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November 2007


November 2, 2007

November is Prematurity Awareness month, and I've been trying to think of some creative way to promote it on this website. Instead, I think I'll keep it simple. Please consider these things:

* Read my past posts about Prematurity Awareness month, and how widespread prematurity is today.

* Check out this montage of Anastasia's first two, struggling years.

* If you're pregnant, read about the signs and symptoms of preterm labor. (Trust me. They aren't always obvious.) If you're not pregnant, send all your pregnant friends and acquaintances this link.

* If you know a preemie, consider buying a special Christmas gift for him or her: A Preemie Purple Heart. Purple Hearts are given to soldiers wounded in battle...so they make an appropriate symbol for preemies, too. Proceeds go to preemie-related charities.

* Make a donation to The March of Dimes, an organization working hard to end prematurity...and now also offering some services to families of preemies.


November 3, 2007

The cold, cold weather has us down. (I don't usually mind bundling up and getting out in the cold, but it's just too cold for me right now.)

Anastasia is bored. I'm bored. And I have very few good ideas to entertain her. So many ideas I've found are just too advanced for her.

Nevertheless, today we made our first blanket fort. Well, actually, I made it, and Anastasia and I played in it. She adored it. In fact, she got so hyped up, I had a hard time getting her to take a nap. The only trouble was, the blanket kept falling down; I guess I don't remember the best tricks for blanket fort-making.

Miss A. continues to say new words. She says "purple" a lot, but I'm not sure she can identify the color on her own. She also says "puppy" very frequently. (Great. She's already asking for a puppy...) Today, her daddy said "poppycock" and she repeated that over and over: "Poppy. Cock...Poppy. Cock..." She also said "please" for the first time today. (Thank you, God!)

The past couple of days she's been really contrary, and I told her so yesterday. "Do you know what that means?" I asked. "It means you've been saying "no" constantly. So...have you been contrary?"

"No!" She said, grinning ear to ear.

She does have a good sense of humor. :)


November 6, 2007

Whoever thought Daylight Saving Time was a good idea obviously didn't have small children. Oh yes. I tried to ease Anastasia into it, but no matter what time this girl goes to bed, she still wakes up at around the same time every morning. That used to be 7 - 7:30 am, but now it's 6 - 6:30 am. Ugh. Thanks, Ben Franklin. (Who just wanted to save money on candles, ya know.)

Our dear girl is such a little shut-in. This weekend, we made a short trip to a local store to buy an inexpensive bookcase. Miss A.'s books were overflowing from her bookshelves, so I figured it was time to give them more space. Anastasia was thrilled to go into the store with us, and when we started to pack her back into the truck, she said, "No! No! No!" and began crying. She cried all the way home (which was only a few minutes).

The good news was, she loved her new bookshelves. She kept pulling books from them, and wanted us to read to her the rest of the day! (She tries to put books back, too, but only succeeds sometimes.)

Then yesterday, I took her grocery shopping with me. I don't usually do this because of the whole RSV germ thing, but Anastasia's gone on short grocery trips, riding in her stroller. Still, this was only the second time she's been in a grocery shopping cart. I sanitized it very well first, and as soon as I started pushing her, she was squealing. She was so good during the shopping session (which was about 55 minutes long). Occasionally, she'd take something out of the cart and play with it a bit, but she always put it back when I asked her to. She didn't take anything off the shelves, either, and there was no whining. She enjoyed seeing other kids and babies, and spent a lot of time leaning toward me and making kissing sounds. (That's her way of saying "Thank you, mommy!")

Once again, she was upset when we packed her back into the truck. Poor little dear. I did set up a one-on-one playdate for her last week, and another for this week...but she misses all the excitement of the big playgroup.

Today, Miss A. saw her physical therapist. We were delighted, because Anastasia seemed much less cautious than in the past. She went up and down stairs without holding on to anything (or scooting down on her bottom)...a big improvement for her! The PT also brought a large, squishy circle for Miss A. to stand on. As you step on it, it moves a bit like a wave. Anastasia loved it, and had no problems walking on it at all.

Finally, the PT tried to help Anastasia learn to jump. Miss A. loves "jumping" in her crib, but her feet never leave the floor. She's really just bouncing. So the PT had Anastasia bend her knees down to prepare for a jump, then said, "Jump!" and pulled Anastasia into the air. Miss A. thought this was the best game ever, but she never did initiate a real jump on her own.

Still, I can see this is a game she'll want to play again. She liked it so much, she wanted to sit on her PT's lap before she left our house. Quite a compliment!


November 8, 2007

Anastasia's language skills seem to be coming right along. Every day, it seems, she says a new word. Sometimes they disappear right away, but sometimes she continues using them. New words include "off," "bubbles," "sorry" (not in context), and more frequent use of "please" and "help," and near constant use of "purple." She seems to understand what "purple" is now, too, and can identify the color if she's in the mood. She's also taken to telling herself "no" when she feels she's close to doing something she shouldn't. The other day, after I told her to put the phone book back where she found it, she said, "No, me! No, me!" She then pointed to the phone book and said: "Mommy's." Then pointed to one of her books and nodded. I said, "That's right, that's your book. And the phone book is Mommy's."

Yesterday, she had a grand time playing with a little boy who is almost exactly her age. I'll call him Mr. E. They were adorable together, hugging, kissing, laughing, babbling at each other's images in a mirror, even sharing fairly well. Mr. E. knows his alphabet and can count up to twenty, too. Part of the time, he was pointing to letters and naming them. I didn't notice that this made a big impression on Miss A., but it must have, as I'll detail in a moment.

Miss A. also met her first infant at Mr. E's house. She wasn't quite sure what to make of this sleeping, crying thing, but eventually Anastasia tried to share toys with her.

When that visit was over, we crossed the street to another friend's house, where Miss A. played with Mr. T. As you can imagine, by the time we got home, she was pooped.

Later that day, we watched The Letter Factory, which ties in nicely with one of Miss A.'s favorite toys, the Leap Frog's Fridge Phonics. We've watched the DVD before, but Anastasia watched it with special interest yesterday, and voiced many of the phonics along with the DVD. (A first.) That evening, she correctly identified an "H" and "S" (I don't know if that will stick), and she's been saying phonics as she plays.

Today, our Early Intervention coordinator visited. She brought along a waterproof tablecloth, small plastic storage bins, two dolls, some towels, liquid soap, and lotion to "bathe babies." At first, Anastasia was upset by all that stuff. She's been very tired because she's teething, and when she's like that, unexpected things really bother her. So she sat in my lap while we watched the coordinator bathe a doll. Then Miss A. was willing to try it herself. She had a grand time, although she mostly washed the doll's diaper in the water, and played with the bubbles the soap made. She bathed the baby a little, though, then "put it to bed."

Then our coordinator brought out some small, flat, foam sticky-backed animals she'd purchased at The Dollar Tree, along with a sheet of construction paper. She let Miss A. choose animals, then she got the paper backing started, so Miss A. could peel off most of it. Then Anastasia stuck the animals onto the construction paper. Before the coordinator gave Miss A. any animals, she'd ask our girl to say the animal name or color...and most of the time, Anastasia cooperated.

I've rarely seen Anastasia play so intensely with anything (other than books)! I'll definitely be buying some of those sticky-backed animals! (I just have to supervise, so she doesn't stick any of them in her mouth...although she didn't seem inclined to do this.)

Our coordinator is very pleased with Miss A.'s growing language skills. She was especially impressed that Anastasia says the "s" sound correctly. I guess that's difficult for a lot of kids.


November 10, 2007

Well, Miss Anastasia seems to have weaned herself off her morning bottle. In one sense, this is a good thing. I was planning on trying to get rid of all bottles this winter, if possible. But in another sense, it's not good at all. Unfortunately, Anastasia won't drink Pediasure during the day, so she's missing out on some good calories and nutrients by skipping her morning bottle. Too, she's not making up for the fluids she's loosing.

But there appears to be little I can do about it. I'm putting Pediasure in her straw cup every morning, but Anastasia turns her nose up at it. She still gets about 8 oz. of Pediasure in a dream feed, right before I go to bed. Which is better than nothing, I guess.

Words keep coming, though, which is great. She often asks the word for things (by saying "Ah-bum?" and pointing), and now when we answer, she'll frequently repeat the word after us. We offer lots of praise when she succeeds (and some when she just tries, too), and this seems to encourage her greatly.

I also recently tried to get Miss A. to string things. I can't offer her beads and a string because she still puts most things in her mouth. So, I read, you can try stringing Cheerios onto Twizzlers. That way, if the child puts the stringing materials in her mouth, it's no big deal.

You just peel a string off the Twizzler, tie a loose knot at one end, and string the Cheerios onto it. In theory, this sounds smart. But in reality, all Miss A. wanted to do was eat the Cheerios. :)   Still, I'll try again another day...


