The Daughter Chronicles

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Mia was in her costume because we had just come back from trick or treating, Krys was wearing a hat because her costume had a wig that messed up her hair, and Norah was wearing a black shirt with a skull and crossbones on it. Halloween is fun.

(Never fear. Real content tomorrow, I promise.) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Our trip to the farm

Mia's class went on a field trip on Monday to Mother Nature's Farm, which is a kind of funny name for a place that's located right in the middle of Mesa, Arizona. It's a charming enough place, with a large grassy area, plenty of pumpkins, a dirt track for a hay ride, and farm animals, but it's part of the surreality of living in a suburban nightmare like the Greater Phoenix Area that you're never far enough away from the cars zipping along Baseline Road and the big strip mall being built next to the place. But the kids, we think, had fun.

Krys bailed on work for a couple of hours to join us, so it was a whole family outing! I was a bit worried about how Mia's wheelchair would survive, but the place has been flattened professionally, probably because they get a lot of kids (with strollers) into the place and recognize that it can't be too bumpy. We went in and headed to the pumpkin patch to pick up a pumpkin. Mia kept saying "apple," so we had to keep explaining to her that they were, in fact, pumpkins. She said "pumpkin" a couple of times, but I doubt if it stuck. I picked out a pumpkin for her, and then both she and Norah decorated them with spongy stickers (a picture of their pumpkins is below). Next it was off on the hay ride!

Hay rides when I was a lad were in a tractor, sure, but one of those tractors with a big basket-like thing hitched to the back and filled with hay. You sat directly in the hay and threw it at the other people and got it down your shirt and pants and itched for days. Good times. Those kinds of hay rides may still exist somewhere, but I suppose the people who go to Mother Nature's Farm have children who are too small, because this hay ride was a tractor pulling two flat bed with bales of hay carefully placed upon them. We all sat on the bales and, well, just sat there. Much more civilized! Krys and Norah sat a bit away from me, because we were one of the last to get on and couldn't be choosers about where we sat. Norah, I imagine, enjoyed herself, because she got to play with Mommy's cell phone, which is the greatest toy ever! Mia and I sat and watched the world go by, while a woman who was chaperoning (I never did figure out if she was a mother or just a friend of the teacher's) talked to her and the boy who sat on her other side. Mia seemed to enjoy herself. We stopped far away from her wheelchair, however, so I had to go retrieve it while Krys sat with her and Norah by a cow. Mia likes saying "cow" and telling us what the cow says and what we get from a cow, so she enjoyed it. She even fed the cow! Krys would kill me if I posted the picture of her feeding the cow, however, because she doesn't think she looks good in the picture. So you'll just have to imagine it!

Unfortunately, we waited at the animals so long (because of my retrieval of the wheelchair) that we missed going through the hay maze. Years ago, Krys and I went through a maize maze in Oregon, and if you ever have the chance to go through one, I recommend it - it's fun. The hay maze was obviously much smaller, with only single hay bales making up the walls (therefore the kids could, and did, climb over them). By the time I reached it with Mia, the rest of the class had moved on, and it appeared some child had knocked over some of the bales right at the entrance, so I couldn't maneuver Mia's wheelchair into the maze. No big deal, but it would have been fun to go through it. Krys, meanwhile, was strolling along with Norah, who hates grass. Yes, it's true - she's an Arizona Baby! It's very weird. Whenever Krys would put her down on the grass, she got very upset and clung to Krys and wanted to be picked up. She was wearing shoes, and the ground wasn't all that uneven - it's more uneven than tile, of course, but still - but she just did not like it. We're puzzled. Oh well - she'll get used to it eventually, especially if we move away from this horrid place and get a house with actual grass in the yard.

Next we headed under a tree and had a small snack. Mia ate her goldfish crackers, while Norah found it humorous to eat a few and put the others on the ground for future reference. After a minute, she tried to pick them back up, but we decided to put a stop to that. At that point, it was about time to go, so we picked up our pumpkins and headed for the exit. The teacher got a picture of Mia on the tractor by the entrance for their "scrapbook" (in pre-school is that what they call a yearbook?) and then Krys wanted a picture by the massive pumpkins. Norah found this unpleasant - again, we're not sure why, and we chalked it up to another mysterious thing about 1-year-olds. Then, it was time to head home.

It was a nice day and a good place to go on a field trip. I think Mia had a nice time, although it's impossible really to tell, because she won't answer if you ask her. It's best to just observe her, and she was smiling a lot and saying "hi" to everyone and generally looking fine. Norah is weird, because she enjoys herself a lot, but when she does a task (like decorating a pumpkin), she's always very serious about it. So I suppose, beside the freakiness of the strange green stuff on the ground, that she had a good time. And they both got to see Mama, which they love.

Here, by the way, are their pumpkins. Aren't they cute?

Monday, October 23, 2006

It's always the unexpected things

We never know when Mia's situation will make us sad. We're going along, all happy, when something comes up that reminds us how far behind she is, and has a long way to go. We were reminded again over the weekend.

We went out to Surprise, Arizona for a friend's son's birthday party. Both Norah and Mia had a pretty good time - Norah is still freaked out by lots of people, but once she got some birthday cake, all was well! Mia liked looking at all the people and saying "hi" to them, as she does, and actually ate a little bit. Norah also chowed down on calzone, which was rather funny. Just another high carb thing she likes! What a good Italian!

We took the kids outside in the backyard, where our friends had put up a very nice swingset which the other kids were climbing all over. Mia was happy sitting with Daddy for a while, and then Krys came over and sat down, because Mia was asking for her. There was a piñata, and the kids had fun running around scooping up candy. It was a fine day!

At one point, Mia got very excited and started saying "walk" to Krys over and over. She has gotten excited about walking and eating, which is nice, even though she still doesn't eat as much as she should. We had not brought the gait trainer, so she couldn't walk, but I went over and put her on the swing, which made her very happy. She really likes the swing. Krys said she got very sad when she started saying "walk" because all the other kids were running around playing, and Mia couldn't do it. Mia didn't seem particularly sad about it, but it was just one of those things that reminds us of everything she can't do.

It didn't ruin the day, though. I think Mia is enjoying being around other kids a lot more these days. She has never had a problem with it, even back in her daycare days, but she seems to interact just a little bit more with kids now. Part of this is that she's able to say a few more words, and if she doesn't know a word, she is able to imitate us when we tell her what it is. I was helping her stand inside the house later and she said "Hi, Jakob" to the birthday boy after I told her what his name was. He was unimpressed, but I was glad she tried his name, which is a new word for her.

She's making very nice progress these days, and I've become so inured to her limitations that I don't pay much attention to them (I'm aware of them, obviously, but it's just part of the routine). So small things like her wanting to play with the kids and not being able to make us sad, because we don't often think about stuff like that. We were glad they got out and saw other children, though. We think the social interaction is spurring Mia on, because she wants to communicate more with everyone. And everyone wants to communicate with her, because, well, she's Mia!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Norah got a new shirt

It's all true, too. She has entered into the "tantrum" phase, where every little thing is cause for histrionics. