Thursday, May 9, 2013

Moving on Over.....

Sofia has been home over 4 months now and I feel it's time to wrap this blog up and blog solely on our family blog!  So here's one last update on our Curly Girlie! Sofia has made a lot of progress in the short time she's been home and we're so thankful we have the pleasure of being her parents. We're learning how to parent a whole new type of child. Sofia has a wild spirit that cannot and should not be tamed :) She is no mystery, we almost always know exactly how she's feeling, as she shows her emotions no matter what they may be. She is very observant of everything happening around her, loves to explore her surroundings, and learns very quickly! 

 Just recently we've noticed that she is finally starting to feel more comfortable here. She has been giving more snuggles, and seeking out comfort from us, which is huge. For the first few months she seemed to not understand that she needed comfort and love from us. For her first 15 months of life she learned to survive without those things and was "tough enough" that it took her some time to realize there was a better way. Sometimes we still have to remind her that she is just as deserving of our love as our other girls. I know she's only 19 months old, but I always felt as if she'd look at us with this "I don't deserve this" look and it still haunts me to this day, because I think she really believed that and learned that in her young life. Sometimes when I look into her eyes it's as if a much older soul is inside of her. Most days people who meet Sofia would have NO IDEA she ever spent any time in an orphanage. She is well adjusted, so resilient, and very happy. I will always remember that look in her eyes and wonder how many more months or years it would have taken for her to lose her fighting spirit. Thankfully we don't ever have to find out because she is right where God meant for her to be! 

She is close to walking and will take 2-3 steps from the couch to the ottoman. She loves the jeep walker and will walk all over with it. She says mama, dada, and hi. She signs more, eat, please, me, among others :) She feeds herself pieces of food and is working on using her spoon and fork. She loves putting things in and taking things our of containers (reminds me of zoya), playing spoons on metal bowls, and also destroying the play room :) She REALLY loves baths and walks. Baths give her lots of good sensory input-sometimes too much-and she's usually pretty wild in the bathtub. Sofia is most calm when taking walks. She loves the breeze and constant motion when on a walk. She loves climbing on things and exploring the house. Sofia can navigate from room to room and even go upstairs on her own when the gate is open. She hasn't shown much interest in watching shows such as signing time or Mickey Mouse, yet. She will sit for several minutes when Elmo is on though. She reminds me a little of Zoya in this way!

Sofia was not initially in our plans, but we already can't imagine life without her and we thank God for orchestrating this story. She brings a daily reminder that JOY can be found in every day...usually multiple times a laugh from her and we can't help but laugh right along, no matter how bad of a day we're having!

Thanks for being part of our journey! Please follow us on our family blog! 

And a treat to show you the JOY I'm talking about :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sofia's First Day Playing Outside!

I can't wait to see what her reaction to the grass is!! Warm weather, we're waiting for you!! 

Love these chubber cheeks! 

She is so full of wonder. I love capturing her quiet moments...they're so few and far between! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

3 Months Home (The Many Faces of Sofia)

Sofia has been home for 3 months! I just asked Shawn "Are you sure? It seems like so much longer!" He agrees! She is doing SO WELL that we often forget she wasn't always here! She is 18 months old. Her personality has come to light even more in this past month. She definitely thinks she is the Queen of the house! She enjoys following Mila around EVERYWHERE, taking every toy Mila wants to play with, and crying if she's told no or corrected! And by crying I mean carrying on for a lonnnnng time as if she just lost a limb or something! Girl holds a grudge and definitely thinks she should not have any rules! She's a rule breaker for sure :)

My dad calls her Bruiser and really it's very fitting! She is s rough and tumble, loud and rough....much like a little boy! I laugh because if you remember we started this adoption process committed to a little God gave us our hearts desire in a way with Sofia here! We were trying to pick out pajamas for the girls and Shawn picked up a pair of boy pajamas all excited and thought they'd fit her perfectly! The shirt said "I like to crash things!" Oh, so perfect!

It will really be a miracle if we make it to her 2nd birthday with no trips to the ER! She has figured out just about how to climb out of her high chair if not buckled in. She can pull herself out of the jeep walker by walking over to the kitchen drawers, opening the third one up, and using her upper body strength to pull herself up and nearly out!!!! Seriously you guys, we are in SO.MUCH.TROUBLE with her! She is close to taking her first steps I believe, but until then she'll use anything and everything as a walker (kitchen chair, desk, push toys, baskets) to get to her destination faster than crawling! 

