Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December - More pictures

Brogan's Christmas present. Although, he's not allowed to play in it right now (today's actually jan 21st, and we put it out on the back porch a few days ago because he started wanting to never bend his legs because he likes standing up in this thing, which meant that he stopped rolling over, which just won't do! So for now, we've put it away)

Avery enjoying her last few moments with Grandma while we waited for her plane to board at the airport.

Our sweet, sweet home teachers made this for Avery as a Christmas surprise after hearing us talk about how we wanted to make her a bar she could stand at and walk along while she watched TV. This was shortly after they brought it over, and she loved it from the minute she saw it, and didn't need us to tell her what it was for or anything - she just went straight over and pulled herself up!

Playing with glitter - one of her Christmas presents. Daddy has now banned the glitter because it keeps on getting stuck on Brogan's scalp and leaving colourful marks...oops!

December - Christmas cookies

Avery decorated the Christmas shortbread cookies we made for her teachers/helpers/bus drivers/aides/physical therapists/etc! They looked great!! And they tasted even better, mm-mm-mmmmmmm!

How to decorate Christmas cookies:

1. Drizzle...

2. Sprinkle...

3. Dip...

4. Eat!! Mmm, delicious!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Breakfast with Santa

Saturday before last, a friend of mine called and said that she had bought tickets for the breakfast with Santa which was happening at the Hotel Roanoke that morning, but that her son had come down with the stomach flu so they couldn't go, so she asked if we'd like to take their tickets, which of course we did!! So while I was sorry that they couldn't go, we had a blast! Gabe was nice enough to let my Mother go in his place, and he stayed home with Brogan, so Avery, Grandma and I headed off to the breakfast, which was really more of a brunch since it started at 11am :)
Christmas outfit

Singing and dancing snowmen

Arts and crafts and stickers!

Taking a break with Grandma when it all got a bit loud and overwhelming.

Enjoing the steel drum band - she LOVED it!!!

Picture to go with yesterday's post....

I had this particular photo in mind when I was writing that post yesterday, so I thought I'd post it too. She's about 5 weeks old here. I remember at the time that I thought this was the cutest little picture showing Avery's scrawny little legs and how long and thin she was! Now it makes me a little bit sad because now that I have Brogan I realise that healthy babies really do have quite strong legs from the very beginning. And do you see what I mean about her little long thin feet? They still look almost as fragile now. I do now wonder what her legs and feet would have looked like had she not been born with hydrocephalus and CP. I think the other thing that's been bothering me a little bit is that it now makes me wonder whether I should have been doing a better job. I think that because I was never really aware of how much she was affected I now wonder whether I would have pushed her more and worked harder to help her reach milestones if I'd been more aware of what she "should" have been doing. I don't know. I suppose there are good things and not so good things about her being my first, because it meant I had all the time in the world to devote to her, but it also meant that maybe I wasn't completely aware of how much help she really did need, if you know what I mean.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Brogan's feet make me sad...

