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February 2008

February 2, 2008

A few days ago, our Early Intervention coordinator visited. She's tickled with Anastasia. She says the base line they use for talking is as follows: A child should be able to speak in two word sentences at age 2, three word sentences at age 3, and four word sentences at age 4. Anastasia regularly uses three word sentences, and is using four word sentences increasingly often.

Miss A. has long loved puzzles, and has several simple, one-piece puzzles with corresponding pictures under them. (For example, her animal puzzle has a drawing of each animal in the puzzle base, so it's easier to match up with the puzzle piece itself.) The next level of difficulty is a puzzle without corresponding pictures underneath, so our coordinator brought one. It was a wooden teddy bear, with interchangeable faces, shirts, and pants. I showed Anastasia how to do it once, and then she was off and running! She played with that puzzle for about 45 minutes! (Our coordinator is impressed with Miss A.'s attention span.)

Later, our coordinator showed Miss A. a puzzle with basic shapes in several sizes, much like this one. I thought this would be pretty tricky, since Anastasia still has trouble with sizes. (For example, she'll try to put her doll's shoes on her own feet.) But Miss A. did the puzzle flawlessly, without any trouble whatsoever.

Then yesterday, Anastasia discovered a puzzle she'd been given for Christmas, but which I hadn't showed her yet. I thought it was probably too advanced for her, and told her so. But "I try!" she said.

This particular puzzle is a set of wooden cards that fit together in a traditional puzzle style, like this. One side of each card features an animal, and the other side features where that animal might live. The bird corresponds with a nest, and the dog with a doghouse, for example. Well, Miss A. did have trouble matching each animal to its home, but she was able to put the puzzle pieces together without any problem. And boy, does she love that puzzle! She wants to play it over and over again...which is great, because she's learning, and is better able to match animal to home now.

Aren't children amazing learners?

Anastasia playing at a friend's house.

I also want to share some important preemie news with you today. It seems doctors now have a compound they can give moms who go into premature labor, which helps reduce their baby's risk of developing cerebral palsy. Amazingly, all the shot is just Epsom salts!

From the moment we knew my water broke at 20 weeks into my pregnancy, the doctors told us Anastasia was high risk for cerebral palsy. And once we brought her home from the NICU, Anastasia's doctors and physical therapist were on the lookout for signs of CP. I vividly recall one pediatrician saying, when Anastasia was about one, "At this point we can at least rule out severe cerebral palsy." At the time, I was stunned. I thought Anastasia was doing great, but the doctors knew she still might have CP. Much later, a county health nurse and a physical therapist confessed they were sure Anastasia was going to have some form of cerebral palsy.

Thankfully, we can now say Anastasia does not have CP, but we waited over two years for this diagnosis.

A lot of preemies (especially extremely early ones, like Miss A.) develop CP. Sometimes it's really mild and doesn't affect their lives very much - but it's not uncommon for it to be really severe. So if you know someone who might deliver a preemie, be sure to pass on the news about Epson salts. It's a really safe treatment and could make a huge difference in that family's life!

February 6, 2008

Yesterday, Miss A. had a playdate at Mr. E's house. She got along fine with Mr. E, but his baby sister and dog were, apparently, the highlights of the day. Last night, Anastasia said, "I like [Mr. E's] house," and "I like cuddle baby.  Dog, too!" About a half hour later, she said, "I love baby. I love dog."

It's true she spent a bit of time trying to give toys to the baby, and then rested her head on the baby's body to "cuddle." She was a little afraid to touch the dog, but eventually she did. Mostly, she kept remarking that the dog "smells good!" (She's used to her grandparent's dogs, which are outside only and never get baths!)

That night, I took Anastasia shopping with me. She hadn't been grocery shopping in about a month, and suddenly Miss A. can ask for things (!). I was looking for a gift in the book and toy section, then continued by buying food. Anastasia said things like, "I need book. Book, pease!" "I like duck! I like frog!" (while reaching for them), "I want apples. I need kiwi." and "Frosty poo-poo, pease!" (that's ice cream to the rest of us).

I said no to everything. (We already had the apples and kiwis at home.) Thankfully, Miss A. accepted my "no" without complaint.

She also really wanted my shopping list and pen, and repeatedly scolded,   "Share, Mommy!"

