A Cookbook for the Kids

I am not as good as I would like to be about getting the boys in the kitchen and helping out. Don’t get me wrong - I absolutely want to, but it seems like most nights I am doing everything I can to get the baby fed and in bed while simultaneously making dinner for everyone else. Anything that slows that process down will spell disaster!


The weekends are a little less stressful and I try to let them help out anytime they show interest. Which is sporadic most of the time… But this weekend they both wanted to help! And wear their aprons to be official!


Plus it was a pretty low key meal they were making - layered yogurt parfaits! Not much there for me to have to watch too closely except the strawberry cutting part. And I probably should have watched Henry a little closer, but cleaning yogurt off the counter isn’t that difficult… ;)

But why were they so excited about being little chefs this morning, you say??


Because Grannie sent them this awesome new cookbook! I love all things from America’s Test Kitchen and they just published a cookbook for kids! Eeek! (Grannie also made them these awesome aprons awhile ago and I love when they remember to wear them. I am the worst at remembering aprons and that probably explains why I get so many random stains on my work clothes while making dinner….)

You can see my picky eater clearly approved of his own creation since he wolfed it down while Thomas was still making them for us.


After breakfast, we all decided to have some play time on the floor. Natalie got herself up on all fours! It’s a new skill and we were all so excited for her!


I finally remembered we had this awesome tiny table toy downstairs and brought it up for her to play with. She seems to like it, though she isn’t terribly sure she should be standing up without the support of her bouncer…!


Her older brothers clearly wanted to join in on the fun. Thomas buckled himself in to this chair and then couldn’t get himself out, he was walking around with it still attached. He looked like a very bizarre turtle. =D


We’ve been working really hard at trying to get her to beat on her new drum toy from the therapists. She picks the “sticks” up on her own, but she seems to look at them like “these are my chew toys, why do they want me to hit the drum with them??”

Oh well! She does like playing with the drum either way. She’ll get there!


I almost forgot that the boys wanted to make the overnight waffles the next morning, so we ended up going to bed a little late so they could get the batter ready for in the morning.


Thankfully they were so excited that I let them stay up to be chefs, they were very cooperative about mixing the ingredients. Usually it’s a battle to make sure they both get to do a little but of everything!


But they didn’t just want waffles in the morning - they also wanted to make smoothies! These boys love smoothies and we hadn’t made any in a long time. (Life is a bit hectic these days…)


Henry isn’t quite sure he trusts his brother to measure everything correctly and is keeping a close eye on him…!


Finally it was time to blend! I love our Vitamix so much, but it is a loud machine and they used to run away from it with their hands over their ears whenever I would use it. Thankfully, they managed to be strong and tough it out this morning. Though you can see Thomas is giving the blender a pretty stern look!

Henry was a little skeptical about pushing the buttons at all, but he was brave enough to do it once Thomas held the lid down for him. These two are so silly sometimes!


This was definitely something new! I am super nervous about letting them use heat sources and lectured Thomas about being super cautious. He was doing pretty awesome until he went to pull a cooked waffle out and managed to just touch the iron with the back of his hand. An ice pack soothed the injury, but he wasn’t too sure about trying again. We compromised on him filling the waffle iron and me taking them out.


What a delicious looking breakfast, huh??


Thanks Grannie for the awesome cookbook and the hope that someday breakfast will be waiting for me whan I come downstairs! And as usual, ignore Henry’s expression, he was just as excited as the rest of us about the chef time! :)

8 Months!

Well September just flew right by and somehow it was already time for pictures again! I blame school starting - it always makes things more hectic…


She looks just as surprised that she is 8 months already! Pleasantly surprised though! :)


“Well there’s not reason to change my ways at this point, right mom? Might as well start by eating the card!”


So she is able to stay siting up these days, but that doesn’t mean she’s not just a bit unsteady sometimes…

To be fair, the chair is a little squishy and not as firm as the floor she usually sits on.


Just for fun, I stood her up so she could lean back into the chair. She looks like she doesn’t understand why on earth I would do this to her and clearly this is completely unsafe, mom!


Luckily her brothers came to the rescue and held her down to be extra safe. She’s not sure she likes this any better! But she’s just not quite strong enough to get away. What’s a poor baby to do??


She finally decided to just relax and let herself get hugged on by her big brothers, but in no way would there be any coordination of smiles this month. Even my eldest, who is usually my most reliable was looking over my head at his dad.

Sooooo helpful, Matt. ;)


I gave up on pictures and we went back downstairs because I promised the boys they could watch TV if the cooperated for photos. Natalie got her BAHA back and was happy to watch TV while making her BAHA squeal by holding on to it. No idea why she loves making it squeal so much, but it is one of her favorite daily activities.

