Wednesday, August 23, 2017

New State and New Changes


We have had a crazy ride recently. We moved. It was unexpectedly expected. What do I mean by this? I mean we, as in my husband and I, had been talking about it for a long time and, yet, somehow never actually thought it would happen.

A little over 5 years ago my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery and that was, thankfully, all she needed. That sounds so simple, it wasn't. It was removal of the breast, drains, pain, fear, reconstruction of the breast eventually, more drains, more pain, more fear that it might return. From that point she wasn't ever quite the same. She became tired, very tired. She felt uneasy like her blood sugar was tanking all the time. Fast forward a few years and she has what is called Chronic Fatigue, though I don't know if that's the right diagnosis or if it's just the only thing the doctors know the call it.

My husband and I, in the whispers of night time talking before sleep, started to discuss her needing help. She either didn't realize it or wouldn't realize it. I was seeing her fatigue more and more. Washing sheets for one bed and putting them back on was a 2 - 3 day task instead of 2 hour task. We decided it was time to offer to move in with her and help her with daily life. This would mean massive changes for us. We had a farm. We had farm animals. We had a life, a church, friends, and lived 2 minutes from my mother-in-law who was also not in the best of health.

But it's what we had to do and felt was the right thing to do. We prayed, we talked, we discussed it with our kids, and we finally made the offer. She said no. We offered again, letting her know we were serious. She said no. We stopped offering and resigned ourselves to not knowing what she was going to do. We felt she was making a mistake not taking our offer. But it's her life.

Finally things seemed to change and I offered one last time. I am not even sure why I did, but it felt like I should. This time she cautiously accepted. We started to discuss plans and ideas of how this would work.

We found it quite easy to sell our animals. We have two friends who really wanted them, and we knew they would really care for them the way we would. I started to move things to her home slowly. We weren't going to sell our home and wanted to live with her part time. We would spend 60 - 70% of our time with her and the rest of the time just relaxing as a family on my husband's days off. This would also enable us to still attend our church that we had grown to love so much. It's a long drive each week, but so far it's working very well. We come "home" to my Mom's on Sunday right after church and then leave our Thursday afternoon, take the kids to music class, and spend the weekend at "home" in the country.

We are finally starting to get into a good groove and a routine. But with doctor appointments, school starting, the move, and my husband's job, things have been nuts. But the final calming of the insanity is nice.

Who knows what tomorrow brings with this set up. We are helping my Mom in many ways, and I hope it will be a long term thing so she doesn't have to make bigger decisions on living situations and how to be cared for. We did similar to this when my grandmother had Alzheimer's (she moved in with my Mom, but she was cared for by family). We moved to our last home to help care for my father-in-law so he could stay home instead of having to go into a nursing home. It's just something we believe in as a family. If possible, care for family. I will say, I hope my brother and his wife can move back to our state eventually. That would give some help if she gets worse or never gets better.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The G Word

This has been a crazy, crazy time in our family. We have found new answers to old problems and our world has kind of exploded. But, before I get into all of that, let me back up to the beginning. WAY BACK ...

Our older son stopped feeling hunger about 6 1/2 years ago. It started slowly with just a lessening of food at each meal. Then came the "I feel sick in my neck" comments. It got worse until the obvious thing happened, he ended up with a feeding tube.

We tried feeding therapy and he graduated. I was told the sensory side of his issue was taken care of, but you can't fix "hunger" via therapy. I didn't understand why our son didn't care if he ate, felt very little hunger, and refluxed so much.

As we were moving through this time the exact same thing happened to our younger son. That was it. This made no sense. One day he ate a full meal, the next he didn't. What was going on? I started to research even more. Nothing. I found nothing that really fully explained their issues.

Our GI ran the tests she should. We had scopes, swallow studies, x-rays, gastric emptying scans, the works. Everything was clear for the most part. The things that weren't didn't cause this issue. We had almost resigned ourselves to never knowing why our sons didn't eat.