Then, this morning, we went to the library with her little friend Mr. T. Anastasia hadn't been to the library in months, but, in her own words: "I 'cited!" She ran to the library door, but stopped short when she spotted a man nearby. I had to pick her up and carry her in. (She's extremely shy around men.) She was thrilled with the books, of course, but also with the toys. She kept running to the toy box in the children's section, then running to me, saying "I found purple elephant!" "I found pink ocy-puss!"

At one point, she pushed Mr. T. off a chair. I was watching her; she wasn't mad or wanting to hurt him. Maybe she wanted to sit next to him on the chair. But whatever the case, he fell off (but wasn't hurt). I took Miss A. to a secluded corner to discipline her.

As we checked out some books, Miss A. kept running off, so when we got home, I had a conversation with her: "When we aren't at home or at grandma and grandpa's, you can't go running away from mommy. What would happen if mommy couldn't find you? She'd have to go home without you!" This made her very sober. Hopefully, with a few reminders, this conversation will do the trick.

In the meantime, I'm going crazy listening to "Frosty the Snowman." Anastasia was down to talking about him once or twice a day, but then one of her grandmas bought her a snowman that (when you press his foot) sings the first chorus of the Frosty song. It's loud, and a bit distorted, but Miss A. adores it. The first day, she literally listened to it without stopping (except for meals, when I insisted it stay in another room). Now I get a bit more of a break, but I sure will be glad when the batteries run down.

I can't quite bear to take the snowman away from her; she loves it so. Here's a video of Miss A. singing along with Frosty.

February 10, 2008

Anastasia had a grumpy day yesterday. She was tired, and when she's tired, she (like most of us) has little tolerance for things that don't go her way. I can't complain too much, though, because Anastasia's temper tantrums are nothing like many other children's.

At one point, I took a temper tantruming Miss A. into the bathroom and pointed to her image in the mirror. "Look, honey. Don't you think you look a little silly acting this way?" She stopped what she was doing and said, glumly, "Yeah." A little later, when I took her out of the bathtub, she threw a temper tantrum because she wanted to stay in the now cold water. I pointed to her image in the mirror again and said playfully, "Look at that silly girl. She's all upset because her mommy is trying to take good care of her." Anastasia stopped everything and gave me a sheepish grin.

We also took our first "long walk" yesterday. On foot, Anastasia has never gone further than a few blocks down our street, but the weather was halfway decent yesterday, and she was happy to be outside, so I took her much further. She was so excited; what a poor little shut-in! "Fence!" she said, "Stop Sign! Octagon! Red!", "Fire Hi-rent!", "Hear doggie bark!", "Loud car!" At one point, we walked across an old cement sidewalk that was so worn down, you could see small stones in it. "Rocks!" Miss A. said, and tried to pick them up. "Those rocks are stuck, honey," I said. She accepted this explanation, but talked about the "stuck rocks" for quite a while after that.

Anastasia shows a lot of interest in learning specific animal names. For example, she proudly points out robins, not just plain ol' "birds." So I'm working on some flash cards for her, so she can learn the names of local birds. This isn't much work, but since I don't know the names of most birds, I'm relying heavily on WhatBird.com (which has a great search by state feature) to help me figure out what we might see locally. The flashcards will be simple: just a picture of the bird, with its name beneath. I may print each card twice, so Anastasia can use it as a matching game, too.

Oh, and one other cute thing. Miss A. has taken to asking us to read "Dr. Snoose!" (a.k.a., Dr. Seuss.)

February 14, 2008

Yesterday, I bought Anastasia The Talking Words Factory and the Math Circus by LeapFrog. Those of you who regularly read this blog already know Anastasia loves The Letter Factory and the corresponding toy, Fridge Phonics. They taught her phonics beautifully. So I figured Anastasia was ready to take the next step. Miss A. adores the new DVDs and asks: "Watch 'fessor?" ("professor," that is...He's a main character in these DVDs.)

She's starting to connect the phonics and letters she already knows to actual words. For example, she'll wander around the house saying: "P. Puh! Popcorn!" I really can't recommend these learning DVDs and toy highly enough!

Miss A. also got a little visiting time with two of her grandparents. She especially had a great time with her grandpa, and keeps telling me how "grandpa played duckie!" Apparently, they were talking about a duck, and grandpa used his hand to imitate the duck's mouth. But when he called it a "mouth," Miss A. stared at him and said, "Grandpa! 'Beak!'" (Oh dear...if she's correcting us like this now, imagine how she'll be when she's 13!)


