Tuesday, August 30, 2011

And the winner is . . .

The random number generator has spoken, and it has picked comment #24:

kellyjen said...
Maya is so cute! Great pictures.
August 23, 2011 7:52 AM

Kellyjen, please email me at uncommonfeedback@gmail.com to claim your prize :) 

In the event that I don't hear from Kellyjen by Thursday evening, a new winner will be drawn. 

I love giveaways :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

A girl and her dog (and last day for the giveaway!)

How about a little Maya-Parker love on this gorgeous Monday afternoon?

One of the sweetest things about returning from our vacation 2 wks ago was the reuniting of Maya and Parker (who had spent the week at my in-laws).  Maya spends a lot of time petting him, hugging him, and giving him kisses . . . and he spends a lot of time being very patient :)  He seeks her out, too---bumping her with his nose, bringing her his toys, etc.  Getting her a dog was possibly the best thing we've done for her :)

Check out the video (taken from my phone---sorry for the quality) from this morning.  You'll want the volume on to hear all of her giggles, which escalate when he decides to throw in some little barks.  2 notes:  1.  Although you can see his mouth opened a little at times, know that he's extrememly gentle with his nose/mouth/teeth  2.  Maya's hugs are not usually quite so vigorous. 

How sweet is it that he wrestles out of her hug just to turn and lick her nose?!

Today is your last chance to enter the Leapfrog Letter Factory DVD giveaway!   Winner will be picked & posted tomorrow evening----you can enter up to 5 times, go check it out!

Also, next week I'm taking Maya to see the geneticist to have a new test done.  I've got some thoughts on that, but no time to sort through them just yet.  We're too busy enjoying the last throes of summer (and some beautiful post-hurricane weather) to get too serious at the moment.  Summer fun now, deep thoughts later.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two firsts in one day

Today Maya had 2 firsts:

1.  First bus ride.  She loved it, as we knew she would.  When we got off the bus she was whimpering, struggling to get out of Daddy's arms, and signing "More, more, more!"  I wanted her to ride the bus (and the subway, but we haven't done that one yet) with us before school started---that way she has a frame of reference if they come up at school.  Also, I know they take the subway (and maybe busses?) for class trips, and I wanted her first ride to be with us, so I could see her little excited face :)

Her blurry, but excited, face

2.  She fed herself a peach.  Well, half a peach---I had to pry it out of her slippery, gripping fingers when I realized that she was devouring it so aggressively that she would most certainly shatter her teeth on the pit.  I gave the remainder to her in big chunks.  Self-feeding a whole piece of fruit?!  Woo hoo!

I'm still sorting through vacation pics and have a vacation story or two to share as well.  Only 2 weeks and 2 days until little Maya will be starting school, and we're trying to make the most of our time off before then :) 

If you didn't do it already, go enter the Leapfrog DVD giveaway!  Remember, to enter you have to leave comments on the blog post HERE, not on the FB page.  Good luck!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Maya picked this ****giveaway*****

In the past I've talked about Maya's love for letters and how amazed I've been as she seems to be learning them through osmosis.  This is due partially to her natural interest in letters (she's always been interested in the writing on T-shirts, bags, etc) and partially to one really great video:

When I saw Maya starting to recognize letters, I asked for alphabet exposure ideas from one of my message boards, and several of the moms replied "Teaching letters?  All I did was put on Leapfrog Letter Factory and my kids magically learned them."   So I picked up the video, put it on, and a few short days later Maya was already copying the letter sounds (check her out in this video).

Amazing!  And since she's nonverbal, really amazing.

She can't say "A" (like the long A sound in plate), but she can say "ah"   . . . and quickly I could show her an A and say "What letter is that?" and she would say "Ah!".  I would never have thought to teach her to tell me the letters with their sounds, but it worked.  Suddenly she was able to tell us how much she was understanding.  (Similarly, she can say "ba" and "da" but not B or D.)  I couldn't believe how interested she was in the video, or how quickly she starting picking up the new information.  I'm a big fan. 

So when Maya grabbed the video off of the store shelf the other day (she recognized the box, sneaky girl) and I saw that it was on sale, I decided to get one for a giveaway :)

This video is my favorite.

You guys are going to love it!

(FYI: I am not affiliated with Leapfrog in any way.  I'm not receiving any sort of compensation from the Leapfrog folks.  Maya just loves this video, and I've been impressed with how much it has taught her, so I thought I'd pay it forward.)

