Wednesday, June 24, 2015

First Hair Cuts

When Little Man was about 15 months old, we had to get his hair cut. I had had too many people tell me I had a cute girl. His hair was so long he REALLY needed a haircut. So we took him a friend of the ex-husband's who just so happened be a hair dresser. Little Man had to wear the drape as a cape and he tried to grab the scissors! But when he was done, you could definitely tell he was boy! No more people telling me "What a cute girl you have!"

So now, we come to Princess. Well, she's a girl, so her having long hair isn't an issue. I just put it up. Except her hair is baby thin and drives me nuts! We were advised not to get her first hair cut until she was two. Okay, so she's two now. So we took her to kids hair cutting place. I figured with her, it was probably a better option. (She is 100% two-year-old "No!" on just about ANYTHING!)

She got to sit in "Thomas." (They really didn't have any girly things that she would like anyway.) She liked that! They even put on "Thomas" on the DVD player. (Thanks to Little Man, she likes "Thomas." So she sat there and, surprisingly, did really well! She did NOT like having the drape on her though, but that was okay. I'm not worried about a little hair on her clothes. It's not like we don't have dogs at home.

So now she has bangs and a cute little chin length bob! She looks so cute and loves the fact that she gets to use her "big girl brush" now. And now, instead of the big bows, she's been wearing barrettes in her hair to keep it out of her face. I've also been putting up part of it in a ponytail and putting clips around it. She likes that she gets to pick what goes in her hair.

We've since had to go back and get her bangs trimmed as well as just cleaned up her hair. Yeah, it's kind of expensive to go to the kid cut place, but really not that much more than the places here. And at least she kind of sits still. One day we won't have to go to the kid place.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Princess's 2nd Birthday and Development

A couple weeks before Princess's second birthday, I had to do the "million questions" with J. This is an assessment. Thankfully he keeps the same file on the kids so we don't have to go through a bazillion more questions! The week after that, was her IFSP (think IEP for little kids). And surprise, surprise: she's "caught up!" OMG! I can't believe it! The only reason she's "caught up" is because now everything is a range and she's right in that range for her age! YAY! So the next NICU developmental clinic will probably be our last, we hope! Surprisingly, J is still going to be coming around for another year. I guess that's a good thing, and job security for him. I mean, if he didn't come around, I think Princess's little heart would be broken! Then the following weekend was Princess's second birthday.

For her second birthday, we started celebrating on Friday. We wanted her to have time to play with her new toys, as our plan was to go to the zoo on Saturday. I knew she would be too tired when we got home and it would be too much to ask a two year old to get up and leave the toys she just got. So Friday night when Meme got home from work, we broke out the cupcakes I had picked up earlier in the day. I had ordered cupcakes instead of a full on cake because it's just the 4 of us and being Princess didn't do the whole cake smash thing, I wasn't sure if she was even going to like cake! Well, of course, if it's not one thing, it's another. This kid was afraid of the candles! Go figure! But her cupcakes were cute!

Then it was on to presents. She really enjoyed opening them. She got Doc sheets for her bed, a new ride on giraffe toy, giraffe pictures that my uncle took, and a kitchen (which I had to build ahead of time)!

The next day, we were off to the zoo! Our whole plan was to feed the giraffes and then pretty much go home after that. We saw the animals, and then, of course, when it was just about time to feed the giraffes, Princess was exhausted! But when it was her turn to feed the giraffe, she was practically jumping up and down! She was SO happy to feed the giraffe lettuce! I didn't manage to get any pictures of her doing it, but she LOVED it! Then we had to ride the train and then we went home.

One of the cool things Princess did was Carry a Bead. This is a GREAT program put on by Beads of Courage. Anyone can Carry a Bead. All you have to do is pay for it and shipping is free! They send you the bead, then you pin it to yourself and do something! It can be running a marathon, going on a hike, your first day of work or school, or like what Princess did, a trip to the zoo. It really doesn't matter. You get 2 beads, one for you and one for you to send back. This bead that you send back becomes an "Act of Courage" Bead for a child undergoing treatment. So, the next time you're thinking of doing something, think about sharing that adventure with a child who can't and is probably in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment or heart surgery or some other treatment for a disease. These beads really make their day and mark milestones in their treatment journeys. Click the link above to order your Carry a Bead kit now!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Shriner's Trip

When Princess started walking, shortly afterwards I noticed that her left leg was bowed. I researched and found that this was not normal. So I asked J, our developmental therapist. He recommended a PT evaluation. Before the physical therapist could come out, we were at the NICU developmental clinic. They told me that they wanted her seen by PT, which we were already on board with. See, Princess W-sits like there is no tomorrow. I hate it. I've been telling her to fix her feet and sometimes she does it and sometimes she doesn't. Well, with all that W-sitting, she lost trunk tone. So then M, the physical therapist, came out and recommended that Princess be seen at Shriner's, the closest and only pediatric orthopedic specialists near us. She really didn't think there was much that could be done about the bowed leg, but thought that at least they would be able to say definitively if there was something they could do. M gave us exercises to be doing with Princess and we started doing them. Most of them we had already done when Princess had come home from the NICU, so it was just reintroducing them.

After meeting with M, I made an appointment with Dr. M, Princess's pediatrician to get the referral to Shriner's. Princess's previous pediatrician, Dr. J, was GREAT about getting us referrals, so I didn't think anything about it. How wrong I was. Dr. M completely pooh-pooh's me and makes me think I'm an overbearing mama. She says that she's not going to write the referral because as long as Princess doesn't have a vitamin D deficiency or any other issues, that she would out grow it.

It didn't dawn on me until I got home that vitamin D could be a kidney concern. Thankfully we were seeing Dr. H two weeks later. When I brought up the one bowed leg to her, she added on a vitamin D test to our normal labs. Turns out Princess WAS vitamin D deficient, like majorly! So we added vitamin D supplements to her daily medication. It was like 3 times the regular dosage for a toddler!

In between seeing Dr. M and Dr. H, I finally got the recommendations from the NICU developmental clinic. I noticed that they sent it to Dr. J, Princess's previous pediatrician, so I was going to call them and get it sent to Dr. M. So, as I was reading through the paperwork, I skipped to the part where I knew Princess needed to work on. In there it said "Refer patient to Shriner's." So I picked up the phone and got the NICU developmental clinic on the phone. In telling them Princess's new pediatrician's information (of which I was sure I had told them when we were there), I also mentioned that we had just been in to see the pediatrician and she didn't want to refer us to Shriner's. They were shocked to say the least. They said they would write the referral.

Now, this all transpired between October and November of last year. After having two different people tell me that Princess needed to be seen at Shriner's, we finally got our appointment. The information came in January. It was a little scary seeing the paperwork say she was being evaluated for cerebral palsy, but when the referral comes from the NICU developmental clinic, I guess that makes sense. Our appointment was the beginning of March.

Now, here's the thing, usually when we get these new appointments I have absolutely no clue as to where we are going. Not this time! I knew exactly where the Shriner's hospital was at. It's right in between the children's hospital and Princess's nephrologist! Well, of course, Meme has to come so she insists we leave way early. No biggie. We're there like an hour early! Thankfully this hospital is SET UP for kids. Our little waiting area had a little table and books and couple little things for the kids to play with. When we finally get back there, Princess gets to sit on a weight chair (why don't ALL her specialists have this thing?) and we get an actual standing height! Then we got to wait. This is typical for just about any specialist we have ever seen!

Then the assistant comes in and takes Princess's history. I guess she's pretty rare in being an ex-28 week preemie and not having any major complications. I mean, sure she has eczema and sees an ophthalmologist, but beyond that, her specialists are for her disease. Then after she's done, we wait some more. A nurse comes in and says that they want x-rays. So we follow her to radiology. I take Princess back there and they want a standing x-ray of her hips. Oh yeah, this ought to be interesting! So I get all covered up, the technician gets everything set up and then we plop Princess on the step, snap the picture and get down. Thankfully they got it the first time! The other technician gives Princess a Scooby-Doo sticker and then notices that she has "Tinky Nee" (her stuffed giraffe) with her, so she goes and finds her a giraffe sticker. You would've thought the girl had been given a real giraffe with the way her face lit up!

So then, back in our room, we wait some more. Finally Dr. D comes in. He is like SO wonderful! He talks to Princess. Shows her the picture of her hips. Checks her reflexes. Then he has her walk up and down the hall. The bowing is better than what it was, thanks to the vitamin D she's been on! So that she will likely outgrow. The other concern I had was that when she walks, she rocks her left ankle out. Dr. D seems to think this will self correct, but she may need an orthotic just to remind her. He was also concerned that her reflexes were still really easy to solicit. He was concerned that she might have a very mild case of Cerebral Palsy. Like it would be so mild, Princess wouldn't qualify for services. So we go back in six months (September) to see how she's doing.

Rare Disease Day Round Up

Princess has a rare disease. Therefore, we have been celebrating Rare Disease Day on February 28 (or 29 for a leap year). Last year, I made ribbons, we handed them out. I liked to think that a lot of the people who I gave them to wore them. This year, well, it was an EpicFail! type of year. I still made ribbons. And I even found actual jean ribbon! But I didn't hand out as many as I would have liked. Our Pastor left his at the church. :( J forgot his at our house. :( I wore mine and we wore jeans. And I like to think that I got most of the baristas at our local Dutch Bros wearing jeans that day, but other wise, not our best Rare Disease Day to date. Oh well. There's always next year! Hoping to do the Virtual 5k next year too!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Little Man's 5th Birthday

Little Man turned 5 at the end of January. WHAT? Where did the time go?????

So for his birthday we took him (and his sister) to Sacramento. We actually made a weekend of it. We went to Fairytale Town and let the kids run around and play. I was so proud of Little Man. He climbed to the top of this two story slide all by himself! Once he figured out that he could do it the first time, he must have done it about five more times! Princess wanted to play on the train almost the entire time. But they did manage to do the other things there as well.

We also went and did Old Town Sacramento, which Little Man was most impressed with the trains, of course. This was the photo of the train depot.

We stayed in a hotel which is always fun with two kids. But then the next day we went to the Train Museum! Yes, it is Little Man's absolute FAVORITE thing right now. (I think he tries to convince his dad to take him every other month or so as his dad lives about an hour closer than we do.)

We did presents and ice cream when we got back. Little Man doesn't like cake, so we've done ice cream cake and other random things. This year we went with ice cream.

Then he got to open his presents. Not a lot, because it's just us, but enough for him. A new Lego set and a new Chuggington train set.

Hard to believe this Little Man is 5! I cannot believe where the time went!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

From Homeschool to Public School to Tot School

Okay, so I was homeschooling Little Man. But I kind of stopped, for a couple reasons really.
  1. I was being lazy. Yes, I'll admit it. It was getting VERY difficult to keep Princess entertained while Little Man was doing his learning. Therefore, I just kind of stopped.
  2. He was getting WAY too far ahead of his cohort. He only JUST turned 5 the end of January, yet the kid can read at around a 2nd grade level and do math at at least a 1st grade level! I didn't want him to get TOO far ahead intellectually when socially he still needs to be with kids his own age.
So we've kind of been doing just family things: playing, park time, etc with our time together. It really has been nice. But with that being said, I knew I needed to enroll him in kindergarten. So I printed off the application for our local public school and just kind of sat on it. I then filled out the lottery applications for the two charter schools in our area.

I prayed and prayed for one of them to pick him. I just kept sitting on the public school application because I wanted to wait. The charter school I REALLY wanted him in had a late lottery. I had left my phone at home that night when I went to Bible Study. When I came home, I noticed there was a missed call on our phone, but no message. It was from the charter school. Then I noticed that there was a message on my cell phone. It was from the principal. Little Man had got in! I really felt this was the best placement for him as he is above grade level in some aspects of schooling, but not in others. So now we are in countdown mode till school starts in August!

We did KinderGo at the library, which was a great thing. I just wish there were more kids there. There were only about 5 kids and Little Man was the only boy. I didn't take any photos because I'm a bad blogger mother. But that's okay. He did great! He wasn't so into the story because it wasn't about something he enjoyed, but he's just going to have to get over that at some point. He's not going to like every book and he's going to have to read things he doesn't like.

So now it's summer. I decided to sign him up for the preschool class "Tot Time" through the rec center and I'm glad I did. There are about 20 kids in the class. It's twice a week and he's done it before. We did it last summer and a couple times at the beginning of the "school year" in the fall. So he's getting the following directions, sharing, socialization that he needs before school starts. I'm also hoping to do story time at the library more this summer as well.

As for his learning this summer, we're going to take the next 5 weeks and be doing some Summer Learning from 3 Dinosaurs and Royal Baloo. I'm hoping this will help him get used to homework. I'm also going to start setting his alarm so he gets used to waking up with an alarm clock. We won't actually set it to the time he needs to get up for school yet, but this way he'll have some practice using it between now and then.

What about Princess? Well, I'm probably going to enroll her in the co-op preschool twice a week. They start at 2 years old, so she can go be with kiddos her own age and just figure out how to be with other kids. I'm also going to be starting "Tot School" with her. I haven't been on Pinterest in forever, but being I have to build the base for Princess that Little Man got in his Playschool, I have been digging around on there. I love the idea of "Tot School." It's not really school so much as it is exploratory play. We'll have different themes every week. I'm thinking shapes, colors, and letters to start and then when we get through the colors move on to numbers. Not really sure yet what I'm going to do but it will be based on "Tot Trays." So this fall, be on the look out for "Tot Time" posts! Yes, I am my children's first teacher and they are going to learn without knowing they are learning!

Summer Reading

Being I've been both a teacher and a librarian, I know how important it is to read, especially for kids during the summer. Little Man will start kindergarten in the fall, so of course we signed him up for the Summer Reading Program through the library again this year. (We'll probably sign Princess up either next summer or the summer after. Her reading log would probably have the same 5 books on it all summer right now!)

Little Man read the most books last year with 110! And I think we had even signed up late and he didn't read the entire time! So this year, we were the FIRST ones signed up! The children's librarian hadn't even gotten her cute display out yet! So with that, we were off on the reading!

This was Day One of his Reading Log. We actually added 3 more books at bedtime too!
Being Little Man got his first library card in September, we now have two library cards to check out on! Sometimes we use mine, but usually we use his. This means that right now we have books like this:

Yeah, that's like 20+ library books! Princess was actually reading one at the time, so it's not pictured! (And yes, I have been subjected to reading "The Book With No Pictures.") So how do I keep track of all of these library books with their due dates? Easy! I found a printable online here at Aussie Pumpkin Patch. They have "book pages" that have a "Weekly Library List" so I print off one of those and list the titles and the due dates. I cross off books as we turn them in and star the ones that I need to renew.

Little Man loves finding new books that fit his interests. Sometimes though, it backfires on us. He loves trains right now, so the very first week he found a book with a train on the cover. Sadly, it wasn't exactly about trains. It was about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Went right over his head! Needless to say, that one got turned in the next time we went to the library!

Being this was kind of a disappointment for him, I also found a "Book Wish List" on the page and printed that. Right now, I'm listing "Construction Vehicle" books. I find book lists online and list the books in that category that we don't already have. Then it's on to searching our library catalog. Sometimes they have them, sometimes they don't. But we'll be requesting some here soon!

This year, he has already gotten to around 63 books read/read to and we are barely 3 weeks into the program. He is so on his way to reading 200 books this summer! How does this happen? Well, he goes on reading spurts. Usually after our library trips, he wants to sit down and read ALL the books we just checked out (8-10 of them!). And then, it also helps that I have finally gotten my classroom library books up here. So I pulled all the books that I thought he and his sister might like and it kinda looks like this:

So I don't think my kids will have any problem in the reading department! Especially when they bug me to go to the library! Sometimes I seriously have to tell them that we have to wait because the library isn't open yet! I so love having readers!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Little Girl Dresses Better than I Do

Princess is OBVIOUSLY a girl! Yeah, you all already knew that, right?

Well, having only had Little Man for three years before she was born, it's been a little bit of an adjustment for me. I mean, come on, what do boys wear? Jeans and tee shirts! Go into ANY store and try to find something for a little boy. It's some variation of a tee shirt and pants! Go onto the other side where the girls stuff is and you are literally under a sea of pink and pastel! There's so many choices for a girl!

And on top of that, I've never been one of those girls who loves doing my hair or wearing making or dresses or things like that. In fact, I'll admit it, I'm a "Frumpy Mom:" Yoga pants, jeans, tee shirts, flip-flops. Yeah, that's me!

But Princess, well, that's another story.

This little girl has more shoes than I do! We have a whole drawer of her shoes! And some days we have to pick two or three pairs of them to wear throughout the day!

Now, we are in-between sizes, but here are the shoes she has, going left to right from the bottom:
Bottom Row:
"heart shoes" (size 4)
"pretty shoes" (size 4)
"butterfly shoes" (size 4)
Other "butterfly shoes" (size 4) Which she has never worn! Teach me to buy without her there!
"boots" (size 4)
Middle Row:
"buckle shoes" (size 5)
NEW "pretty shoes" (size 5) Exactly like the size 4!
"tie shoes" (size 4)
"flower shoes" (size 5)
Top Row:
"buckle shoes" (size 5)
"sippers" (size 5/6)

I think she's going to give Imelda Marcos a run for her money! And take all of mine!

Oh yes, the dress! She actually likes wearing them, sometimes. Don't get me wrong, she LOVES her jeans right now. (Little Man loves "comfy pants" and has for a LONG time!) But there are times that she wants to wear a dress, including tights! It's never a fight to get her into a dress! Now, depending upon what she wears with the dress, it can be a difficult task to change her diaper. For example, the time she went to her dad's on Tuesday night, she had on tights, a onesie, AND her Doc McStuffins panties on top of everything! (We haven't started potty training yet because Princess is NOT ready, but we did get her panties. She SO wants to be a big girl and wear them.) And she looks SO cute in dresses. And now because she is LOVING her jeans, we've gotten her jean skirts to wear!

This was the night in question. Notice: Jean jumper! Girl LOVES her jeans!

Now this has been a bit of a problem. Not in getting her to wear them. In fact, she likes to wear them, and calls them her "butterflies." (EVERYTHING with loops is a butterfly to this kid!) The problem was two fold.

1. Most bows you buy in the store have those ribbon covered "alligator" clips. Those just DON'T stay in her hair for ANYTHING!

2. The bows that we have were made by a friend. They had spots to attach barrettes and then add them to headbands. Well, Princess has never been a headband girl. I think she's worn one THREE TIMES: the day she came home from the hospital, when she was in PICU, and on her dedication. So, since these bows weren't permanently attached to the headbands, I tried clipping them in her hair. They didn't have clips already attached, so I was able to use the metal clips that worked on her hair. The problem was that the bows were sideways when you put them in her hair.

So what did I decide to do to fix this problem? Make them! Yeah, that's right, I said make them! I have no clue what I'm doing. I'm using YouTube videos to figure it out. So far I have mad a few bows. They've come out cute. I'm not planning on starting an Etsy store or anything....yet. But I figured I had to do something.

Oh, and then we cut her hair! So there went the bows! We are now on to clips and barrettes, but that's okay. Less for me to make.

So there is definitely NO mistaking that my daughter is anything BUT a girl. In fact, she has started telling us that she's a "Diva." Oh boy! I think I am in for it with this one!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm a Stay At Home Mom, but Not By Choice

Recently, one of my friends finally got to become a stay-at-home-mom. She'd had an in-home day care for years. She'd basically worked since she was 12 years old. Now she doesn't know what to do with herself. Granted, she is also preparing to move, so things aren't so calm yet. But I imagine a few weeks from now, she'll find herself not knowing what to do. That feeling won't last though. I know. At least her and her husband are in a place financially for her to do this. Not many of us are.

There are so many of us out there who are forced into stay-at-home-mom-hood  Some of us are forced because they had a premature baby. That was my reason. When you have a very premature baby, like Princess was, born before 37 weeks, you are pretty much told that you can't put your child into day care for their first two years of life. Why? Germs! If your child is in day care, they are exposed to every bug known to man! If a preemie gets sick, sometimes even a simple cold can send them back to the hospital. It all depends upon their immune system and what other complications they have.

And then, let's talk cold and flu season. To most of the general population out there, it means getting your flu shot and suffering through at least one or two colds. To a preemie parent, it means one thing RSV. It is talked about on every preemie page, board, and book out there! You definitely don't want your preemie to catch it! They WILL end up in the hospital, on a ventilator, in PICU. At least, that's the big bad scary picture everyone paints. Granted, yes, it does happen. And no parent wants to go through that. So most preemie parents (or other kids with immune system issues or heart defects) will go into quarantine/hiding for the 4 to 6 months that is "RSV season." Some preemies are lucky enough to get the Synagis series. Princess was. But believe me, it's NOT FUN! Every 28 to 29 days we were in the doc's office and she was getting another shot. It delayed ALL our vaccines because we were told we could ONLY do it by itself. Literally, we were in the pediatricians office the day before her birthday doing a Synagis and were back the next week doing her 1yr shots! So yeah, you want to work during RSV season? You want to come and visit during RSV season? Sure. Here's a change of clothes, leave your shoes outside, and go scrub and sanitize. THEN you have to sit ACROSS THE ROOM from my baby! Better yet...Skype or FaceTime us!

And speaking of complications, if you have a medically complex child, as preemies usually are in the first two years of life, you spend your time shuttling your little one back and forth to various doctors, specialists, therapists, and other people who are there to help your child. When are you supposed to have the time to work? And if the preemie isn't your only child, you can just add on the appointments and sports practices and lessons and everything else that the kids get into. You might as well just call yourself a glorified taxi driver!

And being preemies are likely to be readmitted, usually within the first few weeks of being discharged from the NICU, you can probably just forget about work. When your child goes BACK into the hospital, you pretty much have to live there too! Get used to hospital food and sleeping on crummy chairs or couches and being woken up every few hours too!

So how are you supposed to work when you are more terrified about germs than Howie Mandel?

The simple answer don't!

So may of us who are forced into stay-at-home-mom-hood worry about the finances too. We weren't stay-at-home-moms before our child put us in this situation. Our plans were to take our 6 to 8 weeks of maternity leave, put the little one in day care and go back to work. Well, those plans changed.

And if by chance you have found someone who is willing to scrub like a surgeon upon entering your home and they will care for you child, more power to you! Then maybe you can go to work. Or maybe if you are a stay-at-home-mom, you can go take a shower or go to the grocery store!

I am a stay-at-home-Mom. But it's not my choice that I am one. I'm also a single mom, so you can imagine how this works financially. We are very fortunate that we are able to live my mom. Otherwise living on a $670 a month budget plus food stamps is virtually impossible. I thought I was going to have to go back to work this spring. Princess is now 2 and has been cleared to go into day care. Yes, I will be looking for an in-home day care setting so she's not as exposed to germs. But, as it turns out, when I met with my Welfare-to-Work counselor, of course my only barrier to work is Princess. We still have multiple appointments and some of them are out of the area, which essentially means even if I had a job, I couldn't work that day, except for maybe evenings and weekends. So they suggested I get another caretaker exemption. (I've been on one for the past year and a half.) So now I am again a stay-at-home-mom. I SO want to go out and work again. Maybe some day.
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