"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Snapshot - 1

The long-awaited Sunday Snapshot post has returned to Drosche Land.

I know I have eagerly been anticipating its return and am happy it is finally here.  Time is finally on my side again now that summer is here, even though we have been keeping busy and I'm not blogging as much as I'd like.  But its here.

The theme of this post is slightly outdated as it refers to Stella's 1st birthday.  I did, of course, celebrate the occasion with a photo shoot and this post shows off those pictures. She has grown and changed so much, as we all have, over the past year.  I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I did taking them and sharing them!

She's full-on walking now and she gets into everything!  Neither of the boys were ever as busy as she is.  We are constantly chasing her down, taking things away, and telling her no.  Not that the word "no" means much to her; other than a signaling to smile adorably and run in the other direction!

Stella has always been a happy baby, but ever since we have zeroed in on her allergies and altered her diet accordingly she has been happier than ever.  I guess living without constant intestinal issues will keep you in a pleasant disposition!

This past year has been a whirlwind of changes and new experiences for us here in Drosche Land and the addition of Stella into our lives has been a major part of that.  She is, as each of her brothers were, a complete blessing in a time when we needed her.  A time HE orchestrated and knew perfectly.  I am constantly in awe of this little girl and how much she has changed us.  Being a father to a little girl has been very different than being a father to little boys.  It is a continual learning experience, but one that I am always enjoying.
And a final picture.  It's not a perfect shot and I haven't edited it too much.  But it is hilarious.  It shows our girl's little attitude.  This is her mad face.  She makes it a lot.  Most of the time she is playing and being silly, not really mad.  She does this quite often at dinner.  However, sometimes she is mad, and those times she means it.  Trust me.  It is one of our favorite things about her since it shows her feistiness and expressiveness!  Oh this little girl!

All is well, picture perfect, in Drosche Land.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Diagnosis - Part 2

Ok, so this post took a little longer in coming than I had originally intended.  But last week was VBS and time just got away from me.  Anywho, here we are.

Amy finally got ahold of the doctor's office and we received the remaining pathology results we had been waiting on.  Turns out her mast cells were high, but not terribly.  They were in the limits of an allergic reaction.  So, her doctor is thinking it is not Mastocytosis.  This is great news.  However, we still have a long road ahead of us filled with learning.

As I'd mentioned before she has now been diagnosed with an allergy to soy as well as the milk protein.  We also suspect that she may have an intolerance to gluten as well.  Ugh.  We've been monitoring her rash/hives, demeanor, and tummy issues (diaper fillings).  We're not totally sure, but have a strong suspicion.  So here we sit on the precipice of raising a child with allergies.  Now I know that her allergies are minor in comparison to others' but it is still a lot for us to handle having never experienced it before firsthand.  We are learning to research and read labels to ensure that she is not getting dairy or soy.  We are also thinking and praying about the gluten, trying to decide if we cut that out as well.  That is a huge undertaking so we are being sure to make as educated decision as possible.  I'll update on it more.

In the meantime Amy, my heroine, spent the better part of last week on the phone arguing/pleading/discussing/talking with insurance regarding the special formula that the doctor prescribed for Stella.  I'll keep it short, but suffice it to say it has been a difficult and frustrating journey and the insurance company was not much help at all.  Luckily, late yesterday afternoon we received word that it was taken care of and we would be receiving our first shipment of formula next week.  I have to give total credit to Amy for this all as she single-handedly took care of this last week.  It was rough, but she was awesome.  

So, that's that.  Things seem to be settling down a bit on this adventure as we learn how to live with a child with allergies and work around conventional thinking when it comes to eating and meals.  It's been very interesting and eye-opening though.  We are all eating healthier as a result too, so that's a plus.

Thanks for all of your thoughts, prayers, and kind words along the way as we have dealt with this.  It's been a long couple of months, but I think HE has finally brought us through it to the other side and we can now begin to breath again.  Thank you.  

All is well, learning, in Drosche Land.    

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Good Dog Hot Dogs

So, to be honest, I'm not a huge hot dog fan. I mean, they're alright.  Every now and then but they're not something I'd eat frequently.  It's something I have to be in the mood for. However, not everyone in my family shares my sentiments.

Amy loves hot dogs, as do Stella and Jackson.  Braeden sides with me a bit and would prefer a hamburger over a hot dog any day.  However, since I chose the last food truck, Monster PBJ, this time Amy got to choose.  She was stoked about Good Dog from the get-go when we began tracking down local food trucks so I knew that she would choose it.

