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Oral Immunotherapy – “The Plan”

Oral Immunotherapy – The First Appointment
Oral Immunotherapy – The Second Appointment

For those who are still following along, you know that we are still in the early stages of our oral immunotherapy treatment.  So far we have not seen any reactions to the foods we’ve been assigned (pine nuts and chickpeas). We are still in the “prepping” stages to get her body strong and “ready for battle”. However, I know I will get increasingly nervous as we move into her more serious allergens.

After our second “two day” appointment, we were left with a detailed plan of care.  Going forward, this was what was expected from us at home:

  1. Daily dosing of allergy medications – 5 mg of Xyzal, and Flonase.
  2. Eat 3-5x per week – 1 apple, 1 pear, 1 stone fruit, 1/2 tsp wheat germ, and 1/4 tsp tahini sauce.
  3. Daily maintenance food – pine nuts (2o) << this will change with each appointment
  4. Daily treatment food – none yet << this will be added in subsequent appointments, but we’re not there yet.

This is a breakdown of Lil’ Miss Louboutin’s plan as we move forward:

  • Pine nut challenge (6 g) – in-office – done
  • Visit 1 – Chickpea challenge – in-office – done (and we’ve been continuing to dose both pine nuts and chickpeas daily at home until our next in office challenge, which is coming up soon)
  • Visit 2 – Brazil nut challenge
  • Visit 3 – Dosing for Almonds
  • Visit 4 – Dosing for Hazelnut
  • Visit 5 – Dosing for Soy
  • Visit 6 – Dosing for Coconut
  • Visit 7 – Dosing for Pecan
  • Visit 8 – Dosing for Walnut
  • Visit 9 – Dosing for Macadamia
  • Visit 10 – Dosing for Pistachio
  • Visit 11 – Dosing for Cashew
  • Visit 12 – Dosing for Peanut (80 mg)
  • Visit 13 – Dosing for Peanut (400 mg)
  • Visit 14 – Dosing for Peanut (2 g)
  • Visit 15 – Dosing for Peanut (10 g)

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Oral Immunotherapy – The Second Appointment

The second appointment is also referred to as “the two day appointment”.  After your first in-office appointment, they will schedule you for a second “two day appointment” about 6 weeks later. It needs to be at least 6 weeks out in order to give the lab enough time to get the blood results back to Dr. Randhawa, and for him to create an action plan based on all the various testing.

The first day of the two-day appointment is only 10-15 minutes long, so a super short office visit. They have you come in so that they can put a patch test on your child. They stick a patch that looks like a grid on your child’s back, with each box clearly labeled with an allergen. Lil’ Miss Louboutin’ was required to wear this patch for 24 hours. She couldn’t be too active while wearing the patch, so we kept it mellow the rest of that day. She also couldn’t take a bath that night.

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This is what the patch test looks like

The second day of the two-day appointment was a lot longer, lasting about 3-4 hours.  This was the appointment I anticipated most, as we finally had the opportunity to sit down with the doctor and review our results in full detail. I was anxious to finally see our results, and understand how this would all work. They provided me with 8 pages of detailed results, and also this really interesting visual:

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1 year celebration for Baby Pencil

Since Baby Pencil is going to be my last child (I think?) I decided to go ahead and have the whole decorated first birthday bash — something I didn’t even do for Toddler Pencil! For Toddler Pencil, we had zero decorations, a plain sheet cake and no agenda — it was just a party on the beach. But for Baby Pencil, I happened to have cousins who are very creative and offered to help me with photographing and decorating.

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My idea was to make it simple: rent out a room at the local rec center, get taco carts, a balloon maker, and have the kids run around the nearby playground area. My only concerns were having enough food and air conditioning. My cousin, who is actually a ring designer, threw this whole thing together after giving her a very vague request of “please make it pretty.” I usually like giving artists full control to do whatever they want – I let them do their thing so that it can be a nice surprise for me. And did she ever surprise me!

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Parenting Like a Librarian

I liked this post on Offspring about how to parent like a librarian, which means surrounding your home with a wide range of things that may spark your child’s curiosity, but letting them explore their natural curiosity at their own pace. The simplicity of this idea resonated with me because we’ve been taking a similar unschooling approach with Charlie and Olive.

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Because we have great used bookstores here, over the past three years I bought any book that I thought my kids might read one day. Every Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, and Beverly Cleary. Caldecott and Newbery Medal winners. Classic series like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Books I loved from my childhood like Where the Red Fern Grows and The Secret Garden. Atlases and encyclopedias. Comic books like The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. The Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

At first many of these books sat on the shelves as Charlie just read and reread his favorite books over and over again. But as he gets older and his interests broaden, he has been working his way through many of the books I’ve collected, at his own pace. He has lots of questions, but I don’t always answer them (because I often don’t know the answer!), and I try to ask him what he thinks. I might tell the kids how much I loved a particular book when I was a kid, but I never push them to read anything specific because their intrinsic curiosity is the biggest motivator. It doesn’t matter what they’re reading to me, as long as they’re reading.