Left: Miss A. wearing the princess dress her grandma gave her for Christmas. Right: Trying on Mr. Potato Head's glasses.


February 20, 2008

Yesterday, my mother gave Anastasia a large, stuffed (fake!) tiger. She was a little afraid of it at first, but now she drags it everywhere. So this morning, on a whim, I asked her, "Anastasia, what letter does the word 'tiger' start with?" I emphasized the sound of the "t." Miss A. thought a moment, then said, "T!"

Miss A. is also beginning to recognize and name some numerals, and has gone poo in her potty several more times. (Each time, she's been in the bath, felt the need to go, and asked to use her potty chair.) She now proudly exclaims, looking down at the dirty potty chair, "I did it!"

On the advice of several readers, I recently bought Miss A. an ice shaver. Remember how much she loved eating snow? Well now I can make snow at home, even on a sunny day! It's an inexpensive gadget - and hand cranked, so it's quiet and doesn't scare her. It arrived in the mail yesterday, and Anastasia had "snow" for dessert last night. I just used plain water. She kept asking for more, and in all, I think she consumed about four or five ounces of water. That's a tremendous amount for her!

This morning, first thing, she said, "Eat snow, Mommy!" It occurred to me that I could try making Pediasure "snow," too. So at lunch time, Anastasia had vanilla Pediasure snow...and loved it!

I hope, hope, hope, she continues to like this. If I can get her to eat Pediasure snow in quantities close to what she gets with her dream feed, I will feel so much better about cutting out bottles altogether! The trick is, though, that I don't want the "snow" to replace any food or drink she's currently getting (except, of course, for what she gets in her bottle). It needs to supplement, just like her one bottle does now.

It also occurs to me that I could probably somehow figure out how to make Pediasure ice cream (we have an ice cream maker). What else could I make with Pediasure...?

Wearing her daddy's boots.


February 21, 2008

My hubby loves "American Idol," but we go to bed fairly early, so we video tape the show and watch it later. Well, last night we decided to let Anastasia watch. My hubby said, "Anastasia, do you want to watch a movie with singing?" Of course she agreed.

She loved the singing sections, but at all other times, she'd say: "People talk, people talk... Sing!" (Her tone was very much along the lines of: "Blah,  blah, blah!  Get to the good stuff!") When it was time for her to go to bed, she kept talking about "watching people on tv," and I suddenly realized it's been a long time since she's watched anything other than animated animals on television.

Other cute stuff she's saying:

(While making her tiger's head move.) "Aaaah-choooo!" (Followed by much wiping of her tiger's nose.)

(When I help her off the stepping stool.) "You're welcome, Mommy."

"I love Daddy much. I love both." (I think that means she loves me much, too.)

"I help Gran'pa! I use yellow scoodriver!" (That's "screwdriver," by the way.)


February 22, 2008

Yep, that's right. We're expecting #2! (With Miss A., I had a terrible time interpreting the pregnancy test stick, so this time I bought one of those digital do-dads. Much better!)

My due date is Oct. 13, 2008. We are excited...and a little nervous, too, because we don't know why my water broke at only 20 weeks into my pregnancy with Anastasia. We've taken a leap of faith and are putting this baby in God's hands. We'd really appreciate your prayers for little #2.


February 23, 2008

My first OB/GYN appointment is now set up: March 17th. Nobody's told me I should be seeing a perintologist (a doctor who specializes in high risk pregnancies), so I guess that's comforting. I've been refreshing my memory on some of the things I can do to potentially reduce my risk of having another preemie due to PROM (Premature Rupture of the Membranes); the PROM website has a huge list of tips. Some will be difficult to follow. For example, I'm already trying not to lift Anastasia, and while I've learned I can easily change her diaper on the floor (instead of lifting her into the crib), insist she walk more often, and offer her stepping stools more often, there are times when I simply must lift her. For example: nobody else is home and she needs to get into her highchair.

My hubby is trying to help as much as he can. Last night, he gave Miss A. her dream feed bottle so I wouldn't have to lift her in and out of her crib.

But really, I feel very positive about this pregnancy. I have prayed long and hard on this topic, and am willing to put things in God's capable hands.

And hey! No morning sickness! ...Yet, anyway.  :D

Some people have asked if I've said anything to Miss A. yet. The answer is no. Mostly because if I told her she was getting a baby brother or sister, she'd expect it to arrive tomorrow. We'll wait until I'm showing to explain things to her. Timing it out, though, I have the perfect birthday present in mind for her: a new baby doll, with a stroller and all the accessories.

