Sunday, December 28, 2014

Clara's Friend Birthday

Clara turned four! We haven't quite figured out a defined frequency for friend parties, but I figured that since I was feeling up for it and Clara wanted it we'd go ahead and do one.  Clara has been obsessed with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for several months and we listen to the soundtrack several times a day.  A few weeks ago, she woke up in the morning and came running out of her room announcing that she wanted to have a Joseph party.

We decided to go with a technicolor theme (I use the word theme loosely), and had lots of fun getting everything ready. First up, invitations.  For me, this part is the most fun. I designed the invites and Clara designed the envelopes.

Decorations consisted of crepe paper and balloons. Easy peasy, and when you're four, balloons double as entertainment.

I had an idea for the kids to color Joseph's coat as they came in the house.  I was going to sketch a cartoony Joseph on butcher paper.  But my mom had an even better idea - make Clara her own little dreamcoat for her friends to color as they came in.  It was darling!  I sketched out a quick pattern and my mom serged the edges in one quick afternoon.  It turned out so cute and the kids had a great time coloring it.

For activities, we did a little bowling for rainbow pins game, and painting technicolor masterpieces.

Then we had a quick snack, some birthday cake, and opened presents.  The cake didn't work out how I had hoped, but I was totally fine with it (and Clara was too!).

Andrew didn't want to be in the picture, but here are Clara's cute little friends from Primary.  She was a little anxious about opening presents.  She told me later that she was nervous because she "didn't want to be disappointed."  I'm pretty sure most children that young aren't so in tune with their feelings, but Clara's always had a lot of self awareness.

Clara had a lot of fun and is so lucky to have a great group of sweet friends to grow up with! We love our little four year old!

Christmas 2014

We had a really wonderful Christmas this year.  We had about 10 days of staggered illness up until Christmas Eve (lots of vomit), but the when we woke up on Christmas morning everyone was [pretty] healthy.  A Christmas Miracle!
Spencer and I woke up around 7:30 and just laid around waiting for Clara to come in and get us.  It was finally about 8:30 when she did.  I was surprised that her footsteps were so typical.  The door opened from her bedroom and she scampered right into ours - no pause to look at the lights, no dash straight out to the tree.  I wondered if she had forgotten that it was Christmas morning, but she remembered.  We opened a few gifts, had a nice breakfast, opened more gifts and enjoyed the first snow of the season. Yep - we had a White Christmas!

Clara was super excited to find her trampoline (from Grandma Margie and Grandpa Brent) and ran straight to it saying, "Mom!  Look!  A trampoline for Betts!"  It was super cute.  She was completely enthralled with all of her gifts and gave enthusiastic shouts all day long like, "This is AWESOME!" or "My robot is just FANTASTIC!" She was thrilled at the orange in the bottom of her stocking and shoved it in my face, "Mom, just smell it!" Christmas Oranges has become one of our favorite Christmas books this season and she actually fell asleep as I read it to her on Christmas Eve (dare I say, another Christmas Miracle?!).

Betty was pretty zoned out for most of the morning and didn't really engage with any of her new toys, though she did enjoy some of the mylar wrapping.  Clara was great to help Betty unwrap her presents, and offer to let Betty unwrap some of hers too.

In the late afternoon we joined both sets of parents and Aunt Carol at the Evans' home for a lovely Christmas dinner and more presents!  We definitely feel blessed this Christmas to have all of our needs (as well as lots of wants) met - to be warm, healthy, safe and comfortable. And to have this sweet little family to share it all with!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Betty. Right Now.

I've always wanted to be good about documenting my children and their development.  I wrote each week for Clara's first 52 about what she was doing at that time and I took weekly photos, then monthly photos after she turned one.  I knew that a second child could prove a little harder to keep up with, so I settled in to a monthly summary with a monthly photo shoot.

But then, after a few short months with Betty, things got kind of hard.  The months started to look so similar.  Progress was so subtle.  So I stopped recording.  And now, of course, I totally regret it.  Betty has come so far in the past year, and I've hardly written a thing about all of her growth and development!  I make myself feel better by noting that we have summaries of her development from every early intervention visit (a few a week), but still.  I'm here to give a hearty update.

