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August 2007


August 1, 2007

I can't believe Anastasia is almost two. While in some ways it seems like I've never had a life outside of the NICU, feeding clinic, and house sequestering, it mostly feels like Anastasia should still be a little baby.

Just out of curiosity, last night I checked the developmental charts in The Everything Toddler Book. I realize these are just guidelines, and many perfectly normal kids lag behind or are ahead in certain areas. But as the mom of a preemie, it's interesting for me to see where Miss A. may still need some work. This is the developmental list for 18 - 24 month olds:


Understands the meaning of "don't" (Check!)

Knows names for familiar people and objects (Check!)

Uses fifty words (if talking) (Nope! But apparently not all kids are talking yet...)

Makes two word sentences (if talking) (Nope! But apparently not all kids are talking yet...)

Listens to short books and nursery rhymes (Check! Actually, she'll sit down and "read" 100 nursery rhymes with me, and many of her books are for kids 4 and older.)

Points to six parts of the body when asked (Check!)

Speaks gibberish that has the cadence of rhythm of speech (Check!)

Identifies four pictures in a book with words (if talking) (Not with words, but if I ask her to find things in a book, she will point to them...Way, way more than four things, too.)

Follows a two-step command (Check!)


Understands categories (e.g., "toys," "books") (Check!)

Points to specific pictures in books when asked (Check!)

Tries different ways to do something (Check!)

Learns from looking at books. (Check!)

Pretends (Check!)

Focuses on an activity for five minutes (Check!)

Chooses (between two things) (Check!)

Inspects something by looking (not tasting or touching) (Check!)


Runs (Check! She's just started doing this a little.)

Stacks six blocks (Nope! But our Early Intervention coordinator says some kids just aren't interested in blocks.)

Rides a toy by pushing on the floor with alternating feet (Nope!)

Walks up steps (Check!)

Kicks ball forward (Check!)


Has an impact by saying "no" or resisting (Check!)

Feels concerned when someone is crying (Check!)

Tries to comfort someone who is very upset (Check!)

Handles simple responsibilities (Check!)

Is interested in other children (Check!)

Feeds a doll (Check!)


Drinks from a cup without a lid (Nope!)

Uses a spoon and fork (Nope!)

Washes and dries hands (Nope! She's just now letting us wash her hands at the sink without crying frantically. She does, however, "wash" her hands with sanitizer.)

Takes off some clothes (Check!)

Puts on an article of clothing (Check!...Hats.)

Puts arms and legs through holes when being dresses (Check!)


I posted about this same developmental chart in April; check it out if you want to see how Miss A. has progressed.


What was more interesting to me is that some of her skills are apparently advanced. For example, she does all these things, even though they are considered "normal" for slightly older kids:

Listens to books with simple stories (24 - 36 months)

Identifies one color (24 - 36 months)

Matches objects that are the same (24 - 36 months)

Stands on tip toes (24 - 36 months)

Throws a ball (24 - 36 months)

Identifies a friend (24 - 36 months)

Understands most of what is said to him (30 - 36 months)

Takes turns (with guidance) (30 - 36 months)


This also caught my eye:

Plays next to other children (24 - 36 months)


This happens to be one of Anastasia's troubles. She wants to play with children (not alongside them), and most kids her age aren't into this yet. It leads to hurt feelings on her part (at least, that's how I interpret her expression), and she has more fun with kids who are just a little older than she is.

Speaking of playing, Anastasia had her first fall off the swing today. I was just about to stop the swing and reposition Miss A. because suddenly she appeared to be on the very edge of the thing, when she slipped right off. She landed on her behind and fell backwards but didn't hit her head. She looked shocked, but wasn't hurt and didn't cry.


August 2, 2007

The other day, my husband and I were looking at some video of Anastasia that was less than six months old. We were truly stunned at the progress Miss A. has made in that short time. Six months ago, she was still very much a baby. Today, she's a rarin' to go toddler!

So I thought it would be fun to set up some comparison photos today. Pay close attention to the little teddy bear in each shot.

Anastasia at birth: August 12, 2005:


Anastasia on her first birthday, August 12, 2006:


Anastasia today, nearly two years old, August 2, 2007:



Yes, that is the same teddy bear in each photograph.

And now, a few more photos, just for fun:


Anastasia isn't normally allowed to play with this teddy. We want to keep him in good shape, so when she's older, she can have a better idea of just how small she was when she was born. But she sure did love lovin' on him today!

Cuddling with daddy while watching a Brainy Baby video on the portable DVD player.


August 2 (part II)

We've had a breakthrough! This evening, I offered Anastasia some kiwi fruit (a first for her) and it was so slippery she was having trouble picking it up. My hubby suggested I offer her a toddler fork to make things easier. I was skeptical. Miss A. normally just plays with forks and spoons, neglecting her eating altogether. But I also know that when it comes to kids and eating issues, you can try something a thousand times and the 1001th time, it can suddenly work...so I handed her a fork.

Anastasia's eyes lit up, and I could see she was excited to use a fork like mommy and daddy. She attempted several times to get the kiwi on her fork, but had no luck. So I offered her a spoon. Soon she was complaining because she was having trouble using that, too. So I put some food on the spoon and offered to feed her with it.

She actually opened her mouth!

We spent the rest of the meal that way. Miss A. ate some food with her fingers (per usual), tried to feed herself with utensils, sometimes succeeded at feeding herself with a utensil, and allowed me feeding her off and on with the spoon.

I'm so excited! This may mean I can add things like applesauce (a good source of fluids, and helpful for constipated kids) and YoBaby (a high fat, high calorie yogurt) back into her diet!

In other eating news, I'd been trying to get Anastasia interested in blueberries. The folks at the feeding clinic said they are a favorite among toddlers, and (again) are good for curing constipation and adding fluids to the diet. But would Miss A. even taste an expensive, store-bought blueberry? Nope.

Then yesterday, as she was playing in the backyard, I noticed that my long-neglected blueberry bushes actually had some berries on them. I began picking them, and ate a couple. Anastasia saw this, put her hand out ,and made her "I want some!" noises. So I gave her a single blueberry. She popped it right into her mouth and asked for more. And more. And more.

She ended up eating a large handful. (Measuring with my hand, not hers!) I guess eating berries off the bush is a lot more fun than eating them in the highchair. (Trust me, the store-bought berries were just as tasty as the home-grown berries.)

The only problem is that my bush is now out of berries. Maybe I can sneak some store-bought blueberries outside and pretend I'm picking them off the bush...

I did finally hear back from the feeding clinic pediatrician. Well, actually, I never got to talk to him; I spoke with the clinic RN. She said the doctor still believes Miralax is best for Anastasia right now. I would have liked to know why, but...Also, he cut her dose in half. I was secretly hoping Miss A. would have BMs without putting her back on Miralax, but while she no longer has diarrhea, she's also no longer pooping. So back she goes on the stuff tomorrow.

The doctor also upped Anastasia's dose of reflux medicine (Prilosec) to one whole tablet a day, instead of 3/4 of a tablet. So much for the NICU promise that she'd outgrow reflux.

One final note about a cute thing that happened at the park today. Actually, it's a good example of how Miss A. relates to other children. A new little boy was on the playground today - perhaps five or six years old. Anastasia spotted him right away and walked up to him, waving. He looked down at her and half-smiled, then took her hand and shook it. Then he tousled her hair. Then he began picking her up, over and over again. (Funny, the little boys either seem to pick Anastasia up or push her down!) Anastasia immediately leaned toward him and made her lovey "mmmmm" sound - which is her way of giving a kiss.


August 4, 2007

Feeding continues to go great! Anastasia is less likely to allow me to feed her with a utensil, so I don't push it. But the good news is, she's eager to feed herself with a fork or spoon. She tries to scoop up food for herself, but has little success, so I'm filling the spoon, handing it to her, and letting her feed herself. Then she hands me the spoon and we start all over again. I'm so happy about this, I cried this morning.

She's so proud of herself!


Another benefit of this sudden interest in using utensils is that foods she was growing tired of (like chicken nuggets) have taken on new interest. Apparently, they're much more fun to eat when you use a utensil. :)

This comes on the heels of another preemie's great success with eating. An online friend of mine, who also delivered early due to PROM, has really been struggling with her daughter, who is a little younger than Miss A. She's on a feeding tube, vomits repeatedly daily, and would not take anything by mouth. But now she's working with new feeding specialists, and is making some terrific strides. Those parents who are still having trouble feeding their preemies might find the blog post about the techniques used useful; check it out here.

I realized this morning that Anastasia's hair thinning is getting worse, and suddenly I wondered if Miralax might be to blame. I haven't found anything online that suggests this could be a side effect, but I will bring it up with her pediatrician, anyway.

Anastasia looking so grown up with her daddy.


August 4 (part II)

I've created a new photo/video montage to celebrate Anastasia's nearly two years in this world. To view it, click on the photo below. I hope you enjoy it!

View this montage created at One True Media
Anastasia's First Two Years


August 7, 2007

Well, Miss A. is back on Miralax, and it's starting to work again. I spoke with the feeding clinic RN the other day, and she said that whenever Anastasia seems to be really regular, I can stop giving her the Miralax to see if she does okay without it. Obviously, I wouldn't want to try to do this more than once a month. The RN also encouraged me to give Anastasia as many fiber-rich foods as she would eat...which I'm doing already.

I did discover that blueberries cold from the refrigerated weren't well received, but if I let them sit on the counter until they are room temperature, Miss A. loves them! Yesterday, I set out a little bowl of blueberries for her; she grabbed them, climbed onto the couch, leaned back against the cat, put her feet up, and chowed down:



August 8, 2007

We're seeing an unhappy trend. Now that Miss A. will eat with a spoon and I can give her lots of foods (like yogurt and applesauce) that count as a fluid, she's drinking less from a cup. The main problem with this is that her Miralax needs to be mixed into a drink. So right now, she's barely getting any medicine.


It helps a wee bit to put her juice into a Winnie the Pooh cup with a straw (which I normally don't use because it's not leak proof), but even so, she's not wanting to drink much.

So tomorrow, I'm going to cut most of her "count as fluids" foods and see if she'll drink a bit more from her cup.


Anastasia had the best time with this old necklace today (only under my supervision, of course).


August 11, 2007

I'm very busy getting ready for Anastasia's birthday party tomorrow, but I wanted to pass on two things.

First, part of the reason I'm scurrying around trying to get so much done today is that Miss A. got something stuck in the toilet. This time, my hubby couldn't just plunge it out, either. He tried to snake the toilet, but ultimately ended up removing the toilet from the floor in to get the toy out. Naturally, this made a big mess in the bathroom and our nearby kitchen, so I had to sanitize everything top to bottom.

We've agreed I'll put Anastasia in her crib, if necessary, to keep her out of the bathroom while I'm washing my face and such. But we also bought a new toilet lock in hopes it won't allow her to open the lid even a crack.

Second, I picked up a few things at the grocery store today, and Anastasia and her daddy stayed in the truck. When I got back, my hubby said: "You won't believe this, but just a minute ago Anastasia said: 'I like...' When I turned around in shock, she stopped mid-sentence and gave me a coy smile."

"What?" I said. "Anastasia, can you speak in sentences?"

Miss A. gave another coy smile.

What a little, adorable stinker.


August 14, 2007

We are still recovering from a busy - but great - birthday weekend.

It really began on Saturday, when my sister, her husband, and two of her children (one in high school, the other an adult) arrived after traveling from another state. Anastasia was shy at first, but then began warming up when my sister and niece showed off their jewelry.

Then Anastasia met their dog. That's all it took for her to completely warm up. The dog let Anastasia lead her around, and even let Miss A. feed her biscuits. (The only bad part of this was Miss A. decided to taste a dog biscuit. Worse, she seemed to like it...)

The next morning, I greeted Anastasia by saying: "You're two!" This made her smile. Then I reminded her: "That means you have to use words now." I then went about doing last minute party things, while my hubby watched Anastasia. As it happens, that meant I missed her first two sentences.



She said, "I like that" and "What's that?" to her daddy. (In both cases, what "that" was wasn't obvious.) Later, she spotted her cousin Anthony and said his name.

The party itself was great. I did a ladybug theme with white and red tablecloths, plain red balloons and a few ladybug balloons, Mason jars of flowers from my garden, and red and black ladybug plates. I also made a ladybug cake (chocolate fudge with cherry filling); it was the first time I'd ever made anything other than a plain cake, but I think it turned out cute.

Anastasia enjoying helping me (and other relatives) open her packages, but by the time we ate, she was pretty exhausted. She got her nap about two hours late.


Some of Anastasia's favorite gifts were books. She sat right down and looked through them.


One of her grandmas gave her a crown and scepter.

Jewelry is one of Anastasia's favorite things. (Later in the day, her great-grandma gave her a gold bracelet and necklace. Anastasia grabbed the bracelet before we could stop her and put it right on her arm.)


It was a warm August day, but Anastasia insisted on wearing this coat one of her grandmas gave her.

When she opened this blanket (given by one of her grandpas), it was clear she was ready for a nap. She fell face down on the thing and lay there for about a minute.

Eating cake!

See how her youngest cousins cater to her?

But by this time, Anastasia was pretty darn tired. A few minutes later, she took a couple of good forward falls into the water. Her daddy had to rescue her. We put her down for a nap after that.

After the party, enjoying the couch one of her grandmas gave her.

The party meant a great deal to me. I kept thinking about how we celebrated my husband's birthday (just two days before Miss A's) two years ago. I was on bed rest and Anastasia's fate seemed unsure at best. Yet there we were on this weekend, celebrating our dear girl's second birthday! We feel so blessed...

Still worn out from the excitement of her party, Anastasia saw her pediatrician on Monday.

Remember, thus far, I hadn't heard Miss A. use words, except when she called her cousin's name. But on the drive to the doctor's office, she said, "What's that?" I had no idea what she was talking about, so I told her she needs to point when she asks that question. Still, I was so delighted to hear her using sentences!

The doctor's appointment was just a regular checkup, but we discussed a number of things. I've been frustrated that I can't talk to the feeding clinic doctor in person, so I wanted to ask our regular pediatrician about the Miralax Anastasia's taking. Is there something more gentle? I asked specifically about another perscription that an online friend has mentioned to me, but our doctor said she agreed with the feeding clinic doctor: Miralax is the best choice.

My hubby also asked what would happen if Miss A. caught RSV this coming season. Our pediatrician said: "Well, if she caught it, we'd just want to watch carefully for any wheezing. But she'd probably be fine at her age."

We also discussed Anastasia's hair loss, which has become quite a bit worse. The doctor felt the most likely culprit was Miss A's hair pulling - even though we don't find hair laying around. "It's not uncommon for kids her age to tug their hair to self comfort," she said. She suggested we try to get her to tug on a blanket or stuffed animal instead. However, she also wants us to take Anastasia to a dermatologist to rule out any skin disorders, and she had the nurses draw blood to check Miss A's thyroid. "I doubt it's her thyroid," the doctor said, "because then we'd probably see hair loss all over her head, instead of in just one area. But it doesn't hurt to check."

Poor Miss A. She hates doctor offices, anyway. (She's had a lot of unpleasant experiences in them.) Too, she was tuckered out from her party the previous day. She cried from the moment they put her on the scale (for the first time, she wore clothes and stood on a children's scale...She weighed 23.4 lbs and measured 31 1/2 inches tall) until we walked out the door. It was especially bad when they drew blood and gave her a vaccination. As we left, the doctor told her what a good girl she was and gave her this adorable finger puppet book.

But as soon as we got in the car and I gave her a chocolate graham cracker, all was well again. Then she had fun taking off her band-aids.

That night when I put Anastasia to bed, I offered her a stuffed bunny and said, "Try not to pull your hair, honey. Pull on the bunny's ears instead." Miss A. threw the bunny away and started crying. It took a while for me to calm her down. I guess asking her to change her comfort techniques after such a full weekend was a mistake!


August 16, 2007

Our pediatrician called yesterday. Anastasia's thyroid tested just fine - it's not what's causing her hair thinning. In the meantime, we keep trying to offer stuffed animals and such for Miss A. to tug on while she's going to sleep, but even just bringing them near her crib makes her mad. She knows exactly what we're trying to do.