Giving me her classic "duckface"
She was being silly while I was feeding her dinner tonight, so I snapped some pictures! You can see her meatloaf (on her face and clothes) and some kiwi on her tray. She is a great eater, except she needs some work with the chewing part. She will chew/crunch hard foods, but soft foods like cheese or cooked veggies she will swallow whole. I actually had to give her the heimlich the other day and it scared the pants off me! Thankfully it worked and we avoided any real problems there. It's not the first time she choked but definitely the first time she needed that level of assistance! I tell ya, I'm learning to sleep with one eye open because this child is FEARLESS! 

 And this look, don't even get me started.....I am afraid of Sofia as a teenager after seeing this look! And seriously, she can give some DIIIIIRTY looks! No idea where she learned it!

More duckface! 
Even though her personality is so overwhelmingly FIERCE, she has moments of tenderness and moments where she really needs her mama and daddy! She has been going through a stranger-fear stage lately, which is a huge positive in this stage of the bonding game! She acts shy around new people who come to our house or when we are at a new place! It is so funny to see her go from wild and crazy to calm and needy, but I love it!! It shows me she is bonding with us and understands we are "her people!" 

Seriously, when she gets happy, her ENTIRE BODY shows her excitement! 

When I look at these pictures of Sofia I clearly see that bright mischievous spark in her eyes! Can't you? 

She recently had her early intervention evaluation and we'll be starting a couple formal therapies soon! 

Since they don't make bubbles for little kids, we may need to invest in a crash helmet for this little lady! 

To all of you with crazy little boys, I get it now :) 


Deanna and I have been slacking a little on getting this final post up....sorry! We are busy mamas trying our best to balance our time :) So we're finishing up this series with a brief list of some great foods and a little description on the bone broth we have talked a lot about!

Here is a list of some "super foods" that we like to use! Feel free to do some research on the products to see if it's an ingredient you might want to consider adding to your child's diet!

Pure Coconut Milk (the kind that comes in a can, not the carton. Native Forrest Brand has BPA free cans)
Blackstrap Molasses
Coconut Oil
Chia Seed
Raw Honey
Bone Broth!

So, speaking of Bone Broth!!! I truly believe this stuff can contribute to bringing adopted children (and all children and adults for that matter) to much better health! THIS IS A VERY GOOD ARTICLE TO READ to understand the benefits of bone broth, and find out exactly what bone broth is! It's certainly NOT the broth you buy in a can or a carton in the store!! It's really important to soak the bones in the water/vinegar as the first step of making bone broth...make sure you don't skip that step! We mostly use chicken bone broth here but every now and again I make beef bone broth. I've never made the fish one, though! If your child's no longer on a bottle, you can find lots of other ways to incorporate it! Any foods that you'd use water to make you can substitute the bone broth (mashed potatoes, rice, crock pot meals, etc.). I hope that link is helpful! We'd love to hear from some of you that have made changes since reading our posts!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Videos of Sofia! And a List.....

Thought I'd share some cute videos of Sofia! 

She still LOVES LOVES LOVES playing in water. This scares the daylights out of me because she'd probably walk through fire to get to the bathtub (or another source of water)....neither of the other girls have that strong attraction to water, and this is another reason I can't sleep at night! HAHA 

And here is the wagon that we got for Mila for her birthday! Clearly you can see Sofia enjoys it more! I love Mila's little wave from the chair. If she could talk I'm pretty sure she'd say, "Thanks for the effort mom, but really you should know me well enough to know I would have much preferred a bag of Veggie Straws and a princess wand instead! Either way, I'm glad someone is getting use out of that thing!" 

And I thought it'd be fun to make a list of all the things I've found in Sofia's mouth over the past few weeks. She is so fast and sneaky:

Fire place gravel
Foil from a Hershey Kiss
Hair rubberband
An entire sock (yes her mouth is big)
Dog Food
Dryer Sheet

I'm sure there are more....and I obviously can't write about the ones I never even saw, but I haven't found any surprises in her diaper YET. I watch her like a hawk and she still manages to sneak some things past me! I'm gonna choose to look at this glass as half full and say "at least she doesn't have oral aversion issues because that would be much more stressful!" 

I have a couple more posts planned on this blog and then I'll be shutting it down and blogging only on 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sofia's 2 Month Home Update!

I missed posting on the two month mark of having Sofia home. We've been super busy...better late than never!

Overall, Sofia is doing excellent! Out of all 3 of the girls her transition has been the easiest. That does not mean it has been without bumps, but overall, we're thankful for how seamlessly she has transitioned. Her food "issues" that I posted a lot about have almost become non existent! On occasion she will fuss if someone else is eating and she isn't, but 95% of the time she is perfectly happy playing if one of the other two girls starts lunch before her! She has started turning down food and even throwing it to the dog who happily waits below her high chair!!

She shows a FULL RANGE of emotions from happy to silly to sad to angry! She is very quick to turn on the tears if she is told no or doesn't get what she wants :) She has a hard time modulating her emotions, which we remember well from Zoya! If we are playing and giving her lots of attention and she's laughing and having fun, when the game and/or attention stops she bursts into tears. She has some trouble recovering when she becomes hurt or sad or angry. We are trying to give her enough support to help her get back to "content" when this happens, and recently, she has been able to do this with less support from us. I think for some of these kiddos who've never felt such a strong range of emotions before, it can be very confusing when they feel such extremes and don't know how to turn it off. We continue to remind ourselves that her emotional age doesn't match her real age or her developmental age. If we think of her emotionally as her "family age" (how long she's been with our family) it helps us to remember how to help her emotionally (treat her like a 3 month old emotionally).

Bonding is going REALLY well...she has bonded with us more quickly than I remember the other girls bonding. Lately she has a healthy fear of strangers and if people reach out to hold her she will cling to us and shy away. Sometimes she will even cry when strangers are interacting with her. For example, she was getting fitted for her sure step orthotics and she did not like the man that was measuring her feet. Every time he'd wheel back toward us to take another measurement she tried to dive away from him! If we have company over she is very quiet and observant for the first hour or so before she opens up and shows her true colors. Tonight we took Mila out for her birthday and Uncle Mike and Aunt Carol stayed with Zoya and Sofia. This was the first time we've left Sofia for longer than about 10 minutes. She had a little episode of crying and we're not sure why, but wonder if it was because she missed us. When we came home she clung to me. She put her head on my shoulder and squeezed me like she had never done before. She would briefly look up and me and get a HUGE smile on her face and then snuggle her head back into my shoulder. It was the sweetest thing ever and I could tell she missed me!

She says mama and dada and imitates sounds. She pulls to stand and is starting to cruise holding on to furniture. She can walk with a push toy and climbs on EVERYTHING! She has no fear as far as safety is concerned is a daredevil! She eats table foods, and just recently came off the bottle completely! She uses a straw cup to drink her milk and water/juice. She still LOVES baths (perhaps too much) and soaks the entire bathroom from splashing! She is wearing 12-18 month clothes and weighing in just over 22 pounds (putting her only 4 pounds under Mila!).

We've made it through many of her initial medical appointments. We have ENT and hearing test next week, dentist in April, and airway clinic (to rule out any contributing factors that may cause her possible pulmonary hypertension), and that is about it FOR NOW. She checked out well with her eye appointment and we've decided not to have the biopsy to diagnose celiac disease. We plan to keep her gluten free either way so at this point it's not worth putting her back on gluten and causing her to be sick just to get the diagnosis.

Here are some pictures of Sofia JOY! I keep telling people had she been our first child she may have been our only ;) (said endearingly of course!)....she's...just....sooooooo......FULL OF LIFE AND ENERGY and so very wild! We love her like crazy!

Sofia DRAMAQUEEN (her middle name has been changed) HA

Make sure to check our family blog later, going to update that one now! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sofia's Health Update

I have been up to my eyeballs in appointments for all 3 girls, they come in waves and we recently just got slammed with a huge wave of appointments.

I realized I haven't updated much about Sofia's medical appointments and general health...and doing so will help me keep it all straight :)

When Sofia came home she was sick, we had a sick child visit with her pediatrician and got baseline stats and some referrals going. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to get from point A to point B but I keep getting sidetracked along the way with new specialists and new referrals. My favorite is when one doctor refers us to a certain specialist who refers us to another (sarcasm noted).

After this appointment we scheduled a cardiology appointment for an EKG and ECHO. We were not concerned of any major heart issues, but several doctors did hear a murmur and kids with Down Syndrome should ALWAYS have an echocardiogram to check for Congenital Heart Defects since they're so prevalent.

While waiting for that appointment we took her to the international adoption clinic which is a fabulous starting point! They ordered a ton of blood work checking for vaccine titers, bloodborne viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C, etc., lead levels, calcium, levels, and a hundred other things. Her diagnoses included malnutrition, lead exposure, parasite exposure, bloodborne virus exposure, growth delay, and of course Down Syndrome. The same day we saw the Down Syndrome Clinic doctor. They were excited with how well she was doing and ordered bloodwork for thyroid, complete blood count (to rule out leukemia which is also more prevalent in children with Down Syndrome), and Celiac Disease screen (also more prevalent in children with DS). They also ordered stool samples (oh so fun) to check for parasites (which is typical with kids who have been internationally adopted).

