A Look Back at Halloween Couple’s Costumes

Posted by Carly Morgan

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We’re lame and not dressing up this year because (A) I ran out of time and (B) the Salt Lake City Halloween party scene is pretty dull if you’re a parent. We’ll probably put on bunny ears or something when we take Eva out tomorrow night, but the full on costumes are just going to have to wait until next year when we’re rich and well-rested and nobody is allergic to anything.

In the meantime, I thought I’d do a look back on some of the more memorable couple’s costumes Kyle and I have done. They were all thrown together last minute but they worked!

Rogue and Wolverine from X-Men:

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Tyler and Marla from Fight Club:

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Pauly and Juno from Juno:

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Mouseketeers:

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The First Nut-Free Weekend

Posted by Carly Morgan

Do you ever feel relieved that the weekend is over? I love weekends, but sometimes it’s so nice to sink back into the Monday routine and let go of that “I have to get everything done” feeling. Or maybe it’s the opposite for most people…as a blogger/freelancer my work consists of sitting at a computer while music or the television plays in the background. My weekends mean deep cleaning, errand running, freezer cooking, and packing in enough family fun time in to last us through the next week.

 

Not going to lie: I love Mondays.

 

This weekend was really up and down. Since we found out about Eva’s allergies on Thursday afternoon, our heads have been spinning. Kyle was able to rearrange his work schedule so that he had Friday off, so we started the weekend with a conference at Eva’s new school. We had to go over the long list of Eva’s allergens, provide all of the medical documentation, give them a copy of her Food Allergy Action plan, and leave them Benadryl and Epi pens to keep on hand.

 

The Food Allergy Action plan is something that’s become a standard for kids with allergies. It lists the allergens and carefully lays out each plan of treatment depending on the symptoms that are developing. It also includes emergency information and Epi pen instructions. The school had us fill out their own medication paperwork as well, so Eva’s file went from skinny-new-student to bulging-red-flag kid in just two weeks. The meeting really reinforced our positive feelings about her new school, because they were prepared with the right questions and I don’t worry at all about her care even with the new allergens. I just wish for her sake that she didn’t have that little cloud hanging above her – the one that means she needs to move to a separate room while the other kids open their lunchboxes.

 

I will say that the initial anger and disorientation gave way to some sadness and fear this weekend. Some of the sadness was for Eva because she won’t be able to be free of her Epi pen for quite a while (if ever). A lot of the sadness was because we said goodbye to our cats on Saturday night. After three and a half years of swearing at them when they tripped me in the hall and yelling that I was taking them straight to the shelter when they clawed at our furniture, it was really hard to actually pack the box of gear, put them in their crates, and watch them drive away without us.

 

I ended up overpacking – the new owners got all of their gear plus new food, new litter, a new litter box, bags of washed and labeled toys, and a two page letter about the cats (including their kitten pictures) tucked into a photo book about cat care. The fact that we found a good home for them in just two days is a complete miracle (do you have any idea how hard it is to adopt out two adult cats?!?!) and the family they’ve gone to has two little kids who will love them and play with them and make them happy. So it was all good. Except the part where it sucked to say goodbye.

 

 

The next day was spent vacuuming and washing and dusting and spraying and basically de-cat-ing our entire house. We have carpet, drapes, and upholstered furniture and the previous renters also had cats, so we have our work cut out for us. It’s supposed to take almost six months to really get rid of the cat dander, especially because we have to clean the vents, move the furniture, wipe down the walls, etc. It took a lot less time to get rid of the nut and seed problems in our house – one quick sweep of the pantry revealed the food that could cause an issue (including sprinkles, hot cocoa, and Nestle Toll House chocolate chips – who knew?).

 

 

Being pro-active feels good and the sadness is fading quickly. The fear, on the other hand, seems to compound every time I look at the Internet. The articles and warnings online are terrifying, but it’s actually been my email that’s been really scary. People have been sharing their experiences and I’m so glad to hear from everyone, but there are a lot of stories where the punchline is, “We don’t know what happened…one minute he was fine and the next minute we were waiting for the ambulance and trying to get him an airway.” Just as scary have been other well-meaning emails that say things like false positives are likely and we should give her peanut butter to really make sure. I understand medical skepticism, but I think people are missing the part where the test could be accurate and PB could kill her.

 

In fact, I think the scariest part of all of this have been the reactions from other people. The majority are concerned and ready to get onboard, but the most common reaction so far has been disbelief – how can Eva be allergic to cats if she’s had them for so long? How can Eva be allergic to this cookie if she ate ten of them last week? Maybe we should give her another cookie and see…

 

In all fairness, that was the first reaction from Kyle and me. However, I called the doctor on Friday, ran through the numbers, confirmed that we needed to get rid of the cats, and even called in a second opinion. So Kyle and I had to make a choice: go with our instincts and assume that the tests were wrong or go with the results and completely shake down our lives. We decided to go with the tests and follow all precautions – we’re still a little skeptical but if we’re wrong and we aren’t careful, Eva could be in real trouble. Did you know that a child’s windpipe is the size of a straw until they’re about four years old? That’s why they can’t eat uncut grapes. It’s also why you don’t f$^# with allergens.

 

So, with Eva’s parents on board, we get to be a real pain in the butt about everything. I don’t know how she’s going to eat out anymore. I think we’re pretty done with Costco food samples. Trips to other people’s houses are going to be carefully monitored activities for a while. Oh, and the holidays? Forget about sending us cookies because apparently baked goods are a huge minefield and even if you’re giving us a bowl of gumdrops, I don’t know if they were once sitting on a counter next to peanut butter cookies. I get to be that mom now. No-I-Don’t-Want-Your-Cookies-or-Fruit-or-Anything Mom. And, hey, who doesn’t love her?

 

People keep telling me their kids grew out of some of their allergies by the time they were five. The doctor gave Eva a 20% shot at that. Four more years, four more years…

 

Our Toddler is Allergic to Peanuts: The Pediatric Allergy Test

Posted by Carly Morgan

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I warn you now: this is one of those posts that I already don’t know how to write. Prepare for rambling.

Right before we took Eva in for her 18 month checkup (about 2 months ago), I gave her a nibble of a cheese and peanut butter cracker. I had read conflicting things about how starting too early with peanuts can give your kids allergies and waiting too long with peanuts can give your kids allergies. With no peanut allergies in our family, I took a leap and gave her a taste of PB.

Redness. Hives. Wheezing.

The pediatrician referred us to a pediatric allergist and yesterday I took her in for a test. The appointment takes a couple of hours and it was scheduled right on top of nap time, but she was a trooper and stayed awake. I chatted with the nurse who was doing the test and we went through all of the possibilities. The allergy test consists of a small scratch in designated parts of the body (for toddlers they use the back mainly) and each scratch has a different allergen. Some were chemical-looking oils that represented things like cats and dust mites while others were bowls of mashed up fruit like kiwi. The nurse makes the scratches and then waits 15 minutes. If there is any reaction, you can measure the allergy severity by how large the reaction is. Most toddlers don’t react to the majority of the scratches.

My guesses were a possible slight nut allergy and then more serious allergies to tropical fruits and melons (since that’s what I’m allergic to) as well as potential allergies to dust and grass. I opted out of testing her for all of the weeds and trees and general plant allergies (beyond grass) because each test is a little skin prick and we were already testing her for 27 things. I tried to opt out of dogs, cats, eggs, and other things that were already common in our house, but Eva has an eczema issue so it was suggested that we do them anyway.

I stripped Eva’s sweater off and the nurse made 27 pen marks on her back, to mark the place where each test would be. She did a quick scratch on my arm to prove that it didn’t really hurt (even though I definitely didn’t find it pleasant) and then got to work scratching rows of allergens into Eva’s back. Eva stiffened and her eyes watered, but she stuck her jaw out and refused to make any noise while the test was happening. It was a little hard to watch, but it was over quickly and then my instructions were to watch her and not let her scratch her back. The nurse noted that it was possible that no reactions would happen, but I wasn’t supposed to worry about it.

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As the nurse left the room, I turned Eva to examine her back. Already, angry red splotches were appearing over some of the pen marks. Even as I looked at them, welts appeared and spread out across the swipes, raising up faster than I would have thought possible.

 

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Eva didn’t seem bothered, but after 10 minutes some of them were starting to look really bad, so I poked my head out into the hall and called for the nurse. She came in, took one look at Eva’s back, and then rushed back out to grab another pair of hands.

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She came back in with an extra nurse and some cream, explaining that most of the tests needed to finish or they would be invalid, but also noting that she’d never seen such a bad reaction to one of the swipes. She put some antihistamine cream on the worst welt and set a timer on her watch to make sure that she could administer Benadryl as soon as possible. Eva was patient and continued to play after she left, oblivious to the commotion.

When the test was over, they rubbed cream all over Eva’s back and gave her a dose of Benadryl. Then, the nurse explained that she had passed the results onto the specialist because toddlers with life-threatening allergies needed to see the doctor. At this point, nobody had explained which allergens had caused a reaction or what the reaction meant, but when I asked I was told I’d have to talk to the doctor. The nurse did, however, bring in a training Epi pen so I could learn how to deliver a life-saving dose of epinephrine to Eva if possible. I was trying to listen, but it was getting a little foggy because all I could think was, “What are you talking about? Why is Eva going into anaphylaxis? I don’t want to do this!”

