Monday, July 30, 2012

mid-summer update

Surprise! Millie was re-evaluated today at physical therapy. 

I didn’t know this in advance, so I was more than a little pleased with myself for sticking to my Sunday night goal of getting the girls to bed a half-hour earlier than usual. Monday mornings were hard enough before Millie started therapy, but now with 7 a.m. sessions every Monday, they require me to get everyone up and out the door 45 minutes earlier than usual. So, two weeks ago, I set earlier bedtimes Sunday nights, just to ensure the girls would get enough sleep. Small victories, people, small victories…

Anyhow, first the good news: Millie was accomplishing tasks and challenges indicative of an 11-month-old! Considering that, two months ago, she was testing at a 6-month-old level, this is awesome!

Of course, we know that when it comes to her final “grade” (which wasn’t immediately available) she’ll probably be a little below 11 months (maybe 9-10 months?) because she hasn’t yet started crawling, standing, etc., but she is doing much, much better and that’s great!

That said, we do have a few other concerns worrisome enough that we are having a third evaluation done. Within the next few weeks, Millie will undergo a speech evaluation. 

Since the very beginning of all of this, we knew that there were two key points in looking at whether there might be something “more seriously wrong” with Millie. First, Millie needed to respond well to therapy, to be willing and able to learn the skills. And, second, we do not want to see her accomplish or learn a skill and then lose that skill. If A happens and B doesn’t happen, we were told, it was more than likely that she would be just fine, that she would catch up.

Well, we’re now worried about “B” because Millie has stopped talking. 

At about 11 or 11.5 months, Millie began talking. Mostly babbling, but definitely saying “mama” “dada” and “baba” to indicate those three things. But in the past three weeks or so, we’ve noticed less babbling and now, for nearly two weeks or so, she has stopped talking almost completely.   

So I asked the therapist today what she thought. She said she and our other therapist have heard her babbling during sessions because they’ve talked about it. But, she agreed that, we, as her parents, would notice any kid of change, subtle or obvious, before others. She also pointed out that we considered a speech evaluation last month anyway because of Millie’s chewing/eating difficulties but decided to try stuff at home first.

So, we decided to go ahead and order an eval to see what the speech therapist thinks. The one nice thing is we have definitely hit our limit or deductible or whatever it is for insurance so it won’t cost us anything more. (what can I say, we’re finding the silver lining wherever we can!)

No idea on when the eval will happen, but I’m sure I’ll mention it once I figure it out.


Sigh. I’m more than a little embarrassed to be writing this now, more than two weeks later, but I’ve been busy I guess. Anyhow, my sweet, bubbly Lola turned 4 years old on July 14. 

She continues to be mostly shy, timid in new situations, but I can see her coming out of her shell more and more every day. She waves at random strangers now – as long as they aren’t approaching her – and she makes small talk with the checkout people at the grocery store, Target, etc. 

She is cautious. In water, Lola won’t swim in the deep end or really anywhere she can’t touch, even if she has her floaties on. But she is trying, a little more every time, to float on her back without help. One of these days, I just know it, it will all click for her and she’ll be off and paddling on her own.  When we talk about going to school this fall, she gets a scared, quiet demeanor and I know she knows she is going but she isn’t happy about it. She keeps asking for me to go with her. She is excited about her new backpack and new friends, but she is a little afraid, which is understandable. 

She still is a screamer. When she’s hurt, she’s dying (even if she has just a hangnail). She got bit by a deer fly last week and she swore that a bee stung her. She falls on the cement and scrapes her knee and you’d think she broke a bone. She’s just loud. It's both humorous and concerning because one of these times she is going to be badly hurt and we won't be able to tell the difference.

She loves to wear dresses, makeup and fancy shoes. Such a girly girl. Our daily morning battles continue to be the same, me not-so-patiently explaining why she can’t wear a formal winter gown to daycare and her insisting that she won’t get it dirty playing outside in the sandbox.

Anything she does, she does 130 percent. A few weeks ago, we broke out the tee-ball set that she got for her birthday. I showed her how to swing the bat but she refused to play. For one week. We couldn’t figure it out – until we realized she was only going to play with the real bat. Not the foam-padded “safe” bat, but the kid-size, aluminum bat. This past weekend, she walked up to the T, grabbed her bat with both hands and just smashed that ball. It was amazing to watch. All 27 times.

