Thursday, September 19, 2013

Everybody Needs a Place to Land

Sometimes, you don't know what you've got until it's gone; sometimes you don't know what you have until you have it. This is especially the case with living life as part of a community. 

We said hello to Poppy a year ago, and the time surrounding her birth is full of joy--of course--but also full of really, seriously, truly difficult times. We pretty much covered everything on the "most stressful" list besides divorce--job loss, moving, start of school for Soren, surgery for me and then hospitalization for Poppy just days after her birth. Then, as if we hadn't had enough: ambulance rides, Children's Hospital, emergency surgery and double arm casts after a birthday party gone wrong. All within a MONTH! Times were tough to say the least and we quickly realized we could not do it alone.

For years, we had slowly drifted away from living life as part of a community. We moved out to the middle of nowhere, on a beautiful piece of property where my children could explore nature and pick veggies from our garden and eat their snacks right from the branches of the trees in our orchard. Karl was building furniture everyday in a shop right across a little creek from our house. In many ways it was a ridiculously idyllic way of life--living off the land and always together as a family. The memories I hold from that time in life are both really beautiful and really dark. It’s what we had always wanted, except that we felt ourselves feeling really, really alone.

The surprising part is that as we were getting more and more isolated, we felt more and more OK on our own. We talked ourselves into believing that we didn't need any one else. No one could understand what we were going through (or so we told ourselves.) We let so many things get in the way of opening ourselves up to real, honest, authentic relationships--our house not looking the way we wanted it to; we were too tired; "those people" weren't "our kind of people"; the kids need their sleep...blah, blah, blah. We kept a long list so as to not ever run out of ways we could close ourselves off from community.

Then all of the sudden, our house looked like we had just moved in; we looked like we just had 3 hospital stays in 2 weeks; I looked like I was recovering from surgery; we couldn't make ourselves a simple meal or care for all of our kids and all of those hang ups went up in smoke.

And that's when we said hello to the end of ourselves and hello to the grace of God through community. It is through the really hard, shit-hitting-the-fan times in life that we truly reach the end of ourselves and have no other option but to let people in. To let God love us through meals made, sorting socks and unpacking boxes, a listening ear and just plain and simple showing up.

Sometimes we can get so accustomed to living life in isolation that we don't know what community looks like anymore. That is where I was before my life somehow became a crazy mess. I felt OK until I wasn't. I was not meant to love life alone, and guess what--none of us are.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our Chickenpox Survival Guide: A Natural and Holistic Approach

Here I am, back from the blogging dead, to write a much requested blog post. Soren started a chickenpox "outbreak" in our little community, so I was the first mama on the chickenpox scene. We knew this day was coming, and we thought we would know when it would come. Instead we woke up one morning to some suspicious spots on the neck and upper back of our 6-year-old. I inspected the little spots like a mama monkey, asking all kinds of questions to no one in particular.

Are these flea bites? No, mosquito bites? WTH? Where could he have gotten them? They're everywhere! WTH??

Staying calm is not always a strong-suit of mine.

We were not expecting chickenpox, but after a short search on Google images it was obvious what we had on our hands. The description of the spots was right on: dew drops on a pink rose petal...sounds so lovely. It's not.

No one has chickenpox anymore. Parents who do not vaccinate their children against it typically have to search out families who are contagious and plan playdates including swapping lollipops and lots of hugging. It's wild. We did not do any of that, and are still unsure of how Soren came in contact with it, but he did and we had to get acquainted with this elusive disease fast. Now that it's all said and done, we are glad to have life-long immunity and some tiny scars to remember it by. Let me be honest though, it wasn't a walk in the park for any of us. All three of my kids eventually got chickenpox and were quarantined during the month of August. Times were tough in the Lundeen house.

Most of the google searches I tried came up with the same old calamine lotion and Aveeno bath remedies, but I knew I wanted to accomplish something more. I started my typical and obsessive research fest (with the help of my sister who had just tackled the shingles virus) and then came up with my plan of action and headed to the health food store. I was going to kick this thing from the inside out...and I did. Soren was back to his normal self in less than a week from when we first saw those little spots on his neck.

