Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Growing up

My little girl is growing up so fast.

We've apparently decided that speech therapy is overrated, and have skipped straight past all our speech delays and right on into being advanced for speech. Phrases and sentences are popping out all over the place. Our current favorite thing to do is identify everything. By this, I mean that Miss Sunshine has to label things. "That's Brother's coat. That's Baby's room. That's Mommy's drink. That's Daddy's pillow" (Note, she does say her brother's name, and refers to herself by her name - I just prefer not to use them on my blog for privacy reasons.)

While this is very cute, it can also be very annoying - as many of you parents with small children can sympathize. But I try to look at the joy in it instead - six months ago, we were so worried about her speech, and now she's just flying. Sometimes an interpreter is necessary, still, but that is not unusual with children of this age.

She's also getting SO tall. She's grown nearly three inches in the last three months. Of course, we are getting growing pains along with this, and frequently Miss Sunshine will drop what she's doing, start crying and inform us "Legs hurt. Mommy, legs HURT." and rub her knees. I mentioned this to the doctor yesterday, and while he does want to keep an eye on it, he did say that he'd be MORE concerned if she was complaining of pain in her hips. So for now, we are going to watch, and see if the complaints increase, see if she continues to grow, and we will follow up at the end of February when she goes in for her two year old well-child check up.

I only have one week left, and then my little girl will be TWO! She'll be defined by how many YEARS old she is, instead of how many MONTHS. I am saddened by this. I am not ready for my babies to grow up, and Monster Boy already seems to be on flash forward. Getting ready for school this morning, we discovered he's outgrown yet another pair of uniform pants. I just can't believe how quickly they are both growing up, and I just want them to slow down a bit. I'm not ready for my babies not to be babies anymore, and I've only got about a week left!

Monday, January 24, 2011


I think I've accepted the inevitable - we are going to have to buy a new (to us) vehicle - and soon.

We have been spoiled for the last two years in owning vehicles that are fully paid for and not having a car payment. The downside to this is that our vehicles are 11 and 12 years old, respectively. With the mileage to match. Once you pass a certain point with vehicles, they either hold up amazingly well, or everything seemingly breaks down at once. Our car appears to fall in the former category - at 12 years old, we have only had to do minor, rather cheap, repairs to keep it running well. Our van, on the other hand. Well, when it rains, it pours. And after pouring about $1,000 worth of work into in December, it has now decided that something needs to go wrong with the ABS system, the power steering rack, the airbags, and we have some unidentified oil leak as well. The van is only worth about $1500 right now. At some point, you have to ask is it worth it to continue fixing problems that crop up one right after the other on a vehicle that is clearly reaching the end of it's life expectancy? I think we've reached the point where no, it is no longer worth it.

Now, we just have to wait it out as long as we can. Hopefully it will hang on long enough for us to get our tax returns, get debt free (which should be attainable with said tax returns, thank goodness) and hopefully have a decent down payment. We certainly don't plan to go out and buy something with all the bells and whistles in a 2012 model or anything like that. We are simply looking for something that is around 5 years old, has decent mileage and features and enough seating for our family of four with two car seats... so now, it's time to do some research, and hopefully find something that will function for us with not too large of a price tag. If we could find something we could pay for outright, that would be awesome. But I'm doubtful that will happen, so instead, we will hope for something that we can get for a low monthly payment!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's been a year...

Last Friday was officially one year post-op for Miss Sunshine.

We have come so far in one year. It is AMAZING to me the difference this surgery makes.

We had our struggles. Our worries about her speech, her fighting the cup, her weight gain. Some we still struggle with. Some she took her time getting around to but still accomplished. And some were never really an issue to begin with.

As I look back at the last year, it amazes me how different it was from the 11 months before then. Aside from our speech and weight worries, this year has been no different from my son's second year. She really is just a typical toddler now.

For those of you mom's still facing surgery ahead - I want to reassure you. For all the worries you carry in your hearts, it really is worth it. For every second that you second guess if NOW is the right time for whatever choice you have to make, rest assured that it is.

And in the end, it is all worth it. Because in the end, you are just left with your perfect child. Regardless of outcomes. Because our kiddos really are PERFECT.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Yes, I am a control freak...

I have issues. I know it. I admit it. Heck, sometimes I even embrace them.

I think part of my problem adjusting to Miss Sunshine's cleft was that total out of control feeling. We had no preparation for this - we were thrown into it unarmed, uninformed, and uneducated when she was born. I don't deal well with these kind of situations. I like to be prepared. I was not prepared. I sometimes think that if it was something we had known about before she was born, I would have been better able to deal with it when she was born. It just wasn't the case in our situation.

Once we found out about the cleft, I set about educating myself as best as I could. I researched. I joined support groups (online, since there are none in my city, which I still find shocking, and it is a goal of mine to eventually get one going). I did what I could with the resources I had. It helped me feel better in control. I scheduled every doctors appointment, took her to everything, wrote down questions, tried to write down answers and so on.

