The Library Fiasco

I took the kids to storytime at the library today, and it was a mess. 10 o’clock–when it started–is right on the edge of naptime for Sherman, but he can usually make it to noon without too much trouble. Not today.

Ruby went to a preschool time, and I accompanied Sherman to toddler time. When you’re in a room full of toddlers and yours is the worst, you have reached a new low. Who knew boys could be so violent and angry?

As we were leaving the library, both of my kids pulled their hands out of mine and went running through the parking lot. I shouted at Ruby and ended up hauling Sherman to the car by his shirt.

I’m calling this as a parenting win because neither of my children got run over or defenestrated today.

Despite what recent blog entries may be implying, I do love my kids and we have many lovely times. But sometimes they do make me want to pull my hair out. Why write about it? I want to remember more than the perfect, happy memories so that I can be empathetic to young moms when I’m elderly and mostly have lingering fond memories of my kids’ childhoods.

Dear future, elderly Eliza,
Kids are rotten sometimes. Don’t forget it.
Past Eliza

Snowman Nose

Today I nominated Kyle to play in the snow with the kids on the premise that I did it last time. A while after they went out, Ruby knocked on the door and asked for carrots for a snowman nose. I gave her two carrots in case there was more than one snowman and sent her on her way.

When she came back inside after her snowman was done, she announced “I ate one carrot.” Kyle clarified that she ate it on her way back out to the snowman. It’s a good thing I gave her two or she would have come back for more.

Sneaky Sneaker

Kyle goes to great lengths to make sure the children both have their arms folded for the dinnertime prayer. They always have their arms folded…at least at the beginning of the prayer.

Tonight Kyle got the kids to fold their arms, and started the prayer. I heard Sherman move, so I looked at him. Sherman managed to unfold his arms, spear a piece of ham off his plate, put it in his mouth, put the fork back down, and re-fold his arms before Kyle had finished offering the (very brief) prayer.

Eh, folding arms for prayer. It’s in the works.

The Glove is On, The Gauntlet is Thrown

Sherman wanders over to the drawer where I keep my hot pads and oven mitts. This is not irregular, I frequently have to search my house for hot pads while I’m in the middle of dinner and discover my drawer is empty. He pulls out the oven mitt, and heads straight for the (cold) oven to open it up. The oven is still taller than he is, so he reaches above his head to grab the handle in his awkward over-sized mitted hand, and just about falls over opening it up.

It’s the grandest adventure of the day.

Three year old Ruby runs around the house, buck naked (despite being dressed multiple times today), waving a lightsaber and calling us all bad guys. I ask if she’s Rey, fighting off the Sith.

“No. I’m Dark Vader.”

“So we’re Jedi?”

“No, you’re bad guys.”

Kyle looks over and says, “From my perspective the Jedi are evil!”

She runs off, and zooms back a few minutes later with Sherman hot on her tail.


Chances of Defenestration are High Today

We live on the third floor. We have a lovely view of the apartment across from us our of a large picture window in our front room. It lets in natural light (although due to the direction it faces we don’t get very much direct sunlight, but it’s still a nice window). It has nice, wide, fancy looking blinds on it. The kids like to sit in the window sill and look at the world, especially if there are dogs outside.

When I picture hanging my children from this lovely window by their toes I know it’s time to get some alone time.

Some days my standards of “Good Parent” looks a lot like “I’ve never actually tossed one of my children out of our lovely front window.”

Our kids have slept poorly the last few days, and have been very cranky.

I’m a good parent.

I’m a good parent.

I’m a good parent.

(Number of children removed from house via window since move-in: Still 0)

Ruby at Dinner

Tonight at Dinner Ruby was trying to convince me she could eat chocolate for dinner. I told her she could have some after dinner. She told me she was done with dinner, and I responded that she hadn’t “even touched it yet.”

Ruby looked at me, then carefully poked her dinner with her finger. “I touched it.”

“No, you have to eat dinner until your tummy is full.”

Ruby then looked at her stomach, and proceeded to look at us with this wide eyed expression that said “I have no idea what you’re trying to say to me.”

I told her she had to eat dinner, so she picked up a single piece of pasta, ate it, and announced, “I ate one dinner.”

Snapshots from a Visit to Fargo


Sitting on the potty moving tiles around on the Words with Friends app singing the alphabet song.

Hugging my parent’s Yorkshire Terrier, Titan, declaring, “She my friend!” (Gender appropriate pronouns are a work in progress)

Wandering around after my dad left for work calling out, “Grandpa? Where are you?”

When I explain that we’re flying home soon, she looks at me and says, “Stay here?”

Pretending to go “back to work” because that’s what Grandma and Grandpa do.

Going on walks with Grandpa and Titan every day after he gets home from work.