Despite not being my first choice, I was pretty excited too.  Some of the offerings sounded great.  So last Friday we headed out for our usual Friday routine - a morning at the Zoo and lunch at a food truck.  

From the smell when I got in line I knew that I would be enjoying lunch.  This isn't your average supermarket variety of hot dog (sorry Oscar Mayer) or even one you'd get at a sports venue.  Nope, as the advertisements promise they're gourmet.  

Their standard dog is 85% beef and 15% pork but 100% beef and tofu options are available.  I thought about the tofu dog given our June vegetarian kick, but decided to splurge and went with the standard.  My choice was the Sloppy Slaw Dog.  I liked the name.  I liked the description even more.  Apple-horseradish slaw with Swiss cheese and whole-grain mustard?  Um yes please!  It was awesome.  The slaw was crisp, flavorful, and amazing.  I love the pairing of the apples and the horseradish.  Their 85/15 dog is handmade for them and you can tell it is fresh.  Another awesome part of the food is their bun!  Top loading (not your typical bun) locally fresh made!  Yum!  

Amy got the Guac-A-Dog which is pretty self explanatory.  She loves avocados so this jumped out at her.  She didn't get the jalapeƱos though, to avoid some heat.  Hers looked amazing and I think I will have to try it next time, complete with jalapeƱos because I love them!

So, in short, this was another epic success in our Food Truck Summer.  We were super pleased and even though the kids opted out of this stop (they wanted McDonald's) a great time was had by all.  It's fun to support local businesses and who doesn't enjoy food that is cooked fresh for you.  Throw in a fun park picnic and we have a recipe for a fun family outing.  

The next stop?  Hmmmm, there are a few contenders but I'll keep it mum for now.  If you're here in Houston I highly suggest you track down Good Dog Hot Dog.  It'll be the best dog you've had!  Trust me!

All is well, and hungry, in Drosche Land.

Our dogs, lovingly packed together.  Mine's on top!

A close-up of mine because yum!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Monster PBJ

You know I love me some food.  Sure, I mentioned yesterday that Amy and I are going vegetarian (mostly) for June and we will likely be incorporating it into our lives in some fashion after that due to the fact that we have loved it so much and Stella's milk and soy allergies.  But that doesn't mean we can't have our splurges!

Lately, as within the last year, Amy and I have become slightly obsessed with food trucks.  Now, granted this isn't a new trend, but it's new to us.  Houston has thousands of great restaurants but who knew we also had a tremendous amount of delicious food trucks?  Who knew food trucks could be so awesome?  Well, we didn't know these things until recently.  

We haven't been to a ton, yet.  Our location out in the suburbs, along with the fact that we don't eat out a lot has kept us from building up our food truck repertoire.  However, we (Amy's great idea) have decided that this summer we would track down and try one food truck a week.  We missed the Food Truck Fest in May, so this is our compromise!

This past week I made the choice as to where we would visit and I chose Monster PBJ.  After reading great reviews on Facebook/blogs/online I knew I wanted to try it.  I love me some peanut butter so this sounded great.  We looked up their location, they seem to stay in the Museum District a lot, and we made the plans for a fun day.  The Zoo in the morning followed by a trip to Monster PBJ and then Hermann Park for a picnic with said sandwiches.  Sweet!

First of all, this is about as simple and basic as food gets.  They have a fun way to order as you mark your choices on a brown paper bag.  You choose your size, then your bread (white, wheat, gluten-free wheat (great for Stella!), nut butter (peanut, cashew, almond), fruit (apple jam, blueberry jam, strawberry jam, sliced apples, sliced bananas, sliced strawberries), sweetener (agave, honey, Nutella), crust (yes or no), grilled (yes or no), and even how you want it cut!  Turn in your bag and in a few minutes you're good to go.

I chose wheat with cashew butter and blueberry jam, kept the crust, grilled, and triangles (the only way to eat a PBJ).  OMG!  Awesome.  I have to agree with the reviews I've read that grilling is highly recommended.  Trust me.  I've never had cashew butter before so I had no clue to what I was missing out on.  Luckily Amy chose almond butter because that was my second choice, also delicious.  The boys weren't impressed (but they can be picky) which surprised me because they are peanut butter fans.  But it was lunch and they were tired from the Zoo so who knows?

I'll admit that it was the best PBJ I have ever had.  It's a good thing that they aren't too close to our house as I don't know if I could resist the temptation to visit regularly.  But I will definitely revisit.  Their prices are great and it is a lot of fun.  Who knew that a simple, plain old PBJ could be so gourmet and fun?  