The bloodwork all came back as expected except for one of the items in the Celiac screen. We noticed some stomach issues in Ukraine and just like our other girls, we decided to take her gluten free and noticed a huge improvement in symptoms. Even after being gluten free for 3 weeks one of her markers for Celiac's came back high. They were going to send us to a GI specialist to have a biopsy done to confirm Celiac's but that would mean putting her back on a gluten diet and I just didn't feel right doing that since she is finally starting to feel better! So, since she is gluten free anyways, it's not important to us to have Celiac Disease confirmed at this point. We'll continue to screen in the future and if we ever decide to try a gluten challenge with her then at that point maybe we'd elect to have the biopsy done, but it's not a priority right now, and nothing would change with the results being positive. So for now she will stay gluten free, we know AT LEAST that she has a gluten intolerance, whether or not it actually is Celiac Disease.

The other follow up suggested from those appointments were a dental visit and she appears to have discolored teeth and possibly some bottle rot (dentist check scheduled in April with the other two girls). We were told to schedule a vision screen and hearing screen as well (vision was scheduled since before she came home because it's hard to get in).

Back to cardiology, she does NOT have a congenital heart defect!! She does have a PFO which is not a big deal. She also has a small "non-issue" with her mitral valve and they'll just keep following that. He did measure some borderline pulmonary hypertension, so suggested that we schedule with an airway specialist to see if any airway issues could be causing the possible PH. He wasn't confident with the number he got, so it may be a non issue as well. Regardless, we have to follow up. We scheduled the airway appointment for April.

At her 3rd pediatrician appointment (to have TB test placed and well child visit), the doctor suggested also scheduling with Pulmonology to look into the possible pulmonary hypertension, so that is in the works as well. We're trying to coordinate this appointment with her airways appointment and some of Mila's appointments at Children's Hospital since it's a 2.5 hour drive for us. The pediatrician also suggested having an evaluation done here for sure steps (ankle braces) like Zoya has. I'm afraid to get these for her because then she'll start walking ;) She's already so much trouble! HAHA!

She had her vision check today and got a great report! She has some blocked tear ducts but I'm hopeful those will resolve on their own with time as they're already improving. Should they not resolve we'll schedule a procedure to have them unblocked. Other than that she doesn't have to go back to the eye doctor for 18 months! Yay!!

She will see ENT within the next month and have a hearing screening done.

Okay, I think that covers everything, for Sofia anyways. I'm tired just typing it all! Overall she is healthy and the appointments should decrease once we get all of the initial appointments out of the way (as long as they stop referring us to new specialists! haha).

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Here is the post many of you have been waiting for! Drink recipes to replace pediasure!

Deanna starts us off here with some great information and the recipe she uses for Aleck:

Ok, so the first thing I want to make sure we highlight is that these recipes are NOT for infants.  This is NOT formula!  These recipes can be used a high nutrition/high fat/high calorie drinks for children who are undernourished or would otherwise be drinking something like pediasure, but in NO WAY is this intended for children under a year old.  It’s not a replacement for breastmilk or formula, so please don’t use it for babies (with one ingredient exception that Sarah’s going to talk about!) :)
Phew.  ‘Nuff said.

The second thing I wanted to encourage you to do is learn about your ingredients.  Don’t take our word for it!  This recipe is one that I play with and change often for Aleck, and you will have the best success if you experiment with what works best for you.  So change it!  Adjust it!  The confidence to do that comes (at least for me) from practice and from knowing your ingredients, and what’s really in them.  We’re going to do a post or two detailing some of these ingredients to give you a solid launch point, but seriously: we are no experts.  I can’t say it enough--
don’t take my word for it!  Learn about your food, and then leave us in your dust.  Seriously. :)

So Aleck’s recipe: 

This recipe will make about 16 oz (more or’s definitely not exact). I blend mine in the morning, and then use it for one whole day, so this recipe will make enough for one entire day for us (sometimes I have to add a little more coconut milk or broth to the last bottle, but in whole day).  Aleck is still semi-liquid dependent and undernourished from the orphanage--so if you have an older child or are just looking for a pediasure replacement, you may only need 8 oz. a day.  I will say that this recipe has a TON of good fats in it, but if you are just looking for a healthy snack smoothie...this isn’t it. This is for children who need to gain weight.  Aleck has gained almost 4 pounds in 6 weeks, so I promise that it works...but as he becomes well-nourished, I’ll be adjusting the recipe again.  It’s not your average smoothie (check the nutrition facts on the coconut milk alone if you don’t believe me!) :)

Generally speaking, the base recipe looks something like this:

⅔ cup pure coconut milk (comes in a can.  BPA free cans are out there if that worries you)
1 cup bone broth (homemade...NOT store-bought!)
½ T. blackstrap molasses
1 scoop powdered goats milk
1 heaping T. sunflower seed butter
up to 1 T. chia seed gel or flax meal (experiment: this WILL move bowels, fyi)
splash of pear juice
probiotics (we use Culturelle)
Nordic Naturals Baby DHA (fish oil--sometimes he just takes this plain instead of in the mix)

Put all ingredients in the blender and whip well.  (Just a side note: we use a Y cut nipple, because this is a thick mixture).

Now, Aleck does not care about the taste, and will drink this totally straight.  It actually has just a pleasant, lightly ‘nutty’ kind of flavor, but if your child needs something with a different flavor (or depending on what they may need for the day) just adjust it!  Think of this as the ‘base’ recipe.  Add a banana or some berries.  Put in a dollop of raw honey or add a little yogurt.  Whatever you need to do to make it palatable and tailored to their needs, go ahead and do it!  It’s a total experiment :)

Here you can clearly see how love and good nutrition have helped Aleck grow in such a short time!


Deanna did a super job explaining what these recipes should and should not be used for! Just as Deanna said, no two recipes really look alike! You can vary this greatly depending on your child’s specific needs and preferences! The ONE MUST-USE INGREDIENT, though, is bone broth! This is certainly a “staple” of these recipes! We'll be sharing more in the next post about how powerful bone broth is!

Unlike Deanna, I make each of my bottles/drinks individually. It would save a lot of time if I made the base drink at the beginning of the day, but this just works well for us because I do often change or add ingredients based on their needs that day, so making the recipe each time allows me to do this. This is much easier to do for kiddos who are not liquid dependent since they need less bottles/drinks throughout the day. Again, there's no wrong way to go about this!

When we met Mila at 7 months old, she weighed only 7 pounds. Mila came home around 9 pounds at 8 months old (Yes that means she gained about 2 pounds just from LOVE and likely from increased feedings since we were at the orphanage twice a day to feed her)! She was tiny and malnourished and very sick! Within 3 weeks, she was up to 12 pounds, 10 ounces! This almost 4-pound weight gain in only 3 weeks home was prior to her airway and heart surgeries! So clearly her lack of weight gain wasn't only due to medical issues!

We did follow doctor’s orders and put her on Nutramigen to start. I was not very happy with this formula at all (ingredients list = yuck) , but it kept Mila stable and gaining some weight until her open heart surgery. I didn't feel comfortable using a homemade recipe in a child under 1 and didn't have enough time or resources at that point to do the research needed to formulate a recipe that would give her everything she needed as an "infant." As soon as she turned 1 we started her on the recipe below. Even though we aren’t suggesting these recipes for babies under a year old, I’d TOTALLY suggest using the bone broth ingredient as a base for powdered formula in place of water (YES! even in children under a year old!) I used the bone broth as a base with Mila's Nutramigen before we eliminated the Nutramigen!

Mila's Recipe 1 (12-14 months old):
(Mila was 100% liquid dependent at this point so she got 4-5 ounces every 2-3 hours, with one overnight feeding-typically 6-7 bottles per day. She would only take 2 ounces at a time when she was newly home at 8 months old (formula) and we worked our way up to 4-5 ounces at a time by a year old).
4 ounces of warm bone broth (chicken or beef-chicken is easier on the belly)
2 scoops powdered goat's milk (double the goat’s milk for the liquid suggested for higher calorie intake)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 cooked egg yolk
1 ounce canned whole fat coconut milk (works as a great thickener and mild sweetener)
1/2 tsp. Nordic Naturals Children's DHA
Vitamin D supplement (Nordic Naturals)

Blend all ingredients together, serve warm.

Mila's Recipe 2 (14-18 months old):
(Around 16 months we decreased her “milk” intake to 5 ounces 4 times a day and dropped the nighttime feeding)
4 ounces of warm bone broth
1 scoop powdered goat's milk
1 tsp. coconut oil (in 1-2 of the bottles daily)
1/2 tsp. Nordic Naturals Children's DHA
1 ounce organic pear baby food (stage 1-homemade or store bought, to sweeten and thicken)
Vitamin D supplement (Nordic Naturals)

*At this point Mila was eating solids and we added many of the "superfoods" (we will post about these next time)  into her food directly. 

When Mila reached her goal weight, we began replacing this recipe with coconut and almond milk. I am able to get her many nutrients through food as she is eating table foods now! 

This picture shows how much Mila grew in her first year home, thanks to the love of a family and good nutrition!

Sofia has only been home for 6 weeks, but has already gained 4 pounds! It's important to note that Sofia (just like Zoya) was a decent weight when we met her. However, she was still diagnosed as malnourished due to lack of proper nutrition and vitamins. In her before and after picture, you can clearly see, in addition to the weight gain, that her dark circles are gone and her eyes are much brighter and full of life...her skin is much clearer....her hair is growing a lot and overall, she just looks A LOT healthier! (No editing was done on any of these photos, by the way!)

Sofia's Recipe: (15 months-current 17 months old)
(Sofia gets 4, 4-5 ounce servings per day)
4 ounces of warm bone broth (chicken)
1.5 scoops powdered goat's milk
1 tsp. coconut oil (in 1-2 of the bottles daily)
1/2 tsp. Nordic Naturals Children's DHA (only in first bottle of the day)
Vitamin D supplement (Nordic Naturals, only in first bottle of the day)
Vitamin B-12 supplement (only in first bottle of the day)
Standard Process Probiotic (Prosynbiotic, only in one bottle/day)
Personalized Standard Process Supplements (via nutritional response testing)
Either 1/2 Tbsp. raw honey or 1/2 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses (I do 2 servings with honey and 2 with molasses each day).

As Sofia grows and gains weight I change the recipe. She is at a good weight right now, so I’ve decreased the powdered goat’s milk down to 1 scoop per bottle. I will probably drop her servings/day from 4 drinks to 3 (from 20 ounces to 15) this week. I still think it's REALLY important, though, to keep her on the bone broth for a lot longer (even when we switch to a less fattening recipe)! It is so healing to the body! 

Sometimes I replace 1 ounce of the bone broth with pear juice, or juiced greens (purchased already juiced because I don’t have time for that!), coconut water, coconut milk, or almond milk. Recently I started giving all the girls a few ounces of goat’s milk kefir, which is a great source of probiotics, so I add this to her bottle once or twice a day as well! I’m adding in some of these things because they are good for her, and because I want to make sure her palate is introduced to a variety of flavors so she may be more likely to eat a diverse selection of foods. I don’t want her getting stuck on having to have her bottle made one way and only taking it that way. So I make very little ounce here or there of something new. I also add a little flaxseed oil if she gets a little constipated and that seems to help a lot! I can’t put the ground flax seed in her straw cup because it clogs the straw so I try to add that into her yogurt instead.

In the next post, we’ll talk more about WHY we are choosing these kinds of ingredients...and then you will have the tools you need to decide which ones are right for you!  Happy blending! :)

Please feel free to leave comments with any questions you may have and we’ll do our best to answer them! Also, if you’re using a bone broth based recipe with your child, please share it with us! (Email spbasile at gmail dot com). We already have another mama’s recipe and story we’ll be featuring and would love to include yours too!!

Monday, February 11, 2013


I promised Deanna and I would be sharing more about what our families DO eat! So in Part 3 we will show a sample of what a day of meals might look like for our families!

First of all, I have to share this video! When Deanna sent this to me, I laughed so hard I almost cried because some days I feel like if I try a new recipe and they hate it HAHA! Even if you just watch the pancake part, it will be worth it!!!

Here is a sample of one of our days this week and what we ate at the Basile House!

*Milk (Almond for Mila and Zoya, “Sofia’s recipe/goat’s milk” for Sofia (4 oz))
*Pizza Eggs (Scrambled eggs with pepperoni and cheese, garlic, paprika, oregano, sea salt cooked in coconut oil) and pork sausage
*½ Happy Tots squeezeable pouch with flax seed, honey, and whole food supplements, vitamins, fish oils (for Zoya and Mila, Sofia’s supplements/vitamins, etc.  are mixed in her milk).

*Gluten Free Banana/Chocolate Chip Muffins
*Milk (Mila gets the rest of the milk she didn’t finish with breakfast, and if she did finish she gets watered down juice, and Sofia gets another 4 ounces of her recipe)
*Zoya has snack at school M-F. I send GF snacks for days that kiddos bring in a snack that she can’t have. Her teacher asks for healthy snacks so many days are fruits or veggies anyways.

