Tag Archives: toddler

Tips for Surviving a Young Toddler in a Hip Spica Cast

28 Sep

Tomorrow, Neola will have been in a hip spica cast for hip dysplasia for six weeks.

She only had dysplasia in her right hip, so her bright pink cast is not symmetrical — it’s down to her toes on her right leg, but only down to above her knee on the left. It also goes up to about her armpits in the back, but curves down in the front, low enough that we can see her belly button. Tomorrow she goes back to the doctor to get a new cast (there is a small possibility she will go straight into a rhino brace, but we are mentally preparing for another 6 weeks in a cast.)

I did a LOT of research online before her surgery, so we haven’t had to figure out much on the fly, which I’m thankful for. But just like having a baby, there are things I thought we would use a ton that we haven’t used much, and vice versa. So to parents who are preparing for having a child in a hip spica, I would recommend waiting to buy most things, unless you buy it from somewhere that you will be able to return it if it doesn’t work.

Diapering

This was one of the most daunting things to think about before her surgery, but honestly, it’s not that bad. You get a routine and comfort level with it, and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Her cast has gotten wet a few times (the hair dryer on the cool setting took care of it), and she’s had two decent blowouts that took a while to clean up, but changing just pee diapers is overall very similar effort-wise to pre-cast.

What has worked best for us with how small the diaper opening is in Neola’s cast is 4 steps (this is a fairly common way to diaper in a spica, so if any of this is confusing, I’m sure you can find other resources out there with more information):

1. Perimeter Diapers — We cut premie or newborn diapers in half and tape the cut end shut. We like using 3M Durapore or waterproof adhesive tape. Pull or cut the tabs off the diaper and line the edge of the diaper opening with them, absorbent side facing the skin. Tape the cut/taped end to the outside of the cast. (Our hospital lined the diaper opening with waterproof tape before she came out of surgery. With all the taping and untaping of the perimeter diapers, the original waterproof tape was starting to peel up, so we added a layer of bright pink duct tape over the waterproof tape, just on the outside of the cast.)

2. Incontinence Pad — We have found these to be better than diapers in the cast opening because they are longer and skinnier than diapers. (I read a lot of people just went down a diaper size for diapering in the cast, but with the way Neola is casted and the way the opening is cut, bigger diapers just don’t fit that well.) Because Neola’s cast comes down in the front to just below her belly button, we are able to push/pull the pad all the way up the front of her cast, with 2-3 inches to fold over the cast in front (held in place by the big outside diaper). Then there’s 3-4 inches to tuck in back to cover her bottom. We have tried Poise Regular Length Level 6 and Amazon Essentials Level 6. Both have worked well, but we like the Amazon ones better. You do have to buy quite a few at one time though.

3. Diaper Insert — Most of the time, we also put a newborn diaper over the incontinence pad just for extra protection. It’s not completely necessary though, so sometimes during the day we skip this step (especially when using the Amazon incontinence pads).

4. Big Outside Diaper — Size 7 diapers fit the best over the outside of Neola’s cast. I had read that another mom used cloth diaper covers over the outside of her child’s cast because then they could just wash them, and they were cuter than a disposable diaper. I bought some, planning to do the same thing, but they just weren’t big enough. (Single tear.) But since I bought them on Amazon, I was able to return them.

Other helpful things for diapering: hair dryer, penlight, and fabric scissors for cutting diapers

Bathing / Cast Care

We have used bath wipes from the hospital, as well as Mustela No-Rinse Cleansing Water for cleaning Neola’s exposed skin. Both work fine. We’ve gotten away with only having to actually wash her hair a couple times so far (once was after she threw up and it got in her hair — but thankfully the puke didn’t get on her cast!).

We haven’t had a huge issue with her cast smelling. I mean, it doesn’t smell like a flower garden, and there’s a faint urine smell, but overall, it’s not too bad. I have spritzed the outside of her cast a few times with water and lemon essential oil, then drying it immediately with a hair dryer.

We initially had issues with her cast getting wet (before we started using incontinence pads) and so we bought a Cast Cooler, thinking that would be the ticket to keeping her cast dry (she was often sweaty also when it was still hot outside). But we ended up returning it. It was too big to fit flatly on Neola’s cast anywhere, which meant it didn’t work properly. We haven’t really needed it anyway. The hair dryer works just fine, and we use it at least once a day. Neola enjoys the sensation.

In the past week (knowing that we were close to a new cast), I’ve also let her crawl around in woodchips, pea gravel, and dirt. I just put a sock on her casted foot to keep the stuff from getting in there. Her uncasted leg is often quite dirty.

How it started…
How it’s going.

Eating

I heard about the Nuby Easy Go Lightweight Booster Seat from several other spica parents on Facebook during my research, and bought it ahead of time from Amazon to try it out before Neola’s surgery. We weren’t sure that the belt straps would be long enough to fit around her cast, but they are!

We have enjoyed this as a way for Neola to sit with us at the kitchen table and eat, but she is able to push against the table and tip her chair back. Because we have three other kids and can’t just sit at the table with her all the time while she’s in the seat, we moved our kitchen table so that her chair is pushed against the stair railing, so that she can’t tip her chair over. This seat is also easy to bring along to restaurants. I wish we had more than one!

Neola eats all the same foods now as she did pre-cast, with the exception of super messy ones like spaghetti. None of my kids have tolerated bibs, and Neola is no exception. I bought a bib that had full-length sleeves, thinking that maybe that would help, but she still hated it. Thankfully, she has tolerated a bib “skirt” (it’s really just a wider-than-normal apron that we made ourselves) that we tie from her waist all the way around to the back of the chair. Her shirts still get dirty, but her cast is protected.

Thankfully we haven’t had any issues with Neola being constipated.

Sleeping / Nursing

Neola has been a fairly terrible sleeper her whole life (waking up 4-5 times a night) so thankfully, being in a cast hasn’t made it that much worse. I still nurse her to sleep for naps and bedtime, and then when she wakes up during the night.

At first, nursing seemed a little daunting but I’ve figured out what works for us. The glider we have in her nursery has fabric sides that are roomier and less rigid than a normal recliner so her right leg (the one that is fully casted) can fit down in the side when she’s lying on her side to nurse. When I nurse her on my floor bed in her room, I make sure that her right knee is resting on the mattress and her right foot (the casted one) is hanging off the side of the mattress (but not so far that her foot is touching the floor).