November 12, 2007

Lots of words! "Pease" (please), "hehp" (help"),  "all duh!" ("all done!"), "back" ("black"), "puh-pul" ("purple"), "woof" ("wolf," we've been reading Peter and the Wolf), "happy," and lots of words with "ie" added to the end, including "hossie" ("horsie"), "doggie," "duckie," and even "bookie." (I never add an extra "ie" to words, either, so I don't know where she picked this up.)

Last night Miss A. found a pea on the floor from a previous meal and she handed it to me saying, "Pea. Yucky." She's also started saying "ni-ni" ("night-night") at bedtime, which is just precious. And, to copy my poor speaking habits, she's taken to saying "k" now, instead of "okay."

She also continues to show us her strong sense of humor. The other day, I walked into her nursery and it smelled. "Hmmm," I said. "Did you just toot?" "Yeah!" she said with enthusiasm, then made farting noises with her mouth. Oy. (And she doesn't even have an older brother!)

Anastasia seems to be mostly over her fear of unusual or loud noises. Yesterday, my hubby gave her another of her Christmas presents (I know, I know, it's really bad): The remote controlled car. I thought she'd be afraid of it, and I doubted she'd be able to do more than watch her daddy play with it. But she loved it! She quickly figured out how to use the remote, and the noises it makes don't bother her at all.

But then I cut my hubby's hair. Last time we did this, she sat nearby and cried. Well, this time was even worse. She stood nearby, pushed up against the wall, her knuckles white. Tears were pouring down her face. We tried to explain that it doesn't hurt to have your hair cut, and that the trimmer is a little noisy, but it doesn't hurt daddy. Finally, I stopped and offered her a Winnie the Pooh, which she hugged and hid her face in a little. Then my hubby said, "It's just like when mommy cuts your nails. It doesn't hurt, and it just gets rid of extra stuff." This explanation seemed to calm her the most. Several minutes after I was done, she was all better.

Since Miss A. has given up the bottle (...that just sounds wrong...) in the morning, I thought I'd try a different style cup and offer it only at meal times. I went to the Dollar Tree (of all places) and found some cute animal cups (one is a lion, the other an elephant) that are short and squat and have straws. Anastasia loves them! They aren't well made, so I'll have to replace them soon, but suddenly she's willing to drink Pediasure or Danimals (a liquid yogurt) during mealtimes! Hurrah! A first! And, so far, this hasn't affected how much juice (with Miralax in it) she's drinking.


November 14, 2007

Today, I got all excited because Anastasia pulled out her shape sorter and put in all four shapes without any help at all. I was surprised; last time I worked with her on that (many months ago), all she wanted to do was slip the shapes in through the large opening in the top. So, of course, I had to take some video.

I also called my hubby to let him know the amazing things Anastasia was doing. "Oh, oops" he said. "She was doing that a month ago. I just forgot to tell you." Ah well.

It's been like that the past several days. My dad is coming from out of state to visit, and I'm noticing that my housekeeping standards have really dropped. I used to clean the house top to bottom about four times a year, plus extra times if company was staying over. Well...I haven't cleaned the house top to bottom since before I was pregnant. I did do all the "main rooms" right before Anastasia came home from the NICU - but not everything, top to bottom. I've made an attempt to clean top to bottom the past several days, but have failed miserably.

I'm just happy the kitchen floor is mopped.

Then I tried to make my dad some peanut brittle, his favorite. Okay, I admit, I tried to buy it first. But not being able to find it anywhere, I bought the ingredients and dutifully made some last night. I ended up burning it. Burning it! I never used to burn food! So then I had a dirty kitchen, a ruined pan, a stinky smell, and no peanut brittle. Oy!

This just seems to go with mommyhood. I will never look at anyone's dirty carpet the same way again.

Miss A. making a picture with foam, sticky backed sea creature shapes. The first time she did this project (with her Early Intervention coordinator), she just lumped everything together in one spot on the page. This time, she was very careful about placing each creature "just so." Notice how her hair is really looking better now, too.

Using the shape sorter.

My in-laws visited last night, and my father-in-law played the piano for Miss A. At first, she was a little afraid. (He can actually play, unlike me, who just plunks out a note here and there.) Then he played "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and Miss A. was hooked. He'd finish a song, only to have Anastasia reach out an arm and make her "more" noises. (She can say "mo" now...but I usually have to remind her to use the word.) This, after applauding and squealing loudly.


November 20, 2007

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to post. First, my dad was visiting from out of state. Then, my computer went haywire and I had to reinstall Windows XP. Unfortunately, when I did so, everything on my computer got nuked. Fortunately, I backed up Anastasia's photos and my most important documents, but I lost a lot of irreplaceable stuff. In the meantime, my desktop won't go online (it has a missing driver), but thankfully, I have my laptop!

I have lots to tell you, though, and as soon as I have a computer that can do so, I'll post some photos. Here's what's been happening with Miss A. the past several days:

  • Miss A. has a cute little tea set one of her grandma's gave her for her 2nd birthday. She plays with it quite a bit, but the other day, she brought one of the teeny tiny cups over to me as I was preparing my tea. "Do you want some tea,  too?" I asked. Anastasia said yes, so I poured a very small amount in her cup. I expected her to try to drink it there in the kitchen, but instead, she walked very carefully through the kitchen, into the living room, and then sat on the couch...which is where I usually sit when I drink tea. Unfortunately, though Miss A. tried to be careful, by the time she got to the couch, all her tea had spilled out :)


  • On Thursday, I taught Anastasia about butterfly kisses (where you bat your eyelashes against someone cheek). She thinks they are the greatest thing ever, and giggles every time we give her one. She's also been passing them out freely.


  • Apparently, I say "Oh, cool!" a lot more than I realize, because this is Anastasia's new favorite phrase...


  • She's also really interested in meowing. Usually when she sees a cat, but sometimes just for the fun of it.


  • She also likes to bark at dogs. (It kind of freaks them out...)


  • Since her birthday, Miss A. has answered "How old are you?" with "Two!" But while my dad was visiting, she suddenly started answering: "Six!" Of course, this cracked everyone up, so I'm sure that encouraged her to continue.


  • Yesterday, Anastasia said "poo poo" at around the time of day she usually goes. So I asked, "Do you want to go poo poo on your potty?" She said yes, so we went into the bathroom and took off her diaper. She "read" some books for a bit, every once in a while leaning forward and making kissing noises (her way of saying "thank you, mommy"), but after a while, she was ready to stand up and play. She went about a half hour later, in her diaper.


  • Miss A. knows the colors black, blue, and yellow. She also knows purple, but sometimes identifies red and pink as purple, too


  • As Anastasia rides in the truck, she's taken to pointing to things out the window and announcing: "Truck! Car! Bus!"


  • She's also doing really well with her phonics. It seems strange to know phonics for most letters, but not be able to identify the letters themselves, but that's what she's doing.


  • She's also saying our cat's name (Amos) a lot, although it often comes out "Ah-bus" or "Ah-bis."


  • "Night-night" is also a favorite phrase, and she's very interested in putting her stuffed animals and toys to bed by laying them face down on the floor or table and covering them with a blanket or cloth.


  • Miss A. warmed up really quickly to her grandpa this weekend, and within an hour, had turned into a little show-woman. I'd never seen her so eager to show off her "tricks," making animal noises, saying words, dancing, singing, etc.


  • My dad brought Anastasia a mechanical bird in a cage. It sings and moves when activated by a sound. She adores it! I also found it interesting that she remembers that my mom-in-law puts her birds to bed at night by covering them with a cloth. Miss A. keeps putting her bird to bed, too, saying "Night-night!" and covering his cage with a paper towel.


  • We took Anastasia with us into some antique stores. I told her ahead of time that we were going to look with our eyes, not touch with our hands. She did extremely well, and frequently called out "Eyes!" I suppose she was reminding herself not to touch! She did grab one thing - a teddy bear. When I told her we had to put it back because it wasn't ours, she very sadly said, "Yeaaaah..."


  • We also took her to a local clock museum, which she just adored. She's so great in public places! (At home, too, of course.)


  • I was almost embarrassed by how excited Anastasia was to go outside or get out in public. To an outsider, it would have appeared I never let her out of the house! She'd fetched her shoes and put on her coat eagerly, then stand in front of the door, dancing and bouncing. She couldn't wait!


  • But it was rainy the entire time my dad visited, so we spent quite a bit of time inside. Anastasia did play with some of her toys, but mostly, she wanted books read to her. She went from lap to lap, getting read to for most of the afternoon. I'm almost thinking books are becoming her vice!


November 21, 2007

Here's a wild thought: Anastasia was supposed to be born about this time of year, in 2005. If she hadn't been premature, she would just now be turning two!


November 25, 2007

Miss A. squealing in glee as the mechanical bird her grandpa brought her sings and moves.

Anastasia's been requesting more potty time lately - although all she does on the potty is read :)  Here she is on the 19th, just after her grandpa left. You can see how quickly she gets circles under her eyes when she's tired.

With her daddy on Thanksgiving.

Playing the piano yesterday.