Oh, and does anyone know of a toilet lock that actually works??? The suction cups on our Safety 1st toilet lock keeps un-sticking, and the lock falls off the toilet.


August 17, 2007

Anastasia is saying something (real words!) every day. Wednsday, it was "mommy" and "kitty," mixed in with a bunch of babble that sounded like something I should be able to understand, but couldn't quite.

Yesterday at the park she was trying hard to make friends with some little boys (perhaps five and six years old) who were more interested in running and climbing; when they got to the top of the play gym and paused before going down the big kid slide, Miss A. said: "Whatcha doing?" (Something her daddy regularly asks her.)

This morning, she said "Weed [read] to me" and I thought I must have heard wrong. I mean, all she's ever heard is, "I'll read to you." She couldn't possibly have a good enough grip on the English language that she changed the "you" to "me"...right? But moments later she said, "Weed me," and handed me a book.

Later in the day, as I was putting clothes in the washer, she asked, "Whatcha doing?"

My heart melts every time she speaks in sentences. My baby is a big girl!

Yesterday she also made me laugh hard. A friend of ours had her one year old at the park with us, and he's just learning to walk between two objects (like the couch and a table). He'd been clinging to a ladder in the play yard and took several steps to cling a slide, so I applauded him and said, "Yay!" Anastasia looked over, perplexed, then walked to the slide and clung to it the same fashion. Then she looked at me as if to say: "I can do it, too. Where's my applause???"

Oh, and Anastasia seems to really like her music CDs customized with her name. I confess, though, I was expecting a bigger reaction when she heard her name on them. The first time she heard her name through the stereo, she looked up, surprised. But after that, it was like: "Oh well...they know my name." No big deal.


August 20, 2007

We were supposed to attend a wedding this weekend. It was several hours away, so the plan was to stay overnight at a hotel. While we were in the city, we planned to hit the zoo the following day.

But we never went. This was in part because of finances (it would have been a real stretch to buy the six meals we'd need), but mostly due to the panic I felt when I suddenly realized all the trip would entail.

I'd be trapped in the hotel room for at least an hour and a half while Anastasia napped. And I'd be stuck in there from Anastasia's bedtime (7pm) onward, too. Much worse, I wondered how I'd get Anastasia to take her Miralax every day. Where would I get the juice? (She's only sure to drink Tropicana orange juice, no pulp, with added calcium.) And if she didn't take her Miralax, she'd quickly get constipated again. And what about meals? It would be tough to bring along her always-sure-to-eat foods. And she still eats off a tray! Restaurants don't have high chairs with trays. I could try plates, but she'd surely be so interested in those, she wouldn't eat. I could feed her bite by bite by hand, but...

It seemed so stressful.

I am constantly examining myself to be sure I'm not just stuck in the old "mom-of-a-preemie" thinking. Am I making a big deal out of something that isn't? In the end, I decided I wasn't.

Another reminder that we aren't quite like other families yet.

The good news is, we had a pretty relaxing weekend at home - the first in a long while. Miss A. is still talking a little, but I haven't heard sentences in a few days. Even though I know she can say "What's that?" she mostly still uses her all-purpose word ("Ah-bum," a corruption of "button") when she wants to know what something is. She's more apt to use real words with her daddy. (My sister says this is because mommy is a good mind reader.)

Miss A. is using some words, though. Perhaps "no" more than anything else. Thankfully, it's not the cranky, forceful "no!" that most two year olds I know use. 99% of the time, it's a very sweet little "nooooo" that makes me smile.

This weekend, I also made Anastasia homemade play dough. I thought she was ready for it developmentally, but I also knew it would end up in her mouth. I'd rather have the homemade stuff in her mouth, even though the store bought variety is labeled "non toxic." It's easy to make, anyway. (See recipe below.)

She loved it! At first, she just watched me play with it. Then she gingerly squished it with one finger. Then it went into her mouth. I told her: "Not in your mouth," just so's she wouldn't get into the habit of eating the stuff. Then she squished it some more and played with some basic shapes I created for her. She liked it best when I showed her how to make a handprint in the dough.