Head on over to their website to check it out for yourself and maybe track them down for a bite to eat.  I noticed that they do cater private events/parties.  I pointed this out to Amy but she rolled her eyes at me!  :)  Well, writing this has made me hungry so I may have to sneak downstairs to eat a spoonful of peanut butter.  We're currently tracking down this week's food truck, Amy's choice, but I'll leave it a mystery and tell you in a later post.  Do you enjoy food trucks?  If so, what do you love?  If not, get out there and eat!

All is well, hungry for PBJ, in Drosche Land.

Make your order!

Tell me that doesn't look awesome!  YUM!

Stella playing while we wait for our order!
The boys!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Diagnosis - Part 1

So you've noticed by now the "Part 1" in the title of this post, if not look up a bit.  There it is.

I'll begin by saying that we don't have all of our answers just yet.  The pathology reports that will tell us the number of mast cells present will not be finished until the end of this week.  So hopefully by Friday we will have that news and a clearer, more conclusive picture of what is going on.  Until then we do know some things, not everything, but some things.

1 - It is an allergic reaction.

2 - Our GI doctor is proceeding with the diagnosis of Allergic Colitis.  

3 - The allergic reaction is most likely to soy.  Not totally surprising given the fact that 40% of people with a milk/dairy allergy also have an allergy to soy.  Stella falls into that statistic.

4 - Removing soy from her diet, along with the inclusion of a hypoallergenic (and expensive) toddler formula will get rid of the symptoms and colitis.  

That's about it.  We have always suspected that it was some kind of allergy-related issue, now we have some proof.  Colitis is not fun, but as far as colitis goes, allergic colitis is one of the lesser forms, mainly because it is reversible once the allergens are removed.  Soy.  Crap.  She's been on soy milk for months (since we learned of the milk protein allergy) and recently (yesterday) developed a love of tofu.  Oh well.  Just something else she can't have.

Excluding a whole other food source from her diet is not something we were looking forward to, but is a relatively easy fix.  However, in our brief research, we have found that soy is present in a lot more than you think.  The animal crackers we just bought for her to snack on because they don't have milk?  Yep, soy.  Crisco and vegetable oil, used instead of butter?  Yep, soy.  Fast foods (not that we eat a lot of it)?  Yep, soy.  So, the task ahead of us isn't an easy one.  Luckily we have been more adept at reading labels and enjoy researching so the learning curve shouldn't be too severe.

On a related note, and one I'd been meaning to blog about, we have decided to go (mostly) vegetarian for the month of June.  I have always wanted to but Amy has been a holdout until recently.  So far it has been great and we have been enjoying lots of new meatless meals.  I say mostly because we do allow meat on one day a week, sort of like a "cheat" day on a diet; just to ease in.  The boys haven't been as big of fans as Amy and I but we have tried our best to expose them to new foods while still making things available to them, like meats, so they can be happy.  Stella, though, has thoroughly enjoyed it.  She loved fruits and veggies so this was right up her alley.  Now, it looks like we may be eating like this a lot more often once June has passed.  Eating healthy isn't so bad and it's a helluva lot easier when you are also eating that way to ensure a family member's allergies are taken into consideration.  So future for that looks bright.

The one catch to today's news is that it isn't final.  Mastocytosis isn't totally ruled out yet.  That will be made more clear, hopefully, with the remaining pathology reports later this week.  Also, since it is such a rare disease and one that is very individual, there aren't super clear lines as to what numbers and levels should be in patients.  So, the reports may lead to more questions and/or tests rather than answers.  Hopefully not, but we will see.  

For now I remain positive.  We have answers, they may not be clear, but we have them.  HE has at least given us some peace of mind while we wait for the other results.  Thanks again for the continued thoughts and prayers while we brave yet another fun medical adventure.  Keep them coming and I will, of course, update once we know more.

All is well, with a few answers, in Drosche Land.         

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Procedure

I'll begin by thanking everyone for their thoughts and prayers for Stella's endoscopy and colonoscopy today.  They are much appreciated and felt.  However, please continue them as we are now playing a lovely round of The Waiting Game until test results come back, hopefully sometime next Tuesday.

But before I begin to fill you in, let me back up a bit so you get the whole picture of the goings on in Drosche Land for the past 2 days.  

Wednesday morning, 12:00 am.  Jackson wakes us up.  He's sick, throwing up.  Great.  Seriously?  Seriously.  He's also running fever.  Crap.

