Friday, November 10, 2017

2 Years.

Look who is TWO!

I can't believe we have reached the two year mark. As always, it has come upon us so quickly! In the last six months, Ellie has grown in many ways. 
Her language is developing every day as she adds more and more words to her vocabulary. She is naming most things these days, repeating what she hears us saying. For the first time, I can see her satisfaction of being able to verbally express what she is trying to tell us. Seeing that light bulb of recognition go off saying "Yes! They understand me!" is such a cool thing to witness. With the growth in vocabulary has also come the process of learning how to string together words. This is another neat progression to see as you can literally see the wheels spinning as she slowly puts the words together. So far she has a handful of two to three word phrases she can regularly throw out. These include goodies such as "sissy cying", "yuh you mama (or dada, or sissy)". I also love the moments when her mind is working overdrive and all of the words come tumbling out in a jumble of nonsense. My most recent favorite that I don’t want to forget is how she pronounces “snow”. Saying “s’s” are hard for her so she concentrates real hard and says “no-sss” when she is saying “snow”. 

Ellie made leaps and bounds quite literally over the summer in regards to her legs and low muscle tone. In June we started her at a new physical therapy office. We were very happy with the direction and care at the new facility. Our new therapist recommended Ellie be fitted with SMO braces from the start. These are to help with supporting her ankles, creating an arch, and forcing underutilized muscles to work and gain strength. Soon after being fitted with the braces, she was released from physical therapy as she was hitting two year old milestones, 5 months ahead. It has been so awesome to see her confidence grow as she runs, jumps, and climbs everything. For the long haul, it looks as though she will be in these SMO braces until age 3 or 4. Her right ankle is still leaning in quite obviously, although it doesn't appear to bother her at all. Finding the correct shoe to fit the SMO brace with her feet being so little was a lot of trial and error. We have found the Tsukihoshi brand has been our favorite so far because of the width they provide.

Ellie is consistently hesitant about anything that is new to her. In order to get her to try something it generally takes a few demonstrations and goading in order to get her to buy in. This can be anything from trying a new food to putting on mittens. Once she decides she is into something then she is all in and fully invested. Recently, she refused to wear mittens, screaming and crying over them despite her red, frozen hands. She eventually warmed up to them after realizing that everyone else wearing them, while they were also excitedly encouraging her to try them. Once she finally allowed them on, she refused to take off the "ittens", even inside. She then wore them all around the house calling out "-ittens! -ittens!". These are the moments that Adam and I often find ourselves shaking our heads to each other and muttering under our breath..."this gonna give us a run for our money...”

In the last six months, Ellie has been working her way out of her sweet, calm infant shell into a stubborn, outspoken, feisty little being. She is everything that two's are known for and then some. There are many times I feel like I'm dealing with a moody twelve year old instead of a teeny little two year old. She puts herself in time outs regularly when she is mad, crosses her arms, frowns, and pouts to express all those tough to handle two year old emotions. I think her ability to be so obvious with how she's feeling is exacerbated by the fact she has a big sister who she idolizes and copies incessantly. She has learned so many ways to show "I'm mad right now!" and loves to make sure we all know it. She is also insanely stubborn and insistent. The girl knows what she wants and refuses to accept much less. She typically spends her days finding anything she can to feel as though she is the one in control and making the decisions. These personality traits sure will come in handy when she is older and ready to rule the world.

With these strong emotions has also come an increased aggression. Ellie has struggled with biting, hitting, and kicking, none of which her older sister ever did. In fact, Adly is usually the target for these forces of aggression. (Don't worry, Adly is rarely innocent, she loves stealing her little sisters toys). As Ellie heads into being two, these things appear to be going away ever so slowly. I've read all the parenting books trying to figure out how to best approach it. I honestly think it is something she will just have to grow out of as her vocabulary increases. She is also different from Adly when it comes to punishments for such acts. Adly was fiercely against time-outs and refused to sit in one spot for any given amount of time. Ellie, however, takes the sentence handed to her with dignity and sits and waits until she is released from her jail cell of a time-out chair. It is usually followed by a "sa-yee mama, or sa-yee sissy..." and a few bats of those beautiful blue eyes, which makes us all melt to the floor and forget.

On the flip side of her little outbursts, Ellie continues to be our biggest snuggler. She still loves to cuddle up and watch a show or read a book. Her nighttime routine includes a song before bed where she snuggles right up into our neck and pops her thumb into her mouth while Adam or I sing to her. Every night that she does this, I feel like it could be the last, so I continue to soak each and every one up. She is also a huge hugger. She will always offer a hug when anyone is sad, coming home, or leaving.