This morning she also braved the big kid slide. You know - the tall, curly one that goes really fast. Today a three year old and an 18 month old were going down it without any problems and Anastasia decided she ought to be able to, too. Not wanting to hold her back developmentally, I took a big breath, pushed her down, then ran down the play structure to meet her at the bottom.

She'd landed on her rear end, on the rubber mulch. She wasn't crying, but she didn't look like she'd had fun, either!

Oh, and we just found evidence that Anastasia is pulling out her hair. Yesterday she wore a dark shirt and when she woke up from her nap, I could easily see several strands on her hair on the shirt. So she's probably pulling out her hair while going to sleep. Still, we'll have her see the dermatologist...just in case.


Homemade Play Dough Recipe

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cream of tartar (found in the spice aisle)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

food coloring, as desired for the color you want

In a saucepan, stir together dry ingredients. In a bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry one a little at a time, stirring well. Place saucepan on medium heat and stir constantly until dough is smooth and turns into a ball. Turn out onto waxed paper and allow to cool a little. Knead the dough a few times, then let it sit until entirely cool. Stored in an air tight container, it lasts for several months.


August 21, 2007

So yesterday evening, one of the first things Anastasia tells her daddy about is: "Babble babble babble babble play dough! Babble babble babble play dough babble babble babble!" It was darn cute.

That evening, as I was getting dinner on the table, Anastasia was saying something, but we couldn't quite make it out. My husband said: "What honey?" And Miss A. replied: "Noooo. Mommy." Apparently, she was talking to me.

Anastasia also said "bracewet" when I let her play with some of my bracelets. (I can also ask her where my necklace, ring, and earrings are, and she looks in all the right places on my body. I half joke with my husband that next I'll have to teach about gem stones!)

We've been a bit concerned about Anastasia's drinking the past couple of days. I couldn't buy her usual brand of orange juice at the store, so she's been drinking very little juice. And very little Pediasure, too, even during her one dream feed. Last night and this morning, for example, she took a total of 6 oz. Normally she drinks about 12 oz.

She is teething, though, so hopefully that's the only problem.


August 21 (part II)

Especially if you're a daily reader, you may have wondered why I haven't posted an update since I wrote about Anastasia's birthday. Well, we've been without a telephone line and an Internet connection for a week. (Talk about feeling out of touch!) However, even though I couldn't post anything online, I still wrote posts. I was finally able to put them online tonight.

So  if you haven't read anything since I wrote about Miss A's party, be sure to scroll down to the Aug. 16th post, and make your way up.  :)


August 24, 2007

I was beginning to think that upon Anastasia's second birthday, a switch was thrown and suddenly - click! -  I had a grumpy, tantrum-throwing little girl on my hands.

Thankfully, though, it now seems my girl was just plain worn out. (And teething, too.) She's more rested now, and able to sleep through the night because her gums aren't hurting as much...and so she's my loving, happy child again. Whew!

Yesterday I discovered a sure fire way to make her laugh. She'd just awakened and was pointing at my shirt saying "Ah-bum?" (meaning "What is it?" ...even though she knows very well what a shirt is). I responded by pointing to her shirt and saying "Ah-bum?" over and over and over again as she does when I neglect to answer her. I don't think I've ever seen her laugh so much in one sitting. So I did that throughout the day, and she thought I was the best comedian ever.

This morning I decided I needed to pick up a few books at the library, so we hustled over just as they were starting baby/toddler story time.  Miss A. actually sat in my lap most of the time, and even listened with interest. Then she realized the little girls in front of her had clips and hair bands in their hair, and decided she wanted to play with them :)

After story time, she had fun playing with the other kids. She spotted a 2 1/2 year old boy with a wooden elephant pull toy, and waited her turn to play with it. Then she pulled the toy while the little boy walked behind her and made sure the elephant stayed on track. At one point, the elephant tipped over, and Anastasia turned around and chewed out her little helper. He promptly got back on the job.


August 26, 2007

Yesterday, I made Anastasia some home made finger paints. Once again, I thought she'd try to stick the paints in her mouth - so I preferred to make them at home. Then I took Miss A. outside and stripped her down to her diaper, thinking it would be easier to get the paints off her this way. But she didn't show the least interest in the paints. In fact, she seemed to think putting your fingers in them would be yucky.

So instead, I let her play in the backyard in her diaper. Soon, though, she was pulling her diaper off, so I let her play with the water hose in her birthday suit. That was a first for her :)

Playing in the sandbox yesterday.

See how much hair she's pulled out?

Then today we went to our city's fair. It's a very, very small affair, but we thought Miss A. would enjoy seeing the animals. There weren't even very many of those, but as soon as we walked into the barn and she saw the bunnies in their cages, she was pointing and yelling and squealing. Her reaction was just as strong for the chickens and goats. She seemed a bit disappointed with the pigs. And then she got to pet some real, live cows. She was tentative at first, but then wanted to go from one cow to the next, over and over again.

Waving at the goats.

Pointing at the sheep.

Chattering about the goats and sheep.

Studying the chickens.


Homemade Finger Paints Recipe

1/2 cup cornstarch

3 cups cold water

food coloring


In a large bowl, blend 1 cup of cold water with the cornstarch. Then gradually add 2 more cups of cold water. Microwave for about 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. (Mixture with thicken upon standing, also.) Pour mixture into containers. Stir in food coloring to obtain the colors you desire. Let cool, then use. Easily makes a good batch of 6 colors.


August 28, 2007

I am shocked. Even a little appalled. The September 2007 issue of Parents magazine features an article called "Raise a Healthy Eater." I tend to skim articles like these, because lingering over them is a little depressing. When I was pregnant, I had all kinds of wonderful plans for how I'd raise a child who loved vegetables and grilled chicken and salads. I'd feed her veggies first, then introduce fruits. I'd always offer her a fruit or vegetable before anything else. And I wouldn't expose her to sweets until after her second birthday - and then only as a rare treat.

Then the reality of Anastasia's eating issues and failure to gain weight hit home. Now I hardly bat an eyelash when I feed her chocolate pudding for breakfast because she won't eat anything else. And French fries? They definitely count as a veggie in our household.

Nonetheless, I keep thinking that some day, poor Miss A. will be doing great with eating and weight gain, and then she's going to have all these awful eating habits. So I don't totally ignore the many articles written these days about raising kids with good eating habits.

So I was skimming along fine until I hit page 176. There, in a sidebar called "Perfect Portions" was a shocking revelation: Most toddlers eat enormous quantities of food!

A two year old, the magazine claims, should average meals like the following:

"Breakfast: 1/2 cup of oatmeal made with milk; 1/2 cup blueberries; 1/2 cup milk

Lunch: One  half of a grilled cheese sandwich made with whole-wheat bread and one half slice of cheese; 1/2 cup cooked carrots; small apple cut into slices; 1/2 cup milk

Dinner: One quarter of a chicken breast; 1/2 cup broccoli; 1/2 cup brown rice; 1/2 cup milk"

Are they kidding???

I would be delighted if Miss A. would drink that much of any type of fluid. And if she ate that much food in one sitting, I'm sure I'd have to roll her away from the table.

For example, just an hour ago, she had a toasted cheese sandwich (I least I got the whole-wheat bread and the cheese right!). I offered her half the sandwich and she ate about 3/4. I was thrilled! Then she ate a whole peanut butter cookie (medium sized). I was even more thrilled! There's no way on earth she would eat 1/2 cup carrots and a small apple, too.

Yet there, in the magazine's black text and vivid photographs, are these "normal" servings.

And most of the food isn't even cut up first. For example, in the magazine the apple is sliced, but not cut into bite sized pieces. And the sandwich is served in two large pieces. Again, I could never do that with Miss A.

So...I am shocked and a little depressed. I know I can't compare Anastasia to other kids, but it's a hard thing not to do. I'm delighted that she's eating as well as she is, and am thrilled she lets me feed her with a spoon - and sometimes takes the spoon from me and feeds herself. But oh how I wish she'd learn to drink from a cup. And eat from a plate. And use her utensils all by herself.

I know, I know. It will come.

Then we go to the park, and children much younger than Anastasia are doing so many physical things Miss A. doesn't do. Anastasia is just cautious, I suppose. And the little babies are talking! Miss A. is hardly talking at all. I haven't heard a sentence in weeks, and I hear very, very few words.

I'm reading Barbara Curtis's Mommy, Teach Me to Read, but had to stop this morning because the section for two year olds is way too advanced for Anastasia. She really needs to have some kind of vocabulary before I can teach her phonics!

I've also noticed that other moms at the park always seem really surprised when I tell them Anastasia's age. I'm not really sure if this is because she's smallish, or if it has to do with her developmental progress.

I don't really want to sound like I'm fretting away about all this. I'm not. But I do sometimes wonder where it's all leading. Is Anastasia going to need speech therapy? More physical therapy? Will she always be behind her peers (even if she's not officially behind on the developmental charts)?

Then I remind myself that we know some full-term, perfectly healthy two year olds who aren't talking either. (Although they eat a ton more and do more physically.)

"Quit acting like the mom of a preemie!" I tell myself. And sometimes I listen.


August 30, 2007

My last post generated a lot of email! Those of you without preemies tried to comfort me by saying all was well. I really do know that...but occasionally, I worry. (What can I say? Christ said: "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" But sometimes I worry anyway. Like everyone else, I need God's grace.)

Most of the time, though, I'm in awe of my little one and how terrific she's doing, especially considering all the depressing things the doctors said would happen to her.

A couple of moms of preemies also wrote to me. Most said my last post made them laugh, because it's exactly how they think on their "crazy days," too. So see? I'm not alone in my craziness :)

And just as with all things, there is an ebb and flow. A few days ago, Miss A. was hardly drinking any fluids. But for the past three days, it's as if she's trying to make up for it. She's drunk a full 8 oz. of juice each day, in addition to her Pediasure. That is unprecedented!

I have to admit I've changed the way I give it to her. Instead of offering her a few ounces in the morning, and then dumping out what is left and replacing it with fresh juice, I've been giving her a full 8 oz. of orange juice (with Miralax) in the morning. She mostly drinks it at night. Which apparently means she likes her O.J. to have...twang.

I think we may be making progress with using a lovey instead of pulling out hair, too. I've tried an assortment of blankets, but when I brought out this one

and reminded her that one of her grandmas made it for her, and that it could be worn as a cape, she said: "Oh! Wow!" and wore it for most of an evening. (The girl loves capes and hoods. If I can get my act together, I must make her a Little Red Riding Hood costume for the NICU reunion this October.)

I put the same blanket in the crib with her at night - not making a big deal out of it, just tucking it off to one side. And in the mornings, I cover her with it while I give her a bottle. Well, last night when I laid Anastasia her crib, she looked for the blanket. I placed it in her crib, and she removed her hand from her hair and reached over to squeeze the blanket. When I returned about an hour and a half later, the blanket was pulled up near her ear, and her hand was still on it. Maybe it's working!

I do find it amusing, though, that while the rest of the world's parents try to woo loveys away from their children, we are busy trying to get Anastasia to adopt one.

Yesterday I stopped at the library to pick up a book for myself. I also let Anastasia out of her stroller so she could play with the toys in the children's room. She did this, but soon she was running around the room pulling books off the shelf, sitting down with them for a few seconds, then running around and finding more - squealing the entire time. I had to laugh. Most kids would do that in a toy store. My bookworm does it in the library!

While Miss A. was doing this, I just happened to notice a slim volume called The Potty Book (for girls). I thought, "What the heck, I'll check out this book." Well, she loves it! I think I've read it a gazillion times. I can certainly recite it from memory. So now I want to get a potty chair ASAP (meaning when my hubby's next paycheck arrives).

Does anyone have any words of wisdom for me regarding potty training? Or a chair they recommend? Or a method they like? I think I'm going to get the Baby Bjorn potty chair, combined with the Eddie Bauer 2 Step Stool (unless I can find a step stool cheaper that doesn't look like its steps are too deep. Believe it or not, Miss A. doesn't have a step stool yet.) I was thinking about getting one of those musical potty chairs, but my sis-in-law tells me sometimes they scare kids. We definitely don't want that.