Luxuriating in crawling around Grandma and Grandpa’s large house. It makes me reflect on how little space there is in our condo to crawl.

Crawling as fast as he can to greet Grandpa at the door when he gets home from work.

Being held by Grandpa, one of his favorite people.

Figuring out that if he reaches down from his high chair with food, Titan will eat out of his hands.

Feeding Titan all of his lunch.

Learning to climb stairs.

This is What I Call A+ Parenting

I went to Barnes & Noble with Ruby today, and sat down to play with Duplos for a while (because what else is a 2yo going to do there?). Ruby was building a castle, and invited me to help her. When I came over to help, she abandoned me for other, shinier, toys. So I started my own castle. It was color coordinated, so I ended up having to…acquire…blocks from her castle. Ruby came back and happily helped me finish my castle.

Then she looked over at the remains of her castle and, dismayed, said, “What happen my castle?!”

“The ignorant peasants hundreds of years after your castle was finished failed to appreciate the engineering and artistry of your ancient castle-work and appropriated the building materials for their own uses.”

She clearly understood what I was talking about because she stopped asking about it. Darn peasants.


Around the time Ruby turned one, she started getting a terrible diaper rash that would turn into bleeding sores. My pediatrician gave me antibiotic ointment to treat the sores, but was not remotely helpful in identifying what might have been causing them. I asked around to friends and family until Kyle’s aunt (to whom I am forever grateful) suggested I stop feeding Ruby dairy. She said she’d seen other kids with similar rashes who improved when dairy was taken out.

So I stopped giving Ruby cow’s milk and eventually I took out all other forms of dairy. The rash got better, and I was surprised to find that other things changed as well. Ruby used to randomly vomit, and that improved. She also used to get black, tarry poop, and that improved as well. I hadn’t realized that all of these things were connected. She seemed to have a milk allergy.

I wasn’t very familiar with food allergies, and my pediatrician wasn’t helpful on that front, so I took her to a local allergist. He did a scratch test, which came up negative. He told me that sometimes tests come up negative but that kids still have allergies (to which I wanted to know why I’d paid money for a test that didn’t tell me anything). He was generally dismissive and acted like I was being a helicopter mom for taking her to a specialist for something like a milk allergy. I was frustrated, but I figured since I was there I’d continue asking my questions, and when I asked him about the black, tarry poops that Ruby had been having he told me that I had mis-seen the color and that her poop was really dark brown. I insisted that they were, indeed, black, and he told me that if they really were that it meant there was blood in her stool from her gut and that he could refer me to a GI specialist. The way he said it was very condescending and I didn’t want to seem to be making a big deal out of nothing so I didn’t ask him for a referral (I now wonder if this might have been resolved sooner if I’d pressed and gotten the GI referral). He told me to give her soy milk and offer her cow’s milk every now and then to see if she’d grown out of it.

I gave her almond milk and continued nursing. Over the next year or so, her rash kept coming back. It never got as severe as it had when she was drinking cow’s milk, but it almost never cleared up. After being so thoroughly dismissed, I was afraid to take her back to a doctor. But I was talking about it to my downstairs neighbor, and she said that she’d had a similar experience with the allergist in Provo. Her kids had severe allergies and she drove them to an allergist in Salt Lake to be treated. She gave me his name, and I hemmed and hawed about taking Ruby because I was afraid I was making a big deal about nothing. She seemed to be doing better without the milk, so I held off for a while. But as Ruby started to speak more, she would tell me about how her bottom hurt, and when she woke up at night (because Ruby has never slept well), she would cry because her bottom hurt.

While all of this was happening, Sherman had been born and six months later started eating solid foods. When I gave him cheese, he got weird, mucous-y poops, a diaper rash, and vomited. So I figured he was allergic to dairy, too, and stopped feeding it to him.

By this time we were having some insurance issues, and I didn’t want to pay for a specialist out of pocket, but as soon as she was covered again I took her to the allergist in Salt Lake that my friend recommended. I didn’t get an appointment for Sherman even though he had similar symptoms because I figured there was no point paying for two appointments if it turned out this doctor was going to be dismissive as well. But the allergist patiently listened to the symptoms, my experience with the last allergist, and my concerns. He told me that it sounded like she had FPIES (Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome; pronounced F-pies, like apple pies), a rare type of multiple food intolerance/allergy. He did a few more scratch tests, and they all came up negative again, which corroborated his thesis that it was FPIES. It has a different biological mechanism than regular allergies, different symptoms, and it can’t be diagnosed with scratch testing for regular allergies. In some ways it’s more similar to Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) than it is to traditional food allergies. The good news is that most FPIES kids grow out of it by the time they’re 6, and it can be very effectively managed by avoiding the trigger foods. At this point, I was certain that Sherman had it as well, although he was only officially diagnosed this past Monday.

