the towel on my head, I asked him if I was cute.  He said, "You have to smile...[I smiled]...THERE!  Just like that!  You look cute with a towel on your head and a smile!"


Auntie JB was visiting and Russ said, "I have to tell Auntie something."  I said, "You know she's in the shower, right?"  Meaning, uh, you'll have to wait until she gets out of the shower.  He said, "Yeah." and went upstairs.  I later find out that he walked right in on Auntie JB in the shower, pulled back the shower curtain, and said, "Auntie Jenna, I love you."  It was that important that it couldn't wait.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

So Long, Dear Friend

It's amazing what the human heart is capable of.  We invite into our homes a member of another species.  We don't speak their language, and they don't speak ours.  Yet they enrich our daily lives, and when they're gone (and they always go too soon), we realize just how much love we hold for them.

I think love comes through service and sacrifice.  Jesus Christ loves us more than anyone, and he sacrificed all he had for us.  Parents love their children beyond words, because we give up everything for them.  When we sacrifice our time and means to care for pets, we grow to love them.  And together we learn a shared language of love.

And when they die, our hearts are ripped in two.  I've done a lot of hard things in my life, but I think making the choice to end my dear friend's life was the hardest one yet.

I got Meggie for my 14th birthday.  The previous week, my dog (although she was never really my dog, as she bonded closely with my dad) died unexpectedly at a young age.  I was so lonely, so my mom brought me to the shelter to see if there were any dogs there to adopt.  We tried one out, but she wasn't a good fit for our family, so the next day we brought her back to the shelter.  On the way home, I asked my mom if we could stop and see what the pet store had for dogs.  They had just gotten two new litters of puppies in: Meggie, her brother, and three little black puppies (pomeranians crossed with toy poodles).  I immediately fell for Meggie, so I decided that we'd go home and sleep on it and come back the next day to get her.  On the drive home, I thought of a name for her.  I knew she was meant to be my dog.

The next day, we went to see if she was still there.  Of all of the five dogs that were there the day before, only Meggie and one of the black puppies were left.  Someone was holding Meggie, and the moment they set her down, I snatched her up and brought her to the register.  I said, word for word, "This is my dog.  I mean, she's going to be my dog.  We're going to buy her."  So my mom bought her and gave her to me for my 14th birthday.

Meggie was the ugliest puppy you've ever seen.  Everyone said so.  But I just didn't see it.  I thought she was the cutest 4-legged creature to ever walk this earth, and everyone thought I was delusional.  Looking back, I can see she really had the looks that only a mother could love.  My love was so unconditional that I couldn't see it until many years later.

I spent 14 years and 7 months with Meggie.  That's over half of my life!  And the best, most memorable part of my life, too!  I started training her in 4-H when she was 4 months old.  She hated it.  I was a good dog trainer (my previous dog and I were winning awards), but Meggie refused to do what I asked.  She would protest a simple "sit" command.  She wouldn't come.  Sometimes she wouldn't even walk on the leash!  She started avoiding me on Thursday evenings when I would try to put her in the car to go to training practice.  Then I started bringing her to Therapy Dog instead.  She loved going to nursing homes to be pet by the residents.  It brought out her best qualities.  She started enthusiastically jumping in the car when she knew we were going to Therapy Dog.

I gave up on obedience training with her (she was a good house dog, but not a good competitive obedience dog), but I still did 4-H showmanship with her.  That's what I loved, and all she had to do was prance around and look pretty, which she was very good at once she outgrew her awkward stage.  We qualified for the state 4-H dog show many times, but I remember one time in particular.  It was just moments before entering the show ring, and I was full of nerves.  But I must have pulled it together really well, because we ended up winning Grand Champion!  We were the best in our age-group for the entire state!  It was incredible!

She stayed behind with my dad when I went off to college.  Once Nate and I graduated and bought a house of our own, my mom flew out here with Meggie.  Caleb was 4 months old, and had just been home from the NICU for one month.  She was a great kids' dog in her younger years.  She never jumped on people, never licked, never barked, and loved to follow kids around, waiting for them to drop their snacks on the floor so she could clean up after them.  She was the best for taking on walks.  We went for a long walk every morning during Caleb's first two years.