Amy has one last day of meetings on Wednesday so I am home with the kids again.  Wednesday is also the day we have to begin prepping Stella for her procedure.  But now Jackson is ill.  He spends the bulk of the day on a couch watching TV or playing on the iPad.  Totally uncharacteristic of Jackson.  To be still.  To be quiet.  Well, for longer than 30 seconds that is.  Braeden isn't doing so well either; he's super whiny and is also complaining of his head hurting.  Seriously?  Seriously.  Crap.

Per the doctor's orders Stella's last meal is lunch.  Now, this little girl loves to eat.  LOVES it.  So Amy and I are filled with trepidation about this from the get go.  However, that would prove to be the least of our worries.  This next part gets a little graphic so I'll spare you the gory details but trust me, you'll get the picture.

Amy comes home and we begin Stella on the prep (read: colon cleanse) for her procedures.  However, it isn't working as easily as we thought it would.  After a few doses she begins to refuse the bottle of juice/Miralax mixture because she's literally stuffed.  It's around this time that Jack begins throwing up again.  Yeah, seriously.

Calls in to the nurse relieve our fears, slightly.  Give the routine a break and then try again.  Check.  We do that and eventually it begins to work.  We stay near diapers and wipes for the rest of the evening.  Meanwhile, Jackson is continuing to be ill randomly throughout the night.  Lovely huh?  They don't tell you about these things when you're signing up to be a parent, do they?  

Long story short we all turn in at around 9:00 pm as we are all exhausted.  The boys on the floor in our room; Jackson due to the illness and Braeden due to the codependence and unwillingness to sleep in his room alone.  Whatevs, let's just all get some sleep.

Jackson is awake off and on all night long, throwing up more.  Stella wakes at 2:00 (yes dear readers, that's a.m.!)  She's hungry.  She's tired.  She's cranky.  She's tired of the results of the cleanse.  

My amazing wife manages to handle everything with fatigued grace and asks me to take over at 4:00 a.m. so she can grab an hour of sleep before heading to the hospital.  Check.

Our original plan was to take the boys with us to the hospital so we could be together.  Yeah, we should have known it wouldn't work but we thought we'd try.  As it turns out they don't let young siblings in, no shock.  Add to that the fact that Jackson is battling some wicked virus and there is no way they can go.  So I stay home with them while Amy braves it alone.  She texts me off and on while there to keep me in the look and to stay occupied.  I stay occupied with vacuuming, dishes, laundry, and Netflix.  

I'll pause here to briefly comment on my wife.  She is amazing.  There is something about being a mother that is completely different from fatherhood.  Amy is a natural.  I don't know how she does it but she does it.  All the time.  She survived and managed to make it through Stella's rough awakening from the anesthesia.

The results?  Well, we don't know much actually.  We know it's not ulcers.  We know there was a lot of mucus in her esophagus/intestines which could be due to mastocytosis.  We know her number of mast cells was elevated but still within "normal" range.  We know they took several biopsies whilst (cool word alert!) on their journey of Stella's GI tract.  That is what we are waiting on.  The pathology results from the aforementioned biopsies.  They will give us a definite answer of what is going on.  Mastocytosis?  Some allergic reaction?  Whatever it is, we will find out.  

So, we wait.  Ugh, more waiting.  It's never fun and it's never easy.  But here we are again.  HE is always working on us (me especially) on waiting.  HE is also working on reminding us that we are not in charge and HE has everything under control.  So Amy and I are focusing on that.  That and, as my wise wife put it, our beautiful perfect daughter.  Who, despite what the test results may bring to light, will always remain that way.

Once again, thanks.  Keep it up, and thanks.  On a happier note, now that Amy is finished with school and meetings, summer can officially begin!  We are very much looking forward to relaxation and family time.  It is much needed after the past 2 days.  Oh, and Jackson is doing better today (thank goodness).  Stella is doing well also but spending a lot of time resting, as we were told to expect.  So things may be, should be, hopefully will be returning to normal shortly!  That is, until the next adventure!

All is well, waiting, in Drosche Land.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


Well, it came.  

Stella's 1st birthday.

I'm sure you had it marked on your calendar, right?  :)

I can't believe it, but on Monday we celebrated one year with our little girl.  Wow, has time flown.  Saturday we had family and friends over to celebrate with us and a great time was had by all.  The birthday girl looked adorable, as always, and had a great time.  It was so special to be able to spend time with everyone to honor Stella.  As Amy put it, this was our victory lap.  We were able to commemorate the first birthday of our last baby.

