Monday, February 25, 2013

My little gymnast

Russell really, really wanted Daddy to help him do somersaults!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Russell's Words

At Russell's 12-month checkup, he didn't know any words.  At that age, babies are supposed to use at least three words other than Mama and Dada.  Since Russell is already in the Early Intervention program, I told the pediatrician that at his next eval he would probably qualify for speech therapy, and he said that that would be good.  (I love having a ped who trusts that I'm on top of things.)

Not two weeks later, Russell spoke (and signed!) his first word!  "More."  I was feeding him baby cheetos in the airport.  It's a little weird to me that my FTT baby's first word was because he wanted more food.  Fine by me!

Within the following week he spoke many more words!  "Da" for Dad.  "Wasat?" for What's that?  "Hi."  "Dog."

As of today, at 14 months, here is a list of all of the words he knows and uses (pronunciations, if different, are in parenthesis):

Mom (Ma)
Dad (Da)
Hi, while waving excitedly
Whoa...! (used all.of.the.time!  "Whoa!" when he sees a new toy, "Whoa" at the dinosaur museum.  It's like everything is so exciting to him!)
Dog (daw)
Thank you (ay-too)
More (mo, while signing)
That (dat, while pointing)
Love you (ya-yu)
Night-night (nigh-nigh)
Auntie (aw-tee)
Cat (at)
Rawr (as in what a lion, bear, dinosaur, etc. says...and he says it while playing with those animals)
Vroom (as in what a car says...again, he says it while driving toy cars around on the floor)
Please (This one he doesn't speak, he only signs it.  The sign is done with an open hand, moved in a small circle on your chest.  He doesn't do it on his own chest, but he does it on the chest of the person closest to him, or on his high chair tray.  Cutest thing ever, when he pats his little hand on my chest to ask for a bite of whatever I'm eating while he's in my arms.  I love it.)

I'm probably missing some words, but that gives you a pretty good idea of the huge language explosion that happened in the last two months.  Russell is also getting better at non-verbal communication.  He gestures and points when he wants something.  We can hold up a food and he'll wave his arms and make a "yucky" face if he doesn't want it, and he'll get really excited and reach for it if he does want it.  He is also really good at throwing himself to the floor and crying when he wants something that he can't have, or if Caleb snatches a toy away from him.  It's kinda like the terrible twos, only a whole year early!

This is the look Russell gave me when I found that he had discovered that Caleb's stash of juice boxes have straws attached...that happen to be very fun to detach.  I found a stack of de-strawed juice boxes next to a stack of de-juice boxed straws.  It's one of his new favorite pastimes.

Russ is also getting better at comprehending what we say.  Just today he discovered where we keep the chore boots.  He tipped one over and picked up the dirt chunks on the bottom.  I told him "no-no, that's not a toy" and I put the boot back.  He put the dirt chunk back, and crawled away.

And I must say, I'm so very proud that both of my children used "please" and "thank you" before they used the word "no."  I feel like that makes me a good parent.  ;)

Also, Russ won't say most words if prompted.  He'll say them in the appropriate context on his own, such as saying, "Auntie!" when my sister comes home and he sees her for the first time all day.  But we can't point at my sister and say, "Who is this?"  If we say, "Night-night, love you," then he'll respond, "Love you."  But we have never gotten him to answer appropriately when we point to a picture of a dog and ask what it is, for example.  It's weird.  It makes it hard to "practice" with him.

Russell is also learning body parts!  He points to his belly on demand, and sometimes his nose and ears.

To wrap up, here is a cute video of my cute boys.  Russell says "hi" in his deep, breathy voice.  So cute!

Friday, February 15, 2013

It's Feeding Tube Awareness Week!

Happy Feeding Tube Awareness week!

Remember the video that I shared last year, showing step by step how we gravity feed Caleb every three hours?  Well, it must be helping people, because it has almost 900 views on youtube!  (I'm really regretting not doing my hair that day....)  Here is it again, in case you missed it:

This year I wanted to share some lighthearted peaks into the lives of parents of children with feeding tubes.  I'm part of an online support group for parents dealing with pediatric feeding issues and a few weeks ago one member asked, "You know you're the parent of a tubie when_____."  Here are some of the more popular answers that had us all laughing at ourselves because of this bazaar world that we live in.

