Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's been 3 years

Yesterday was mine and Evan's 3rd anniversary. When Evan and I first got married I told him that our anniversary would change depending on the deployment schedule. It is a dynamic date that can only be celebrated when we are together, so that we would never have to "celebrate" it being apart.


We were fortunate enough to have to means and opportunity to visit each other in Dubai during his longest ever deployment. We really needed the break from our everyday routines. This year we were able to celebrate and acknowledge our anniversary earlier than normal. In the previous years, it was a few days late and last year was on the 4th. He had to switch duty days in order to get the Fourth off. I thought I was lucky when it was magically special he had duty on the 3rd but the 4th was off. I didn't find out until later that he had to switch to make it so. Overall, the world hates us. No, just kidding. If the world hated us, I would not have gotten to spend so much time with my husband like the 12/36 months I have...

In all seriousness, I am glad that I married Evan. Not many people (hardly anyone) know this, but I almost didn't enter the church for anxiety reasons. I don't know what I was afraid of. And as I was walking down the aisle, I felt like a robot, just going through the motions. I was about 2/3rds of the way to the altar when I thought, "Wait, what did I just do?" I wanted to stop the ceremony and start over, but then as anxiety would have it, that would have been embarrassing and would have caused more anxiety, so I decided to keep going with it and watch the video after to see what I did. Did you know I almost tripped at the beginning? That's one of the reasons I wanted to start over. I was wearing heels on a tile floor, scary stuff when they weren't worn and broken in. But it was an obvious choice to marry this guy.


Even though I would have loved to have spent the last 36 of 36 months with this guy, to me it honestly makes me still have the same love for him as when we were first married. If the honeymoon stage only lasts for the first two years, then I've got another six years to feel this way for him. And if the military has anything to do with, it will be six years. Kidding again! But if you've ever experienced a deployment, you get used to a new normal every time you are apart. Then you have to get used to living with someone. Do that enough times and it drives you batty. You can't live with him; you can't live without him.

Hopefully next year we will be able to celebrate our anniversary on Dec 4th. Until then, I am as I ever shall be,
Yours.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Word from Jennifer

I haven't written in a very long time. And that had a lot to do with being in a car wreck, trying to find a job, being pregnant, and then taking care of Gabriel. A lot has happened since I last wrote. The reason I'm here now writing again is because I feel like I don't have anyone I can talk to about this. It takes up my whole life and I'm constantly thinking about it. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm sleeping. Fortunately, I have yet to have a dream about it. It's my only escape. What is it that has consumed my every thought? Gabriel multiple food allergies. (Read the bold for a shortened version).

History
No one in my family has food allergies. Evan doesn't have food allergies. How was I to suspect that our son would have food allergies? I don't think that people expect or estimate a chance that their children will have food allergies unless they deal with them themselves. It has completely changed my life. And I know that this is almost definitely going to be a permanent feature of our lives. Unless and until there is a cure for this, he will be considered "special needs" due to the special precautions needed to keep him safe.

I first noticed something was wrong when he was a month old. He had a rash all over his torso, face, and in the creases of his limbs. I learned he had eczema and I should treat it by applying hydrocortisone cream. Months went by and it was still an issue. It wasn't clearing up even though I was using prescription strength hydrocortisone. Through my own research I learned that eczema and food allergies are linked. My next step was to eliminate common allergens. Most babies have a difficult time processing cow's milk protein and soy. Since I didn't eat any soy, I cut out all dairy. (I breastfed Gabriel, and the protein from cow's milk can pass into breast milk.)

Eating and drinking zero amounts of dairy was no easy task. I made it a challenge for Lent to give up all dairy. It was easier for me when I thought about the reason why I was doing it. When I pass along cow's milk proteins to Gabriel, it caused his skin to inflame and itch. He would scratch his head when he got tired or if he woke up while sleeping. We tried wrapping him while he slept, but that couldn't keep his little hands from making his face and scalp bleed. We tried cutting his fingernails, putting mittens on his hands, putting Aquaphor all over him. None of those things worked until I eliminated dairy. Within two weeks of Lent, his body wasn't red all over. He slept better. People noticed and commented on how well his skin looked. When other people notice, you know it's working.