Speaking of which, does anyone know of a good book for toddlers on having a new baby in the house? So many picture books I've seen seem to encourage sibling rivalry, or go into great detail about delivery and such. I just want something that says Mommy is going to have a baby; it's in her tummy; Mommy will go to the hospital and bring the baby home. That sort of thing.

In the meantime, Miss A. is being her sweet old self. She's been really bad about wiggling while getting her diaper changed. (I  offer her diaper-changing-only toys,  but it doesn't help.  Mostly, I just tell her she needs to learn to use the potty if she doesn't want to have her diaper changed.) Anyway, I usually end up getting frustrated with her and calling her - sternly - by her first and last name. Well today, I warned her two times, then said, "Anastasia!" There was a pause before Miss A. replied: "Anastasia [our last name], Mommy. Anastasia [our last name]!" Then she grinned, and I couldn't help but grin, too.

Last night, Miss A. was testing limits. I was trying to finish up dinner while she played with her toy kitchen (which is in the real kitchen). I'd just picked up all her pots and pans and such, and was about to get her in her high chair, when she dumped all her kitchen accessories out onto the floor. I told her to pick them all up and put them back in their storage box. She ran off, laughing. I repeated that she needed to put the toys away...now. She didn't respond, so I left the almost-finished dinner behind to go find her. When I did, she giggled, and I took her hand and lead her into the kitchen. "Put all your kitchen toys in there box - right now," I said.

She put two or three in the box, then ran off again. I chased her down, brought her back into the kitchen, and repeated the instructions. She put one toy away, then ran off.

Finally, I put her in time out, had her help me pick up the toys, and told her she would not be allowed to play with them for an entire day. She cried and was clearly mad at me. This morning, she went to her little kitchen and opened every drawer in the thing to see if she could find a kitchen accessory I had missed. No such luck!

But most of the time, Miss A. is such an easy child. She's still cracking me up by saying "You're welcome" when she means "thank you," but she does occasionally get "thank you" out, with help. For example, when we went grocery shopping this week, the clerk at checkout offered her a sticker. Miss A. was absolutely delighted. I prompted, "Can you say 'thank you?'" My jaw dropped when she promptly said "Thank you!" to the clerk. She's never said that before.


February 25, 2008

How many two year olds do you know who nearly come to tears because their mommy won't let them get down on their hands and knees and scrub the kitchen floor? Well, that's what Anastasia did yesterday.

From time to time, I get down on the floor with a Mr. Clean Eraser Pad and a bucket of water to scrub up all the grim the mop doesn't pick up. Anastasia really wanted to help me yesterday. When I tried to get her to go play with her daddy instead, tears came to her eyes and she said, "Help Mommy!"

Oh my goodness; what could I do but let her "help?" At first, she got down on all fours, dipped her hand in the water, and "scrubbed" the floor with her hand. Then she realized I moved the bucket of water from time to time, so she made it her job to do that for me. She's always so proud to have helped anyone with a chore.

We've only had a couple of playdates at our house, and most were quite some time ago. This is mostly because I think it's good for Miss A. (and me!) to get out of our own house whenever we can. But last night, some friends visited with their 20 month old, Anastasia's friend Mr. T.

Miss A. was beyond excited when she realized they were coming to our house. She couldn't wait to show Mr. T. all her toys. She tried to push him into her play tent when he was tentative  about going inside, then she tried to drag him here and there, getting him to play the way she wanted him to play. I hardly recognized her! She was bossy and motherly. When it was time to eat dinner, she kept coaxing him, "Eat {Mr. T}!" At one point, she accidentally knocked him over (they bumped into each other), and because he was tired, Mr. T. cried. Poor Miss A. hung her head, clearly upset that she'd "hurt" him.

When our company was gone and we tucked Anastasia into bed, she did what she usually does...She talked herself out of her worries. First, she asked me to pray with her...again. Since this is a delay tactic (I think), I always tell her she can pray all by herself whenever she wants to, and God will listen. So the first thing she says once she's in her crib is "He will listen." Then it's "Pull hair!" (A reminder not to pull her hair out.) Then, sometimes, "I don't cry!"

How dear is that?

Funnier is her constant narration, especially in the morning. As we go about our routine, Anastasia says, "Daddy dressed! Need hat! Daddy pour water. Daddy make coffee. Daddy eat. Share, Daddy! Daddy drink coffee. Daddy go work white truck. Daddy work hard." etc. What a girl!