Then one day, about 7 1/2 weeks ago, our older son got sick. We ate at a restaurant, he had a milkshake, he got food poisoning. Oh it was fast and bad. That lasted about 2 days. But something odd happened. He stopped being able to keep food down. Yes, he had thrown up with the food poisoning, but this new throwing up was different than that. I couldn't explain it, but it was very different. I called our GI after 5 days of it and said we needed to be seen. We came in, she took a look at him, asked lots of questions, and said she felt he had "post infectious gastroparesis".

OK, let's stop there. What does this mean?

Post-infectious is pretty simple. It simply means after an infection. It can also come with non-infection issues, but means it's tied to a cause (like our son's food poisoning) and is very often short lived (meaning acute, not chronic).

Gastroparesis that's a bit harder. Gastroparesis is literally paralysis of the stomach. It is a disease where your stomach doesn't empty after having a meal. This can be for only a few hours, or it can be days that the food sits there. Each person is different and sometimes each meal is different.

Now that we understand what our GI just said, let's keep going. She decided to put him on a motility medication to help the food move from his stomach into his intestines in a more normal manner. She said we would come back in 6-8 weeks and see where we were. Great. See ya then, doc!

Except I am not one to just "see ya then, doc" and forget about it. I came home and did some research. Since this would be a short term gig, I didn't put a lot of time into it, but I wanted to know more. Wow. I started to read about Gastroparesis and my mind was blown. This sounded EXACTLY like our son. It sounded like his issues from day 1. I remember his huge belly, his early satiety, his reflux with every meal, his inability to tolerate fatty meals or lots of fiber, the list goes on.

As we watched the medication work like near magic, my husband and I started to have discussions. I asked one day, "what if this isn't a new disease? What if this is what he's always had and this food poisoning just made it worse so we could find it?" He said it sounded logical. We couldn't deny what we were seeing with the meds.

I emailed our GI and asked her if our thoughts could be right. I figured she would kindly tell me I was nuts and move on. I mean we had a gastric emptying scan (not done to standard I now know and not a great indicator in children). She didn't tell me I had gone off the deep end. She said she would actually consider it after we saw what our son did while on the trial of medication.

I researched even more and learned about lifestyle and diet changes that are common with GP. We began to implement those on our own. They were simple enough that we didn't need medical input. He just got better with each thing we changed.

We then decided to go really rogue and approach her about our younger son since his symptoms were so similar and the outcome the same (feeding tube due to early satiety, reflux, etc). We asked if we could simply do a trial of the medication before we came back in to see her. She quickly agreed that it made sense with his symptoms and we started him that day on medication.

We finally had our follow up appointment and spent a lot of time telling her what we saw, what changes had happened, etc. She couldn't deny our older son's weight gain either. He grew taller and gained weight in that trial period because he was finally actually digesting and using his food. It was shocking to see. Our younger son weighed more than he ever had before. Getting weight on him had been so hard.

We walked out with a new label, one that fits their issues so well. Our sons have Gastroparesis. This is not post-infectious like we first thought. It's simply Gastroparesis that was worsened during a health issue which enabled us to find it.

Are we happy our sons have this issue? No. Absolutely not. It's not an easy one to deal with. I am learning new things about how to help them each week. BUT, and it's a big one, they had SOMETHING. Not having a name didn't make that something go away. It just made it nearly impossible to treat and really hard on us as we saw our kids health doing poorly. Knowing a name allows us to say "aha, there it is, this is why we were seeing this". In this case it also allowed us some treatment options we didn't have when we didn't know what was causing it.

There is no cure for Gastroparesis ... yet. Medical science is learning new things all the time. The natural side of medicine is always growing in knowledge. I hope one day there is a cure.

But, until then, we are treating our sons and they are doing so well. No, they are not fully eating by mouth. Not even close. But the medication isn't an appetite stimulant. They weren't hungry because their bellies were always full of food, even hours after eating. But, some of the changes we have seen are incredible. Instead of giving our older son a tiny bit of blended food and him getting nauseated or refluxing, he can have a bolus of an entire meal comfortably. Instead of having to give him one meal over many hours via a pump with his tube, he's having a meal in 30 minutes via a syringe in his tube. Instead of our younger son saying, after only 1/4 or less of his tube feeding, "Momma, please stop, I am so full. I feel like I am going to be sick" he's feeding himself his blends via tube and finishing the whole meal.

