The Money Bunny as OT

One of Charlotte’s favorite things? Put coins in her “money bunny,” a gift from Gibby and Cynthia, the parents of her Uncle Hal’s oldest friend and her Bamma’s financial advisor.

We started this activity to encourage Charlotte to rotate her wrist, something that kids who feed themselves learn to do by this age.

While Charlotte is not technically delayed with regards to her fine motor skills, there are some skills she needs encouragement to develop. I thought of this for the wrist rotation. Charlotte loves it! She learned to say “bunny” in order to ask for one of her favorite books, A Boy and His Bunny. And now, she says “bunny” and “money” to ask for this.

Along the way, of course, she’s learning new words: penny, dime, nickel. And we talk about saving money. Seriously, you can’t start saving too young, can you?
See how happy Charlotte is adding up her pennies on the calculator?! She LOVES to play with buttons, and the calculator is her favorite button-pushing “toy.”

So, Gibby and Cyn, thanks for the bunny–you thought you’d help us save. You are. And you’re helping develop fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and vocabulary, too. Who knew a Tiffany’s bunny could do so much?!

First Hair Cut

Charlotte: “I’m not having fun.”

Mom & Dad: “But, you’re driving a Mercedes.”

Charlotte: “Seriously. Not fun.”

Keisha (hair stylist): “Look at Dora” (pointing to DVD player)

Charlotte: “Whatever. Waahhhhh”

Keisha is one seriously talented scissor-wielder. How she managed to cut hair, in a straight line, and not nick Charlotte is beyond me. Charlotte never sat still.

An hour later, all is forgiven. Ah, the power of a balloon!

Dentist Update

Charlotte had her second dentist appointment today. She loved the waiting room–all the big kids wanted to play with her. (I’m afraid she’s gotten a cold from one of the kids. He was coughing up a storm and though I tried to keep her away from him..)

She wasn’t such a big fan of the nurse or Dr. Charlie. Dr. Charlie cleaned her teeth. How, you ask? He covers his lap and then we lie her head on his lap, her body on mine. I restrain her. (This seems to be a theme in Charlotte’s medical care: I restrain her while someone does something she doesn’t like, something for her own good, of course. And I pet her and whisper, “It’s okay, baby. No one is going to hurt you,” while she thinks they are hurting her and I try hard not to cry.)

Anyway….Dr. Charlie gave us “thumb’s up” for our tooth-brushing efforts. And those gray spots I was worried about? Not rot. Just yuck. And all gone now that she’s polished!

Next visit sometime after her surgery.

Broken Record and Runny Nose

Our vomit-free streak lasted fifteen glorious days. Count ’em, fifteen. It was lovely while it lasted.

The good news: Her vomiting since Friday seems correlated to a cold. Why is this good news? Because it seems to us that the reflux is still very much at bay. Charlotte continues to eat with gusto, if not quantity. She is not gagging during meals or vomiting after them. Since Friday, her vomits have been exclusively 1-2 hours after bedtime and seem related to a build up of mucus.

And she has yet to spike a fever (fingers’ crossed and hoping not have jinxed us by posting this), so we are hoping this is just a cold with no ear infection. She’s has these super-silly bursts of energy followed by sneezing and sliming (use your imagination) followed by cuddling then more energy.

(Charlotte helps Daddy build her kitchen)
The bad news: She’s not sleeping too well because of her cold. So she’s taking super-long naps and not getting her full quota of calories each day. Because she lost about a pound from mid-November to mid-December and has only regained 10 ounces, we’re concerned about that.

20 Months Old

For Charlotte’s 8 month birthday a year ago, I posted A Day in the Life. As I recounted, it was a long day. Mostly filled with feeding battles, a trip to the doctor, and not a few tears. 12 months later, I can tell you that feeding Charlotte was a pleasure today, even if she didn’t finish everything. Every meal took less than an hour. There were no tears. No doctors. A day in the life of this 20 month old looks like that of most 20 month olds, I think.

