Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wow. It's been quite a while since I updated Florence's blog. I laugh when I see the Twinkle video because she has come such a long, long way since then. She is now 2 3/4, and she not only can sing that song all by herself (and does, quite regularly), she also sings ABCD, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Goodnight Florence (Goodnight Ladies from Music Man), the Wonderpets theme song, and much, much more. Her language skills have really come along - she is as articulate as my 5 year old. We really have to be careful what we say about her since she will repeat it - and usually in the same tone. It's kind of scary to hear sarcasm so clearly in a two-year old.

She is now 2 1/2 years post-op, and to me, is smarter and more beautiful everyday. While she does still have a lumpy head in some places, her forehead has really smoothed out. She still has a tiny line along the right side where they moved her metopic ridge during the surgery, but it's barely noticeable. We will go to visit her neurosurgeon next, but since she's only yearly visits now, it won't be until somewhere in January or so. We'll have to chase him down since he has moved from Phoenix Children's Hospital where we had our surgery to Cardon's Children Hospital here in Mesa (Yay! A specialist here in town!). In the meantime, we are very pleased with how she looks and, more importantly, how well she is developing and meeting all her milestones.

She is now, for all practical purposes, potty trained. She makes it through nap, though I still give her a pamper to wear at night, mostly because I don't want to have to get up in the night to change sheets. Her cousin who is close to the same age actually gets up in the night to pee, but I don't see Florence doing that yet. My kids sleep too deep. In fact, we are still waking the 5 year old up before we go to bed to make sure he stays dry. Florence just moved into her big girl bed. When Grandma was visiting, she helped us get some bunkbeds for the girls to sleep in. We opted for the full on the bottom so that we could easily accommodate guests and Florence looks tiny sleeping in that big bed. She absolutely loves being able to get herself up when she's done sleeping - me, not so much. The sun is still coming up pretty early, so she wakes up early. Fortunately, she does seek me out in bed if I'm not up already rather than go to the kitchen and make her own breakfast. It probably just hasn't occurred to her yet. She has also enjoyed coloring, but now she likes it so much, she'll do it for hours if I don't interrupt. The peace and quiet at home and the calm at our various activities (karate, doctor visits, etc) make the money I spend on Elmo coloring books totally worth it. She still scribbles, but you can see that her scribbles follow the lines of the pictures.

She loves to read books. In fact, I'm attaching a video of her "reading" her favorite book "Let's go Hippo". We videotaped it to give to her cousin for her birthday. But Florence got a big kick out of making the video and especially enjoys watching it. She is her own biggest fan.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Twinkle twinkle

Florence loves to sing. Here she is singing one of her favorites: Twinkle Twinkle little star with a little help from mom...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Florence!!

Florence is officially two. Granted, she adopted the "terrible two" behavior about 4 months ago, but now we're into the heat of it. Truthfully, she can plank out and throw the best fit of anyone I know, but for the most part, she is sweet and smart and funny.

Her language skills have exploded the last few weeks. She is really starting to build sentences and use her words more for communication. Sure, a lot of her phrases are of the "terrible two" variety: "I don't want it", "give it back", "leave me alone", "stop it" or my latest favorite "I'm not talking to you!". She copies everything she hears in case it can come in useful later on. For example, after my dad was visiting over Thanksgiving, she kept saying "I need another beer." But for the most part, she really understands everything and knows what she wants. She's specific about breakfast meals, she knows what she likes at McDonalds (I want cheesyburger).

She is very affectionate. She's adopted Alex's request for "huggies" everytime one of us leaves to go somewhere, or when she's sad, or in the middle of dinner just because. She also occasionally asks for "kisses". She gives sweet kisses with a very relaxed face, eyes half closed and mouth coming slowly towards you...I think Grandma let her watch too much "All my children" while she was visiting.

Her birthday was on Thanksgiving this year. We decided to have a separate party for her on a different day - after all, who wants Elmo cake when there's pumpkin and pecan pie. We gathered all her cousins at our house on Saturday morning and had Chick-fil-a and birthday cake. We even did a little surgrey on last year's elmo pinata and were able to reuse it. Last year, everyone pulled the little ribbons to open the candy door. This year, we used the bat. She got lots of wonderful toys. I think her most favorite has been the Magnadoodle. She had been carrying around one of our old nasty ones for weeks, so I requested a new one from one of her aunts. Even though she has to fight Alex for it sometimes, she loves to play with it. She also got some new Mr. Potato head parts (this one is Alex's favorite!), some new Ariel pajamas, an Elmo shape see-n-say, and a new big girl pillow. Very spoiled. The weather was beautiful - there's not too many places you can have an outdoor party in November, but here, it was gorgeous. Everyone had a good time climbing on the swingset and the dome climber, drawing with sidewalk chalk and just hanging out.

We saw both her pediatrician and her cranio-facial surgeon recently for appointments. Both are very pleased with her progress. She weighed 24.5 lbs, and was 35 inches high. According to the ped, she is hanging onto the 25% in weight and nearly 75% in height. She does have a little bellybutton hernia that we are watching, but they won't make any decisions about that until she is 5. Her CFS thought she looked beautiful. All her skull has filled in the way it's supposed to and while she still has some bumps, those will continue to smooth out as her skull continues to thicken. But the main thing is that she is on track developmentally and that her brain has plenty of room to grow. At this point, we only see the doctors every other year until she is 5. Yay.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

1000, baby!!!

I just reached my 1000th post on my cranio support group website and I realized it's been a while since I updated on my craniokid.

We are now 18 months out from her surgery. As I read stories from the new cranio moms, I remember all of the concern and worry we had as we first heard our diagnosis, did research and ultimately handed over our 4 month old to have her skull reconstructed. There are so many on our site that are "wait and see" that, as horrific as the surgery was, I was grateful for not having any choice. I remember praying, "God, please hit me over the head with the answer. I can't do this by myself". Now that we are this far "on the other side", as we like to say, I know that we did the right thing for her. You never stop worrying, of course. You're constantly checking her out: "are her eyes even?", "was this bump here yesterday?", "are her ears level?", "is the browline pinching again?" Florence looks good, even when I stare hard at her, looking for worrisome flaws. Her "soft spot" is hard and raised, but you can't see that because of her hair (yay! we're finally getting some hair, beautiful, curly, strawberry blond hair!) and the neurosurgeon at her one year checkup reassured us that was within the normal range. I read about kiddos that have extraneous soft spots remaining after surgery or other issues, and I feel so blessed with how Florence has done. Every once in a while, a behavior will rear its ugly head and you can't wonder if her brain is being affected. For example, she tends to get obsessed with something and lock onto it. For most kids, you might just say, she's trying to control her environment, but for a cranio kid, you are constantly watching for her brain to have room for what she needs and wonder if it's not being squished somewhere. I don't really think she's having any trouble, but like I said, the worry never leaves. We do have an appointment with her cranio-facial doctor in December - he's the artist who rebuilt her so I'm excited to hear what he thinks of her look.

Since Florence is the fourth kid, I have to admit, I have no idea if she is on target with her milestones or not. I haven't read a baby book since number 2. However, she seems to be smart as the dickens and is keeping up with her older siblings just fine. She talks constantly, and we are moving from the incessant babble to words that I can actually understand. She usually speaks "in sentences", but there is usually only one or two words that pertain to what she is asking about. But recently, she has started phrases like "I'm hungry", "I want a pamper", "Let's go car", "go outside", "I books" and "I watch Elmo". She really understands everything too, so if I have to occasionally translate what I think I heard, she'll listen and say no until I guess right, at which time she'll say "yay, books" or whatever. She's also learning her manners. If someone gives her something she asked for, (and she's in a good mood), she'll say "thank you, alex". If she accidently bonks your nose in one of her spastic jumps in your lap, and you start tearing up, she'll say "sorry, mom". And if she burps or hiccups, she'll cover her mouth and say "excuse me". And in a rare form of understanding, she'll say "excuse you" if you burp. She'll also "bless you" if you sneeze. It's all adorable. She has been able to say the names of her siblings for some time. She even calls dad either "honey" or "tony". But she has just this week started saying her own name when you point her out in a picture - she used to call herself baby. It's not quite right, but I can hear it, and I love it. It's the sweetest sound. The picture above is all the AZ girl cousins in their matching dresses that Aunt Kathleen bought them.

