Tuesday, May 31, 2011

playing outside

I am going to go out on a limb here and say ...

This is probably not everyone's idea of playing outside.

But after months and months of rain (with only occasion days of sunshine), we have resorted to playing - inside a tent set up in the backyard - while it is pouring rain.

Yep, that's Natalie and her Little People and Princesses and wooden blocks and babies ... and whatever else she's talking me into bringing out to her ... all playing under the cover of a tent (which is about 16 years old). All the while the rain beats against the tarp draped over the top.  And it's cold, but she doesn't seem to notice or care. 

Killing time until baby sister wakes up from her nap ... when we will all venture out in the pouring rain to get a week's worth of groceries!  Good times, people, good times!

Developmental Evaluation

At the beginning of May, I contacted a local agency in search of a developmental evaluation for CJV.  She's a peanut - has been since birth - and, in my mind, she has experienced some delays.  I attribute much of that to her size.  At a year, her bone age was that of a 3 month old, and so it became apparent that expecting her to walk was just silly.  How many 3 month olds do you know who walk?

At that same appointment, with Dr. Fancy Pants, Charlotte was diagnosed "failure to thrive,"  which again points to her size and lack of growth/weight gain, but also usually indicates delayed development as well.  Underdeveloped bones attribute to lower muscle tone ...

Language has also seemed slow ... in comparison to her older sister, which is really all the experience I have to go on.  NHV is and has always been a chatterbox.  CJV is tough to figure out ... cute as all get-out, but a tiny little puzzle!

And so I made the call.  I listened to information about IDEA (Individuals Disability Education Act), which I was familiar with from my days as a teacher.  I rolled that word "disability" around in my head and decided not to dwell on it.  I learned about therapy options that would be available to Charlotte - if she qualifies.  Throughout this process, I've kept thoughts of doing what is best for my child and being her advocate in the forefront of my mind.  The idea of early intervention, if needed, gives me a sense of empowerment.

Well, tomorrow is the big day. Two therapists will be at my house at 9:00 am to conduct an hour-long evaluation of Charlotte's development. She is just two days shy of the ripe old age of 18 months!  I find myself up much too late cramming for the big test ... sifting through digital images and old blog posts to piece together a "baby book" of milestones and language.

And since I can't think of a better place to put all of this, I'll share it here ...
Physical Milestones
  • Finding Feet - 6.5 months
  • Rolling Front to Back - 6 months
  • Rolling Back to Front - almost 9 months
  • Sitting up - 11 months
  • Belly Crawling - 12.5 months
  • Crawling on knees - 14 months
  • Pulling Up - 15.5 months
  • Letting Go - 17 months
  • Cruising/Side-stepping - 17 months
  • Walking - tbd
  • Hi (waves proficiently hello and good-bye)
  • Da (clearly means daddy)
  • Ma (very rarely and I don't think it means "mom")
  • aaaa-eee (I think Natalie)
  • key-key (binky)
  • kitty, -t (cat)
  • Uh-Oh at 14 months
  • ba-bee (hasn't said this for a long time)
  • Nods head for yes (doesn't shake head for no)
  • Signs "all done"
  • Signs "bird" (all the time)
  • Signs "milk" (also to mean "more" - but not always)
  • Signs "book" (I think, but it looked a lot like clapping)

Friday, May 27, 2011

give her a book and a toy

Those were my exact words to Natalie.

Charlotte was a little grumpy just as it was time for me to start dinner.  So in the crib she went ... for some binky sucking and relaxing ... and containment.  I needed her to stop fussing and to stay put.

At the time, Natalie was happily and busily playing in her room.  Blissfully unaware.  I mentioned my plan to start dinner and told her she was not allowed to climb into Charlotte's crib.

As soon as I got to the kitchen and grabbed the ground beef from the fridge, I heard Natalie call down from upstairs ... which wasn't  necessary because I had the monitor on and could hear everything.

"Mommy, baby sister wants to play."

'No, Natalie, leave baby sister alone.  She's resting."

"But, I'm going to give her something to play with."

"Okay, honey, give her a book and a toy."

A lot of commotion in the monitor tipped me off that something was going on.  I dumped the meat in the pan, turned on the burner,  and headed upstairs to find ... this ... 

Apparently, what she heard was, "Give her EVERY book and EVERY toy in her entire room!"

I was so busy being shocked, cracking up laughing, and grabbing the camera that I completely forgot about the meat, which burnt to a crisp!  The whole house smelled awful and my dinner plans were effectively ruined.

Leaving us only one choice ... Chipotle!

Monday, May 23, 2011

friends and sunshine

After a very long and wet winter, we are finally emerging from hibernation!

May has meant more playdates and catching up with friends we haven't seen for a while. It seems everyone took turns being sick this winter, which makes playing together less likely to happen. So glad to be healthy again!

And the sun has been making for frequent and longer appearances. We have been taking advantage of the change in weather to get out and get some fresh air and vitamin D.

