Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back On the Chart Again

Husband took Penny to see her GI specialist on Monday. She now weighs in at 19 lbs, 7.4 ounces....[Drumroll]...and is now back on the growth curve!!! Not quite 3rd percentile for height and weight.

It took over a year to get here and we're very proud of her. Back in November 2008 when this all started with her refusing to eat I knew she'd "grow out of it" - in some ways this year has felt very long but has also passed very quickly.

They decided not to up her reflux meds despite the growth and we can't reintroduce the banned foods (recap: dairy, beef, chicken, peas, soy, peanuts). We've been sneaking her a little dairy and she had a bit of burger last weekend from my plate that was a bit hit. They promised we could re-evaluate the dietary restrictions next visit.

She's still on O2 at night and we have to do a EKG in a few weeks to rule out any heart issues but that seems more "check" the box than anything else. We anticipate another 3-6 months of O2 at a minimum.

Since this post is all about Penny I will share a few cute stories - all told to me by others since my work load is currently off the charts and I haven't seen the kids all week. I had to blog so I could think lovely thoughts about the kids even if I don't see them.

  • Husband asked Penny to "clean up the books" (ie, put them back in the book basket) and she took a baby wipe and wiped down the books - inside and out.

  • At playgroup yesterday Penny led the group in "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Wheels on the Bus" with her sign language - but she was always just ahead of the song. Show off!

  • Penny claps for herself when she identifies objects in her beloved picture books or does something that would normally elicit a "good job" from Nanny April, Husband or me. Good self-esteem.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Assessing Needs, Optimism and Other Friday Mishmash

Our Early Intervention specialist leaves sheets after every visit noting what she worked on with Penny and suggestions for us - e.g., hold two objects up near your mouth and ask Penny which she wants, using the words for them. Wednesday's note included a reference about Ned...completely unsolicited. Apparently she thinks Ned should be evaluated for speech.

Alright, people, I get it! No waiting until he turns 18 months the end of February. I have a call in to discuss the EI speech program - I want to have a better handle about the services he would receive and confirm that if I am paying twice he will get separate services that are focused on language and possibly fine motor skills depending on how he tests. He seems to be comprehending more and using a few more signs so that is encouraging but his only real words are "meow" (not nearly as consistent as Penny when she sees our cat) and "that". If the EI specialist thinks he needs to be tested I'm pretty sure he'll qualify for services.

I actually sent a note this week to my mom of twins listserve titled "The One Where The Mom Worries About Constant Tantrums". It was reassuring to hear from a few moms who said they've been there and this doesn't mean Ned will be hellish with tantrums his whole childhood - just for at least another 4 months. :) I'm curious where other moms go for advice? Some moms I know call the nurses line all the time but most try to speak to other moms which can be hard for me when I cannot attend the kids playgroup and music class or playdates during the week. The listserve has been invaluable in that regard. I also have a few fellow working moms with kids of similar ages although I self-indulgently feel like I have to deal with more crap from my kids then they do.

Lately I have been complaining about the Juggle but allow me to put it in context with these developmental items. I always just assumed my kids would be "normal" or "above average" and it has been hard to have kids diagnosed with "failure to thrive" and "delayed". Putting the mental blow aside I want to be more involved to learn how to encourage my kids but I just can't make these meetings and groups that happen during the week. It is hard enough getting Penny to her doctor's visits - we often have to reschedule. Penny's pulminologist has been great about spending time with me on the phone but not all our specialists have been as accommodating.

I'm pretty optimistic by nature so I know that it will work out and in a few years this will be a distant memory but I can see why families with kids who have special needs just cannot have two full time working parents.

This is not a pity party post, I swear. I am curious if any of my readers have to deal with "special needs" and how they make it work when working.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You're Welcome, America

To all of the non-Massachusetts U.S. taxpayers out there reading--you're welcome! No doubt the Ds will still try to find a way to push through their unconstitutional, socialistic mess of a health bill, but at least (and at last) Massachusetts has done its bit to defend what's left of the Republic.

Go us!

Nightmare on MLK Day

Things are moving so slowly on various deals that I took Martin Luther King day (mostly) off. I was able to observe Nanny April in action - see the activities she does with the kids: story time with them in their reading chairs; playing with snow (scooping and stirring) on the playroom floor. Penny likes to stick her toes in the snow. Ned is tantruming for Nanny too which makes me feel better. Nanny April folds laundry while they eat lunch - very impressive.

I also went to the Mall while the kids were napping and snagged a few Gap clearance items for Penny. I have a very hard time predicting her size but I guessed 12-18 month for spring/summer and 18-24 month for fall. Ned has tons of hand-me downs from Lori's boys and his cousin Finn so I am not buying him anything.