You can also see one of her newest accessories - hand splints! She has tended to keep her thumbs in most of the time instead of splayed out like the rest of her fingers. Indwelling thumbs aren’t a cause for concern up until about 7 months and then it’s a slight cause for concern. Since she’s still doing it, she earned herself the privilege of wearing this hot pink splints to encourage her to keep her thumbs out. Thankfully she doesn’t seem to mind them and hopefully she doesn’t need them for long. (And she obviously does it more one on hand than the other since I’ve only got one of them on at the moment…!)

State Fair!

September in Alaska means it’s time to go to the Fair! Mom was game for a birthday visit to our second favorite state fair. We are clearly spoiling her this year! ;)


The Elam family was also going to the fair today and we managed to show up at the same time without planning it. Our first stop at the fair is always the fried cheese curds and their crew had never had them! Clearly Abby was a fan as neither her or Henry would stop eating them long enough to smile at the camera. Thomas smiled for me, but had ranch smeared on the side of his mouth. Ha - these kids get into their food!


Abby was pretty excited to finally meet Natalie and baby girl was pretty enthralled by Abby as well. You can see she’s quite intently staring at her new friend! (And if you look close you can see Abby’s reflection in her shades)


Nonni was particularly excited about the baby chickens and probably telling the boys about how we used to hatch baby birds. They were suitable impressed. :)


My favorite is always the petting zoo! These little farm animals are so over-fed and they don’t seem to mind at all. And even though I rarely have any form of cash on me, today I had enough quarters for the boys to actually get to feed them!


Henry was pretty selective about who he wanted to give the food too, but decided this wooly sheep looked worthy. He claims it was yelling at him to be fed, which is pretty believable. ;)


Chickens are not the first animal I would think of including in a petting zoo, but these hens didn’t seem to mind and the boys were pretty excited about petting them. So I guess someone is smarter than me…


The sun was finally warming up the day and these three decided to try their hand at hula hooping. These boys have many talents, but hula hooping is not yet one of them. Thomas was giving it his best shot, but it was just not happening. Nonni had hers up forever and the boys were super impressed!


We headed over to the lumberjack show, but it was so crowded that the girls decided to sit it out and let the boys have fun without us. Natalie enjoyed the chance to get out of her stroller and getting some snuggle time with Nonni.

I enjoyed a little time in the shade - that sun is super hot when it is out and beating down on you!

She wants mommy’s camera! You can just barely see the clear line coming off the back of her BAHA today - it’s the safety line and we figured it was probably a good idea to use it. Usually if she pulls the BAHA off the band, we can hear it squealing but that would be challenging at the fair! And losing it would be a nightmare. So safety line it was!


Pilot Henry ready for take-off! They decided they needed their own helicopters to be their own pilots. Henry was super exited about being a big boy and not needing his brother. (I wasn’t - stop growing up, you two!)


This guy smiled and waved! He’s usually so serious when he is piloting the helicopter, but not today! Love that smile. :)

Another successful fair visit in the books and what a beautiful day for it. Thanks for the sunshine today, Alaska!

Nonni's Volcanic Birthday!

Since Nonni was going to be up here for her birthday, we wanted to spoil her a little bit. Coincidentally, the boys and I have been watching the hilarious baking “fail” showed called Nailed It and fell in love with the volcano cake.


We thought Nonni would probably love getting such an awesome cake for her birthday, even if it wasn’t the most traditional cake for turning 68… ;)


Despite the failures we saw on the show, we were convinced we could pull off an awesome volcano cake and I think we did! Of course, we didn’t have to deal with the clock like the people on the show did and it actually took us quite a while to finish it, but we had such fun making it!


First step was to practice making our chocolate dinosaurs! Obviously these aren’t chocolate, but I figured practicing with Play-Doh was the closest thing. Plus I was still trying to figure out how to make modeling chocolate since there was none I could find in town.

Thomas was pretty proud of his dino-riffic creation!


Next step was to bake the cakes! We had to have lots of layers to make sure our cake wasn’t a squatty affair. We want some height to our volcano!

Henry wanted to help with cracking the eggs and after he cracked his first egg, he stuck his finger in his mouth! I know it looks like I picked up my camera to take a photo, but I was taking photos on rapid fire of him cracking the egg and he did it before I realized what he was doing. Thankfully he didn’t get himself sick and only looked a little concerned when I started panicking…


Thomas finally realized we were baking without him and came over to help. No idea why he was wearing his life jacket, I don’t even bother to ask anymore…


It’s starting to take shape! The biggest fail the people had on the show was not carving the cake, even though that was definitely in the directions. So we made sure we carved it properly! Which of course meant that there were lots of cake scraps piling up - you can see what happened to most of those scraps if you look to the left of the picture. ;)


Natalie didn’t get to help with the cake, but she seemed unbothered by being left out. She was getting some good tummy time in!