Friday, May 20, 2011


first farmer's market of the season

sad excuse for pig tails (i suck at doing hair!)
free sunglasses from some kids' event
natalie's favorite tanktop dress
mandated sweater because of temperature 

newly acquired, garage sale Minnie Mouse
scoop of heaven on a cone

being almost four is pretty much fantastic!

Monday, May 16, 2011

a girl with a plan

Sunday, May 15, 2011

what a month!

I realize I haven't posted much about Charlotte lately.

And, well, that's probably because I am too busy entertaining her, keeping her out of trouble, building up a tolerance for her incessant fussing, and trying to figure out how to get this child to sleep.

While she certainly has her moments ... 
adorable, happy, sweet moments ... like these ...

when she's crawling up the stairs, playing in the kitchen, throwing rice out of the bin, "riding" her new car, tearing up tissue paper, trying to eat cat food, emptying out the shoe bin, bouncing on the bed with daddy and Natalie, and just waking up from a nap, ...  

this past month has been tough, a struggle, a challenge, 
a test of my abilities and patience.

I'll blame it on teething.  Since the beginning of April, Charlotte has gotten four front teeth on top and four molars.  She has drooled and cried and fussed and whined.  There has been a fair amount of infant ibuprofen and almost constant binky sucking.  Her appetite was even curbed for a day or two.  And most recently, she's added teeth grinding to the mix, which is a sound I can just barely tolerate.

I'll blame it on frustration.  She is still only crawling and pulling up, but there is clearly a desire to get down and move around.  This phase - not-yet-walking - is so hard!  Add to the mix the fact that she definitely knows what she wants, when she wants it, but is still not saying or signing much, and you've got a recipe for exasperation on both of our parts.  She "screams" at me all day long, and many times I am feeling just as frustrated as she is ... plus I cannot even hear myself think because of the constant fussing (aka screaming).

I'll blame it on lack of sleep.  Charlotte takes between 2 and 3 hours to fall asleep at night.  She gets her bath (which is her favorite time of day), reads a story, rubs her eyes, has a yawn or two, tolerates my singing, goes in her crib, and then the party begins.  For a while, I assumed this was just her time to practice new skills like crawling and pulling up - but she's been doing those things forever and gets plenty of practice during the day.  She is not unhappy in her crib in her dark room.  Most of the time she's quiet and will sometimes chat and then cry out when she loses her binky or bunny.  But it takes hours for her to fall asleep.  And I feel frustrated and guilty ... because I cannot figure out how to help her put herself to sleep.  Ultimately, her good night's sleep is getting grossly short-changed.  She wakes up tired and grumpy instead of rested and delightful.  As a result her nap schedule has been a complicated as a Rubic Cube, which makes planning the day nearly impossible. 

Ah, my sweet Charlotte Jane, this has been a tough month, but I know we'll get through it, and you'll come out the other side a happy, walking, talking, sleeping toddler ... and perhaps I will have a few shreds of sanity left!

Friday, May 13, 2011

an afternoon at Clark Park

Another sunny day!  We are getting spoiled around here! 

We got a last-minute invitation to play at Clark Park ... that's the backyard beach of some very good friends of ours ... and just couldn't pass up the offer.  Not only did I desperately need to get out of the house, but also it's the best place to spend a sunny afternoon!  Thanks, Ashley and Morgan, for having us over to play!

 Charlotte loves the water!  
But she isn't crazy about being cold.

 Love CJV in her hooded cover-up!
This is the third season for NHV's ruffle-butt bikini!
And she has grown a ton in two years, which 
makes me wonder how in the world it still fits!

 Charlotte showing me a bit of "treasure" 
she unearthed while digging in the sand.

 Natalie and her best friend Cee-Cee
bravely jumping in the cold water ...
but only up to their ankles ;)
It did make for some good squeals!

Jordan & Charlotte looking a bit exhausted 
(and hungry) after all that sun and fun!

Same Age, Same Window

You know how I adore a comparison collage.  

My girls are so very different ... in many ways beyond their size.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It finally happened ...

There was a time when I thought Natalie would never be able to give up her binky.  Parting ways with the beloved piece of plastic seemed like an impossibility.  As most paci-suckers do, Natalie grew very attached to her binky.  It was a source of comfort for her in times of need, boredom, and pain.  At the first sign of a boo-boo, she calls out for her binky.  When the toys, puzzles, and books just aren't enough, she goes searching for that binky.  All is right in her world when that binky is in her mouth.

And for the past 1385 nights, she has relied on her binky to lull her to sleep each night.  The same can be said for the countless naps Natalie took during her three and half years of napping.

I'll admit the thought of giving up her binky was stressful for me, and I didn't want it to be traumatic for her.  I didn't want to take the binky or throw it away (as I did threaten on more than one occasion) or force her to give it to someone else or lie to her ... none of those things felt right.  But I did think about "it" a lot.  How would it finally happen?  What could I do to make it the least painful for her?  How many nights of sleep would we lose?