We are in a really good place right now. But, I know with GP this can all change. We can see worsening of symptoms, changes in symptoms, meds can stop working and you need something different, etc. We have already seen that with our younger son. We had to add a bedtime dose most of the time for him because he was massively urping up after laying down, no matter how early we had eaten. Our GI said this isn't uncommon and to add that extra dose to help him at night time. Worked like a charm.

We did do some diet changes. For example, all carbonated drinks are gone. ALL of them. High fat foods are gone (red meats are the hardest, our older son doesn't do well with them. That made no sense to me before this diagnosis). We spread our sons fats out during the day. We also walk after a meal, don't lay down for a good hour after eating, the list goes on.

So this is life now. It's always an adventure. But we are so happy to have another piece of the puzzle that helps us understand our kids.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Feeding and Sewing - Reality

It's hard to be real. I mean, there are messes when we do real. But, this week has been one very deeply rooted in real.

Last Friday Charlie Brown got food poisoning. We decided to go to a burger place while we were out doing things and allowed him to get a chocolate shake as a treat. On the way home everything he had eaten that day came back up ... on the side of a dirt road ... in the middle of nowhere. Sigh.

At first we figured he had a stomach virus. Then, while working on Saturday, one of my husband's coworkers mentioned his son was sick and had thrown up the previous afternoon like our son had. My husband jokingly asked if he had, by any chance, eaten at the same restaurant (we live an hour from it, he lives in the same town as the burger place). Wouldn't you know it, he had. To top it off, his son had a chocolate milkshake as well. Both of them were the only ones in their family to have a chocolate shake. Mystery solved. Food poisoning.

They called Teledoc to get Phenergan and we went the homeopathic route. Saturday, after they had both gotten sick a few times we both got meds on board and both boys had happier tummies.

However, things aren't that easy in our home. When you have a child with feeding issues already, you don't just bounce back and start eating again once the nausea and vomiting leave. He lost all sense of hunger and hasn't gained it back. Thankfully we have tube feeds and off we went. We started just like if a child had no tube and introduced basic simple items, then got more normal as he held them down. He did great. No nausea at all. Just no hunger either. Yesterday I did a slow tube feed over the entire day for his calorie intake. Not bad. Until supper. He suddenly felt over full. He went to lay down and this is when things get realer than real.

If you don't have a tubie, you don't know the joys horror of how to help. You do a tube feed in reverse. Yep, you pull the food from the tummy instead of putting the food in. I hate that part. UGH! He hates that part. Double UGH! It doesn't hurt, but you can just imagine what it looks like and smells like. Yep. I pulled 10oz off of him. I don't know why he had that much in his belly, but he had stopped digesting quite a while before if 300ml was still in his belly. (there was more, but I stopped there) He felt so much better. He got up, his face pinked up, and he asked for food. I laughed and told him I had just taken dinner out of his belly, was he sure he wanted to eat. Yes, he felt great, he was STARVING. OK, first time we felt hunger so let's roll with it since I knew he only felt icky because of too much food in his belly.

He ate.

He brushed his teeth.

He got his pajamas on.

He hugged us all goodnight.

He went to bed.

He threw up everything he had for dinner plus the food that was left behind from my adventures.


This morning I decided to go low and slow. I gave him 150 calories over a longer period of time. Worked great.

Then it was time for a second feeding. I gave him 2 1/2 syringes full (each is 60ml) and he got sick. Seriously? Before Friday he could have 350ml in a very short period of time without blinking an eye. So we laid him down, asked if he wanted us to pull it from his belly instead of throwing up. He wanted to wait. He felt horrible but it finally passed with just a few very nasty burps.

And THAT, folks, is the reality of a tummy bug with a kid who has feeding issues. I don't know when his sense of hunger will return. I don't know when he will be able to tolerate more volume of food. It's all a mystery.

And that leads me to sewing. This reality of life isn't nearly as UGH worthy.

I picked up a robe pattern for my sons. Yes, in the summer. Yes, where 100 degrees in the summer is a nice day. Yes, in a part of the country that does NOT have a "dry heat". They are all about their robes. They love robes.

Photo Credit
Cute, simple, and yes made of warm fuzzy fleece (I will give you a minute to wipe the sweat from your brow as you think of fleece during the summer).

But this is the reality of my sewing area as I looked at all the pattern pieces, measured the boys with my tape measure to find the size they needed, held up pattern pieces to them to verify the size, and more.

And, yes, that is BB-8 fleece for the robes. The boys love BB-8 and this was on clearance at my Walmart for $2.00/yd. 

The mess will leave, eventually, just like the tummy troubles. But, right now, I feel neck deep in mess. Reality. Hard to show but totally worth it.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cute Reusable Bag Pattern - Free

I had some small pieces of fabric left over from other projects and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them. However, when I saw this free market bag pattern from Stitch Upon A Time, I knew I had found the perfect project for my scraps.

Photo Credit - Stitch Upon A Time
Come on, how cute is that? I downloaded the PDF pattern and printed it. By the way, let me stop here. PDF patterns ... have you heard of them? They seem to be all the rage with those who sew. Cheaper than patterns, many times free, lots of options, just a great idea all around. This was my first PDF to make, though I have a few on my computer waiting to be used.

Back to the story. It said it could be made in 30 - 60 minutes. They weren't lying. If you add in the time it took me to tape the pattern together, it was just at 30 minutes total. The best part is, now that I have the pattern together, I can skip that on all future bags. Yes, there will be more made.

The best part is, I finally, finally, FINALLY got to use my new serger. I will admit to being a bit intimidated by it. But, I figured a bag was about as basic as you could get and, if I messed it up, big deal. I didn't mess it up. Don't let that scare you off if you don't have a serger. You can totally do this with a regular sewing machine. You will notice red and yellow thread. My serger came with thread already loaded and I didn't feel like rethreading the machine. Since it doesn't show, I just used the 4 colors that came with it. As my younger son said, "that's a good idea Mom, free thread".

How cute is this? I made one of my jeans to skirts out of this fabric and has almost exactly how much I needed left. The tiny piece I had left over is now in my scrap bin and will be used for something cute once I get enough collected. 

I could't be boring and just have that floral print. Inside is a coordinating color. You could EASILY make this reversible with just a bit of forethought on how you put your handles together. That's the only part that shows any seams. 

This bag is a lot sturdier than I thought it would be, especially since this is just a cotton fabric. I will be making more of these with non-scrap fabric. My Walmart is having a big sale on fabric right now and I just happened to see a cute pink bolt that was thicker and would make a wonderful bag (or three).

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Skirts From Old Jeans - The Video

Don't you love it when you get an idea, figure it all out, and THEN find out YouTube has videos that show you step-by-step what to do? No? I am the only one who forgets the great and wonderful Oz that is YouTube?

The skirt that I made the other day is super easy, but you might want a video to see it actually going together. I found two that are good.

This first one is done with two pairs of jeans, but you simply skip the second pair of jeans (hey, make a second skirt - woo hoo) and use fabric instead (or use the second pair and go totally denim!). My only advice on this video is to ignore her when she says you can't use skinny jeans. My first skirt I made was using skinny jeans and it totally works. You just need a little bit more fabric.

Next is a video of a Mom (I think I heard a little in the background) making a skirt with fabric like I did. It's short but she shows you how it's done.

You should know, I have become a massive fan of this process and how these skirts fit. I rummaged through my closet yesterday to see if I had any more jeans that I could deconstruct in this manner and found a set that the rise has always been a bit shorter than I liked. With a skirt, rise doesn't matter! I spent a bit of time after my kiddos went to bed and ended up with a second skirt that's fuller. My first set was made from skinny jeans. This set was using wide leg with a fun accent on the pockets. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Do We Call Them Jerts?

I have a pair of jeans that are the best. Oh, they are soft, fit me like a glove, move how I move, and are like buttah (in my best Jersey accent). It's like they were custom made for me.

Then I dried them in the dryer a few times, instead of hanging them up like usual, and they shrunk in the length.

No biggie. I wore them with cute flats and pretended they were supposed to look like that. I LOVED these jeans.

Then I lost over 25lbs and they fell off of me ... quite literally.

OK, time to toss them in the donate pile.

Or should I?

Instead I decided to make a skirt out of them.

Here's the process I am going through, all I have left is to stitch them and I will have my finished project.

Step 1: Lay your jeans out and find the inseam. Starting at the ankle, cut up the seam just to the INSIDE of the natural hem that's already sewn into the pants. You can see me doing it below. Yes, you can seam rip, but it's just not as pretty, doesn't give you the same finished edge, and it a lot more work. Scissors take a few minutes. Cut right around the crotch (know there's quite a bit of fabric there, so use quality fabric scissors) and down the other leg to the hem.

Step 2: You will have a place like the below picture where the crotch met the zipper/rise. If you don't not alter this, you will end up with a funky pokey out part (yes, that is a word, just don't look it up in the dictionary - lol). So, you need to cut that to the LEFT of the seam the way you did the inside of the seam on the legs. You want that nice finished seam showing. Repeat for the back or you will have a tail.

Step 3: Once you make this cut, lay your pants out and smooth them out on each side, front, and back. It doesn't have to be perfect for this next part, just flat. Your jeans will look odd now, like they aren't quite finished. This is what you want.

Step 4: The piece you just cut under the zipper is important. You want to now lay the right side (the one with the pretty finished seam) over the left. Make sure it's very flat. If you have a small pucker, cut a tiny bit higher (do a little at a time so you don't have to sew extra). Do this snipping until it will lay nice and flat. Pin the flap down. Repeat this in the back with the flap you made there. 

Step 5: You need to have a contrast fabric. You can also use another pair of similar jean and just cut the legs off as close to the back pocket as you can, cut down the leg the same way you did with this, and use that open flat piece as your fabric. You can have fun with this. I chose a nice color similar to my jeans so I could have a lot of options for shirts and accessories. But chose a funky fabric, a contrasting color, whatever suits your style. 

Either way, cut a piece of fabric bigger than your opening and make sure it's long enough for a hem. How nice it is does NOT matter. You won't see any of it so no biggie. Lay it in the opening and smooth everything out. You want to pin it all the way up and around. Start at one hem at the bottom, pin it up and down to the other hem, making sure it's smooth with no puckers. 

Step 6: Do you see the jeans factory hem going down both legs on the front and back? You will want to follow that hem. Just stitch right over their stitching. You have a few choices. You can use the jean thread that comes on most jeans, choose a blue thread so it blends in, or choose a funky color if you want that exposed stitching to show. I will be using navy as I want the jeans and fabric to be the star.

Make sure you stitch down the flap you made cutting below the zipper and you are ready to hem. all you need to do is hem the new fabric. The rest is done for you since the jeans are already hemmed. If you have used a second set of jeans to make the entire thing denim, you don't even have to hem. You are ready to go onto the final step.

Step 7: Hem your fabric. this is the part I do not have finished yet and will have to show you once I take a picture of my entire skirt on me. You simply want to fold up the fabric, pin it to the length you need to match your denim, and hem it with a coordinating thread. I will be using navy since it matches my denim and also coordinates with my print fabric. 

That's it. You are done. You have made a skirt. This can easily, easily be done in an hour. Imagine the possibilities. You could find old jeans second hand and have a fun time making a whole new wardrobe cheaply. 

I popped around the internet to find you some inspiration. Check out these cute skirts. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mother's Day Again

My husband's plans for my mother's day present fell through ... hard. But, I am not so sure I am upset about it. Because of that, this little beauty is on it's way to me this coming week. I already had 7 projects in the works for it. 

Photo Credit
It's been years since I used a serger. I won't tell you the exact number, but it involved a high school home ec. course. I am excited and nervous all rolled up into one. I will be practicing and figuring it out for the first few days, that's for sure.

If all goes well I will have a few projects to show you soon. If not, just look for the crazy lady running down the road with old pieces of thread and bits of fabric trailing behind her.


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