"Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature." ~St. Augustine

Friday, January 20, 2012

One Bite at a Time

So last night I had a little epiphany.  We had some friends who we have not seen in a long time drop by.  In fact, they have never met the boys so it was great to see them and their sweet little girl!  However, their stay extended into the boys' dinnertime.  And as you may know about me, I have a very set schedule especially around feeding times.  This is not a neurosis in me, (well maybe it is a little) it is actually a necessity to make sure that Parker gets the calories that he needs, gets practice eating solids, and doesn't have too much in his stomach at any given time which might make him throw up.   (read Zoo Light Chaos for more of my non-neurotic schedule following dilemmas)

So anyway, 5:00 ticks by and I don't start getting their dinner ready.  I think it is a little rude to do that when we have company over and the kids are playing.  I didn't want to rush them out of our house.  5:15 comes along and I start feeling a little antsy, so I go ahead and figure out what Parker will have for dinner.  I see a Sprout package of vegetable lasagna in the cupboard.  Yes, I often use packaged food for him.  BUT, it is all organic, and this particular one is 180 calories!  It is great.  It is a step 3, but I just put it in my trusty Magic Bullet and...voila - a good calorie dinner for my little man.  So anyway, back to my story.  I do just that.  I put it in the bullet.  But then I look over at the kids and they are all having a good time so I just don't have the heart to pull Parker out of that mix yet just because it takes him longer to eat his dinner.

Finally at 5:30 I decide to put Parker in  his high chair, turn the Moose CD on at a low level, and work on feeding him his dinner.  Our kitchen is open to our family room, so we still are a part of the activities and conversations.  So I am feeding him and talking, feeding him and preparing Brady's dinner, feeding him and dancing to the Moose CD.  And the next thing I know, he has finished the whole dish, all 5.5 oz of it!  And it didn't take very long.  We were probably done in about 20 minutes! 

To give you a little bit of history about feedings:  they have been my nemesis!  Seriously, we have been in occupational therapy for a year just for feeding issues.  We have done everything imaginable to help Parker eat.  We have had 2 swallow studies, both of which the results were never great.  We have used special spoons and other various eating utensils.  We have tried warm foods, cold foods, spicy foods, sweet foods, smooth foods, textured foods, foods foods foods.  (I realize that I am sounding like Dr. Seuss here)  I can't tell you how many times I have sat and actually cried while trying to feed him because it was so hard.  He would either spit it back out (not on purpose) or gag and throw up.  It used to take 45 minutes to get a very small amount down.  It was so frustrating that something so seemingly simple (I now know there is nothing simple about eating) could be so hard.  And the specialists didn't make us feel much better.  The occupational therapist told us that instead of getting better, it can get much worse because as Parker grows it will be more challenging for him to swallow and control those muscles.   I hate to admit that I started to dread feeding Parker his solids. 

And without even knowing it, that dread has disappeared.  I have been telling my husband for the past month or so that Parker has gotten so much better.  But I guess I have never really stopped and thought just how far he has come.  It used to be that I couldn't even get a whole packet of food down him.  Sometimes I would be lucky to get 2oz. down.  We always had half used packets in the refrigerator.  Not so anymore!

I stopped and thought about it.  How had I missed this big accomplishment?  Maybe because it came slowly over time.  Little by little he got better at chewing and swallowing.  Little by little more food was going in and less was coming out.  Little by little.  I have to remember that with everything that he does (and all my boys for that matter.)  Things do not happen over night.  As much as I wish it would sometimes.  So, he is still not sitting up on his own.  That's right.  But he has improved.  He is now holding his head up and controlling his trunk better.  I can sit near him and not hold on to him every second.  Eventually, that will lead to him sitting up on his own one day.  BUT, in the meantime I need to celebrate the little by little that he is doing. 