Now that Miss Sunshine is older, and our trips are growing (fingers crossed!) less and less frequent for follow up on her cleft, I am finding myself in a position where I have to let go of the reins a bit. See, here's the thing. I did the single parent thing with Monster Boy. Took him to all his doctor's appointments alone. Daddy Mac is an involved parent and now we take turns staying home with sick kiddos (when we were both working full time, that is) and so on. But I still handled the doctors appointments. Daddy Mac just isn't a fan. At my kids' ages, they usually involve shots, and well, Daddy Mac can't stand seeing his kids in pain. So that duty usually falls to me. But, he is pushing for a more active role in her cleft care. He has not gone on a trip to Chicago with us since her surgery - I have handled all post-op and clinic visits on my own. We received word last week that her next clinic visit will be in March. When I mentioned this to Daddy Mac, he informed me that HE would like to take her this time.

Yes, you read that right. He is going to take her to Chicago for her next team visit. Without me. I will be here at home with Monster Boy. I am not sure how I will handle this, but we will deal. I'm having a hard time imagining it right now and it isn't even here yet! But it is time. I have to stop trying to control things so much. And he is an involved Daddy, and he does want to do these things. I have to start letting him.

And hopefully I will manage to get some sleep between now and the time they get back!

Monday, January 10, 2011

What was I thinking?

You may have gathered by now that I work in the drop-in nursery at a local gym. Or, well, if you hadn't gathered, I guess I just told you, didn't I?

At any rate, that is where I work. I am sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that this time of year is pretty much insanity at my job. You know, New Years brings out the best of intentions in all of us, and in most of the population, it seems, getting healthy and working out is A number 1. So, it follows we would see an increase in traffic at our happy little nursery. And we have. And my manager called me up last week to ask if she added another shift if I would be willing to cover it. And also help out with the Mom's Day Out program as well. And crazy old me said yes.

What was I thinking? Going from not working at all, to only working a couple of days a week, to now working EVERY day? Granted, they are still only 3.5-4 hour shifts. But seriously. Where the heck was my head on that one? I'm going to be flat out exhausted by the time next week rolls around. Not to mention not having real time to get anything else finished around here, like, you know, that basement playroom we have had under construction for what is beginning to feel like forever now. SIGH.

I suppose I was thinking "Oh, extra money, that's good." Only, it's really not. Because, see, since I only work part time, I currently still qualify for unemployment. But this increase in hours is going to eat into the amount of unemployment I get each week. I think I actually may wind up with less money. Isn't that a kicker? Ah well. It's only temporary - when people slowly begin to lose their resolve somewhere around Easter, I will also lose my extra shifts. It's okay, though. I'll make it through. At least Monster Boy is excited that he gets to go to the gym some more...

Friday, January 7, 2011

I have a flashlight

and I'm still working on warding off those darn monsters...

Day three of my recent panic over Miss Sunshine's weight gain has commenced, and is now nearly over. Yesterday was quite the adventure, I must say. She ate hugely at breakfast - half a banana and two full size pancakes. Didn't eat much more than a bite or two of mac and cheese for lunch, had fruit snacks while picking big brother up from school, followed by some animal crackers and a granola bar upon our arrival home and refused to eat dinner last night. Threw a full on screaming meme fit at the dinner table, which prompted Mommy to inform her that she could either eat her dinner or go to bed. Which prompted more screaming on the part of Miss Sunshine, which thereby caused Mommy to take her out of her booster seat and deposit her in her bed. Where she remained, still screaming, until Daddy finished dinner. He then went, got her, got her to eat about half the bowl of tuna casserole I had made for dinner, and then went about our regular bedtime routine. SIGH.

We are getting lots of well meaning advice from various family members over this subject. Some feel that we are letting her "graze" too much throughout the day, so she is never really getting hungry enough for an actual meal, and that we should refuse her the snacks and allow her to only eat at mealtime. Some feel that we should simply feed her what she wants, when she wants, if our ultimate goal is to get her to gain weight. And still others think that while we should feed her when she wants fed, we should give her limited options rather than letting her dictate what she is eating. Daddy Mac and I lean most strongly toward the third option as far as things are going. At this point, we simply want her to gain. If the best way to get her to do this is to feed her randomly throughout the day, then we are all for that. However, we don't want her to develop a habit of simply eating nothing but junk all day, either. So for now, we will continue to offer items like granola bars, yogurt, fruits and veggies when she goes on an "Eat eat" kick (as she says), and continue to stress that she needs to eat at least some of her meal as well.

Implementing that approach, things went much better today. She had two small pancakes for breakfast, ate a small bowl of mac and cheese at lunch, had some animal crackers for an afternoon snack, and ate a full piece of pepperoni pizza as well as two slices of cinnamon dessert pizza for dinner tonight. Perhaps not the healthiest of food options, but better than the cookies and cake she was begging for during the day. We shall keep struggling through this.

In the meantime, I'm still looking for the batteries, because the light from this flashlight is still rather dim and I'm pretty sure there is still a monster under my bed...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Keeping Monsters at Bay.

Do you remember being a small child and having bad dreams about monsters? How your mom and/or dad would come in to the room, make a production out of looking for said monsters, and, naturally, not finding any, dispel your fears and you would go back to bed?

Who gets rid of the monsters when you are a grown-up? That's what I want to know. Where do the monster exterminators go and how can I hire one?

I've been worried about Miss Sunshine's weight gain for, well, her entire life. She has NEVER gained well. We initially attributed this to her cleft - she had to work harder to eat, thereby burning more calories, so naturally she wouldn't gain weight as quickly. That was our logic. We added calories where we could and sometimes it would help, but more often than not it didn't. Miss Sunshine was almost perfectly in the 50th percentile for weight when she was born. She lost so much weight in the hospital (while we were trying to nurse, after being told we could) they nearly kept her, but our doctor had faith that we would handle it better at home and let us go. She gained barely enough weight that first week home to satisfy him. And it's been a constant struggle since.

At Miss Sunshine's 18 month appointment, she managed to clear the scales just over 20 pounds. But she had grown so many inches at that point that our doctor really felt she was just expending all her calories growing taller and that's why there wasn't a huge weight gain (although she did move from the 3rd to the 6th percentile in weight between her 15 month check and her 18 month check). As time approaches for her 2 year check (I'm still in shock my baby is nearly two, by the way) my fears for her weight gain are rearing their ugly head yet again. Last time we weighed her, she was barely tipping the scales at 22 pounds. That's a significant weight gain at this age, I know, but not enough for her. She needs to gain more. Granted, she has grown nearly 2 and a half inches in this time as well, but still, we need more weight. And considering we are now in that lovely "I'm eating one thing and one thing only forever" phase (which in our case translates into pop tarts and yogurt, with an occasional allowance of macaroni and cheese) this makes my weight gain fears even larger. I've considered adding something like pediasure to her diet, but then I worry that something like that will just fill her up and she'll refuse to eat at all. As it is, the only meal she really consistently eats daily is breakfast. Then she pretty much grazes the rest of the day. We never seem to get a real lunch in her, because she's ready for nap then and eating is the least of her worries. And dinner is pretty infrequent as well. Sometimes she'll wolf down her food, other days we are lucky to get a bite in her. And Mommy worries. And worries. And worries some more.

And that's the monster hiding under my bed. Now, will someone come chase the darn thing away?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Miss Sunshine turns two in three weeks and six days.

Yes, you read that right. In less than a month, my baby girl will be TWO. Um, excuse me, but where the heck have the last two years gone?

We are also only ten days away from one year since her palate repair. She is doing so well, and has come so far. We only hope and pray that her progress continues on track and that other medical intervention becomes unneeded.

But, in the meantime, as I wait to hear back from Shriner's as to when they want to see her for her one year post-op (which could be anytime from next week until March, from what I have been told), it hit me today that the reality is more that I only have three weeks to get the ball rolling on her birthday party!

I hate planning parties, just so you know. Hate it with a passion, honestly. But, ah, such is life. And so now, I must begin the rather tedious task of figuring out what kind of party we want to have, when we want to have it, get invitations printed (or written, depending on what we decide to do) and mailed out, figure out something to give this child who needs absolutely nothing (and certainly does not need more toys!) and get a cake and all that other fun stuff. And maybe, hopefully, get our carpets cleaned before then too, because man, are they atrocious.

But, just for that, and for the fact that I'm feeling a bit sad tonight that my baby is very nearly not a baby anymore, here is a recent pic of the ornery little booger for you.

Miss Sunshine, in all her glory (and her Little Miss Sunshine diaper... because no way could I resist that one... )

Monday, January 3, 2011

Get down with the sickness

The plague has hit our household. And it is EVIL.

It started with Miss Sunshine, New Years Eve morning. She threw up. Just a little milk, since that was all she'd had at that point. After throwing up (all over MY bed, no less) she acted perfectly normal - I gave her some watered down juice to see if she could keep that down, which she did. So then we moved to crackers. Okay there. So by lunchtime it was life as usual. I figured maybe when she was drinking the milk it just went down the wrong way or something and caused her to gag and throw up, and that she wasn't really sick.

Then, around 1:30 am on New Years Day, Monster Boy decided to get into the action. He threw up a lot more. A lot longer. And felt miserable the whole day after that. I was going to keep the kids home. But my grandmother was having people over and she begged. "If he isn't throwing up anymore and he feels up to it, you should bring them over." Monster Boy insisted he wanted to go. I caved to pressure and took them, against my better judgement. He spent most of the day asleep in one of the guest bedrooms.

It hit me that night. I spent a miserable night wracked with chills, and very little sleep, alone in my bed. Daddy Mac slept on the couch to try to give me space, and avoid getting it himself. Alas, it was not enough. Late yesterday afternoon, he was struck as well. And I found out that my mother, and two of my cousins also wound up with it. Misery, and it's my fault it spread everywhere - because had I kept the kids home, I would have kept it confined to my house. SIGH. Now I feel really badly about all this.

On the bright side, we are all pretty much back to normal. Daddy Mac is still feeling slightly icky in his words, but nothing like yesterday. At least it moves quickly. SIGH. The joys of kids. And illness. Or not.