Thursday, May 13, 2010

Here a Meerkat, There a Meerkat

We spent several April days hanging with the monkeys and such at Nashville Zoo. I like it for the shaded walkways and picnic areas; the boys love it for the animals (duh) but even more for the 66,000-square-foot Jungle Gym and adjacent Tot Lot, a soft play area where they can roll and fall to their hearts' content. Bryce's most common request when it comes to seeing animals is the crocodiles, much to my surprise. He is also quite fond of the meerkats.
I think our $75 annual zoo membership paid for itself just in the month of April, thanks to the nice weather we had!

Speaking of weather, May greeted us (and the rest of Middle Tennessee) with torrential rain. The first two days of May we got more rainfall than we usually get in a quarter of a year. The flooding that followed devastated the city, causing more than $1 billion in damage and killing nearly 30 people. Some of the hardest hit areas were the Opryland Hotel, Opry Mills and the Grand Ole Opry, the communities of Antioch (close to where we live) and Bellevue, and downtown Nashville.
Manuel's workplace, the Wildhorse Saloon, was completely flooded in their basement prep kitchen, storage areas, freezers, locker rooms and dishwashing areas as well as the first floor, where they had a beautiful hardwood dance floor. As I write this, Manuel is still not back to work there yet. It took more than a week for power to be restored and the Cumberland River to recede enough that water could be extracted from the building. We don't know what the future of the Wildhorse is yet. It has been Manuel's lifeblood in terms of work for the past 11 years and he is their senior cook. We are hoping it reopens soon.
On May 1st I called Manuel home from work because the usually calm creek behind our house had turned into a rushing river. The water crept up under our shed and towards our house inside our privacy fence. I never thought I would be thankful for our $700/year flood insurance policy, but I am now. We did not see any damage to our home. The water only weakened our fence and shed foundation, so we were some of the lucky ones.
I took a few pics of the water coming up and it got even worse than this. But I didn't want to go outside again because we were hiding out in our bathroom from the tornado warnings that were blaring on the TV.

For several days following the flood, we were urged not to drive on the roads, so we went a little stir-crazy at home. It's amazing what you can come up with to do when you can't leave the house. We built Lego towers, stayed in our p.j.s, Bryce helped me make brownies, and I made my first-ever blackberry cobbler.
Apparently floods aren't good for my waistline. But I choose to live by the words on a trivet my sister lovingly gave me some years ago (see pic below).

Until next post ...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Loving the small-town life

I was brave (or dumb) enough to make the 12-hour car trip alone with the boys since Manuel had to work all week. Several friends said a portable DVD-player is a must for a long trip with toddlers, but being on a budget, we did without, and things went better than expected. (However, if I have to hear "This Little Light of Mine" from Bryce's Baby Bible Songs CD one more time, I just might pull my hair out.)
We spent one day and night in Cape Girardeau, Missouri with my dad and stepmom on the way to Iowa, which was a much-needed break from the car and a sweet reunion with them. (I have only known my biological father and stepmother since 2006, and we have been enjoying getting to know each other over the last few years. But that is another story.)

Once home in Iowa, we spent time at my Grandma's house enjoying her cats and her home-cooking. I also putted around town with my sisters, Jenine and Amber, and my nieces and nephews. A highlight of the week was stopping in at South Side Drug Store (built circa 1919) for a cherry Coke at their old-fashioned soda fountain. My mom used to fill our prescriptions there when we were kids, and she'd always buy us a cherry Coke while we waited. That was always the best medicine, and I'm proud that the little drug store continues to thrive today.

We also spent time with my mom and her new husband Dennis at their home in Centerville, Iowa. They arranged an Easter egg hunt for the kids, which ended with me eating too many miniature Twix bars. Back at Grandma's house, Bryce and cousin Abby had fun baking Easter bunny cookies and dancing in the living room.

Then it was back to Nashville for us, where the daffodils in our yard are in full bloom. That was a nice Welcome Home. Manuel and I planted them in the fall of 2005, four months after we were married, and they pop their pretty heads out of the soil very faithfully each spring.
We are having fun getting ready for Easter and anticipating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Excuse me, but you have Cheerios in your hair ...

Let's face it – as cute as babies are, feeding them can be downright disgusting. Shovel food in their mouth, and it often comes right back out. Sometimes it actually spurts out. Sometimes it spatters your (just-washed) jeans in sweet potatoes.
And babies who are learning to eat finger foods certainly never miss a chance to rub their sticky, slimy, banana hands through their soft (just-washed) wavy locks of hair. The result isn't pretty. Not even to a toddler, apparently.
This morning the boys were having breakfast (mashed potatoes for Bryce, but whatever works, right?), and Brett was munching on Cheerios and diced bananas. I was doing my own thing (making coffee) when I heard Bryce tell Brett matter-of-factly, "Baby, you have Cheerios in your hair." From his tone of voice, I could tell even he didn't approve.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bryce's eating woes

Since I often mention Bryce's eating "issues," I suppose I should explain. This is partly therapeutic for me because I have never written his story down. So allow me to vent for a moment.
From infancy, we suspected something was up with Bryce's ability to eat, as he would drink only a few ounces of formula at a time even past the age of 6 months. By the time he was a year old, he was still drinking only 4-5 ounces while most babies his age were downing 8-10.
I introduced solid foods to him around 5 months, and he seemed interested at first. But around the age of 8-9 months, he completely lost interest in food. He would still drink the meager amount of formula that was typical of him, but he would cry and turn away every time food was offered to him. It was as if he was being tortured when we tried to feed him.
This was (and still is) a very challenging, frustrating, maddening, saddening thing for me and my husband. We both love to cook. We both love to eat. We both love to feed our children wonderful foods. But Bryce would rather do anything than eat most days. And his weight began to show it – at 12 months, he was just 17 pounds and not even on the growth charts.
At the suggestion of his pediatrician, we took him to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital to see a nutritionist. As I suspected, after making a food diary of his eating habits for a week, we learned that he was getting only about 600 calories a day (mostly from formula) – roughly half of the 1,100 calories he needed to thrive. He was diagnosed with "failure to thrive." I cried for hours. I felt like a failure as a mother. (I have since decided that the term "failure to thrive" should be eliminated from doctors' vocabularies, as it is traumatic for a parent to hear. A child with "failure to thrive" is simply failing to gain wait appropriately.)
The nutritionist suggested adding as much fat and calories as possible to everything Bryce would eat – in other words, bring on the butter, gravy, mayonnaise, french fries and any other fatty substance you can think of that you thought you weren't supposed to feed your child. She also suggested switching him from infant formula to Pediasure to up the number of calories he would consume. (Did I mention Pediasure is a whopping $11 for a six-pack, or a two-day supply?)
We also began feeding therapy sessions at Vanderbilt's Bill Wilkerson Center, a facilty devoted to speech therapy that also includes addressing feeding issues in children. We did this for a few months, but all it served to do was empty our bank account. The therapist would sit Bryce down in a high chair and offer him things like applesauce or pepperoni slices. Then she would evaluate his reactions (which often ended in crying fits) to such foods and encourage him to touch them, if not eat them. Eventually I decided to quit the feeding therapy because it seemed like nothing I couldn't do with Bryce myself at home. I began encouraging him to play with his food and stopped telling him to eat it.
There may be some truth to that notion. If a child doesn't want to touch a food, he can't be expected to eat it. The one helpful thing I learned from feeding therapy was there are "steps to eating" for kids with food issues. First, they should become comfortable with touching a food. Then, they should be encouraged to simply touch the food to their lips – or "kiss the banana," as the therapist would say. Next, it is expected that a child should put the food in their mouth, after which they can spit it out. And lastly, a child should chew and swallow.
To further complicate the eating situation, Bryce is a puker. (Excuse me for being so frank.) He vomits at least once a week. He has a hyper-sensitive gag reflex that often means even if he chooses to swallow a food, he may gag on it and then vomit. He also vomits from crying, and the older he gets, he is learning to use that to his advantage. Lovely for us as parents.
After the feeding therapy, we took Bryce to a pediatric GI doctor, who put him on reflux medicines to no avail. She then suggested a barium test, which we proceeded to do. The test consisted of Bryce drinking (we had to force it down him with a syringe) a chalky substance which was x-rayed as it was digested. No internal problems were found in his digestive system.
The next step was an upper endoscopy, where he had to be put to sleep and the GI doctor put a tiny scope (camera) down his throat to check for abnormalities in his esophogus and intestines. That was traumatic for all of us. It took me weeks to even go through with it. I did not want to subject him to being put to sleep and all the crap that goes along with a hospital procedure. But we had to know that his anatomy was correct, so we finally did it. Everything came back normal. That was good and bad news ... good that he had no internal problems, bad because we still had a baby (now a toddler) who would not eat.
That brings me to now. Bryce turned 2 in December, and for the second birthday in a row, he refused to eat cake at his own party. Ok, him not eating cake is the least of my worries. But it still demonstrates his lack of desire for foods most kids go crazy over.
We are still struggling with feeding him. He will munch on goldfish crackers, Cheetos, and other crunchy things occasionally. He will drink the broth from soup but will never eat the meat or veggies. He will take a few bites of pasta or mashed potatoes – and by a few, I do mean two or three – and be done. He will sometimes eat a bite or two of the baby food I am feeding his little brother, Brett. But overall, he is still not fond of food. We supplement his diet with Pediasure still, so that fills in the gaps for the most part. He is now 22 pounds, and we are thankful for every ounce of that 22 pounds!
So there you have it. Bryce's eating story in a nutshell.
But did I mention how smart the child is? I guess that is subject matter for another post.

