Christmas Chaos and Messy Memories

Do you ever look back at the holidays, wipe your brow and just sigh? I mean, it’s beautiful, lovely and fantastic to see family and friends, but exhausting all at the same time. It was a great experience. I had plenty of time with my family and was able to rest up for another busy and bustling year ahead and for that, I am grateful.

This year, I was able to take some time to capture the moments (sometimes with just my iPhone) but it tells the story all the same. I’ve the shared our first holiday video with you below. It’s a glimpse of how we celebrate Christmas with family.

A few annual traditions we participate in:

  • Of course, we put up the tree and decorate it.
  • The kids have chocolate advent calendars
  • We buy one singing ornament from Hallmark. This year we bought the singing Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast that sings ‘Be Our Guest.’ Last year we bought the Hippo that sings, ‘I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas’ and so on…
  • We buy a snow globe every year. The globe typically represents a change in our family or it’s just something we love. Sometimes we buy a fancy one and other years we buy one we love from Target. But we have one for every year Paul and I have been together – 12 of them and counting. This year we bought one with a beautiful black puppy inside. Quite fitting since we brought Duncan into our family this year.


  • We bake overly sweet goodies. Well, mostly I do and the boys scream and throw ingredients at the dog. Like most of us, I dream on Pinterest. I like to find a few different recipes and pretend I’m a baker once a year.  I decided to make this recipe for our Christmas cookies (they melt in your mouth) and this recipe for our Oreo truffles.  I also made these potatoes which made for some great leftovers. I made everything the day prior so I was able to participate in our 1000 piece puzzle festivity.
  • We go to church on Christmas Eve
  • Have a gift exchange.
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
  • Play with all the toys.
  • Watch holiday movies.
  • Wear pajamas as much as possible.

What are your family tradition(s)? Do you have any unique traditions you’re willing to share?

Happy New Year, friends!

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Dog Bone

To read from the beginning of Carter’s Intensive Feeding Program, click here.

Day 8 was a hard day. Carter continues to be challenged more and more each day. As soon as something comes easy to him, they move on to something harder (kind of like most schools). No longer is his food cut and defined for him. Instead, his food is presented on his plate the way it would be at home or at a restaurant. I can help him cut his food if he asks, hand-over-hand, but he needs to practice cutting it himself.

Today was supposed to be the first time he was able to go to the cafeteria to pick out his food. Unfortunately, we didn’t eat over there since the air conditioning on that side of the healthcare facility went out. With 90 degree weather, you can imagine how hot a cafeteria is. We grabbed our food and went back to the ‘west-wing’. Breakfast was hard because he had some new challenging food.

He had:

  • A whole strip of thick-chewy bacon
  • Fried potatoes that we spicy
  • Pears
  • Strawberry yogurt

He really liked the yogurt and pears, but the potatoes and bacon were a real challenge for him. His breakfast meal shortly after the video above was the first time he ever ‘timed-out’ of a meal, which means they capped his time at 1 hour. He is doing a great job at trying foods, but he chews for too long because he doesn’t want to swallow.

His second and third sessions went great. He did awesome and finished his breakfast meal. At snack meal he had a whole cheese stick and a few apple slices (his new favorite).

His afternoon meal at 4 p.m. was another full 4 ounces of food. I was surprised they wanted him to eat so much at 4 o’clock but they were trying to get another session in. He did really great, but didn’t finish his baked beans. So we took those home. We let him eat supper a little later, because I think he was pretty full.

We’ve never seen him eat so much food in all our lives. 

Supper could have went a little better… it took him over an hour, but there are so many distractions at home (ahem, Coop and Mac). However, this is real life and he needs to learn to eat despite his environment. At this point, he’s doing a great job eating and trying everything, he just isn’t eating very quickly.  A full hour for every meal probably isn’t realistic. So we are trying to improve this.

The funniest part of the day:

During his session meals, we are supposed to eat with him. Which is actually a little awkward since there are people watching from the other room. I’m sure it’s more awkward for Carter since he’s been doing this since the beginning, but he needs to eat so we don’t have to come here anymore!

So I’m eating the thick chewy bacon like Carter was supposed to be doing and he looks at me with all sincerity and says, “Is that dog bone?” 

I lost it. I tried to keep it together throughout the program, but I stopped and laughed. It was too funny.

We talked to Carter’s doctor prior to leaving and we shared that since he was eating all his food and only needed to work on increasing his time that we feel like it’s time to be discharged and luckily she agreed. So we are shooting for discharge by the end of the week. Yea!

I guess Carter is getting is his graduation container of bouncy balls real soon!

To read about day 8 – the final day of his program, click here.




Salt and Butta

Week 2 – Day 6 of Intensive Feeding Program (Begin with day 1 here)


The new adventure for today is increasing bites without increasing his time. We use the free visual timer that looks like this:


It’s a big help because as it’s appropriately titled, it’s visual. The timer starts green, then turns yellow when half the time is up and eventually with just a quarter of the time left, it turns red. I’m allowed to que him only once at the halfway mark. He often spends the first half of his time touching his food. Checking out the texture (basically, messing around) so this timer is quite helpful to keep him on track, and BONUS: I don’t have to que him!

His first session was at 9:30 a.m. For each session, prior to the start of his session (meal), we ask what he would like to work toward. His reward for accomplishing his goal? Today, the iPad was the reward of choice, all day.

He also had the opportunity to skip a meal if he ate his entire meal within 15 minutes. 15 bites in 15 minutes is very doable. (These are small bites.)

He had an awesome day, accomplishing all four session meals within 15 minutes. He had one at 9:30, 12:30p, 2:30p and 4p. The first session of the day was accomplished by just a hair. He swallowed just as the buzzer went off.

His face was priceless. A half kernel of corn hanging from his face and more drool than I’d like to admit, and his face looked the like the face of desperation. As the buzzer went off I looked at him and he looked at me and we were both confused. I was waiting for the voices that be behind the mirror (picture interrogation room view) to tell me if he ‘made the cutoff’. The technician spoke into my headset and said, “He made it. He did it!” To which I stated, “YAY, Carter!” He stood up and immediately shouted “Yeah!” I think I have hearing damage now, but hey, he ate! Whatever, who needs to hear.

Shortly after that, we went to Sandella’s (the Starbucks hub in the hospital) for coffee and iPad time. He also had the idea to shoot a video update (his idea, not mine). He is starting to get into this vlogging thing.

He continued to excel throughout the day with three more sessions. Today he ate:

  1. Carrots
  2. Eggs
  3. Peas
  4. Chicken
  5. Potatoes
  6. Corn
  7. Mandarin Oranges
  8. Apples
  9. Pineapple
  10. String Cheese
  11. Hot Dog with Ketchup (he’s never been willing to try a condiment in his entire life)
  12. Salt and Butter (would never have touched this prior, but now likes salt and butter on veggies.)

He finished the day strong and as we walked out to head to the car he said, Oh wait, we have to do a video for the end of the day! Um.. how could I forget?

His homework (first time with homework for the program) was to try 5 bites of whatever mom and dad were eating for dinner. Since dad had softball and mom ate yogurt on the way home (starved) he ate what brothers were eating, chicken strips and apple slices. He has some gluten free chicken nuggets from Aldi. He had 7 minutes to eat 5 bites. Unfortunately, he did not make his deadline, but I 100% blame his little brothers. Those little house monkeys were driving him bonkers. So I negotiated a new bargain with him. He had to eat 1 bite of chicken and 9 bites of apple in 7 more minutes. He accomplished this goal with a small amount of time to spare. He also got some food of his choice, vanilla yogurt and chips.

Tomorrow, I get a break from the program and Dad is taking him. I’m hoping Carter talks dad into some video updates for the vlog. He’s a good sport, I think he’ll do it.

Until then, thanks for following along in our journey. This experience has been incredibly difficult and equally rewarding. The emotions are up, then down, then back up. I’m so stinking proud of him. I look at him and know that at the end of the day, Paul and I have done an awesome job with this one. Hopefully we can do it two more times with the house monkeys!



To continue reading, click here.



No Eating = No Fun


Yesterday was a hard day. It was his first session with 10 bites and wow is that so much more difficult than 5.

The sessions are now considered Parent Sessions where I’m working with him to share the rules and expectations rather than the technicians.

It’s difficult to literally ignore your kid, but that’s the technique we use when he chooses not to eat. First we explain the rules. If he chooses not to eat after hearing the rules = no talking or fun. If he does choose the eat = lots of talking and fun.

Currently he is allowed 30 minutes to eat 10 bites. That time will start to decrease as he progresses.


To read more about this click here.

He’s making progress though and we are ready for a weekend.

Bring on the swimming and brother time fun.





Today is all about the vlog. Check out Carter’s update above. He was pretty excited to go visit family afterwards, so he was a little more goofy than normal.

The point of the vlog post is to really thank everyone for the support and encouragement. I let him read those and that has really helped him. Keep the comments coming and I’ll show them to him tomorrow. After he read them, he looked up and said, “Blog? I never heard of that word before. That is funny. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.”


To read more click here.

Thank you, all.