After the Epi training, the doctor came in with a stack of papers and some rather serious news: Eva has severe allergies to a handful of things (including peanuts), profound allergies to a whole list of things (including cats and dogs), and mild/moderate allergies to others (including eggs). She’s not allergic, however, to grass, dust, or coconut…which might be the least helpful information ever because who gives a crap about coconuts?

What followed was a 30-minute talk about living in a nut-free home and getting rid of our pets and how Eva is never to be anywhere without an Epi pen. She gave me papers for the school and instructions for emergency care on an airplane and strict instructions about training all of our relatives and caregivers. Then I got sheets and sheets with lists of food that Eva can’t eat…things like chocolate frosting and pesto and Thai food. It was completely overwhelming and the doctor was trying very hard to be gentle and not freak me out, but all I could think was, “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to stop eating peanut butter. I don’t want to get rid of our cats. I don’t want Eva to never be able to eat birthday cake at her friends’ houses. Do not want. Do not want.”

* * * * *

I’m sure my reaction sounds selfish. After all, Eva is much more important than PB&J sandwiches or even our darling pets. It’s just that the lifestyle of parenting a child with allergies isn’t something I was prepared to adopt. After an extra dose of Benadryl and 26 hours since the testing happened, Eva still has little marks and bruises where the bad reactions were. I look at them and I’m just mad at her skin and at peanuts and at everything.

It’s really easy to rise above and think that at least it isn’t something more serious and we’re so lucky that we can control her environment, etc. Then I can hear the doctor saying, “You need to keep her away from all dogs and cats because it’s very possible that she could inhale dander and have an anaphylactic reaction requiring emergency care.” What? I don’t think we even know people who don’t have pets. So my gut reaction is, “That’s crazy, we can’t do that,” but the doctor stressed that Eva’s allergy to cats and dogs is not slight. It’s severe. It could likely close her airway out of nowhere someday.

It it absolutely impossible to keep Eva in a completely nut and pet free environment. Peanuts, especially, sneak their way into everything and anytime Eva goes into someone’s home or hugs someone who has cat or dog hair on their sweater, she’s being exposed to an allergen. Plus, there’s a whole argument for exposing kids to things like that to reduce allergies…a wonderful idea but one that has apparently been doing crap for my kid. Yet it’s our job now to make that Herculean effort to sweep nuts and pets out of Eva’s path somehow. Probably with magic.

We’re still adjusting. We’re in denial. Whiny, shell-shocked denial. I’m grateful that Eva is as healthy as she is, but I just did not think that we would be doing this. I also wonder if I gave her PB too early or if she shouldn’t have had the cats around her as a newborn. There has to be a reason this happened. I hate that I don’t know how to fix it.

If there’s anyone who is reading who has kids that were diagnosed as toddlers with severe allergies, could you get in touch with me at carly@theweddingatlas.com? We’re going to need some help here!

P.S. – I’m also looking for a new home for two wonderful cats. 🙁

 

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Monsters Inc. Themed Baby Shower

Posted by Carly Morgan

 

Last week, I threw my little sister a baby shower. I wanted the shower to have a Disney theme (of course!), but she’s having a baby boy and most of the Disney-themed baby showers I found were girly, Cinderella affairs. I brainstormed with my other sister and we ended up going with Monsters Inc. as the shower theme because my sister loves that movie. I was a little lost at first, trying to figure out how to make the monster thing and the baby thing come together, but after a little planning and some help from a few fabulous Etsy sellers, the shower ended up being the cutest ever. Who knew monsters were secretly adorable?

 

Besides the shower theme, I faced an interesting challenge with this party. If you guys remember Eva’s Princess and the Frog first birthday party, you’ll know that I like to do big, over-the-top parties with decorations from floor to ceiling. However, for this baby shower, the guest list consisted of people who work with my sister and Kyle (they work in the same office). Since these people would be coming from work, we knew they’d probably want to just pop in for a bite before heading home. So, a huge party seemed inappropriate.

 

 

At first, I thought I was going to have to scrap the themed ideas altogether, but ultimately I just scaled back a bit on the decor, made the food really casual, and ended up creating an event that had a theme but wasn’t too overwhelming. Between this and the over-the-top parties, I think I might even like this kind of celebration a little bit more…

Since it was an evening party that wasn’t serving dinner, most of the food was light. We did fruit, crackers, a cheese plate, and turkey roll-up sandwiches (all from Costco). I also found some cute little fruit sodas in bright colors that matched the monster theme, so we put those on ice and served ice water as well. The total cost of the food was less than $50 and the Morgan family was happy to snack on party leftovers for a few days after the shower.

 

 

Food at a Monsters Inc Baby Shower

 

 

 

To set the mood, we played some Monsters Inc. music in the background and scattered some of our Monsters Inc collectibles around our house. It was surprising, actually, to see how much Monsters Inc stuff we have. It’s one of my favorite movies, so our collection was a little out of control. In fact, after the party we ended up sending a bunch of the stuffed animals to a new home because no house needs four Sulleys!

I did want to make sure that it still looked like a baby shower (and not a Disney/Pixar birthday party), so I decided to mix decor with our baby gift for my sister and picked up some Monsters Inc. onesies from Disney Baby. Eva had one of these and they’re just amazing…super soft and they have double rows of snaps so they grow with the kid. They make all sorts of Monsters Inc prints, so we bought them all and also grabbed a pair of Monsters Inc footie pajamas (from Disney Baby as well). I have to admit that I was a bit selfish when picking out these presents, because if we have a boy in the future we get all the hand-me-downs!

To display the onesies, I strung blue yarn in a couple of places in the living room and pinned them up with cheap wooden clothespins. I was originally going to paint the clothespins, but I ran out of time and honestly it probably wouldn’t have made that much of a difference.

 

 

The one semi-creative thing that I did food-wise was for the dessert table. We did fresh chocolate chip cookies (freezer dough from Costco) and mini chocolate cupcakes, so I wanted to provide milk for anyone who wanted it. I used the same recycled Starbucks Frapuccino bottles that we had for Eva’s birthday party, since they’re cute and they look great with paper straws. To theme it up, I dipped the rims of the milk bottles in white candy melts and added baby blue sugar. I had seen a similar project on Pinterest with milk chocolate and multi-colored sprinkles, but when I did it the bottles sort of looked like they had fur on them. Oh well…at least it worked with the Monsters Inc theme and the candy melt washed right off after the party.

 

 

 

In addition to the Disney Baby onesies, I scattered a few gifts from Etsy sellers here and there. I found a ton of monster-themed baby goods on Etsy and was happy to receive a lovely selection of donations from the shower. I’ll be covering more from these sellers this week so you can look inside their shops, but here’s a peek at what they sent:

 

Onesies by Disney Baby; Monster Themed Pee Pee Tee Pees by Little Miss Monkeys on Etsy

 

 Onesies by Disney Baby; Monster Rattles by Birdie and Dot on Etsy

 

 

Disney themed baby shower decorations

 

 

Mike Wazowski Baby Rattle by gav&jack on Etsy; Monster Monthly Onesie Stickers by Stickers Plus on Etsy; Monster Themed Pee Pee Tee Pee by Little Miss Monkeys on Etsy

 

Monster Themed Pee Pee Tee Pee by Little Miss Monkeys on Etsy

 

 

Monster Photo Holders by Girlz Gone Crafty on Etsy

 

Monster Letter (“O” for Baby Owen) by Girlz Gone Crafty on Etsy

 

Decorations from a Monsters Inc Baby Shower

Monster embroidery hoop art by Hilary Frazier on Etsy

 

 Party Puffs by Whimsy Wendy on Etsy (first used for Eva’s Birthday Party)

 

Toddler Sulley Hat by gav&jack on Etsy

 

Monsters Inc Mike Onesie

Mike Monsters Inc. Onesie by Disney Baby

 

Onesies and pajamas by Disney Baby; Monster Rattle by Birdie and Dot on Etsy; Newborn Monster Hat by JessikiReeve Crochet on Etsy; Monster Baby Booties by Turt and Elephant on Etsy

 

Newborn Monster Hat by JessikiReeve Crochet on Etsy

 

Monster Baby Booties by Turt and Elephant on Etsy

 

Somehow, we forgot to take any photos during the shower, but it was a really nice time. Kyle and my sister work with some really nice people and they had a good time relaxing and talking baby over the warm cookies and milk.  I know that some people find party planning stressful, but I think it’s so much fun to open your house for a couple of hours and create a nice time for people. This party, in particular, was quite a breeze. Costco provided most of the food (almost none of which required prep) and I only spent about an hour setting out decorations and getting the party area together. I really think I’m going to go “themed/casual” from now on – so much more relaxed!

 

Love this party? Pin this collage to save it for later!

Photo collage for Monsters Inc Baby Shower

 

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