*¾ cup Almond Yogurt with ½ avocado each (mixed in)
*½ banana
*Zoya got a spoonful of coconut oil and extra flax seed with some happy tots food because she had not had a BM in a day…within an hour she went.
*Juice/Water mix

*Veggie Straws (our weakness)
*Sofia’s recipe milk for Sofia
*Water/juice for Zoya and Mila

*Homemade Gluten Free Chicken Noodle/Vegetable Soup (with bone broth of course)
*Oopsie Rolls
*Almond Milk for Zoya and Mila

*Sofia gets one more 4 ounce drink (her only remaining “bottle” of the day) right before bed. Occasionally if we had an early dinner we will do a bedtime snack, but typically we don't because they are in bed a few hours after dinner :)

So that is a sample of what one of our days might look like! All of the girls drink from straw cups and Sofia gets one bottle right before bed to work on bonding. I try to get 12-16 ounces of “milk” (either almond, coconut, or goat’s milk) into the girls each day. The rest of the time I give them about 1 ounce of pear or apple juice mixed with 3 ounces of water (or so). We will be sharing more about what recipes we use for our littlest ones’ milk mixes! 

We do a lot of “platter-type” quickie lunches. They love cheese and Applegate pepperoni with some fruit for lunch. Mila is going through a stubborn picky phase right now (I hope it's a phase), so I will often mix whatever we are eating in with some mashed cauliflower or baby food for her and she will eat it that way much easier. 

A “real” foodie might look at our menu for the day and pick out things that we should change (like the cream cheese used in the Oopsie Rolls or the veggies straws, or add more raw veggies)....BUT this is what works for our family. The “balance” Deanna talked about is so important. Maybe cream cheese, for example, isn't an ingredient I’m thrilled about giving them, but the ease in making them, their delight in eating them, and the benefit of the eggs mixed with them is what I considered when I made that choice. We always have room for improvement, our diets aren't perfect, but I feel really good about what my kids eat most days!

And here is a little bit about what Deanna's family meals might look like for a day:

Ok, so OUR typical day might look something like this...but sidebar for a second: I’m loving looking at Sarah’s list because I can see so many foods that sound similar...and yet, I can see how we still do things a little differently.  That’s what this is all about!  What works for YOUR family can (and probably will) differ from what works for mine, and still be balanced.  Isn’t it awesome that we have so much freedom with food to find good choices and tailor them to our personal needs? I love it.  Ok, sidebar over :)   So a breakfast example at our house might be something like oatmeal and banana with almond milk for the older two.  Aleck has 4 oz. of ‘Aleck’s drink’ every morning, and then something like pureed quinoa with coconut milk, and bananas.  Sometimes, he eats oatmeal too!

For our morning snack, we might eat hardboiled eggs, pretzels, or crackers and have water to drink.

For lunch, maybe sunbutter (or natural peanut butter, since we aren’t nut free) and raw honey (or homemade jam) sandwich on a 12-grain bread with carrot sticks and coconut milk...this is one of my kid’s favorite ‘special’ lunches, and this twist on ‘PBandJ’ just makes ME feel good, too.  :)
Aleck would have something like mixed vegetables, lentils, and 4 oz. ‘Aleck’s drink’.  If we are eating something he can also have, then we would just puree some of that food for him to eat.

Afternoon snacks vary widely around here.  This past week, we were loving kiwifruit and homemade trail mix, but it really could be anything from homemade banana chips to veggie straws, to granola, to apples and peanut butter.  Snack is kind of a big deal around here (isn’t it always with small children?), and the minute our oldest gets in the car from kindergarten, snack is the word.  And it changes every day!  Unless mommy is at her wits’ end...then we might have the same snack for 3 days straight because that’s what is made, and that’s what is easy.  Please tell me you know what I mean....Ahem. :)
Aleck might get applesauce and rice rusks or really, any number of pureed foods.  He is just plain not discriminating between foods at all right now, so he just eats literally whatever I puree for him.  

A typical dinner would be vegetable chili with salad and coconut/almond milk to drink (ok...the kids drink that...mommy and daddy might drink iced tea or water).
Aleck would again get anything we are eating that is also good for his belly.  In this case, I would probably puree some of the beef, add brown rice, and peas or carrots for his supper.  He also gets about 4 oz. of his special drink.

Last but not least, our children rarely forget to ask for that bedtime snack...even if they have only eaten an hour ago, which kind of drives their daddy nuts.  Ha.  A typical night snack here would be a fruit smoothie, or vanilla coconut milk yogurt...something along those lines.  Aleck also gets his last bottle at this time.

In Part 4, Deanna and I will be sharing our "pediasure replacement recipes" for kids who are liquid or semi-liquid dependent, and/or malnourished. We've both had so many inquiries about this, so we're excited to finally get that post going! We also plan to share a "super foods" list and explanations of why they are great foods and why we try to incorporate them into our meals/recipes.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Building Trust Through Feeding and Food Progress for Sofia!

*****Interrupting the Nutrition Series to bring you this fabulous update!*****

It's no secret, one of our biggest struggles we've experienced with two of our post-adoption kiddos is extreme food-related behaviors. Zoya and Sofia both struggle(d) with wanting/needing to eat all the time. I've posted a bit about this in past posts, but some of the behaviors Sofia demonstrated around food include: yelling, crying and screaming at the sight of food (not because she didn't want it, but because she NEEDED to have that food the moment she saw it), crying when her food was gone, breaking down if she saw someone else eating when she wasn't, eating anything in sight (food and non food items), not having a preference for favorite foods, never turning food down, needing frequent small snacks often throughout the name a few! Meals were a very frustrating time as you can imagine.

I'm happy to say we're seeing the light here! She has been doing much better and is even starting to turn down foods, and not finishing drinks/meals. This is HUGE!!! Today, I fed Mila lunch first and Sofia played on the kitchen floor HAPPILY, knowing Mila was eating and she wasn't!!! Do you know what that means? That means she is starting to realize that food will ALWAYS be available to her....that she can trust us!!!!! This is not just a little accomplishment, this is HUGE!

The biggest improvement I've seen is in the look in her eyes around food. She is still semi-obsessed when food is presented, BUT she will look at me and give me eye contact when I request it (instead of focusing ONLY on the food)...her eyes look peaceful now instead of scared. She CAN wait in between bites without having a melt down. She doesn't cry when her food is gone! We are so happy to be seeing this progress!

Sofia has had an aversion to cold foods, as it's not common practice in Ukraine to feed children anything cold (their view is that children will get sick if they eat cold foods...obviously Americans don't share that view). Zoya had this issue as well.  Little by little, I've been offering her bites of cold baby food or yogurt, or a room-temperature drink (instead of heated) and she's always had the same reaction, until today!!!

In the videos below, you can see she is trying some cold almond yogurt. You can see her face and the surprised look, but she is willing to keep eating it even though it's cold! In the past she would have stuck her tongue out and cried.

Some strategies that I accidentally found worked with Zoya, have worked well with Sofia too! When we were in Ukraine with Zoya, there was nowhere for her to sit for her meals, so I sat on the floor with her. This worked really well because eating/feeding is such a trust-building experience and this allowed Zoya (and Sofia) to move away from me on their own to "take a break" from the sometimes overwhelming experience of eye contact/eating. It might not make sense but for former orphans, building trust through eye contact can be overwhelming and I find it best to allow them those "breaks." As I said, feeding is the best trust-building experience I've found with all of my girls, so I try to take meals as an opportunity to work on that.

In this video, you'll see Sofia on the kitchen floor. I have seen good progress with both girls when I feed them on the floor where they can move around rather than in a high chair. (I do feed her most meals in a high chair but try to do these little trust building feeding exercises when I can!) She is eating some flavored almond yogurt (I started with this because I thought she'd be more likely to eat it because it's sweeter than plain yogurt!) You can see that I let her play in the yogurt which is ultimately going to help her be okay with eating cold foods. Our fabulous OT had given me that advice (let kids play with their food before/during eating) and it has really helped my kiddos to be less sensory defensive with food issues.


Here you can see that I'm requesting Sofia to give me eye contact to get a bite of food. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. When she is so focused on the spoon/bowl/food, I put some on the spoon and slowly move it up toward my eyes to get her to eventually give me the eye contact. Sometimes she scoots away for a little break. You can see that she still would prefer to focus on the food, but I'm gently asking her to look at me so she can connect the food with "mama," thus building trust. (By the way, she does typically close her mouth around a spoon but because this was her first time really eating cold foods I think she was a little hesitant!) Also in this video I had moved to plain yogurt with avocado and honey to change it up and decrease the sugar that was in the flavored yogurt! Typically when I do this I hold the bowl closer to my chin to get her to naturally look up that way, but since I was taping with one hand I couldn't do that! 


One more I held the spoon in her mouth longer, trying to get her to close her lips on the spoon now that she was used to the coldness a little bit more. This ended up working really well for her to naturally give me some eye contact! 


I'm including this video because I think it's funny! I was telling her no in Russian when she was trying to whack the spoon and bowl (which we use often because she still responds much better to that than the English "No") and you can see how quickly she responds to the word and shakes her head. HAHA! I love how you can hear Zoya in the background saying "Niet!" 


Jump for joy with us! We're thrilled with her progress and the improving trust and bonding happening around here lately! We know now (with Sofia being our third princess), to expect temporary regressions...and although those are never easy, we are seeing some light at the end of this tunnel and for that we are thrilled! Go Curlie Girlie!!!!!