Lucky Lex

Dear Lex,

You are four!! You've been excited for this day for months. And really, it's hard to believe you're just barely four. I'm not the only one who thinks you act older - your nursery leaders, primary and preschool teachers do too. Pretty much anyone who interacts with you can see how mature you are.

You've grown SO much in the past year. You started preschool, the last seven months of which have been at HeadStart. It's a long time away from me, 4 hrs/day, Monday--Thursday, but you love it so much I have a hard time keeping you home. So you get up and dressed every morning with Will, head out the door around 8:40, and I pick you back up at 12:45. Afternoons are spent with me while George sleeps.

The most dramatic thing that's happened to you since we moved last summer was the switch of your HeadStart teacher. You grew to LOVE Miss Kylie and when she announced that she got a job as a kindergarten teacher, you cried for hours. You still see her at school and give her hugs (you'd kiss her too, if she let you).

You're loving and affectionate, giggly and fun, as well as incredibly smart! You started reading a couple months ago after Miss Kylie suggested I start teaching you some phonics blends. You've picked it up quickly so far, and I'm excited for you to start discovering the joys of reading on your own.

Sometimes you tell me that you miss our old house. We have frequent conversations about how our lives are different now than a year ago. No chickens, less time with grandparents, a smaller house and yard, more time with Matt & Kim's family. Most of the time we're happy with the changes.

I love how enthusiastic you are about life. You want to see, hear, touch, eat and experience it all. Right now you have your own room - and we all sleep better at night, because you don't have anyone to talk to! You're a good big sister to George, and usually play well with Will and Emma one-on-one. But when someone crosses you, the whole family knows about it.

We tell you every day how beautiful you are! I wish I had your gorgeous curls! I feel like they define you and I hope they stay forever. You are so special, Lex. We love you.





Ten years ago, when Slice and I were dating, engaged & newly married, I got really sick for a long time.  After six months I finally went to the doctor, confident that I had Mono. He tested me for strep, it came back positive immediately, he gave me antibiotics and sent me on my way.

A few years later I felt sick again - I was having dizzy spells, my hair was falling out in handfuls, and I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning. I went to the same doctor and had him check my thyroid. He was surprised by the results, hypothyroidism. He put me on a dose of Synthroid and sent me on my way.

Since then, I've been watching my thyroid die slowly. Every couple years (or, more likely, every pregnancy) I get bloodwork done and have to increase my Synthroid dose. I WAS diagnosed with Mono (i.e. Epstein-Barr virus) a few years ago, and I've had positive Strep tests every year. In the meantime, I did lots of reading. And I think it's all connected.

This leads me to ... the AutoImmune Protocol. I saw it mentioned many times over the course of my online research. The theory is that autoimmune disorders are caused by inflammation/imbalance in the gut, which is caused by our diets. Many people with autoimmune disorders report a reversal or relief from their symptoms after cutting the most inflammatory foods (gluten, sugar, dairy) out of their diet. To take it one step further, if we cut out ALL foods that can be harmful to the gut, restore gut health, and gradually reintroduce the harmful foods, then we can figure out what is causing the problem in our own bodies.

The AIP diet cuts out ALL grains, dairy, eggs, sugar, nuts and seeds (and many spices derived from those seeds). It also cuts out legumes (practically every form of bean) and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, etc.). 
The "yes" foods are fruits (in small amounts), non-nightshade vegetables, fermented foods, healthy fats (avocado, so much coconut), seafood, and meat (organic grass-fed when possible). Also honey and organic maple syrup, in very small amounts.

I've been wanting to try the diet for a long time, and finally bit the bullet in January. I'm shooting for 30 days in the elimination phase. AIP doesn't prescribe an elimination phase period, they just say "wait until you feel great!" before you start reintroducing stuff.

