Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Birthday to Natalie!

Taken by Maggie to show off her new piggytails
Miss Natalie-New is now two! She celebrated her birthday on Wednesday at daycare. (Reading between the lines = Mama Guilt.) But, I got there in time to see her eat the frosting off her cupcake and open her toy. Then, K, M, and I took her to Chinese for supper, as per her request. And THAT is where she REALLY turned two.

It's been a while since I've heard such a fit over something so small. Natalie refused the high chair and I was fine with that. But when I tried to put her in a booster, she was P. O.'d. Screamed like you wouldn't believe. She did win, in that she knelt on her chair through the meal (it looked so painful!) and I won too because I made her say, "no booster, please" before she could get off the booster seat. (Just appease me and pretend that I won, too, okay?) And fits like that have been pretty constant since then, over what clothes to wear, shoes to wear, which doll to take to bed, what to eat for snack or supper, even which hair bow to put in her hair. As a dear friend would say, Natalie just got her wheels.

The girl seriously never stops moving!
Makes getting a picture impossible.
But she isn't all sass; there's plenty of sweet in there, too. She has been giving the best hugs and kisses. And her giggle is just awesome, especially with the little bit of growl that comes with it. Why, yes, I said growl. My two-year-old daughter loves to growl. She growls in anger, in joy, when playing, when mad... she growls.

She also is really starting to talk. We have heard a lot of "Noooooo" this week with a few "yessssss" thrown in there. She's reached a stage where she loves to repeat whatever is being said, so we're trying to take advantage of that and boost her vocab. She'll say "wa-dat" and point to about everything. Phrases that are perfectly clear include "I want that" and "Ni-night" and all her sisters' names and "shoes" and "baby" and "juice"... all the important things.

The girl doesn't stop moving. I swear she even runs in her sleep! And, she doesn't like to walk; she just runs from place to place, like a little weeble wobble. One of my parenting goals was to get my kids to 2 without stitches, and I thought for sure Natalie was the one who'd break my luck on that one. But somehow, she's made it to two without stitches or a broken bone. Considering how she climbs and jumps and runs, it's amazing.

Healthwise, she's still in a cycle of illness-antibiotic-1 week recovery-illness. I'm just hoping in a month, when it starts warming up, she can finally kick this thing and get stronger. None of it's critical, thankfully, just colds and ear infections and the like. But it doesn't slow her down any.

A moment of shyness while celebrating
her birthday with G'ma S,
whose birthday was Saturday
She's also determined to be a Big, as Lainie puts it. Natalie helps unload the dishwasher (spoons, plastic cups and bowls), move dirty laundry to the laundry room, pick up toys, and set the table. It's not that I'm a slave driver employing child labor to ease my day... wait, maybe I am. Truly, she wants to do it and throws a fit if someone beats her to it. (Refer back to the second paragraph of this post.) She wants to play what they are playing, do what they are doing, and get what they are getting. I think it's a sign of things to come, for years to come.

Natalie-new isn't so new anymore, and she doesn't look like a baby anymore. I think of the changes coming in the next 6 months, the two biggest being a  move out of the crib and hopefully potty training. It reminds me to take the time to read one more bedtime book and snuggle one more minute. Because that minute is just too short.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In other news... 4-H

Saturday, Katie and Maggie participated in their first club 4-H days. First off, wow. That was exhausting! Even with my MILs fabulous help, it was just too much confinement for the littlest ones. Next year, I think I'll line up a babysitter for Natalie and/or Lainie.

Then, Katie started the day on a rough note, literally. She sat down to play her piano solo and misplaced her hands on "the big big piano." She even said she thought it sounded differently because our piano is out of tune. DOH! But, I was very proud of her. She played it a second time, flawlessly that time, and did not freak out or cry. Red ribbon.

Next up was Katie's demonstration on how to make a rag doll. She again made us very proud, talking about what she wanted to talk about, going through the actions. Only complaint is that she was awfully quiet. She is proud, too, of her first demonstration and blue ribbon to show for it.

Katie AND Maggie were both involved with their club's model meeting, which resulted in another blue. Kudos to the club leaders (adult and youth) for their pre-day organization and preparation.

And lastly but never forgotten, Maggie had her show and share. Basically, she stood up and explained how she made her painted jewelry box. She earned a participation ribbon -- no judging for such a young age group -- and she had fun. Fun, as in the signature Saturday-Night-Fever motion FUN!... the exact way she said it in her presentation, too. As I described to another mom from our club, Maggie IS my rainbow.

To make it a full 4-H weekend, we have our club meeting tomorrow and Katie and Maggie are scheduled for their program talks. Thankfully, they can just repeat their presentations from today, so it should be a breeze and they get more practice talking in front of people. Each time they do, it'll get easier and easier.

Who knew my girls needed practice talking!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lainie's IEP

Lainie’s IEP today was a hard pill to swallow.

I’m so grateful her teacher had called a few weeks ago and gave me the heads up that it didn’t look like she’d be heading to kindergarten next year. She doesn’t qualify for a para and doesn’t have the speaking skills or confidence to talk in a classroom full of kids. She barely talks in front of her class of 10 or so. As her teacher put it, “If Lainie needed help with something, she wouldn’t ask the question to get the help she needs.” That statement alone helped me be at peace with her needing to wait a year. No big deal, right?

But it is a big deal. That was the goal, to keep her on schedule with her age group, to try our best to get her to prepared for kindergarten on time. Three years of speech therapy, 2 years of preschool, so many learning games and practices and speaking stuff at home… but it wasn’t enough.The seizure-related damage won this round.

Well, today I feel like I got a second gut punch. Today’s IEP was a full assessment. It not only discussed speech, but also looked at cognition, OT skills, behaviors, etc. Any cognition delay or hesitance to play with others could be attributed to her lack of speech. But OT delays? Not so much. And OT delays she does have. “Significant concerns” I think is how the occupational therapist put it. And that hurt.

Then, Jay asked about her getting an OHI (Other Health Impaired) tag. That’s the same label my brother has. I wanted to scream, Lainie’s not handicapped!! But in some ways, I guess she is.

And then the idea that she’ll need help for years… oh my lord, it just hurt.

It’s not just a speech delay? She’s maybe not tracking across midline? Need for occupational therapy? Cognitive deficit? Long-term assistance?

Seems the seizure did a lot more damage to little Lainie than I thought. Seems the shadow of that horrible week will be looming for a while longer.

And yet, I have to keep telling myself, she’s here with us. We’re lucky she’s even alive. She has come so far! She is a determined little girl. She is a joy, she is happy, she is perfect. I know all this, I really really do. But right now, I guess I’m grieving my hope for her recovery. Right now, I’m readjusting my expectations for her, at least for the next few years.

So, what’s the plan? Preschool this year and probably next, maybe summer school. OT twice a month for 20 minutes each time. Speech 10 minutes 4 times a week at preschool plus speech twice a week for 45 minutes at K-State. One on one breakout time at preschool.  Maybe start some sort of dancing… the OT gal said that could help, too, and you know she’d love it. Medically, weaning from seizure medicine this summer for a repeat EEG to check for seizure activity and probably an MRI and/or CT scan to check for any concerns in her brain, maybe see any areas of atrophy.

But this weekend? The plan is to just have fun. Paint some nails. Watch sisters’ 4-H demonstrations. Eat pizza. And remember how lucky we are to have her here.

Lord, I would rather endure a million sad, painful meetings like today than to experience one day without my Lainie Sue. Thank you for the gift you gave us, and for the reminder of how precious and precarious that gift is.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Family Accomplishments

What did our family accomplish since Friday at 4?
  • Packed the car for 6
  • Drove to Wichita
  • Had a great visit with my parents. (Wish it could have been longer!)
  • Presented at a veggie grower conference
  • Finished valentines for Monday
  • Ate lunch with Jay's parents and his grandmother (Also too fast, too short!)
  • Worked on Katie's 4-H presentation
  • Nearly finished my class presentation
  • Studied for an entrance RN exam (I'm taking it tomorrow!)
  • Finished a final project and final paper (That's the end of Jay's class!)
  • Cleaned the house
  • Called friends, family and neighbors to ask for help to ...
  • Fed those friends and neighbors who could stick around for supper
  • Unstuck those who got stuck in the mud
  • Made a life-changing decision... I think. Maybe. More on that later.
  • Patched a split lip and treated an allergic reaction that lasted 2 days, AND
  • actually did spend some quality family time together in there somewhere
Things will settle down soon. Really, it will. Maybe. In May.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Need some help