Her sister is her absolute best friend and I hope they always stay this close. They love to play together (and then fight, and then make up and play again before fighting again). She absolutely adores Adly and does anything and everything her big sissy does. In the last month or so, Ellie has also adapted her own version of a "nye nye" blankie and 2 stuffies (Hoo-Ha the monkey and Doggie the dog). This is stemming from Adly's obsession with her own night-night blankie and snuggling with it for our bedtime TV watching. Now they both run into their rooms grabbing their lovies the second they hear that it is time to "watch a show" at bedtime.

She continues to go by mostly Ellie, with her full name, Eleanor coming out usually when she has been naughty. I so love the name Eleanor. I hope that as she continues to grow, it begins to stick more. For now though, she continues to be our little Ellie Bellie.

As much as Ellie likes to keep us on our toes, we sure love her to bits. I cannot wait to continue to see her grow, change and thrive into her own little person as she ventures into the land of the twos. To my sweet Ellie girl, you are a constant ray of sunshine for our family. We love you so.

Here's a little about Ellie at 2:

-favorite toy(s): Doggie and Hoo-Ha the monkey

-favorite food: pancakes and oatmeal w/raisins

-favorite book: Dance Me Daddy, You Are My I Love You, & Goodnight Moon

-favorite animal: dog

-favorite show: Wee Sing

-favorite movie: Sing

Saturday, June 3, 2017

18 Months & Unstoppable

Miss Ellie Bellie is now 18 months old! Oh, how the time has flown. And speaking of flying, so is Ellie. She has almost mastered the skill of walking and is using that prowess to get into anything and everything imaginable.

She continues to be happy go lucky most of the time, exploring the world without much hesitation. her personality seems to be much different than her big sisters. Where Adly is shy and demure, Ellie busts into things without much thought. With her newfound ability to get anywhere she pleases has come her insatiable appetite for danger. Nothing seems to stop her when it comes to curiosity and well, being an outright stinker. She is famous for giving a little side eye, mixed with a grin as she reaches for anything and everything she is not supposed to have. Whereas Adly spent her time happily playing within the parameters we set around our house; Ellie looks for any place imaginable that hasn't been baby proofed (or has) and dives for it.

Ellie is talking more and more, but is definitely way less verbal than Adly was at this point. However it is so much more exciting having a big sister to cheer her on whenever she does come up with a new word to repeat. She acknowledged me as "mama" for the first time a few weeks ago which was amazing. She calls our nanny Colleen "Leeny". She will also make attempts at most words you ask her to say. One of her favorite things this past month has been saying "beeeyey!!" which is "belly" while invading your personal space and lifting up your shirt. She will do this to anyone and everyone, no matter your stomach situation.

Her slower language development is already starting to lead to glimpses of meltdowns. She has never done anything in public thus far, but her favorite reactions seem to be throwing herself on the floor, banging her head on the couch, or biting the crap out of any inanimate object she can find quickly. She is most frustrated by her sister stealing things from her or me not understanding what she is trying to say. It is so hard to try to communicate when they are so close...but just can't yet.

Speaking of her sister, Adly and Ellie continue to grow and find ways to play together which is awesome. They will often run off and play together, however the language barrier still plagues their ability to actually "play". Most of their time together consists of Adly creating games around Ellie that Ellie has no idea of whats going on so she just runs back and forth yelling and giggling. Ellie still adores Adly and completely looks up to her, calling ,"Sissy! Siiiisssy!!" all day, every day. Adly, ever the opportunist, has seen this as a way to at times torment this little being that cuts her attention in half. Last week, I was cleaning the kitchen as I heard Adly yelling about a gorilla that was after her. I came into the living room a few minutes later as Adly tells me, "The gorilla is locked away. Don't worry, we're safe!" Turns out the "gorilla" was her sister who she'd locked in her pitch black closet. I of course ran and opened the door, only to find little Ellie happily playing in the dark with a toy, completely content. Someday,'ll get yours. 

Ellie also seems to be super tough. She incurred her first elbow and knee scrapes during our random bouts of warm weather. Having her bare skin exposed while running around the treacherous driveway resulted in quite a few spills. Both times, she was cut and bleeding and I didn't know until much later. She never cried or made any indication she was hurt from a fall. I was sure cleaning the wounds would illicit wails, but no. She happily played with her toy while I cleaned and placed band-aids. I hope she's always this tough!

Speaking of tough, she is also pretty rough and tumble, compared to her big sister. She tends to be the one doing the damage when it comes to them fighting. She is also a hitter and a biter (only with our immediate family), which is new to us as well. So far, this seems to be her favorite way to "express" herself. Hopefully it is a quick phase that fades with more communication skills.

The engineer in her continues to blossom as she focuses in on something and repeatedly attempts to figure out what it is and how it works. She still picks up the smallest items and investigates them carefully. As she's grown, it has become more of an effort to see how things work together and fit into each other. I love this so much about her, and can't wait to be able to talk through her thinking when she is bigger.