She is acting like a typical almost 2 year old. She can be SO stubborn, and I'm really having to remind myself not to give in to everything that she wants just to keep the peace or just because it's easier. She is the baby, and she is rotten to the core, but I want her to learn how to share and play well with others. Here's a picture of her playing kitchen with her baby girl cousins. She loves playing kitchen. She also loves to play/talk on the telephone. In fact, she found an "old fashioned" phone with a cord in the laundry room and I kept catching her in there making calls. And at the store yesterday, she saw a play phone on the toy wall, and I tell you, it was the best $4 I ever spent, my entire shopping trip was "fit-free" after I grabbed that for her (see, rotten to the core!). Only problem so far is that the babysitter put her to bed with it last night and I woke up to "phone sounds" early this morning. She is an early riser. No matter what time we put her to bed, how many room darkening devices, she likes to get up early. Poor Lucy doesn't feel like she gets enough sleep.

She loves dancing. I can offset just about any tantrum by putting on some good music. She has some great moves of her own, and will copy anything she sees you do. Even if you're just stopping to chew your fingernail, she thinks that is a step and she will put it in her repertoire. When she hears music at the mall or the elevator, or anywhere, she says "hey mom, dancing!"
She's also really getting into books. Her go-to-bed book is "Dinosaur's Binket" by Sandra Boynton. The story tells of a dino who can't go to bed without his binket and in between the poetry he yells "where's my binket". Florence reads all those parts - yes it's more like "a binket!", but still, she knows to wait her turn to come in. She also loves the lift and peek Elmo books. Fortunately we have tons of those because Charlie also loved Elmo lift and peek books. (It's so funny to think how he's so obsessed with complicated video games now when such simplicity used to make him happy!)

Her favorite movies are Toy Story 2 (not TS 1!), Lilo and Stitch, Curious George and of course, anything Elmo. We tried watching Little Mermaid, but she kept crying at the part where the ship burned down and they had to leap into the water..."poor doggy, poor, poor doggy!" She did, last night, specifically ask for Bear in the big blue house, which I was excited about...not just because I love Bear, but because it was something new. Here's a picture of all the AZ cousins at Patricia's birthday party.

We have postponed potty training for now. She appears ready, and I hope I don't miss my window. But when I tried, she just kept holding it and following me around asking for a pamper. And since I have my surgery next week, I didn't want the training to fall into my mom's hands (as tempting as it is to get someone else to train your child) or to fall by the wayside. I figure we'll maybe start after the holidays are over so that I can do all my shopping chores with worrying about finding the potties.

We had two birthday parties in September. One for her cousin Elizabeth, who is 9 now. They all came to our house for a family party. Since Elizabeth is getting to be "that age" where parties aren't as cool as, say, a Jonas Brothers concert - we had to throw one so that her cousins would get to celebrate with her. We also celebrated her cousin Patricia's 2 year old party. I helped Ginny make her Elmo cake for her party. We also had and Elmo pinata. I was concerned what the little girls would think about bashing open their favorite tv friend, especially when the older kids started batting his disconnected head around the backyard - this adventure led by Uncle Joe. They ultimately seemed unphased by it, especially since it led to the wide scattering of candy.

So now it is October. We haven't decided yet what she will be for Halloween. I have a dallas cowboy cheerleader outfit that would fit her, but also a leftover Clifford or giraffe. She probably doesn't really care one way or the other, so we'll just have to decide. I do think this will be the year she "gets" what Halloween is all about.

Please do visit our family website to catch up on the other kids. Follow the link to the right...

Friday, August 14, 2009

August 2009

The older kids have gone back to school and I'm at home with just Florence and Alexander. Florence is well into her "terrible twos" even though she is only 20 months. She can throw a tantrum that can be heard down the block. However, she is also capable of being the sweetest most nurturing little thing. Whenever her siblings or cousins get upset, she tries to hug them or rub their back. She's really into giving kisses too. Her smack is not quite there, but the pucker is adorable.