So, rather than bore you with crayons, play kitchens and babysitting, I’d like to share 20 things you need to know about Charlotte in honor of her spectacular, challenging, irreplaceable 20 months on this planet:

1. Today is the 12th day in a row she has not vomited. A new record.
2. She loves to try new foods. Go figure.
3. New words she’s learned in the last few days: moon, hush (both in response to Good Night, Moon)
4. Other words she’s learned in relation to books: pea (Little Pea), bunny (A Boy and His Bunny), oh no (Ella Sarah Gets Dressed), bat and spider (A Very Hairy Scary Story)
5. She loves books.
6. She loves to color.
7. This weeks new food: grapes.
8. Favorite breakfast: Mommy’s special “applesauce” (applesauce with yogurt and cream of wheat)
9. She can’t really say “star,” but she’ll point at a picture and sing “up above” (Twinkle, Twinkle, y’all)
10. She loves to dance.
11. She knows how to hoot (owl), moo (cow), ssss (snake), roar (dinosaur, lion, tiger….), baaa (sheep), neigh (horse), oh-oh-oh (monkey).
12. But, she can’t say most of the above animal names.
13. While she can say meow and cat, she prefers to say Ya-Ya for both cat and meow.
14. She loves Elmo and Dora though she hardly ever watches them on television.
15. Her first representational play is all about pretending to eat, pretending to feed me, pretending to feed her stuffed animals. Again, go figure.
16. She weighs at least 25 lbs.
17. But her pants still fall down (she’s tall and skinny).
18. She’s kind and sweet and always perplexed when a child takes a toy from her.
19. She is resilient, smart, and very smoochy.
20. She can make me smile when I’ve got the mean, mean reds.

Charlotte, may you continue to grow from strength to strength.

An offical record

Today is day # 6 without vomit. This is, to the best of our recollection, a record.

Charlotte is eating more than 50% of her formula regularly (at least for 6 days) and today outdid herself in terms of solid intake. She ate a tablespoon of “applesauce” (applesauce + cream of wheat + apple yogurt) for breakfast. Then, at lunch she ate at least a teaspoon of macaroni and cheese for her babysitter. For dinner she ate a tablespoon of pureed ravioli, most of a whole mini-ravioli and asked for grapes for dessert.

She is starting to voice her preference for food–she asked for the applesauce this morning and chose the grape over cookie at dinner.

And, best of all (for me), she’s eating for other people.

My favorite quote of the day comes from our friend Eve who also babysits for Charlotte. She says, “Charlotte is so cute. How can you stand it?” I agree and I can hardly stand it. The poor kid gets smooched within an inch of her life all day.

One other note, Bamma started something this weekend–an interest in learning colors. Today, Charlotte asked me to get the crayons. She sat on my lap and colored for a few minutes. Then she showed me the crayons one by one and I told her the colors. Over and over. For 20 minutes. She started parroting me and by bathtime was saying “orange” and “green.” I’m not sure she’s getting the concept yet, but she sure is trying. Thanks, Bamma!

Happy New Year!

December 2005

December 2006

I hate to repeat myself, but as I said on 12/31/2005, “You’ve come a long way, baby!”

My yoga teacher, Geri Bleier, suggests that instead of making resolutions for the coming year, we take a few moments to review and honor the accomplishments of the past year. It’s a lovely way to look at the year–focusing on fullness and achievement rather than things we need to change.

What did Charlotte accomplish this year?