While I can’t pass up a classic, most of the books I buy are guided by their interests. Olive reads every Rainbow Magic book and Charlie reads every Horrible Histories/Science/Geography and Murderous Math book we can get our hands on right now. I also buy books on my own interests like animal rescue and mountain climbing, as well as nostalgic books like the Childcraft series. It’ll be great to share something I love with them, but I think fostering  that natural curiosity is what’s most important right now.

A Simple Trick for Getting All the Toys Cleaned Up

Since I solo parent most of the time, and because my kids are a little older (7 and 8), I’ve implemented a lot more house rules in recent months to help maintain my sanity. One rule that has been really successful is the “basket of stuff.” My bedroom is on the first floor and Charlie and Olive’s bedrooms are on the second floor, so they are always bringing their stuff downstairs. They literally cannot see the things they leave strewn about the house, whether it’s books, toys or clothes. Rather than “remind” them to pick up every little thing, I bought two baskets and keep them at the bottom of the stairs. Whenever I find something they haven’t put away, I place it in the Charlie basket or Olive basket. They’re responsible for taking the basket to their bedrooms before bedtime and putting everything away in its proper place.

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Charlie’s basket left contains a lightbox we just bought and 2 books he was reading today. Olive’s basket is chock full of books, toys, hair ties, art supplies… she is always sneaking into my bed every night so there’s always more of her stuff!

Sometimes I won’t remind them to put their baskets away and they will “forget.” Sometimes I’m too busy with wine o’ clock to care about even reminding them. But because it has become such a part of their routine now, it doesn’t take much prodding for them to clear their baskets. If they want to have any special privilege like playing video games or watching a tv show or even playing family board games, their baskets must be cleared. You can threaten to throw away everything that’s not cleared from the basket every evening, but I’m not likely to follow through so I haven’t used that tactic… although it’s certainly one I’ve threatened more than once in the past!

Do you have any simple tricks for getting your kids to clean up their stuff?

Infertility Never Leaves You

This past weekend I spent a number of hours with a close friend who is expecting her second child. I had an exchange with this friend that really struck me in the most positive and encouraging way, and I wanted to share it with you because I think that both she and I learned a lot from a very honest conversation about infertility and its lasting scars.

To set the stage for this, you should know that this friend (and really everyone in my life!), knows that my husband and I struggled with infertility for years because our daughters have their unique birth story. It’s nearly impossible with our story of biological daughters born five weeks apart, carried by me and our surrogate, to keep the infertility element out of our conversations and explanations! This friend also knows that we are not planning on having any additional children and so there was no need for her to dance around the topic of her pregnancy because I am not still struggling to conceive.

Now the whole conversation was sparked because my friend asked my husband why he was wearing a small orange heart pin on the lapel of his suit jacket. When he replied that it was a marker of infertility awareness, she sweetly asked if she could have one to wear in support of infertility. She then asked if it was appropriate for her to wear one even though she is “super fertile”.

We responded that yes, she should absolutely feel free to wear the pin because in her case, it could indicate support of couples struggling to conceive. But I have to be honest that her quick use of the words “super fertile” struck me hard in the chest. It brought me back to another time when a friend (also pregnant with her second child, also talking about conception far after we had our babies) joked that her husband could just look and her and sneeze and she would become pregnant.

I’ll be honest that it is confusing and frustrating for me that I can’t hear words like “super fertile” without feeling a touch bitter and jealous. Especially considering that my infertility journey happened almost three years ago at this point!

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Five Friday Favorites

Right now I am in the beginning of my second trimester of pregnancy, so my Five Friday Favorites are dedicated to staying afloat during this pregnancy trimester.

andalou face mask

Andalou Face Mask Pods: I use these about once or twice a month when I feel I need an at-home “spa day.” They are good for my sensitive skin and I like the way my face feels after using them. Plus, they smell good! My favorites are the clarity and luminous ones. I also use this face mask brush to apply the mask.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery game: I don’t usually get too excited about game releases, but this one I was waiting for ever since they said it was in the works. I’ve read all the HP books and watched all the movies so I was ready for this game to make its debut. I love that the game incorporates HP knowledge with a new story line and allows me to pretend I am a student at Hogwarts with both familiar and new characters. (Go Ravenclaw!)

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