You know you're the parent of a tubie when:

  • You use a 60ml syringe in the baste a turkey, to make filled cupcakes, etc.
  • You buy KY jelly for your toddler [for you non-tubie parents, this is used to lubricate a new feeding tube so it goes into the stoma easier].
  • You know what stomach fluid tastes like.
  • Your child is hungry, so she pulls up her shirt and points to her button
  • You are cautious of the button on every child you care for...even though none but your own has a tube [this took a lot of getting used to after Russell was born!  It was kind of nice when he had his umbilical cord stump, so I had something to be cautious of.  Many tubie parents would cringe at the sight of Russell sliding down the stairs on his tummy...that would surely pull out a tube!].
  • You have lifted your non-tubie's shirt to try to connect them to a feed.
  • Clothes shopping for your child is all about how accessible the tube would be (no onesies!), and if those pants would fall down off of his tiny waist
  • You're in awe while watching a healthy baby eat and drink
  • Gifts are wrapped in medical tape
  • Your toddler drinks more fluids from a 12ml syringe than from a cup, sippy cup, or bottle
  • You hear phantom beeping all night long [from the feeding beeps if there is anything wrong, like a kink in the tubing, or a clump in the formula, or when the feeding is done].  It drives us CRAZY!  We can't watch a movie without pausing it at least twice to listen to see if the beeping is real or in our heads!
  • You see a toddler wearing a backpack and you look close to see if it has tubing coming out the side and going under the child's shirt.
  • You are so used to being puked on that instead of thinking of how gross it is, you think of how many calories were just lost, and if you dare try to make them up.
  • Cookies, suckers, and green beans count as "dinner."
  • Your child pukes and you're so used to it that you can just clean it up and get on with what you were doing.
  • Chunky puke is revolting, but formula puke is no big deal.
  • Cleaning up puke while you eat doesn't phase you.
  • You tell your friends that you have to go "plug in" your child, then you wonder why they give you a funny look.
  • You plan your day around a feeding schedule.
  • You get all excited when your child LICKS something!
  • You ask other parents, "Don't you wish your child had a tube, too?  That way you could give them meds and fluids when they're sick!"
  • When you order a kids' meal for yourself so your kid can have a toy.
  • When you have drawers and cupboards in the kitchen devoted to syringes and medical supplies.
Well...when I originally read this list, I laughed and laughed!  But now, typing it up for all of you, I wonder if you will "get it," or if you'll even think it's funny.  These aren't sad things.  They're normal things (for us tubie parents).  And it's so funny for us to realize it, because they're so obviously not normal for the rest of the population.  So go ahead and laugh with us.  Because I'm telling you, this is funny stuff!

Happy Feeding Tube Awareness week!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Musical Baby

Russell loves to dance.  Always has.  It's like he just can't help it!  I think he's got music in his soul.  This pleases me.  :)

Although he enjoys the classics, he can also appreciate the trends.  Here is his reaction to hearing Gangnam Style playing in the other room.  (Please ignore the whiny toddler in the background.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


One of my goals this year is to cook more.  I've never been much of a cooker.  I love to bake, but I haven't done much of that since Caleb's diagnosis.  It's been hard finding where food fits into our family.  But now that Russell is over one year old, he's supposed to be eating primarily table food.  And since he doesn't have any food restrictions at this point, I want him to be comfortable eating a variety of flavors and textures.  Realistically, a good portion of what goes into his mouth comes right back out after a few chews.  It's not a good habit for a FTT baby to have.

And then there's Caleb.  Eating is a social thing, and even when he can't eat the same foods as us, he still benefits from having us all sit at a table together, modeling the use of utensils, chewing, etc.

And then there's me.  I'm not picky in the sense that there are a lot of foods that I don't like.  I like pretty much anything.  But if something doesn't sound good to me at that moment, I have a hard time making myself eat it.  So when we don't have something planned for dinner and Nate looks in the fridge and says, "We could have tacos...pasta...," then I'm like, "GROSS!  Yuck!  No way!"  And I end up eating a granola bar that's about as healthy as a candy bar for dinner.  Then an hour later I'm hungry and I eat more packaged junk.  Another one of my goals is to be healthier--I have no intention of losing weight (although a few pounds would be alright), but I want to feel generally better.  You know.  Move more.  Not get tired from pushing my lightweights in their stroller up the hill at the zoo.  That sort of thing.

And then there's Nate.  He loves to cook.  He says that he's never cranky while he's in the kitchen cooking.  It's his happy place.  He contributes to our dinners a lot, and he's glad to do it.  But I get the feeling that he'd be glad to come home to some dinner made by me, too.

Enter: The Menu.

Such a novel idea.  Why did I never think of this before?

I came up with 28 meals that we all enjoy and organized them into five different weeks.  Each week contains one or two meals that takes some effort to prepare, and the rest are easy to throw together.  Most of them I don't even need a recipe for.  Some days are empty, for eating out or for leftovers or for whatever else happens to be going on that day.  I tried to put similar meals on different weeks (so we don't have lasagna and stuffed shells in the same week), but I also put many meals that use the same ingredients in the same week--such as southwest egg rolls and Mexican salad (both use partial cans of black beans, so we don't waste half a can of beans).

Each week has some leeway as far as what we make each day.  I see other peoples' menus that say: "Monday: tacos.  Tuesday: lasagna.  Wednesday: fried chicken," and I think, "But what if Monday comes around and I really, really, really don't feel like tacos??  Or what if Tuesday comes around and I don't have enough time to put together lasagna??"  I just know that sort of menu wouldn't work for me.  So, each day I look at my weekly list and choose what I feel like eating that day, and what I have the time and energy to prepare.

