Monday, July 14, 2008


Today we picked blueberries. The last time I picked blueberries was with my mom and my aunt and I was a child. Blueberry picking takes on a whole new meaning when you are the mom holding one child's hand with another child strapped to your back! I worked hard for my 4 lbs of blueberries we picked today.

Ever summer it is my goal to find somewhere nearby to pick something. I am clearly not that picky since I am open to picking just about anything. This summer was the first time I actually found that somewhere, Tammen Treeberry Farm, to pick something, blueberries. Today was the first day of the season. The farm opened at 8 am. After picking up my little junior high assistant Carly, Aislynn, Isla, Carly, and I arrived at approximately 8:30 at the Treeberry farm. We pulled in and I saw only a few cars parked. I turned to Carly and said, "Great! It doesn't look like that many people are here yet!" Then I saw a sign that said "Blueberries staight back" It was then that I saw the rows of cars, and eventually the rows of people in line waiting to become migrant workers.

The people at the front of the line, needless to say, meant business. They had collapsible stools in hand, special bucket necklaces and knee pads. There were no smiles, only game faces. Of course when I asked the people at the front of the line (which I thought was the back of the line) if that was the back of the line, they were very quick to point me away from where they were standing.

So we waited. I have not stood in a line that long, since riding amusement park rides when I actually had the time or desire to do that sort of thing! More than an hour later, and two baby carriers later with Isla, we were hauled away by the tractor pull to blueberry bush land. Not being professional blueberry pickers and toting two children with us, put us behind everyone. It took us a while to realize that we were basically trailing everyone and getting their "left-overs". There were more than enough blueberries to go around, but we were sort of getting second pick. We also made the mistake or lounging around eating blueberries, when 20 minutes in to our "picking" we realized we had been doing too much "eating" and really had hardly anything in our bucket! The girls did great and Aislynn enjoyed putting the blueberries in the bucket. However, she was a little too undiscriminating and was putting ones off the ground in the bucket, green ones, smashed ones. Her standards were a little too low. She wouldn't cut it as a migrant worker.

After picking about half a pound and already being hot and sweaty with two little girls who were about ready to call it quits, that is when we kicked it in to overdrive finishing off the day with a strong 4lbs. Our bucket only barely half full, looked like nothing compared to everyone elses, one, two, and three buckets full (roughly 10-30 lbs). I have a keen sense for blueberry poundage now.

My goal for our morning of blueberry picking was not to see if we could pick enough to feed our family for the entire year, which was a good thing since we did not come anywhere close to meeting that quota! My goals was to get my little girl to eat a piece of fruit. With Aislynn's food sensory and texture issues, she currently does not eat any, zero, fresh fruit or veggies. And I mean zero. Sometimes in feeding group or at home she'll barely try a piece or something, but it is rare. And for some reason, she really wants nothing to do with fruit, even though it is sweet and yummy, most fruit has very distinct textures and flavors, and she wants no part of it. So I started thinking, maybe if she was totally surrounded by ______ fruit she might just try it in its natural environment. So my biggest goal was to get her to eat a blueberry on her own. She has previously only been open to smashing berries or giving them small kisses.

After Carly and I picked and ate more than the daily recommended antioxidant and fruit intake for the day, Aislynn distributed some berries, "One for Carly, one for mommy, one for Aislynn." We all did a count down, one two, three, and ate our berries, including Aislynn! She gagged a little, but she chewed it up and swallowed and did a small cheer for herself. I was very happy.

Aislynn did not inhale as many berries as I did, but she ate at least 4. I wouldn't say they are her favorite food by any means, but its a baby step in the right direction. All it took was an early morning wake up, a drive, a long wait, a tractor ride, and hundreds of rows of blueberry bushes to get Aislynn to try some fruit. That's not so bad. And definitely worth all 4 hours.

This girl means business...well maybe not, I think she picked like 3 ounces.

Isla was a little confused, since when she fell asleep she was on my front in a carrier in a line of people. It was getting too hot, so I took her out of the carrier and tried to relocate her to the stroller (unsuccessfully). Sho woke right up and was a little confused to now be in the midst of blueberry bushes, clearly a different location!

My sweet little assistant Carly. She earned her blueberries!

Back at home, Aislynn was happy to feed me that handful of berries. "Mommies turn!" she said...somehow Aislynn's turn never came.

Thinking about trying another one. Maybe not.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Take a try!"

Aislynn trying some brownie batter

She realized that chocolate wasn't so bad after all.