She loves her family, being a big sister. She lives, like we all do, for our two “family days” (weekends).

Because it never seems right to do a post without pictures, here are some of the two girls modeling their respective Rapunzel outfits. Lola was thrilled to have the "Rapunzel's getting married" dress and Millie was just happy to be included in the photo session.

My cuties.
- Bethany :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

my Lolas

My Grandma Abe lived near Chicago, so she was the grandmother we saw the least often. But that made her visits all the more exciting. We played lots of bingo and together created card games and wastebasket basketball (or would that be wastebasketball?). We danced and shopped. But, more than anything else, we laughed a lot.

Whenever she left, it was always bittersweet. We loved seeing her, but knew it would be a while before we saw her again.

The nights after she left, when we went to bed, my brothers and I would always find a special surprise under our bedroom pillows. Usually, it was something like a $5 bill, accompanied by a small trinket, perhaps a necklace, a pack of nifty stickers or a yo-yo.

It made her visits seem that much longer.

My Lola, as most of you know, was named for my Grandma Abe (Lola Abraham).

And even though the two of them never met – Grandma Abe passed away in December 2002 – I find glimpses of my grandmother in my daughter.

One day last week, I was remaking Lola’s bed. She usually does this herself, but she had wrapped herself up so tightly up in her comforter and sheets that she couldn’t figure out how to make it on her own. Everything was so twisted.

As I tossed the pillows off the bed, I found, underneath them, a pile of Lola’s prized toys. At least three Rapunzels, a Eugene, a Maximus, an Ariel and a Merida.

For the tiniest of moments, I was six years old again, peeking under my pillow to see what Grandma Abe had left.

Honestly, it’s been so long since I’ve thought about it, I almost seemed to have forgotten she did that. The paddleballs, the jacks, the books.

I’m not ashamed to say that the next morning, I actually prevented Lola from making her bed. Just to see. And, sure enough, there was a collection of random items under her pillow. Some dead flowers that she must have picked while outside, a "magic" wand, a My Little Pony, a few books.

I smiled.
- Bethany :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

new play space

I have a problem with clutter.

Which is kind of amazing considering that, in my younger years, I couldn’t keep a room clean for 24 hours at a time. Ever.

But, anyhow. I have a problem with clutter.

This is problematic, I have learned, with children, or at least with my children, who have more than a handful of toys each. I can find ways to store the little toys well, but the larger ones give me headaches.

Ray and I instituted a rule - no kids' toys in the living room - when we moved into the house. And that has worked out pretty darn well, up until last fall.

It's not that the children and their stuff are not welcome there, but any kiddie stuff brought into the living room must be put away every day. When we lived in the apartment, up until Lola was a year and a half old, her toys filled our living room. I mean, to the point where, even though I would clean them up every single night, the room was cluttered even when it was so-called “clean.”

And it drove me - and Ray, I think, too - crazy.

So, when we moved, we made this decision, deciding that Lola’s toys would stay in Lola’s room.

Then we had Millie. And, slowly, as we fully expected, this “rule” has been bent and, yes, broken. First it was the Jumperoo. Then a standing jungle toy. Then, the wheely toys that move best on the wood floors.

Even though it was all picked up and organized every night, the toys were beginning to take over the living room (OK, really, they covered on little corner, but I felt like they were moving in on me).

Things came to head after the girls’ fantastic birthday party. We temporarily moved their gifts into the living room so I could unpack and clean them before putting them away where they needed to go.

But before I could do that, I’d have to address Lola’s room. I knew she didn’t have room in her room for all of her new toys, so I prepped myself for one my twice-annual toy binges. Pack up the ones she no longer played with and, in their place, move in the new ones.

The problem is that she plays with all of them.

This is not an exaggeration. My rule of thumb is that if I haven’t seen her play with something in 3-4 months, it gets boxed up for a while, perhaps even until millie grows to the point where she can play with them. The problem was that Lola really does play with all of her toys.

Already, Lola’s room had become too cluttered. She has really gotten into twirling and dancing now and I’ve noticed how hard it is for her to dance too much in her room because of the table and chairs, the train set, the bookcases, the toys that sit on the floor, patiently waiting their turn. She loves those toys, yet they also are in their way.

She just doesn’t have a lot of floor space yet.