I bought the book The Healing Kitchen in January after going through a bunch of AIP cookbooks on Amazon and reading all the reviews. This one seemed like the most practical for me, since it includes meal plans, shopping lists and recipes "with 5 ingredients or less for people that hate the kitchen." Perfect!  
Before I started, I ate like I was dying. Ice cream, pasta, my best homemade whole wheat muffins & waffles, cookies, wienerschnitzel and apple strudel from Siegfriend's. I ate so much that I was sick of it all, literally. Then we made a trip to Whole Foods and bought the weird foods that I couldn't get at my local stores. We were a sight to see - three grumpy children, me consulting my list and Slice looking for things that we'd never even heard of before.😐You can imagine.

Now I'm on Day 10, and feeling pretty good. Noticeable changes:
  • Daily mild headaches (maybe not from the diet) 
  • A few days where I didn't need a nap
  • One full day of upset stomach (again, could've been a bug and not the diet)
  • Fewer regular stomachaches (I've been getting them after almost every meal for months) 
  • Breaking my sugar addiction! This is huge. I've relied on it physically and psychologically for so long
  • Lifting of "brain fog" - this is hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it, but Hashimoto's often brings a brain fog that, to me, feels like depression. I don't always know that I'm in it, like a fish doesn't know it's in water. But it's real, and I feel like I may be climbing out of it.

Other notes: SOOOOOO MANY DISHES. I'm cooking 3-4 vegetables and at least 2 meats a day, in addition to feeding my family their normal foods because there's NO WAY they would all eat the way I'm eating. No way we could afford it, either. I have to shop a couple times a week, my fridge is always completely packed, and non-sugary desserts just don't seem like dessert. I like my treats, OK?! I've scoured Kaysville & Layton looking for carob powder (the chocolate substitute I can have), to no avail.
Gonna have to go back to Whole Foods.


Emma turns 6

Emma Grace,

My very favorite thing about you right now is this: "Mom, what can I help with?"
That pretty well sums you up; you ask every day. You're so helpful and caring and responsible, I forget that you're only six. You play with George. You fetch things. You help me clean and organize and even cook, always cheerfully. I'll tell you how grateful I am, but I don't think you'll understand unless (until?) you have your own very helpful daughter.

You had another exciting year. We changed everything about our lives when we moved from Roosevelt to Kaysville. Our Battistone cousins moved far away, which you frequently lament. You graduated from preschool, lost your first tooth (that seemed really early!), and started Kindergarten, which you LOVE. You're reading well - tested high enough to get invited to a special advanced program in another school. You started going to speech therapy in school to help with your "disfluencies," AKA stuttering, so we've had something to work on. Most importantly, you have a great heart. You watch for other kids who need a friend, and then you become that friend.

You also started taking karate. I tried to persuade you to take dance, tumbling, or something else, but when you heard that Will was doing karate, there was no talking you out of it. Maybe it's a phase (Lego Ninjago?), maybe you'll stick with it forever and become a master. We'll see.

You love to laugh and joke with Will, play tea party with Lex, and try to boss George around. You're a dedicated artist and would draw/paint/color your life away if we'd let you. I'm constantly picking up, throwing away, or deciding to keep pages of your artwork.

We've had some hard and stressful times over the past year. They'd have been harder if we didn't have you around. 💖
We love you so much, Emma.


Living in Limbo

For some reason, anytime I've taken a blogging hiatus I feel the need to explain myself (EMILY)  (KIANA), so, here's my explanation this time around: I've been in limbo.

Major limbo, like don't-know-what-the-next-month-holds limbo. Where-will-we-live. How-long-until-the-bank-account-hits-0. What-should-we-do-with-the-house. Which-possessions-do-we-sell-off-first. What-is-life-even-about limbo.

Sorry about all those hyphens, but I think you get the point?

And I've been through some stuff in my life, and now I know that the very worst thing in the world (for me) is NOT KNOWING. And not being able to plan anything because of the not knowing.

But this time, even after all these months and all these questions, I knew things were going to work out. I've felt almost like a spectator on the sidelines, waiting to see what happens in this game. I know we're going to win - so it hasn't even been a real nail-biter.  
Isn't that amazing???

Now, this is where we're at.
After a full year, countless applications, at least eight interviews, and many nights apart, Slice got himself two job offers in 24 hours. And we had to make a decision: stay or go? Stay in Roosevelt and keep this house, our cars, our side jobs, our security? Our entire lifestyle? Or go out on a limb?

We chose the limb.



My dear, sweet George,

We've reached a year with you!! Your first birthday was as low-key a birthday as we've ever had in this family (partly because you're in a full leg cast) but you are as low-key as they come, so it was fitting. You've added a precious element of calm to our family, and I am so grateful for you and your sweet spirit. As I've told anyone who would understand, "I finally got a Type 2!"

Your dad and I have had many questions and varied reactions about your name over the last year, and since I haven't yet written it down, I thought I'd tell that story.

Long ago, when I got the ultrasound to tell us if you were a boy or a girl, I brought Will & Emma with me.  They sat in the chair and watched as the tech showed your different body parts, and finally we saw the one we were waiting for - "It's a BOY!"
Afterward in the car, we called Dad on speakerphone to tell him the news.
"What should we name him?" I asked.
"George!" said Will, without hesitation, and I laughed. It was a totally random thing for him to say. No one uses the name George anymore, I thought to myself, and I didn't plan on doing it either. I don't even know any Georges in real life. So, I logged that away.  We picked out a handful of other good names and waited for you to come.

Months later, you were born. Your birth was incredible! I felt in control through the entire labor, and once you arrived I was ecstatic. We called and texted family, even though it was late. Grandma & Grandpa Eddington came to see you right away; so did Grandma Morgan.

The next morning, congratulatory texts started coming in. "Anna and I both think he looks like a George," T.R. said.
"That's weird," your dad and I said.
Then Kiana came to the hospital to see you. "He looks like a George," she said.
"What the heck?!" your dad and I said.

Seemed like a pretty strong message.

But I didn't want to name you George! I looked up the Etymology of the name ... Farmer; Earthworker.  Not as romantic as I'd hoped. We kept going over the other names we had picked out, trying different combinations ... none of them really fit. You really did look like a George, and the more we said it, the more right it seemed. It still took us 2 days to give in. You were George. George Thomas Morgan.

It was really nice of you to tell us your name, and nice of you to come early and small and (relatively) easily. You've been nice to me your whole life, except for those few weeks of sleepless nights when we were never home last summer. I forgave you for those.

You love everyone, but especially your siblings and your Grandma Eddington. You love the car, and strawberries, and music, and nearly-hot bottles. You also love the bath and the toilet and banging any cupboard door you can find. We chase you around and you chase us right back. You are my sweetheart. I love you.



Lex turns 3

My Dear Lex,

You turned 3 today! It's been three whole years since you joined our family!

We had a princess tea party today with your friends at Grandma's. It wasn't your first choice (that would have been Angie's house with your "best friends" Dannica and Lydia), but it was great anyway. Your birthday presents are pretty indicative of the stage you're in - magnifying glass, bubbles, princesses, ponies and tea party sets - and you loved everything you got.

The last year has been hard on all of us, but probably you most of all. You became a big sister, stopped taking regular naps, and when Dad was gone for weeks at a time, your insecurities manifested themselves in the middle of the night. You spent many nights in my bed. You don't like to be left behind, by me or anyone else. You're old enough to play with Will & Emma now, and old enough to get your feelings hurt when they don't want to play with you. It's hard being the third wheel.

Still, you are the most delightful thing around. You're beautiful and smart and playful and loving and hilarious. Everything you say is funny. Especially "dee" instead of "the"... I'll be really sad when you stop saying that.  Every Sunday in Sacrament Meeting you choose someone to go sit with (usually Emma Forsyth, because she's your favorite) and everyone else is jealous. You are the best entertainment.

We love you so much, Lex. We can't imagine our lives without you. I can't wait to see what this year brings!
Love, Mom