Find us on Surprisingly Special

As of 2016, this blog, Pancakes in Bed, is no longer active. Please come find us at!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mini Wellness Update: PT Pics

Saw Henry's gastro doc this morning and here's the latest: the erythromycin has decreased the vomiting, but he is still waking up in the middle of the night retching. So the doc recommends giving the last dose after bedtime, which means waking him up - but  maybe that's better than letting the poor kid wake up retching :( Not sure if it will work, but I will try it for a few nights. Henry's doc also wants to do another fluoroscopy, like the swallow study, but this one will look at food travelling all the way through his system past his stomach in order to check for any anatomical abnormalities. I don't think this procedure will be that big of a deal. Just Henry drinking barium and being x-rayed again.

Henry had a good PT (physical therapy) session today! His therapist noted that he seems to be gaining strength and stamina - not needing breaks as often and not getting fussy at the end of PT. I took a few pictures during his session today. Sorry for the blurriness! Moving subject!

Some practice kneeling... using his trunk to hold himself up so he can have his arms free to play.

Some practice sitting with a hand on his lower back to help him balance

Pushing with his legs for strength and sensory input

Baby elbow plank! Kind of like a wheelbarrow...

And all the way up! Baby plank! Using those arms and abs to support himself. It's hard!

Whew! It's hard work for my little guy. I'm always proud of him.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sensory Bin + Color Sorting

I've been trying to teach Calvin color words/signs for months. I'm not, like, drilling him or anything, just making a point to name the colors of objects, reading books with color words, showing him the signs, trying to get him to name colors or find certain colors... basically incorporating it into our usual play and activities. And he is just not picking up what I'm laying down!

Since Fall of last year he's been able to learn nouns really quickly, and lately he's also starting to use more signs for verbs - go, run, jump, bounce, splash, swim, etc. But it's like there's a color block on color words!

He is making progress. If I say the color, he can usually pick the right object for most colors. Ok, some colors. And he will mostly match objects of the same color correctly. If he feels like it. I kind of think he just doesn't get why the colors matter. It's not like naming an animal you're really excited about seeing. Dear colors: He's just not that into you.

So I'm like, Challenge Accepted. And my inner elementary school teacher started devising color sorting and naming games. Here's a little game I played with him as an extension of playing with his rice sensory bin. He likes digging around in the bin of rice, finding hidden dinosaurs and animals, and using scoops to scoop and pour the grains. So this time I pulled out a little color sorting tray that I'd made and I encouraged him to take the objects he found in the rice bin and sort them by color.

The color sorting tray is a plastic paint palette from the craft store. I colored each well with a Sharpie.

The rice bin, apart from being a totally cheap and easy source of entertainment, is a type of "sensory bin."  Playing with different textures can help kids with sensory integration. Here's an article that does a nice job explaining why sensory play is important.  Inside the rice, I buried little animal-shaped beads, buttons, pom poms and dinosaur erasers for Calvin to dig up. 

As he pulled out each toy, I encouraged him to place it on the sorting tray with the corresponding color. He did OK, but he wasn't really into the sorting part. I tried to show him that I was really enthused about it and I think he was humoring me :) Mostly he wanted to put the dinosaurs back into the rice and dig them up again! All right, kid. Dig up dinosaurs.

I don't see any major reason to push the color words right now, but I do think it's a worthwhile part of expanding his vocabulary. I also think that sorting activities like this are nice for general comparing/organizing/categorizing skills and also another form of sensory play. He'll learn those darn color words eventually! #nopressure #hesjustnotthatintoyou And I've got some more ideas for teaching colors up my sleeve. #teacheratheart #playtolearn

And even though Calvin wasn't excited about this sorting activity (just like he wasn't into the sensory balloons we made!), maybe your kid would dig it ;)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mama is a Reader

Since the Mama Self-Care Retreat in May, one of my goals has been to read more books. I have always thought of myself as an avid reader, but I get derailed when I am busy - like when I first started teaching, when I was in graduate school, and each time I had a baby. At those times I looked back and realized it had been months since I'd actually read anything cover-to-cover.

This year I've been reading mostly parenting and self-help-y books. Not cover to cover, but sort of skimming chapters that seemed interesting or helpful. I really wanted to get back into reading novels just for enjoyment. I also wanted to let reading replace some of the other things I do to fill the tiny spaces of down time in my day (ha.) like playing Candy Crush, watching TV or browsing interweb distractions like Pinterest or Facebook. I think filling those spaces with reading will make those tiny bits of down time feel more satisfying.

So I looked through my Kindle app and found a few books that I'd either downloaded and never read or started but never finished. Over the past three weeks I've managed to read the Divergent series and the second half of And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

I like the Kindle app because it's so convenient to read on my phone. I always have my phone nearby so it's easy to read a few pages whenever I have a moment. And I like the instant gratification of being able to download new books as soon as I'm ready to start one.

So now, throughout the day, Calvin and Henry will occasionally see me reading on my phone. And it occurred to me - they can't tell I'm reading a book. For all they can tell, I might as well be texting or playing Candy Crush or watching Mickey Mouse without Calvin! The horror. 

And that bugs me. I remember seeing my parents reading all the time when I was growing up. Our house was always full of books. Shelves of books for them, shelves for me and my brother, and stacks of recently read books on end tables and the fireplace hearth. My mom took us to the library regularly and would get books for herself as well as for my brother and me. I always knew my parents were readers because I could see it every day. So it bugs me to think that Calvin doesn't know I read books for myself as well as reading books with him. I want him to know that I am a reader.

Then again, people read on phones and tablets more and more now. Calvin will grow up in a world where reading books does actually look like staring at a screen. It will be the norm for him. So maybe it doesn't matter if he sees me reading on a screen instead of ink on paper. Maybe I can just show him that there are words on the screen and not pictures or a video. And maybe that's fine. 

Or maybe I should let go of the convenience of an e-reader and go back to ink and paper books? It would feel more authentic to me - but then, I grew up in a world where that is what reading looked like. And I think I'd like to share that world of ink-and-paper books with Calvin and Henry. When they think of a book, I'd hope for them to think of bound paper and printed ink. There will be plenty of chances for them to use e-readers and become familiar with reading on a screen. And I think there are a lot of great things they can do with e-books. But for now, let's fill shelves and turn pages. Lets go to bookstores and the library. And I don't think it means I have to do anything drastic like uninstall my Kindle app - Gasp! But maybe my goal could be to consistently read ink-and-paper books, and then any e-books I read can just be a bonus :) 

I started reading this Isabel Allende novel while I was in grad school and never finished it. Time to give it another go!

E-book or paper book, I'm excited to be back in the habit of reading for enjoyment. What's on your summer reading list??

Friday, June 20, 2014

Henry Wellness Update: Meds, Munchies, and Moves

This week we saw Henry's gastro doctor, feeding therapist, and he had his usual physical therapy session. Here are some updates from those appointments:

Playing footsie in the stroller while we waited for Henry's doctor :)
Gastroenterology - 
We knew from Henry's ENT appointment last week that his acid reflux was still bad, despite the Prevacid, and was irritating his throat and causing vomiting. Gastro doc said the next step in treating reflux would be adding another prescription: Erythromycin. This is actually an antibiotic, but it has a side effect of causing strong stomach contractions. To the best of my understanding the idea is that because of his hypotonia, Henry's stomach and digestive system in general are moving the food through too slowly which is causing increased acid production. So the goal of this medication is to help his stomach pump more effectively and get the food moving on through. 

Pros - It could improve the reflux. It might also help with his appetite because if the food isn't sitting in his stomach too long, he won't feel full all the time and he'll be hungry to eat. Also if the acid production decreases he may feel better in general and be more interested in eating. And more eating = healthier weight gain.

Cons - It's an antibiotic :( So it's going to mess up his "gut flora" = good bacteria needed for digestion. 

I'm giving him daily probiotics and feeding him yogurt every morning to try to combat the antibiotic. It's only been a few days, so I feel like it may be too soon to say whether it is worth it. We have seen a decrease in vomiting, but it hasn't stopped completely. We will see the gastro doc again in two weeks.

I wish so much that we didn't have to give him all this medicine, but the reflux seriously causes so. many. problems. Vomiting, only being able to eat small meals, fussiness, waking up at night, irritation in his throat and voice box (could be affecting his speech? He doesn't babble much.) and sniffly snotty mucus production giving him a constant runny nose. 

Feeding Therapy - 
Henry has been eating purees and yogurt for a couple of months now, and I had backed off in recent weeks because I was trying to get him to take more formula (per the nutritionist's instruction that formula needed to be his main food) and because I was in constant fear of triggering a vom. This week our feeding therapist said I needn't be concerned about Henry vomiting because of overeating. She said it sounds like it's a reflux issue not an eating issue and that I should let him eat as much as he is interested in eating - both formula and solids.

She also said it's time to work on adding texture to his foods and increasing variety. We tried out tiny pieces of banana which he hated and gagged on. She showed me a great trick to stop a gagging reflex before it triggers a vom which is to blow in the baby's face as soon as he starts to gag! (Talking about gagging here - not choking.) It totally works. He stops gagging immediately, smiles, and continues working on trying to swallow. 

We mixed the banana with his veggie puree and sprinkled cracker crumbs on top. Our therapist also showed me that patting his hand, talking, singing, etc. helps keep him calm while he's dealing with these new textures and sensations.

So in the next few weeks we'll try some new fruits and grains and even some meat! Yikes! Meals are becoming very entertaining for Henry and even for Calvin because I'm now doing a lot of singing and playing with Henry while feeding him. It's kind of exhausting but it's also fun :) And it's always nice to see my boys actually EAT!

Physical Therapy - 
Henry has been rocking the rolling lately, but in therapy he's got a lot more to work on. Our main goal lately is to get him pushing and bearing weight on his arms. I'll hold his lower torso and legs and put his hands on the floor, trying to get him to do a little partly-supported baby plank pose. Bearing weight on his arms will strengthen his arms, upper body, and abdominal muscles and also increase his awareness of his wrists and hands. Our PT also showed me how to push on his feet or hands when he's lying on his back with the goal of getting him to push back in a constant muscle contraction rather than a big movement (like a kick). Again, this is for the purpose of strengthening his muscles and helping him feel his hands and feet, but also to help him get used to holding a muscle contraction instead of constantly moving. I should take pictures during PT so this stuff makes more sense!

Happy 11-month-old Henry! We love this little nugget so much.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Outdoorsy Father's Day

Back when Calvin and Henry weren't even "a candy bar in their daddy's back pocket," their daddy was looking forward to teaching them, learning with them, and sharing with them the things he loves. Now our boys are here and they're still little, but James is wasting no time. So for Father's Day I wanted him to get to spend the day with the boys and me doing some things he enjoys: spending time outdoors, doing science-y stuff, and drinking fancy beer. (Don't worry. James didn't share the beer with the babies!)

The day did not start out great for James... while I was cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast, Henry puked on James and James gave him an impromptu sink bath. He said, "Well, you got puked on on Mother's Day and I got puked on on Father's Day. Guess we're even!"

Once everybody was cleaned up, we ate our breakfast and packed up for a picnic and a hike. We spent the afternoon at Coyote Point Recreation Area where we had what I think was one of our most enjoyable picnics yet. James got to drink the fancy and funky beer that I got him as a gift, Lindemans Gueuze Cuvee Rene, and we had turkey and salami with pesto and sourdough bread, olives, cherries, and chocolate! Henry and Calvin were cheerful picnickers and played in the shade beside our table. 

Henry! What are you sleeping? Come on let's play!

After lunch, we took Calvin over to the playground for a few minutes before loading both boys into the double stroller for a walk along the Bay Trail. This is part of the route James takes when he bikes all the way to his office in San Jose, which he does every Friday, a 50 mile ride! So we got to see a bit of Dad's Friday morning commute. The idea was for the boys to nap during our walk, but only Henry did. 

When we walked back to Coyote Point, we headed over to CuriOdyssey - a science and nature museum with experiments to explore and animals to visit. 

You may notice that Calvin is wearing different pants from the picnic pics. He'd had one potty accident already and this pic is just moments before he had a second accident! Ugh!
Checking out the otters. (Note the third pair of pants. This time we had to put Henry's extra pants on Calvin because I only carry around one extra pair for each of them!)
They both really loved watching the otters. 
View of the otters from inside the tunnel.

When we left the park, we headed to Steelhead Brewery for dinner. James enjoyed their beer and we both enjoyed the food, but yi-yi-yikes eating dinner out is hard with these two! Sure, Calvin likes his Busy Bags, but he almost always refuses to eat. And we think Henry gets overwhelmed by the noise and it just makes him miserable. Plus at that time of day they are both tired because it's getting on bedtime. In the car on the way home James said, "We need to stop thinking that dinner out is a good idea." And he's right!

Even though the day started and ended kind of rough, I think James was happy and we all had a nice time. I love days like this. When we spend the whole day together, the weather is kind, the food is good, the babies are happy, and James and I can kind of exhale. Of course not everything goes perfectly, but on the really good days like this we are able to roll with it, be flexible, figure it out, and remember it all with a smile :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Neon Lines Washi Tape Gift Wrap

Last week was bookended with joint birthday parties for Calvin's friends. The first weekend we celebrated Autumn and Zoe's birthdays and the following weekend it was Sydney and Lydia's party. I got these four girls all the same present (hee hee) and of course I was excited to have an excuse to come up with some kind of fun gift wrap. Back at Easter, I used this skinny neon washi tape to decorate some of our Easter eggs and I really liked the effect. Plus it was fun to do!

So I decided to use the same idea to wrap the girls' presents and I think they're totally rad!

This is officially my new favorite way to use washi tape! And this skinny, brightly colored tape is officially my new favorite washi tape. I got it from Michael's craft store and it came with 8 different colors. This random-looking way of wrapping it round and round is pretty simple to do, but a little weird to explain. Basically, you don't choose which direction to wrap, you just follow the angles of the package, keeping the tape flat as you go.

Start by wrapping your gift in plain brown paper or a solid color wrapping paper. 

Then choose your tape colors and pick one to use first. You can start the first line anywhere and cover up the "loose" end of it later. I started mine on the side of the package, at an angle. Lay the tape down in a straight line until you get to the edge.

When you go over the edge, pull the tape taut to keep it flat (meaning no bubbles or weird creases) and it will sort of change direction. Lay it down flat, following the direction it takes and keeping it straight. Each time you go over an edge, pull the tape taut so that you can lay it down flat. Follow whatever direction keeps it flat, turning the package as you go.

With this one, I got lucky and the tape went right over the "loose" end where I had started.

I like to cut off the end so that it meets another part of the line, hiding the "loose" end.

Start your next color so that the "loose" end connects to part of the first color and just keep wrapping and keeping the tape flat - no bubbles or creases. 

You can use the second color to cover up the "loose" end of the first color if needed.

I topped them with big white letter stickers and I absolutely love how they turned out! Kinda makes me want to pull my hair back in a scrunchie and watch Saved By the Bell. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Henry Wellness Update: Tummy Time and Tummy Aches

After Henry's last round of check ups in April, we had upped his Prevacid dosage (for acid reflux) and started adding thickener to his formula (to prevent him from aspirating - letting it get into his lungs) and we saw awesome improvement. He has been much happier and more playful and he has even started sleeping through the night! #sweetsweetsleep

He's been able to spend longer stretches of time playing on the mat or in his chair and a couple of weeks ago he hit another motor milestone: he started rolling from his back to his tummy! Now that he can roll both ways he is on the move! It takes him a while, but between the rolling and being able to turn himself around in a circle he can get all over the room now. He is a mobile baby! And we are thrilled and relieved and proud of our little guy.

In this video you can see 10-month-old Henry kicking, rolling over, and even trying to scoot!

I wish it was all good news, but unfortunately Henry's reflux has become a problem again. I was resistant to increasing his reflux medicine a few weeks ago, but once we did it we saw a clear improvement - as in, he stopped  puking every day. Which was awesome. Until the puking started up again. Every. Day. Starting about a week ago. And I don't know why it's back! I thought we had his reflux under control! We've been giving him his Prevacid twice a day, doctor's orders, at the same times - breakfast and dinner. And still I got puked on at Calvin's art class. And at Sydney and Lydia's birthday party. And several times at home.

He is still acting happy and playful. He isn't acting sick, except for a few moments before and during the actual throwing up. Once he's done he seems totally fine again. His appetite is about the same and his eating patterns haven't changed. #smh

We happened to have a follow up with his ENT (ear nose throat) doctor already scheduled for today and after using a scope to check out Henry's throat, the doc confirmed that the acid is irritating his throat and voice box again. He said he would be in favor of increasing treatment for the reflux. We have an appointment with Henry's GI (gastroenterology and internal medicine) doctor next week and I will talk to him about it and see what he recommends. I think it's going to mean an additional prescription. I am still hoping that the puking will mysteriously and miraculously just stop altogether. Wouldn't that be nice? Meanwhile, we are trying out Similac "sensitive" formula to see if it makes a difference.

It's easier to deal with the challenges when lots of other things are going well. It is frustrating to feel like his poor little body just isn't working right... but his big smile and playful movements are reassuring.