Florence's language is really coming along. She must've picked up close to 100 words at Grandma's this summer. She's always been a great babbler, but now she's really trying to put actual words together and form tiny sentences, especially ones like "that's mine" or "give it back!" She repeats things back a lot quicker and more readily now as well. There are still a lot of words that I know that wouldn't be obvious to someone else, but it is becoming easier for others to understand her. She loves to call for me and say "Moooooooommmmy, whereareyou?!" Since she's #4, I'm not quite on top of milestones, but she strikes me as right on target verbally. She's extremely observant and copies everything she sees. She knows almost all her body parts and can say most of the words for them. She appears to know the color yellow, but she's not consistent enough for me to know for sure.

She slept wonderfully on our vacation. I was worried about that because she was generally uncooperative about sleeping anywhere but her bed, but she did well. For the most part, she always slept through the night. Lately, she's been waking alot. I think she might be trying to cut a few more teeth, but I also think she might be having nightmares. The other night, I went in to her, and she was still sleeping, but was calling out to her oldest brother: "Chaaaarliiieeee" - it was really kind of sad. I couldn't tell if she was afraid for him, or if, in her dream, he was doing something to her.

We're going to attempt potty-training soon. She is very aware of going and always asked to be changed as soon as she's gone. I'm hoping she can learn to tell me before hand. It would be so nice to be done with diapers, but I also don't want to be the one that's trained. I'm planning on rolling up the rugs next week. We'll see how it goes.

Her favorite toys lately are the baby dolls with their stroller and crib. She put her baby to bed no less than 20 times the other day, tucking her in, giving her the pacifier (papoo), covering her up, and the whole time talking to her about what she was doing. It was adorable. She'll stroll that baby all over the house with her and love on her, rubbing her back and giving her kisses. It makes me feel good cause odds are she learned this loving behavior from me. It's nice to know I'm not always a screaming lunatic.

She's still a tiny thing. She eats well...when she wants to. One of her new phrases is "I'm full". If she doesn't like what we're having for dinner, she'll push her plate away and say that. She's very active though, so I suppose I shouldn't worry. And she is FINALLY getting some hair. It's red, like Alex's, very strawberry might be a better description. It's quite curly in the back as well - it would look long if she didn't have such boingy curls back there. When we were back east in the humidity, it was especially springy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happy Cranioversary Florence

Florence had her one year check up this month with her neurosurgeon. She passed with flying colors of course. The doctors are going to watch one area of her forehead carefully to see if it continues to smooth out, but are otherwise pleased with her progress. They wouldn't do anything until she was 5 anyway, but I figure unless it's something seriously visable, we won't subject her to any more surgeries. Her scar is barely visable, and once she has some hair, it's not likely to show at all, I hope. It's hard to imagine that a year has already passed. Just one year ago, I was thinking of running away with her rather than allow them to take her from me. But she is doing so well, we have no regrets. Here she is with sister Lucy in their cutie matching sweaters.

Physically, she does just about everything the older kids do. She climbs on the couches, the outside playset (she bats my hands away when I try to help) and has even figured out how to drag the kid chairs over so she can reach things. Here she is on a playslide out in the backyard.

She talks all the time. You can't understand her, but it's very conversational and she is CLEARLY trying to communicate something to you. Most often in the shape of a question. She throws a mean tantrum when she doesn't get her way. I'm trying to stay on top of these. She's learned how to bite and scratch, and will even bite herself to make a point.

She loves balloons, and balls and baby dolls. She LOVES music. Very often I will catch her in with Charlie while he is practicing his violin with the taped accompaniment, just dancing and twirling and bouncing. It's adorable. I have videotape, I just have to figure out how to get it on here.
It's been an incredibly busy month with my birthday (the big 4-0), Alex's 4th birthday, Easter, and Charlie's first Communion. Stay tuned - I'm hoping to update and post pictures of all of them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Almost 40....

I'm a terrible blogger. I guess I keep waiting until I have some time to sit down and be creative. Pretty much, never. I finally finished a huge recital yesterday. Tuba. Somehow I've become the go to person for the low brass accompaniment in this town. You know what they say, though: "Find something no one else wants to do...." Anyhow, the recital went really well. This was a Masters Recital over at ASU. Previously, I've only done competitions and juries (well, one recital) at Mesa Community College, so this was like big leagues for me. I got called because no one else would play this piece. Truthfully, when I agreed to it, I thought I had already played it. Stupid, stupid...never agree to music over the phone, and never quote a price until you know what you're doing. I learn something new everytime. I did work really hard on it, and I feel like my chops returned, but since it's been so long since my days of 2-3 recitals a week, my nerves are not quite what they used to be. More of a wet pasta than the steel of a few years back. But it went well, I got many compliments, and already one of the teachers from MCC wants me to help him make a tape. Doors are opening...

