Friday, February 23, 2024

High Five for Friday (2.23.24)

 


One

You know where we start...your weekly Lads update! 

Last Friday night was tough. Among other challenges, with 28 minutes left in the game the referee gave one of our players a red card. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, after receiving a red card, the carded player must leave the field and the team is not allowed to replace him, meaning the team plays down a man for the remainder of the game. The Lads managed to hold on to the 0-0 tie (and even came incredibly close to scoring the go-ahead goal more than once), which is saying something given that they were playing with 10 men. They weren't happy with their performance, but a tie and the accompanying point is better than a loss. 


On a more positive note... JV-A played immediately prior to varsity. With the score tied 0-0 and just a few seconds left on the clock, Mag West kicked the ball FAR out of bounds hoping the game would just end. Southern - Will's varsity coach - was standing on the sideline near where the ball went out, and rather than wait for the ball boys to retrieve the ball (which would have undoubtedly used up the remaining second seconds of the game), he grabbed a new ball out of the ball bag and tossed it to the Consol player. Consol threw the ball in, the player who received the throw passed it immediately back to the thrower, and he took a shot from basically the sideline. And with .2 - that's POINT TWO - seconds left on the clock, the ball sailed through the air and dropped into the back of the net just over the goalie's outstretched fingertips. All of JV-A and all of varsity - who were warming up on the far side of the stadium - rushed the field in celebration. It was a fantastic display of grit and fight, a lesson in playing until the final whistle, and a beautiful of example of Lads supporting Lads, regardless of team.



On Tuesday night we traveled to Brenham, where the Lads pulled out kind of a messy win. Three points is three points though, so we move on and go again tonight at home against Magnolia. If you live in the BCS area, come on out and join the Lads' fandom!

I'm surprised this pic turned out, given that they'd just turned
off the lights on us and it was taken in almost complete darkness. 


Two

We celebrated a little bit of Valentine's Day on Wednesday and a little bit of Valentine's Day on Thursday, thanks to everyone's different schedules. The kids may be 17 and almost 15, but they still love my Valentine's Day treasure hunt to find their gift, which this year was a CraveBox (a snack box care package) to share and new heads for their electric toothbrushes because #candy. 

"Airplane Ears" (what we call Popeye when we catch
him doing something he isn't supposed to do) has recently
learned how to get on the counter. He knows he isn't allowed
up there, but he's also so proud of himself. He really liked
Hallie's cat-friendly Valentine's bouquet from AJ! 

Hallie with her Valentine's box for
choir (for which she won a prize).

Their Valentine's Day treasure hunt always looks
like a combination of wrestling match and race...

Divvying up their Crave Box goodies.


Three

Both kids have really great friends. I've written a more elaborate version of this high five multiple times, but I keep deleting it because, or at least I think it's because, the elaboration just isn't necessary. So both kids have really great friends, and I'm tremendously grateful.

I don't have pictures of Will and his friends, because they don't need me to drive them around the way Hallie and her friends do. I guess that's my shuttling tax - I get to take pictures.





Four

Introductions have begun! Popeye is always so interested (and yet so scared, at least at first) to meet our foster babies. We had to delay - beyond the initial two-week quarantine period - introducing Popeye to Anne and Belle because they had quite a few poop issues at first, but now that we have all of that under control, they can start spending time together. 







I think they're going to get along just fine...


Five

Happiness Highlights

He doesn't let me take very many pictures of him, but
apparently he lets photographer friends take pictures of
him. So when those photographer friends share those
photos, I screen capture them. I'll take what I get of my
"teenager in the wild" - thanks, @noahandcamera!

Will follows two dress codes: "full suit" or "athletic
clothes closely resembling pajamas." He wears very
little in between, and these two pics are proof.
 
The things we'll do for kittens... I'd gotten down on
the bathroom floor to clean something up, and while
I was down there, Anne climbed on my back and fell
immediately asleep. So I had to stay there, with my
45-year-old joints on the tile, for 20 minutes, because
she was too cute to wake up. 

The high school newspaper had both a Lads blurb (if you
zoom in, you can see my Lad was given a shout out)...

...and a full spread article devoted to the Lads' fans!

I continue to love my monthly flower subscription
through the high school's advanced floral design class!

Just came across this pic... May you wrap up your week with
as much confidence as this tiny tot delivering mail to the mailbox.

She discovered sunbeam naps. 

Please let this be true!


Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

He's DONE

A few months before Will's third birthday, we discovered he had an allergy to peanuts. The event - eating just one peanut and having an immediate reaction to it - set in motion 14 years of pediatrician and allergist appointments, skin and blood testing, regular and rescue medications, medical alert accessories, school paperwork, and eventually, interventional treatments. (Will already had quite a few diagnosed allergies by this time, but peanuts was the only one likely to cause anaphylaxis and was therefore a more serious issue.)

In March of 2018, Will began - under the watchful eye of and following a strict protocol created by his allergist here in BCS - a peanut desensitization. He was one of the first people in our area to go through this process after his allergist trained with another doctor in Dallas and brought what he had learned back to his practice. The desensitization itself - from peanut powder diluted in water to dry peanut powder to peanuts themselves - took six months and involved weekly two-hour appointments as well as a daily dosage schedule that he/we followed both morning and night, every single day. (To give you an idea how far he came in six months...Will started with a teaspoon of water containing barely measurable amounts of peanut powder twice a day and ended with 12 full peanuts twice a day.) The process was emotionally and mentally taxing, partly because giving your child a food that could kill them is scary, and partly because our lives revolved around making sure Will never missed a dose. Those you who have spent time with me at any point after March of 2018 have probably heard my peanut alarm go off, which in the beginning reminded me to prepare Will's peanut dose and then in later years reminded me to remind him to take his peanuts.

After six months of gradually increasing his dose, Will passed his peanut challenge, meaning he had made it through the desensitization phase and could move on to the maintenance phase: taking 12 peanuts once a day, rather than 12 peanuts twice a day.

When we began the process, our allergist told us we could expect Will to be on maintenance for two to three years. The hope - based on emerging research - was that throughout these two to three years, Will's allergy itself would actually decrease enough that he would be considered no longer allergic (or at least a lot less allergic) to peanuts. 

Will's RAST test (a blood test performed to determine a patient's potential to react to a specific allergen) before the desensitization was around 70. I've seen different scales to explain how the RAST is scored, but here's one of them. 

Will, with his score of 70, fell into the Ultra High/Category 5 range. But after one year on maintenance, his score dropped to 32. After a second year on maintenance, his score dropped to 16. After year three, to 12. And after year four (yes, there was a fourth year), to 10. 

But then this past fall, after his FIFTH year on maintenance, Will's score went up. We have our suspicions why, and while I won't go into them here (I'm happy to share them, just not here on the blog), I will say that they stem from the physical, mental, and emotional toll this process they took on Will. 

Here's the thing. Most people don't like the taste of foods they're allergic to, as that's the body's way of telling the brain, "maybe we shouldn't eat this." Will hates peanuts more than you or I hate any food. He despises the taste as well as the smell, which he can sniff out like a bloodhound. (I'm not kidding. If I eat a Reese's peanut butter cup for dessert at night, he can smell it from across the room and won't come give me a hug or kiss goodnight until I've brushed my teeth.) Imagine being "forced," even if it's for your own good/safety/to save your life, to eat the thing you hate most in the world - and that makes you feel uncomfortable and unsettled - every single day for five and a half years...especially when you thought it would be two or three years. The longer the maintenance stage dragged on, the harder it became on Will.

Despite the fact that Will's RAST score had risen slightly, his allergist decided the time had come for Will to try to challenge his actual peanut allergy. They had Will stop taking his peanuts for six weeks, and then he went in to the office to, well, eat a lot of peanuts. Though doing so caused Will a great deal of discomfort and resulted in a little bit of eye swelling, he did eat a lot of peanuts - around 40 - and as a result, passed his challenge. 

So after 14 years, he's done. He no longer has to check the "allergic to peanuts" box. He no longer has to carry an epi-pen.* He no longer has to eat 12 peanuts a day.** As a result, his frustration and anxiety have decreased, and he seems like he's carrying less weight on his shoulders than he was before.  

Since Will hates peanuts and can both smell and taste them IMMEDIATELY, I don't have to worry that he's accidentally going to consume 40 peanuts. The place we've landed - this "finish line" of sorts - allows us to feel confident that if he ever accidentally eats a peanut, he won't die. And that makes all 14 years of this journey worth it.  

~

* I will continue to keep epi-pens on hand at home, and Will will continue to carry epi-pens in his car, backpack, and soccer bag. He may never need one, but someone else might, and it's always better to be prepared.