When I need to switch sides when nursing her, I’ve found that spinning her around on her back with her feet/cast away from me is the easiest way. (But that only works when I’m on the floor bed with her.) Otherwise, I have to grab her under one armpit and under one leg, sit her up on my lap, and then switch hands to lay her down facing the other way.

For sleep, she is on her crib mattress next to my mattress on the floor (this is what we were doing pre-cast and it actually has worked pretty well during the cast—we also use her mattress as a diaper changing station). Once she’s asleep, I place her on her back with her butt between two pillows — one is under her head/torso and another under her legs. She doesn’t love having to sleep on her back, but she’s doing pretty well with it considering. Since she wakes up so often on her own during the night, I haven’t had to worry about intentionally changing her position during the night.

For naps, she still likes to sleep while nursing, and we have been able to get her to fall asleep in the wagon. She didn’t initially like the Wallenberg car seat that we are borrowing from the hospital but she’s adapted to it, and will still fall asleep fairly easily in the car if she’s tired.

We tried adding neck support by velcro-ing small pillows to her car seat. It has had some success. Also, she is only unbuckled in this picture because I was taking her out of the car, and wanted to quick snap a picture of her head leaning against the pillow.

Activities

Believe it or not, we are finding the activity/entertainment aspect of her cast the hardest part. I’m sure there are unique challenges at any age, but with Neola only being 16 months now, she’s not interested in a lot of things that she would be if just six months older: playdough, coloring, screen time, board games, singing, reading books. She just wants to chew on the books, eat the playdough, break the crayons.

So what do you do with a casted 16-month-old? I’m sure these things won’t work for every child (because every cast is a little different) but these have worked for us:

* Walks / Time Outside — Neola fits nicely on our Radio Flyer push trike, Step2 rollercoaster, and Radio Flyer fabric-sided wagon. She can swing by herself or with us on our circle swing and hammock chair swing. She also fits nicely in our ErgoBaby carrier, and we borrowed a Stokke carrier from a friend that allows to her face out.

* Toys — we rotate toys every week or so, because she gets bored quickly. She has enjoyed puzzles and books (on her own) the most. She doesn’t actually do the puzzles — just plays with the pieces.

* Sitting — We made a Spica table and modified a Bumbo seat, so those are two spots she can sit to play with toys. The Bumbo tray doesn’t work anymore, but we have a big lidded tote bin that is the perfect height for her to use as a table when in the Bumbo. We also use it for storing a lot of her toys. We read a lot of people say that they used a bean bag chair a lot, but Neola hates it. She doesn’t not want to be laying down at all. Thankfully we didn’t buy a new one — we tried her in bean bag chairs we already owned.

* Crawling — Neola figured out how to crawl around a little by about week 2 of the cast. It’s hard work so she ends up kinds of sweaty, and can only do it for about 15 minutes at a time, but she loves this freedom.

Sometimes she gets stuck, but overall, she is amazingly capable in the cast!

* Getting out of the house — Whether going shopping or to a park, Neola enjoys getting out of the house and people-watching. Bonus if it’s a park that has an adaptive swing she can fit in. I also signed her (and me) up for an ECFE class on Mondays, which will give us something new to do.

* Fine Motor activities — we’ve tried a variety of activities that I found online: rescuing small toys from underneath painters tape, pulling pipe cleaners out of a colander, pushing pom poms into a spice jar, mess-free “painting” with finger paint in a ziploc bag. The painting was a total flop. The pipe cleaners were too easy. Painters tape was too until my hubby figured out more elaborate ways to tape the toys down. The only activity that she really still enjoys is the pom poms in the spice jar, and recently, popsicle sticks in a water bottle.

* Eating — Thankfully Neola loves to eat, so we feed her 5-7 times a day. It does get tricky to figure out what else to feed her, though, with all that eating! Her favorites are fruit, applesauce, string cheese, salami, and crackers. Oh, and chocolate.

If she gets recasted tomorrow, we are also planning to buy her a Wheely Bug ride-on toy and modify her Little Tikes swing, so that she has a few more options of activities.

Clothing

Before her surgery, I went through all the 2T and 3T clothes (1-2 sizes bigger than what she had been wearing) that we had saved from Neola’s older sisters, took out all the things I thought would work, and washed them. I brought several things to the hospital in both sizes. I’m glad too, because in general, 2T things are just a little too small. We also discovered that regular shirts don’t work well because of how far her cast comes up in the back — they end up just getting bunched up under her armpits.

So I ended up buying about 4 short-sleeve and 4 long-sleeve 24-month size onesies from Walmart (this fall, their Garanimals brand has some $5 bodysuits with stretchier fabric that have worked really well — the others with more standard cotton fabric just *barely* snap around her cast, though they do work too). Garanimals also has matching skirts for those, so I bought every color they had (a total of 4) in size 3T. I also bought four 3T bodysuits from Target’s Cat & Jack adaptive line (2 short-sleeve and 2 long-sleeve), but they were more like $15 each.

For bedtime, she wears the same things (minus the skirt), and we have found that a regular long-sleeve shirt stays in place okay if layered over a short-sleeve bodysuit. So we do that quite a bit too. Size 3T clothes work the best, but flowy/loose size 2T shirts and dresses work too.

We can’t get even super stretchy things up her legs to her bottom — everything has to go over her head — so bodysuits and skirts have worked really well. We’re going to need to figure out some new tricks though because fall has arrived in Minnesota! I bought some girls-size knee-high socks from Walmart but they were too tight 😢 so I need to figure out something else.

Church Nursery / Childcare

We didn’t need to worry about daycare with Neola since I stay home and homeschool our older kids, but we did want to be able to put her in church nursery on Sunday mornings and for Bible Study Fellowship on Thursdays.

So I made a sticker to put on the back of her shirt that says to not pick her up by the armpits but to make sure to support under her cast. (I just printed a word doc onto full-page label paper and cut them into squares.) We also bring her modified Bumbo to the church, and mention that she can crawl around some, so she doesn’t have to be held the whole time. We tell them to not worry about changing her diaper, and if she’s smells poopy, just page/text us. So far it has gone well with her in the nursery!