So I created a playroom.

We don’t have extra space on the main level of our home. But we do have a giant-sized bedroom space (about the size of two small bedrooms) in the basement. Before, the guest bed was set up on one half, near the fireplace, and the air hockey table was in the other half.

I’ve thought about having a playroom there before, but it’s in the basement and Ray has always convinced me that it was a stupid idea, that we would never actually go down there and use it.

This time, though, I just went ahead and did it.

Admittedly, the new playroom, now, is very cluttered, especially since Ray insisted that the air hockey table remain in its place. But it's a playroom. It's supposed to be kinda' cluttered, right?

Anyhow, that was more than a week ago. So far, I'm loving it. The convenience of having available  Millie's and Lola's toys together in one space - instead of having to drag Millie toys into Lola's room or Lola's toys into Millie's room - is awesome.

Ray, too, is coming around. He woke up on Saturday - his day to sleep in - so confused because he actually got to sleep in. He didn't hear us girls stomping or running around the house because were playing - loudly - down in the basement.

Lola hasn't quite gotten to the point where she is willing to go down there alone, but she and a playmate did play down by themselves for well over an hour last week.

So far, so good.
- Bethany :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

a busy two weeks

And I was doing so well with frequent updates...

Life has been hectic here for us lately as we have been busy getting ready for the girls' combined birthday party, jugging babysitting (no daycare last week) and hosting some visitors.

And, oh yeah. There was a huge storm that ripped through Bemidji last week. We were among the fortunate ones in that we didn't really have much damage but we did lost my most favorite tree (and I am not a tree person).

See the big jackpine on the horizon?

(I just happened to snap this shot while we were touring our house before it was "our" house...)

This is it today. Or was it. Ray has since chopped it into smaller chunks.

The storm hit about 7 p.m. Monday, July 2. I was home alone with the girls and it was an experience, let me tell you. I had put Millie down for the night about 6 p.m. and had just started thinking about getting Lola headed that way when I thought I heard the sirens.

I paced for a for a few seconds and then decided that, yes, I was going to get the girls downstairs. So, I told Lola, who proceeded to freak out. And then I woke Millie up and we all went into the basement bedroom. I was still thinking it wouldn't be much so we were really just kind of hanging out, watching TV, trying to comfort an upset little Lola.

Then the lights started flickering. So, we moved into the hallway downstairs. This is when things got a little worse. We lost power. And, when I snuck upstairs for a quick peak, I could see that things were getting ... interesting ... outside. So, we moved into bathroom downstairs, which is probably our safest place.

Despite my best efforts, Lola continued to have a complete meltdown. Millie didn't care at all and was just thrilled to be awake.

The storm subsided just as Ray pulled into the driveway and we surveyed the damage. We lost the big jackpine, a neighboring tree and several branches, including a fairly large one that landed on the boat (but did not real damage).

At 2 a.m. we got power back.

And, at about 4 a.m., I heard a little explosion and we lost power again. And it remained out for another 30-some hours.

With the heat, the girls and I packed up that afternoon and headed to my dad's (and aunt's), where we took full advantage of the lakefront and enjoyed the Fourth of July swimming; Ray, meanwhile, worked to dismantle the tree.

It was disheartening to see that all our work in the past few weeks to get ready for the birthday party ended up not really meaning a heck of a lot. The yard was in disarray and things were neglected because we were focused on tree removal and cleanup.

But, of course, it all worked out just fine.

And we had a wonderful party.

It was a Minnie Mouse theme, which was super fun. The cake, in my opinion, was beautiful.

The girls had two special birthday outfits for the occasion.

 (Lola is showing that she "is" 4 - although her birthday isn't actually until this Saturday.)

But the outfits didn't last too long. It was a warm afternoon so we blew up the kiddie pool, hooked up the Slip n Slide and had on hand a sprinkler for the kids.

Millie, of course, had her first exposure to cake.

She honestly had no idea what to do with it. it took her a good 7 minutes or so before she really started digging in. Then, she found that it was quite scrumptious.

After that mess, it was a quick trip to the nearby pool for an impromptu bath.

 (Can you see the cake mashed up in her hair? Too cute.)

We appreciated, so much, all of the people who made the not-so-short trip up here to celebrate with us.

It really was a wonderful day.
- Bethany :)