Brett, the family pet?

In many American households, kids who are picky eaters sneak their food to the family pet. In the Mozo household, home of the King of Picky Eaters (2-year-old Bryce), it's a different story.
Today after picking Bryce up from Mother's Day Out, I stopped by McDonald's and bought him a Happy Meal. (I do this on occasion when I am out of ideas of things to try to feed him.)
I got him settled at the table with his cheeseburger and fries, and I put baby Brett in the high chair nearby with a couple fries for him. I began sorting mail and shortly after, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Bryce actually ate some of his food! (He usually just plays with it and may take a bite or two.)
But if things sound too good to be true, they usually are. Moments later I caught him red-handed. I laughed to myself I watched as he sneakily placed fry after fry on Brett's high chair tray, and Brett ate them! Then I grabbed my camera.
As you can see, Bryce soon realized he had been caught! (Notice the growing pile of fries on Brett's tray.)
Oh, well. Maybe he'll eat when he goes to kindergarten.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Glove Phobia?

Bryce has a really weird phobia – he is scared to death of gloves! The first time I realized this was a few months ago when Manuel was home cleaning the shower. He put latex gloves on and Bryce FREAKED OUT! He cried so hard that he vomited. (Enough with the vomit already!)
Since then, he also cried like crazy when his cousin Abby donned a pair of lavender princess gloves on our Disney vacation earlier this month. What is up with that?
And last Sunday, we went to a church luncheon and the caterers were wearing ... dun-dun-dun ... latex gloves! Poor Bryce cried so much he almost hyper-ventilated. I had to take him far away from the buffet line and explain that the gloves went bye-bye. Even then it took him awhile to calm down. Latex gloves seem to have the worst affect on him, but gloves in general are not his friend. I don't get it.

Brett, my little night owl

Last night was another difficult night. Little Brett is sick AND teething. Enough said.
But even in my zombie-like sleepless state, I found him quite endearing last night – after I got him out of his crib at 11 p.m. to calm down the crying, and after he threw up on me. (I know ... gross.) He wouldn't go back in his bed without tears, so I sat with him in the living room in the dark. He babbled as if it was the middle of the day. We were still sitting there when Manuel came home from work at midnight. I decided to just let him play until he got sleepy. He was so sweet playing and babbling on the floor in the middle of the night. I just watched him play through tired eyes and thought, "This too shall pass."
But hopefully it won't pass too soon.