Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hold the Gluten x 2

In April and May we went through a really rough time with Peyton being sick and after a long month and lots of worry and concern we determined that there was something going on with gluten and her reacting to it. 

Pretty much right after we got to Washington we met with her pediatrician and she gave us a referral to Seattle Children's Hospital to their GI department. Thankfully they were able to get us in the second we were there and get us started in their system. After meeting with the GI doctor they agreed that there was something going on with gluten. However it could be one of two possible issues, a simple intolerance to gluten or Celiac's Disease which is an autoimmune response to gluten which would require more stricter control of cross contamination issues,  however to have a confirmed diagnosis of Celiacs she would have to have a serving of gluten a day for two months and at this point we were all in agreement that we needed to focus on gaining weight back and getting healthy again. We did do some initial blood work which had some areas of concern likely caused from being so sick for so long and possibly could show some signs of Celiacs. We left with the plan to continue gluten free and come back in a month to evaluate for weight gain and blood work improvements. If we came back and things weren't improving we would look for other sources. We also had a plan to meet with a nutritionist to help with the transition.

Meanwhile, Graham had his well child visit with the pediatrician and I brought up having him tested since he had been having gluten. We weren't seeing major symptoms in him but wanted to test before we had a bad episode like we did with Peyton. The blood test came back and surprisingly it was positive for Celiacs. Not only was this good to know for Graham but it also made it more likely that Peyton had it as well and we did need to monitor closely for cross contamination. We were supposed to have a initial meeting with Seattle Children's Hospital for him however it wasn't scheduled until just before we left and we all got sick and couldn't go in.

So, we started our new life of being keenly aware of gluten, using separate toasters for the kids, separate butter, peanut butter containers and continuing being gluten free. Thankfully it was super easy to make the switch in Washington with the abundance of grocery stores stocking items to the many restaurants including our favorite donut shop. And they thrived, especially Peyton. It was amazing to watch her weight come back, her energy increase, her appetite grow and overall just transform into this vibrant, happy and healthy child. It was amazing and was so affirming to see the positive changes from changing her diet. We also began preparing to bring items back to Saudi to help with the new diet in a country that is not as gluten free friendly as the States. We figured out how much cereal, vitamins, snacks and more that we would need and managed to pack all of those plus a bread machine in five boxes that John brought back with him....250 pounds of goodies!

Then the real test came....her follow up appointment. I was so nervous! But it was all wonderful news. She had gained not only the weight she lost when she was sick (which was substantial and our goal was just to gain that back) but 8.8 pounds over that! She weighed more than before all this started! Her blood work came back perfect and she exceeded the doctor's goals and expectations! It was such a huge praise and sigh of relief!

As stressful as everything was in April/May and as scary as it was, looking back it is truly amazing to see how God was working through all of it. She could have had her attack anytime and we are so thankful that it happened when it did, right before we went home and that her new pediatrician that we were randomly assigned to and met for the first time immediately was on board with the need to see a GI doctor and that we were able to immediately get into Seattle Children's and were put in touch with a wonderful team there, that she thrived and did so well at home and that we found out about Graham before anything happened. So incredibly thankful that they are healthy and thriving.....just keep the gluten away!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Camping in Olympic National Park

We were busy this summer with the house, doctors appointments and so much more and I wanted to make sure we still had fun and had a vacation so I planned a camping trip for us as John's birthday present. We packed everything up in our small rental and headed to Olympic National Park and Kalaloch Campground for two nights of camping. It was our first camping trip with the kids and they were super excited!

Our GPS got us incredibly turned around as it kept trying to get us to take the ferry when we just wanted to drive around. Finally, when we were right in front of the ferry line (not by choice) we decided to take the ferry route and were so glad we did! The kids thought it was the coolest thing ever and it provided beautiful scenery. The drive ended up being slightly longer but it was much more scenic and well worth it!

We stopped by this lake to make ourselves some PBJ sandwiches and have a quick lunch. So gorgeous!

We then made it to our campground and found our site and set up for the stay. We had a smaller area for our tents surronded by trees and then a little path to the the cooking/eating area. It was perfect for us. The kids loved setting everything up!