I frosted the cake with the chocolate base and left them in the fridge overnight to set-up a little bit.Then we got to the decorating!


Both the boys got a turn at decorating and you can tell they were pretty excited about being able to help!


Even Matt got in on the excitement! He wanted to make sure that our beach looked accurate enough.

Nonni wanted to taste test the scraps from the hole we carved in the top and Natalie thought she should get some too. Nonni managed to keep her a safe enough distance that no cake ended up in the baby’s mouth. Good job, Nonni!


Finally it was cake time! This volcano cake was about to blow! I would have liked the dry ice to bubble out a little more vigorously, but it was still pretty awesome!


One of Thomas’ dinosaurs. I love that he made them friendly dinosaurs! And my awesome improvisation for the trees goes great with the beach Matt created. What a team effort!


Henry’s dinosaurs were… umm… possibly a little less evolved…?

I love that he gave them such silly expressions though. :)


And a final cut-away to show you the cup of dry ice that was causing the bubbling. Overall I think we did an awesome job on our volcano cake and I can’t wait to try another one of the ridiculous cakes from the show. :)

Happy Birthday Nonni! She said she couldn’t believe she had to wait 68 years to get such an awesome cake, but that it was totally worth the wait. =D

Random August

Ready for the usual random photo dump?

Well let’s get started then!


It’s amazing how exciting a churro and a 25 cent bottle of water can be when you are a little kid. I love our Costco runs and how much fun they have eating all the samples. Plus they are always supportive when I say “We should buy this ridiculous snack, right?”

Henry was happy, ignore his expression…


A lunch date that wasn’t Subway! He was pretty excited about his cheese quesadilla and getting to hang out downstairs at work with me. Less excited when people kept stopping by to say hi when they saw I had such a cutie sitting with me.


I think it is totally understandable that I tend to freak out of little things that she does that seem “weird” and I have to wait to ask her physical therapists if it is ok or not. Case in point - she keeps flipping her hand under when she is doing tummy time these days. They weren’t entirely sure why she was doing it, but then I handed her the binkie she dropped and she held it in her mouth with that same backwards hand motion.

Well there you go - she’s been doing that since about 6 weeks old…


This kid busted his lip good the other day at school. He said he fell on the climber, though I am not 100% sure what he means by that. I do know that he was being walked in from outside to get ice the exact second I walked in the door. Poor guy was upset…! Turned in to a pretty gnarly bruise a few days later.


Thomas comes home with some pretty random arts & crafts from summer camp. But I loved this headpiece. I think it looks like his head is a flower, but he did not agree. “It’s a crown, mom!!” Ha!


Sam was over at the house and ate a random Payday candy bar I had sitting around. I totally didn’t mind, but I still gave him a hard time about it, because that’s the kind of friends we are. Got this package in the mail a few days later.

You know this will only enforce my bad behavior, right?!?


She tried to steal one too! Hands off, cute little baby!


We finally switched DME (durable medical equipment) companies to the in-network supplier. We had to use the out of net work supplier when she first left the NICU because they were the only one that had the Apnea monitor. And our insurance gives you 6 months when you get a waiver for a network deficiency. I was totally putting off switching because it seemed like it was going to be a huge hassle.

Turns out, it wasn’t too bad. And the upside is that we got a new O2 monitor - the cord is a little shorter, but it’s smaller and not quite as annoying…


These guys wanted to stay up late (I know the sunlight is deceiving…) to go pick up Nonni from the airport. Not only that, they wanted to wear their fancy clothes as well! How can I say no to that??

Pretty sure everyone thought Nonni had the cutest welcoming committee! :)


For a girl who isn’t allowed to have anything by mouth, she sure is interested in food. Her dad waved this popsicle in front of her and she grabbed it and held on for dear life. She was pleasantly surprised when she stuck her fingers in her mouth a few seconds later.

(I’m not going to rat anyone out with photos from a similar burger incident, but let’s just say this girl has quite the grip…)


One of Natalie’s therapists is working on getting a certification in infant massage and needs to build up hours teaching caregivers of babies the massage techniques. So Natalie graciously offered to be a massage recipient. The giant baby doll was to demonstrate the proper moves to Nonni, but Natalie thought it was a real baby and got so very excited. By the second session, I think she had figured out it was a doll, but there a pretty close in size, huh?

Natalie is cuter! ;)


I have been reading everything I could online about managing reflux in babies given the awful results of the ph probe study. I think the most frustrating part for her / me is the amount of time she has to spend in her chair sitting up. Her feeds take almost an hour and then she really needs to stay upright for another 30-60 minutes. Which means she only gets an hour out of the chair between each feeding. Especially if she falls asleep and then wakes up just in time for the next one. Homegirl is tired of that chair!

So imagine my surprise when I saw a recommendation on the Seattle’s Children’s website that anything that keeps them upright is effective, including bouncers. Well we just happen to have one of those laying around, so I pulled it out to give it a try. She looooooooooves it! She twirled and bounced to her heart’s content.

Of course, she still has to stress me out and kept rolling her foot sideways when she was standing up. Guess I have another item to discuss with the physical therapists and hopefully they are supportive of the bouncer. Otherwise, I may have to go rogue…!

(They were totally on board as long as we don’t let her hang out in it all day and showed us how to use blankets to better support her in it until she’s a little bigger - whew!)

7 Months!

Lucky number seven! Can’t believe she’s that old already!


Look at this girl sitting up like a champ! She still can’t quite get up on her own, but if you sit her up, she can stay up. Such a big skill for such a big girl! And she’s holding the number and not eating it - amazing!


I am always amazed if I manage to get a photo of all three of them looking at the camera, much less smiling. This was not one of those lucky days…


And she could only resist the siren call of eating her card for so long… I don’t know why Henry looks so surprised, she does this every time!


These three are a train wreck. And adorable, giggly train wreck that I love so much. Someday they won’t want to do silly photos even if I ask, so it’s probably best to enjoy the insanity while it is so freely given. ;)


Have I mentioned how much Henry loooooves holding his baby sister? She wasn’t quite as sure about it today, but he was having a blast!


I was trying to get Thomas to hold her up to show off her strong legs, but she was more interested in threatening her momma with those talons she has! Henry, never one to be left out, was helping hold her up. You can see he’s got literally one finger touching her. Sooooo helpful!


We lost the boys after awhile and she was still in a cooperative mood, so I got a few more fun shots of her and her adorable little feet!


Such a pretty little thing, huh? She can thank Alaska for that ridiculously pale skin, but it certainly makes her eyes pop, huh?

I guess if we ever let her go outside, she might get some sun, but that just seems silly. ;)


I love this cutie patootie so much. Glad you’ve been around for 7 months and I’m so proud of how big & strong you are getting. Love you bunches, Natalie! :)

Making Headbands

I may have had enough fails on trying to alter her onesies that I decided she looks just perfect in either button-up pj’s or dresses & leggings. What can I say - I have a variety of talents and sewing is clearly not one of them! But I had another project to try and tackle that seemed a little easier on my limited skills - making bands for her BAHA!


I love the one we ordered, but it was a little pricy to order multiple ones and the raw materials were pretty cheap! But before I went crazy ordering things online, I figured I better try making one with stuff I could find locally. The only slider I could find was this super blingie one, but apart from being a slight scratch risk, the band turned out great! (You may have already seen it in the previous post, it’s a bit more noticeable than the pink & white polka dots…)


Upon my success, I may have gone crazy ordering a bunch of cute elastic patterns to make more!


She didn’t seem to mind me taking them off to put on a new and exciting pattern!


I didn’t quite get all of them made into headbands yet, but be on the look-out for more variety going forward! :)

Shortest Hospital Stay Yet!

It looked like Natalie picked up a cold the other day and I was hoping that this time she would kick it like a champ, but that’s not quite what happened… After a truly horrible night where her oxygen was struggling to stay above 90 and she was just a fussy mess, we took her in the see the pediatrician. Unfortunately, our usual pediatrician was out for the day and we had to see a new doctor who knew none of her history.


I went through her past few illnesses and how her sats weren’t doing great last night. I got the impression pretty quickly that he couldn’t believe I hadn’t taken her to the ER in the middle of the night. Unlike last time, when our usual doctor sent us down to get x-rays and then we discussed what to do (which ended up in going straight to the pediatric unit), this doctor sent us over to the ER.

Natalie was not impressed…

They, of course, took the x-rays in the room and started taking blood work to see what we were dealing with.


Which was great, but it was also getting time for her to eat and we (stupidly) didn’t have her food or pump. Luckily it was time for me to pump and I had thought enough ahead to bring that along. So I pumped and then after waiting way too long for them to bring a feeding pump down from the peds unit, I improvised. We only had a 10ml syringe with us, but it’s not like I had anything better to do in the room. So I climbed up with her and fed her lunch one small syringe-full at a time.

She seemed to appreciate the effort. :)


Unsurprisingly, she got admitted to the peds unit. There was a bit of a scary mix-up at the hospital pharmacy that fortunately led to an under-dose on antibiotics rather than the alternative. But once the dust settled from that, she was chilling in her usual room. They decided it was pneumonia, which has pretty much been my worst fear since we found out she was high aspiration risk. I don’t understand how when she has such high risk for aspiration pneumonia that her GI specialist didn’t seem concerned about managing her ridiculous reflux beyond the meds that make it less irritating to her esophagus.

Needless to say it was a pretty upsetting day and the only upside was that she seemed to be doing fine without any oxygen. And as long as she stayed off of it, it would only be an overnight stay!


Which it was! They told us to follow-up with her usual pediatrician the next day and to keep giving her the antibiotics. They even wrote us a prescription for albuterol “as-needed” to help her with breathing. Of course they didn’t write a prescription for the special nebulizer mask that the pulmonologist had insisted she needed, but that’s what happens when none of your specialists work together…

Of course when we went to go see Dr. Tappel, he was 100% certain it wasn’t pneumonia and that it was just another respiratory infection. He discussed her x-rays with us, pulled up her old ones to compare and told us we could stop the antibiotics. He also gave us permission if she gets sick on his days off to have the office page him, which is much preferable to what we had to deal with yesterday.

The one good outcome is that we got to discuss her recent ph probe results and he is on the same page I am with not enough is being done to manage it. So he is going to talk to all of her specialists here about getting her into an Aerodigestive clinic down in Seattle that focuses on eating & breathing problems. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later!

Swim Lessons

I have had the best of intentions of getting the boys swimming lessons pretty much since we moved up here. Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of places that offer them and the one place close to home was always booked. But since no one wants to spend their summer weekends at an indoor pool, I finally got them booked! (One benefit to stay-cationing all summer!)


The boys were super excited about swimming lessons and jumped right in the pool when we got there. And by “jumped right in” I mean they carefully walked around the edge in the most shallow part of the pool. Which was fine by me since I wasn’t wearing a swim suit and didn’t really want to have to jump in to rescue them.


Thomas had his lesson first - he was pretty focused on his instructor and didn’t have time for his momma trying to take photos! The big pool is a little chilly and he got out telling me he was freezing, so I got to introduce him to the wonders of the hot tub! That’s a happy little guy, huh? :)


Henry’s lesson was next and stayed in the shallow end of the pool. Henry didn’t mind looking at the camera for me, but wasn’t giving me any smiles… Sounds about right!


Henry was also freezing after his lesson, but refused to get in the hot tub. I did finally convince him to stick his toes in, but that was about it. You can tell he also didn’t quite go under the water with his bobbing, but he was quite convinced he did. ;)

Overall, they did pretty awesome for not hardly ever being in the water. Hopefully we can keep it up long enough to go to the kiddie pool without me being a nervous wreck! (Seems unlikely for a few years though…!)

Real Food!

Natalie is now 6 months old, so I was ready to start giving her real food! Baby’s first meals have always been super exciting around here and it was no different for our youngest. :)


Of course she didn’t seem very excited about it, but that’s probably because she didn’t know what was coming!


She’s still not allowed to have anything orally until we figure out what is causing her swallowing / aspirating issues. But with no clear timeline on another swallow study or really anything to do about it, I wasn’t going to wait forever to introduce her to the magic that is food…!

Don’t worry though - she’s not getting anything in her mouth there, I just handed her the syringe for a photo and like everything she touches, it went straight in her mouth. Thankfully, she’s not figured out how to work the plunger on the syringe and I rescued it from her. ;)


First meal done!

It didn’t really matter what food we picked since she wasn’t going to taste it, but I went with the boy’s favorite at that age - sweet potatoes! I asked the dietician how much to give her since she can’t really control the volume of food she gets and I am always stressed out about giving her too much or too little. Her advice was to start with 2.5mls (for reference, a teaspoon is 5 mls!) and slowly work up from there.

Clearly she is not going to be getting much nutrition from her first “meals”, but we get to try a new food every few days and make sure she doesn’t have any food allergies. And somehow between now and a when she is a year old, we’ll get to make her meals by blending everything in he Vitamix. I’ve been researching all I can on “blended diets” since she will likely still be using a g-tube at that point, but I would not be the least bit upset if I was prepared and she didn’t need it. ;)