Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Life with Lola

Several months ago we stopped giving Lola timeouts in her bedroom for two reasons. Either she would, A, consider it playtime and not really get a punishment per se; or, B, she would cry out that she needs to use the potty. And we never were quite sure what to do about that.

So our solution was timeouts in the bathroom! I was so proud of myself when I came up with this idea. Now? Yeah, not so much.

She rarely actually gets a timeout, maybe once every two or three weeks. And it is just for about 2-3 minutes. It’s not bad. Well, a couple of weeks ago she got a timeout. She was being stubborn, refusing to listen to me, or even acknowledging me, much less purposely not doing what she was asked. So, long story short, she got a timeout.

Me, after giving her a standard timeout warning: “Ok, timeout. Let’s go.

Lola: “No.”

Me, reaching for her hand: “Yep, you’re not listening and you’re not being a very good girl. Timeout.”

Lola: “No! I don’t wanna time out!”

She started to get more and more mad, fighting me as I basically picked her up and carried her, telling her, calmly (I hope), that she needs to sit in timeout until she decides to listen and be a good girl.

All the while, as I carry her down the hallway, she’s shouting that she doesn’t want a timeout.

So, finally, I set her down on the rug in the bathroom, crouch down, look her in the eye, tell her I love her but that she needs to take a 3-minute timeout because she wasn’t listening to me.

She glares at me. Hard.

So I shut the door, turn around to go check on Millie and take about two steps away from the bathroom when I hear it.

click.

I spin around, look at the door blankly, not understanding at all. She did not just do that. I reach out and try to turn the knob. Locked.

Me: “Lola, did you lock this door?”

Lola, from inside: “Yep.” You could almost hear her grinning.

Me: “Lola, unlock this door.”

Lola: “No.”

Me: “Lola, unlock this door this minute.”

Lola: “No! I’m not ever ever coming out.”

Me, getting a wee bit panicked: “Lola, unlock this door now.

Lola: “I don’t wanna.”

Me, getting more panicked: “Lola, please unlock the door.”

Pause.

Lola: “If I unlock the door, does that mean I’m all done with timeout? Timeout over?”

Sigh. She’s going to be oh so much fun when she’s 14.

Yes, she unlocked the door. Yes, her timeout was over. We did have a “talk” about how she needs to listen to me and how dangerous it can be to lock a door when there isn’t an adult in the room or the house with her.

Note: It wasn’t until I was relaying the story to my dad that he pointed out that, chances are, there was a way to open the door from the outside. I haven’t tried it yet. Lola also hasn’t had a timeout since.


- Bethany :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

seven years and counting


Seven years ago today, Ray and I said “I do” at my hometown church in the Twin Cities.

This is us today.


 Seven years ago. We used to play poker three nights a week (or more) in a friend’s garage, packing up every Thursday night so we could hopefully sneak out of work a bit early on Friday, drive up the Superior National Hiking Trail and go backpacking. My Focus had permanent indentations on its roof from tying the canoe on top. And, many times, no matter how tightly it was strapped on, it was never good enough; coming home from the BWCA portion of our honeymoon, we had to pull over about a dozen times to tie it back into place.

Now, we’re homebodies. We don’t travel to get into the woods because we live right next door to them. We occasionally visit “home” in the Cities to visit family but we’re always itching to get back to Bemidji after about three days.

We unpacked the backpacking gear the other day to clean it out, go through it. Ray wondered aloud if we should try backyard camping with the girls one of these days. I shrugged, What’s the point? We can just sleep at home and take a day trip to Itasca the next.

Ray and I raised more than a few eyebrows in our first year of marriage. For some, apparently, the first year is an extended honeymoon. Ours was hell. We joked to people, when they asked out married life was going, that our goal was to be happy with one another 51 percent of the time, so, then, at least, we were happier than we were miserable.  The second year, we said, our goal would be 55 percent, then 60 our third, 65 the fourth, etc., etc. That would mean we’re now, in our eighth year of marriage, supposed to be happy with one another 85 percent of the time.

