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March 2009


March 3, 2009

I'm reversing my previous decision.  Back into diapers Miss A. goes. Not only has she not had a single success, not only has she developed a rash because she doesn't care if her panties are dirty, but I'm just too stressed out to deal with poopy panties...and I'm afraid Miss A. may be feeling too much pressure, too.

(Why am I stressed out? Too little sleep, all work and no play, trying to juggle working with child care with homeschool with housework...)

Nothing seems to really motivate Anastasia to use the potty, but I will continue to have her sit on it as usual. Diapers will just take the pressure off.

Of course, I am not a therapist, but after reading up on sensory disorders, I think Miss A. does suffer from a very mild form of it. I considered calling Early Intervention to have her assessed - and I still might do that - but I'm doubtful therapy will help her because she's quite functional. In our past experience with therapy, I've found it's difficult to treat borderline cases. Still, it provides a reason for Anastasia's potty training difficulties.

Little-big Zane never really got rid of his newborn rash; but now what was slightly noticeable on his face is often extremely noticeable. I tried Aveeno lotion for babies with eczema, but that just made it worse. Plain old Vaseline seems to help the most. The rash doesn't seem to bother him, but I'm glad he has a pediatrician appointment this week.

Oh, and Zane is sitting! Well, sort of. I have to get him in position, and then he leans forward a lot, but that counts, right?


March 3 (part II)

I can't believe I forgot to mention that Zane is rolling over now! The first time, he was doing tummy time with his daddy, and was so mad about it, he rolled over instantly. Then yesterday, less upset about doing tummy time, he rolled over onto his back again :)


March 4, 2009

See that new light blue box over there on the upper left? I'm excited to announce a new mailing list for those who are interested in learning more about Anastasia's story. Although I've shared a lot with you on this website, there's so much I've left out...Like how her extreme prematurity affected our marriage and our faith and, well, a whole lot more. I'm working now to get Anastasia's story published (did you know I'm a published author?), and will use the mailing list to give you updates and information about giveaways and contests and such. Please sign up today! :)


Anastasia, always trying to be as grown up as possible, has been giving us a bit of sass lately. Teaching a three year old it's okay for Mommy and Daddy to speak a certain way but it's not okay for her to speak that way is tough. I started by choosing a single phrase to describe the offensive talk: "Balk talk." Then, every time she back talked, I pointed it out and explained why it isn't a good thing. Once I was sure she understood what back talk was, I began giving her time outs when she did it.

But Miss A. is a strong willed kiddo, and time outs rarely have a lasting effect. So yesterday when she back talked me, I told her, "Uh-oh. You're back talking. I'd better go get your back talk medicine." A few moments later, I had apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon in hand. "This medicine will help you remember not to back talk," I said.

Anastasia took the medicine willingly. (She's had lots of experience with medicine lately, and usually likes the flavor of it.) She took it all, but then made a face. "That medicine is yucky! It smells funny! Yuck!"

After that, she did great until the end of the day. When she started sassing again, I said, "Do I need to get you some more back talk medicine?" She actually cried. "No, no! I don't need it!" I felt a little bad, but vinegar isn't going to hurt her and it seems - at least for the moment - to have made an impact.

"Look, Mommy! I'm a little black rain cloud!"

I've also introduced the poor child to the taste of Thum - that stuff you paint on a child's nails to prevent thumb sucking or nail biting. Miss A. falls asleep sucking her index finger and a few times she's awakened us in the middle of the night, crying because she bit her finger. Recently she developed a bad sore from this habit, and even covering the wound with a Band-Aid didn't help. So I painted her whole finger (and Band-Aid) with the yucky-tasting "nail polish."

I'm not sure it's working, however. The first night, she complained a bit, but by morning, she'd sucked the Band-Aid off. She now simply says the nail polish tastes "like Daddy's [Peperoncini] peppers." She might be developing a taste for them!

Oh! And a little brag. Miss A. sounded out a word - "bib" - and spelled it for the first time yesterday!


March 6, 2009

Zane had his four month checkup today. As we already knew, he's doing great. He's a little ahead developmentally (at least according to the "official charts") and is in the 95th percentile for his weight and the 75th percentile for his length. It's rather shocking to think 5% of four month olds are bigger than he is!

I also asked our pediatrician about Anastasia's potty training. She said not to worry. Typically, she said, there are two reasons kids aren't potty trained:

1. They aren't physically ready yet. (One clue: If they go down for a nap and wake up with a wet diaper, they probably aren't mature enough to use the toilet.) She said some kids aren't ready until age five. (Oy!)

2. They are strong willed and don't want to use the toilet.

I think Anastasia may qualify on both counts. The doc said to just keep her in diapers, take her to the potty without pressure, and nature will work things out.