Between her grandpa's visit, Thanksgiving, and a sort of playdate we had yesterday with Mr. T., Miss A. is one tired little girl. And she has a cold. :(

She's talking a lot more these days, and communicating really well. It's pretty easy to know what she wants and doesn't want now, and it's cute to see her sharing more reactions with us. On Thanksgiving, when her boy cousins got a little rough with each other, Anastasia scolded: "Nice! Nice!" And when the baby needed a nap, Miss A. went into the bedroom with her aunt and said, "Night-night, baby."

She's truly acting like a typical two year old now...Which, I suppose, should come as no surprise, since if she'd been born full term, she'd just now be two.

Astonishingly (at least to me!), Anastasia knows almost all her phonics now. (But doesn't only knows a few letters of her alphabet!) All I have to do is ask, "What sound does the letter 'A' [or whatever] make?" and she answers correctly.

Too, she can now correctly identify all the basic colors (red, yellow, green, and blue), plus purple (which seems to be her favorite), and black.


November 26, 2007

Today, Anastasia learned to say "hug" and has used the word repeatedly when she wants one. :)  She also said "Mommy's...helper." And she is, too!

Yesterday, her daddy was giving her a bubble bath, and was demonstrating how to scoop bubbles up in your hand and blow them. Some of the bubbles ended up on Miss A.'s face. This made her laugh. So her daddy did it again. And again. Until the bubbles ended up in her eye (not a biggie, as it was tear-free soap). Then, Anastasia said: "Nice!" (Nice," it turns out, can either mean "be nice!" or "that's nice!" In this case, the tone of her voice was definitely scolding.)

But she really made our jaws drop a little before her bath, when I was discussing with her daddy whether or not to give her one. I spelled the word, knowing that if Miss A. heard the word "bath," she'd go running to the bathroom door, all excited. Immediately after I spelled it out, Anastasia said, "Bath!"

Now, I know she can't spell. (Or can she???) So I guess she inferred what I was talking about by other things I said. (Yeah, that must be it.) Even so, I was impressed!



November 29, 2007

Have I mentioned that Anastasia has a sock...thing? It started about a month ago, when she screamed and cried big tears when I put some socks on her feet. I thought perhaps she was unhappy because I hadn't let her choose the socks...So the next time, I let her. That worked for a couple of days. But now whenever I try to put socks on her (no matter how cold her feet are), she has a fit. But here's the weird part: She also cries dramatically and says "Off!" when I put socks on! No amount of reasoning seems to calm her.

She's also developed quite a thing about tea. Whenever I make my tea, she holds up her tiny little toy tea cup and says "More?" Two days ago, I poured a small amount of tea into this cup before it was entirely cool. I warned her it was hot...but she couldn't wait long enough. She took the cup and drank from it. This caused many tears, so we had a conversation about waiting. Now, I wait until the tea is very cool before I give her any. She always asks, "Hot?" before drinking it, and she hasn't yet put the cup back up to her mouth. Instead, she dips her finger in the tea, then puts her finger in her mouth, saying "Mmmmm!"

Miss A. has also taken to pouring orange juice from her straw cup onto tables and other surfaces. The first time she did this, I was in the middle of an important phone call, and I thought it was kind of cute that she poured a little O.J. out, then wiped it up with a paper towel, as if she was cleaning. But then she poured O.J. on my office chair...and the piano bench. This is not just a problem of cleanliness. Her O.J. has her Miralax in it (which prevents her from being constipated).

A few days back, Miss A. stayed with a friend of mine while I had my teeth cleaned. It was the first time she'd been babysat in a place she's not really familiar with, but my friend tells me she did great. She never cried, although she went to the window a couple of times and said, "Mommy?" My friend told her that I'd be back soon, and Anastasia replied, "Okay," and went about her business.

That business included watching a little bit of Sesame Street (something she's never seen before). As soon as I came back from my dentist appointment, Anastasia said "Hi!" then started babbling about "Elmo!" She's hardly stopped since. (I guess Elmo may be in her Christmas future...)

Today, our Early Intervention coordinator visited. She said she was "way impressed" with Anastasia.  I let Miss A. recite her phonics (she knows all the consonants), then the coordinator laid out a Curious George game. First, all Miss A. would say was "George!" (she loves the book), but then she noticed it was a matching game. The board showed George with colored balloons, and there were cut out circles of matching rious colors to place on top of those balloons. It was a piece of cake for her.

So then our coordinator brought out a matching game where you have to look for details (not color) in the pictures. Also a piece of cake.

"When I first started seeing Anastasia," our coordinator said, "I never thought she'd be caught up by now...and doing stuff that's advanced for her age!"