If you are gearing up for a lively round of chickenpox in your house, or if you find yourself unexpectedly saying hello to it, here is a list of things to help you in your battle:

1.) Start building up their immune systems now! I made smoothies 3xs a day with 1,500 mg of buffered Vitamin C, 1,000 mg of L-Lysine and 30 drops of Olive Leaf extract. I also added Vitamin D drops and Colloidal Silver occasionally too. I would use frozen fruit (no citrus!), unsweetened coconut milk or water, hemp seeds, and green powder. All of these supplements help to feed their immune systems and/or fight the varicella virus directly. You can start this regimen as soon as you know your child is exposed if you want a head start.

2.) Carefully choose their diet. I avoided any dairy, acidic (think citrus and tomatoes) or spicy foods during the peak of the rash. All of these types of foods can aggravate the gut and cause the skin to react and you don't need any more reaction than you already have. Fill their bellies up with lots of greens and whole, nutrient rich food. If they have the pox in their mouth, a warm brothy type of soup can be really soothing. They might not be very hungry, so get it in however you can. Smoothies were my savior when it came to getting everything in. 

3.) Take LOTS of soothing baths. When we weren't drinking smoothies or taking naps, we were in the bath. I made my own oatmeal baths by grinding up whole oats in the Vitamix, adding baking soda and putting it in a muslin bag (a sock could be used for this too.) I would place 1-2 cups of the oatmeal mixture in the bag and then steep it in the warm--not too warm--bath water. When you squeeze it out it becomes a milk that you can pour over the skin. I also used Bath Tea from Zoe Organics as a soothing, anti-inflammatory treat in between my homemade oatmeal baths. 

4.)  Prevent Secondary Infection. Anika (4-years-old) had the worst case of it, and some of the spots on her face were looking really nasty. I was worried about infection, so I found some Colloidal Silver ointment that also had tea tree oil in it so I knew it would be great for fighting any bacterial infection that could set in. Those nasty spots went away after 2 days of applying 3xs a day and the drying effect seemed to ease the itchiness. 

5.) Try not to lose your mind. You are going to go a little nuts. You're not supposed to go anywhere public when your kids are in the contagious stage (from first sign of spots to when they spots start to crust over) so you'll be cooped up for a while. Play lots of games. Go to a drive-in movie theater if you have one near. Have playdates with already exposed friends. Drink some good wine and watch a movie after the little lepers have gone to bed. Remember that it will be over soon and you are doing the best thing for their immune systems to fight the disease naturally. Oh, and work now on formulating confident and gracious comebacks to the comments from friends and strangers alike on your choice not to vaccinate, 'cause they pull no punches.

Applying these remedies takes work and time and chickenpox is inconvenient to say the least. I was really good about doing all of these things when Soren got them, then I got a little lazy after we breezed through his and poor Ani got hit hard. Poppy, who was not even a year old at the time, seemed to fare just fine although it was heartbreaking to see her covered in those spots. Do the best you can, but the more you do to heal their little bodies from the inside out, the easier it will be for everybody. Peace be with you.

Disclaimer: This is a post written from my own personal experience with and research about the chickenpox virus and is not meant to replace any medical treatment or advice from a health practitioner. Please seek help if you notice any signs of infection or respiratory distress or anything you don't feel comfortable with. Use your instincts and your head. God bless America!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

7 months ago...

Anika was born. Can you believe it? I can't.

Life has been crazy since she came around. We are now 3 weeks away from the end of Karl's 2nd quarter. 2 down, 1 to go. That fact makes the husbandless nights and weekends a *little* easier to handle.

Soren is still the sweetest little man I know. Making conversation with complete strangers, making up his own lyrics to songs (that are actually quite good), making his sister matter what it takes. He's doing a fantastic job of being an older brother. I have some pretty incredible children.