Interestingly, about an hour after we got home, Anastasia came running in from the bathroom, saying she'd pooped in the potty. And she had! Clearly the conversation with the pediatrician had an impact on her :)

Today was also library day, which both kids look forward to. On Fridays, Anastasia spends all morning saying, "Can we go now?" And once there, Zane is awake and smiling and fascinated by all the kids.

Well, today Miss A. had some apologizing to do. Last weekend, my hubby discovered her sitting in a corner ripping up the pages of a library book. We were shocked; it was so unlike her! So I made her carry the damaged book to the librarian, explain what happened, and say she was sorry. The librarian was very kind. "You won't do it again, right?" Miss A. promised she wouldn't. (I also offered to buy the library a new copy of the book, but they said it was too old for them to replace. So I wrote them a check for $20 so they could buy some other new picture book. The librarians thought me the best mommy ever, I'm sure.)

So far, so good. Next it was time to sit and listen to books being read. Anastasia always has the best attention span of all the toddlers and preschoolers at story time, but she usually has her hands in her mouth the entire time. She's pretty shy. So this morning I painted her nails with Thumb, telling her it would help her remember to keep her hands out of her mouth. And voila! She didn't put her hands in her mouth a single time! (She claims she just remembered on her on, without tasting the Thum.) I was so proud.

Then we walked to the checkout desk and Anastasia waited patiently in line. But as I was handing the librarian my library card, she ran off. ZIP! She was gone.

I could hear her giggling, and found her easily. (We have a small library.) But I gave her the speech about how important it is not to run off ("If Mommy's not with you, she can't protect you and something bad could happen to you.") and said if she did it again, we wouldn't come back to the library next week. Back to the checkout desk we went...and ZIP! She disappeared again. I couldn't believe it. And when I caught her she back talked me. The librarians now thought me the worst mommy ever, I'm sure.

So...no library next week. Anastasia is already begging for a reversal. "See, Mommy? I'm being good!" But I'll stand my ground.

On the way back home, we bumped into one of Anastasia's NICU nurses. Since Anastasia's been home, we've only seen her once, even though we both live in the same small town. She seemed pleased and surprised by Anastasia's conversation skills, and delighted we had a fat, healthy full term boy, too.

Anastasia enjoyed the visit, also. She's beginning to understand a wee bit about her NICU stay, and has met several of her nurses. She especially delights that one of her NICU nurses made the quilt she sleeps under every night...


March 14, 2009

Before Zane was born, we knew that if we were blessed enough to see him be a full term baby, our parenting experience was going to be vastly different from our parenting experience with Anastasia. We knew this, yet we find ourselves in constant amazement at just how different it really is.

When Anastasia was seeing developmental specialists in the months after she came home from the NICU, they must have read some measure of skepticism on our faces. (Or perhaps it was that we rarely seemed stressed out about the state of our daughter's development?) I can't count how many times a developmental pediatrician, physical therapist, or occupational therapist told us, "You just don't realize how far behind she is because you've never had a baby before."

I admitted, begrudgingly, this was true, although to this day I believe most of the physical therapy Anastasia had did little to help her along. I think she simply was - is! - on her own timeline.

But now that we have Zane, I must admit I understand their concerns much better.

Zane isn't quite five months old, but he can sit up for moments at a time. He grabs toys and puts them in his mouth. He's a pro at tummy time (if I can keep him from rolling over). Anastasia didn't sit up until 9 months corrected age. Well after she was a year old, she still wasn't very interested in toys.

But the motor skills stuff surprises me less than the personality stuff. Zane is so alert, so full of laughs and smiles, so full of personality. At his age, Anastasia was still mostly sleeping, and it took her many, many more months (even adjusting her age for her prematurity) for her to show us much of her personality.

And so I find myself thanking God again and again that Zane is such a healthy full term baby - and that Anastasia has come so far.

Miss A. tries so hard to be a good big sister, too. Whenever Zane cries (usually because he's hungry), she tries to comfort him. I have to watch closely, though. The other day, she ran to the cupboard, got out a box of graham crackers, and stuck one in Zane's mouth "because he's hungry."

Actually, I have to watch her closely most of the time. Yesterday she was finger painting, and when she was done, I asked her to follow me to the bathroom so we could wash her hands. I told her three times, "Don't touch anything until we get your hands washed." But I let her walk behind me - and when I turned around, I did it just in time to see her bend over and place two paint-covered hands smack dab on the kitchen floor. During her subsequent time out, I asked what else she'd touched. I ended up cleaning several cabinets, my office chair (which sits in the living room) and a rug. Next time, she'll walk ahead of me!

Miss A. also continues to try to expand her vocabulary. Sometimes the results don't make much sense, but usually they do. For example, a few days ago she said, "That disgusts me!" When I asked her what "disgusts" means she replied, "It means it's yucky."