Back in February, I threw a Mardi Gras Party for my MOMS group. This set off a string of Kings Cakes. King cake is actually a bread, so I got some good use out of my bread machine. I even hid the baby inside. I also found that it is such a southern tradition that even my friend from Georgia didn't know what it was. It's primarily a New Orleans thing, but since Mobile claims Mardi Gras as well, we knew about it in Alabama.

The kids are doing well. We're managing to fend off most of the winter illnesses. Except for a stupid stomach bug that keeps making the rounds in various extremes. Charlie's my carrier. He gave it to me and I was so bad off Tony had to take off work. Now Charlie's got it again, though it seems more mild. But after visiting my friend in the hospital with her baby who has RSV and pneumonia, I'll take our little "crappy" illnesses.

Charlie is doing very well in violin. He's getting good praise in orchestra too.He's so diligent about his practicing, and I love to hear him all the time. He's been funny about listening to me practice - "Why do you keep playing that one part over and over?" He usually just plays everything through and calls himself finished. He is doing well in karate as well. He got his green belt a few weeks back and even one two medals (2nd place) in a tournament last weekend. I was proud of him. I've started letting him walk to school by himself on occasion. He likes to play wall-ball with some buddies before school, so if he does all his chores and practice, I'll let him go a little bit early. Of course he has to pass the quiz before I let him out the door: "Do we talk to strangers? What if someone is looking for a puppy? What if they offer candy" I try to get creative, but he knows the right answers. I don't worry too much since it's only down the block and I'm ususally 4 minutes behind him. But I did cry that first day, but Tony said it was ok, he was old enough.

Lucy has been cleared by her doctor for all activities she wants after her broken arm incident. She is still lacking just a bit of flexibility in her elbow. Her Dr explained this is because her arm bone, in healing, filled in a divit that is naturally there to allow the arm to fully bend/extend. As she grows, the divit will return. Isn't that interesting?! It's this same divit that makes that area a common break in kids. Lucy has also turned 7 in the last few weeks (ha, month). She had a little birthday party with all her little girlfriends. They came over for "tea" and an afternoon of glamour with makeup, hairstyling, and fingernail polish. It was hysterical to see all these girlie girls together. Her favorite gift was from her daddy....a geniune ipod - yes, an older model bought off of Craigslist, but one with a screen that plays movies and all the Soundtracks to High School Musical movies.

Alexander is doing Kindermusik again. It's been a slow start, but now he actually goes to class with a few other kids without me. Florence and I hang out in the lobby until he's finished. It's so big boy of him. He's been so patient with me as I was preparing for that recital. He about knows every movie we own by heart, poor neglected thing. I would try and have a few outings. Here we are feeding the ducks at a nearby pond. Florence loved this to, but she seemed determined to find her way into the pond, so it wasn't as nice for me....much chasing and screaming....from both of us.

Florence is approaching her one year "cranioversary". It's hard to imagine that this time last year, I was afraid to put her down because I wanted to hold her as much as possible. And now, she is such a stinker, and so independant. She pulls chairs over to reach things, she is starting to say new words everyday, she knows many of her body parts, and OH, she loves to dance. She can't hear music without bouncing and twirling. Here's a pic of her getting ready for bath...I used a far away one so it's not obscene, but if you look over her shoulder, there's her papoo hanging from her dress. She's a funny girl. She loves making people laugh, and I can't help it when I watch her tiny dimpled butt run around the house.

So there we are. You probably won't hear from me again until after Easter since I'll be at church everyday that week. But by then I'll have made it over the hill. I'm planning on dinner with Ginny and Eileen and their husbands (and mine of course) that night, but I'm saving my big party for after Easter. Who wants to have a party when everyone's given up desserts, alcohol, etc.? I gave up dessert....the pounds should've been falling off of me as I usually have something every day. But no. I'm the only person who can have a 48 hour stomach bug and still not lose any weight. I give up!