I realized that Soren and I have hardly had any time together just the two of us since Ani came. Sad, but true. I decided that we needed a Mama/Soren date, so yesterday we hit the town. I let Soren decide what we were going to do, what we were going to eat, where we going to do. Everything. I feel like most of the time I am telling him to stop doing something as I take care of Ani. Yesterday he got to call the shots.

Here is what we did:

Read books, looked at fish, played with puzzles...all at the library.

Ate lunch at a pizza place. He picked his own toppings too - olives and pineapple.

Went to a coffee shop and drank hot chocolate and shared a scone. We drank and ate and talked for an hour. It was wonderful, and he got so many compliments for being so sweet.

We went into a few shops and impressed some more people.

I'm not sure which one of us had more fun.

Anika Jane is still the sweetest little lady (how did I get such sweet children??) in the world.

She is currently on a *major* sleep strike, while is tiring and frustrating. We try everything to make her comfortable and sleepy, but when it comes down to it, I think she is just very social and it stresses her out not to party with us. Hoping tonight will be different. I don't know if I can take another 3 hours of screaming.

Besides the sleep issue, she is generally very chill. Just hangs out on my hip or on the floor all day, without complaining at all. Still has the best scowl I've ever seen, but she also has the best smile. She is one happy little lady, just doesn't like to show it to everyone.

7 months old is a pretty great age. She is not really the most advanced child but that is fine with me. It's nice to have a baby who still hangs out most of the day and isn't in a hurry to get around. She is getting really good at rolling to her destination and reaching up to grab things. She is eating solid food and can drink out of cup. Her newborn hair has pretty much all fallen out and is getting replaced by some incredibly cute fuzzy blonde hair. She still looks pretty bald though. I love it.

Well, that concludes the end of this post. Soren just walked in with his pants down to his knees and needs some potty help. Anika is trying to eat the keys. Such is my life right now. I may or may not get a shower today. I did get breakfast though...can't ask for too much.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Four Really Is The New Three

Well.....dang. It has been a while. I've sat down so many times to write something here, but every time my mind goes blank and I don't know where to even start.

Little Miss Anika Jane has been with us for 4.5 months already and time is going faster than I ever dreamed possible. (Could it be true that time actually does go faster the longer you've been out of high school?? Man, those years were long.) So, we're big fans of her and while we can still imagine what life was like without her (a lot easier) we could not be more taken with her. She is PRECIOUS.

Let me tell you about it:

She has the biggest and best smile I've ever seen (with one adorable dimple to top it all off)...okay, tied with Soren on the "best" part.

She will scoul at you until she lights up and she makes you feel like your face was the best present she has ever received. If you see her in person - don't be offended by her expressions. It's not her fault, unintentional dirty looks are in the genes.

She is super chill. Really just does her own thing happily until she's tired or hungry. Doesn't complain about anything and handles pain like a champ. This comes in handy being the second born following a toddler who likes to experiment with cause and effect.

She has mastered the roll from stomach to back. She's currently (as in, right this moment) trying the back to stomach roll. Her hands seem to be more exciting right now.

She has THE cutest feet I've ever seen. Little and perfect with no crazy toes. I could eat them.

She looks terrible in light pink (thank you God!)

She is still bald and I am in heaven. I loves me a bald baby.

Karl finished up the last Fall quarter of his undergrad career last week. We are no longer answering the "How long do you have left?" question in terms of years. We're down to quarters now. 2 quarters left. I can handle that.

We're adjusting to sharing a home with my parents. We're in each other's business all the time, and it's got it's high points and low points. It sure is nice to have a couple extra pair of arms during this crazy time of life.

Soren continues to light up our lives with his brains, extensive vocab and musical interests. Oh, not to mention his adorable face. He's still long and lanky with killer style (if I do say so myself) and a sense of humor better than most adults'. He is currently learning the age-old trick of sliding down the stairs in a sleeping bag. (A favorite past-time of mine while growing up in this house.)