Here's how to enter the giveaway:  Pay attention, because you can enter up to 5 times! 
1. Leave a comment on this post. Any comment will do . . "Hey, I want to win!" "Giveaways rule" "Maya is awesome", etc :)
2. Like our page on Facebook ("Uncommon Sense Blog") if you don't already. Then, leave a comment here that says "I'm a Facebook follower!" (If you're already a Facebook follower, you can leave this comment too, of course.)
3.  Follow us on Twitter!  (This is new! See the twitter feed on the top right corner of the blog?)  Our Twitter name is "UncommonBlogger". Then, leave a comment here that says "I'm following you on Twitter!" 
4. Share the link to the giveaway on Facebook. Then, leave a comment here that says "I shared the giveaway on FB!"
5. Retweet the link to the giveaway on Twitter (once you follow me on Twitter, you can just retweet my giveaway post).  Then, leave a comment here that says "I retweeted the giveaway!"
Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry!
Winner will be chosen the evening of Tuesday, August 30th.  The latest that an entry will be accepted is 5pm (EST) on Tues, 8/30, via random number generator.  The winner will be announced the same evening and have 2 days to contact me before I pick a different winner. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

When (semi) good pictures go (painfully) bad

We just got back from a fantastically relaxing beach trip with my family.  Maya had fun playing with her cousins, and the extra adults around meant that we had 3 cameras out and about for spontaneous photoshoots.  On the last night we were there, my dad used my camera and took the following series of photos.

(Right before we took these I said to Dave "I'll be in the stupid pictures, but I'm not using them on the blog or framing them or anything---this shirt is too billowy and unflattering, and my hair is all beachy and wind-tangled.  (grumble)"   But then . . . well, you'll see . . . so I'm swallowing my pride and sharing them anyway . . .)

Dana: Cheese!
Dave: Cheese!
Maya: Cheese!

Dana: Cheese!
Dave: Cheese!
Maya: Cheese!

Dana: Cheese!
Dave: Cheese!
Maya: Guys, this is kind of getting old.

 Dana: Cheese!
Dave: Cheese!
Maya:  Seriously.  I'm getting really bored.  Can we do something else?

Dana: (sigh) Cheese (sigh)
Dave: Cheese!
Maya: Really . . .anything else.  There must be something else to do up here.

Dana: Cheese!
 Dave: Cheese!
Maya: Hey!  Mommy, I'm over your head!  I think I can even reach your hair!

Dana: Chee---Hey, is something on my head?
Dave: Cheese!

Dave: Pictures are so relaxing . . .
Maya: Gotcha!  (cackling)  I told you guys I was bored!  Take that!

Dana:  Ayyyyyyyyyy!!!  My hair!  I need to save the hair I have left!
Dave: I wonder what we'll do tomorrow.  I hope we go back to the beach.  I should open my eyes but I'm just too relaxed.
Maya: Hair is like a handle for your head.  This is SO FUN! 

Dana: Seriously, I have tears in my eyes.  Someone get this child to release me.
Dave: Wait.  What's going on here?  Dana, stop making that face.  We're supposed to be taking pictures.
Maya: I'm not letting go.  Ever.

(Giveaway coming sometime between now and Monday.  It's not a big prize, but it's something fun---one of Maya's favorite things.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Time out

This blog will resume after a brief beach-y hiatus.

(A few pics may appear on the Facebook page if I can swing it from the iPad.)


Friday, August 12, 2011

A new poll, and housekeeping

1.  New poll on the upper right hand side of the blog.  Chime in :)  (Also, you can pic more than one answer.)  I'm curious why people come back after their first visit.

2.  In the past, a few folks have asked about getting blog updates via email---blogger finally has a little widget thing for that!  Under the poll, you'll see "Follow by email"---allegedly, if you type in your email address then you'll get a message every time I post.  I think.  I haven't tried it myself.

I'm hoping to get a few things changed around in the upcoming week or two---new stuff on the side, some new pictures, etc.  I keep meaning to do it, but losing motivation around, oh, 8:45pm.  But the intention is there, that counts for something, right?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie*

Last week I put a picture of Chef Maya up on the Facebook page, taken during a pizza making party . . . here's the whole story.

Homemade pizza is one of my go-to meals in the summer time---it's the perfect way to use up whatever random vegetables that I have left over from the week's CSA.  While amassing ingredients on the counter, I realized that pizza is a perfect meal for Maya to help make.  So we threw on her chef outfit (party favors from a friend's birthday party!) and got down to business.

Zuchinni, shredded cheese, sauteed onions, olives, oregano, basil, leftover veggie pasta sauce, and pizza dough from the freezer

Making pizza?! I can't wait!

We put flour on the counter . . .
  . . . and Maya did not want to touch it.

We kneaded the dough . . .
  . . . and Maya did not want to touch it.

 But she sure looked cute :)

Daddy threw the dough . . .

 . . . and Maya thought it was hilarious!

When it was time to roll the dough . . .
 . . . Maya wanted to play with the radio.

When it was time to put on the sauce . . .
. . . Maya wanted to bang her spoon in the sink.

And then, finally, we found something that she liked: 

CHEESE! (Really, who doesn't like cheese?)

She hasn't learned about symmetry yet.

We added some toppings . . .


Yum :)

The verdict:  delicious and fun, despite the fact that Maya was semi-uninterested during much of the process.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back*

When we returned home yesterday, I found 2 things waiting for me.

1.  A big leak in the kitchen ceiling, with an artsy speckling of mold.  Nice.

This pic is from this morning, after the super made a big investigatory hole. 

2.  My book!  I recently had poked around online, looking for a way to make my blog into a book (not a bookstore book, a scrapbook-y book).  I kept stressing that one day I would make a stupid blogging mistake and inadvertently erase my family's history.  I found a simple site and ordered my blog, from 2007-2009. 

Cover.  (That's Maya back when she was just a gummi bear, in my first blog post ever.)

Table of Contents

OMG.  She was just always super cute, huh?  That's from back in the day.

Back Cover

It was fun, despite some glitches on their site that made me nuts for a day or two.  I can't wait to order 2010.  From here on out I'll order one book for each year.

Speaking of books and writing, I'm enjoying learning how to write through blogging . . . but some bloggers start out as writers, and wow---there's a big difference.  I've mentioned him before on the FB page (and maybe here too?)----but he has a new post today and it's worth reading and sharing.  Go check it out:  Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords by Rob Rummel-Hudson.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lessons learned on vacation

We spent a long weekend visiting family and learned several important lessons:

1.  Maya learned that if Daddy says "Sure, you can drive" it likely means we're just sitting in the car and not moving (but it's still pretty fun).

2.  I learned that if I need to rinse out the milk bottle and Dave says "Dude, just roll down the window and dump it out.  It won't fly back up at the car." he is being sarcastic.  Very sarcastic.

That says "extensive splatter".  A phrase typically reserved for crime scenes somehow fits our vacation photos.  Also, milk + 90 degree heat = a delicious smelling car.

3.  Dave learned that Maya's got jokes.  You think he would already have learned that, but I guess not.  This was the first time ever that he played his favorite kid joke on her (if you know him in real life, you've probably seen this one in action) . . . and she showed him.  "Fool me once, shame on you . . . fool me twice, there will be payback."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Life, Undiagnosed (and how I've come to be ok with that)

I remember the first genetic test we ran.

Actually, rewind that.

I remember the phone call that led to the first genetic test we ran. We had met with a private feeding therapist because I could see that Maya would need help learning how to eat. A few days after the consult she called, and with a wavering voice full of apologies, told me something like “I really, really don’t want you to worry about this, but I know you will (she was a mom, too). I’ve spoken with a geneticist and we think that maybe you should meet with a doctor and get tested for Down syndrome.”

On the outside, there wasn’t much of a change. I was standing in the kitchen, with the phone in one hand and my 7 month old baby in the other . . . I leaned back against the counter and felt the color drain from my face. 

On the inside, I fell to my knees.

And my inner voice started to beg “No no no no no no. This can’t happen to her, this can’t happen to me. Let her not eat, let her not talk, let her mouth be jumbled and useless, but don’t let her have something big and genetic. Something that could affect her mind. Let her be smart. Let this test be negative. Please, please, just let this test be negative.”

And (a very painful month later) it was. 

But my (huge) sigh of relief was cut off mid-exhale as I realized that the geneticists weren’t washing their hands of us. The “come back in 6 months, just to check your progress” request whispered “You’re not done here, friend. Don’t celebrate just yet.”

And so it continued, appointments with a barrage of specialists, each doing their exams and tests. I couldn’t help but notice a gradual, but significant sliding shift in my perspective . . . while one part of me would enter a doctor’s office thinking “don’t find anything, don’t find anything” another part was thinking “give us some information, please”. As time went by it was undeniable that something was wrong different . . . it was time to find out what that something was.

More time passed. More normal tests. But clearly, our situation was not normal. 

My small spark of desire for a diagnosis started to flare up. I wanted a name. I wanted a prognosis. I wanted to be able to connect with other parents and plug into a support system. I wanted to hear from people with older kids and find out what their kids could and couldn’t do.

At naptime, I googled. I looked at syndrome descriptions, symptoms, prognoses. I became convinced that she had a dozen different conditions. I looked at pictures of diagnosed children and thought “those are her eyes! This must be the one!” My heart would pound and adrenaline would rush as I convinced myself I had found the answer, and then crash when I realized that a major symptom didn’t fit. Empty-handed, again. By the time she woke up I would be wiping away tears, again. Anxious. Searching. Desperate.

But at some point, I realized something.

Unless the diagnosis came with a crystal ball, it still wouldn’t answer the questions that raced around my head when she was asleep and the house was quiet and I had time to think. Somehow my obsessing over “The Diagnosis” had turned it into some kind of huge goal---if we could just get The Diagnosis, then we would know! We wouldn’t be in the dark! Our questions would be answered!

I had my mental list of questions-that-matter-the-most at the ready, just waiting for The Diagnosis to come along and predict our future.
  • Will she walk and run? And jump? Will she be able to balance on one foot, or to go up and down stairs without assistance? (More specifically, will she move “typically” . . . or will she always have a unique way of moving that sets her apart from the other people on the sidewalk?)
  • Will she talk? (Will she speak well enough someday that no one would know that she was so late to the speaking game?)
  • Will she be smart? (Will she read and write and do math? Will she understand abstract ideas? Will she know what I mean when I say it’s her birthday?)
  • Will she follow the path of a typical life, or will she be a dependent forever? (Will she go to college? Will she ever live alone, or is a group home situation in our future? Will she date, or get married? Will she be a mom someday?)
  • Might she be exceptional? (Einstein didn’t talk until he was 4, I’ve heard. Give me a silver lining. Is it possible that while she’s trapped in this weak, disorganized body, her little brain is learning and growing and forming connections and will someday change the world?*)
A diagnosis would give me an answer, but not to these questions-that-matter-the-most. Most diagnoses come packed full of sentences that sound like this “Most children with xyz will learn to speak.” Or “Many children with abc suffer from cognitive impairment, which can range from mild to severe.”

It seemed likely that any diagnosis would come with a prognosis that was about as clear as mud.

And even if we got a diagnosis and a prognosis with some concrete won’ts (like “She probably won’t be able to walk independently”), odds are that I wouldn’t accept them anyway. I would keep believing and pushing, same as always. It would be impossible for me to give up on walking or talking when my girl has only had a few years to practice. Skills will come . . . or they won’t. Knowing The Diagnosis won’t change any of that.

So really, what’s the point in worrying about it?

Adding a few words to our chart won’t change anything (now. Believe me, I would still like to find a diagnosis before she turns 5, because it would make advocating for services much easier.  And it would be nice to know if we should expect any medical complications down the line).   But for now, she is who she is (hilarious, clever little thing) and we are doing the best job we can of helping her to grow and learn, just like every other parent on the planet.

A diagnosis would be nice, and we’ll keep our eyes out for one . . . but if it never turns up, well, I guess that would be ok, too.

(*This is the only question here that I for sure know the answer to. Is it possible that her little brain is learning and growing and forming connections and will someday change the world? Of course it is, silly. Anything is possible.)

My past thoughts on our undiagnosed life can be found here and here.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh, you're my best friend*

This morning Dave took Parker for a walk and came back with a park bench.  A mini park bench.  He found it in the trash, grabbed it up, and brought it home, just like any good dad would do.  And Maya liked it :)

My new bench!

Parker likes it too . . .

Parker, I've got an idea.  Let's take some pictures with my new bench!

 Maya, sit still please.

Parker!  Stay still!

Everybody stay still!  Maya, this is not funny!  Stop laughing and be serious.

Oh, you are such a ham.

I'm gonna put my feet up like Parker's!

Just me, my best friend, and my new bench :)

Maya: (clap! clap! clap!) This is so much fun!
Parker: I'm outta here.

I give Parker treats when he's a good doggie :)

(Did you figure out that the titles with the *'s are song lyrics?  I thought that was the easiest way to show which ones are lyrical---like today's Queen quote---and which ones are just me.)