Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Almost 72 hrs without vomit

Well, at least for Cameron anyway.  Evan still pukes once a day.  But we've recently had bouts of vomit free days for Cameron and he sleeps really well during naps and at night, though he still gets up at 6am on the dot.  That is until today when Evan spent 40min of nap time bouncing around and singing while Cam tried to sleep.  His bouncing and singing woke Cam up and he got so upset about being woken up (just like his Mommy) that he sobbed so hard that he puked, and it was bad.  And he was so upset that Evan wouldn't stop singing that he puked more but this time it came out his nose.  Then he was REALLY angry.  I settled him down after much coaxing and went to lay Evan down one. more. time. and changed Evan's diaper and before I could finish changing him Evan fell asleep.  Within 5min of Evan falling asleep Cameron was bouncing around in his crib.  I think it will be an early bedtime tonight. 

This afternoon Cameron kept walking around and saying "Come on Travis.  Hurry Travis.  Travis over 'dere!" I asked Cameron who Travis was and he replied "He friend."  I have no idea where he got the name Travis from.  I guess he has an imaginary friend now? 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trip to the National Zoo

We have been to the National Zoo before, but always with a very large group.  Large groups make it difficult to see many things because it's so difficult to stay together.  We decided that this beautiful weekend we would make another trip and try to see parts of this zoo that we've never made it to before.  And we did hit the jackpot on several occasions even though some of the larger exhibits we want to see are closed for remodeling.  The key to today's awesome sightings was pure luck, an early arrival, and a cool summer morning.  I think of all the exhibits that was the most fun for us it was the orangutans in the Great Ape house.  We were the first ones to pull up to the enormous window and three of the beautiful orange beasts hopped right up in front of the boys in their stroller.  I can't wait to go back to check out their new elephant exhibit after it opens next week.  And we're planning on taking the boys back to the Baltimore zoo a whole lot this fall because we have an awesome season pass there and you can feed the giraffes yourself, which I know they would love.

I'm super excited with some of these pictures because I took them all with my awesome new camera and they came out great.  The zoom is a amazing.  If I didn't know how far away I was standing when I got some of these shots I'd swear that I was standing not 10 feet away out in the wild near these animals.  I am dying to take a class so I can get myself out of the Auto mode on the camera.  I play around with the other settings but what I really need is someone experienced to show me some things.  Such a fun day!

We got to run into our preemie buddy Brendan at the toddler play zone.  It was good to see them even if it was only for a few minutes.  Brendan was playing shy with me and is still getting over his separation anxiety now that his dad is home and couldn't bear to be more than a few feet away from him. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

One of Mom's Most Common Ponderings

One of the most common things a mom, especially a first time mom, wonders about is how their child(ren) are developing.  Most of the time it's a fleeting thing to think about, other times it's a concern, and for lots of parents it's an obsessive and justified ongoing worry.  There are tons of really wonderful websites to check out, I have several posted in my list of Favorite Links to the right of my blog screen.  But recently I learned of another one that is fabulous and just wanted to share to site.  It's called Early Intervention and it is a site to help determine where your child is in their development and ways to help them grow and improve on the skills they need.  And most importantly the site is about how to find services in your area that will meet your child's need.  Most of the services you will find are through your state's Early Intervention program set up on all school systems and they are free if your child qualifies after a simple evaluation.  Check it out.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tripple Dog Dare

Today was probably the best GI appointment we've ever.  No one melted down when their weight and height were checked, though there were some tears from Cameron at the blood pressure check.  Then there were no tears when the doctor walked in, and she was even wearing her lab coat.  Instead the doctor was greeted with the sight of both boys who pulled up their chairs and sat at the side of the examination table like they were sitting at a buffet table with a nice decorative paper runner tablecloth covered in their own crayon drawings.  They each had a sippy of juice and were chowing down (or in Evan's case sucking the life out of) on goldfish crackers.  A complete 180 from where we were when we started seeing our GI.  The doctor got a good chuckle at this sight.  Another reason why this visit was so phenomenal was that the boys were so contented to sit quietly on their chairs and EAT that my husband, the doctor and I were able to chat and hear each other without shouting and there was not even the tiniest hint of stress or anxiety from anyone in the room.  A very big first for us all.  And almost as easy as taking one child to the doctor.

