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March 2007


March 1, 2007

Yesterday, Anastasia stood - entirely by herself - for about one minute (or, as it happened, two verses of "Have You Ever Seen a Lassie")! She was engrossed in crinkling a food wrapper and didn't even realize she was doing it.

P.S. The only reason I had time to get this post up is because Anastasia is engrossed with my big-button calculator. She's pressing every button, of course, but also giving it "loves."


March 4, 2007

Anastasia is at such a fun age. Not only is her personality really showing itself off, but she's learning to communicate better. For example, yesterday Anastasia, my mother, and I were all sitting on the couch. Actually, Anastasia was standing and jumping. I had my around surrounding her like a fence so she couldn't topple over, but I wasn't paying much attention to what she was doing. But as I talked to my mom, I vaguely heard: "Mmmm! Maaa! Maaaaa! Maaaa!" And then, suddenly, and quite insistently: "MamAAAAAH!" I looked down and realized Miss A. had her legs stuck between the back of the couch and the cushions. I lifted her out, saying: "Hmmm! You got panicky, forgot yourself, and used your words, didn't you?" Anastasia grinned and giggled.

She also said "all done" for the first time yesterday. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if we're at the end of the reign of "button." Or maybe not...On Friday, Anastasia decided it would be fun to head butt me. The third time she did it, it hurt, and she grabbed her forehead and said: "But-NNNNN!"

Anastasia's also doing a great job of nodding her head "yes" and "no" (mostly "no"). Often when I try to feed her she shakes her head "no" at me. And if I ask if she wants her sippy sup, she also usually shakes her head "no."

Even though we had snow during the week, this weekend has been downright balmy. Both Anastasia and I were thankful we could go on walks. After our Saturday stroll, I asked Anastasia if she'd had a nice walk and she nodded her head "yes."

She's really getting the whole pretend-play thing down, too. This weekend, she force-feed her Big Bird doll her sippy cup.

Anastasia was due for another RSV shot this Friday. I'd really been praying she'd be more peaceful about the whole thing, and fortunately she was. Unlike last time, she didn't start shaking the moment we got out of the car. In fact, she didn't fuss at all until we began undressing her so she could be weighed. (She weighed 21 lbs. on their scale.)

She stopped crying when the nurse left the room, but started up again as soon as she came back. It took three of us (my husband, the nurse, and me) to hold Anastasia down for the second of the two shots. Right after the shot, though, I gave her a chocolate graham cracker. Apparently chocolate makes it all better, because she stopped crying and starting making her "mmmm!" yummy noises.

I have a couple of videos for you. The first one shows Anastasia opening and shutting the front of her doll house, after I ask her to do so. The second is Anastasia playing the piano.

(By the way, the doll house is one awesome toy. It has all kinds of things for little finger to do to develop fine motor skills, from opening and closing doors and lids to pushing buttons. Best of all, every action is rewarded with a sound. For example, if you open the lid on the little toilet, you hear a flushing sound. It was a Christmas present from grandma and grandpa.)


March 7, 2007

Yesterday Anastasia saw the Early Intervention physical therapist. The session went well, although the PT laughed frequently at Anastasia's antics. "She's smart. She knows what I'm up to," she said. "I can see the wheels turning!"

When working with small children like Anastasia, PTs use a series of "tricks" to get them to perform therapy. For example, they might put a special toy on top of their head to encourage the child to reach up high. But Anastasia is on to all these tricks, and it takes innovation (or something very special...like the PT's watch!) to get her to do anything. And periodically, she crawls over to me and lays her head in my lap for sympathy.

Oh how she hates physical therapy!

About five minutes before it was time for the PT to leave, Anastasia started waving at her.

The PT is generally pleased with Anastasia's advancements, but she suggested we buy a stable toy for her to push. Right now, she has her Thomas the Train. She loves it, but the push handle is a little unstable.

P.S. A cute thing Anastasia did yesterday: While saying "tickle, tickle, tickle!" she tickled her own tummy...and then grabbed her doll and tickled her tummy, too!


March 8, 2007

Today's been tough. Miss A. is teething something fierce; in fact, this is the worst teething she's ever had. Her whining is nearly constant, with pauses in-between to say "Mama! Mama! Mama!" There are also lots of big, fat tears. She even bit my heel, in a desperate attempt to find something good to chew on.

Tylenol hasn't helped much. A wide variety of teething toys haven't helped much. Lots of hugs and kisses haven't helped much. Near constant holding hasn't helped much...So I put on the bunny ears headband I bought at The Dollar Tree (and was saving for Easter). That got some giggles and took her mind off her teeth, at least until nap time.

Poor dear.

On a happier note, yesterday Anastasia spoke more than usual. She said "kitty" for the first time (at a neighbor's cat), said "thank you" repeatedly, said the first part of "amen" with her mouth open, and tried several times to say "yellow." And she's really starting to kiss a lot. Yesterday, as we read her book on dogs, she kissed every page, making little lovey "mmmm" noises. She also kissed me for the first time...but then started nibbling on my cheek!


March 9, 2007

Anastasia is still teething, but not quite so miserably. Thank you to everyone who wrote with suggestions. I haven't tried teething tablets or gum numbing products...in part because some friends (and magazines I've read) suggest they don't work. But I think I may buy some today.


March 11, 2007

Today, Anastasia went outside and played in the grass for the first time since last fall. Actually, last fall she was confined to a blanket, so this really was her first time on the grass. Her daddy stuck some already-stained pants on her and plopped her in the middle of the back yard (where, unfortunately, there is almost as much mud as grass right now). Anastasia appeared to dislike the feel of the grass; she'd reach out as if to start crawling, but pull back as soon as her hands touched the turf.


Finally, she crawled over to her stroller, frowning at her hands as she pulled them out of mud. She hurried over to her stroller as if to say: "Put me back!" She definitely didn't like getting dirty.

She stayed on the grass for, at most, 15 minutes. Then she started to cry. Our poor little secluded child!

Still, it's been a much better day than Friday. That night, immediately before dinner, Anastasia vomited. This always worries me because she does everything she can to prevent the vomit from escaping her mouth. Which means she holds her breath, and tries (often unsuccessfully) to swallow. It's fine if I'm right there to help her spit the vomit out, but I worry that if she vomits at night, she'll choke.

Anyway, she went to bed with after a couple of ounces of Pediasure, instead of a full meal. Several hours later, shortly after we went to bed, we suddenly heard Anastasia grunting and crying as if in pain. We rushed into her nursery to find her half-asleep, trying to have a bowel movement. I picked her up, and she clung to me, crying huge tears. Clearly, she was in pain.  I really have to get more pushy with the doctors about this. It just isn't normal for bowl movements to hurt like that!

On the happy side of things, Anastasia's teething has subsided.


March 14, 2007

Anastasia seems to be "using her words" a little more than usual. A few days ago, she said "kitty" and "bunny" for the first time, and this morning she said "medicine." (She hears me say:  "Time for your medicine!" every single morning.)

She's also understanding so much. She can answer most questions with a head shake - although if she's not certain what you're asking, she shakes her head "no." (Just to be on the safe side!)

Last weekend, my mom was asking her what certain animals say. For example: "What does a cow say?" Anastasia doesn't usually make animal noises, though. Then my mom asked: "What does  Anastasia  say?" And Anastasia replied: "Button!"

Another cute habit she's developing is kissing. She kisses me occasionally, but mostly she kisses babies and animals in her books. One of her books also has a big mirror in it, and when she sees her reflection, she'll usually kiss it.

I called the feeding clinic on Monday to discuss Anastasia's constipation issues. The RN I spoke with said the pediatrician at the clinic might recommend a perscription. (I think she mentioned Miralax.) I asked whether that was habit forming. She said all the prescriptions for constipation can be; the trick is how you use them. She said, depending on what the doctor saw in Anastasia's charts, he might put her on it for, say, three months, until she was well on her way to regularity. Then I asked about a perscription another mom of a preemie had recommended to me: Lactulose. She said that was a great drug, and she'd ask the doc about that, too.

(I should note here that we're doing all the correct dietary things to get Anastasia regular: wheat germ in everything I can think of, high fiber foods, prunes, prune juice, pears, etc., in addition to trying to get as much fluid down her as possible.)

We also discussed how serious constipation can be. (Here's a good article that summarizes what can become a bad problem.) I wish I'd known this stuff before! I would have pressed the issue with Anastasia's doctors much sooner.

Finally, I asked if I could (in the meantime) use Little Tummys' laxative drops instead of Fleet. The RN agreed it would be more gentle, but didn't know the correct dosage. "I'll ask the doctor about that, too," she said.

So far, I haven't heard back.  But - of course! - the past several days, Miss A. has been quite regular. Her diet hasn't changed, so it must have been the threat of new medications!


March 15, 2007

Last night, I had a brilliant idea. Instead of waking up in the middle of the night to feed Anastasia (and hold her upright for a while so her reflux doesn't bother her, then struggle to get myself back to sleep), why not feed Anastasia just a little before she normally wakes up?

Following this plan, I actually slept through the night last night! (For the first time since Anastasia was born, except for that one night recently when my husband got up to feed Miss A.) At 6:30am, when hubby got up, I also got up, warmed a bottle, and fed Anastasia. She woke up during the feeding, but still ate as much as usual. Then we had time to cuddle a bit before I needed to make breakfast for the grown-ups.

And even though I got up a half hour earlier than usual, I actually felt more rested.

Woohoo! I get to sleep through the niiiiiiight! I get to sleep through the niiiiiiiight!



March 16, 2007

Well, I can't declare my sleep-through-the-night-and-get-up-early idea a total success. This morning, Anastasia was very cranky. I'm just not sure if it's because she got a little less sleep than usual, or if it's because she's teething. I'll stop sleeping through the night if I think it's affecting Miss A. adversely.

This afternoon went better than this morning, though. It's a gorgeous day out, so we took a long walk. The one baby swing in town was actually free, with no kids mulling around even, so I took the opportunity to introduce Anastasia to it. First, I slathered it with germ killer (any parents observing probably thought I was nuts), then I placed a surprised Anastasia inside it. She was fearful at first, but when she realized it was a swing, she cautiously enjoyed herself. Afterward, I scrubbed her hands with germ killer and sat on the "big kid" swing with her in my lap. A relaxing time for both of us!


March 20, 2007

Yesterday, completely on her own initiative, Anastasia got behind her little train and walked it all the way across the living room, giggling. I helped her turn it around, and she walked it back and forth four times...and enjoyed it! She was worn out after four crosses, so she got down on her knees and "walked" the train across one more time, laughing.  I think if she could only be around other kids, she'd already be walking. (Another reason we so long for RSV season to be over!)

It's also fun to see Anastasia's mind maturing. My husband has an old, collectible television in the living room, and Anastasia likes to knock on the glass screen. This is always a "no," but now when I tell her this, she stops and considers it. Sometimes she'll move on to something else (especially if I distract her with a toy or activity), but sometimes she can't control the impulse to continue what she was doing. I've taken to thumping her hand with my fingers when she disobeys, and now all I have to do is head in her direction after saying "no" once or twice and she rapidly stops what she was doing. I can also say (again, after saying "no" once or twice), "Do you want me to thump your hand?" and she will often shake her head "no" and find something else to do.

She's also reached an age where she wants the same book read over and over again. Or maybe she always wanted this, but didn't know how to communicate it. Nowadays, when you lay down the book you've just read to her, she'll frequently pick it back up and hand it to you. (Her way of saying "Again, please!") I've sometimes read the same book five times in a row before she was satisfied, and each time, she'll study the book closely. Her concentration level and attention span amaze me.


March 21, 2007

Yesterday, Anastasia had a day full of grandmas. All her grandmas visited (my mom, my mom-in-law, and my husband's grandma), as did one of her grandpas (my dad-in-law). A busy, busy day, and Anastasia loved all the adoring attention.

She also said "onion" for the first time...repeatedly. She likes that word. And she made everyone "awwww" when she snuggled up to her daddy, tried to feed him a Cheerio, and said: "Dada. I love you." (Actually, it's more like "Ah uuuhv oo.")

See? She really can talk when she wants to! (Another example: normally, I'm "button," just like everything else is. But a few days ago she was frustrated with me for picking her up right before she reached the cat food, so she said: "MaMA!")

And, of course, we read lots and lots of books. One of her favorites now is Sandra Boynton's Blue Hat, Green Hat. It teaches colors and clothing names, but has a toddler's sense of humor by always having one animal (a turkey) put his clothes on wrong. For the longest time, Anastasia didn't get the joke, but now she's spending a lot of time smiling and laughing at the book. She especially likes it when the turkey wears his pants on his head and puts his shoes on as a hat.


March 23, 2007

The day started a bit rough. Just as I was about to take Anastasia from her crib this morning, she vomited. I cleaned her face and hands, stripped the crib and replaced the sheet, then dressed Anastasia. Just as I was fastening the last snap on her fresh clothes, she vomited again. I cleaned her face and hands, removed her clothes, wiped up the vomit on her new carpet, and gave her a bath.

She seems fine now, and I'm not sure whether the vomiting was due to reflux or something else. Time will tell, I suppose.

As she was taking her bath, Anastasia took the washcloth and "cleaned her ears." She's been doing that lately with toilet tissue, too. (Yep. She's finally discovered that oh-so-alluring toilet paper roll.) She's also taken to "brushing her hair" whenever she's holding something that looks like a brush.

She's been working hard on learning to pet the cat gently, and while he's still anxious about what Anastasia might do to him, he does generally let her plant her face in his stomach and kiss him. The other day, after she did this, she also placed a prized possession in his paws. (My wallet, which I sometimes let her play with.) Then she gave him another kiss...and took the wallet back.

Anastasia is standing so much these days, too. She really enjoys pushing things, although she doesn't do it too often yet. Her favorite thing to push across the floor is her highchair.


March 24, 2007

Anastasia was fine the rest of yesterday, and is fine today, too, so I suppose it was her reflux acting up yesterday morning. I'll keep my eye on that.

In the meantime, our girl seems to grow up a little more each day. This morning, she put three books back on the bookshelf, just the way I would (except the spines weren't turned out). She also figured out how to make her rocking horse rock all on her own.

Yesterday we had a great time in the yard. I held her while she explored the Dogwood branches (all nubby right now and getting ready to bloom), and then I gave her a dandelion. From the expression on her face, you would think I gave her the most gorgeous thing in all the world. She smelled it and rubbed it against her cheek, and showed it to her daddy, then smelled it again, then chewed on it a little, then gave it away to her daddy, then wanted it back...

I wish I'd caught on film the look of joy on her face, but to photograph her, I had to put her down. And when I sat her down in the yard, she became a little concerned - and so enjoyed her flower less. After I was done taking photos, she decided it would be safe to crawl off the blanket I'd put down for her. But as soon as her hand touched the grass, she pulled it back, made an upset face, and decided sitting on the blanket was a much better idea.


March 27, 2007

Many parents complain their toddlers say "no" constantly. I can't yet complain about that; Miss A. doesn't speak English very often. But she does shake her head "no" with increasing frequency. In fact, pretty much every question asked of her is answered with a head shake "no." (She can shake her head "yes," she just doesn't choose to do it very often.)

Here is a typical conversation:

Me: "Would you like some juice?"

Anastasia: [shakes head "no"]

Me: "All right. Would you like to go play in your room?"

Anastasia: [shakes head "no" while grabbing for her sippy cup filled with juice]

Me: "Oh, okay, you do want some juice. Here you go."

Anastasia: [violently shakes head "no!" while pushing sippy cup away]

Me: [with a little sigh] Okay. Would you like to help me fold the laundry? I know you love to 'sort' the socks."

Anastasia: [shakes head "no!" repeatedly, then grabs her sippy cup and takes several long drinks of juice]

Me: Would you like me to read you a book?

Anastasia: [starts to shake head "no," thinks better of it, grabs a book off the shelf, and hands it to me]

Originally, I'd intended to teach Anastasia sign language. (I was, and continue to be, absolutely fascinated that babies can communicate complicated thoughts through sign language long before they can actually speak.) But dealing with physical therapy, nasty reflux, and other health issues got in the way. I just didn't have the time or energy to delve into signing.

A few months back, a friend of mine (who keeps a great blog, by the way) mentioned a conversation she had with her young daughter about God - all through sign language. I thought: "I really should have taught Anastasia to sign early on...I'll start now..." Naturally, I never did.

But now I'm glad I didn't, because I think this child would never speak if she knew she could just use her hands to communicate! My in-laws like telling me this is genetic. My husband never spoke a word until he was over two years old. They say he grunted and pointed, and they went out of their way not to do what they knew he wanted, hoping he'd speak instead. All this did was make him mad...until one day he pointed to the sky and spoke for the first time. "Look at the bird!" he said.

So I expect as much from Miss A.

She's showing her toddlerism in other ways, too. Diaper and clothing changes are becoming more and more challenging. I've tried giving her toys that she only sees while getting a diaper changed. I've tried giving her non-toys (like a nasal aspirator or her comb), too. Sometimes this works, but mostly Anastasia acts like I'm trying to murder her. She twists and turns, screams, and even cries tears. Sometimes, when I'm just tired of using one arms to hold her down, I resort to changing her diaper while she's standing up.

