Friday, December 19, 2014

Little Dude - 9 Months

Age: 9 months

Weight and height: 16 pounds, 13 ounces and 28 inches long which puts him at the seventh percentile for weight and the 32nd for height.  He didn't gain much weight last month since he spent most of the month sick.
For comparison here are the other kids' sizes at 9 months old:
Princess: 15 pounds, 12 ounces and 27 1/2" long
Little Man: 18 pounds, 4 ounces and 30" long
Star: 15 pounds and 27 3/4" long

Wearing size: Size 3 diapers and 6-9 month clothes. 

Likes: He's very sociable and LOVES attention.  He loves being on the floor to play and he's obsessed with paper, which is not good because he eats it and then chokes on it. 

Dislikes: He really hates it when I do his G Tube and skin care every morning-not because it hurts, but because he can't roll over and play when I'm doing it.  To get him to lay still and stop fighting me, I play a Youtube video on my tablet for him to watch while I'm taking care of his tube.  He also is not a fan of his carseat. 

Eating habits: He gets five bottles a day with 5.5 ounces of water and 3 scoops of the Alimentum formula.  He drinks about 50% of his formula and the rest is tube fed.  Because he was sick last month and was having a hard time tolerating his formula, I backed off on the baby food and am just now starting to offer it once or twice a day again.  He tasted an orange and immediately had excema breakouts all over his body so we're assuming that citrus is off the table for now along with apples which he also seems to be sensitive to.        
Sleeping habits: He takes a morning nap from about 9:30 am to 10:30 when I wake him up for his next feeding.  He's such a light sleeper that when I try to tube feed him so he can sleep longer, he wakes up anyways.  He stays up until after his 1:30 feeding and then sleeps until his 4:30 feeding.  He's dropped the third nap of the day and goes to bed around 8 pm at night after his 7:30 feeding.  
Milestones: He still can't sit on his own, but we've been working on that skill.  He learned how to army crawl though and is all over the house now!  He also figured out how to hold two objects (during his OT session while we were discussing how to get him to do that!) and is saying "dada" a lot.  He's only mildly developmentally delayed at this point. 
Miscellaneous: Little Dude had his genetics appointment to discuss the results of his last round of genetic testing.  The results were as we expected...everything came back negative except for the MYBPC3 gene mutation which we'd already been informed of two months ago when the results came back.  The gene mutation causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy so we'll monitor his heart with echocardiograms every few years.  His last echo at the beginning of December was normal so there's no concern for his heart at this point.  We'll also probably be tested for the gene as it can be a familial thing.  Because Little Dude is doing well overall right now other than his respiratory issues, excema, and feeding tube, the geneticist will see him back in about a year for another evaluation and we'll decide at that point whether to pursue further DNA testing.   

Thank you for stopping by my blog! I appreciate each of my readers and would love to connect with you on Facebook and Instagram!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

8 Survival Tips for When Your Child is Sick

We're in the throes of a stomach flu that's making its way around my house.  A sick 2 year old who doesn't know how to grab the puke bucket in a timely manner makes things very interesting.

To make things a little bit easier, I have some tricks I use to prepare for and survive when my kids get sick.

  • Keep empty ice cream buckets under their beds at all times.  My older kids know they're under there and can grab them if need be.  Also, this way, I'm not scrambling to find a bucket for them in the middle of the night.
  • If there's any chance that someone will throw up during the night, I lay several layers of big bath towels or blankets on their bed.  There's nothing worse than having to re-make a bed in the middle of the night so grabbing a towel off the top of the bed and throwing it in a laundry basket makes things so much easier.  If the first round of vomit caught you off guard, strip the bedding and throw some towels or blankets over the mattress until morning.  It's also a good idea to keep some flannel backed vinyl tableclothes on hand to protect surfaces. 
  • Keep an extra set of clothing in the car for each kid.  Kids are notorious for throwing up while you're out so having something extra for them to wear can be a lifesaver.  I currently need to restock Star's extra set of clothing as the stomach flu hit her hard while we were out running errands on Friday.  It wasn't pretty, and I'm pretty sure a janitor somewhere hates us.
  • Tape a dosage chart for tylenol and other meds inside your medicine cabinet.  I have a box set up just for medication and other stuff we may need when the kids are sick so I can easily find what they need and move the box to wherever I need it.
  • Move the sick child to a location where you can keep an eye on them.  I throw a big blanket over the couch or on the floor and set up a "sick spot" with a bucket, tissues, wet wipes, and some books and small toys.  If the blanket gets dirty, toss it in the laundry and replace it with another one.  This is another time the vinyl tablecloth can come in handy.
  • I keep a few pull-ups in different sizes on hand for times when diarrhea strikes.  My kids have never complained about wearing them when they're sick and it saves a lot of messes.  Obviously, this only works for younger kids.
  • I plan a "catch-up" day for household chores after everyone is better.  I can relax a little bit about the disastrous state of my house when I'm too busy cleaning messes and rocking sick little ones to clean if I know that I will spend a day catching up when it's all over.
  • I keep Gatorade in the cupboard and my kids know that they can only have it when they're sick.  Don't want them getting dehydrated!  Also, even when my kids are past the sippy cup stage, I keep a few on hand so they can sip a drink and stay hydrated while they're resting without worrying about spilling.
One more bonus tip...enjoy the peaceful moments when they're sleeping and look like little angels before they wake to throw up again :)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pie Crust Cookies or How to Use Up Extra Pie Dough

The one problem I have with making pie is that I always end up with extra pie dough.  I hate throwing food away so I came up with a way to use it up.

Roll the extra dough out just like you would for a pie crust.  Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the dough.  Re-roll as necessary until you've used it up.

How to use up extra pie dough

Lay the cutout shapes on a cookie sheet (I line mine with parchment paper) and brush with melted butter.  Sprinkle the cookies liberally with cinnamon sugar.  Sometimes, I skip the melted butter because I'm lazy and they still turn out delicious!
How to use up extra pie dough

Pop the cookies in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until golden.  Watch them closely because they'll burn fast!

How to use up extra pie dough
Star's baby doll helped me watch the cookies while they baked

How to use up extra pie dough

Thank you for stopping by my blog! I appreciate each of my readers and would love to connect with you on Facebook and Instagram! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Random Monday - November 17, 2014

Star has never been jealous of Little Dude despite how much time I've spent holding him.  However, I picked Little Man up the other day and she went nuts.  She kept tugging on my leg and yelling "Out, out!" which is her word for "up."  When I finally put him down and picked her up, she snuggled in and looked up at me with a smile, "My spot." she said with satisfaction.

Little Man: "Mommy, can we glue this feather to the front door?"
Me: "Um, why do you want to do that?"
Little Man: "So everyone would know we have a feather!"
I'm not gluing a synthetic blue feather to my front door. So everyone....WE HAVE A FEATHER. Just so you know.

Little Man was digging through the diaper bag and happened to find a *ahem* feminine product that I'd stashed in the deepest pocket.  Holding it up, he yelled across the house, "Mommy, what do you use this for?!?"
I'm not going to have that discussion with my four old son.

It's officially winter here.  We had our first snow and bought our first snowblower.  Personally, I think a shovel works just as well and is a lot cheaper...says the spouse who doesn't do any snow removal around here.

Little Man loved shoveling even though he basically just moved it in front of the garage door.

I'd forgotten how two year olds throw marathon tantrums.  An hour of screaming over the fact that I gave you the blue cup instead of the red one is really pretty ridiculous and it earns you a timeout in your bed.  Not that I'm talking about any one of my children in particular, of course.  Especially, the two year old.

Princess: "Look at those huge ice cubes hanging outside!"

If you don't read the MommyShorts blog or follow her on Instagram, you're missing out on some hilarious stuff.  To up the ante on the hilarity, her two year old now is gramming as well.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Best Time to Be a Kid

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Yesterday, it snowed for the first time this year.  Normally, I'm breaking out the Christmas music by this time in November, but I'm running a little late this year.  Something about having four kids and being insanely busy, I think.  But Christmas has definitely been on my mind more in the last week and I've started thinking about everything I have to do to get ready.  Christmas shopping, decorating, cookie baking, ordering Christmas cards, etc.  Last year, we didn't set up our Christmas tree since space was very limited in our apartment so I'm really looking forward to decorating our new house.  The kids keep sneaking downstairs to the basement to peek at the Christmas tree in the closet under the stairs and whisper to each other about how they can't wait for it to come upstairs. 

One of my favorite Christmas traditions from when I was a kid is our reading party.  Yup, you read that right!  A party where everyone picks a cozy spot to read a Christmas book or two and snack on treats while Christmas music plays.  Of course, it's a little harder to relax and read a book when you have young kids, but last year, I was able to have our first Christmas reading party with Princess and Little Man.  I put Star to bed, made hot chocolate, and broke out the Christmas cookies.  Then the three of us sat on the floor and I read Christmas books out loud.  They didn't last long before they started getting tired, but it was fun to see them enjoying a tradition I loved so much as a kid. 

What holiday traditions are you passing on to your children?  Share how you make the holidays the best time to be a kid on Instagram or Twitter and use the hashtags #BestTimetoBeaKid #Contest for a chance to be featured in Gymboree's end-of-year video and to be entered to win a $2,500 shopping spree at Gymboree.  To see official contest rules and checkout all the fun visit this link.  And seriously, a shopping spree for adorable clothes and accessories for your kids...that definitely would make it the #BestTimetoBeaKid!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Only One?

I recently read this article about a 12 year old boy who is starving because he can't eat and it was upsetting to me.  First of all because this boy and his family have to go through something like this and secondly because of this statement in the article: "He lacks all impulse to eat or drink. And he might be the only person in the world burdened with this bizarre medical condition."  (Italics mine)

The only person in the world?  Really?  Apparently, the reporter didn't bother to do much research on the subject other than on the boy featured in the article himself.  I belong to a support group on Facebook called "Pediatric Feeding Disorders/FTT/GERD/Kiddos with Feeding Tubes" with over 6000 members.  Six thousand members.  That's six thousand parents and caregivers of children with feeding issues.  It's estimated that approximately half a million people worldwide have a feeding tube.  The lack of understanding for pediatric feeding disorders is astounding and quotes like the one in the article only perpetuate the lack of awareness.  

Eight month old Little Dude is one of the many children who have a feeding disorder.  He rarely shows hunger cues and, if it were not for his strict feeding schedule, would go all day without eating.  Every three hours, I make a bottle and work with him to get him to drink it.  Sometimes he drinks the whole thing, but more often then not, he drinks very little or none so I have to feed the rest of his formula through his feeding tube.  Despite my constant efforts to feed him orally, he gets about 50% of his food via his G Tube.  After running dozens of tests, his doctors still have no idea why he doesn't eat.  The lack of diagnosis means that it can be hard to get people to take his feeding disorder seriously.  I've been accused of overreacting or just not trying hard enough to feed him.  Some people see the feeding tube as the easy way out (Sorry, but having a hole in your child's stomach and dealing with tubes, syringes, infections, etc, is actually NOT easy).  Let me tell you, until you have watched your child waste away and starve in front of you, you cannot understand how absolutely heart wrenching that is.    

Little Dude at 2 1/2 months old, shortly after having his G Tube placed

Little Dude at 7 months old, 5 months after getting his G Tube

The article concludes with a plea from the parents.  They're desperate to find others going through the same thing as them both for the support and to help them find answers.  It's heartbreaking that they think they're alone in this struggle.

So why aren't they aware that so many others are dealing with similar issues?  Probably because pediatric feeding disorders are not usually talked about.  The general consensus is that children who won't eat are spoiled and manipulating their parents.  Telling someone that your child has a feeding disorder opens you up to a lot of criticism and critiquing of your parenting skills.  Not being able to feed your child, the most basic of parental care, makes you feel like a complete failure as a mother or father.  Parents of children like my Little Dude often hear statements such as "He'll eat when he gets hungry enough.  Babies won't starve themselves!" or "Let me take her home for a while.  I'll get her to eat!"  Both of these comments are untrue and hurtful because they only make a parent who is struggling to feed their child feel even worse than they already do.

If you have a child with feeding problems, know that you are not alone.  There are many groups and pages on Facebook for support and information, internet forums and websites ( is a good place to start and has many resources), and some areas even have local groups where you can meet other parents with similar issues.

If you are blessed to have children who eat normally, don't take them for granted and please don't jump to conclusions or judgement when you see another parents struggling to feed their child.  You can find tips on how to support a parent with a child or children with feeding disorders here.       

Thank you for stopping by my blog! I appreciate each of my readers and would love to connect with you on Facebook and Instagram!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Little Dude - 8 Months

Yes, I know I skipped Little Dude's 7 month update. Oh well, I wasn't aiming for mother-of-the-year so I'm fine with it!   

Age: 8 months

Weight and height: 16 pounds, 4 ounces.  I'll find out his height at his 9 month checkup next month. 

Wearing size: Size 3 diapers and 6-9 month clothes.  He must have had a growth spurt because all of a sudden, his 3-6 month clothes were too short for him. 

Likes: He's very sociable and LOVES attention.  He loves blankets and snuggling.  His favorite toys are ones that play music.  He LOVES rolling over and has figured out that he can get places by doing so

Dislikes: Being where he can't see me.  He also really hates it when I do his G Tube care every morning-not because it hurts, but because he can't roll over and play when I'm doing it.  To get him to lay still and stop fighting me, I play a Youtube video on my tablet for him to watch while I'm taking care of his tube.  He's a big fan of Baby Einstein, Peter Hollens (his favorite is Ashland's Song-he smiles whenever I turn it on), and Lindsey Stirling

Eating habits:  He gets five 5.5 ounce bottles a day which means that I don't have to stay up late to do the last feeding of the day while he's asleep anymore.  He takes about 50% of his formula by mouth and the rest is tube fed.  He usually gets baby food three times a day-2 tablespoons of rice cereal in the morning and 2 tablespoons of baby food each for lunch and supper.  His excema flared up when I gave him applesauce so after trialing it again with the same results, apples are on his do-not-eat list.  He does seem to have some issues with staying full longer than he should.  He was able to eat a 4 ounce jar of baby food in a sitting and so we tried cutting back on his formula since he was eating so much food, but he ended up losing 11 ounces in 6 days when we did that so for now we're focusing on formula.  He also stays full a lot longer when he eats baby food and isn't able to handle taking formula for long periods of time after eating (longer than normal) so the most baby food I give him at a time is 2 ounces which is still pushing it a little.  He is developing the same eating habits for baby food as he has for formula-sometimes he eats it well and sometimes he doesn't.
Sleeping habits: His sleeping habits have seriously improved.  It kind of happened overnight (pun intended) when I moved Star out of the crib and moved him in about a month ago.  That night, I laid him down awake and he fell asleep.  ON HIS OWN!!!!  Ever since then, I've been able to lay him down awake in the crib (he won't do it anywhere else) most of the time for naps and bedtime and he will fall asleep, usually without crying too much.  Every once in a while, I still have to rock him to sleep, but I find that I can appreciate that a lot more now that I'm not spending literally half my day rocking him.

That smile kills me with cuteness

Milestones: He has SIX teeth already!  They didn't seem to bother him much when they came in so I didn't really notice until they had already popped through.  He has two on the bottom and four on the top.  He's also rolling over like crazy in both directions (right and left although he still prefers rolling to the left), and I saw him push himself up on his arms the other day.  We've been practicing sitting unassisted a LOT (I sit behind him with my hands close enough to catch him without touching him).  He's not ready to sit on his own, but at he's getting better at keeping his balance for short periods of time.    
Miscellaneous: He's gotten sick twice in the last month and a half which, obviously, is bad, but, he managed to stay out of the hospital both times so that's awesome!  His G Tube site looks great right now, thanks to the Granulotion and thankfully his Strep has not come back again so no infections lately.  We're watching it closely though and if there's any change in his stoma, we'll be taking action immediately because it worsens so quickly. 

Thank you for stopping by my blog! I appreciate each of my readers and would love to connect with you on Facebook and Instagram!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

11 Tips for Supporting Parents of Children With Feeding Issues

It's unknown how many children have pediatric feeding disorders and issues, but there are more than most people realize.  Just a few of the many reasons for a child's inability to eat are GERD,  aspiration, allergies, motility issues, etc.  The list is extensive (you can see a partial list here) and sometimes a child never actually gets a diagnosis.

Parents of little ones with feeding issues face a lot of challenges and often feel misunderstood and like they don't have support.  I've put together a list of ways you can support a parent of a child with feeding issues.       

1. Reach out to me.  Just having someone listen and not give advice or second-guess my decisions is huge.

2. Help me out with my other kids.  Taking care of a child with a feeding issue is very time-consuming, and I often worry that my other children aren't getting enough attention.

3. Be sensitive when complaining or bragging about your child's eating habits.

4. Don't compare my child to a child who's a picky eater.  A picky eater is NOT the same as a child with a feeding disorder.  

5. Don't leave my child out of activities or parties.  Just because a child is not able to eat like everyone else doesn't mean that he or she doesn't want to have fun like everyone else.

6. Don't suggest different diets, treatments, etc.  I work very closely with my child's doctor to come up with the best plan for his or her diet and feeding methods, and chances are that the trick you read about in a parenting magazine to get kids to eat isn't going to work.  On that same note, don't ask if I've tried this, that, or the other thing.  Believe me, I've tried EVERYTHING.

7. Don't tell me I'm over-reacting.  I'm not.  Children with feeding issues can literally starve to death without proper treatment.  On that same note, "I know he'll be just fine" is not actually helpful to hear when I don't know exactly what the future holds for my child.  I'm being realistic, not pessimistic.  

8. Don't be nervous or avoid me when I'm tube feeding my child.  Ask questions, but DON'T say things like, "Oh, that's gross." 

9. Don't assume I'm a lazy parents because I'm tube feeding my child or giving him or her special high-calorie food or drinks.  This does NOT mean that I've given up, it means that I'm okay with my child getting help to get the nutrition he or she needs to survive.  And believe me, I've second-guessed myself about this enough and don't need anyone else doing the same.

10. Don't judge me when you see me giving my kid junk food and high calorie/high fat foods to eat and cheering him or her on when they actually eat it.  My kiddo struggles to gain weight and is under doctor's orders to eat things like that.  Do NOT lecture me on the benefits of eating healthy.

11. Don't tell me that you could never do what I do.  I didn't think I could do it either until I had to.  As a parent, you do whatever it takes to care for your child.  A lot of times, I'm falling apart on the inside and hearing how strong I am over and over again makes me feel like I'm failing because I'm not that strong.  I'm just taking care of my kids like any parent would do.

Thank you for stopping by my blog! I appreciate each of my readers and would love to connect with you on Facebook and Instagram!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Random Monday - November 3, 2014

If you haven't seen it yet, go read my review on "Their Name is Today" by Johann Christoph Arnold and enter to win a copy of the book for yourself.  But only if you have children.  Or grandchildren.  Or students.  Or nieces or nephews.  Or come in contact with children at all.

I have three of the four kids' winter clothes unpacked.  Little Man will just have to freeze in his short sleeved shirts until I get around to re-working his closet too.  Or he could just listen to his ever-so-smart Mommy and wear a sweatshirt instead of whining about how cold he is.

Speaking of switching out the kids' clothes, Little Dude outgrew his 3-6 month clothes and I had to get the 6-9 month clothes out for him.  I may or may not have cried a little while I was packing away his 3-6 month clothes because first of all, there's this and also because he didn't get to wear a lot of his clothes because they weren't G Tube friendly.  I know it's a small thing, but it still bothered me that he missed out on getting to wear some of the clothes passed down from his big brother because of his G Tube.

If you follow me on Instagram, I apologize for the repeat pictures.  But seriously, these kids are so cute, I don't think it'll kill you to look at them again :)

We don't celebrate Halloween for religious reasons, but we still let the kids dress up for school.  I saw a pizza costume at Target and knew that Little Man had to have it as he's insanely obsessed with pizza (he'd be thrilled if he could have it for all three meals and a snack everyday).  But the price tag made me back away shaking my head.  So instead, I headed over to Hobby Lobby and picked up some felt and made one for him.  It was super fast to sew up and turned out really cute.  He absolutely loves it and begs to wear it everywhere we go.

I have a weird sense of humor.  It's genetic.  My whole family is weird.  But even I know it was a little pathetic that I spent several days looking for Little Man's dress-up cowboy hat just so I could get this picture of Little Dude...

Folks, meet Walker Texas Ranger.  Hahahahahahaha!!!!  I slay myself...  *crickets chirping*  Okay, fine.  At least I thought it was funny.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Their Name is Today" Book Review and Giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"): Many thanks to the Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

About the book:
Despite a perfect storm of hostile forces that threaten to deny children a happy, healthy childhood, courageous parents and teachers can turn the tide.  Yes, we can reclaim childhood, says Johann Christoph Arnold, whose books have helped more than a million readers throughout the challenges of education and family life.  In Their Name is Today, he highlights drastic changes in the way our society treats children.  But he also brings together the voices of dedicated parents and educators who are finding creative ways to give children the time and space they need to grow.  Cutting through the noise of conflicting opinions, Arnold takes us to the heart of education and parenting by defending every child's right to the joy and wonder of childhood.

When I started reading Their Name is Today, I sat down with a highlighter so I could highlight the points I liked or wanted to remember.  Before I was halfway done with the first chapter, I'd abandoned the highlighter in lieu of turning down the top corner of the pages I thought contained valuable information because I was highlighting so much.  By the beginning of the second chapter, I'd given that up as well because just about every page had a corner folded down.

The thought that kept going through my head was, "Every person who comes in contact with children NEEDS to read this book."  That includes parents, grandparents, teachers, daycare providers, Sunday School teachers, etc.  The US Department of Education especially needs to read this because the public school system could use a pretty big overhaul as the current system is damaging to so many children.  Believe me when I say that I will definitely be passing this book around to my friends and family and encouraging them to buy their own copies to keep.     

Arnold emphasizes the blessings that children are and how much responsibility we, as adults, have towards them.  Our society sees children as a burden that is to be pushed off on someone else to deal with.  We've forgotten that children are actually adults-in-training and without the care and love they desperately need, they will not grow up to be the kind of adults this world needs to keep going.  Their Name is Today reminds the reader of the importance of children and pinpoints many of the issues facing children and the adults raising them today.  But it doesn't stop there like so many articles I've read.  It continues with solutions and ideas that each parent, each teacher, each caregiver can utilize to help one more child have the childhood they deserve.   

Do you have children?  Babysit?  Teach?  Come in contact with children at all?  Then you are going to want to read this book!  Win your own copy by entering on the Rafflecopter widget below.

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