At 22.5 months Betty:

-Can SIT unassisted for several minutes!  So many minutes that I don't even look at the clock anymore.  And I even feel comfortable leaving her for a few minutes to grab something from another room. She can sit and manipulate toys with both hands, reach across her midline for a toy (with some coercion), and reach up for a toy.  She can't get herself into or out of sitting position by herself, but very cutely braces herself for a fall - squinting her eyes, tucking her chin and going to the side as much as possible.
-ROLLS everywhere.  She's been a solid roller for a few months and can reliably roll tummy to back and back to tummy.  Her most favorite destination currently is the Christmas tree, where she can bat at low hanging ornaments with hands and feet.  She also loves to roll herself under furniture and get stuck there.

-Takes a few STEPS and BUNNY HOPS in her gait trainer.  We work on gait training every day and the progress is slow, but it's coming.  We have all the inserts and handle bar (for me) in right now, and if I push her, she'll do some reciprocal stepping or bring her feet back in front of her in a bunny hop, but it's not at a "walking" pace yet.  She wears cute pink DAFOs and Converse All Stars.  We're hoping to wear out the tread a bit on the shoes some day. She loves to untie her shoes.

-Can BEAR WEIGHT and enjoys supported standing.  We do lots of stander time, and I think it's really helping!  She can't stand (at a couch for example) without some help yet, but she's getting there.  Her braces really help with this too.

-EATS like a bear!  I'm so thankful for her hearty appetite!  She eats just about everything without hesitation.  Her oral motor skills have come a long way and she's chewing foods really well now.  She feeds herself with her hands and does NOT like being spoon fed.  She wants to do things herself.  Drinking is still a struggle.  She drinks from a straw or a cup, but either way most of the liquid comes back out.  We've been working on this for many months.

-Wakes up HAPPY! Betty's happiest time is when someone comes in her room to get her from her crib.  She squeals in delight, kicks, claps, and smiles!  It's so rewarding.

-Has ZERO stranger anxiety.  She'll happily go to anyone for any period of time.  This probably sounds like the dreamiest thing ever to any mom who has struggled to have anyone watch their kids or drop them off at nursery.  But it can be kind of hard.  I know she knows me and our family, but sometimes I want her to show me a little more. (I may regret saying that)

-CLAPS and gets excited when other people clap.

-PUSHES UP on her arms when on her tummy.  Those little arms are getting stronger all the time.  She will also push up on hands and knees and rock front to back.  I couldn't dream of her doing these things a year ago.

-VISUALLY TRACKS objects and reaches for them.  She still doesn't use vision to find dropped objects (her sense of touch is pretty incredible though and her hands often go straight to the things she drops without missing), but she is using her vision so much more.  She will track side to side, up and down.  There are definitely still times that she zones out visually (especially when tired or overstimulated), but her vision has improved by leaps and bounds.

-TURNS PAGES in books.  She still has a hard time sitting and listing to and looking at books during a story, but if we give her a book of her own, she enjoys turning the pages.

-SLEEPS pretty well most nights, wakes fairly early (usually b 6:00).  A lot of PSS kids have erratic sleep patterns, and Betty's no exception.  We wonder a lot just how much she actually sleeps. Sometimes we'll go in before bed to check on the girls and Betty will be laying there quietly sucking her thumb (eyes open).  She'll also typically have 1-2 good weeks of sleep and then 1-2 weeks of disrupted sleep.

-Is getting a lot more VOCAL.  She's getting more opinionated (especially about food.  Mostly wanting it.  Right. Now.) and finding her voice.  She does some "singing" and makes lots of great sounds "bee, bo, bah, mau, fffff, mama, da, ra" are some that come to mind.  Plus she's a squaker extraordinaire.

We LOVE Betty so much.  I'm so thankful for the joy she brings to our family and the progress she is always making.  She's a sweet, snuggly, content little girl!  I really feel so blessed to be her mama.  Her cute personality is shining through more all the time and we just love her to pieces.

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