Friday was Aislynn’s 6 month re-evaluation since being enrolled in the Child and Family Connections program back in January. And again, I am I was reminded of how far we have come.

Our therapists had all completed up to date evaluations of Aislynn and they met along with our service coordinator at our house to discuss Aislynn’s progress and continuation in the program.

Six months ago, Aislynn’s enrollment in her various therapies felt extremely overwhelming. We went from rather unscheduled weeks to feeding group once a week, speech once a week, nutrition twice a month, developmental therapy once a month, not to mention numerous evaluations and the push to get her interacting with other kids her age. Isla was only 2 months old and one high maintenance little baby which made things feel all the more intense.

I remember feeling this sense of urgency. I have never been known for my ability to be patient, and waiting to see Aislynn’s progress in the CFC program seemed unimaginable. I would wake up in the morning thinking of activities and games I could make to help Aislynn with her social skills, taking turns, and language. Any free moment I had to be on the internet, I was hunting for information that I thought might help. Then I would go to bed at night brainstorming more ideas for things to try with Aislynn. I was obsessed! All this, while waking up every few hours to feed a new baby. It really was an exhausting time.

Reflection is important. I was getting frustrated the other day that Aislynn still wouldn't eat fruit. But then I remembered how far we have come. These were Aislynn’s initial “feeding group goals”

1. 1. Aislynn will engage with food not currently in her repertoire

2. 2. Aislynn will bring a non preferred food within close proximity to her face/head/neck.

3. 3. Aislynn will interact with puree with fingers or another food.

4. 4. Aislynn will separate from her parents to tolerate being seated for snack.

Reflection. I remember feeling like there was no way Aislynn was ever going to sit through “snack time” and engage happily with the food and other children. When we first started feeding group, I had to sit in the room so that she would not have a meltdown. And Aislynn was one of the kids that had to be seated next to a therapist in case she had major issues. We have come a long way. Now Aislynn loves snack time. She says “Snack is fun! Friends are fun!” She is the kid that sits at the opposite side of the table from the therapists because they know she’ll do fine. She is usually the happiest, most energetic one there, and most willing to interact with the new foods. She doesn’t even think twice about me not being in the room with her and she now eats things like chicken, eggs, and cheese, which she never would have touched 6 months ago.

6 months ago this was our Social Summary goal: “We want Aislynn to increase her social skills so that she can communicate her wants and needs.” This is a goal she has met over and over again and continues to meet.

“Take a try.” This is one of Aislynn’s favorite phrases. We are always encouraging her to try new things, but we never quite phrased it like that. This phrase is all her. When she wants you to try what she is eating its “Mommy, take a try!” When she wants you to toss the ball to her, “Daddy, take a try!” Every time she says this phrase it makes me smile. One, because she sounds so cute when she says it, and two because she thought it all on her own. “Take a try” from the same little girl who adamantly was against trying all new things.

There are still new things, books, foods, toys, and experiences that Aislynn insists “No try it!” But she usually comes around. Reading is one of those things where Aislynn has her opinions. Many times she has her mind made up before I even open a new book that she does not like it, and of course it becomes the story she wants to read over and over again. Just the other night I tried to read The Runaway Bunny to her before bed. “No run away bunny!” she exclaimed. The next night the same thing happened. She was not about to give these bunnies a chance. Finally, the third night she sat on my lap to read a book before bed, and I quickly whipped out The Runaway Bunny. As she began to protest I hurriedly started reading the book excitedly and I had her hooked. We read the whole thing and when it was finished she said, “Runaway Bunny again?” So we read it again. I put the book on her shelf and tucked her in to bed. In the back of my mind I had a sneaking suspicion that come morning, The Runaway Bunny would find its way into her bed. Lately Aislynn has been waking up in the morning, and bringing books into her bed while she waits for someone to get her up.

Later that night, I checked on Aislynn before I went to bed. And there it was, tucked under her arm at 10:30 PM, The Runaway Bunny-who had clearly run away from the bookshelf a little earlier than I had expected! It made me smile.

I love that Aislynn loves books. I love that she is trying new things. I love that she is growing and developing and expanding her vocabulary. I love that when someone asked her at Starbucks the other day, “What are you eating?” referring to the piece of coffee cake she had, she responded, “I’m eating spaghetti!” and then laughed because she made a joke. These are all experiences that make me smile and encourage and excite me to see what new things she will “take a try” with tomorrow.

By the way, take a wild guess what book has been number one on the bedtime request list for 5 days and counting?

The Runaway Bunny.