My husband, who was a serious track and basketball athlete in college, had a coach who used to say "How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time."  First of all, I would like to say that I think that saying is disgusting.  Why would I want to eat an elephant??  OK, I get it, it is a metaphor.  But still...
Anyway, this is exactly how Parker goes about his life.  He it taking one bite at a time.  He is not going to finish that elephant tomorrow, or the day after.  But he will finish it, by God, he will.  Little by little my beautiful son will finish his elephant.  But for today, I will cheer on this one bite.

Parker gets messy, but gets the job done!
Brady insisted on wearing his new hat and gloves to dinner!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Moose Don't Moo

Ok, so I have not been very good about keeping this blog that I just recently started.  This is what happens.  I get on the computer all ready to start writing...and then I look at the blog updates from others that I follow, I get reading and reading, and the next thing I know my "time"is up and I here the kids stirring.  And, oh yah - I still haven't made the bottles! 

So, I just did some reading, but I am going to cut it short so that I might get a little written on my own.

I have to tell you about the funniest of Parker's recent accomplishments.  He loves to say "moo".  He started by just saying kind of a "ma" or "mo", but it has since developed into a very distinct "moo".  And he knows what it means.  We often say "Parker what does a cow say?" and he will in turn give us a resounding "moo".  I always smile.  I also smile because Brady is loudly saying "moo" also.  Like, "duh, mom!" 

Parker has developed such a liking to his new word that he even woke up from his nap peacefully (for a change) and was quietly mooing in his crib.  Really?  Just melts my heart. 

But the kicker of it all was the other night as I was feeding them dinner.  Both Brady and Parker love music and so often I will put on their moose CD, which Grandma got for them in Montana.  (the BESTkids CD ever!) Well, one of the songs is called "A Moose don't Moo"  and the lyrics go something like this:

Moose don't moo the way milk cows do.

That is about all that I can remember.  But it repeats this chorus often and there are many "moos" throughout the song.  Well, Parker wanted to chime in.  He just kept saying "moo" throughout the whole song with a big smile on his face.  So here I am trying to feed this child (who struggles eating as it is) and he is mooing.  That's right, he has a mouthful of pureed lasagna and is smiling and mooing.  I started laughing, he started laughing, Brady started laughing, even Ryder was squealing.  It was such a hilarious moment.  So we took a break from the lasagna and sang and danced around the kitchen for the rest of that song.   Because maybe moose don't moo...but my Parker man do! 

Moose Tunes for Kids
This is not an advertisement.  I just love this CD and would recommend it. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Zoo Light Chaos

(This was written on Dec. 20.  Just a bit behind posting.)

So, yes, we decided to venture out and take all 3 boys to the Zoo for the Christmas lights.  I have always heard about the display but in the 20 some years that I have lived in Portland I have never been to see them.  I am looking for new holiday traditions to start with my family and this seemed like a good place to start.   Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a very set schedule with my kids and thrive off of keeping to it.  So stepping outside of this routine is very difficult for me.  I realize that the kids will not die if they don't eat  dinner at exactly at 5:15, have their milk and cartoons at 6:30 and be down for bed by 7:15.  Yes, I get that.  And before I bash myself too much, I would like to say that a schedule has been necessary to survive twins (one with special needs) and then a new baby as well.  Although my husband sometimes gives me a bad time about my craziness of sticking with a schedule, he sure didn't complain when I had them all sleeping 12 hours at night by 3 months-old.  But I digress...where was I?  Oh, yes, I was explaining that it is a big thing for me to agree to throw everything off by doing an outing that I can't plan around our times. 

To find parking and to even get in without waiting in line for hours, we had to get there when it was still light out, at 4:30.  That means that we would need to leave our house by 4:00 which really means loading up by 3:45.  (I have learned that I am always about 15 minute behind what I planned because of forgetting about the "loading time" involved with 3 little guys and all of their stuff!) 

Well, we were actually driving down our road by 4:06, which is pretty darn impressive.  The car ride there was fine, which is always a good sign.   We found parking quickly, which had me relieved.  And my parents were there at exactly the same time as us!  It was going to be a good night!  