Mainly, Charlotte achieved a large degree of “regularness”:

  • She reached 25 lbs. (5x her birth weight)
  • She is 34.75″ tall
  • She turned one, of course
  • She has caught up entirely with gross motor skills and now receives physical therapy only twice a month. We’ll probably reduce that soon
  • She has increased her expressive speech enormously in the past 6 weeks. Charlotte has about 20-30 words that she speaks spontaneously and another 10-15 that she can mimic
  • She loves to color, dance and read
  • She sings, making up her own melodies and words as she goes
  • She climbs onto the couch and chairs
  • She’s starting to climb ladders at Gymboree
  • She climbs and descends stairs
  • She loves Bubba the bear, Mr. Mouse, Elmo, and all her pet bugs
  • She is simply angelically behaved in restaurants (even if she doesn’t eat while there)
  • She loves to play with balls and her stacking tubes
  • She graduated (in April) from her cranial remolding helmet
  • She loves to blow kisses and give hugs
  • She pushes my around the house and places me where she wants me

On the food front:

  • Just this week, she started again (since her ear infection and tummy flu) to drink about 50% of her Pediasure and eat several tablespoons of food each day.
  • She is eager and interested in food. This morning she ran to her chair and said “eat” when we told her it was time for breakfast.
  • She is beginning to consistently feed herself with a spoon or fork
  • Foods Charlotte likes (or has willing tasted): Macaroni, Spaghettio’s, peas, Cheerio’s, Cream of Wheat, applesauce, olives, boiled shrimp, potatoes, Wheat Thins, white cheddar Cheetos, homemade chicken soup, refried beans, cranberry sauce, strawberry sorbet, pineapple, grapes, dal makni (spicy Indian black lentils), curry sauce on rice, anything being offered as a sample at Costco. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m drawing a blank.

Like last year, Charlotte and we would like to honor the extended Team Charlotte who helped us reach this day with grace and some bit of sanity:

  • Laura Robson, Sara Karp and Cheryl Mercado–respectively Charlotte’s speech, physical and occupational therapists
  • Elizabeth E., Charlotte’s former case manager through Early Intervention
  • Dr. Luciana Young, cardiologist extraordinaire
  • Dr. Stephen Pophal, interventionist cardiolologist who has performed Charlotte’s angioplasties
  • Dr. Vicari and his amazing Orthotist Pat who got us sanely and safely and symmetrically through our cranial remolding helmet
  • The Feeding Team at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin–Drs. Beth Long, Ellen Blank and Joan Arvedson, ST Amy Delaney and Nutritionist Midge Kirby. Their advice and good counsel have gotten us through some dark, long, messy nights and with their support we know we’ll see the end of this feeding disorder sooner rather than later
  • My many online Mommy friends–all the wonderful gals (and guys) at P2P who have shared their wisdom about reflux babies, cheered our high points and lamented our troubles with us and also, but no less, Thida C. aka Waterowl who demonstrates gratitude and strength through every struggle that crosses her path
  • All of our wonderful friends who never think of Charlotte as anything other than a regular kid
  • Lakeview Pediatrics, all the doctors and staff, who answer our questions and assure us that Charlotte is as extraordinary as we think she is
  • The members of my writing group (you know who you are) who have encouraged me to keep working on my children’s stories, the editors who have asked me to post book reviews regularly on their websites, and my re-discovered film studies community who welcomed me back into their fold–by offering Charlotte’s mom an intellectual outlet, you’ve helped me be a better mom and wife

If I’ve left anyone out, please know that we are ever-grateful for all of your kind thoughts, your emails, your comments on the blog. We never take for granted the blessings we find in the love and support of our family and friends. And we are always moved when strangers find the site and post their well-wishes.

It was a rough year. In many ways, it was harder and longer than 2005. Charlotte lost her only grandfather before he had a chance to know her or she him. There were definitely days when I didn’t know how I’d make it until Charlotte’s bedtime and nights when I thought that if I had to clean up one more vomit, I’d lose my mind.

But, when I close my eyes and look back on 2006, all I can really see and hear are my daughter’s giggles and smiles, the kisses she blows, and the joyfulness that she brings to every day. It has been a full, full year.

As for me, I DID get into handstand, last March, and have enjoyed every upside down moment since. For 2007, I’d like to manage some arm balances. Well, balance in general, I think, would be my resolution.

Charlotte’s resolutions for 2007, you ask? Simply to fly through her next surgery with the same panache and resilience she brings to everything else. To turn two. To learn to say her name. To play in the ocean. And to continue to grow from strength to strength.