** While he no longer has to eat 12 peanuts a day, he does need to periodically eat a few peanuts to maintain his desensitization long-term. Will and I agreed on four peanuts (the number he can handle taking at one time) twice a month (he wanted once a month while I wanted once a week, so this was a compromise), and we'll continue this indefinitely.

For those of you with kiddos with allergies, feel free to reach out. Additionally, here are a couple of blog posts I've written about Will's experience with the desensitization process.

Starting the desensitization process.

Finishing the desensitization process and starting on maintenance.

Friday, February 16, 2024

High Five for Friday (2.16.24)

 


One

Let's start with your weekly Lads update! On Friday night the Lads won a clutch game against Montgomery Lake Creek. The Lake Creek stadium is a tough place to play (let's just say that their fans aren't known for their positivity), so this 1-0 victory was particularly satisfying and a great way to kick off the weekend.


Laughing at our photobombers, who have started to watch and
wait for us to try to take our picture withOUT them in the background.


On Tuesday night we took on Montgomery at home. The Lads had a little trouble finding the net (though they had many incredibly close opportunities) in the first half, but finally made it happen in the second; they walked away with a 2-0 victory to close out the first round of district play.




We outsmarted our photobombers this time.


Tonight #wegoagain, kicking off the second round of regular season play as we take on Magnolia West, this time at home. (If you play a team away during round one, you play the same team at home during round two, and vice versa.)


Two

On Saturday morning Hallie and I volunteered, through our mother-daughter service organization, to walk dogs at the Aggieland Humane Society. We walked three different pups - Major, Jester, and Hazel - for more than three miles, and we got our upper body workouts in thanks to the strength of our charges. While we loved this volunteer opportunity, it was heartbreaking to see SO many dogs at the shelter. If you're searching for a new four-legged family member, "adopt, don't shop" at the Aggieland Human Society or another humane society, shelter, or rescue near you.




Three

On Sunday afternoon, Hallie and I popped into Six Kittens Rescue's second annual Kitten Shower. We dropped off our gifts (two for SKR and one for founder Mallori, from her beloved Popeye), chatted with a few SKR team members, enjoyed delicious refreshments, courtesy of Uncorked, and snapped a picture on our way out. Such a sweet and fun event!


Four

Other than the Lads game Friday night, volunteering on Saturday morning, and the kitten shower on Sunday afternoon, we had a fairly free (at least comparatively) weekend. Will watched soccer games and got together with a friend to work on a physics project, Hallie sewed pointe shoes and hung out at a friend's house, Tom worked on projects in his Mad Science Laboratory, and I caught up on laundry, got a jumpstart on next week's to-do list, and baked one of my favorite chocolate cakes. On Sunday night, we held our annual Super Bowl competition, and while it was probably our worst showing - Tom took home the prize with only three correct answers - we still had fun, especially during Usher's halftime show!


On Super Bowl Sunday I miss my grumpy little Packer backers... 


Five

These little rugrats are officially posted for adoption! Send me a message (erinlferris at yahoo dot com) if you or someone you know is interested in making them (preferably both of them, as they're a bonded pair) part of your family!




Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

On That Manicured Field, In That Giant Stadium, Under Those Bright Lights

About eight and a half years ago, when Will had just started third grade, he and I were walking to school when we passed two high school students waiting on the sidewalk for their ride. Will had just begun playing club soccer, and these two boys were wearing backpacks that indicated they played for the same club. I pointed this out to Will, and while he thought the connection was cool, he was too nervous to say anything to them. 

We passed the boys once or twice a week for the next couple of months. I always said hello, but Will tended to cower shyly behind me rather than saying hello himself. One fateful day, the boys happened to be waiting for their ride not just on our way to school, but on my way home too, when I was by myself. I stopped and asked if they played for the club, and then explained that my son was in his first year as a player with that club as well. One of the boys - who introduced himself to me as Jeremy - asked Will's name, and from that day on, Jeremy always said hello to me and to Will, calling him by name. And eventually, Will said hello back. 

Over the course of the next two years, Jeremy and Will ran into each other periodically - on the sidewalk, of course, but also at club practices, games, and tournaments - and every single time Jeremy acknowledged Will, even when he was with his friends and teammates. 

Six years ago I learned that Jeremy played for Consol as well as for his club team. When I heard that Consol had made the playoffs and would play their first round match at home, I decided to take Will...I wanted him to see someone he knew play on that manicured field, in that giant stadium, under the bright lights.

The game was epic. With a few minutes left in regulation, a Consol player received a red card. The team (they hadn't yet become the Lads) had to play down a man for the remainder of the second half, and when regulation ended in a tie, for all of overtime as well. When overtime ended in a tie, the game went to a shootout, which Consol won. The fans rushed the field, and Will followed somewhat nervously, hanging around awkwardly until the crowd had thinned and we could find Jeremy. 

It was such a memorable night for me, both because Will and I had such a fun time together, and because I LOVED watching him absorb the high school soccer experience. I could see him dreaming about what it would feel like to one day take the field in a Consol uniform, and while he would never acknowledge this, I think it was that night that he decided soccer was going to be his thing and his goal was to play for that team. 



At the beginning of this season, the Lads scrimmaged against a team made up of Consol alumni. The afternoon of the scrimmage, Will casually mentioned to me that Jeremy would be playing. To say I was excited would be an understatement.

After the game, I crossed the field and approached the alumni bench where Jeremy was taking off his shoes. When I said his name, he looked up, smiled, and exclaimed, "Will's mom!" I pulled out my phone, and at risk of embarrassing Will, showed Jeremy the picture below. (I then also showed the picture to Will's coach and all the players current and past who had gathered around.) Jeremy remembered that day well, and seeing the photo prompted him and a bunch of the other alumni - who had played in that game - to start reminiscing about their win. I asked Jeremy if I could take another picture of him and Will, and he of course obliged. 


I imagine that to Jeremy, those interactions on the sidewalk felt small and insignificant. And maybe, when looked at in a vacuum, they were. But when looked at as part of the bigger picture, they began a chain reaction that in part led Will to where he is today. I'm so grateful for that chance encounter, and the opportunity it eventually afforded me to watch my boy play on that manicured field, in that giant stadium, under those bright lights.

Friday, February 9, 2024

High Five for Friday (2.9.24)

 


One

First, your weekly Lads update! Last Friday night the Lads traveled to crosstown rival College Station High School's turf. These two teams are made up of kids who play together on club teams, so it can be tough to switch gears and compete against one another during high school season. Emotions are high, tensions are high...these boys are nothing if not fierce competitors, after all. But when the final whistle blows, they come together as friends again. 

This go-around ended in a 0-0 tie, but we'll see CSHS again in a few weeks...on our turf. Oh, and we definitely "won" when it came to fan support - the Consol students showed up and showed out (we had giveaways for the first 25 students as well as a raffle for anyone who brought their own noisemaker), and the Lads felt the love. 

The game was so stressful - I didn't take any pictures
other than this one of the bus we'd decorated earlier that day.


On Tuesday night the Lads won 2-0 over Rudder High School, and my #17 ended up with an assist on the second goal. 


This home game's treat was Oreo cupcakes (Oreo
batter on top of a hidden Oreo) with Oreo frosting.

Will with friends after the game - these kids were so
excited to be at the game and cheered for him so loudly.


Lots of photobombers for our Lads mamas photo this week...


#wegoagain tonight at Lake Creek, which will definitely be one of our toughest games this season. Let's go Lads!


Two

Will was inducted into National Honor Society! He tried to convince me that parents don't go to the ceremony, but I knew otherwise and still showed up. We're really proud of how hard he works, and that he's able to balance (though sometimes it doesn't quite look like balancing to me) school, sports, extracurriculars, time with friends, and sleep. 



Will with his fellow Lad inductees (missing one, I believe).


Three

On Monday, Hallie - as a member of Ballet Brazos - performed with many of her fellow dancers as part of the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra's annual Children's Concert. This year they played/danced Carnival of the Animals, which is such a fun show; Hallie was an elephant as well as the purple bird in Aviary, and she had a blast. 









Four

My niece, Lily, and her middle school cheer team placed second at STATE this week! Go Trojans!

Lily is front row, center...

...and the flyer on the right. Their routine is really
incredible given that these are 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.


Five

Y'all. I know I say this everytime we have babies, but these babies are the cutest. We've just about gotten all of their tummy troubles ironed out, and they'll be posted for adoption soon. Let me know if you'd like to come meet them!




Happy weekend, friends!