But I delight in these stubborn toddler tendencies because they are so normal.

The early photos of Anastasia are still difficult for us to look at. Among other things, they bring back memories of doctors telling us all the things that would probably be wrong with Miss A.: cerebral palsy, risk of blindness and deafness, retardation, etc., etc., etc. The list seemed endless at the time. But today we can look at our beautiful girl and say there's nothing wrong with her. Sure, she has a little reflux and she's a tad behind developmentally, but she'll catch up soon enough.

And speaking of developmental stuff, just yesterday, Anastasia was playing with her Peek-a-Zoo, opened the door on the side, and removed every single block from the toy. That is nothing new...but then she quite deliberately put every single block back inside the toy, then shut the door. That is new. She played this game about six times in a row. Yea, Anastasia!


P.S. Some of you asked if I'm still sleeping through the night. The answer is, unfortunately, no. I'd go in at 6:30 am to feed Anastasia, and she'd wake up. Not a big deal, except that meant she wouldn't take much from her bottle. So I'm back to feeding her in the wee hours.


March 27, 2007 (part II)

Recently, I happened to bump into the Name Your Tune website. I was hooked instantly, because I when I was in first or second grade, my big sister Lisa gave me a record (yes, they were records in those days) of Captain Kangaroo singing a song with my name in it. I loved it! (Even though I got in big trouble for not wanting to listen to it immediately. What can I say? I was engrossed in my new...darn, what were they called? The art kits with plastic circles that you put a pencil tip in, then turned them round and round for a neat design? But I digress...)

So given that I loved my customized record, I was excited to find they are still making things like that. Name Your Tune, for example, sells CDs of popular kid tunes - and Anastasia's name is on their "available" list. (I still need to call them, though, and make sure they pronounce her name the American way [an-uh-stey-zhuh] rather than the Russian way [ah-nuh-stah-shuh or  uh-nuh-stah-syi-yuh].

But, being me, I had to also make sure I was getting the best customizable kids CD out there. That's when I found this great CD. I clicked on the music sample for "This Little Light of Mine" and Anastasia's eyes lit up and started "rocking out" in time to the music. So now I have to buy that one, too.

P.S. As I typed this, Anastasia stroked my legs with a brush, quite intent.


March 29, 2007

Once again, my big sis Lisa saves me! That toy I was trying to think of in my last post was a spirograph - and they still make them!

And speaking of toys, Anastasia actually used her Aqua Doodle for its intended purpose for the first time today. She actually drew some lines!

Most of the lines  shown in this photo were drawn by me as I tried to demonstrate.

Proud of herself!

In the wee hours of last night, after Anastasia decided she'd had all the bottle she wanted, her eyes popped open, and she smiled and blew kisses at me. (She doesn't do the hand motion for blowing kisses - only the blowing part - but she does know they are kisses.)

In other cute news, last night Anastasia was playing with one of my hair scrunchies. I quickly took a bit of her hair and put the scrunchie around it, thinking she'd laugh and pull it off...But instead, she got such a proud look on her face. She happily wore that scrunchie until bed time.


March 31, 2007

Anastasia is now pushing her train without any help whatsoever!

Previously, she would - on rare occasion - stand behind her train while I held onto it, controlling it so it didn't "get away" from her. She did this once or twice with her walking toy, too. But today, she got behind her train and walked back and forth across the living room without any help at all. (Except that I did turn the train around for her, so she could continue her journey.) And she did this for at least 15 minutes, often laughing and giggling.

Anastasia walking her train, all by herself!

I even caught it on video. First, take a peek at what Anastasia has done for at least a month now: Walk her train while on her knees. Then I combined several short videos into one to show you the second and third time Anastasia crossed the floor by herself, and then the same trip after a little more practice.

I was also pretty excited yesterday when she actually got a block into the right little shelf on her Peek-a-Zoo. It takes quite a bit of dexterity to do that!

I'm having fun watching Miss A's sense of humor develop. Yesterday, my husband saw us out walking while he was on his way home from work. Since we had errands to run, he just packed us up in the car and off we went. Anastasia thought this was very funny, and periodically throughout the rest of the day, she'd laugh for no apparent reason. I guess she was remembering how her silly daddy stopped us in the middle of the street and put her in the car.