This week I’ve had the absolute honor to interview my good friend Kaci. She is a seriously inspiring mama.
My life cannot be described in one word, sentence, paragraph, or even book! Around here things are crazy, loud, fun, unpredictable, busy, and wonderful. My husband, Joe, and I have been married for 11 years, and we have 4 children-Jacob is 7, Josiah is 5, Owen is 3, and Shiloh is 10 months. I love Jesus and I love the challenge of putting Him first in all we do. And it really is a challenge!
Yes. When my oldest son went to public kindergarten three years ago I just felt…incomplete. I missed him! His brothers missed him. Then the Lord started revealing to me that he wanted me to homeschool. I did NOT have that same desire! My heart slowly softened to the idea, and my husband soon felt the call as well. We just began our third school year at home, and we can’t wait to see how God blesses this time we spend together each day. Right now I’m just surviving…but things will fall in to place once I get the hang of juggling pre-k, kindergarten, 2nd grade, AND a baby who is either destroying magazines, nursing, crawling under the kitchen table, or eating crayons. It’s comedy, really. Praise God for my morning cup of coffee!
I know that lots of moms will be glad to know that they aren’t the only ones with absolutely crazy lives. You make my crazy life look easy. I do know that Owen struggles with some health issues. Would you mind talking about that a little?
Well, I started to notice eczema on Owen’s body around three months old. Then he got a welt from touching peanut butter. He would also get random rashes, super bad eczema flare ups, and hives from time to time. We had the RAST blood test done which revealed several mild food allergies, including peanuts. The pediatrician told us there was absolutely no connection between the food and the eczema, and to not restrict his diet. Fast forward a couple years, and he is now allergic to so many foods I have honestly lost track. Sesame and peanuts are the biggest offenders, according to the second RAST test we had done. Wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, walnuts, pecans, avocado, banana, watermelon!! The food list continues to grow. Many environmental allergies too…dust mites, ragweed, different types of trees, etc. Oh..and dogs. If a dog licks him or if he somehow touches dog saliva he gets hives immediately! No fun. The day before I had our fourth baby, I took Owen in to the doctor for a cough that he just couldn’t shake. He was diagnosed with reactive airway disease, which is basically pre-asthma. Not the best timing for such hard news. So now we have to carry an inhaler, an epi-pen, and Benadryl everywhere we go. He also has accomodative esotropia, which he wears glasses for. Aside from all these various health issues, Owen is an incredibly smart, adorable, happy three year old with a huge personality! We do pray for healing every day for him, and we are hopeful that he will be allergy free someday!
Wow! You all have been through so much. Did Owen ever react to those “allergic” foods before? Or do you think he’s developed those allergies?
I personally believe that many factors play a role in the development of food allergies and eczema, so every child is different. With that being said, in Owen’s case I do think food can aggravate his eczema, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. That’s where the confusion and frustration sets in for me, because usually environmental changes go hand in hand with dietary changes. For example, during summer we typically sweat more, play in the grass, are exposed to more wind and we pay less attention to moisturizing. We are outside more, and we are busy, so we don’t have the healthiest diet. Lots of in-n-out burger, LOTS of Mexican food, and not as many home cooked meals. Also more ice cream/frozen yogurt. So I ask myself: is it the diet, is it the lifestyle, or is it both? As far as the new allergies, yes there was a time when he ate everything, except for peanuts, and seemed to tolerate it fine. He always loved guacamole, ate bananas like a monkey, and snacked on sesame crackers all the time with no noticeable reactions. We are becoming fairly certain he has candida/leaky gut, so we are looking into that more now.
What do your doctors want you to do about it all? What has your experience been with medications vs. alternative treatments?
Well, as I mentioned, the pediatrician he saw as a baby told me not to restrict his diet in any way. He even told me I could try peanut and see how he tolerates it! If it gives him welts on the outside, why would I let him ingest it?? I switched doctors after that. It’s been very confusing and difficult to hear the opinion/advice of medical doctors. By the time Owen was 9 months old he had received many of the standard vaccinations, and at that time I decided to stop them altogether because of the issues I was seeing with his immune system. So from that point, I have had to put up a fight every time we go in for anything. I’ve been told it’s the worst decision I could make for him, I’m playing with fire, I am not reading the correct information about vaccines, there’s no way they could be harmful to him, they will only help, blah blah blah. The doctors aren’t “bad”, they’re just approaching the problems from a totally different background. They have also given me some great advice about when to go ahead and use “conventional” treatment and medication, which unfortunately is something I have to do. If my son is wheezing and having hard time breathing, he needs to use his albuterol. If he get hives, I have no problem giving him a Benadryl. If, God forbid, he ever has a severe allergic reaction, he will be getting an epinephrine injection. I really don’t like the fact that I have to give my baby these chemicals, but at the same time I am thankful there is something that we can turn to that will quickly alleviate some of the discomfort associated with his conditions. I know it’s putting a band-aid on the problem, but I also know there are natural things I am doing that are very healing for him, and hopefully someday he will be healed! We give him Fermented Cod Liver oil nearly every day, probiotics every day, we limit his dairy and his wheat (this is so much harder than it seems!), and we do all organic. He eats lots of veggies, we use a BOATLOAD of coconut oil, both in his food and on his skin, and we are always trying to learn more about what we can do/try to improve his overall health. (Some new natural things I’ve started to incorporate for the whole family are colloidal/ionic silver and plant medicines!)
It’s actually amazing to me that you make the effort to do so much to help him with diet and natural remedies, but that leads me to my next question: How do you do it??!! With 4 kids and full time homeschooling, what are the most difficult challenges you face as a mom?
Oh wow, what a question…everything in life is challenging these days! The awesome thing about having such a full plate is that I find myself running to Jesus like never before! That is so very important, because it puts everything else into perspective. The Bible tells us this: “Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and everything else will be added unto you”. I rest in that, man! This mama NEEDS some kind of order in her life. We (my darling husband and I) want to raise children who grow up and serve Jesus with a fiery passion. That is what the world needs, and that is our FIRST mission. I’m not saying I am fully confident in my ability to do that…I’m saying that IF I seek The Lord first, then I can be confident that He will add “all those other things.”
I will say this…homeschooling was NOT my idea. I was stirred up by the Holy Spirit to do this…and instead of ignoring that little voice, I sought The Lord and I asked questions and I prayed and prayed about it. Then I obeyed and God has provided me with everything I’ve needed to juggle homeschooling with everything else. If you are considering homeschooling, just know that as long as you invite God into your home and into the process, you’ll be the BEST teacher your kids could ever have.
Another great thing about homeschooling: Whose schedule are you on? That’s right, baby. You’re on your own schedule! When do we start our school work? When I’m done cookin’ up a nice yummy breakfast! (Or when I’m done pouring cereal into bowls with built in straws…I do my best to feed the kids a nutritious diet, BUT I give myself grace when I’m just too busy or tired to cook.) This also allows for me to use little pockets of time throughout the day to do laundry, clean, play with the kids, prep meals, etc.. I always feel like it’s just so organic to be at home with the kids, living and learning together as a family unit. They are also *starting* to be more helpful around the house, learning how to fold laundry, sweep, garden, etc.. I still would not be opposed to having a maid. That would be aaah-ma-zing.
Well, most people think I’m completely crazy to even have four children…I get asked ALL the time if they’re all mine. Especially at the grocery store or Costco! Now, why would I borrow kids to go grocery shopping? It’s complete torture. Especially Trader Joe’s, with their micro-carts. I can’t even get a week’s worth of food packed in there, let alone a kid or two!
As far as comparing goes…I have definitely been there, but in the past. God has blessed me with the most amazing group of mommy friends, and I really feel like it’s a big part of why I don’t really struggle with the issue of comparing myself to other moms. Anyone who knows me will probably agree that I am very open and honest about who I am and what I struggle with. We are not going to grow, spiritually speaking, if we don’t recognize and declare the areas where we are weak and need help. That’s why fellowship with like minded moms/friends/mentors is essential. If I am having a problem with my temper for example (which is basically every day!) I can easily think of ten moms I could call or text who would stop what they are doing and pray with me or give me a nugget of wisdom to help me through. When we choose to open ourselves up to one another like that it puts us in a place of vulnerability and humility, instead of that prideful “everything in my life is in perfect order and things just couldn’t be more perfect” facade. Things are never going to be “perfect” this side of heaven, and that’s okay! We have each other, God designed us women to have that precious fellowship with one another, and competing/comparing does nothing for us. It’s a trick to get us focused on things that bear absolutely NO eternal weight!
Things are never going to be “perfect” this side of heaven, and that’s okay!
Well here are a couple quick questions to wrap things up:
Mistakes? Oh girl…I’ve made so many mistakes as both a rookie and a seasoned parent! How do I possibly choose? Let’s do top 3.
- Don’t judge, yo! See that family at the same restaurant as you? While you quietly feed your cute, chubby baby organic purées, their table looks like a war zone…they have a two year old barefoot jumping on the table, their cute chubby (toothless) baby is gumming on a cheeseburger, and dad is disciplining the oldest two for sword fighting with the butter knives. I was you six years ago, and if you keep having babies you’ll be ME in no time at all! So just enjoy the show and don’t tell yourself how you’ll NEVER forget your kid’s shoes. You will! And it’s okay.
- Labeling myself as a particular type of parent. Every parent/child relationship is unique, every baby is born with a specific purpose only God knows. That means if you’re doing it RIGHT, you’ll never actually fit into a particular “style” of parenting. All four of my children respond differently to me, they all preferred things to be different as babies, I discipline each one of them differently. My main focus as their mama is to make sure they know that they are loved by God, and they are loved by me. And I use whatever means I need to make that happen. I am SO glad I’m not the parent I hoped I would be before I had kids!
- Not dating enough. My husband and I put a high value on date nights! We date more now that we have four youngins than we did with only one! Obviously we have more of a need to escape this crazy crew, but we also need to remember who we are as husband and wife, not just mom and dad. So quit buying all that pointless baby gear (or find it on Craigslist or garage sales at half the price) and use the extra money to invest in your marriage!
Hands down, the moment I met each precious life has been my favorite memory with each of them. There’s something so indescribable about THAT moment. Moms…y’all know what I’m talking about. I get chills just thinking about it!
Kaci, thank you so much for letting us get to know you. If you have questions for Kaci, please comment below. I can tell you she has a wealth of wisdom, and she is the sweetest person in the world!