This might sound a little strange or something, but sometimes my 4 month old baby boy Brogan makes me sad....! Here's why. Avery was my first baby, and so I don't think I was really aware of everything that was not "normal", since I'd never had any experience with other babies. So it's only now that I have Brogan that I can truly appreciate how Avery's medical conditions have affected her since before she was even born. She was so skinny and cute and frail, and now I have Brogan who is sturdy and strong and reaching milestones on time, and it makes me really see for the first time really how hard Avery has always had to work. She's amazing. This afternoon I was once again looking at Brogan's feet and legs, and he has such strong legs with the little fat rolls and his feet are so perfectly proportioned. Poor Avery. She's always had such skinny, frail little legs, and if you compare her long, thin feet with Brogan's, even now it almost looks like Brogan's feet are more ready to carry his weight and walk than Avery's are to do the same. It makes me wonder whether her feet would actually look different if she didn't have CP. I'm sure her legs would, because I think a lot of the skinniness is a result of her poor weak muscles, but I hadn't thought about the possibility that her feet may actually have developed differently as a result of the CP too. I wonder.... We have been working so hard on the W-sitting thing, but it makes Avery so frustrated sometimes. I feel bad for her, because it's how she's most comfortable and stable, but I just can't let her do it knowing how bad it is for her developing bones and muscles. Gabe and I both tried to W-sit this morning, and it's not comfortable...! Gabe couldn't even do it, and while I managed to get into that position, it was NOT comfortable! It can't be good for anyone, let alone my little girl with her leg problems...!
Anyway, should I feel bad about feeling a little sad? I absolutely adore both of my children, that's not even a question, and I am excited by all Brogan's progress, but in addition to the excitement there is also sadness for me. Sadness for my little girl who, since the day she was born, has had to be coaxed and forced towards developmental milestones which come so naturally to other children, and yet she's born it all so well, and I think she thinks that it's totally normal and that everybody must go to all these doctors and therapy appointments all the time!
I also have been thinking that it was also a blessing that Avery was my first baby. Not only for the fact that it meant I was able to devote all my attention to her and her extra needs, but also because it meant that I was able to avoid just a little bit of the anxiety in a way, because I didn't have a "normal" child to compare and contrast her progress against. Do you know what I mean? *sigh* I feel as though I'm babbling a lot but not actually getting my point across properly... sorry!
Also, sorry for the lack of posts Mother is visiting until the day after Christmas, and we've been really busy. Poor excuse, I know, but it's the only one I have :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November - Decorating the Christmas tree

We decorated our tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I was really fun to have Avery be so excited by the whole Christmas thing this year. She loved the tree, and she loved being able to help decorate it! Also, note how well she is sitting :) We've been working really hard on eliminating w-sitting, and she's getting much better at sitting criss cross. Her posture in that position is getting better :)

Pretty girl, pretty tree :)

Taking the star to the tree...

Putting on the star together :) Avery loved that, and every time she looked at the tree for the whole time it was up she would get excited and tell me how she put the star on top of the tree :)

Kisses for Grandma :)

November - Grandma's here!!

My mother arrived the day before Thanksgiving and stayed til the day after Christmas, and Avery still talks about her every day almost a month later! (It's now January 21st - I'm still trying to catch up...!) We all loved having her here, but Avery especially, and they had a wonderful time together!
Our friends the Reedheads sent this super fun little gift set over with my Mother for Brogan, along with some chocolate for the rest of us. Do you think it's British enough?? Haha! I love it! The little plane on the bib squeaks, and the ones on the mittens rattle. I think it's great!! Gabe on the other hand....! Ha, no, he likes it too :)
Grandmas are apparently excellent for climbing on. Avery did this many times while she was here!

When this photo was taken on a trip to the park, Avery still needed a little help using her crutches, but since then she has become quite proficient at using them all by herself! She's still much faster and more stable with her walker, but she is able to use her crutches quite confidently now with no one holding on to her. She has made so much progress recently, I'm so proud of her.

On the swings :)

I love this photo of Brogan with his Grandma.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sunday and Bedtime Story

I took a few photos of Gabe and the children (that still sounds strange...i not only have a child, but children!) on Sunday before church. My three favourite people in the whole world :)
Brogan is wearing the cutest little hoodie which we got as a gift from Sebastian and Jenna. Love it! Avery is wearing a shirt and skirt because she didn't want to wear a dress! She's started getting picky about that sort of thing. Well, mostly she doesn't mind what she wears as long as it's not a dress.... funny girl! I gave her the choice of 2 very pretty dresses on Sunday, and she about had a fit saying "Noooooo! I need to wear a shirt!!!!!" Funny, funny girl....