February 26, 2008

I've been doing even more research on specific things I can do to possibly prevent PROM in this pregnancy. Although I discussed some of these with my OB/GYN the last time I saw her (in July, I think), I'll need to run all this past her again. But for now, here's the plan:

  • Take my regular prenatal vitamins, plus 2 - 4 tablespoons of flaxseed every day

  • Take a probiotic, like Fem-Dolphilus for healthy flora. There are an increasing number of studies showing the benefit of certain probiotics during pregnancy, including those at risk for PROM. (See, for example, Ingestion of Probiotics by Eliezer Shalev, MD, which focuses on how probiotics prevent infection during pregnancy. Remember, most doctors think PROM is usually caused by infection.)

  • Take extra vitamin C, E, and Zinc. Some doctors believe PROM may be related to deficiencies in these vitamins. (See The Pathobiology of Premature Rupture of the Membranes by Janice I. French and James A. McGregor and Vitamins C and E: Missing links in preventing preterm premature rupture of membranes? Dr. James W. Woods, Jr., MD These articles were kindly pointed out to me by members of PROM.) (If you're reading this post to get ideas for your own pregnancy, please be sure to talk to your doctor about doses. Too much of a vitamin - including a water soluble one like vitamin C - could do harm to your pregnancy.)

  • Eat yogurt with live cultures every day, to help fight infection.

  • Reduce carb and sugar intake, as both lower the immune system.

  • Drink cranberry juice. Supposedly this can help fight some infections.

  • I will also push my doctor to do cultures for infection every two weeks.

  • I will talk with my doctor about doing regular ultrasounds starting at 9 weeks, to look at cervical length. There is some evidence that PROM can be caused by the funneling of the cervix and that a funneling cervix is directly related to prematurity.

  • P17 shots. My OB has already said she'd recommend these shots of progesterone, since they've been shown to reduce the risk of having a preemie. I'm not sure yet how often she'll want me to have them.

  • Not lifting anything over 10 lbs. Obviously this is tough, since I'm caring for Anastasia. But I'll do my best.

  • Limited standing and walking. I'm not sure how "scientific" this one is, and it would be tough for me to avoid these things. I'll be relying on my OB's advice on this one.

  • No baths. (Some people believe sitting in a tub increases chances of infection...Incidentally, the same goes for thong underwear!)

  • No "big time" singing. Singing little ditties to Miss A. is fine, but I want to avoid my diaphragm pushing downward.

  • No sex. Some doctors feel sex can rupture the membranes. Others say it could introduce infection. (See The Pathobiology of Premature Rupture of the Membranes link, above.)

Sorry if this is more than you want to know about me (!), but I feel obliged to spread the word, in case there are other women reading this blog who might be in my position.

And if all this makes it seem we aren't relying fully on God, you have the wrong idea! We know that none of this will work if it's not God's will that this baby be born healthy and full term. Daily I pray, "Your will be done." And I mean it.

Almost all pregnant women change some of their habits. For example, they limit their caffeine intake to lower the risk of miscarriage and discontinue smoking and drinking because both are related to health problems for babies. My list of changes may be longer than some women have, but I'm making the changes for the same reason other women do.

I'm also sure that once we get past certain stages in this pregnancy, I will relax these rules a little.


February 28, 2008

I recently bought a wonderful set of books called Mickey Wonders Why, thinking the set would be great for Anastasia when she's a year or more older. I tried to tuck them into the bookshelf surreptitiously, but Miss A. will not allow new books to come into the house without inspecting them right away. She has a nose for them, too, and will find them even when I hide them! So I read most of the series to her, and she loved them, even though many must have been above her head. When she picked up one of the books...

she smiled and said, "Princess!"

After I got through laughing, I explained the photo was The Statue of Liberty. Much to my surprise, when I tried to show my hubby how Miss A. called her a princess, Anastasia instead correctly called her "Liberty." What a sponge!

Our girl is on a quasi-high chair strike, too. At breakfast she insists on sitting in a "regular" chair.



At lunch and dinner, I can convince her to eat in her high chair "because daddy needs his chair so he can eat with us." It hasn't occurred to her there's still an empty chair at the table.

She does amazingly well at the table, even without a booster seat, but we're going to need to get one soon. Everyone keeps telling me it has to be a Cooshee, so I'm saving up!