And I know that I'll have all of the ingredients I need for everything on that week's menu, because I also put together a handy dandy shopping list so we can go shopping every Friday or Saturday.  I even organized it according to where I will find the food in our local store, going from left to right, because nothing is more annoying than looking at your shopping list and realizing you have to go back to aisle 1 again, even though you're on aisle 8 already.  Grocery store ping pong.  What a pain.

And do you know what else I have found?  We're saving a lot of money by not going to Walmart.  When you go to Walmart for some spinach, you also end up buying some curtain rods and some shower cleaner and some baby clothes (because they're on sale and they'll look soooo cute on little Russell even though he has way more clothing than any 13-month-old should ever need).  And we're saving our receipts so we can see just how much money we spend on groceries in a month.  So far it's around $65/week (and we haven't used any coupons).  When we see something non-perishable on sale, we buy multiple so that five weeks later we don't have to pay full price for it.  Then, before we go shopping we look through our fridge and our cupboards and our food storage and cross off everything on our list that we already have.  And throughout the week I keep the lists handy so I can add to them when I find something ordinary that we're running out of (like butter or oil or flour).

This is our third week using this plan, and I can't tell you how much I love it!  It helps that my boys nap until dinnertime, so I have an easier time preparing food.  I honestly think this could be a really long-term thing for me.  It's not a phase.  I can do this!

So, would you be interested in seeing the menus and shopping lists that I've typed up?  So you can use them for yourself and save the many hours that I spent putting them together?  Well, alright then!  You're welcome!


Italian dunkers
Crock pot roast
Loaded baked potato soup (in blender)
Ginger steak salad
Breakfast for dinner (any combo of omelets, pancakes, French toast, sausage, bacon, etc)

O French bread
O pasta sauce (3)
O lasagna noodles
O pancake mix
O brown sugar
O hot dogs
O steak
O roast
O ground hamburger/chicken/turkey (choose for lasagna)
O bacon
O breakfast sausage (optional)
O cottage cheese
O mozzarella (2) and cheddar cheese
O eggs
O sour cream
O milk
O potatoes
O cherry tomatoes
O romaine lettuce
O jalopeno
O ginger
O green onions
O carrots
O garlic
O lime

Pollo Asado
Quesadillas with pinto beans
Lentil and Kilbasa soup
Sloppy joes
tuna melts

O bread
O hamburger buns
O corn tortillas
O pinto beans
O tuna
O stewed tomatoes
O lentils
O sloppy joe sauce packet w/ necessary ingredients
O pizza toppings
O rhode’s rolls
O chicken legs (large pack)
O ground beef
O keilbasa
O mozzarella and cheddar
O sour cream
O ricotta cheese (optional)
O apples
O oranges
O limes
O lemons
O carrots
O garlic (4 cloves)
O onions (3)
O avocados


Cabbage and sausage
Café Rio burritos
French dip
Crock pot chicken a la king
Taco soup

O hoagie buns
O tortillas
O 3 cans coke
O diced tomatoes (with green chilies, optional)
O diced green chilies
O red enchilada sauce
O a jus sauce
O black beans
O tomato paste
O chicken broth/bullion
O cream of chicken soup
O frozen peas
O corn meal
O brown sugar
O pork (for pulling)
O sausage
O chicken breasts (many)
O roast beef
O mozzarella
O biscuit tube
O lime
O garlic
O cilantro
O avocado
O peppers (optional)
O mushrooms
O onions (4)
O cabbage


Stuffed shells
Pot pie
Mexican chicken salad
Twice baked potatoes
Southwest egg rolls

O tortilla chips
O pasta shells
O mixed veggie can
O cream of chicken soup
O black beans
O frozen corn
O pie shell
O oil
O cumin and cayenne
O chicken breasts (many)
O ham/bacon
O ground sausage
O Mexican cheese blend
O parmesan
O ricotta cheese
O cheddar and mozzarella
O sour cream
O eggs
O ranch dressing
O salsa
O egg roll wrappers
O avocados
O potatoes
O romaine lettuce
O tomatoes
O green onions
O spinach
O cilantro
O lime


Random pasta with sauce
Pizza biscuits
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
Stir fry of some sort

O bread
O hamburger buns
O tortillas
O tomato soup
O enchilada sauce
O olives
O pizza toppings (pep, ham, pineapple, etc)
O pasta
O sauce (for pasta and pizza)
O pasta meat (optional)
O stir fry meat (chicken, shrimp, steak, or sausage)
O hamburgers/ground beef
O chicken breast
O biscuit roll or pizza crust
O milk
O cream cheese
O cheddar, mozzarella
O sour cream
O pasta veggies
O hamburger toppings
O stir fry veggies
O green onions

And there you have it!  A convenient plan to help you be healthier, save money, and be more organized while feeding your family!  Now I've got to go check on the roast in my crock pot.  It should be ready just in time for Nate to come home from work and for the boys to wake up from their naps.  :)