I've been meaning to write about a few things before I forget them. I wish I was better at writing things down... I still have a few pages of my "journal" which my mother wrote in my baby book from when I was litle, and I love those, so I wish I was better at doing that for my children. It's funny to read about things I did and said as a toddler. So that's one of the purposes of this blog. One of the other reasons I've been trying so hard to be better at this is because I've been feeling bad about how bad I've been at staying in touch with family members, etc, so I feel as though this is a good way to at least keep you all up to date with what's going on with me and my family, even if it's a little impersonal. For those of you who are getting automatic emails every time I post, if you would prefer to not get them, please let me know. I've been trying to be a better person in general recently, and this blog is part of my effort.
Bedtime with Avery has always been interesting! She's always been good at finding ways to delay it if at all possible. One of her favourites is insisting that she needs to use the toilet, even though she only really wants to sit there so that she doesn't have to go to bed. But here's the basic routine these days: Once we're upstairs, she uses the potty, and while she's sitting there she brushes her teeth. Daddy for some reason thought it would be a good idea to teach her how to spit while brushing her teeth, in preparation for using "big girl" toothpaste and all of that, but I think it would have been better to wait until she was able to stand at the sink to brush her teeth, because it means that if I'm not right there ready to catch it, she just spits on her shirt!! But she brushes her teeth, and usually wants me to brush my teeth too, then I help her finish, and count to 40 while I brush. We then go through a few rounds of "Are you ready to wipe your bottom?" and "No!! I need to pee some more!!" and "Okay, well I'll wait in your room until you're ready to wipe" and "I need a book!" and "Okay, you can have a book when you've finished on the potty" until we finally get to "Okay, I finished" This takes longer some nights than other nights :) Then we go into her room and get changed into her pajamas. Then I help her say her prayers. Some nights she likes to make one of her baby dolls pray, and she holds it and folds its arms while she says the prayer, and then after she says amen she says "oh, good job baby! Well done folding your arms!" Then it's time to go pick out "just only one book" from her book shelf. Then commences the putting to bed of her one book and any soft toys that may not already be in bed. This is how that goes "Book is soooooo tired...he needs to go to bed" and then she helps it "climb" up into bed and crawl over the top of her bed rail. Once everyone's in bed she climbs up into bed herself with the help of her step stool, and then she does her ten jumps. She holds onto her bed rail and jumps on her knees, and I have to count her ten jumps, which range in number anywhere from 10 to 31!!! Then I ask her if she'd like a story or a song, and she almost always picks a song. (She likes Daddy's stories better than mine I think) So I turn off her light and she asks for her blankets and I sing her a song - she seems to like "Jesus said love everyone" most often- and then she says "Was that a good song? I liked it!" Recently she's started wanting to hide under her blankets, so the last thing I do before I leave is get a kiss, and then she says she needs her bunny and her puppy to hide with her under the blanket, so then once she's covered up I leave and pull the door to. But I don't close it - and I have to leave the hall light on. Out of the blue she developed a fear of the dark a few months ago, so now we have to leave the bathroom or hall light on all night otherwise she wakes up screaming in terror in the middle of the night. So that's about it! Of course, it's not exactly the same every night - sometimes she makes it very difficult and ends up in tears, and sometimes she skips right ahead and climbs into bed without being asked and says "good night" before she's even in her PJs! But she's very cute. I love being her mother.

Monday, November 17, 2008

One Crazy Day...

Well, today has been one crazy busy day, so I'm taking a quick break from the madness. Avery got another cold yesterday, even before she'd fully recovered from the one she had before that, so that's pretty fun...! But it meant that she woke up last night just as we were going to bed because she was coughing and spluttering and quite miserable with it, so I ended up sleeping with her in the guest room because she felt horrible and didn't want to sleep by herself. So I took the humidifier and our blankets and pillows into the guest room and the two of us slept on the bed in there. She's been needing to "hide" when she goes to sleep these days, so she takes her bunny and her puppy and together they hide under the blankets and that's how she goes to sleep. So I don't know how much good the humidifier did her when she was under two blankets, but oh well. So that was that, and then Brogan woke up twice last night, and then Avery was awake and wanting to go downstairs by about 6:30am, which I suppose on the positive side meant that she got to see Daddy for a few minutes before he went to work, but it also meant that I had to start my day earlier than I would have liked. Especially considering that I'm still sick with my cold, and had to look after two coughing children during the night. Fun times. Anyway, once we were up it just kept on going, and the whole day was just non-stop. Exhausting. Not a horrible day, just really busy. I could tell you about it, but it would take to long ;)

This was Brogan sitting on the couch this morning....