Overall

The cast-care aspect of this experience hasn’t been as bad or hard as I had feared, but the rest of the situation has been extremely challenging — mostly because she’s our fourth child. We can only put her down for 10-15 minutes a few times a day. Otherwise, she wants to be held and entertained, and even then, she’s sometimes just frustrated that she can’t do what she really wants to.

Getting school done with my older kids while Neola is around is practically impossible. My wild third child and only boy goes to preschool three days a week. My husband brings him to school and takes Neola along, so I have 45 minutes in the morning to do school with our oldest two, then Travis can usually take Neola in the afternoon for another 30-60 minutes.

Our health insurance covers a “home health aide” so we have been trying to get something going there, but it is [not] surprisingly hard to get anything done with these four kids, who are here, all day, every day. We have survived the first six weeks, but I do think we are going to need to make some changes in order to survive the next six if Neola gets recasted.

Anyway, that has been our experience with a young toddler in a hip spica cast!

Emma Grace: 33 Months

19 Jan

Emma was 2 3/4 years back on January 7. Her 3rd birthday is going to be here before we know it!

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That’s a classic Emma face. {her school picture this year}

Here’s what Emma has been up to the last 3 months (Oct/Nov/Dec):

* Corn mazes — We went to two last fall (one local and one in KY) and she enjoyed both. But at the local one, she walked into the corn (off the path) and wouldn’t come out, and at the one in KY, she went into the corn maze by herself so that we couldn’t find her for 10 minutes. Worst 10 minutes of my life.

* Leaves — Emma loved playing in the leaves this fall! She liked laying on a big pile with a leaf “pillow” and being covered with a leaf “blanket”. She also thought it was a hoot to pick up piles of leaves in our hands, count to three and throw them in the air to rain on us.

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* iPad and movies — Emma LOVES watching shows on her iPad and has figured out how to use it all by herself. Her favorite shows are Sofia the First and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Her favorite movies are Monsters Inc, Frozen and Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue.

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Asleep with gum in her mouth and her iPad playing Frozen

* Dancing — She enjoys a good dance party and at her uncle Matthew’s wedding, she tore up the dance floor. She was pretty darn adorable twirling around in her little dress. (And I do mean little. Apparently, in the stressfulness of getting both girls and myself ready all by my lonesome, I accidentally put the 12-month size on Emma and the 24-month size on Annabelle. I noticed Emma’s dress was really short and a little tight but I just thought she had either grown faster than anticipated or I hadn’t thought to look at the length when I tried the dress on her. Similarly, when I put Annabelle’s dress on her, I thought I should’ve ordered the 9-month size since the dress seemed really big. D’oh!)20151015_104828 (Large)20160101_093156 (Large)

* PINK — This girl is still obsessed with pink everything. “Pink pony” (tail), “Pink poopy”, “Pink snowmobile”, “Pink truck”, “Pink daycare”, “Pink ice cream” are just a few of the endless list of things she tries to request in pink. For her birthday, we are going to throw her (and Annabelle) a “pink party” — everything will be pink. I think Emma will love it!

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* Dresses — Emma loves wearing dresses, which is funny because last summer, she didn’t want anything to do with them. She has gotten more use out of her summer dresses from last year during the fall and winter than she did then! Unfortunately I didn’t know this until after I bought her fall/winter clothes, so most of those have only been worn a couple times so far. Kids.20151026_134729 (Large)

* Crafts — Emma has really gotten into playdough, painting, chalk, drawing, glueing, glitter, etc. She got an art easel for Christmas from my parents and has loved it. She also loves trying to cut with scissors but hasn’t completely mastered that yet.20151227_173712 (Large)20151026_103056 (Large)

* Singing songs with actions — They sing songs at daycare and Emma has started singing them on her own. She knows about every third word but gets the right melody! And when we sing the songs, she’ll join it with the words she knows (she wouldn’t do that before, so it’s exciting to see progress!). Her favorite songs are Slippery Fish, The Freeze, Sticky Bubble Gum, and Fire Truck.

* Blankets — Emma now has 4 blankets on her bed (yet Travis has to go in every night before going to bed to cover her while she’s sleeping because she kicks them all off). She got a Frozen blanket for Christmas from Travis’ parents and she loves it. It has replaced her favorite blankie.

* Sleeping in places besides her bed — She has slept in bed with me on vacation since Annabelle was born (which she still enjoys), but now she also likes sleeping on the floor next to her bed, in the Frozen castle she got from Auntie Cari, or in her bedroom closet. She’ll even close the closet door! “Crazy Crinks,” we often call her. (Crinks was shortened from Crinkleberry. I don’t know how Travis comes up with some of the nicknames he uses.)20151015_111222 (Large)

* Girly stuff — Getting her nails painted, wearing stick-on earrings (we’re planning to get her ears pierced for real as part of her 3rd birthday present), and (sometimes) having me put her hair up with barrettes and pink ponytail holders

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* Playing outside — Emma has been loving snow this year. Last year, she wasn’t sure what to do with snow and just stood in place, but this year, she has helped us build snowmen, make snow angels, and “eat” snow and ice (the clean stuff!).

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* Baby sister Annabelle — Emma still loves having a baby sister, giving her lots of hugs and kisses, and bringing her toys to play with (if Emma wants a toy that Annabelle has, she’ll usually bring Annabelle another toy and grab the toy she wants. It works at this age, and it’s cute that she’s at least that considerate.)IMG_20160116_08402620151031_194449 (Large)20151116_104842 (Large)

* Sweets — I don’t know any kid who doesn’t like sweets, and Emma is no exception! Her favorite candies are suckers and candy canes. She loves chewing gum, and has lately developed a love for “strawberry cake” (angel food with strawberries and cool whip). 20160107_111741 (Large)

* Food — Emma’s favorite foods and drinks the past 3 months have been: mandarin oranges, apple sauce, yogurt, string cheese, baby’s purees and puffs, cereal, chocolate milk, peach tea, peanut butter, fruit snacks and animal crackers. Those are the things she requests the most often. But she also eats most vegetables (her favorites are broccoli and almost any kind of bean), noodles, deli turkey, quesadillas and toast. She eats pretty well for breakfast, lunch and snacks, but dinner has become quite the battle. She won’t eat unless she is sitting on one of our laps and we spoon feed her. I am hoping this is just a phase. 20151205_124030 (Large)

And that’s Emma at 33 months!

Emma Grace: 30 Months

7 Oct

Emma is officially 2 1/2 years old today! She won’t go back to the doc until she’s 3 so these are just a few rough estimates by me, but she’s now 27 pounds and 3′ tall. This BabyCenter percentile calculator puts her in the 10-20th percentile for weight and 25-50th percentile for height.

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Fun with chalk

Here’s what Emma has been into the past 3 months (July, August, September):

* Peach tea — She’s obsessed. One day, we had run out of peach tea. While we were playing outside, she wanted to get in the car and be buckled in her carseat. As I’m doing it (hey, she’s asked for weirder things), she says “Peach tea buy.” I laughed, and we went to the store and bought some more. Who was I to turn down that determination?

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Having a living room picnic on a rainy day

* Beach — Even though it is no longer beach-going weather, Emma still asks to go on a regular basis. We went to the beach quite a bit this summer. Probably at least once a week. At the end of summer, we started going in the evening. I loved it because it was still warm but we didn’t need sunscreen, didn’t need to worry about baby getting burned, didn’t need to pack food and we usually had the place to ourselves.

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* Being outside — In addition to the beach, Emma’s favorite things to do outside have been: gather acorns and leaves to throw in the river, ride her truck/trike/bike in the driveway and down the hill in our front yard, play at a playground or swing set, play with water and/or the hose, and go down to the dock and “poke the water” with a stick (there’s lots of algae and weeds to entertain her).

* Taking care of her baby — Emma has started wanting to take her baby doll with her everywhere. She wants baby to swing, go in the stroller, sit in the Bumbo, come in the car, and she’s even asked me to “tick Baby” at night (by that she means rubbing her foot or back). She also likes taking care of Annabelle, but since she is real, I obviously limit what she can do with Annabelle.

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* PINK everything — Emma is so obsessed with pink that she is adamant about getting or using the pink version of anything — even if it’s just a CD of 70s music she wouldn’t like. She even suggested that instead of replacing our roof with gray shingles, we should use pink shingles. She’s also started using pink to describe things that have no color, like the booms we can hear from artillery hitting the ground on the military base near our house (“pink booms”) or the beach (“pink beach”). What a silly girl.

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* Watching TV — Right around 27 months, Emma started getting interested in watching movies and shows on TV, and now she is obsessed. I have to admit that she watches quite a bit now because it’s just so easy to turn a show on while I’m nursing Annabelle and/or putting her down for a nap (and other times, I just don’t feel like fighting Emma over it). But she only sits down for about 20 minutes before running off to do something else, then comes back to watch for a bit, then runs off. She also stands right in front of the TV and jumps up and down during her favorite parts. Emma’s favorite movies/shows so far have been: Ratatouille, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (1&2), Despicable Me 2, Minion mini movies (specifically Banana, Puppy and Training Wheels), Gnomeo and Juliet, Super Why, Horton Hears a Who, Finding Nemo, and Flower Power and Farm Feet from a Little People DVD we got with a toy.

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* Playing games on my smartphone or the iPad — Emma’s favorite games are painting, puzzles, counting, fish in a koi pond, and tea party. I think this could end up being our incentive for potty training…

Speaking of which, no, I have not potty trained her yet. I think about it often, but I am just dreading the time commitment and hassle of it. I’m thinking we might wait until the winter when we’re hunkered down inside and have nothing else to do…

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We’ve had success on the toddler bed front though! For the first 2-2.5 months that Emma was in a toddler bed, we laid with her on her bed until she fell asleep — which sometimes took 1.5 hours! It was not sustainable. Not only were we losing precious “me” and “our” time, we almost always emerged from her room frustrated that it took so long, and too tired to do anything but stumble to bed ourselves.

Finally, about a month ago, I decided enough was enough, so at bedtime, I explained to Emma that we wouldn’t be staying in her room until she fell asleep anymore, that she needed to be a big girl and go to sleep on her own again. Then I went through Emma’s usual nighttime routine of put on pajamas, drink peach tea, watch moons, brush teeth and rub her back/arms/feet/legs (what she calls “tick”). Then when we got to the point where I’d just lay there until she fell asleep, I explained to her again that I wasn’t going to stay until she fell asleep, but that I’d be right on the other side of the door, and would leave it cracked. I gave her extra kisses and snuggles and then went out of the room, leaving the door cracked.

The first few nights and naps, I sat in the hallway outside her room, watching her on the video monitor until she fell asleep. She did get out of her bed a few times, but I just went back in her room and told her that she needed to get back in bed. I kissed and hugged her again, and left the room. That was it. We really haven’t had any problems since. Sure, there are nights when she rolls around in bed for an hour, putting her feet on the wall, and throwing stuff on the floor and then reaching for it with her body half off the bed (really testing the limits). But we are so happy to have “our time” back!

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Now that it’s fall, we’re back into our rhythm of MOPS on 1-2 Mondays per month, daycare on Tuesdays, ECFE and speech appointment on Thursdays, with Wednesdays and Fridays open for play dates, errands or chilling at home. It’s a good mix for us!

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And that’s Emma at 2.5 years!

Emma Grace: 2 Years

7 Apr

Emma is 2 today! Since we celebrated her birthday with a party a few weeks ago, today will be a pretty normal day. Emma’s at daycare and I’m home with Annabelle. But I did let her have fruit snacks for breakfast and I’ll make her some of her favorite foods for dinner — probably macaroni & cheese with fruit. She’s been sick lately so her appetite is kind of unpredictable right now.

Here’s what been happening this past month with Emma:

* She now has 2 of her 4 2-year molars (the bottom ones). I am so ready for the other 2 to come in and for teething to be over!

* Emma still has problems with getting nasty coughs that linger for weeks (she has one right now). It’s the worst at night, and over the past month, we’ve (well, mostly Travis) “camped out” in Emma’s room by sleeping with her on a mattress on her floor. We’re talking about bringing up her toddler bed so that it would be easier to lay with her while she falls asleep and then sneak out, but we haven’t yet. She just flops around so much in her sleep that I don’t know if she’d be able to stay in the bed. We’ve talked with Emma’s pediatrician about the possibility of asthma but she hasn’t been willing to confirm anything yet.

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* Emma is still obsessed with shoes and socks, and has now added hats. She changes her socks several times a day, wears shoes around the house for fun, and points out when Daddy’s wearing a hat, when Baby Annabelle is missing her hat (and runs to find it), and always need to find and put on her hat before going outside.

* Emma’s vocabulary is increasing exponentially. It seems she has finally figured out how to attempt to say words that she hears us say. A few new ones since last month are: “hockey”, “purple”, “papa” for grandpa, “ucky”, “poopy”, “peepee”, “pease” for please, “chew” for juice, “ba” for bottle or ball, “da” for down, “up”, and “hop”. Her favorite words by far are “mommy”, “daddy”, and “baby”. She says them all day long at random times.

* Emma still has practically no interest in TV. The only time she will sit and “watch” a show is when she has just woken up and wants to cuddle, or is sick. While I kind of wish she would watch a show every once in a while, I’m glad that Emma is more interested in reading books and playing outside. She has taken a liking to playing games on our tablet or smartphone though. I downloaded an animal matching game and she has gotten really good at it! She plays it for 5-10 minutes before getting bored.

* She still loves making messes (this was helping mommy make her birthday cake):

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* Emma LOVES being outside. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, rainy, windy, or nice outside. She enjoys swinging and going down slides, but she also loves just walking around picking up sticks and rocks, pointing out dog poop and ice, and “driving” the car. I can’t wait until the weather warms up and it’s also enjoyable for mommy to be outside! I am not as gungho as Emma is.

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* Emma still loves dogs and gets really excited about our dogs, as well as any other dogs she sees, even if they’re on TV. Whenever we go play downstairs, Emma wants the dogs to come with us.

* Emma can jump with both feet off the ground, run like the wind, spin in a circle and dance. She loves bubbles too (what kid doesn’t?) and can sometimes blow bubbles with the wand (not without ingesting some of them though).

* Emma loves her baby sister (though she doesn’t love to share mommy) and gives her kisses, hugs and pats on the head. She has been gentle with Annabelle for the most part, but is too rough every now and again. Emma will also give hugs and kisses to those who ask her (at least most of the time).

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* Emma loves looking at pictures of herself and people she knows on Facebook and my computer.

* She loves when we sing her songs and has started to sing the melody of ABC herself (as a request that we sing the whole thing). Her favorites are ABC, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, Choo Choo (a song from ECFE), and Baby Blowing Bubbles (from a CD that her speech therapist has).

* Emma has started to love wearing “jewelry”, as well as pointing out and inspecting other people’s jewelry. She points to my earrings and says “E” for ear and/or earring.

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* Emma is OBSESSED with drawing, especially with markers. She has a little table in a corner of our kitchen/dining room with her crayons, markers, stickers, paper and coloring books, and she spends hours there doodling, covering things with stickers and drawing on herself (mostly her hands, which I think is really her trying to trace her hands like her grandmas have helped her do). She also loves drawing in the tub with special markers and crayons made for bath time. She has been pretty good about only drawing on paper, though she has doodled on some of her toys, gotten marker on her clothes and accidentally made marks on some furniture. The washable markers come out of almost everything though, which is good. She has also decorated many things in stickers, including the floor, sliding glass door, dishwasher, books, other people and herself.

* Last but not least, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention anything about what a strong-willed, determined little girl Emma is. She is very curious and busy, and gets into a lot of stuff she shouldn’t (not dangerous things, just things we don’t want her to play with like our camera, cords, phones, chapstick, wallet, etc). This is even worse now that I have a baby to nurse several times a day. Emma has also started to be aggressive when told no (throwing toys and hitting) and throws tantrums frequently over seemingly small things (like being told that we can play in the car later but not right now). I realize that this is pretty normal toddler behavior, and that it’s a phase that we have to coach her through and have patience with, but man it is hard! I frequently find that I lack the patience I need to respond well. There are days when I feel like all I do is tell Emma no and listen to her throw a tantrum. On those days, I try to take a break from whatever I’m doing and just spend time with Emma, either playing with toys or cuddling with her before she goes to bed. I need those positive interactions to keep my heart from becoming bitter.

Anyway, that’s Emma at 2 years!

When Your Husband Travels for Work

11 Mar

Like Murphy’s Law, it seems that the Law of Your Husband Traveling is that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Back in February, Emma and I were playing in the basement on the second night of Travis’ 4-day work trip. She went around the corner where the stairs are. Being pregnant-lazy, I didn’t follow. Thirty seconds later, I hear her tumbling down the stairs. I race over to her and luckily she’s ok, just scared. Momma is not ok however. That quick movement made my pelvis and hips hate me. If I was moving at a turtle pace before, I was now moving at the speed of a beached whale. Luckily, the pain went away after a few days. Later that night, Emma slipped in the bathtub and bit her tongue, but thankfully it wasn’t bad enough to need medical attention.

Last week, right after our babymoon, Travis went out of town for a work trip. 5 nights, 6 days. Sunday night, I ate a couple of Tums before bed (which I do a lot these days) and hit the sack. A few minutes later, I felt like I was going to explode on both ends. Thankfully, that lasted for only about 10 minutes, I did some business and felt better enough to go back to bed instead of sit in the bathroom. But I couldn’t lay down without feeling awful so I watched an episode of Parenthood and then I could at least recline enough to sleep.

Monday, I still felt off but good enough to venture out to MOPS. (Whenever sickness prevents me and Emma from going to our normally scheduled activities, the week DRAGS by.) I felt mostly fine all day until nighttime came.  I was so miserable that night, I literally got up and drank a cup of coffee at 12:30 to see if it would get things moving, then took a shower and watched a couple episodes of Parenthood. When I finally did get to sleep, it was propped up against the wall in bed.

Tuesday, I had my prenatal appt and my doctor said it didn’t sound like anything to ‘fix’. Since Emma was at daycare and I felt awful, I spent the whole day on the couch. Then Tuesday night happened, which I will elaborate on shortly.

Wednesday, after talking with my mom, I started to think my problem might be acid reflux and not constipation. So I started avoiding trigger foods (citrus, tomatoes, caffeine) and by the end of the day, I was feeling significantly better. Thursday, I felt fine. Acid reflux is a nasty thing!

So Tuesday night. Ugh. I had just fed Emma dinner and was going to give her a bath right after I took the dogs out to go to the bathroom. But somehow, I
got locked out of the house — with Emma locked inside. After unsuccessfully trying to coach Emma to unlock the door (it’s a latch on the knob) and checking for a key in the garage and front door area, I started sobbing and decided my only option was to run to the neighbors’ house to use their phone, even though it meant leaving Emma, who I could hear was crying on the other side of the door. Of course it had to also be the day that we got 6 inches of snow and I was only wearing loafers. Luckily Travis had left a jacket in the garage or I wouldn’t have had one of those either!

Imagine a woman 35 weeks pregnant waddle-running in 10 degrees through snowy, icy roads and down 2 driveways that haven’t been plowed. That was me.

Luckily, my neighbor was home. I called Travis first to ask if we had any spare keys hidden. Nope. They were all in the house. He suggested calling 911 and having the fire dept come out. So that’s what I did. I didn’t want to spend time researching locksmiths. My wonderful neighbor loaded up her 8-month pregnant self and 3-year-old son to drive me back to my house.

When we got back, I went to the front door where we have a window and pounded on it to get Emma to at least come where I could see her. But she wouldn’t. I could hear her screaming hysterically and that made me cry even harder. I decided to head back to the door between the kitchen and garage (where Emma was). I took one step down the front stairs and ended up on my tailbone. I just kneeled in the snow for a few minutes, bawling and thinking,  “Could this night get ANY worse? Please let the baby be ok. OMG, this is so painful. And I’m cold. Travis is never traveling EVER AGAIN!”

The fire dept showed up around 5 minutes later but it felt like an eternity. They tried picking the lock but ended up using an axe between the door and jamb to open the door. Little Emma was fine — shaken up but not hurt. It seemed like she got over the trauma as soon as I picked her up.

Wednesday, I went to the hospital to be monitored just to make sure baby was ok. I wasn’t concerned since I had felt the baby move plenty since my fall but better to be on the safe side. Everything checked out.

Thankfully, the rest of the week was uneventful. I was so happy when Travis finally got home!

He traveled again this past Monday just for a (19 hour) day. Emma had developed a cold over the weekend and had very labored breathing so I took her to the doctor. They prescribed an albuterol nebulizer 3x a day, antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection, and steroids for inflammation. Poor girl! I swear, every time I’ve taken Emma to the doctor for being sick, Travis has been out of town.

Now you can see why I’m scared to have a newborn to take care of too, right? Travis is done traveling for the next couple of months though. It’ll be nice to have him at home.

Emma Grace: 23 Months

7 Mar

In just a month, Emma will be TWO years old! How is that possible? This past year went by really quickly. It’s amazing to compare Emma now to pictures from her first birthday — she was still such a baby then! Now she is full-blown toddler.

Emma’s favorite things this month have been:

  • Reading books on her own

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  • Wearing winter gear around inside

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  • Wearing adult shoes (still) — this actually seems to have improved her balance a lot!

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  • Painting and drawing

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  • Playing with clothes, whether hers or mommy’s

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  • Being held by mommy for naps

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  • Eating fruit snacks (she has a 2-pack-a-day habit)

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  • Playing with all the baby stuff that mommy has been getting ready

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  • Stickers!

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  • Drinking bath water, and other water-related shenanigans

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  • Making messes, of course

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  • Starting to show more interest in playing games on the tablet and phone

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  • Being crazy! She loves running around our basement, chasing the dogs, spinning in circles and jumping.

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Emma has continued to make great progress with her speech. She can now point to almost every body part we ask her about. She understands increasingly more complex requests, like when we ask her to find the matching sock or put the red block away. She has started to say hi and bye often, especially when we prompt her and sometimes even when we don’t. Her favorite words right now are “knee” (because she got an owie there a while ago), “ice”, “puppy”, “mom” or “mommy” and “uh oh”. She also says “wah wah” for water, “shoes”, “daddy” or “dada”, and “nye” for bye.

Just in the past week or so (I think), Emma got her first 2-year molar! Her sleep habits haven’t really been any worse than normal (though she has by no means been sleeping through the night every night) so I didn’t even realize that she was getting another tooth.

We bought Emma the Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster Seat to replace her high chair and she loves the seat so much (because of the buckles!) that she will voluntarily climb up into it for meals and buckle herself in all on her own. My parents have the same booster so we knew she liked the chair. Money well spent. Though when we take Emma out to eat at restaurants now, we don’t even ask for a high chair. We request a booth and let Emma stand or sit as she desires. This was learned after a particularly hairy dinner at Olive Garden back in January. She is just go-go-go all the time!

Emma definitely has the typical toddler behaviors of throwing things and hitting when she gets mad. We’re trying to coach her to ask for help instead of getting frustrated, and that we don’t ever hit or throw toys at people or dogs, but it’s a challenge. I’m sure other parents understand this. After a playdate this week, I realized that we should start teaching Emma how to say “I’m sorry” so that she can apologize to her friends when she either intentionally or unintentionally hurts them. She does get concerned when one of her friends is upset — though she doesn’t know how to communicate that with words.

20150306_115530Last but not least, Emma got a new cousin this month! My oldest brother and SIL had their baby boy yesterday. Such a cutie. Can’t wait to meet him! I’d be planning a trip down to visit if I weren’t expecting a baby soon myself. They’re a 13-hour drive away so it’s a little far to go at 36 weeks pregnant! Hopefully sometime this spring or summer though.

We’re having Emma’s 2nd birthday party about 2 weeks early so that we don’t have to worry about Bisky Junior crashing the party (since my due date is the day after Emma’s birthday, and the weekend right before her birthday is Easter). I finally sent out evites and bought Emma’s birthday shirt today. We’re doing a puppy theme and keeping things fairly low key with pizza, fruit, puppy chow and cupcakes decorated with paw prints. We invited our immediate family, a few of Emma’s friends and are planning to have the kids decorate paper dog ears that they can wear. Other than that, it’ll just be letting them play and eat! Should be a good time.

Learning to Handle Sleep Deprivation Graciously

23 Feb

As my due date approaches, I feel like I’m staring down the barrel of a gun. Whenever Emma has a few bad nights of sleep or takes a few short naps, I’m quickly reminded of how horrible sleep deprivation is – and how horribly I deal with it.

I’m panicking just a little thinking about taking care of both a newborn and a toddler, especially when Travis is traveling for work. WHEN WILL I EVER SLEEP?!?!

I want to learn how to deal with sleep deprivation in a gracious, accepting way. But that would require me to be gracious and accept it. And that’s exactly what I can’t get myself to do.