Her progress with her legs has been up and down. We are switching therapists for her physical therapy in the coming weeks to get a new set of eyes on her. She'll also be seeing an orthopedic surgeon to be evaluated. While she's made great strides as a walker (and even runner), her ankles are still very loose and leaning in without the support of shoes. It has been a frustrating process to not have direct answers. We are hopeful that these next steps are just the beginning of a short road to finding the best solutions to help her as much as possible.

Ellie, you continue to brighten our days with your never ending smiles and happy outlook on life. We love you for always keeping us on our toes!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

16 months!

Our sweet Ellie is now a whopping 16 months old. She has spent the months since her first birthday growing rapidly, but her biggest burst has most definitely been in the last month.

She is now talking away. We went from babbles and sporadic dada's to saying all sorts of things and attempting to say almost anything we get her to repeat. Her word list includes goodies such as: Shay, (her cousins name), Gaga (grandma), Papa (grandpa), sissy, ba-ba, ball, mama, uh-oh, dada, hi, hot, belly, head, and bye. She says "dada!" when he walks in a room, but has yet to really say it for me. Her first two-word phrase was "ka-koo!" which is "thank you". She also says "buh-bye!" This burst of language really took place in the last week.

Those crystal blue eyes are still holding on strong!

She's been all over the place with foods and her likes/dislikes change daily. I guess she's just another normal toddler in that department. Some of her favorite foods (depending on the day) are yogurt, applesauce, cottage cheese, fish sticks, spaghetti, chicken nuggets, pouches, milk, and pancakes. She loves using a spoon, and loves creating a food disaster zone every time she uses one. She despises anything new and will refuse to eat whatever is new to her. She has no qualms about twisting her face and looking beyond disgusted that you would even attempt to offer her something so terrible (like pizza).

From a very young age, Ellie seemed to have really good fine motor skills, picking up the littlest objects off the ground to investigate. She is an expert at finding the tiniest crumb or piece of dirt on the floor. I try not to think about the amount of items she's actually consumed from our floors. As she grows, it has been interesting to watch her develop this skill. She will sit and place items around her and spend an extended amount of time working to put them inside each other or place them in specific orders. In the bathtub, for the longest time she would sit and try to figure out the toggle on the spout to turn on the shower. Every bath, she would look up the faucet, feeling around trying to figure out what that thing was and why it was there. After some time, she discovered if she pushed up, the knob at the top would stick out. And if she pushed that knob down the toggle would come back out for her to play with. She was so excited when she figured out how it worked. Watching her so carefully make these discoveries and figure out how things fit into the world is one of the coolest aspects of this age. I never want to forget that feeling of seeing your child discover something new.

She spent an hour trying to figure out how to put the insert in the shoe like mama did. 

Ellie LOVES having an older sister. She is most definitely the bruiser, who has no problem walloping her older sister, attempting to bite her, or poking at her while pretending like she's "playing". She also loves to instigate wrestling matches between the two. Adly, ever the complacent older sister is pretty gracious when dealing with this, although she definitely gets her jabs in at various times too. One of Ellie's earliest words was "sissy" and she can be found most often trailing behind her yelling "Sissy! Sissy!" 

With Ellie, there are way more toys all over the house than we ever had when Adly was this age. Adly has an insatiable imagination that is active from sunup to sundown. Because of this, Ellie has developed the ability to pretend much earlier than Adly ever did. She will take the toy foods we have around the house and pretend to eat them. She feeds fake foods to the stuffed animals. In the bath the other night she was filling up a lego with water and having the toy pig drink the water. While Adly continues to impatiently wait for Ellie to really be able to talk, they have developed a level of play that is so fun to see happen. They giggle and laugh and chase each other around the house and Ellie copies everything her big sister does.

Snacking with sissy. 

Car Carts. Every child's dream, every parents nightmare.

As a baby, we watched Adly grow into a very careful, thoughtful toddler. She rarely took dangerous chances and definitely wasn't a climber. Enter the younger sister and all that easy parenting gloriousness went out the window. Ellie definitely challenges our patience and our fears by having, quite frankly, no fear whatsoever. The kicker about Ellie being fearless is that she knows it. Most often, while she's climbing on top of something and then attempting to stand, or rocking the chair she's on to knock it over, she'll look over her shoulder with a sneaky grin almost as if to say, "yep, I'm doing it again, try and stop me now....". 

The biggest accomplishment for Ellie the last month has been her advancement to walking. She was diagnosed as "low tone" around six months. We didn't know much about it other than the fact that she was very bendy and didn't put any weight on her legs. She garnered nicknames like "froggy" and "flopsy mopsy" because she was just that: floppy. When she moved to sitting, she would lean back with her legs flying up in the air. It looked as though she had abs of steel, balancing herself on her tailbone. What we have learned now is that she actually had no core strength and that position was a way for her to overcompensate for that. We followed our pediatricians advice and waited out physical therapy until she recommended it at her one year checkup.