Like most kids her age, her appetite for knowledge is great. Whenever we read a story that mentions a location, she says, "Oh! I have to look that up!" and she runs over to the light up globe we bought at a thrift store (which shows not only the USSR but also East and West Germany).

Anastasia studying a puzzle map with her grandma.

It's interesting to see all the things I didn't think she quite get yet pop up unexpectedly. The other day we were strolling past a house with a flying flag and Miss A. said, "Oh, look! A 'merican flag! Can I have an 'merican flag, Mommy? Oh, only astronauts can have 'merican flags." She recalled that iconic image of the first American astronauts placing a flag on the moon. But before I could explain that anyone can have a flag, she continued her monologue: "Oh, but only boys can be astronauts." No one has told her that, so I assume we've only seen photos of male astronauts. I guess I better look up some photos of female astronauts!

So now, in addition to telling us she wants to be a doctor when she grows up, she sometimes says she wants to be an astronaut.

Zane continues to thrive. He's fattening up again, getting ready for a growth spurt, no doubt. A friend recently gave me some boy's toddler clothes, and I told her, "He ought to be wearing those next month." He adores solid foods and gets all wiggly when he sees them coming. Often he complains between spoonfuls because, apparently, I'm not feeding him fast enough.

I wonder if his eager feeding habits will have any affect on Anastasia. Maybe when she sees her brother enjoying certain foods she'll be more eager to eat them herself? For now, Zane's eating has inspired Anastasia to ask Mommy to spoon feed her occasionally.

A tea party with Miss A. She now pours tea from the elephant tea pot and only sometimes gets tea everywhere. In the background, you can see her current memory verse, plus a shamrock paper chain she made.

And now, an interview with Anastasia:

What is something Mommy always says to you?
Pick up my toys

What makes Mommy happy?
Taking pictures

What makes Mommy sad?
Not picking up my toys

How does your Mommy make you laugh?
By taking pictures that make me laugh

What was your Mommy like as a child?
You liked goldfish crackers

How old is your Mommy?

How tall is your Mommy?
Bigger than Daddy

What is your mommy's favorite thing to do?
Play with me

What does your mommy do when you're not around?
Write articles

If your mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
Riding my motorcycle

What is your mommy really good at?


What is your mommy not very good at?
Sweeping or dusting

What does your mommy do for a job?
Sweep the kitchen floor

What is your mommy's favorite food?

What makes you proud of your mommy?
That you can share my toys with me

If your mommy were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Mother Bear

What do you and your mommy do together?
Play games

How are you and your mommy the same?
I'm a girl and you're a girl and Daddy's a boy and Zane's a boy and Amos [our cat] is a boy

How are you and your mommy different?
You're a chicken and I'm an alligator

How do you know your mommy loves you?
You put me way up to your chest and I climbed onto the hospital bed and cuddled in your arms

What does your mommy like best about your daddy?
Daddy's motorcycle

Where is your mom's favorite place to go?

To church with me or to Jericho with me



March 18, 2009

Hearing your words echoed back at you from a three year old is a little disturbing. Talk about putting a mirror up to yourself! But occasionally, it makes me laugh. That was the case yesterday, when Anastasia was playing with some of my nesting dolls while I was busy on the phone. She knows she's not supposed to play with them, but she finds them irresistible - if she thinks I'm not looking. So I scolded her, and she replied, "Calm down, Mommy. I'm just decorating!" Indeed, by the time I was off the phone, she'd moved my nesting dolls to a different location, had moved around some candles, and had propped up several picture books in various locations around the living room.

Last Sunday, our entire family went to Mr. E's house and helped his family load up a U-Haul. Sadly, Anastasia's best little friend was moving away. Although we discussed this and showed her on a map where Mr. E. is now living, I'm not sure how much Anastasia really understands. As friends loaded up the family's belongings and Miss A. saw Mr. E.'s toys being hauled into the moving can, she often asked, "Why are they taking that away?"

There were so many friends helping Mr. E.'s family, it was the largest crowd Anastasia had  been in since going to the NICU reunion when she was two. She handled it well, although she was exhausted the next day. (Zane refused to sleep because of all the people, and he too was grumpy and tired the next day.)

I'm hoping that as the weather gets warmer and we start going to the park, the loss of Mr. E. will be less keen. Anastasia will have other children to play with, even if she may not be as close to them as she was to Mr. E.

I've pulled way back on potty training, by the way. About two weeks ago, I told Anastasia that once she was using the potty regularly we'd go to Chuck E. Cheese. Later that afternoon, she had a total meltdown when she pooped in her pants. Clearly, this was all getting too stressful for her. She's only gone in the potty once since then.

We've been working on other things, though. Anastasia finally figured out how to string beads with her terrific Melissa and Doug set. And we may have found a great way to make picking up toys fun.