Instead, I slide quickly down into the pit of self-pity and anger. I find myself countering the misery of a too-short nap with sweets and impulse eating. I let Emma get away with stuff I normally wouldn’t because I don’t care enough to fight her on it (hello fruit snacks for breakfast). Or I snap at her for little things because I don’t have “the patience to deal with this.” I don’t spend time in the Word because I’m either too tired to concentrate or I’m attempting to not be a complete and utter zombie by using the time to sleep – and that lack of time shows in my attitude.

From there, the self-pity deepens into: I don’t have time or energy to exercise. I don’t have energy to clean my house. I resent having to make dinner (almost) every night. I feel guilty for not planning fun and creative activities with Emma. I silently mock Travis for mentioning anything about being tired – like he even has a CLUE.

Some parents seem to handle being sleep deprived rather well. They continue functioning and enjoying life. I go into self-destruct, wallow mode. I go into THE WORLD COULD BE ENDING BUT I’M SO EXHAUSTED I WOULDN’T EVEN CARE mode.

I know that to handle sleep deprivation well, I have to stop demanding to NOT be sleep deprived. I have to accept it as a fact of life with a toddler and soon, a newborn. I have to stop digging in my heels and throwing a mental tantrum over the fact that I was up every 3 hours during the night, and my toddler did not take a nap like I expected her to, and she got up after ‘resting’ with 0-to-60 energy while I can barely hold an eye open as I stumble to the pantry for some chocolate.

It is times like these that I am forced to think out the full implications of my faith in God. If I truly believe that He provides ALL the grace I need in EVERY circumstance, He’s providing sufficient grace right now. Even though it REALLY doesn’t feel like it. Because I’d prefer His grace come in the form of some shuteye.

And you know, sometimes it does. But if it doesn’t (and it often doesn’t), what am I going to do about it? What happens when God’s grace comes to us in a form OTHER than what we’re yearning for? Thinking bigger than sleep, what happens when God DOESN’T heal us of cancer? What happens when God DOESN’T provide the answer we prayed for? What happens when God doesn’t take away the dirty mess of life, the pain, the sorrow, the frustration, the challenge? Do we go looking elsewhere for the answer that we do want? Do we act like Jonah, and sit sulking under the blazing sun, convinced that we do well to be angry, angry enough to die because God has given us something OTHER than what we wanted?

I am often like Jonah. I often reject God’s grace and make myself miserable because I want what I want, period. I wish that knowing joy comes from accepting the circumstances God allows would make It easier to accept those circumstances. I wish my desire for joy in the LORD was bigger than my fleshly insistence on having my own way. I wish that I could relinquish my need for sleep as easily as I relinquish my need for a shower, or that simply drinking a cup of coffee could make it feel like I got a solid 8 hours. I wish that I truly trusted God to provide sufficient grace in whatever form in the midst of sleep deprivation.

I don’t yet. And I can’t get myself to the place of graciously accepting sleep deprivation on my own. I am asking God to do it in me. Like A.W. Tozer says, I must insist upon the work being done, but I’m not actually the one to do it. My part is to focus on God and on what Christ purchased through His death and resurrection. As I behold Him, at 2 a.m. or 5 a.m. or while bouncing a swaddled baby on an exercise ball with a toddler tornado running rampant around my house, I will be changed.

Emma Grace: 22 Months

7 Feb

Emma’s obsessions this past month have been eating yogurt and wearing adult shoes around the house. She also loves wearing Mommy’s socks instead of her own. The ‘water play in the kitchen sink’ obsession has mostly run its course, which I’m thankful for. It was getting old!

Emma’s still holding strong with naptime around 2 and bedtime between 8 and 9. She does sleep in until 7:30 or 8 on a regular basis now though, which is nice. Her eating habits are mostly back to normal and she will sit in a booster seat at the table (as we discovered at Grandma and Grandpa’s house) so we plan to buy one of those and put her highchair away until Bisky Junior needs it.

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Emma is babbling up a storm now, and trying to use words at daycare. The things she says most often are “Ah na” for all done and “Meh meh” for more while signing. Other words she has said at least a few times are “Bubble”, “Emma”, “hot”, “on”, and “off” (osh). And her favorite non-word thing to say is “Ah dubba dubba dubba dubba.” Her little voice is SO CUTE, it makes me melt every time.

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Our schedule is finally back to ‘normal’ after the holidays, which has been nice. It helps me to have places to go and things to do. During Travis’ most recent work trip, Emma and I went down to Rochester and spent the week with my parents. It was nice seeing them.

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Emma got to push her very own shopping cart around the People’s Coop — making it the most exhausting, chaotic grocery shopping trip I’ve ever been on! She loved it though.
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Emma also found a balance disk to bounce on, which she thought was extremely entertaining. Little girl wore grandma out!

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I forgot to bring Emma a sippy cup so she had to drink juice and milk out of her bottles. I think she actually prefers that… so it probably goes without saying that weaning her off her bottle was a no-go. She was just cranky all the time so I finally caved. We’ll try again later.

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Emma and I went to the Children’s Museum on Saturday, and she had a blast running around and ‘playing with’ the other kids. She dressed up like a mailman for about 30 seconds.
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After I unpacked from our Rochester trip, Emma discovered that playing in my suitcase was lots of fun! (And in that picture, you can see that she’s wearing some of my socks.)20150202_171424

Playing with grocery bags and wearing Mommy’s socks. That’s what we do.20150205_192818Emma got her 3rd haircut this past week, and even though we went to the same lady as we did the 2nd time (and she did a good job then), Emma totally ended up with a bowl cut this time. I think she looks like a Friar. Oh well. At least it’ll grow back out, right?

Emma Grace: 21 Months

12 Jan

Emma was 21 months back on January 7.

This past month was still a little rough in terms of Emma’s sleep and daytime whiny-ness — and she got the flu and an ear infection for the first time — but this is still such a fun age. I love watching Emma learn new things, even if they’re things I sort of would prefer she didn’t know how to do… like climb into the bathtub on her own, open and close doors, and flush the toilet.

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A sick Bisky

Emma is still a water fanatic and would seriously take a bath 5 times a day if we let her. Often this month, the first thing she does when she gets up is push one of the kitchen table chairs to the sink for playing with water. We give her a bowl, some spoons and small dishes, turn the faucet on a trickle, and she plays for 15-20 minutes at a time — always ending up soaking wet.

A couple other things Emma loves to help with now is doing laundry and feeding the dogs. She’ll go get dirty clothes and bring them into the laundry room, then push a chair over so that she can help put the clothes in the washer. When they’re done in the washer, I hand them to her and she puts them in the dryer. She still doesn’t understand the concept of putting clothes away though — she’d rather take all her other clean clothes OUT of the drawers instead. And with feeding the dogs, we fill the measuring cup up for her and she pours it in the dogs’ dishes. Someday she will inherit this chore in full!

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Emma gets on certain “kicks” where she is obsessed with something for a while, and then moves on. It used to be “brushing” her teeth (and she still does like sucking on her toothbrushes) but now it’s washing her hands (especially the whole soap thing) and putting on lotion. What a silly girl.

After Travis’ and my trip to Denver, we had a couple of VERY rough nights with Emma (one during which she screamed and thrashed around like a mad man for over an hour) and discovered that she does better going to bed when she’s been awake for around 6 hours. So this means her naptime has been pushed back from 12:30 to about 2 pm, and her bedtime is now often 8 or 9, instead of 7 or 8. She hasn’t really been sleeping that much later in the mornings (still gets up between 6:30 and 7:30 most days) so it just means less time for Mommy and Daddy.

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But on a positive note, Emma is finally taking naps on her own again! We’re still not sure if she has been teething — no teeth have appeared but my friend who is a dental hygienist said it can take months for the 2-year molars to come in. My suspicion, though, is that her problems with napping and falling asleep at night were caused by separation anxiety. I make sure now to tell Emma every time that I will still be there when she wakes up, and I’ll see her after naptime/in the morning. I also encourage her to be a big girl and sleep in her crib on her own. Who knows if it helps, but anytime I get a break during naptime, it’s amazing! Funny how small things like getting a break can really make a big difference in your outlook and mood.

A couple other recent, challenging developments with Emma have been that she now refuses to sit in her highchair to eat anything, and she refuses to eat most things (even things she has gobbled up in the past). This started when she got the flu, which is understandable then, and maybe it’s still after-effects from her being sick, but she has gotten better, and these behaviors have not. Travis and I are going to probably give her another week or so, and then be more adamant about her eating sitting down (we’re thinking about buying a booster chair for her to sit in at the table) and eating what we give her (especially when it’s food we KNOW she likes). If you’ve had either of these issues and found a solution, please share!

We’re also attempting to wean Emma off her naptime and nighttime bottles, which has had limited success. I’ll update you next month on how things have gone and what, if anything, worked.

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As far as language goes, Emma is rocking the sign language, and doing much better trying to imitate words when we ask, and even saying the words that the signs mean (like “more”). She calls me Mama and Travis Dada when trying to get our attention, and will say things like her version of Bye Bye without being prompted. She also babbles like she’s having a conversation with herself a lot more, which she didn’t really do before. It’s exciting to see progress!

Emma also loves looking at and touching my belly, and I think she kind of understands that there’s a baby in there. I took one of her baby dolls and held it up to my belly, and said that I had a baby in my belly. Emma is absolutely infatuated with babies, so hopefully she will love being a big sister and not struggle too much with jealousy.

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And that’s Miss Emma at 21 months! Time to start thinking about plans for her 2nd birthday party (which we’re probably going to have a few weeks early, just so Baby #2 doesn’t make an untimely appearance and steal the show).

Emma Grace: 20 Months

6 Dec

Emma is 20 months today! I feel like 24 is going to be here before we know it. (And with it, a brother or sister for Emma!)

This past month has been somewhat of a doozy with Miss Emma (and a mostly undocumented doozy at that – I took hardly any pictures!). We have been convinced that she’s getting her 2-year molars and then no teeth appear. She’s had many rough nights, won’t  nap without being held, is sometimes ridiculously picky about what she eats, seems to be in pain often, is drooling a ton, sucking on her whole hand and often whiny and clingy. But still, no teeth. (Lots of ibuprofen though.)

I think at least part of the problem is that her separation anxiety with mommy has increased exponentially over the past month. She used to just run off at MOPS or daycare to play with toys but now she has to be pushed through the door and held sobbing by someone else while I say goodbye and leave. Breaks my heart. But she gets over it pretty quickly.

People often remark on how busy Emma is and it’s true – she’s a little tornado. I’m going to do a separate post on the messes she makes but suffice it to say, leave her alone for 30 minutes and every room upstairs will be torn apart.

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Favorites this month have been:

* Emptying all the clothes out of her dresser, especially socks
* Being pushed around in the laundry hamper
* Wasting toilet paper, tissues, Q-tips and napkins by ripping them into little shreds
* Sitting on the dogs, or even daddy’s head
* Being rolled up like a burrito in a blanket
* Playing in a fort (under a blanket)
* Sitting in mommy’s closet
* Going down slides all by herself
* Eating applesauce and yogurt (the 2 foods she requests almost everyday)

 

We found out that Emma does qualify for ‘speech therapy’ or whatever they call it. She is in the 6th percentile for language development, which was the cutoff for aid. (But she’s in the 95th percentile for cognitive ability! I’ve always said she has an engineering brain like her daddy.) So that means we have a special education teacher and speech clinician come to our house once a week for the next year to play games with Emma, with the focus of increasing her vocabulary. They also work with us as parents to give us ideas on how to help Emma start communicating, even if it’s just by using sign language. So we’ve started learning more signs and teaching them to her. She’s a lot more receptive to them now than she was even just a few months ago. We’re seeing progress!

It’s funny – this is the kind of situation that seems like would be hard to not feel like a failure as a parent or wonder why Emma isn’t more like other ‘normal’ kids. But neither Travis nor I feel like that at all. Sure we’re complete amateurs at this whole parenting thing but we love Emma for who she is and she just happens to be behind in speech. It’s nice to have ‘experts’ help us help her. So if you have any questions about our experience, ask away!

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What Emma lacks in speech, though, she makes up for in facial expressions and friendliness. She loves other kids and is so goofy and silly. She’s started walking backwards and spinning in circles. She also does this thing where she flaps her little hands (like a wave) close to her face – pretty much the cutest thing ever. She’ll also open her mouth really wide with a shocked expression on her face while she tickles my head/hair with both hands. Even though this age has its challenges, I love seeing Emma’s personality. It still amazes me that she’s only 4 months from being 2!

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