Hearing your child has a deficit and needs some sort of outside help is scary no matter the situation or the age. I kept telling myself she'd be fine. She had hit every milestone in a timely matter and she was so close to walking, she could overcome it on her own. Around 14 months, she did start to "walk". But her ankles were still so loose and I couldn't deny her stance was off. He legs bowed inward and her feet outward to support her weight. Something just wasn't right. It was then that I finally made the call for therapy. We looked into early intervention and a childhood therapy facility our pediatrician had recommended. I am so grateful Illinois offers programs such as early intervention, which provides free screenings and in-home visits for families with a child who is displaying some sort of developmental delay. However, our insurance policy also covered physical therapy, so we chose to go through that. This was mainly because she could start the same week I called, whereas early intervention was more of a wait.

Therapy helped almost immediately. Since Adam is off of work, he took on the duty of taking her every week. She definitely regressed over the first few weeks and quit walking all together. This was mostly due to the new inserts her therapist had her use and the constant therapy she was receiving from Adam at home. All of the changes forced her to re-learn how to walk correctly which took some time. Ellie, ever my stubborn offspring, hates therapy (or the therapist) with a passion. She would spend most visits according to Adam crying, clinging and whining. At week four of therapy, Adam excitedly texted me that the therapist had taken Ellie away to the therapy gym where he could watch her through a double-sided mirror. Once Adam was out of the picture, Ellie started walking everywhere with the therapist. She cruised for an entire session, not sitting down once. By the time she got home, she went immediately back to crawling only. It wasn't until after the next session that she began actually attempting to walk at home. Of course, being at work and not being able to witness any of this awesomeness was pure torture.

A few weeks later and at 16 months, she's now taking careful steps around the house. Her signal that she's going to walk is to say, "go! go!" If we tell her to "go", she'll stop crawling and start walking. Seeing her walk now is completely different than when she started around 14 months. It is amazing to me what becomes "normal" to you when you're dealing with a child that doesn't fit the norm. As I see her now, taking her careful, yet precise, yet wobbly steps the memories of Adly learning to walk come flooding back. She is now learning to walk as any other child does, it just took a little extra help to get her there.

Another thing that has taken a while to get here have been her teeth. She had her two lower teeth pop through shortly after turning one. For a long time after that, there was nothing. Then one day, I was able to get my prodding fingers into her mouth, only to discover she had an entire mouthful of teeth coming through. Her upper right fang was the first to come through with that spurt. Months later, her two front teeth and a few back teeth are creeping their way out. Thankfully, and I mean this with the utmost sincerity, we have been blessed with an easier teether. (Terrible teething moms, I salute you). Besides a few fussy eating sessions and some whining at night, it has not even been noticeable.

Ellie continues to fill every last ounce of our beings with her snuggles and love. She is a total lovey and will happily crawl into our laps at any given moment for a snuggle and a hug. I find myself holding on to every last bit of her babyhood. Every night at bedtime Adam and I have both developed a routine of a little snuggle and song time with her. When we stand up from reading our night time book in the rocking chair, she throws her thumb in her mouth and snuggles her head right into the crook of my neck. With her little arms wrapped around my shoulder I quietly sing, You Are My Sunshine,  and hold back tears, willing time to slow down.

Happy 16 months my sweet Ellie girl. We love you to bits.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Thankful. (Peanut Allergy Awareness)

For 8 years I've been in classrooms and taught how to use EpiPens...if the day ever came. I never believed I'd ever use one. For 3 years, I've had a daughter who tested positive for a peanut allergy with a component for severe anaphylaxis to occur if ever ingested. I still never thought I'd use one.

Finding out Adly had a peanut allergy via a scratch test at 11 months old was a bummer for sure. However, I don't think either of us fully understood the gravity of the diagnosis. Yes, she now had a peanut allergy and it was going to make our life a little more difficult. But I didn't want that to stop us from living as normal people. I didn't want to be that overbearing mom I've seen plenty of times who refused to let my child "live" at restaurants, parties, and play dates. Plus, beyond a few spots on her face, I had never seen any type of reaction regarding peanuts. It is such an abstract diagnosis that it can be hard to fully comprehend the severity of it. Your child gets pricked with a needle yearly, some blood is drawn, and weeks later your notified over the phone whether the allergy is still present and the severity of it. As of age two, with the blood test results, we were told the following: Adly tested positive on a level 2 out of 4 in severity. However, she has a component within the allergy that identifies to present itself through anaphylaxis if ingested, which therefore makes it that much more serious.