Our campground was Kalaloch and it was right on the beach. There are some sites on the cliff side with beach views but they are reserved long in advance. Once we were all set up we decided to venture our and explore the beach. It was beautiful! The beach was covered with driftwood that at high tides you have to be very careful and they recommend not going down. Thankfully we had low tide and instead got to walk and play on the driftwood and had so much fun. It was beautiful!

We then headed back to our campsite and got the fire started and the kids made themselves their dogs followed by s'mores. Graham loved cooking his own food an would constantly try to make more hotdogs even if he wasn't hungry only to cook in the fire. 

After dinner we headed back down to the beach to watch the sunset....

Then we attempted to get everyone to bed. Our plan was one kid and one adult in each tent however Graham was crazy! He was acting all sleepy and ready for bed and then he got in the tent and was wild. He just ran around and bounced from side to side and was insane. Eventually I gave up trying to get him to settle down in our tent and thought if we were all together I would have the backup of John and he would see Peyton falling asleep. It took awhile but we all finally fell asleep!

The next morning after breakfast we headed to the Hoh Rainforest to do a hike there.  It was amazing to see how huge the trees were and also the depiction of how much rain it receives every year. We opted for about a two mile loop hike and the kids loved looking at the informative plaques and finding different tree species and it was really informative. 

The best part of the hike was when we came across the Hoh River. The river's path changes yearly and it was really interesting to see how it has moved. When we came across it's current path it was breathtaking. We stopped to explore and had our lunch here.

My favorite picture of the entire trip!

We finished up our hike and then headed towards Forks, now known as the town written about in the Twilight books, to get ice cream as well as some Twilight souvenirs for a friend and my sister. I was reading about the huge increase in tourism just since the books came out. The movie was never filmed there but it is in the book and there was so much Twilight stuff around! There was a Twilight tour to show you the school, hospital and a couple of other places, tons of souvenirs, the store that apparently Bella worked was pretty wild!

Truck similar to the one Bella drives in the book and movie
After our stop in Forks we drove out to the most Western point of the continuous United States called Cape Flattery. I read it was a breathtaking hike and a little more difficult but easy enough for the kids. It was a long ways out and we had to stop to get a pass to be on the Indian Reservation but it was very much worth it. By the time we got out there it was a little foggy and misty but we went ahead and hiked the 2 miles round trip and the kids did great. Peyton was leader on the way in and Graham on the way out and they rocked the trail. At the end you came across amazing views of the cliffs and ocean.

Apparently on clear, calm days you can see whales but not on that day but it was still very worth the hike. We headed back to our campsite and had dinner and went to bed pretty tired that day. The kids had a hard time falling asleep again but it didn't take as long and they were out. 

We woke up for our last day and packed up everything and then headed out for one last hike in the park. We had the intention of doing a 4 mile one knowing we would be carrying kids more and take our time for lunch in the middle but everyone was tired, and at 1 mile we were all done. So we just turned around, packed it up and drove back to Bellingham. It was still worth the drive and hike as we drove really deep into the park and the scenery was amazing.

Our first camping trip exceeded our expectations and we had so much fun. We loved the time as a family, loved the hikes and exploring and it was wonderful. We look forward to going back to the Olympic National Park and exploring more. As we were driving home we were looking up bigger tents, possible locations for next year and planning our next camping trip. We are so thankful to be in a state that has so many possibilities for camping and look forward to exploring many of them. As of now our plan is to camp on the San Juan Islands next year at Moran State Park. I am already checking weekly to see when it opens up for reservations in July! 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Falling in love with hiking!

One of the many reasons that I have fallen in love with Washington is the amount of trails, parks and opportunities to experience nature and God's amazing creation. I have always felt closer to Him when I am in nature, when I am sitting at the beach, on a trail, looking at a sunset and that I one of the major reasons why I find such joy and peace and satisfaction being around Washington. 

I love that my kids can hike, explore, ask questions and experience nature around them and it is so readily available. And now that Graham is at an age where he can walk more and participate it was so much fun this summer to take them on those experiences. 

Our first hike was to Boulder Falls. It was about 3.5 miles round trip and I was amazed at how well the kids did! It was a great hike and had a wonderful reward at the end!

At the start of the hike with my mom's dog Bailey!

Signing in at the beginning of the trail

Sibling love walking under a tree root

The reward at the end was a gorgeous twin waterfall. It was breathtaking! We spent time climbing around the rocks, taking in the scenery and just being in awe.

The next hike we attempted was at Artist Pointe in the Mt Baker National Forest. The drive up to the Artist Pointe was intense. I am super scared of heights and watching us climb higher and higher and looking out the window and seeing the drops down. 

When we got there we didn't realize how much snow would still be there and couldn't even find the trailhead. It was crazy! We walked around and took in the sights of all the peaks, stumbled around in the snow! 

Family Picture
Sibling love! Trying to represent my University of Texas Longhorns with my two Texas Tech Raider sisters!
We ended up driving down and doing a little hike along a river and then called it a day! We did more hikes on our camping coming up next!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

First few weeks in Washington....

The first few days of being in Washington meant some serious jet lag and early mornings. Every morning we were up and ready to go by 5:00 AM regardless of me trying anything and everything to get us back to bed. So, I decided to be useful with our time and do some errands. One day we went grocery shopping to get food for our new house, one day we went to Home Depot and one day we just went to the house and started working and had carpet ripped up by 8:00 AM! Me and my two little ones made a pretty sweet carpet removal team! And sometimes those little ones just needed a blanket and a movie and watched mommy work....

We also made frequent visits to our favorite donut shop called Rocket Donuts especially since they carried gluten free donuts which made Peyton's day....and later come to find out (another post) Graham's!

We cut flowers from our beautiful garden at our new house. We have a huge hydrangea plant growing on the side and it is gorgeous. We had peonies at the start of the summer as well.

We explored around my parents house and found the spot of where my dad was going to build a tree house. The kids were so excited and spent time helping bring boards up to the treehouse and draw up plans with him on what it would look like.

We went to church and soaked up the worship, messages and kids church for Peyton. We are thankful to have that community there to come back to and especially for the kids. Peyton adores going and looks forward to it every trip home.

We went to a car show and Graham was in love with the firetruck and firefighters. 

Graham (and Peyton but not as much as Graham) also LOVED riding on G's tractor....and had TONS of tractor rides all summer long. We had a funny joke all summer when we would ask Graham whose tractor it was and he would say "Papa's" and he would laugh because he knew we would get all pretend upset and say it was "G's."

We loved on my parent's dog Bailey....

We visited the farmers market and bought a two blueberry bushes and decided to make a fruit garden instead of a vegetable one. We ended up with two blueberry bushes, a raspberry bush, some strawberries and some snap peas. The kid LOVED running outside and seeing what had grown and eating fresh fruit from our garden. Even Peyton started eating the blueberries from our garden saying they were delicious but whenever I would try to give her store bought ones (even if I didn't tell her where they were from) she would say she didn't like the store ones. 

The kids were so helpful in doing tons of yard work, picking out new plants and planting our flower beds. They loved going to the nurseries and playing in dirt, rocks, and picking out the plants. It was also so much for me to pick out plants knowing that everything grows so well in Washington and I was overwhelmed with all the choices. I am excited to see how everything grows within the next year and adding and making beautiful flower beds! We later added some privacy trees along our fence to our neighbors which will grow quickly so we are excited about those as well. 

One rainy day we went to the Bellingham Children's Museum with my mom. The kids loved it and it was a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.

We started one of two sessions of swimming lessons at the same place we did last year. The first day was pouring rain! The pool is heated but it is cold and not fun getting out when it is raining on you. Peyton was in level three and did amazing keeping up with the big kids and this session Graham was in the Mommy and Me class and had a hard time because he didn't want mommy and wanted to do it "all by myself." We survived and made it through the two week session with only two or three rainy days.

We found tons of yummy gluten free places to eat at, had lots of doctor's appointments and just soaked in our new home of Washington. We do love our life in Saudi and there are so many good things about being in Saudi (daddy being home, the simplicity, a safe environment, wonderful friends and so many more blessings) but there is a rejuvenating affect that Washington has and it is such a refreshing, refilling place for us to be. 

And then just like that our first three weeks in Washington had come to an end and it was time for daddy to join us!