We had our second ER visit in the last month a few days ago. First one was for a
Corneal Ulcer that Karl contracted. The second for a "Foreign Body Swallowed." Translated: Soren ate a penny. Cool.

I will leave you with a heartwarming transaction that just took place in the living room. Ani was not wearing socks and her feet were quite cold. When Soren found out that I couldn't find her socks he immediately scrambled to take his own socks off and asked me to put them on her feet. Can it get any better than this??

Blogger and I are not getting along today, hence the crazy formatting. I guess I'll have to be ok with less than perfection....*sigh*...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Anika Turns 0

It's been over 3 weeks since Anika Jane entered this world via C-section and I'm just now getting back to blogging.

I want to get the story of Ani's arrival written out before I lose it in a fog of postpartum hormones and sleep deprivation. It's a special one, in a much different way than Soren's - but special nonetheless. Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures to show you, since most of the ones from the OR are trapped on a camera that has no cord to download them. The ones I do have will have to cut it for now.

So here is the story of Ani's Birthday...

4:30 am on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 and my alarm clock starts beeping, although I didn't need it to - I had been awake all night. After thinking Soren might have chickenpox and anticipating my first major surgery, I just couldn't seem to get myself into dreamland. I was exhausted, which in a weird way made the thought of having a baby a little less strange (I only know how to have babies when I'm exhausted.) At 5:15 Karl, Stancie (my big sister) and I got in the van and drove in the dark to French Hospital. We met my best friend Flo outside with all of the luggage we had packed for a week in the hospital and all entered the hospital together. They took me to a little "cubby" of a room to get my IV placed, vitals taken, papers signed, etc. I was curiously not nervous at all - just really tired.

After waiting a while, we got a call from my OB saying she was having car trouble and wanted to know if it was OK with me to postpone the surgery 3 hours. I thought it was weird that she was giving me that option, but I figured it was better to have her not stressed about her car while performing surgery on me - so I waited. My birth team all left (at my request) so they could get some breakfast and I could try to get some sleep. While they were gone I lied there on the hospital bed, listening to a terrible cry from a newborn baby in the nursery who they were attempting to place an IV in. The sound was way too sad to sleep through, so I just closed my eyes and prayed for that baby.

At around 10:15 am everything started moving pretty fast. Flo and Karl put on their scrubs and we waited in what would be my postpartum room for the OR manager to come and get me. Up until this point everyone who read my birth plan was amenable to everything on it, except having Karl with me the entire time I was in the OR.

After some persuading, they allowed Karl to come into the OR with me as they placed the spinal. They explained that they don't usually let the husbands in because they can't handle two people needing care at the same time. In other words, "we can't deal with your husband passing out from seeing you get injected with a big needle." I assured the staff that my husband had seen me through much worse (i.e. a 21-hour drug-free labor) and they agreed that Karl had been "road-tested" and would be allowed to come with me. He wasn't anywhere close to me when they gave me the spinal and I couldn't see him, but he told me he was there which calmed me down.

One important part of my birth plan, aside from having two of "my people" in the OR with me, was that my own music be played throughout the surgery. The surgery staff was more than accommodating with this request and made sure that there was a way to play my birth music. As soon as they started prepping me for surgery, the sound of one of my favorite Nanci Griffith songs started playing. I was immediately calmed and that feeling lasted the entire surgery. Each song had been hand-picked for it's ability to make me feel safe, relaxed, loved, etc. I honestly do not know what I would have done without this important element of the birth.

Everything started happening very fast at this point. I started to feel nervous because Flo was not in the room yet and I asked where she was as soon as she entered the room. Apparently, she and my nurse got locked out of the OR and it took several minutes to find someone to let them in. They almost missed the surgery! I felt very weird at this point, the numbness had taken over most of my body and bright lights shone in my face while the staff hurried around me. No, it did not feel like a birth.

I was warned a few minutes beforehand that Ani was almost here. I started to feel excitement, which was relieving for me. They lowered the curtain in front of my eyes so I could see Ani leave my body. She entered the world to the sound of soothing music and beeping and that was pretty much it. Very peaceful. Karl says it was even more peaceful than Soren's birth. She cried immediately which was very reassuring but I felt pangs of guilt as I thought about how her time in my womb had been cut short. I told her I was sorry through tears of joy/sadness.

They took her tiny little body over to the warmer where her papa met her with his own teary eyes. I watched as Karl studied Ani's face and held her body with the same love that he did with Soren when he first entered the world. While I will not use or condone the use of the phrases, "Daddy's little princess" or something about him being "wrapped around her little finger", I do think that these two will have a special kind of relationship for life. Karl has really had to play mama AND papa in these first weeks of Ani's life, since I have been out of commission in a lot of ways. He changed all of her diapers, gave her the first bath, went with her everywhere she had to go and walked her in circles around the hospital room at night when she thought it was time to be awake. These two were are quite the pair. I can already see how alike they are in personality and it makes me incredibly happy that this little lady will be able to judge real love someday with how her papa loves her.

It took me 39 weeks and 3 days, but I did eventually feel excited about my little girl when I saw her tiny little body. I didn't fall head-over-heels in love with her right away like I did with Soren, but it eventually came to me. I feel like the surgery (and subsequent recovery) set us back a little from initial bonding. It took us a couple weeks to get acquainted but I am amazed at how much I just want to be with her now. Just like everyone told me, my capacity to love somehow grew when she entered the world. I love that she is so little and so different from Soren. I love that she wears pink, but in a cool way. I love the "disgruntled employee" facial expressions she gives when she's unhappy about something. I love how she squeaks like a mouse and squeals like a piglet. I love her light hair and long fingers. I love her one dimple. I love everything about her. She is my little lady.

So there it is.

The birth story of Anika Jane.

We are so happy she's here.

My favorite lullaby for Ani - A cover of the Wilco song, My Darling

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's Three A.M. I Must Be...Pregnant

This is me. About to go out to my last date while I still can. I lasted until 9 before my eyes just wanted to shut and my body said it was time for bed. Yeah, it was a rockin' night.

I'm up now, at 3am because this is what I do lately. Just wake up, for no apparent reason and stay that way for at least an hour. This is my baby body clock getting itself used to the middle-of-the-night, so-delirious-you-do-crazy-stuff wakings with a newborn. Tonight I got Karl to join the party, so we're both up now. Blogging, facebooking, eating cereal, watching Bottle Rocket. You know - normal things you do when you can't sleep and don't have a baby to feed.

My sister flies in tomorrow afternoon, on the heels of one very sweet shower that was thrown in honor of Anika and me yesterday. Life is getting really good! I cannot get over how special the whole thing was. Pictures are soon to follow (if I can track down people who thought to take pictures.) Every single thing about it was lovely thanks to my super sweet friend and equally sweet mama who know just how to make a girl feel really loved.

I'm yawning again, which means maybe my wakeful period is coming to an end. Only 3 more nights of being up in the middle of the night for no reason.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

5 Days

The past week has been especially hard for me, for so many reasons.

I wish I had more physical energy so my son would remember these last days with just me as fun. Instead, I think he may remember being locked inside all day watching Thomas The Tank Engine while I apologize for being too tired to chase him around outside. I'm trying to make up for it by lots of snuggle time and reading books about how special older brothers are.

There are a lot of things I wish were different about life right now. It's not a great feeling to welcome a child into the world under difficult circumstances, but I know it's all relative and things could be much worse. I have lots to be thankful for, including a really sweet little boy who makes it hard
impossible to stay in a funk all day.

Today I'm being treated to a pedicure by some really sweet friends while they watch Soren - something I've been looking forward to for weeks. On Friday I have a little shower to celebrate Anika Jane and then on Saturday my sister flies into town (!!!) and then it will only be 2 days until I can shed this belly and meet our girl. I'm going to try to keep my sanity for the next 5 days and hope that postpartum hormones are easier to deal with than pregnancy ones.