We have been diligent about any food products we buy at home and making sure she always has her EpiPen on hand wherever we go. We make sure everyone close to us knows about the allergy, we inform any caretakers and send her to a peanut-free school with EpiPens. Because that is what you're told to do. But truthfully, I never really thought she'd ever be in a situation where she might have any kind of severe reaction. Because we're careful. 

This weekend, we were invited to a neighbors first birthday party where we didn't know anyone. We were both excited at the prospect of meeting new people with kids in our neighborhood. It was a hustle and bustle kind of night, trying to talk to and meet everyone while chasing around our wild one year old and simultaneously keeping an eye on our 3 year old. It was at that party that my very smart and knowledgeable daughter ate two Reese's peanut butter bell candies, across the room from us, with another little girl. In the final seconds of the act, Adam happened to notice Adly chewing something.

Neither girl would admit to eating anything. Adam smelled peanut butter on her breath. It was only after some coaxing that I was able to get the wrapper from the other little girl. My heart sank to my feet when I carefully unballed the red foil to read "Reese's". We looked at her, she was fine. No grabbing her neck because she couldn't breathe, no redness, no hives; all of which I had expected to happen were we ever in this situation. For the next 10 minutes we held our breath at the party, trying to remain calm. No symptoms. Maybe she wasn't even really allergic, I kept telling myself.

"Maybe she didn't even eat it," I hopefully said to a dad who was sitting near the girls. "No, she definitely did," he confirmed.

After some back and forth we decided to leave and go back home to observe her. There, we peppered her with questions. She was over it; tired and annoyed. She wouldn't answer us. "Do you feel itchy? Does your throat feel weird? Does your tummy hurt?" Lets be honest, does a toddler really know how to answer those questions? Probably not. But in that moment, it was all I could do to keep myself sane. 10 minutes later. She's going to be fine. It was just a fluke, Maybe she really didn't even eat it. She KNOWS she's allergic to peanuts. She KNOWS to ask before she eats.

10 more minutes. Call the pediatrician, they can tell me its all just a fluke and it will go away. There were still no visible symptoms, but she had started coughing. I made the call. Left a voicemail on the emergency line in which they respond within 20 minutes. Two minutes later, our pediatrician called back, asking for a rundown of what had happened.

The pediatrician stated with a firmness and urgency I'll never forget: "Get the EpiPen and administer immediately. Then get to the ER as fast as possible. I know you don't see much now, but when it happens, the reaction is going to come fast."

I hung up the phone. Walked to the bathroom like a robot and instructed Adam to pull her pants down. I pulled out the EpiPen that was in its trusty spot. I scanned the instructions, walking to the living room. I popped the cap. I held her thigh. I stabbed. She screamed. Adam and I counted out loud over her screams, "one one thousand, two one thousand..." I lost it, sobbing through the counting. Time slowed to a halt. 10 seconds in the thigh.

And then it was over. Just like that. I dried my own tears and went back into robot mode. Move the cars, I thought. I ran outside with no coat, moving Adams snow covered car blindly into the street. I ran in and got our other car keys, hearing Adly screaming at the top of her lungs. Brush off the car, warm up the car. Go, go, go....

All this time I had been thinking Adam would take her to ER and I would stay behind with Ellie. He is the calm one who knows how to handle these situations far better than I. However, I've been the one to handle her allergies, take her to her yearly summer allergist appointment and receive the EpiPen education. After a quick back and forth it was decided I should go. To the car. Go, go, go....

On the 13 minute drive to the hospital we hit every.single.light. Adly began declining rapidly in the car. She was talking nonsense and continuing to attempt to pass out. Like a robot, I'd shake her leg and make her tell me a story. Like a robot, I was complaining about the lights. "We should've taken a f*!king ambulance", I muttered at a light. I heard Adly quietly remind me from the backseat, "it's going to be ok mama." Of course. My beyond her years daughter could speak so wisely, yet she couldn't remember in that moment to NOT EAT THE CANDY. Why?? Because she's three. She's still a baby. My baby.

When we finally raced into the ER driveway and I got her out, I was shocked. She was mumbling, beet red red, and swollen. There was a line at the sign-in and all I remember is shouting about how she was in anaphylactic shock and needed to get in to get another shot. The receptionist grabbed us and led us back into the triage where they immediately got to work. Suddenly my baby was being stabbed in her other leg, IV going in her hand, mask on her face. She was screaming and crying inconsolably. The doctor came in and that is when I slipped from robot mom into ohmygodwhatishappening mom and lost it. I couldn't even compose myself to explain the details of what had happened.

 About an hour after being admitted to hospital. 

It wasn't for another few hours that the symptoms began to subside. She had eaten a good amount and they needed to keep her overnight to continue observing. It is common for the reaction to take hold again even hours after exposure, because of the fat content in peanuts. Thankfully, by morning and after a lot of drugs, she was completely back to her old self.

 Showing her handy dandy IV holder pad. 
 Checking out the snow the next morning from our room. 
Playing with her new Barbie our sweet nurse gave her in the morning. Fully recovered.

In the days since that awful night, we've done a lot of reflecting and talking between Adam and I and with Adly. A few days later, it came out in conversation with her that she actually had asked the little girl if it had nuts. She really did know what to say. But of course, what does an unknowing three year old answer to that? "There's no nuts. You're fine. Here you go, eat it."  For all that little girl knew, she was being nice to Adly and sharing her candy. To any other child without allergies, they know nothing about nuts and the danger of them. The bottom line is, so much education is required when it comes to these allergies, and sometimes, it's just not enough.

I wanted to share our experience to provide a helpful reminder to those with allergies and those without, especially during the holiday season. These allergies are serious, and can be life threatening. If you know someone has a food allergy of any sort, do your best to work around it if hosting. If you know your child has an allergy, do your best to assess all types of food available when going to gatherings. This is one of the things I always do. But on this particular night, I didn't. I saw random candies laid out carefully in pretty bowls and never stopped to personally remind Adly she couldn't eat them.

Adly experienced what is called a latent reaction. This reaction works its way from the inside out and therefore takes time to show any visible symptoms. Meanwhile, its wreaking havoc internally on the body. I often get asked how we even discovered she was allergic to peanuts. Common signs of any allergic reactions (and what we first experienced at 11 months) are red splotchy spots around the mouth. Any noticeable irritation after eating a certain food. We treated immediately with a dose of Benedryl and she was fine. It is important to note that reactions get worse the more times a person is exposed. Therefore, at 11 months, Adly's first exposure, the reaction was minimal. Fast forward two more years and it was life threatening.

We've now purchased Adly this bracelet she will wear day and night for as long as I can force her to. It was something I had considered buying but for whatever reason never did. No, this wouldn't have stopped that little girl from telling Adly the candy she wanted to give her didn't have nuts. But maybe it would've notified a parent who was standing closer than we were. Just maybe. Our child is very quickly leaving our very protective nest of safety, entering school, play dates, playgrounds, and gatherings where we can't keep our eye on her every little move. I can only hope she continues to be protected from any more incidents.

Ever since Thanksgiving, Adly has loved to randomly ask what I'm thankful for. Yes, we could have done a lot of things differently but I think if anything, I'm thankful we now know just how serious it is. I'm thankful we caught her eating it. I'm thankful we had the EpiPen. I'm thankful we have responsive pediatricians, no matter the day or hour. I'm thankful for the ER staff who knew what to do right away to make her better.

But above all else, I'm thankful my sweet girl is still here with us today.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

One Year.

Our sweet Eleanor is one.

Where did the time go? 

In one year, our lives have changed tremendously. We had a winter off together. We bought a house and moved to the suburbs. I left my job and many dear friends. Adly became potty trained and started pre-school. I began a new job and grade level. So many changes, and all for the better.

Here is Ellie, at one year old:

At one, Ellie is standing and letting go (and promptly dropping like a sack of potatoes). She is one determined little peanut and holds true to the statement "try, try, try...and try again."

She is slowly scaling around the couch.

She will "walk" with the help of mama or dada holding her hands.

She is like a little tree monkey and climbs up my legs to standing, wherever I stop.

Ellie has 2 bottom front teeth.

She eats, but is very picky. Her favorite foods include toast, any fruit, frozen peas, yogurt, and applesauce. She does not like meat or fish.

She can only drink milk from a cup. She has no time for the nonsense of Sippy's or straws. Sitting up to drink can be hard for her, so she does best in the highchair with an adult holding the cup for her.

She says "mama", "dada", "doggie", and "tee-tee" (pretty). I swear I heard an "Adeee!" when she was crawling after Adly one day. But that has only happened once. She is mostly known for her noises at this point. My absolute favorite is when she kisses someone and then goes "ohhhhhh!" She also falls and makes an "oooo!" sound.

Her favorite animals are cows, dogs, lions, bears, and elephants. She can make their sounds and goes crazy when she sees any of the above live and in person. Like when we went to the zoo and saw a lion close up, she went crazy roaring. And when we go for walks, she sees a dog and kicks and wiggles like crazy saying "woof, woof!!"

Ellie continues to even out our family with her calm, happy disposition. We are still all shocked when she cries, because it happens so rarely. She wakes up happy and goes to bed happy. We still have no idea where this bizarre personality came from, and hope it stays forever and ever (even through the threenager years).