I was quite the lady of leisure yesterday - Husband even made dinner after the kids were in bed! Is this how it would be if I were rich? Sign me up!

My "reward" for being a slacker resulted in me waking up covered in sweat. In the nightmare I was in grad school but the dream featured appearances from people I knew from high school, law school and college. It was finals week and I had to take a final in a class I had never been too. I mean, I knew about the class, but had just never bothered to show up or do any of the reading. Shudder.

Clearly this was a stress dream. I'm stressed about a European deal that I need to close on a "no wriggle room" timetable that isn't going well - I feel like I don't know what I am doing and that something will go horribly wrong.

I've bored you all I know. Did I break a cardinal sin of blogging by talking about a dream?

One item about Nanny April is that I can see that we may drive each other a little crazy when I'm on maternity leave this summer. So I'm going to put a small TV up in the new nursery for nursing during the day. Any other suggestions? Based on the number of new moms I saw at the Mall I'm hoping I will get out of the house so much more with just one - at least until nap training starts around 12-14 weeks.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Loot for the Little Ones

I stuck to my decision not to buy many Christmas presents for Ned and Penny but they were spoiled rotten by family and friends anyway.

Particular favorites include:

Rocking Horse from Aunt Rachel and Uncle Shane. Ned is very close to being able to get himself on and off the horse by himself. Once he is on he makes it rock (and looks at himself in the mirror or window - he apparently thinks he is a sexy cowboy).

Ball popper. I had to get one after Amalah and Jane raved about them. Auntie Allie and her family were most obliging (Lucy had Penny in the cousin swap). They quickly learned to make it go but the balls do pop out and they aren't good about retrieving them so Mommy, Esq. and Husband have the pleasure. Also, we have other ball items that are close in size so there have been a few jams when the kids do decide to be "helpful" and feed the ball popper. It may be a little "young" for the kids but we get use out of it almost every day.

Little People farm. Cousin Cameron bought this for Ned but it has become Penny's toy. She can make the noise (more or less) for the cow (and will also make them for "kitty" and "doggy" but we don't have those animals). I like this toy so much that I am considering other Little People toys - let me me know if you have any particular favorites.

Play kitchen. Husband found the cheapest kitchen ever - $25. It also took him 4 hours to put together - every piece had to be broken off from plastic connections, sanded down, then assembled. It is also too light and Ned was pushing it on Penny but we solved that by tying it to the baby gate. Nanny April provided some "food". Ned likes to "stir" but mostly just carries items around the playroom in his mouth. Both kids love to open and shut the oven, dishwasher and cabinets. I thought they might be too old for them but I've been surprised how much they both like it.

Cute clothes. Grandma and Grandpa got Penny a cute Puma warm up suit among a ton of other items. Ned got a Buckeyes sweatsuit that he wore while watching the beginning of the Rose Bowl.
Reading chairs. From Grammy and Bumpa (from Marshall's or TJ Maxx and More). I was dismayed about the size of the chairs - how would I fit them in our playroom? But Nanny April made them work. Penny's rocks and Ned's has an adorable footstool. I do fear that Ned will eventually try to use it to climb over the gates but we'll deal with that later.

Musical instruments. Grammy found them at the Christmas Tree Shop.

Books. Penny's early intervention specialist gave each kid a book and they have been big hits - from the series Play and Learn. Penny and Ned can already point out a ball and Penny can point and say "banana". She does get on a roll though and insists that someone read her basically every book in our library - but only if she can flip pages (at high speed!) herself.

Spending time with my kids.

My Little Snuggler

Monday, January 11, 2010

Using My Blog as a Self-Indulgent Pity Party - Care to Join?

My friend Nicole wrote how she's having some unhappy thoughts about being a stay at home mom. I do feel for her but I was having such a miserable Monday that I thought I'd share the other side of the story. Please indulge me in my little pity party - and feel free to join in with your own woes.

Reasons it sucks to be a working mom (especially a Big Firm lawyer working mom):

1. Clients come first. Penny's pulminology appointment for Monday afternoon had to get moved (to February) in case I had a call on Monday afternoon. The call happened but lawyers weren't invited. To accommodate workload/calls the Nanny is coming at 8:00 am this week and I'm sure to miss bedtime every night. So my time with the kids is down to about 5 hours total until Saturday.

2. Penny called me "Nanny" all weekend. I would correct her and she'd say "Mama" once and then switch back. She gave Nanny April kisses through the gate when April came into the house today. Requests to give "Mommy" a kiss were generally met with a headshake.

3. More tears/tantrums than love this past weekend from the kids. Text from the Nanny today saying "Kids have been great all day lots of luv 4 Nanny!" Glad they are so happy with our wonderful nanny but it still hurts.