Now I'm going to go get some sleep before I have to get up to feed one child or comfort and medicate the other child :)
The End.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hike to the Star

Saturday was a beautiful day, so we decided to take advantage of the mild weather and do the hike up to the star. We haven't done much hiking/walking for a while, what with Avery being too big for the front baby carrier, and not yet walking, but now we have a back-pack carrier, so we decided to try it out! Avery wasn't keen when we put her in it at home to see whether it would be plausible, but once we got up the the bottom of the trail, she was perfectly happy to sit in it. So Gabe had her on his back, and I carried Brogan on my front, and we set out! We decided to start at the point where the trail crosses the road on the way up, instead of starting at the very beginning, because we didn't want to get stuck too from the minivan if it became too much for either child :)
Gabe and Avery on the trail, while it was still wide and flat-ish :) Avery loved riding on Daddy's back pack.

Brogan and me in the same spot, but facing the other way. Brogan fell asleep after a few minutes of walking, and slept all the way up, which was rather perfect. I don't know what it is about this carrier that makes it uneven - i've readjusted the straps countless times, but he just kept on slouching to the side. I remember Avery used to slouch the same direction too, so I think that it must just have been made a little funny. It's fine when he's facing out, but facing in I have to support him with my arm as well.

Brogan and me at the top. When we got up there, there was a small wedding going on, which was cute. But they were taking up the whole observation deck, so people kept on coming round the corner and then turning back around and leaving. We'd walked all the way up though, so we weren't about to turn around and leave again!! :) So I went and found a bench and nursed Brogan while we waited.

This is us at the top ready to go back down again. All in all it was a very fun morning, and it's nice to know that we can do things like this with both our little ones.

Hippotherapy again

This week Gabe wasn't working on Monday so he came out to hippotherapy with us, which was nice. For the first time ever Avery didn't want to get on the horse! She kept on saying "Noooo!" and crying when Miss Kathy took her over to the horse. Of course, she was fine once she was on the horse and it started moving, but it was strange! She's never not wanted to go ride the horse before, so I don't know what that was about. She had a cold over the weekend and still wasn't feeling completely better, so that was probably it.

Here she is "driving" Promise with her "steering wheel"!!

Flying like an airplane! She can now do this for quite a long time, which is great because of course it means that her core strength and trunk stability is getting stronger.

Clapping, tapping her helmet and high fives are all regular parts of the routine :

Next week is the last week of hippotherapy this fall :( How sad. And it might be our last time at Many Blessing Farm, which is even sadder, because they're all so nice there. But starting in the spring Carilion will be doing hippotherapy down near Rocky Mount, so we should be able to do it there with Lisa her PT, which would be wonderful for 2 reasons:
  1. It's Lisa. Lisa is great. And She's been working with Avery since she was a tiny little 4 month old :)
  2. It's less than 20 minutes from our house, whereas we drive almost an hour to get to Many Blessings Farm.

So, while we love the farm, and Avery not only loves the horses and the people, but also the cats and the bunnies :), it just wouldn't be smart to carry on going out there if we have the option of doing it closer to home. Also, it would be less complicated as far as insurance goes, because right now she's getting therapy through 2 providers (Center for Rehab and Development, and Carilion Pediatric Therapies), which her insurance doesn't like and it's a big ordeal to get it re-approved every few months. They want he to only have therapy through one provider, so they would probably like it better if she was doing PT and hippotherapy through carilion. Anyway, that's a few months down the road, so we;ll see how it all pans out then.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Playing in the leaves

Well, there are leaves all over the trampoline and ground, so the other day Avery had a great time playing in them! Gabe took her out on the trampoline and he said that at first she was a little unsure of all the crunchy leaves on it, but then he got on and rolled around in them a little, and then she decided it was pretty cool :)

While Avery was busy playing with the leaves on the trampoline, Gabe raked up a huge pile of leaves on the grass, and at first she didn't want to get off the trampoline to go and see, but then she watched Gabe play in the pile, and she decided it looked like more fun than the trampoline!