Monday, January 31, 2011

Hold on to these moments as they pass*

Maya's turning into a walking girl. 

As the days pass, she's trying out more steps, feeling out her balancing abilities and moving onward.  It's 100% totally unbelievable to watch.

She'll stand at the table, and something across the room will catch her eye.  Instead of dropping down and crawling, she'll now take a few steps.  Sometimes she takes a step or two and then falls, but sometimes she can cross the room . . . 10, 12, 15 steps . . . all while I sit and hold my breath, simultaneously waiting for a fall and hoping for a not-fall. 

It's not often that a parent gets to look in on a huge change that's happening in slow motion, you know?  Soon (soon being relative, of course) she'll be walking.  Like, really walking.  These toddle-y Frankenstein-esque straight-legged steps across the room will turn into walking across the apartment, or walking down the hall.  We'll take Parker out to the corner for a potty break, and I won't be strapping Maya on in the Ergo or bringing down the stroller . . .she'll just hold my hand and walk next to me.

It's led to me a sad realization:  There will come a time when I'll see her walk, and I won't drink it in.  Maybe that time will be a few months from now . . . maybe a few years from now.  Either way, it's coming.  Eventually it will just become a-thing-she-does, and not a-thing-to-be-celebrated.

I'm trying to drink in every magical second of her unbalanced stiff walking now . . . and each step looks totally unbelievable, amazing, incredible, incomprehensible.  Every time she manages to pull off more than three steps in a row I'm on the edge of my seat and a little voice is chanting "stay up stay up don't fall stay up hooray!"

But that's going to fade away.

And I'm going to forget.

I'll see pictures and think "Oh, look, that was another walker we tried---right there, in the background of that picture."  And maybe I'll remember that we tried out a bunch of walkers, but I won't quite remember how it was hard to walk to the right of the walker, but keep my left arm all the way straightened out to help her steer and not get in the way.

I'll remember her cute farm splints, and how much she loved putting them on, but I might not remember how they made her feet so so sweaty and we made jokes about her stinky feet and she would giggle and hold her nose.

I'll remember that it was hard to carry her everywhere, but will forget about how I pulled my back several times a month, and worried about how I would take care of her if I pulled too badly.  I'll forget how my arms were burning and I nearly dropped things in the time it took to walk from the store to our car, carrying a diaper bag, shopping bags, and Maya.

I'll remember her how dirty her pants became from crawling at the playground, but forget all of the times that we couldn't even go because the ground was wet or too hot or too cold (and therefore not ideal for crawling, but fine for walkers.)

Time will rub the magic sparkle right off of this walking . . . but I don't want to lose it.

This in between time---the time when she's not quite a non-walker, but not quite a walker---it's just so amazing.   Every time she takes a few steps, it's like I can see the future.  Like she's saying, "of course I'll be a walker . . . and it's coming faster than you think."  Little magic moments, all sprinkled through my day.   I wish I could slow this down, stretch it out. 

Here's one of those magic moments (shot a few days ago):

If you just see a blank box and a play button, click play and the video will appear

In the words of Counting Crows, "I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass"


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Amsterdam International (update)

Amsterdam International has now been shared by 735 people/organizations on Facebook. 


Thanks for sharing it, folks.

The published version is now framed and hanging in our apartment :)  I went to pick it up from the framer's yesterday:


(It's blurry, but you can get an idea of the size)

And after we picked up the frame, we swung by Stew's, where I smiled when I noticed that they had a special this week on tulips . . . directly from Holland.  It seemed only right to have some on the table when we hung the article on the wall :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Maya has a love/hate relationship with seltzer

and we can not. stop. laughing.

(This was us tonight at the diner.  She tried the seltzer, looked digusted, and then wanted more.  Dave grabbed the phone to video.  I make a couldn't-stop-laughing appearance at the end.)

If you just see a blank area and a play button, click play and the video will appear.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The least fun snow day in all the land (2011 style)

The title alludes to our 2010 least fun snow day.

Dave had a snow day today!  (And the crowd goes wild!!!)

Maya threw up intermittently from 6 pm last night until 8 am this morning (boo!)

I got sick mid-morning and had to spend several hours in bed (boo!)

While I was sick in bed, Dave played with Maya, managed Parker (who is still a little nutso as he heals), and cleaned the floors (hooray!).

I did manage to get a couple snowy pictures around 5pm, when we all ventured out to clean off a car and walk to the grocery store----I still don't feel well enough to fiddle with uploading and laying out pictures here, so I'm just going to upload an album to the Facebook page (it's set to public, so you can go check out our pictures even if you don't have Facebook).  We got 18 inches, I think---and I lovvvveee snow and winter, so I think it's fabulous :)

(On the bright side, Maya seems close to normal, so we're thinking this is just a 24 hour bug).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I can stand up by myself

Those of you who aren't Facebook fans (you've got nothing to lose, may as well go ahead and "like" us) might not have seen this yet . . .

This morning Maya stood up---not pulled up, stood up without touching anything---for the first time ever! Once she had done it twice I grabbed my cell phone and got it on tape (turn down your volume, I'm screechy):

(If you just see a blank area with a play button, click play and the video will appear)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Every Nieder's a reader

(insert happy sigh)

That's my (semi) new Nook. A generous birthday/Christmas/you're-going-to-lose-all-of-your-hair-if-you-don't-take-some-time-for-yourself present from Dave, it's brought a little bit of balance back to my life.  Honestly, I haven't read much over the past year (aside from blogs, websites, magazine articles, etc) . . . at the end of the day, I would look at books waiting on my shelves, and question whether I had the emotional energy to invest in reading. 

Once I took the plunge with the e-reader, I realized that I love it.  I'm so used to being online constantly that the computer screen is more comfortable (less intimidating, I think) to me at this point than print.  I'm book hungry (and I added a Goodreads widget to the side of the blog---scroll down a bit to see it, under the pictures in the column on the right---that will have my "What I'm reading Now" book).  The Nook allows me to continue checking out library books, so I don't have to spend money on the books, either.

But . . . I have e-reader guilt.  Although I'm using the library system, am I contributing to the demise of libraries by switching to ebooks?  And what about bookstores?  I love libraries and bookstores, so to assuage my guilt, Maya and I have been spending as much free time as possible hanging out at the library . . . which she also loves!

At home, she'll pull all of the books on to the floor, but at the library she just walks along the shelves, touching them.  She likes the people watching, and likes to slam a book shut and tell me to go get a new one ("Amama mamaba!").

On Sunday the library is closed, so we hit up Barnes & Noble instead. 

It should come as no surprise that she likes reading so much, since she started pretty early . . .

4 months old (KIPP folks will appreciate her literary taste)

No, like really really early.

(A few days old)

You learn interesting things when you read.  Dave was shocked when he read the 2nd half of "There was an old woman who lived in a shoe":

Um, what? She "whipped them all soundly and put them to bed"?  Maybe she knows that goose that throws people down the stairs from our other book . . . remember him?

Oh, snap!  It turns out that the abusive mom and the vigilante goose are neighbors! 

Another interesting thing we learned while reading?  Maya has a bag that says "My best frinend". 

How was that missed by the designer/manufacturer/marketing team/distributers for that bag?

Speaking of best frinends, Maya's best frinend isn't doing so well  . . . he was neutered on Friday and has been pretty miserable and aggitated since then.  He wants to play and have fun, but he knows that it's safer to keep his distance.  I rounded the corner yesterday to see this:

I miss you, Maya (sniff sniff)

(More pictures of post-op Parker are on the Facebook page)

Friday, January 21, 2011

See what you're made of by what you make of me*

Way back before Christmas we got the results from Maya's evaluations (OT, PT, speech/feeding, psych).  These are the evaluations that she needs to transition from the Early Intervention system (which runs from birth to 3 years old) to CPSE (which is the preschool program, for 3 to 5 year olds). The evaluations are meant to determine whether the kids still have delays that are signficant enough to qualify for services (therapies, specialized preschools, etc). 

Yeah, we still qualify.

Big time.

I knew that Maya would test "badly", I'd even been warned by the therapists and developmental pediatrician that she wasn't going to test well . . . some of it is because she lacks the fine motor skills to complete some of the tasks, she can't verbalize anything so automatically fails big chunks. Since she can't walk or stand (well, sometimes she can, but not all of the time, she still topples) so she automatically gets bumped down to a 10/12 month level for PT. Oh, and the psychologist was 45 mins late and started evaluating at 6:15 (getting mighty late for a 2 yr old), seemed like she was 21 years old, wasn't engaging at all, let Maya lay on the floor and not participate, and didn't ask me if her behavior is representative of her skill set.

(Not that I judge or anything.)

Anywho, the results arrived and I reminded myself "she tests badly, she tests badly" as I nervously fumbled to open the huge envelope. I started skimming, looking for some data to jump out at me, and then I saw the percentages:

Cognitive development:  0.4 percentile  (translation: she allegedly performs as well as or better than 0.4% of children her age)
Social/emotional development: 16th percentile
Physical development: 2nd percentile
Communication development: 1st percentile
Adaptive Behavior: 0.3 percentile


I shook it off, and put the envelope aside. 

Recalibrated myself with the reminders of bad testing. 

Spun it in a positive way by telling myself  "Fantastic!  This will make it much easier for us to argue at the IEP meeting to get lots of services and a one-on-one in the classroom!" 

Absorbed the parts of the report that said things like "her score therefore may not reflect her true skills". 

Tried to push it to the back of my mind. 

Wondered about how to present the information to Dave, not wanting him to take the report too seriously or get bummed out by it.  When he came home I gave him a light and breezy summary ending with " . . . and so for most things she was down in the 1st percentile."

He paused and pondered for a split second and then came back with " . . .1st percentile?!  We're number 1!  We're number 1!  We're number 1!"


So that's that.  I've basically decided that I want Maya to go to a "center based" preschool, which means that most of the children in the school will have various special needs, and therapists are on staff----so she can get the bulk of her therapies at school, and be a "normal" kid when she comes home (well, partially normal . . . with parents like us, I'm not sure she has a shot at "normal".)  I've seen one that I really liked, but the process of meetings and visits is long, so we won't know anything for a while.

The whole evaluation process, combined with visits to the preschool, got me thinking about snap judgements . . . you know, the way you form a rapid assessment when you see someone/something new.  One of the non-logistical reasons that I'm excited about Maya going to a center based preschool (instead of a mainstream one) is that walkers, canes, splints, assitive technology (like the iPad)-----that's just normal stuff there.  Background noise.  The teachers there are so used to seeing all of that stuff that it's just not registered in the same way that it is by people who aren't used to it.

Here, let me show you what I mean:

Maya at the Stepping Stone Museum in CT, where we went with her cousins Collin and Emerson.  Sorry for the lousy cell phone picture, but it illustrates my point.

I look at this picture and think it's adorable.  I love how she looks little and curious, and with the cute mini-walker it screams to me "Out of my way, world, I'm a-comin'!"

But I can see a flicker in the too-long-lingering eyes of some passersby that says "Oh, that poor little girl".

And I have to resist the urge to go to them and say "No no---this is fantastic!  Look!  She's going, she's independent, she's charging into the great wide open!" 

It's important to me that Maya's teachers have the "go do it yourself, Maya, you're perfectly capable" attitude and not the "let me just help you walk, Maya, I know it might be a lot of work" attitude.  I can see how this is more likely in a school where she's not "the cute one with the walker", because there are lots of cute ones with walkers.

She'll still be the cutest, obviously :)

(As this is one of my more obscure song quote titles, I feel obligated to cite Ani DiFranco for the great quote)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Happy Birthday to Dave, a champion among men.
That's us, celebrating Dave's "Sexy Legs" victory onboard our cruise to Alaska (August 2005)

You've got the best sense of ridiculousness . . . our silly, carefree, who-cares-what-they-think approach to enjoying life made us a fun couple back in our unencumbered days . . . and the fact that we still have regular fits of laughing-until-we're-in-tears-and-I-collapse-onto-the-floor is probably what keeps the hair that I have left from falling out.  (And you seem to be responsible for all of those laughing fits---either because you're cracking the jokes or egging me on.)

Thanks for being adventurous, for not shying away from a ziplining tour or a spur of the moment trip to Ikea.   I guess with the right approach, anything can end up being an adventure.

See, with the right perspective, even unpacking can be fun :)  Remember, I was pregnant and starting to get sick from the moving dust and dirt . . . we were sweating and tripping over things and literally could barely sit down . . . but you were still smiling.

Thanks for being a tough guy . . . handling our home improvement projects, opening tight jar lids, and being the grill master.


Even if sometimes it's a tiny grill.

And thanks for being such a great husband that you special ordered replacement iced coffee Starbucks cups for me from Thailand when my original one met its end.
(that's the box that my cups arrived in from Thailand)

In the past 7 years, we've gone from a-funloving-carefree-couple, to a-funloving-carefree-married-couple, to funloving-parents, to funloving-parents-with-a-lot-on-their-plates to celebrities.

(wow, check out the biceps on that guy)

Happy birthday, buddy.  Thanks for another year of celebrating good times (come on) and soldiering through the rockier ones.  I can't wait to see what your 34th year brings.  You're the best husband and partner a girl could ask for.

Oh, and Maya wants to say something, too.

Hi Daddy,

Right from the beginning, you were my best friend.  I loved you from the moment we met.

Ok, actually I was pretty tired right then. But just a tiny bit later . . . look, I was smiling at you, even in my sleep. 

You've loved me through the good times . . .  and the smelly times . . .

You taught me the finer things, like how to kick mom's butt at scrabble.

And you're always there for me. You don't just come home and play silly games . . . you're the type of dad who left work early to be there for me when my appointments went from run-off-the-mill to the-road-less-traveled. 

And you did it with a smile.

You did so many of my firsts with me (like my first time swimming) . . .

. . . and you're so fun that you even had me laughing though my pre-surgery-hungry-crankiness.

You help me kick back and relax . . .

 . . . and you took the plunge into first time dog ownership to give me my partner in crime :)

You give the best tickles around . . .

. . . and your shoulders are perfectly Maya-sized! How did that happen? It's like they're made just for me!

You encourage my sillyness by playing along with my games (the carrot isn't for bunny, it's for you, Daddy! ) . . .

 . . . and you're teaching me how to be a big helping girl :)

There's just no guy who would be a better daddy for me. You're the best daddy ever. I don't even think you're that old . . . does it go 1, 2, 34?  I think I saw that written somewhere, and it makes total sense because I'm 2 and you're 34 and we act the same age :) 

 I love you and Happy Birthday!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Maya's got something to tell you

We're just starting to toy with the iPad . . .certainly not following any sort of structured protocol, just introducing her to the concept of using the buttons to communicate and trying to get her excited and interested in it.  (A lot of modeling, asking her to point/tap, and hand over hand stuff.)

She's very interesting in expressing one thought . . . milk.  She loves milk, she wants milk, more milk.

She's a milkaholic. 

Here, she'll tell you herself:  (this was shot on the tripod while her waffle was in the toaster oven---that's the tickticktick sound.)

A few interesting things:

-Even though she doesn't talk, she's very communicative.  You can see her initially point towards the milk button (0:18) before giving in to my urging to push "waffle".   Then she signs "milk" with her right hand (0:26) as I'm re-setting the iPad.

-She's a giant ham.  Can you believe that after I started laughing she turned towards the tripod with a big grin?  She's totally going to be the class clown . . . I wonder where she gets that from. ( Dave )

In other news, tomorrow I'm going to tour another preschool . . . nervous.  I'm also taking pictures of every other toy she owns for the iPad, fiedling insurance calls, researching how to do an effective insurance appeal, attempting to schedule Parker's neuter, and doing some household overall stuff.  And my hair is falling out again (seriously, I've got new bald spots).    I guess everyone who's driven and slightly type A always feels like everything is urgent and there are a lot of balls in the air . . . that's definitely the case for me right now.

Oh, and take my poll (upper right hand corner).  I'm curious who's stopping by here.  I know that some of the categories overlap (you might know me from an online community and have a child with special needs, for example) but just pick one and vote.  It takes 2 seconds and it will make me happy :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Technology is pretty amazing

So, as mentioned, Maya was fortunate enough to get an iPad for the holidays.   It's certainly fun for games (like Peekaboo Barn) and has now been used by all of the therapists (even the PT-we set it up on the kitchen counter this morning and Maya had to climb up the safety tower to get to it).  Primarily, she's used it with her OT to learn the touch screen---how to tap with her pointer finger, and soon how to drag objects too.

(I'm gladly accepting app recommendations that work on toddler touch screen skills, by the way.  Or really any fun, motivating baby/toddler apps.)

Over the past few days, and with the help of her speech therapist and teacher, we've been figuring out how to customize her new communication app---Proloquo2go (henceforth known as P2G).  This app is kind of considered to be the gold standard right now, and it's the reason I thought the iPad would be worth getting now, as opposed to waiting for the newer iPads to come out a few months from now.  I know Maya's trying to communicate constantly (through sounds, signs, and gestures), and I didn't want to wait a few more months to give her a vocabulary and voice at her fingertips (literally).

P2G has an extensive vocabulary database----tons and tons of categories and words that we just don't need right now.  It will speak for the user (with a voice that you can select).  It will say anything that you type, and you can make word buttons (with pictures) for anything . . . one of the first test buttons that I made was "Parker" :)

Once you get the hang of adding categories and buttons, it's pretty easy to do.  The most challenging part, by far, is figuring out how to set it up so that my 2.5 year old will have some options that flow in a logical manner, rather than being cumbersome and difficult to navigate.

We've put everything into the "Quick Sets" category that's on the Home screen.  Here are the main categories that I've added so far:

If you open the "Let's Get Dressed" category, you end up here:

This is "Arts and Crafts".  I've tried to be consistent about repeating"I want" "More" "Please" and "All done" in most of the categories.  Here you can see a clear combination of using the symbols from the program ("I want", "Please", "All done") and photos that I took of Maya's specific things ("Crayons", "Fingerpaint", "Play-doh").  I think the photos may initially be easier for her to immediately understand.

The "Snacks" category, which is inside the "Food" category:

Here's a video of how I've set it up so far.  I would be really interested to hear feedback, since we're kind of carving our own path over here.   (Pictures of the therapists have been replaced with stick figures to protect the innocent) :):

*As always, if you see a white area and a play button, click play and the video will appear

I hope that this might help out some families who are considering the app, or have it and are unsure of how to set it up----I also hope that if you're thinking "Yikes, what a loon---there's a much better way to do this" you'll fill me in on how I should change what I'm doing :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

We're celebrities, until January 31

Maya loves Stew Leonard's. 

It's a mini chain of grocery stores in CT/NY that sells very little processed foods, but lots of fresh dairy, meats and produce.  But that's not all.  It's set up kind of like a maze---there's only one way to go through, and as you wind through the store (which is painted like a barn) you go through bunches of decorations---the produce sections has fake trees lining the ailes, the banana stand has a giant singing and dancing mechanical banana, etc.  There are dancing mechanical cows and chickens. 

I think that Maya might think it's a theme park.

Back in the day, when she was born (May 2008), it was HOT.  After 2 weeks spent primarily hanging around the house, we were desperate to spend more time out, and the air conditioned Stew Leonard's provided a chance to shop, have ice cream (they serve food, too) and relieve our stir craziness.  So "Uncle Stew's" (as we affectionately call it) was one of Maya's first outings:

See the little tippy top of her baby head?

And once she had a taste, she couldn't get enough.  We can't go shopping anywhere near Stew's without stopping in, or we are guaranteeing a meltdown.

 Guys, look, it's right up there!  We're in the wrong place!  I need to get up that big hill to Uncle Stew's!  Right now!   Waaaaaaahhhhhhhh.  (Taken in the Costco parking lot)

Oh, and in the summer, they have animals.  REAL animals.  They even have . . .

wait for it . . .

COWS!  (well, calves,  but whatever)

I'm talkin' to a baby cow and it's lickin' my cow sticker.  It doesn't get better than this :)

I love it here!

So, when we were at "Uncle Stew's" a few days before New Year's Eve, I couldn't stifle a laugh when a bubbly customer service worker came over and said "Hi, do you guys shop here often?"  Ha! (the service is really friendly, by the way, they give stickers to Maya everytime we go . . . and although she's super cute, I suspect they might give stickers to all of the little kids).  We said yes, and she asked if we'd like to be the "customers of the month".  And that's how we became celebrities :)

They gave us the worst flowers ever and a $20 gift card:

Ok, the flowers were actually alive when we got them, but then Maya got sick and I forgot to take a picture until it was too late.

And our picture/bio is on the plaque-----if you're local you should totally head to Stew's to check it out!

I think you can click this and it will appear larger if you wan to check out the text.

It's hanging behind the desk in the customer service barn:

Maya was so excited to have this award bestowed upon her.  You can tell that she's just overwhelmed by the honor:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

You just got schooled

Christmas Break Recap Pop Quiz
Which of the following did not happen over our Christmas break?
a)  Maya got sick.
b)  We created a private sledding hill in a snowdrift on our corner
c)  We were honored by our grocery store.
d)  We got a bunch of household projects & cleaning done.

The correct answer?

Well, it certainly wasn't a). 
Per usual, we were off and illness struck.  The good news is that Maya's fever is gone now and all that we're left with is a nasty cough.  A few more days of humidifying and nebulizing and we should be good.

And b)? Yeah, that one happened too.
We loved playing in the snow!  Parker got his first snow experience . . . we would walk him to a snowbank and say "Go!" and he would dive with reckless abandon and leap around.  Here are a few pictures that Dave took (looking down from our apartment window):

Maya had her first sledding experiences.  In the morning, we walked (and hiked, and climbed, and lifted the stroller over snow piles) to get to the big hill . . . and she had a great time. 

Too great of a time, as it turns out, because she had a holy screaming tantrum for the majority of the trip home. 

So in the afternoon (and the following day) we just took her sled into the big snowdrifts around the 'Dale and made our own sled paths.  And it turned out, that was just as much fun:

Dave & Maya at the top of our "hill", Parker waiting at the bottom)


When she got to the bottom, she would say "Mo mo" (that's "more, more") and at the top I would tell her to say "Daddy!  I'm coming!" and she would call out "A dabadada" :)

The most fun thing about our little private hill was that she could go by herself like a big girl: 

(Also, this is embarrassing, but you're going to want to keep your sound turned really low for this one.  Turns out I shriek like a girl when I'm animated and excited.)

If you only see a blank square and a play button, click play and the video will appear.

You must have picked c), right?  Because who gets honored by a grocery store? 

We do, my friends. 

We do. 

And while I'm sure you're desperate for that story, you'll just have to wait a day or two, because I'm starting to feel like I'm writing a novel here.

So, the correct answer is d). 
This place is a total sty.  While I normally get a little stir crazy on Mondays (over 3 hours of therapy, plus meal times and naptime mean we spend the majority of the day trapped in the apartment) I'm actually looking forward to getting some serious cleaning done.

*If you haven't been checking out our Facebook page, give it a look---there are some bonus pictures and I put up some random updates.  You don't have to be a member of Facebook to see the page (it's public) but if you are a member, go ahead and "like" us.  You know you do.  It's ok to make it official :)