The other news was that it was more deeply entrenched in Ruby’s life than I had imagined. Symptoms that I hadn’t even considered turned out to be related. Kids with FPIES don’t sleep well because they don’t feel well. Ruby has never, ever slept well. I’ve been up between one and five times with her at night since she was born. Since Sherman was born, and especially since he started eating solid food, it hasn’t been irregular for me to be up 6-8 times between the two of them. But nobody wants to hear that your two year old doesn’t sleep through the night or that your previously happy sleeper of a baby started waking up a lot at night when he was about six months old. It must mean that you’re a bad parent (in fact I recently endured someone detailing to me all the things I could try to get Ruby to sleep through the night; an experience I wasn’t thrilled about).

Instead of being IgE mediated like more common allergies, it is cell mediated and most of the mutiny happens in her intestines, which causes the GI problems like vomiting and diarrhea. In fact, Ruby has been having diarrhea for most of her life. I knew when she started solids as a baby that the consistency of her poop would change and gradually become solid. Her stools became more solid, but never got to look that solid. I had also heard that breastmilk is kind of a diuretic, so I figured that the fact that she was still nursing was what was giving her the loose stools. She was my first baby, and I had not idea what normal poop was supposed to look like. I also know from experience that talking to doctors about your weird poop is one of the fastest way to get dismissed (one of the take-home messages of this story is that I hate dismissive doctors). But the constant diarrhea was also making her dehydrated. Ruby nursed and drank water all the time; I figured she was a busy toddler and all the playing made her thirsty. And hearing that on some days your two year old nurses 10-15 times a day is another thing nobody wants to hear. It says something about you. Possibly many somethings.

The allergist gave me a handout to read that started connecting a lot of dots. As a result, I now knew what I’m looking for an was able to determine that Ruby and Sherman were both reacting to more than milk. Because FPIES is so rare, there is no test to tell you what foods your kids are allergic to. It’s all trial and error. If you feed your kid something and they get sick, you take it out of their diet. The problem was that since Ruby and Sherman were already eating all sorts of foods, I had no idea what exactly they were eating that was making them sick. And since soy–a food they are both now avoiding–is in a ton of processed food, almost everything they ate was making them sick. One day, Sherman got two sores about four inches long up each side of his bottom. He still has scars from it.

After the diagnosis I could see how all of the symptoms connected, but I didn’t know what food was making them sick. But you can’t stop feeding your kids. It’s scary trying to balance not starving your kids with trying to figure out what foods are making them sick. But now I have a list of foods that each of them are avoiding, and their symptoms are clearing up. No more throw up, no more diarrhea, Ruby is sleeping increasingly well, their poop is more solid than it’s ever been, no more rashes. And since I know what I’m looking at, I can tell when they’re having a reaction. Sherman had some dairy cross contamination on Saturday night and woke up every hour all night. But now I know why.

The foods Ruby is avoiding at the moment are: dairy, soy, rice, oats and eggs.

The foods Sherman is avoiding are: dairy, legumes (including soy, green beans and peas which it turns out are all botanically legumes), and grains (rice, wheat, oats, etc.).

I’m not 100% sure that they’re allergic to all the foods on the lists, but when I stopped feeding them those things they’ve both cleared up. After they’re clear for a few weeks I’ll try some of the foods I’m unsure of again to see what exactly they’re reacting to.

This has been quite a process. I’ve had to grieve the fact that my kids can’t eat like normal kids, and that I have to be really strict about other people feeding them. The nursery workers at our church fed Ruby something a couple of weeks ago that made her throw up. Even if we could afford pre-school, it makes me strongly hesitate considering it because I don’t want her to be sick all the time because she’s eating other kids’ snacks or because the teachers aren’t sufficiently vigilant for an FPIES kid. I guess it would depend on how reliable the teachers were about these kinds of things.

So this has been my life for the last little while. It’s been pretty overwhelming.

Learning to Crawl

Sherman is on the verge of crawling. If he really tries he can kind of inch himself around the room, but for the most part he just gets up on hands and knees and wobbles back and forth. When we try to encourage him to crawl by putting a toy or his binky just out of reach so he has to crawl for it, he puts up the biggest fuss. Big ol’ tears run down his face and he cries and cries because wouldn’t it just be so much easier for me to get what I want if you would just give it to me. Boy howdy, you’d think that crawling was the hardest thing in the universe by the way he carries on. I do not remember Ruby carrying on like this when she was learning to crawl. He really wants to crawl, but he doesn’t want to do the work to get there. We keep encouraging him anyways, and sometime soon I expect he’ll be chasing Ruby around the house (or she’ll be chasing him around).