I’d say we meet that now and then some.

So, all in all, it’s been a great seven years.

***

OK, apparently, I have an overly active imagination. Either that or I’m just overly dramatic, which, quite honestly, is also quite likely.

I got off a helicopter (!!!) this afternoon, said my goodbyes, and walked to the car, where I had a voice mail.

“Hi, this is (nurse) with (pediatrician’s) office. Please call me back at XXX-XXXX about Amelia's test results."

It sounded so matter-of-fact. And we know this nurse fairly well. I don’t know, it just didn’t sound good.

Anyhow, I had to wait until I got back to the office to call her back (a co-worker was with me at the time).

So I called the hospital; got transferred to the pediatrician’s office; got the “we’re too busy to take your call” recording; waited on the phone’ got the receptionist, gave her Amelia’s date of birth, name, reason for calling; got transferred to the nurse station.

Another nurse answered, "Were you calling about Amelia?"

Yes...

"She just wanted to say that her hemoglobin and lead tests were normal. Have a nice day."

Awesome, so happy. But I was still more than a wee bit surprised. I thought they always left the “everything’s normal” results on the voice mail.

In the 17 minutes it took to back and get the “all’s clear,” I swear I had convinced myself she had cancer.

Seriously, I need to get a grip.
- Bethany :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Millie's birthday!


Today was our sweet Amelia's first birthday! 

We had a mixture of really miserable experiences and super fun family time. 

First the miserable...

As the nice mother I am, I scheduled Millie's 12-month doctor checkup on her birthday, just like I did for Lola three years ago. She got her three shots, including her first MMR. As expected, she cried out during the immunnizations. But, unlike her big sister, she was over it pretty quickly. 

Until we took her for a blood draw (just routine, more or less). She was sitting on my lap and didn't much mind as they put the tourniquet thing on her right forearm ... or on her left, as they couldn't find a vein. When they returned to the right arm, she started to get fussy. And by the time they again tried the left arm, she was pretty crabby.

Finally, after searching for a while for a vein, they inserted the needle.

And she did not like that at all.

I'm guessing that since the vein was hard to find, they didn't get it in there quite perfectly, because the blood just trickled into the vials. After a few minutes of Millie crying, the nurse lady wiggling the needle around while it was in her arm, making Millie cry harder, they decided to pull it out.

I thought that was it until the nurse said, "I'm going to go check and see if this is enough for them."

Great... I did not want to put her through that again. Fortunately, they made it work and we were onto the more fun parts of our day.

We had an unexpected family day as Ray's work stuff was postponed. So, we went home, relieved the babysitter, and had a family breakfast. Then, we went to the local state park to just have a little bit of fun before naptime.


After naptime, we got some stuff done at home and the continued a family tradition of taking our girls to Applebee's for their first birthdays. 




It was an awesome day.

Happy birthday sweet girl!
- Bethany :)

P.S. OK, I didn't want to clutter the first birthday post with the doctor's opinions. So here goes. The pediatrician is not worried about Millie. He thinks that since she is making progress in therapy, she is going to be just fine. He thinks some, or a lot, of it is still that she is a large kiddo (24 pounds, 93rd percentile) and that it's going to take some work. That aside, he wasn't concerned at all that there could be "something else" wrong (my words, not his) as she is making great progress. The time to worry, he said, would be if she ever stops making progress. Which she is definitely not doing at this point. So, we set another checkup for three months from now and got a lot of tips for encouraging her at home on all things movement and sippy cup (she hates the sippy cup). So, good news.

Happy 1st birthday, Amelia!

Today our sweet Millie turns one year old!


Happy birthday, Monkey! You've taught us so much in the last 12 months. Whereas we seemed to just survive Lola's first year in this world, you have shown us just how beautiful, and enjoyable, babyhood can really be. You were, and continue to be, the sweetest, most precious little girl.

You were the happiest baby from the very beginning. Still today, you start laughing and grinning when someone just makes eye contact with you. You love to be tickled - and we love the appreciative giggles we get in response. One of the best parts of the day is walking in to get you in the mornings and you're just playing quietly, but when you see me, your kick your legs, smile and reach up as high as you can, looking forward to your good morning hugs.

Your arrival, too, has allowed us to watch the awesome development of sister love. Because no matter how much you may love your Daddy and me, we pale in comparison to your big sister. We might get giggles, but only Lola can solicit from you those deep belly laughs. And she can do it with just one little look.

You have had this habit for months now that makes me just melt. You love to caress everyone's cheeks. If I didn't know you as well as I did, I would think you were just reaching upward so I would pick you up. But, no, you're holding up a hand as if asking me to come closer, within reach so that you can rest your palm against my cheek.  

We love you so much and we are so proud of everything you have accomplished in your first year of life. You bring us great joy, Millie. Happy birthday, Baby Girl!

- Mommy :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

No moms allowed


Millie rarely cries at home. She will, on occasion, whimper or fuss when hungry or sleepy. But, very rarely does she ever really cry (exception: mornings, when we don’t hear her happy giggles immediately when she wakes up. If we don’t get there with a certain amount of time, she will cry out a few times until we finally get our rumps out of bed and go get her).

It’s one of the reasons that physical therapy is so hard for me. She wails and cries real tears.

Well, on Monday, I was a bit frustrated because she was just refusing to do anything. Even exercises and actions that she does so well at home, she wouldn’t even try. I keep telling the therapist about her progress at home and then she refuses to show off during her appointments, making me look like I’m exaggerating or not really working with her at home as much as I should be.

Anyhow, following Monday’s appointment, the therapist made a suggestion: Perhaps at her next appointment I should wait in the lobby. Maybe Millie is just acting out because I’m there.

So we did. Today, she went in and I remained outside, reading my Nook, glancing occasionally at the door to see if I could hear anything. I couldn’t. I took that as a good sign, even though I also wondered if they sounded-proofed the pediatrics section for the comfort of those in the waiting area. After about 28 minutes, I started pacing and leaning closer to the door and I did hear one distinct yelp. Short-lived and perfunctory. Soon after, the therapist came out with Millie, who looked neither happy nor unhappy, but once she saw me, she grinned widely and reached for me with outstretched arms.

The verdict? She did GREAT.

She accomplished an action that we have been working on since Day 1 in therapy. If she is sitting, and you place a toy to her far right, can she get it? In that first week, she would just look at it. In the second week, she would reach out with the arm closest to it. So, if it was on the right side, she would reach with her right arm and just give up when she couldn’t reach it.

What we need her to do is place her right arm sort of behind her to hold her weight and cross her left arm across her body and grab the toy.  She has been doing this part at home for about a week or two. But she has, thus far, just thrown her head back at this point, turn on her extension muscles and fall face-first to the ground.

We need her to use her abdominal muscles to get back to sitting.

She had never done that.

Until today.

I wasn’t there to see it, and that kind of makes me sad, but not really. From what the therapist said, I don’t know if she would have even tried to do it if I was in the room.

We’re very proud of her.

In her overall report, the therapist said Millie didn’t once cry real tears and didn’t have any major meltdowns. Just a few whimpers.

Success.

I also mentioned to the therapist that we are seeing Millie’s pediatrician on Friday for the first time since this all started. I asked her how she thought Millie was doing, if she was improving, and, you know, if she would be OK in the long-term. And I heard exactly what I hoped: Millie is making great progress and is doing very well. But, she continued, it is going to take a while for her to catch up, which we knew.

All in all, today has been a good day.
- Bethany :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

thoughts on therapy


Millie went to her first official occupational therapy session Friday afternoon. It was at the end of a chaotic week in which I realized just how terribly I’ve been juggling everything lately. Not only did I manage to double-book potential babysitters for the kids on Friday (we don’t have daycare on Fridays during the summertime), but I also sent my niece (goddaughter) a “Happy Second Birthday!” card/gift when, in fact, yeah, it was her third birthday. And I knew that, I just didn’t realize it in that moment. Neither screw-up was a major life-changing event, but it was enough to cause one mini breakdown (or five) mid-week.

Anyhow, I went into OT a little frazzled, a little nervous. In a preceding physical therapy appointment, the physical therapist mentioned that they were considering ordering a body wrap for Millie, something that would more or less force her to use her abdominal muscles. This sounded … strange. Not that I was opposed, but I definitely wanted some more information.

Really, the OT session wasn’t overly difficult. The therapist took us through Millie’s results (she tested at a 9 months and 10 months level for various fine motor categories) and discussed how OT would proceed. She suggested, after watching Millie for a bit, that perhaps she has some sensory issues.

There was one moment when I nearly fell out of my chair. She said she had discussed with another co-worker whether Millie should have a third evaluation done to examine how she eats/chews, etc. Until very recently, Millie has struggled to swallow or chew anything with texture – she still chokes on the so-called dissolvable solids. But in the last half-week or so, she has suddenly been doing much better and has, in fact, been trying a few table foods. Very small pieces of table foods, but it’s progress. Anyhow, before I could even spit this out (even just the idea of a fourth therapy session each week nearly put me over the edge), the occupational therapist said the therapist with expertise in that area said that she didn’t think it was necessary at this point and will be giving me, this week perhaps, some at-home exercises to do on our own.  

At the end of the session, she asked how our schedule has worked out for PT and OT. I just told her, nicely I think, that we were never able to find times each week for PT and OT to piggyback each other so I have three separate appointments each week, which always vary in the time and day, etc. She asked if this was difficult and I said it was, quite, in fact, based on my never-predictable work schedule. But we really want to do whatever is best for Millie and if that means coming three times a week, so be it. I’ll just figure it out.

Long story short, she worked with the scheduling desk so that we now (starting next week) will have a SET SCHEDULE EVERY WEEK. I only will bring Millie in now twice a week: one PT session is on Monday mornings, and Thursday mornings she will now have a session each for PT and OT, back to back. So it will be a longer visit on Thursdays, but it only means two trips to the hospital a week.  This makes my life easier. Not just that it is one less visit a week but that I have set, weekly appointments. I can actually plan my work life needs more than half-a-week in advance.

So, today, I am feeling less overwhelmed.

Which is awesome.
- Bethany :)

P.S. Oh, yeah, she also is getting that body wrap thingy. I guess it is a bodysuit in that it is like a swimsuit but has adjustable straps that forces her into what I call the “scrunchie” position. I’m intrigued.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

almost 1...

We all went downtown last weekend for a number of community events. But the one I was really looking forward to was a decorate-your-own-cupcake event at the local gourmet cakery. Mainly because I thought it would be fun to watch Lola decorate her own cupcake, and, also, because the girls' birthday party is right around the corner and just maybe we would get some ideas.

We ended up decorating two cupcakes - one for Lola and one for Ray.


While there, saw a little flyer thing offering a potential deal: order a custom gourmet birthday cake and get a free photo session with a local photographer.

Cool. We haven't had any professional photos taken of the girls in quite a while.

And Ray noted that every year we've tried to do some kind of special cake, so he was a little eager to spend a little extra $ to get a special cake. So, we placed the order.

Then, a few days later, I called to make the photo session appointment.

The photographer asked the girls' ages, when we wanted to have the shoot, etc., and was throwing out all kind of interesting ideas for the shoot itself. Everything sounded great. I was - and still am - super excited about it.

But then I got all tongue-tied when she mentioned how 1-year-olds can be fun (read: difficult) to shoot at times because they're always moving all over the place and hard to keep still.

I kind of tripped over the words, trying to say that, yeah, that won't be be a problem for us at this point. I remember saying that Millie has some developmental delays and then the rest is a blur of sort as I tried to explain her situation without sounding as if it is worse or overly dramatic than it really is.

It wasn't until after I hung up the phone that I began thinking about how she is going to be 1 year old in less than two weeks and she still doesn't crawl or walk or anything. And I don't say this in an "oh how sad" kind of tone. I mean, I'm not. The more we go to physical therapy, the better she is doing. She's a long ways off from those milestones, I'm quite sure, but I'm not sad about it these days like I used to be.

Yes, I'm still worried a little bit, and, sure, I've got an ever-expanding list of questions for her checkup with the pediatrician next Friday.

But I'm not sad about where she is at physically. She's not sad about it. She's as happy as can be, proud of herself every day when she tries something new and learns to move in a new way.

We're proud of her too.

But it was after I hung up the phone with the photographer that I really thought back to this time last year, when she was brand new and Ray and I were talking about next summer (read: this summer) and how it would be such a blur or activity with Lola running like crazy all over the place and how Millie would be crawling and cruising all over the backyard, pushing around the wheeled horsey, stroller and standing toys that Lola had loved.

We're, obviously, not there yet. But I realized for the first time in a couple of weeks now, that I'm not sad about it. Concerned, well, yeah, just a little, not a ton. Stressed? Oh, definitely. But not sad.

It just means that we have a few more months yet before utter chaos enters our world, with a soon-to-be-preschooler running this way and a toddler running that way.

Anyhow, I don't know if this post was all that coherent, but those are my random thoughts for the day.

***

Oh this is also worth mentioning: Ray and I marked a milestone of our own this past week.

We've lived in Bemidji now, officially, for five years. We have never taken a picture by Paul Bunyan and Babe. I don't know why, but it's just never been at the top of the to-do list I guess.

But while we were down at the waterfront last Saturday, I was watching Lola and Ray running between Babe's legs when another woman approached me and offered to make a deal: She would take our family photo and if we would take theirs.

So, on June 9, five years and four days after we moved here, Ray and I officially had our first Paul and Babe photo taken.


- Bethany :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

OT eval


Amelia had her occupational therapy evaluation yesterday to examine her fine motor skills.  

I know, I should have updated yesterday but the last four weeks have just been exhausting and every time I went to write yesterday I just couldn’t do it.

Not because it’s bad news, just because I’m wiped. And, yeah, more than a little overwhelmed.

Anyhow, for the first time, Ray was able to come with. So together we went first to Millie’s third physical therapy session and then went to the OT evaluation.

The evaluation went pretty well, I think. Not fabulous, not terrible. The verdict was basically that she is delayed on fine motor skills, but not nearly as delayed as she is on gross motor skills (where she was rated at about a 5- to 6-month level).

So, in addition to our twice-a-week PT sessions, we also will be bringing Millie in once a week for OT. They are hoping to piggyback them so that, for instance, on Wednesday we can just do the two sessions back-to-back. But figuring out the scheduling is difficult and, as of now, we don’t have anything firmly set. I’ll find out more on Friday.

The OT evaluator thinks she very quickly will catch up on fine motor skills – which is awesome - but that she will probably remain in once-a-week sessions for a few months. She will likely be re-evaluated in about six weeks.

In related news, she is responding well to physical therapy. The physical therapist yesterday pointed out several areas in which she already can see marked improvement, after just three sessions. She also showed us a few areas to concentrate on this week at home and last night she was doing things that, to date, she had been refusing to even try

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

- Bethany :)


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mama. Mama.


I also edited my Saturday post late that night. Almost.

It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

Right before bed, we change Millie’s diaper and give her one last bottle. This is usually Ray’s assignment. But since he and Jeremy were still out fishing, I was on diaper duty. So I went in and gently woke her up as I moved her to the changing table. She was super wet. And as she stretched and slowly opened her eyes, she saw me, smiled, clapped and said, “Mama. Mama.”

In our household, that doesn’t count as first word. No one was around to “prove” it and, you never know, it might have just been babbling with “M” sounds.

But, to me, at that moment, it was clear as day. 

She reached up and stroked my cheek with her hand, saying, again, “Mama. Mama.”

By the time I put her back to bed, Ray was home and I ran outside to meet him, telling him what she said. He was happy for me and said he believed me and all that.

But still … he hadn’t heard it.

Last night, I went to bed earlier than Ray. I also, then, woke up earlier than Ray today. Millie was up and ready to go at 6 a.m. so I went in to change her diaper and get her dressed. I set her on the changing table and she grinned, “Mama. Mama,” lifting her hand to touch my cheek.

Ray woke up about a half-hour later and, without my prompting, he told me that when he went in last night for the final diaper change with Millie, she eventually woke up, saying, “Mama. Mama," as she looked around the room, trying to find me.

So, yeah, even though, technically, we both have yet to be side by side to hear it simultaneously, it’s as official as it’s going to get at this point.

Millie has said her first word.

- Bethany :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Life with Lola


I picked the girls up from daycare Friday afternoon, all of us heading home in fairly good moods because, well, it was Friday.  

Lola is sitting behind me, singing along with “Cinderella” on her DVD player. Millie is behind the passenger seat, gnawing on a rattle. Just a regular, quiet drive home.

Driving along a small dirt road, I stop at a two-way stop sign, preparing to cross the asphalted county highway. I just barely reach the other side when there is an earsplitting, high-pitched shriek of terror coming from the backseat.

Now, Lola can be an intense screams-her-head-off kind of kid. But this was a shriek of absolute fear.

I thought maybe I didn’t see a car and had just barely avoided a collision. 

I thought maybe there was a bear running at our window. 

Maybe a plane was about to crash on top of us.

I immediately pull over and turn around…

And there is caterpillar on the seat next to Lola’s leg.

- Bethany :)

UPDATE: The medical center called me this afternoon. As expected, there was an occupational therapy cancellation for Wednesday. So, Millie's appointment for her OT (fine motor skills) evaluation has been moved up from the 20th to this coming Wednesday (the 6th). This makes me happy. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

the perfect day




Some days are simply wonderful.

Today was one of them.

Ray's buddy is visiting this weekend from the Cities. The two of them are having a dedicated fishing weekend, so I'm going to be a solo mommy for a few days. We've had a string of fun weekends, but they've all involved chores, traveling or rain, so my goal for today was to have a "Lola fun day" (and Millie fun day, too).

Thanks to cooperative weather (mid-70s with plenty of sunshine), we were able to do everything that Lola loves best. And Millie was more than happy to come along for the ride.

First, we had pancakes for breakfast and then we took a longer-than-usual walk to the park, opting to visit a larger one that is just another mile or so further than our usual stop.

It was worth it.







We then walked home, had a little naptime (I laid out and got some sunshine, haha) and then had lots of playtime in the backyard.


Lola even had her lunch outdoors.


We even broke out the swimsuits. Well, just Lola's. But it was a start.

video

video

Millie went to bed a little early today. She didn't get a second nap so she was pretty tired. But that gave Lola and me some extra one-on-one time this evening. We made Daddy and Jeremy a special treat and then stumbled on "Beauty and the Beast" on TV. So, she got to stay up a little later as we painted Mommy's toenails and snuggled on the couch.

It's rare, between the stress of work, what needs to be done at home, and, well, basically just life, that we are able to have a truly spectacular day.

Today just happened to be one of them.

And, man, I needed that.

- Bethany :)

P.S. Today also marked Millie's first "ponytail," so cute!