Four weeks ago the GI had us cut back 75mls of formula that is fed through the pump to each of the boys.  If that worked to stimulate more eating but not cause weight loss we were to decrease another 100mls after two weeks.  This did work for Evan because within a week he'd started to eat all four ounce jars of some of his favorite stage two purees.  It did not work as well for Cameron.  Then Cameron got sick with what our pediatrician thought was a second case of Roseola which turned out to be some other kind of virus and naturally his desire and willingness to eat tanked considerably.  Then one week after Cameron's fevers subsided Evan came down with a slightly worse form of the virus and obviously his eating went downhill then as well.  And as all parents of feeding disorder kids know, getting them back to eating the way they were before being sick is like stirring a pot of cement until it hardens.

At the moment Cameron is at the 50% for weight to height for his adjusted age of 25.5 months and 25% for his actual age of 28mos.  Because of this, even though he's not eating the volume his compliance is great and we'll be cutting the volume of formula he gets in the pump again by another 100mls.  We just need to figure out how to get him to stop puckering his lips on every bite so that he consumes the food on his spoon rather than shoveling it off the back of the spoon, thus taking three times as long to eat the two ounces he was eating two months ago.  Hopefully the change in his formula will make him more hungry and he'll be more eager to consume the volume.  He is eating one to two broken goldfish crackers per meal and asks for them by name.

Evan is still at the 10% for weight to height for his adjusted age and 5% for his actual age.  But since he didn't really gain any weight we're not making any changes to the volume of his formula, especially since it's only been a week since he had that virus.  He is eating more volume already but it's taken a week of persistence to get him back to consuming two ounces instead of the four ounces he was starting to hit.  He does not bite any crunchy foods but LOVES to suck a goldfish cracker to a soggy pulp.  Once it's that soggy though he throws it away and asks for a new one or refuses to eat the soggy one.  I do think that in another week or more we will see Evan eating more volume again and then once I see him doing this consistently I will go ahead and cut his formula back another 100mls again. 

The last thing we discussed at the end of our appointment was the GI's new goal for us.  To remove the feeding tubes from the boys stomachs permanently in six months.  (I can not type this sentence out without getting teary eyed and have that funny tickle in the back of my throat fighting back the tears.)  Do I think this is possible?  Maybe.  If the stars and planets align just right, if the moon could tilt it's axis just a little to the right, maybe.  If the boys keep trending the way they have been and no one gets as sick as they have been this month then we might stay on target to meet this goal.  Do I think it's likely?  No, definitely not.  Why am I getting teary eyed then?  Because it feels like I can almost taste it.  (Pun intended??)  We're so very far from that goal, there are so many steps to eating to master before they can really remove the tubes.  Evan needs to learn to bite into foods and chew them and swallow them.  Cameron will have an easier time of it for sure since he can bite food, but he needs to learn to take bigger bites and swallow bigger pieces and that's the hardest part to teach. 

I think that it will be at least another 9 months to a year and a half before the boys will consistently eat enough food and liquid by mouth to get the feeding tubes out.  This is my prediction.  And as all parents know, kids like to make us big fat liars.  I offer that challenge to my children and dare them to prove they can do it sooner than that.  I double dog, no wait, I quadruple dog dare Cameron and Evan to get their feeding tubes out in under 9 months!  And if they do that I'll give them anything they want.  Anything. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

First Beach Vacation

There were a lot of firsts this week.  We took our first vacation in five years since our honeymoon.  We took our first vacation as a family of four.  Our first to the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It was a very rocky start since Evan came down with that wicked virus and managed to spike his fever to 106.1 at one point.  Very touch and go, with almost two trips to the ER and nearly canceling the whole vacation.  But we skipped the first three days and managed the fever with medicines and cool baths and things became better and by Monday the fever was gone and we were able to start our 7 hour drive to the beach house.

It was a fabulous time because we got a great house, had great friends staying with us who also had kids, and a short walk to a fabulous beach.  Oh, and right next door was a beach gear rental shop, an ice cream shop, and a carry out food shop that is owned by Marylanders from our neck of the woods in Hunt Valley who sold crabby fries (fries with Old Bay seasoning and malt vinegar, a Maryland staple yum!) and Maryland style steamed crabs.  What more could you ask for on a beach vacation?

The boys ate horribly the whole week.  Evan because he was still recuperating from his illness and Cameron because I think he was just overwhelmed with all the changes to his environment from the new house, the five other kids around him, the four other adults, the wind and sun and sand and waves and swimming.  The eating behaviors are horrible and nothing we tried worked.  Their sleeping was horrible too either because someone puked per our typical reflux issues, or they were having trouble sleeping and having nightmares.  So both Drew and I slept far worse than we usually do, making for not much of a relaxing vacation for us.

But it was super fun, and mostly because we got to spend time with our friends.  It was nice to hang around other adults, chatting about grown up things, swapping stories about kids, sitting in silence and reading our books while the kids napped, taking a leisurely swim in the pool, napping, or stuffing yummy Dare Devil pizza and jalapeno poppers down our throats.  We are already planning our trip next year, all we have to do is pick the week and we're ready to go.  And next year's is sure to be more relaxing.  It can only get easier traveling and vacationing with kids as they get older right? 

Some things we learned about vacationing with toddlers:

  1. Plan what you want to do the day before, try your best to stick to your schedule so you can actually get where you need to and not waste too much time in the process, and be prepared to scrap your plans at a moments notice.  Even if it means that they get sick the day before you leave.  Always check ahead and print out contact information and addresses for the local pediatrician and ER.  It's just a part of life when you have kids.  
  2. If the trip typically takes you 6 hours to get somewhere, expect that it will now take you 8 to 9 hours to get there because of the kids.  Yes, it's true.  You will stop for breakfast.  Then stop for a diaper change.  Then another diaper change.  Stop for lunch, but the kids need to run around in the play area for at least 20 minutes or it will be like trying to give a cat a bath when you go to put them in the car seat.
  3. If you are vacationing with friends it's best that those friends have kids generally within the same age range because they are able to play with each other and entertain each other in short bursts.  Plus, everyone staying with you will understand any disruptions to the necessary schedule, meals, sleeping arrangements, need to find potties quickly and having to make many stops.  No one will get annoyed because they have been there, done that, and understand.
  4. Take a very small baby pool to the beach so that you can put some water in it, the cheaper the better so you can throw it away or recycle it when you leave and not have to lug it back home at the end of the trip.  Your toddler will thank you and you won't have a terrified baby clinging to you in fear every time you want to go dip your feet in to cool off.  Most of the toddlers and infants we met were terrified of the waves and simply would not even put their toes in the water, but it was too hot not to find some way to dunk them and cool off.  Having a pool under an umbrella is fun and cool and super convenient.
  5. Swim socks or water shoes are perfect on the beach as well as in the pool.  I especially love the swim socks from One Step Ahead because they have a nice thing neoprene foam padding on the bottom so that the heat of the sand doesn't burn their feet but they have full range of motion like as if they were barefoot.  
  6. Take painters tape, duct tape, and a water noodle with a hallow core with you.  Use the painters tape to keep dresser drawers shut from prying fingers, duct tape to cover door knobs so that little fingers can't turn the lock on the knob and keep heavier items closed.  Use smaller sections of the water noodle (sliced longways on one side) to keep doors from being slammed shut by kids by putting the piece of water noodle over the top of the door.  You can do the same if there are sliding closet doors so the door won't smash fingers when it shuts.  
  7. Pick up aluminum foil at the dollar store.  Use the foil sheets and the painters tape to cover the windows in whatever room you sleep in to work as room darkening shades.  Works like a charm at nap time to block out all the beach time sun pouring in the windows.
  8. If you are renting the place you are staying at check ahead of time to find out what baby gear they provide.  Lots of places provide a high chair and a pack n' play portable crib.  But most don't provide baby gates for stairs or have any baby proofing items like cabinet locks or door knob covers.  You may want to find out if you need to bring these things with you.  You can also ask if there is a store locally that you can rent these items from.  They rent anything from baby gates and high chairs to full sized cribs and the cost per week is reasonable.  You will want at least one baby gate at the top of every staircase for every floor that you have toddlers staying on.
  9. If you are staying in a house that has a pool see if you can find out how much patio or deck space you have to work with between the fence and the ledge of the pool.  Most pools, especially the ones in the Outer Banks have no shaded area so if you want to have your little ones down there you either have to confine yourself and the baby to a beach canopy which is kind of small.  Or you can splurge $60 on a small 10'x10' portable canopy and a couple of dollar store bungee coreds, the kind you often see at large flee markets or farmers markets and festivals.  It collapses nicely, offers shade, some come with bug netting, and makes for a nice poolside area to put your baby pool in while you relax.  Use the bungee cords to tie the canopy frame to the pool fence so it doesn't blow away in strong winds at the beach.  Well worth the effort to bring on our beach trip.
  10. When you arrive at your rental house make sure you check under every cabinet that the kids can get into as soon as you get there and have put up the baby gates.  There are usually cleaning supplies that someone has left behind that need to be put out of reach.  
  11. If you are vacationing with kids who are still in diapers, establish a designated spot (or two depending on how big the place is or how many floors there are) for disposal of the diapers.  If you are staying on the top floor of a house you don't want to run down to the bottom floor at 6am just to put a poopie diaper in the trash.  Make sure you have extra trash bags to throw the stinkies in.
  12. Check the lint filter on the dryer before you use it.  No one ever seems to remember to clean the filter on the dryer and I do not want the place to burn down on me while my beach towels are drying. 
  13. Unless you have a wagon like this with huge fat air filled rubber wheels, your radio flyer wagon isn't going to cut it.  And neither is your large wheeled jogging stroller, even if you pull it backward with the big wheels first.  The wheels are just too skinny and sink right into the soft sand   But it is worth it to rent a beach cart like this for a few buck for the whole week because that way you load the cart up, pile one kid on top, and carry the other while you drag them through the sand.  No matter what you do, you WILL be exhausted and taxed to your physical limits just to get to and from your spot on the beach.  But it will help just a tiny bit if you have a beach cart to haul what you thought wouldn't really be all that much but has suddenly taken on the weight and bulkiness of six elephants.
  14. If you are flying kites with your little kid for the first time, don't bother bringing out the fancy cool kite you bought back when you were young and had money to splurge.  It simply isn't worth the time and headache and frustration to try to get it up fast enough to make your kid happy.  Instead, get the cheapest lightest kite you can from the dollar store.  Because it will go up fast, and then about 30 seconds after you hand it to your 2 year old to hold onto they throw the string handle away and watch it crash of fly off into the dunes.  
  15. The car dual screen dvd player is a parent's best friend on a long drive.  I feel sorry for our parents who had nothing of the sort back when we were kids. 
I'm drawing a blank on any of the other useful things I learned this week.  But if I think of any others I will try to post them.  If you are going to the Outer Banks for vacation I also recommend you visit the brand new Children At Play Museum in Kill Devil Hills.   This museum is really just perfect for the area, and it's not a new concept as there are many similar places popping up around the country.  We've visited the Playseum in Rockville, and Baltimore County Public Library system has two different Storyville's that are the same but on a much grander scale and free.  This particular childrens museum opened up the week before we visited and I have to say that on a rainy day with little kids this is the perfect place to go when you can't do the pool or beach and don't want to go to the movies.  It's designed for ages 0 to 7 years and has a corner for every interest, including infants.  It's just a small store front that has been converted into a large playroom full of learning toys, sensory toys, an arts and crafts corner, a boat you can pretend to sail and fish from, a pretend grocery store, dress up clothes including tiny scuba gear, a lighthouse, an underwater tunnel, a ball pit and an airplane teeter totter.  The fee to get in is $5 but that's good for the whole day so you can leave for a while and come back later in the day.  It was nice to have an air conditioned kid centric play area where the parents could just sit and watch and talk.  I'll be posting pics of our visit to the kids museum below. 

The boys were alternately terrified of the beach and the pool and brazen to the point of recklessness with enthusiasm for the water.  At the beach they would be upset and within a split second love the sand and wind and water.  So much to see, feel and do at the beach.  And the same was true for the pool.  They were afraid of it at first, and very upset when we put the floaties on them, but later they couldn't get the darn floaties on them fast enough.  By the third day they were both asking for the beach (which like other words such as fork and ocean always sounds like a dirty word when my kids say it) or the pool.  And they were very specific that they wanted to go in the BIG pool and not the baby pool.  They were fearless and would try to jump in belly first on their own.  They loved the ladder to get in and out of the pool and now know how to peddle their legs while swimming.  They also drank more pool water than I'd like to think about.  I think if we'd been on vacation for the full seven days by day four or five they would have had no issues with walking in the water on the beach and swimming like fish in the pool. 

Our trip home took 9 hours because of traffic and stops along the way, and it's very good to be home.  Especially since none of us slept on the ride back.  But we are so ready for next year's vacation and are already planning the week out.  We even joked that one day this same group of parents will be looking back on this year's vacation and shake their heads laughing at how rough the early vacation years really were.  Thanks to the P family and the S family for joining us and making the trip so much fun.  Next year there will be a whole lot more pictures taken.  There wasn't a lot of time for me to pull the camera out.

Recuperating and watching cartoons on Granny Cathy's bed.
Daddy trying to cheer everyone up by getting in the ball pit on a rainy sick Sunday.