Saturday, April 13, 2013

Panda Eating and Reflecting on a Retreat

The Panda is eating more from a spoon than from a bottle.  It is still slow going, but getting better.  A 4oz. carton of baby yogurt could take 15 min., for example, but only if I let him lick it off the spoon instead of putting the spoon into his mouth like you normally would eat yogurt.  For a week or so, we've been making him let the spoon into his mouth instead of licking it for the last couple bites of each meal (only if it is perfectly smooth puree- we can't do this with texture yet.)  I am trying to transition to almost all bites into the mouth if he's eating something smooth.  This morning, the yogurt took 40 min instead of 15, but he did all but the first few bites in "the normal way".  He is so scared until he gets going.  I hate the look of fear of food in his eyes. It helps to start with a few licks, so he knows that it is a food he likes, then an empty spoon so he gets on board with letting the spoon in his mouth, then a very little bit of food on the spoon, then normal bites.

Stage 3 baby food is getting a little faster- sometimes even only 30 min!  We are practicing "chewing" when it is in his mouth.  The Panda has been biting on crackers and such for months, but hasn't really bitten pieces off.  Last night, he did bite a piece off a taco shell.  I tried to get him to chew, but he almost swallowed the pokey shard of shell and gagged.  Then he reached way down his throat and pulled it out.  Eeek.  I'm really not sure how to teach someone to chew.  He's so smart, I'm sure he'll eventually figure out my overly-dramatic "mum, mum, mum" chewing instructions....

The Panda has started eating from those baby food pouches.  The pouches have brought a new level of convenience to my life!  We got to go into DC to see the cherry blossoms and walk through the American History museum.   He used to be so scared of the pouches, because one of our early attempts to get him to eat was to squeeze one into his mouth every day.  Mostly, I think that forcing him to eat solids like that was a bad idea, in hindsight.  I will say, though, that learning to swallow undiluted solids helped him stop drooling, and taught him a lot about how to use his mouth and tongue muscles.  I think one of his expressive language explosions came as a result of that learning.  I can't  totally regret it because of that, because it took 10 months to get a spoon in his mouth after he learned to swallow, and if he'd drooled and not been able to speak for 10 more months, that would have been really bad for him.  I just discovered this morning that there are reusable pouches for sale that I could fill with homemade baby food.  I'm really hoping that they will help him start eating homemade baby food, because he still strongly rejects it.

One bad thing about learning to eat pouches is that they have ushered in that fun developmental stage of "sticking every poisonous thing into my mouth and sucking on it".  Like grandad's eye drops, for example.  I grabbed them away in the nick of time.

The biggest progress, though, is that the Panda is now eating a bowl of oatmeal with squished banana every day, even though it has texture, and even if I squish the banana with a fork instead of a food mill.

The Panda's other new skills include sneaking out the front door when mom is making dinner (good thing he's slow on the porch steps), and sneaking to the basement to open the slider and free the cats.  The Puppy got the blame for the cats' escape until the next day when the Panda did it again and I saw him.  As ornery as he is, he is so sweet and not stubborn about being corrected (a first for me as a mom), and when I think about how he couldn't even walk just one short year ago, I am so thankful that he can do all these wonderful things!

The Puppy is himself again, still high energy, but all the anger and extra acting out that came with Matt's deployment is just gone.  I really missed him almost as much as I missed his daddy, and am so thankful to have gotten them both back.

Last weekend I attended a multi-church women's retreat.  Nancy Guthrie, who was a great speaker, taught on Revelation 1, 4, 5 and 20-21, with an extra session about grief.  It is nearly impossible to sum up the learning and soul searching of a retreat, but the first part of Revelation gives us an introduction to Jesus, alive and glorified, holy and powerful.  As hard as it is to wrap my brain around Jesus, who was totally God and totally man, who set aside His glory and lived a human life, never sinning, but still experiencing every pain and grief, it is even harder to imagine who He is now.  He is still Jesus, the one I can pray to and take my needs to, but also God Almighty, who holds all things together with His word.  I need to intentionally and frequently set aside all doubt that any plan of His will somehow be thwarted by my sin or inability, or by the complete brokenness of this world.

Rev 1:17-18
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 

Nancy Guthrie asked us, "Is God on the throne at the center of your life?  You will worship Him forever in heaven, but are your practicing now?"  

I am so easily distracted, forgetful.  But having a full weekend to dedicate to prayer, worship, fellowship, and rest was wonderful (and actually exhausting- I'll be glad for that new body that won't get tired in heaven). May God help me keep drawing refreshment from Him, and may I keep God at the center of my life continuously.

This was really convicting...  Nancy Guthrie read Rev. 4:8

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!"

Then she told us to fill in the blank:  Day and night, she never ceases to say, "_____________________"

Does what most often fills that blank point others toward Jesus?    Or is it, "Wash your hands!  Get your work done!"  Eeek.

When I fall short, Jesus forgives and makes me new, not just painted over so the old is hidden under a pretty coat of paint.  I can be content now even if I'm not fully satisfied, because He will truly make all things new someday, and I can wait for it.  

I still struggle with how much harder it would be to say that if I were one of the 167 million orphans  or 27 million slaves in this world, though.  I struggle with how empty it sounds to say that God has a good plan when things are so very bad for so many.  I know that God is telling the truth.  He has called His people to bind up the brokenhearted and fatherless.   I can't do everything, but may I do the part that God gives me with excellence.

Here's where the hope comes from, and until that great day comes when all God's people worship with unity AND diversity, but without sin, I'm going to hold on to this hope:

Rev 21: 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

And finally, new pictures!

Granddad sets the fashion trends around here.

Jefferson Memorial

Four girls, more beautiful than the blossoms, and my sweetie boys.


  1. Hi Maria, My name is Melanie. We recently adopted a 2 year old cleft kiddo from Qingyang through AWAA. I have really appreciated your posts! My son has oral aversion issues like yours does. I have a feeling our Levi will make slow progress in this department. So, it is good to read from someone who is ahead of me on this journey.

    1. Here is our blog address: Couldn't figure out how to sign in using my blog url.

    2. Hi Maria, would you pls email me at Thanks, melanie!

  2. It's nice to read about Panda's progress! Love seeing the photos of the Cherry Blossoms! Blessings to your beautiful family!

  3. Love reading about the progress being made! The cherry blossoms are so beautiful! I enjoyed the pics!