4. Chores during the weekend instead of focused kid time - schlepping them from Target/Kohl's for shoes to the grocery store for food this week. Feeling guilty when I have to throw in a load of wash or check email during our one hour together in the morning. Spending the weekend assessing skills and development to see if they are "on track".

5. The commute is so bad from Boston home (and I only live 12 miles from my office) that if I can't leave by 5:00 pm I might as well stay and work late.

6. Feeling like I am surviving/providing for my kids rather than parenting or enjoying them. Trying to compartmentalize when I am with them and failing miserably.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gains From Trade

Ned and Penny may have a future as economists. They have already discovered the benefits of free and voluntary trade!

You see, Penny loves--LOVES--eating meat. (Yesterday she ate an entire bratwurst herself.) Ned, on the other hand, is partial to bread, rice, and beans (especially chickpeas).

Despite their preferences, I always give them about the same mix of stuff at mealtimes. A couple of months ago, this usually led to most of the less-favored food getting tossed to the ground (or walls, or ceiling). Now they've each started putting the stuff they don't want on the other's tray. Penny ends up with almost all the meat; Ned with almost all the carbs. Both eat a lot, and not much ends up on the ground.

I won't go so far as to assume they've reached some explicit quid pro quo arrangement, but it's a win-win-win situation anyway.

Go economics!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Determining How to Discipline

We are starting to enter the phase of toddlerhood when kids are exhibiting deliberate willful behavior. Standing on chairs, pushing over the other's toy, etc. Husband and I have been avoiding thinking much about discipline. It isn't clear to me what sort of discipline Nanny April does although we both count at Ned (up to three using fingers) when he stands on the chairs (then take him off the chair), and we all do lots of taking items away and redirecting.

Toddler Magic 1-2-3 is sitting next to my bed but I've been relaxing with trashy romance novels instead of focusing on beginning to turn our kids into people. We'd like to encourage the cooperation that Penny shows when it is time to get dressed (and man, that girl loves to "clean" using baby wipes) and discourage Ned's fits when it is time to get out of the tub.

Lately I feel like I'm just not with the kids enough to be in charge of discipline - that it will fall to Nanny April. Any thought as how to handle that? What techniques did you use for your kids when they couldn't communicate well and don't listen/understand?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Krafty Kids

If you couldn't tell from this blog I am terrible at arts and crafts. I'm also relatively unsentimental and abhor knick knacks. Our nanny is the complete opposite (she has tons of signs with sayings (you know, "bless this mess", etc.) around her house).

For Christmas the kids made us original artwork under the loving guidance and supervision of Nanny April. Even the wrapping paper was made by the kids - old paper bags the kids rolled around on with paint. I will likely use the kid art to decorate Spyder's room.

My new favorite Ned photo. Husband thinks he has a Braveheart look about him - "...tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take OUR LOVIES!!! Monkey gu brath!!!"

Also a good warning that no matter how much fun they are having a toddler tantrum is just millisecond away!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Who Needs a Money Shot?

As soon as I saw the skull of the baby during the ultrasound I knew. It took a few more minutes for the ultrasound tech to make her way down the baby's body during the scan, but...

It's a girl!

Spyder has the same exact skull shape as Penny. I have my fingers crossed that this baby doesn't have Penny's eating and breathing issues. Please, please, please. A part of me wanted another little boy because (1) Ned has such a special place in my heart, (2) that would make Husband's prediction wrong, (3) Penny's medical issues, (4) Penny's clear desire to be an only child, (5) another girl will make it 4-2 girls to boys in the my family's grandchild department. But those are of course silly reasons - I'm thrilled no matter what we have - especially after they said that "everything looked anatomically normal".

Speaking of...Penny learned to walk over Christmas. She had been cruising for about 2 months but now will prefer to get up and walk across the room - just after her 16th month milestone. It is still a "Frankenstein" walk but she is one determined little girl!

I'm Going to Get You!

One disappointment is that after a few weeks of monitoring Penny on the oximeter with about 6x desaturating during the night (below 90%) I spoke with her pulminologist and she is back on O2 to be safe. It's hard to get us all back into the routine. We are going to do an at-home study for two nights next week. The problem is that the pulminologist thinks there may be no reason for it. And some kids do fine on low levels of O2 - but there is no data on brain development/future issues relating to O2. We can't seem to train her to breath through her mouth (even with her pacifier obsession) so she sets the monitor off even with O2 on.

But Penny is eating great - based on Wii scale she is up to 18 lbs! She actually has been eating better than Ned and that is after having 4-5 ounces of her high calorie formula...but only in a bottle. We've tried formula, almond milk and juice but she'll only drink water in a sippy cup. I'd love to break her of bottles before the new baby arrives in June but we'll do whatever we need to in order to keep her growing.