As he got older, I started to introduce foods. I didn't give him dairy since I knew that was something he already had trouble with. One day I gave him scramble eggs for breakfast. After tossing his cookies within the hour and diarrhea the rest of the day, I figured that eggs (in eggy forms) were out of the question for him (but in baked goods was okay).

Fastforward a little. There was that one time my brother Josh let Gabe have a bite of his pb&j breakfast bagel. With just the smallest taste, his face broke out in hives. Peanuts were out. Up until this point (8 months old and avoiding dairy, egg, and peanut) I'm okay. In my research, I learned that with dairy and egg, my kids outgrow those allergies before starting school. Peanuts, he had a mild reaction and people have paved the way for people with peanut allergies so it could be easy to avoid.

A few days before his first birthday, I decided to make homemade pesto since the store-bought ones I had seen contained dairy. I found a recipe that called for cashew to make up that creamy texture. I made the pesto, gave Gabriel a small taste and went back to stirring. I'm busy making dinner and he's at my feet whining and pawing to be picked up. I look down and notice his cheeks are red. I picked him up to wash his face. It was worse than I thought. His lips were swollen and blistered. There were hives on his cheeks. He was rubbing his eye. I began to panic. I didn't know what to do because this was something I've never in my life experienced before. I didn't know how bad it was going to get. I really did think that he was going to go into anaphylactic shock. I buckled him in his carseat (I debated if I should hold him or buckle him) and took off for help.

We eventually made it to the ER. He was given benadryl and some steroids. His reaction didn't progress thankfully. The doc gave him a prescription for the EpiPen Jr. that I now carry around with me religiously. It probably puts all religions to shame how I never go anywhere without it. I had a skin prick test done and he tested positive for the known allergens stated above. The allergist wouldn't test for anymore because he doesn't believe in over-testing and didn't want any false positives. He's enough for another story another day.

How I really feel about it all
The cashew is what sent my over the edge. His severe reaction is what hit me that this is real. This is a very real thing for us. Some food allergies come and go. Peanuts and tree nuts are typically there to stay. That's when I knew that our life was going to be forever changed. And it has. He is different. This way of life is very different for me. He will be limited in what, how, where he is able to eat. This requires a lot of pre-planning and preparation on my part. Anytime there is food involved with social activities, I have to find out what is being served, what is safe and not safe, then bring his own food just in case, and keep other peoples' food away from him because we all know he will find it, and put caution tape on him so that other people know that he can't eat food unless it's from me. If you've ever taken care of a 1 year old, then you know you get tired from just watching them run around. I have to physically follow him so he's not touching or eating anything that could kill him (I'm talking food not about swallowing pennies here, but that also counts).

The big thing that makes me feel like I can't talk to anyone because I don't know anyone who goes through the same thing is when I walk through the grocery store, I want to cry because he is severely limited. At this point I know where in the store I need to go to get the exact product and brand that is safe for him. And even then I still check the labels. Meal planning is frustrating because I feel like we eat the same thing over and over due to the restrictions. Fortunately he loves fruit, and vegetables can be a hit or miss. I try to keep things fresh by introducing new foods and recipes but it's so hard. For every 100 recipes out there I surf through, he can have maybe 1 or 2. It's taxing on me emotionally and since Evan is deployed the burden falls solely on me. I don't have a shoulder to lean on or someone I can bounce ideas off of. Being the dam and the river is hard work. It's constant pressure battling to see who can stay up the longest. It's either "this isn't fair!" or "this is our life now!" and there's no one who knows what it's like.

You can feel sorry for me. You can feel sorry for us. It doesn't help. Even though people say they want to help, they still don't do as good of a job as I do because it's not serious for them. It's not real for them. When you panic the way I did and see your child swell up and wonder if he's going to die because of something you gave him, then shit gets real. I live with this threat everyday. Anytime we are at the playground with other kids there and they've brought food. Or we are at the grocery store and passing by the nuts is unavoidable. Whenever a friend or family member touches him and I don't know if they've washed their hands and face. The threat is there and it's real for me. And I carry this burden alone. No amount of apologies or hugs is going to change the fact that I live a very different life than anyone I know.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Duba-Duba-Duba-Dubai

So I am STILL on deployment for those of you who don't know or haven't been following mine and Jennifer's life with the due diligence that you should be. HOWEVER, for the past week I have had leave in Dubai, UAE. It has been awesome and fun.

Here is a recap of some of the stuff we have done:

So Dubai is home to the worlds largest mall. This mall is so large it has an ice skating rink and an aquarium/underwater zoo (code for smaller aquarium). So Jennifer and I did both! We started with the ice skating. We looked something like this:
Okay it was a little more like this:
video
Afterwards we went to the Aquarium and Underwater Zoo (read smaller aquarium). It was pretty cool as they had one of those underwater tunnel things so you could see the underside of water (a view typically reserved for drowning people). Getting the animals to cooperate was easy:
 FISH BUTT
We continued onto the underwater zoo, which had exciting things like Piranhas
And creepy crawlies like the Iguana
I even found Joel Garrett
The following days we went on a desert sunset safari... which would have been truly amazing had it not been the one day of the year that it happened to rain in the desert. If only I had such luck with the lottery. But it was still pretty cool, as we went dune bashing (I brought my baseball bat I use for bashing but I guess there was a different definition in this case). It basically involved driving around irresponsibly at reckless speeds over awesome dunes which I believe I would have been perfectly qualified for.
After that we went to a base camp where we had "delicious barbeque" consisting of over cooked kababs and boney bits of chicken gristle. After dinner, we were treated to a traditional belly dance, which looked like a fillipino in vinyl leopard print. While there we also got to ride a camel which was a little like riding a pony at an 8 year olds party... WHICH MEANT IT WAS AWESOME.

We finished up our big stuff by going to the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world. It had quite a spectacular view
And there was no glare to ruin any of our photos
ANYWAY expect more real photos on facebook sometime (almost definately from Jennifer rather than me) in the near future (and from me in the far future... like boldy go where no on has gone before far future OR for my friends a Grim Dark future).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

First day back in FL... And I spend it at the DMV

So Jennifer, Gabe, Baron and myself got to Florida on Tuesday evening, looking a little something like this

Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Jennifer, Baron, that lady we picked up hitchhiking outside the GA State Penitentiary, Evan, Gabe

Anyways, it was late so we got checked into our hotel

They had 12 cabins, 12 vacancies.

And looked forward to a new day finding homes and taking car of business. A bright future seemed to lay before us.

Unfortunately it didn't.

At 2 AM I got to relearn why you don't give the dog another bowl of water before going to bed.

Then, after a night of Gabe's never ending stream of crying (he must've figured out we were in Florida), I got to get up at 6 AM to enjoy our hotel's free breakfast.

Let's just say it left something to be desired. The knife in the head was a mercy killing.
Well after eating some tums and pepto, I got my first task of the day- drive to the DMV and register Jennifer's car in Florida. Oh boy.

So I got to drive Jennifer's new car that I bought to the DMV


And when I get there the building says in big bold letters on the front: TAX COLLECTOR


I go inside and wait my turn. Sense it is both a DMV and a Tax Collector, I imagine people avoid it like the plague and so I actually don't have to wait too long. Unfortunately I am promptly told that my trip was all for naught, because the delearship put both Jennifer and I on the title, even though I was the only one on the financing. SO I get the joy of driving back to the hotel, picking up Jennifer and Gabe and returning to the DMV. Exciting.

Once I pick up Jennifer, it is determined that we require lunch because we are hungry. Or rather I am hungry and could do lunch before or after the DMV. Jennifer on the other hand...

Ravenous is probably a better word.
We then got to go back to the DMV and fork over a large sum of money for sales tax and registration and get a license plate.