Baby.  can we even call her that anymore?  She's walking now.  Talking/babbling.  Signing what she wants. She wears 2T/24 month clothes, our little chunky monkey.  So I guess in many ways she is no longer a baby.

As I have mentioned numerous times before, as you well know, the road to get Stella was paved with hardships and stress.  This past year was great, but had it's share of stresses as well.  With so much exciting change pending here in Drosche Land, Stella's birthday was just the beginning of celebrations and fun times.  

Yesterday I took her 1 year photos.  I know I have slacked off a bit lately, missing 10 and 11 months.  Life just got in the way, as did her health related drama.  But I promise, her 1 year pictures more than make up for the lack of the last few photoshoots.  I'll save the pictures for this Sunday as I have missed my weekly Sunday Snapshot posts.  What a great way to begin them again.  However, I will include many pictures below of her birthday party.  

So, I hope you enjoy them and join in celebrating her 1st birthday with us.  It means a lot and she has been such a blessing to our family.  Tomorrow is her endoscopy/colonoscopy that will help determine, once and for all (hopefully), what is going on.  I'll keep you posted of course, but thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers on the matter.  They are greatly appreciated and still needed, so keep them coming.  But for now, it's still Happy Birthday Stella!

All is well, one year later, in Drosche Land.

Opening gifts with Mommy!


More presents!

A baby!

Family & friends! 
Family & friends!


Lighting the candle on my little girl's cake!

Happy Birthday Stella!

Not a fan of the angel food cake, but she made some hilarious faces!

But she tore up the strawberries!

1 year old!

Sunday, June 02, 2013


No, this post isn't about the military. Nor is it about a tiny action figure or the film franchise based on it.

Nope, I'm talking about the GI that stands for gastrointestinal. Not newly as exciting I know. But read on to find out.

See, Stella's been having some medical drama for the past few weeks. I've not blogged about it because we've been stressed over it and we've been so busy with usual May things that I just haven't gotten around to finding the time to sit and share. But here I am now.

See, a couple of months ago she began to break out in hives. All over. We freaked out. Turns out there isn't anything you can do other than to stockpile Benadryl. We had the blood allergy test done and it came back negative for everything. It's unrelated to her milk protein allergy so we were left speechless and wondering. Then a couple of weeks ago she had some serious trouble with diarrhea. See that's what I'm blogging about today, hives and diarrhea, adventures in Drosche Land come in all kinds. Anywho. Diarrhea. So we took her to the doctors to see what could be done about it because she was pretty miserable and we were at our wits' end.

Well more blood work was done and no answers were found. So, this past Thursday we took her to a GI specialist (see how it all fits in now?). We were totally expecting an answer related to am allergy. Maybe gluten? Soy? So knows. Something we could do something about. Turns out that wasn't the case. The doctor reviewed her entire life's medical issue and asked us tons of questions. He believes that she may have a genetic disorder called mastocytosis. I know what you're thinking, Amy and I thought the same thing too. Masto what? Well, in a nutshell, your body has mast cells that help fight infection and heal your body, they keep you healthy. But something you have too many and they get confused and misfire their histamines and group together and cause problems. Symptoms? Hives, check. Diarrhea, check. Prior allergic issues, check. Flushing of the face and neck randomly,check. These things, along with some other seemingly unrelated issued are what lead him to believe this.

The troublesome thing is that his mastocytosis is extremely rare. That and hearing the symptoms was like playing connect the dots with things we've been dealing with for the past year. Hmmmm?

There is no cure for it and treatment depends of the severity which is totally different for every patient. Nice. This Thursday she will have an endoscopy and colonoscopy to see what's going on inside. Regardless of diagnosis, these tests will give us an answer as to what the issue is. Invasive is not our first choice by far, but Amy and I feel that we must have answers. We're killing ourselves trying to figure it out.

It could be something else as well, we know, something like ulcers or colitis. But we shall see once Thursday comes. Until then, we are just enjoying the beginning to our summer. Praying trying not to worry. And enjoying the little blessing that turns one year old tomorrow! Her party was yesterday (post with pictures forthcoming) and it was awesome!

So, dear readers, keep us in your thoughts and prayers. For answers and best case scenarios. That's what we're praying for. That an peace of mind, patience, and faith. We know HE already had this no matter what, but it's sometimes hard to remember.

All is well, worried and praying, in Drosche Land.

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