While she's really the happiest baby ever, she is also quite the stinker! We are learning her sneaky little ways every day. She has no problem walloping her big sister in the face whenever she can get the chance. She gets into anything and everything she can get her hands on. When she is locked out of a room by baby gates she climbs up the gate, shakes it with all her might and screeches to be let in. Left laying in bed and want to get up or don't want to go to bed? Ellie's answer to that is to kick the walls with all her might (this can be heard throughout the entire house). More than once, Adam and I have caught eyes shaking our heads and realizing....she might be the one that really gives us a run for our money.

Ellie is still a total mama's girl, although she loves her dada and being with him too. She also adores her big sister.

She is a typical little sister and wants everything her big sissy has. Naturally, her big sissy does not enjoy "sharing". But honestly, more often than not, they love playing together. I think Adly is truly starting to enjoy this little being that can chase her, and play silly games with her. They laugh hysterically together over nothing and will play for extended amounts of time on their own. I absolutely adore these times together and only hope they continue. These are the moments I live for.

We are still taking things day by day as far as the low tone diagnosis goes. I've done a lot more reading on it over the last few months. It can come through in many forms as far as speech and fine motor skills are concerned, but for that only time will tell. She will be reevaluated at her one year appointment goes as far as her leg strength progress is concerned and we will discuss the necessity of therapy at that time.

I never could have guess one year ago how much I could love another little being. It's true that those feelings are present, and heavy before another little one comes. But the reality is, your heart really does have so much more room for other little loves. (Although this heart is full enough with two).

Thank you, my sweet Ellie-Bo-Belly for making our lives complete. We love you more than words could ever do justice.

What is this awful sweet stuff you shoved in my mouth!?


Friday, September 2, 2016

Dating While Married.

Last night, I had Adly's preschool orientation. I know. It's here. My oldest baby is officially off to school. And because I can't handle my emotions, I chose to attend the orientation instead of the first day. I was starting to regret that decision. I mean, I'm her mom. I should obviously be there for the first day, right?!! Only, as I sat in the classroom listening to her teacher tell us all the amazing things she's going to be doing and learning this year, I caught sight of something with her name on it. My mind quickly wandered off to the first time we met and when she seemed so small and life was so, so hard. And how we got through that together and how she grew into this amazing, caring little being who is now my ultimate sidekick. And as these thoughts came rushing in, so did the tears. I continued to turn around "looking", trying to dry my tears before any parents could notice the crazy mom who couldn't control her emotions.

Thankfully, in between my awkward stares at the floor and all around the room trying to choke back tears, I caught sight of this mom who gave me a knowing glace and a smile. Of course, I did the awkward smile back and then immediately had to check over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't mistaken and she was actually smiling at her BFF standing behind me. 

Luckily for me, she was looking at me. As we all quietly shuffled to the next room I made some random comment toward her and her husband about being emotionally unstable about my 3 year old entering pre-k and how I, of all people as a teacher, should know she's going to be JUST fine. She replied that she too was a teacher and her first daughter was also starting in the three year old program. My heart began to flutter at the possibility. A new mom friend?! Could it be? No, no it's too good to be true. 

I calmed myself down as we went room to room. As we toured the school, we kept bumping into each other at each stop and continued to find more things in common. She has a 9 month old girl too. She commutes for her job. She was exhausted last night after a long day with her students. And she was so nice! 

After an hour and a half of draining emotional turmoil, I headed out into the cool night. My new "friend" and her husband stepped out the same time I did as we talked about the first day. I knew I had to go for it, but man it is so scary. What if I was rejected? What if she really didn't like me? What if she already has enough friends? What if she doesn't like to pound wine after a long week? (I quickly shooed that idea away though, I mean, come on...she's a teacher!)

As we were awkwardly saying our goodbye's I stammered out the official ask. "So, can I have your number?" 

I mean, that's seriously what I said. Because I have issues. But can you blame me? I left the comfort of my city four months ago, and besides the one mom I stalked on the walk to the car repair shop, I haven't met any new moms! 

Thankfully, she excitedly (I think...or maybe it was just my excitement that made me think she was excited) replied that she would love to exchange numbers and get together with our kids. We then had a great laugh about how awkward it was that her husband was there while I was trying to ask his wife out. Now that I think about it, I sure hope they understood my humor.....

Meeting new mom friends is absolutely like dating. Except you're sober. And there's usually crazy kids running around interrupting your conversations. It usually takes a few hang outs to decide whether your ideals, child raising tactics and drinking preferences mesh. And if all of the above match, then you've definitely found yourself a lifelong friend. You're almost guaranteed to be friends no matter what when your children's ages/sexes match up as well. 

I'm not yet sure where this newfound friendship will go. But I'm excited for what it may become. We've exchanged our first obligatory texts. Since I made the first move, I'm going to wait until after the first day of school to text again. Hopefully she responds and we actually get to have our first official "date", kids and all. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

9 months

Somehow we've moved at lightning speed this summer to jump into the last increment of our first year with miss Eleanor.

The last month was a big one of growth for Ellie, so I felt I had to take some time to write about it. For starters, she's sitting like a champ these days. She is babbling like crazy and working really hard on her "da-da-da" and "na-na-na's". Some others we've heard have been "nye-nye-nye" (which she knows is night-night time) and "ba-ba-ba". She also communicates through squeals and screams. I think if you asked her, she'd say she has full on conversations with Adly, all through noises. While we can figure out a lot about what she's trying to say, I know Adly especially is ready for her to start talking for real. I regularly hear her saying things like "why can't Ellie just talk??" While she may not be saying words, she sure knows how to make her voice heard through yells, screams, and squeals.

This past month, we tossed Ellie into the abyss of the big bath tub with her sister. This dual bath time schedule has been amazing for all of us. Not only does it cut out a big chunk of time, it has given the two girls a whole new world of play. We've discovered Ellie is a total fish and will situate herself right under the water spout anytime it's on. Both girls LOVE splashing like crazy and squealing with delight as they scrub-a-dub. Adly has also been trying to argue her way into having a bath every single night, because she loves them so much now.

While Ellie still has no interest in standing in any way, she continues to find ways to wriggle, rock, and roll her way around places. She has also learned how to sit back up all on her own. Let me tell you, the first time I walked into the room after I had left her laying down and she was sitting, I definitely thought her big sister was playing a trick on me.

Speaking of her big sissy, Adly has definitely taken on a new view of herself in the last month. This is one of little mother hen. Suddenly, my 3 year old is overly interested in mothering Ellie just as I do. Or should I say, copying everything I say to Ellie in her own words while jumping in front of me. Another favorite of hers has become to let me know when I do something "wrong" (different than normal) or when something happens with Ellie.

This was helpful the other day when, just a few days shy of 9 months, Adly yelled out from the living room saying, "Mama! Ellie's crawling over to her toy!! She's crawling!". Of course, I ran in the room just in time to see Ellie sitting in one place and rocking on all fours. Who knows if she was really crawling, but I do think it's a pretty great story that her big sister was actually the one who saw the first "crawl".

Ellie has also made big strides as an eater. The little miss who once refused to eat any foods has totally come into her own. She still loves pouches and will suck them down anytime they're offered. However, she's also moved on to completely random solids. I've said from early on that one area where she far surpassed Adly was in dexterity. I'm amazed at her pincer grasp she's had for quite some time and her ability to pick up the littlest thing. She is very much in a "I can do it myself, mama" mode (look at that, JUST like my toddler!) and likes to only feed herself. If I try to put food in her mouth with my hands, she will push my hand away and grab the food from my fingers to feed herself. Some foods she's tried and loved this month are: strawberries, raspberries, bread of any kind, mango, watermelon and fish. She also likes to be part of the crowd and seems to enjoy just about anything I'm eating and pass on to her. Watching her eat has been so much easier this time around, and the gagging doesn't scare me nearly as much as it did with Adly. She's becoming a better eater by the day.

Ellie continues to be a true delight to our family. It's incredible to me that at one time she wasn't here. I say it all the time, but she is seriously the happiest, most content baby. And I still contend, while I love it, I have no idea where her personality comes from! Her crystal blue eyes are still hanging on strong, with all of us hoping they're here to stay. She naps regularly, two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. In between she spends her time adoring her sister and doing everything she can to "play" alongside her.

In the next month there will be many more changes within our family. I go back to work at a new job on the 15th and a new nanny will be joining our family. We're very excited about her and I think the girls are going to adore her. I'm looking forward to a quiet 30 minute commute to and from school to wind down every day. A big difference this fall has been Adly's awareness of my "going back to work." I'm hoping she handles it fine, but lately she's been bringing up her hesitance about me "leaving her" more often.

Another big change for our family will be Adly heading to preschool for the first time. We've chosen a quaint little church preschool a short walk from our house. This will be the first time Adly will be spending extended time within a classroom setting and I can't seem to stop myself from crying every time we're there. I don't know why, but this has been by far the hardest transition for me. Following our pediatrician's advice, I will not be attending her first day. This is because I cannot, for the life of me, keep my emotions in check. Even typing this now I've got tears welling up. Something about my little girl who no longer looks like a baby walking into school for the first time all by herself just makes me want to cry like a baby. So, her dada will be taking her for her first day of school, the Tuesday after Labor Day. Deep down, I know that once we get through that, Adly will thrive in preschool and thoroughly enjoy herself. It's just the heaviness of it looming that is too much for me to handle for some reason.

Until next time...

Love you so much, my sweet Ellie-belly. 
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