Then we spent the rest of the day finding out a whole bunch of the listings we had been looking at were already gone and having to do our research all over again.

Wish us better luck tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Florida or Bust

So this week I finally wrap up my school and head down to Florida. Some 2 months after leaving Japan we will finally reach the end of our journey (so long as eagles don't carry me away too).

Now I am not the biggest fan of Florida.


Though I am sure that Jacksonville/Mayport is alot nicer than Central Florida, which I think had Dante Alighieri know about in the 1200's, one of the levels of Hell would have been located somewhere around there.
 Charon ferries you across the St. John's River

I have heard good things from alot of people, and it seems to be regarded as one of the hidden treasures of the Navy, with good neighborhoods and just a nice place to live.


The only thing is that we still need to find a place to live. Been kinda browsing online, but I was hoping for something like this for Jennifer and I:

And this for Gabe:
Seems Legit
I am looking forward to getting all of our stuff back, though not unpacking. I am afraid the contents of the house will just explode everywhere. And then I have to go back to work for real.

I'll try to keep everyone updated a little more and keep bringing the laughs.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The movers are coming, the movers are coming!

One if by land... they aren't coming by sea, so it will just be one by land. As well, for some reason, Paul Revere's ride seems more heroic than if I did it.

Probably because the movers aren't Redcoats.

Anyway today was spent (and is ongoing) getting ready for the movers to come TOMORROW. A lot of last minute packing and cleaning. Fortunately we have Japanese movers who I imagine are extremely efficient at packing.

Tomorrow is going to be crappy and hectic I imagine. Jennifer will likely be like this (graphic) and I will likely be like this (not so graphic).

I probably shouldn't even blogging right now, and should be actively cleaning/packing, but I am a world renowned expert on procrastination.
I guess I kinda found a picture for it now... oops
While tomorrow is going to stink, unpacking on the other end is always just as bad. Houses end up exploding.

Well I am going to keep this short and to the point. Likely when Jennifer learns I wasted time doing this, I can be found in a position such as the ostrich.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Holy Crap, we still have this thing!

This is still here? Well, might as well post, who knows, maybe this will one day be the last written record of man's existence. In which case, may as well give those alien archaeologists a better image of man:
The Nuge shall live forever.
So my last post was Oct 2011. And I think that the last post on here was Mar 2012. We really haven't been trying. We should have at least done one 12:01 AM December 22st, 2012 to announce we had survived the apocalypse just fine over here in Japan for all you statesiders (way to go on that one Mayans).

FYI Next apocalypse is scheduled for 2016
ANYWHO speaking of statesiders, Jennifer and I will once again be amongst... well usually this sentence ends with "The Living", but in this case I am referring to continental Americans. Although maybe that is the living since the average Asian looks like this:
YAY HONG KONG!
By the end of April I will back in the... well usually that sentence ends with USSR, but in this case I am referring to the USA. We will be coming back plus one: Gabriel Constantine Valdyke (named thus so that it makes sense that he has a life long ambition of conquering nations or leading empires). In the meantime I just need to make sure we get him a seat on the airplane I guess. I believe out flight back will be like this. Or maybe we will travel by line like Indiana Jones.

I am going to miss Japan. Jennifer is going to be more like this. Never again will I ride Godzilla or go whaling. I will miss the vending machines, clown cars and convenient stores. I am now a big proponent of NOT TIPPING. And everywhere I go I am surrounded by beautiful mountains and can likely find an awesome ocean view or a hidden temple.

For those of you don't, we are going to be in Mayport, Florida. I am going to be the Damage Control Assistant onboard the USS Gettysburg (CG 64). I imagine this is my next CO and XO:
The reason they will be Confederates is because we are stationed in the South.
Well, hopefully I update this a little more regularly in the future. If you really just want to read a blog by me, check out this one. It is updated much more often. Yeah, so I am self promoting, and probably in a bleh place to do it, but any publicity is good publicity right? Let me just ask my panel of experts: Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson...