Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ode to my Blendtec blender

What is this disgusting-looking green goop, you ask? That's Elsie's lunch.

Not all of it at once, of course, but enough for several days and to add to our freezer stash.

In case anyone has any doubts about my love for our new Blendtec blender, I've decided to dedicate yet another blog post about good ol' Blendy. And lest you think I am bragging about the superiority of my blender, keep in mind that I have never owned a high-powered, top of the line appliance, or car, or anything, really. Most everything that I've owned has been second-hand or generic brand or fairly low-medium quality. So, yes, I am excited about the awesome blender, and I apologize if it seems like bragging. It's just the coolest thing I've ever owned.

What do we blend for Elsie's food, you ask? Well, just about anything. We started out with one food at a time, to make sure that she didn't have anything allergies or negative reactions. Typical "baby's first solid food" foods like apples, pears, peaches, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc. We would add a few tablespoons of food to Elsie's milk and then wait for a few days before introducing a new food. We've been experimenting with her blended food diet now for several weeks, and Elsie's repertoire of foods has expanded enough that we can blend multiple foods together for added calories and nutrition. Lately I've been purchasing fresh produce through Bountiful Baskets, so whatever arrives with our basket is what I will throw in the blender. If I don't have anything fresh on hand, I have also blended leftovers from our family's meals, such as beef stew or meatball soup.

For example: Saturday's blend consisted of spinach, asparagus, celery, mushrooms, bok choy, plus some frozen peas, wheat germ, and flax seed. I threw it all in a pot, let it simmer in some water for 15 minutes or so, then threw it all in the blender. It turned out beautifully, and didn't taste too bad, either.

Yesterday's blend was some chicken and vegetables that I roasted in the oven before blending: two chicken thighs (more calories and fat than chicken breasts), a sweet potato, several carrots, half an onion, some leftover bok choy, and celery. When I put it in the blender, I added a handful or two of Multi-Grain Cheerios and a spoonful of wheat germ for some added carbohydrates and grains, plus a handful of frozen green beans and peas. This blend is the one in the picture above. Pretty gross-looking, I know, but it's full of nutritional goodness!

Some tubie-blender families make a large batch of the same nutritionally-complete blend that they use for each meal of the day. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, but it's not what I choose to do. I try to make Elsie's meals more like a typical oral meal. Here's what I mean by that: for breakfast, Elsie is tube-fed a blend of Cream of Wheat cereal, plus a fruit, plus some coconut oil for extra calories, plus her milk. Sometimes I'll add a teaspoon of flax seed, just for fun. Pretty typical breakfast of cereal and fruit, right? Lunch is usually a protein/vegetable blend, like the roasted chicken and veggies I mentioned before, plus milk. A snack in the afternoon is a fruit or veggie blend, sometimes with a graham cracker or some Cheerios blended in. And dinner is veggies and milk. She's also still on continuous feeds overnight, milk only. So as you can see, her meals are pretty typical to what an oral eating child might eat, just in pureed form. She is offered food on her high chair tray to munch on while being tube-fed to try to increase her oral eating skills.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I honestly get a thrill when I watch whole, healthy foods being pureed into a smooth blend that I can feed my child. She is fed more healthy foods than the rest of us eat, that's for sure. I was giggling in the grocery store the other day when I saw Elsie's foods in our shopping cart mixed in with the food for everyone else: wheat germ, quinoa, walnuts and almonds compared to frozen pizza, Cheetos, and Oreos. Of course, I rationalize the Cheetos and Oreos by telling myself that I am only buying them to tempt Elsie's palate. Ha ha. I am excited for more fruits and vegetables to come in season this summer so that we can stock up and freeze them to add to Elsie's blends. If you have any extra produce that you're wanting to get rid of, we'll take it!

Anyway. We love being able to blend Elsie's food, and we love our Blendtec blender. Don't worry, this will not be the last that you'll hear about it, I'm sure.

Isn't it lovely??

Friday, March 21, 2014

Goodbye, glasses!

Elsie had a check up with the opthamologist yesterday. The doctor dilated her pupils and checked her vision with and without her glasses on, and then out of nowhere, proclaimed that she no longer needs glasses. Um what?? I told him to shut up. The technician laughed. The doctor went on the explain what was going on. I will attempt to relate to you what he told me.

Apparently, Elsie's vision has improved; where she used to have normal vision in one eye and was farsighted in the other, she now has normal vision in one eye and is slightly nearsighted in the other. The reason she needed her glasses in the first place was that when there is unequal focus with farsightedness, the brain tends to ignore the farsighted image and will eventually only see out of the normal eye, creating a lazy eye. For reasons that I don't understand, the unequal focus with nearsightedness does not cause a problem with the brain. Hence, her glasses are no longer needed. He said that since we caught the initial problem so early, it was fixed with her glasses very quickly, and that we prevented her from having months and months of vision therapy. He will see her again in nine months. Chances are, she will need glasses in the future, especially with her parents' bad vision genetics, but he is hopeful that it won't be anytime soon. He also told me that he had only seen a handful of cases like this in his many years of eye doctor-hood.

I was so surprised at her not needing glasses anymore that when he asked if I had any questions, I couldn't think of anything. Of course, on the drive home, I had about 500 unanswered questions. Such as: what caused her vision to change? Will it continue to change and get more and more nearsighted? Is nine months too long to wait to check her eyes again? What exactly do you see when you wave your magic crystals in front of her dilated eyes?

As you can see, I don't really understand all of it, but I suppose I will trust that the opthamologist knows what he's talking about.

When I first found out in July that Elsie would need glasses, I was kind of devastated. I didn't know how we would keep glasses on a little baby. I didn't want one more thing to mark Elsie as different, or cause other people to stare at her. I was worried that her vision would get worse. But now, I'm actually kinda sad to see the glasses go. She is so adorable with them on. I like it when people look at her with them on, because it usually generates a positive response, like "What cute glasses on such a cute baby!" (What can I say, I love positive attention) They make her stand out, and mark her as a special baby who has overcome all the odds.

In reflection, her glasses are a visible reminder of all that she has overcome, but that shouldn't matter. I know all that she has overcome, and I don't need to look for praise and approval of others to know that Elsie is an adorable, special baby. She will still be an adorable, special, extraordinary baby, even without her glasses.

Until we see you again, so long, spectacles!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

14 months!

And the time just keeps flying by. Elsie is 14 months old! 10 months adjusted!

  • Elsie is a crawling pro and is getting into everything that she can reach! She loves being able to follow her big sister around the house. Big sister doesn't love Elsie getting into "her" toys so much, but maybe one day they'll share toys happily. Or not!
  • She's working on pulling herself up to stand on furniture. She's still pretty shaky and cautious when we help her to stand up, but making lots of progress! I can't believe how far she has come since we started PT in October.
  • Elsie had made a lot of progress with oral eating in the last few weeks. When we eat our family meals together, I'll place a few spoonfuls of whatever we're eating on her high chair tray, and she tastes the majority of the items. She still spits out nearly everything after she has tasted it, but she is keeping food in her mouth longer, and has swallowed tiny pieces here and there. She is actually eating a few pieces of yogurt melts because she's keeping them in her mouth longer and they melt before she can spit them out, ha ha. She is also making more chewing motions, which she hasn't done before. It's all really exciting. 
  • Blended Diet is going great, we've added in a few more foods to her blends and for the most part, she is tolerating them very well. She still has instances of vomiting, either because she has gagged on something or if her tummy got too full too quickly, or if the moon wasn't properly aligned with the cosmos. You know, puke happens. But other than random vomiting here and there, it's going great and I love coming up with new things to blend for her.
  • Elsie's personality is coming out more and more every day. She went through a "stranger danger" phase, which is completely understandable. After all, 97.895% of the time, she only sees me, her dad, and her sister. But I think she's gotten a little better. She has been so funny lately. She loves making silly noises like growling or doing funny things with her tongue. She loves it when someone chases her when she is crawling on the floor. Last night, I was chasing after her right before bedtime and she was laughing so hard. This morning when I got her out of bed, she was immediately in the same silly mood that she was in the night before. It cracks me up. 
  • Elsie and Evje are officially sharing rooms now. Yes, since Elsie has been home from the NICU (June), she has been sleeping in the master bedroom, first in a bassinet, and then in a pack & play. It was just easier to have her in there with us, since she is still on continuous nighttime feeds and sometimes the pump alarm would go off, or she'd throw up in the night, or whatever. But she is a really noisy sleeper, and we decided that it was finally time to kick her out. I was worried that she and Evs would wake each other up, but they've done really well so far, only occasionally waking the other. Both of them have learned to sleep through minor disturbances, thank heavens. The first night that she slept in the other room, I was a little sad, and it worried me that I couldn't hear her anymore, but of course she was fine, and we all slept great.

Big girl happy crawler!

Note to self: don't try to take pictures right before naptime.

Sad face!

And here's some fun video of our little Cheeto-eater :)