As most of you probably already know, Maggie can't have sugar. That is to say, her body just can't process table sugar like the rest of us can. Fructose (fruit sugar) doesn't cause her any problems, but if she eats a high sugar food or eats many low sugar foods, she gets stuffed up, coughing, allergic response, slight swelling in her face, and horrible, BD-type behavior.

She knows this, but she's 7. And impetuous. Three weeks (or so) ago, she snuck high sugar foods and, as a result, coughed day and night for week, had troubles at school and home, was stuffed up, tired, achy. It wore off in about a week. Two weeks ago, she did it again, with the same result. You'd think she'd learn, right?

Tonight, I caught her mid-sneak. It was just peanut butter, which I don't restrict much. But going at a jar of peanut butter, with a spoon, in the dark, when you are supposed to be in bed, and jumping when she got "caught", means she at least thought it was a taboo food.

And this, just minutes after talking to her about Valentine's Day and how she absolutely must not eat the candy at school and MUST bring it home to exchange with some of her favorite, non-sugary treats and her promising. But now, I don't know if I trust her to not sneak it at school or on the bus or both.

So what do I do? What would you do? Let her try to do the right thing and try to trust her to not eat the candy? Risk her shocking her body into sickness again, at the risk of having to up her asthma medication? Treat her with prophylactic allergy meds just in case, even if they "dope" her up? Restrict her from even attending the Valentine's Day party? Ask the teacher to take away all Maggie's Valentine's and have Jay or I stop by the school to pick them up, so she can get the cards but not the candy?

Seriously, I need some advice here. What would you do? And how else can we get it across the Mags that, for her, sugar is toxic... at least for now.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On the docket

I have a crazy couple weeks ahead of me. I would almost say this will be the hardest part of the semester, but I'm guessing time will prove me wrong on that one.

On Monday, we have the fourth and final test for our Med-Surg class.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I have a.m. clinicals in Beloit, leave at pre-crack-of-dawn.
On Tuesday, I'll get back to Clay Center just in time to pick up Lainie and take her to speech, and won't get home around 6:30.
On Wednesday, the girls have activities that'll keep me running until at least 7. I'm hoping to go to bed around then, except...
On Thursday, we have our Med-Surg ATI. It's like a final for the class, except it's a standardized test. Must pass with 80% or higher or you're out.
And the following Monday, I am taking the test that'll be the deciding factor on if I get to go to RN school next year.

So, no Super Bowl for me. I will be spending Sunday afternoon and evening studying my tail off. Why not Saturday? Because Saturday is my mommy day and Jay's garden day. Because my girls and I are going to run errands and prepare 4-H stuff and clean house and do laundry and hopefully paint nails and all that stuff. Because when I told Natalie that tomorrow was a Mommy Day, she clapped her hands and laughed for joy.

At least I hope it was joy. Maybe she was just cogitating her next evil plan.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Overheard on a snow day

From Katie

"The long-haired cats are shunning Lily because she doesn't have as good a coat as them."

"Should I go help daddy bring in wood? Do I HAVE to go help daddy bring in wood? Can't I just watch from here and be supportive?"

"You're going down to the ground like a rock in the river, missie Mommy!" to me during a Wii battle.

From Maggie:

"You're not nursing home old; you're just not school-young." to me, more age trash-talking

"Lainie and I are fairies, but Katie is just evil..."

"Lainie, you are being a horrible student. You are NOT listening to me!" while playing school



"We're going on a bear hunt..."

"I am a big. Natalie likes to stay a baby."

"No, Natalie! No, Natalie! No, Natalie!"


"My baby!"

"My necklace!"

"My turn!"