Because we are zoo members we were able to skip the line and scoot right in.  First things first, I have my mom take a family picture of all of us before anyone breaks down.  (I know my kids.)  Then I am already stressing out.  Should we go into the restaurant now and feed them the food I had packed, or do we wait?  It is only 4:30 and they usually don't eat until 5:15ish.   Now this is where things are different for my family.  If we had 3 typical kids I would not worry.  They could eat after we see the lights - while we are seeing the lights - on the drive home - or when we get home late.  Or if push came to shove, they could just have snacks instead of a full dinner.  BUT, Parker has special needs.  This fact that keeps getting thrown in my face.  Eating is a big deal for him.  Not only is he extremely under weight, but it is hard for him to eat even pureed foods.  So, the food situation is always a challenge.  He needs to eat.  And he needs to eat on schedule.  Because if he eats his solid dinner too late, then he won't be hungry for his bottle (formula) that comes later and that is a main source of  his nutrition.  And if he eats too early, he won't be hungry because he just had a bottle at 3:00.  (you see why I have a schedule, right?)  And he needs to have a proper chair and space to eat.  You can't just hand him a cheese stick or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the go.  I decide to wait.  We can always come back to the restaurant.  But we should get in line for the train, which is supposed to be a big hit. 

We did get in line and it wasn't too long, so I shouldn't complain.  However, the boys started to lose it.  I am not sure why, but Ryder, my very easy-going 6-month-old decided to start crying.  I am so glad that he is normally very easy-going, because his cry is more like a very loud squeal/whine.  It is very hard to describe, but it is not good.  At the same time, Parker also decided he was not happy and began wailing (yes, wailing). 

(this is the beginning of the wailing session.)

It was quite a scene.  We are stuck in a packed line of people (picture Disneyland lines that weave back and forth) while 2 out of 3 of my kids are screaming at the top of their lungs.  Brady (my typical developing 2-year-old) decides to take advantage of this and run off down the line of people.  Luckily my wonderful parents were there and my mom was able to get him.   As I looked around, I was sure that I would find some other kids that were fussy or crying.  But no, it seemed only mine were upset.  How can that be?  Oh, wait!  I see another little girl crying.  (Why does that make me happy?)  But she is quickly consoled when her mom joins her and her dad in line.  Now we are for sure the only family with crying kids.  Ryder, I could see him crying.  He is a baby and didn't get his last nap.  But Parker...why does he have to get so upset at times?   Then I start thinking, maybe it won't be good for him to go on the train ride.  Am I ignorant to think  this event will make him happy?  I started over-analyzing all of my decisions for him right there in line for the train.  Am I forcing my idea of happiness on him, when really that is not what makes him happy?  Is it too loud for him?  Is he scared?  I looked at my husband, who  was also giving me that defeated look.  He said that he could take Parker and we all could go on the train without them.  I was about to go that route.  Then my mom took Parker from my husband and said "let me talk to him."  What did she say to him?  I don't know.  Maybe it was just her calm touch, but he quieted right away.  He seemed content waiting in my mom's arms and had fun and giggles on the train!  I wish I could say the same for Ryder who continued to cry throughout the whole ride.  (sorry people who were around us!) 

(Ryder, teary-eyed on the train ride)

After the rather over-rated train ride, we decided to do a quick walk around of part of the zoo.  Jimmy (my husband) carried Parker the whole time because he was not wanting to be in the stroller. I carried Ryder (who was still crying), my mom held on to Brady and my dad pushed the empty double stroller.  We took our obligatory pictures, walked through the beautiful  lights and then  got the hell out of there. 

As we walked quickly towards the exit I thought in my mind, Parker didn't get his dinner, we made quite a scene at the train, Ryder is clearly not happy about something, but next year will be better.  Yes, it will.  Next Christmas we will continue this new tradition, and it will be better...