We've talked about getting older and not needing a binky anymore for a loooooong time.  I was convinced we could get rid of it before Charlotte even arrived - that was almost a year and a half ago!  Most recently, I helped her make the decision only to have her binky at nighttime - no more sucking during nap/rest. 

Last night.  It happened.  At bedtime Natalie could not find her (one remaining) binky.  Chad and I helped her look for it but had no luck locating it.  At first, she panicked a little.  She could not imagine sleeping without it, and she wasn't happy about the idea.  Chad did an amazing job distracting her with stories and calming her down.  After about 45 minutes of talking, I decided to go in and try to help.

I told Natalie the names of some of her friends who have recently given up their binkies.  Figuring a) a little peer pressure never hurts and b) I always feel better when I know I am not alone - that others have gone before me.   This seemed to boost her spirits some, and she even managed a few smiles.  To seal the deal, I chanted/sang, "I don't need my binky..  I don't need my binky.  I don't need my binky."  and made up a little dance to go along with this new motto.  Natalie had a good laugh at my silliness, and I convinced her to sing along with me ... she was very reluctant but did join in and smiled some more.

Chad and I made our exit, and I spent the next 45 minutes snuggling, patting, reassuring, calming, ... She never really cried, but she did whine and call me back to her room pretty much as soon as I left. She would say, "I can't fall asleep.  I'm having a really hard time falling asleep without my binky."  I told her that it wouldn't be easy this first night to fall asleep without it.  She would have to be brave and try really hard, and that I knew she could do it.

My winning tactic was asking how many minutes - 3 or 4 - she wanted me to wait before coming back to check on her.  I set my cell phone timer and came right back in three minutes.  I didn't stay long; just popped in to give her kisses.  The next time she said I could come back in 5 minutes.  Guess what?  She was sleeping before I even came back.  Of course it was 10:45, and she was probably exhausted ... but she did it!  I celebrated with a very quiet happy dance in the hallway and hoped it would last!  Twice in the middle of the night, I heard her tossing and turning and probably searching for her binky.  Both times she put herself back to sleep.

Chad and I felt so proud of her!  To give her closure on the whole "lost" binky thing - after all, we did NOT want her looking for it all day - we left a little gift and a note from the Binky Fairy:

I just knew you didn't need your binky anymore.  
I'm so proud of you!  I hope you enjoy the Moon Sand.
Love, the Binky Fairy

She was thrilled that the Binky Fairy had visited our house last night.  And she so was proud of herself, too. We called Mimi and Grammy to tell them the news.  Natalie also told several random strangers and our neighbor ... with pure excitement in her voice, "I gave up my binky last night!  I don't need my binky."

Chad and I gave lots of praise and hugs and kisses throughout the day.  This is certainly a change worth celebrating!

Tonight's bedtime was similar to last night.  Natalie needed some convincing that she could, indeed, fall asleep without her binky.  But, again, she did it!  It feels so good to be free of the binky burden!

Honestly, now that it finally happened, I can admit it was easier than I anticipated.  Perfect example of the fact that children are so resilient.  And testimony to waiting for children to be ready for change, empowering them to make the decision, and supporting them through it all!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Princess and the Pea

As we were finishing dinner, Natalie got up her chair and discovered that she had been sitting on a pea.  An observation that in itself got a good giggle.

However, CPV took it to the next level when he asked, "Is your butt bruised?  You're a real princess who sat on a pea, so your butt must be bruised." {you know, like in the story}

Natalie squealed with delight, ran into the living room, and proceeded to take off her clothes with lightning speed ... including her panties.  She then contorted herself in all kinds of ways in an attempt to get a good look at her bum, and finally shouted out, "Hey, my butt IS bruised.  Check it out!"

We got treated to a few more naked booty shakes before she put her dress up clothes back on and proceeded to take her plate to the sink ... without missing a beat.

Love that girl!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day

The sunshine has NOT been in abundance here in the NW. It has been a rainy, dreary spring with a very occasional ray ... I mean, day ... of sunshine!  Today was beyond beautiful!  Seeing the sun on the weekend is like winning the lottery!  The mountains were calling, and so we drove east to one of our favorite hikes, Rattlesnake Lake.  We did not attempt the scenic hike with the girls - this time, but we did have a picnic lunch by the lake.

Natalie was thrilled to finally be able to wear a tank top without a sweater on top.  It's the simple pleasures, I tell ya!  She even took off her shoes and felt the grass and muck between her toes!

Charlotte just wanted down ... to crawl amongst the muck and goose poop.  Oh, what's the mama of a very active crawler to do?  You guessed it, invest in some good stain treater and lots of hand sanitizer!  She was in a little slice of heaven all her own!
A little father-daughter bonding in an amazing setting!

And, look, there's even proof that I was there ... with my two crazy girls!
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