It was a really hard choice for me to have her put down.  I feel like that should be up to God and Meggie, but I just have to hope that she did choose this, and she just needed my help.  I got to hold her in my arms and comfort her while it happened.  It was perfect, yet so horrible.  I just wanted her to feel how much I loved her.  We grew up together.  Really, she was the first dog that I could claim as my own.  She was the first dog that my children ever knew, and I hope they can keep some fond memories of her.

I was once told by someone with great authority regarding strengths that my strength is my ability to love deeply.  I must say, it has been feeling like a weakness lately.  The pain I feel at Meggie's passing is so strong because my love for her was so strong.  This kind of love is what we live each day for, even though it has the potential to cause so much pain.  It was a glorious childhood that we had together, and I look forward to the day when my Meg greets me in Heaven in her wonderful way--running at top speed in giant circles while crying a happy little howl.  It will be a wonderful reunion.

No heaven will heaven be
if my dog's not there
to greet me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Minnesota From Caleb's Perspective

We got a new camera in December, so for our trip to Minnesota we let Caleb use the old camera at his discretion.  It was a great way to keep him occupied on a long road trip, and it was fun to see what he found picture-worthy.  Here is a large selection of pictures of the world from Caleb's perspective:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Minnesota Vacation!!

I had already been to Minnesota four times since March.  What's one more trip?!

We decided to drive this time, since four plane tickets can get spendy.  And since we had expected to live there by this time, we weren't able to buy plane tickets in advance, which makes them even more expensive.

So we drove.

Through Yellowstone.
 The boys watched DVDs (this was only our third time using the DVD player since buying our van a year ago).  This was how they looked through the snow monster scene in Frozen.
 Once we got to my hometown, we took pictures with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  Classic.
Russell picked Babe's nose while simultaneously picking his own nose.  Also classic.
 My little lumberjack and my little ox.
 Nana's farm is the best.  
Granddad's farm is also the best.  This is my favorite view!
We did some exploring.
Some tree climbing.
And some feet-kicking in the lake.
 We went to the county fair, which was the reason for our visit (all of my siblings came home for the fair this year, so we certainly couldn't miss it!).

 I even brought a jar of homemade apple butter that I canned last fall from the apples on our Utah trees.  I entered it in the fair, and I got second place!  I expect my $2 prize check to arrive any day.  ;)
 Russ was sick the whole time with a fever up to 103 and a horrible cough.  He didn't eat or drink well and lost over a pound.  Other than lamenting "I don't like to be sick" when he would have a coughing fit, and needing lots of snuggles from Mommy, he was still a happy boy and a great sport.
 The highlight of the trip for me was when Caleb rode my horse Hank in the Judy Pittman Memorial Tiny Tots Show.  Judy was a great mentor to me in my 4-H days and I miss her dearly.  It was so special to me to see my son riding the horse that I showed so competitively in my youth at a show devoted to her memory at our old stomping grounds.  Once upon a time, Hank and I owned this place.  I miss those days!

 And Caleb and Hank did so well!  They got 1st place in horsemanship and key race, 2nd place in trail, 3rd in pole weaving, and 6th in barrels.  They were just one or two points away from winning a giant trophy!

 We took family pictures.  These are all of the cousins!  
This was them the last time they were all together!!
 And we took pictures of all of my siblings, their spouses, their children, and my parents.  (This picture has my dad missing, but believe me, we got some with him, too!)  The only one missing is my Grandma, and she lives in Missouri.  Seriously, can you believe we got a shot like this with everyone looking?  It was a miracle.
Photo: It was nice to have all my children and grandchildren home for Christmas- er, I mean the County Fair.
And in Minnesota, you drive tractors.

I can honestly say that every minute of this trip was enjoyable.  You wouldn't think that a 20-hour car ride with a 2- and 4-year-old could go smoothly, but it truly did!  The whole trip was blissful.  We made so many great memories.  I love my family!