I started training Miss A. the way the experts tell you to. I made her pick up toys (with some help) from the time she could walk. Up until about age two, she did a fine job, although of course I had to be very specific: "Put the pink dolly in the toy box. Pick up the blue book and put it in the basket." But recently, Anastasia has fought picking up toys. "But I just want to be happy!" is her typical response when I tell her it's time to clean up. Sometimes she'll say, "No, I want you to pick them up." Time outs, taking toys away, and similar actions seemed to have no effect on her.

So I hopped online to find a clean up song. I really thought it was a wasted effort, but I still downloaded a jazzy, Big Band type song (I found it here,  although the link isn't working just now). With low expectations, I told Anastasia we were going to pick up toys while the clean up song played. Not only did she love the music, but she was literally running around the house picking up as quick as she could! We've done this every day for four days, and she hasn't tired of it yet!

Little big Zane has learned a few things, too. He can now roll onto his back and onto his tummy. He's discovered his feet are good playthings. And he's taken to making high-pitched, pig-like squeals to entertain himself. (I keep trying to get these squeals on camera, but he stops every time he thinks we're paying attention.)


March 22, 2009

I seem to have food poisoning, so I'm going to keep this post short. However, I wanted to share two photos with you. My mom and her neighbor both loved the story of Anastasia and her "only astronauts have 'merican flags" comment, they both bought her a flag of her own. When she received them, she spontaneously put her drum on her head and said, "Look! I'm an astronaut!"


The photo on the right is of a bunny Anastasia drew on her Doodle-Pro. She's getting good! (The other day she also "wrote her name" on the back of one of her drawings. Normally, this means she makes a scribble, but this time, she actually got a legible "A" and "n" in there! This morning, she also tried to write her daddy's name. She got the first letter of his first name right, then made two "d"s--for "daddy"--too.)


March 24, 2009

Yesterday, we had visions of a hospital visit dancing in our heads. Miss A. hadn't had a BM in five days, the maximum length of time her doctor will allow before taking "further measures."

You may remember that Anastasia takes Miralax for chronic constipation. Lately, she's been doing really great and needing little or no medication. But then, suddenly, things stopped moving. We tried all the typical things, starting with upping her dose of Miralax, followed by dietary changes (which never seem to work, but I thought it was worth a try), followed by Fleet.

Miss A. has a real phobia about Fleet. Just the mention of it sends her into hysterics. So instead of bringing up the stuff by name, I said, "Honey, I need to give you some medicine." But somehow she knew where this was headed and hysterically ran away from me, sobbing. I held her and comforted her and managed to convince her to lay on the bed. As I gave the Fleet to her she sobbed--then stopped suddenly and said, "It doesn't hurt!" Well, that's true. Giving the medicine doesn't hurt, but it can burn when things come out. So I held her and rocked her for 25 minutes, to keep her calm. Nothing happened.

So I called our pediatrician's office and spoke to the on-call nurse. She suggested using suppositories, even though they are just glycerin, like the Fleet we use. So we scrambled around town trying to find some, finally located them, and then I administered them, again trying to keep Anastasia relatively calm. Again, nothing.

After a few hours passed and nothing--well, passed--I called the pediatrician's office to make an appointment for the following day. Not five minutes later, Miss A. had a huge BM...and without any pain.

Was she withholding? I don't think so. I think the "double shot" of glycerin must have finally done the trick. Whew!

We know some others who take Miralax do , from time to time, end up in the hospital with severe constipation. This is the closest we've ever come. Hopefully, it won't happen again.


March 25, 2009

The hubby and I were talking this weekend and we both agree Anastasia probably has ataxia. Some of you may recall that back when Anastasia first began physical therapy, her PT tried hard to convince us Miss A. had this disorder, which is caused by brain damage and is largely characterized by clumsiness and a resulting fear of movement. We thought the PT was nuts.

But now we see her point.

I don't think Anastasia would benefit from more physical therapy; if she has ataxia, it's so subtle her two other PTs didn't recognize it in her. But we, who know her so well, see that she is clumsy - and often (although not always) afraid of movement.

For example, Miss A. (who is now 3 1/2 years old) still can't really jump. If you hold her under the arms, giving her ample support, she'll sometimes get both feet off the ground. But she can't do it on her own. We really think she's just afraid to get both feet off the ground.

This isn't an earth-shattering realization for us, but it does help us understand Miss A.'s capabilities a bit better.


March 26, 2009

Zane is doing better today, but yesterday he gave me quite a fright. He was playing on the floor beside me while I wrote on my computer, making happy little sounds. I looked down...and my heart stopped. His face and hands were covered with blood.

Fortunately, it looked worse than it was. He'd scratched himself two times on the cheek. I put socks on his hands for the rest of the day, but even though the socks were soft, he rubbed his cheek raw. I'll be sooooo glad when he's past this stage. Poor little guy!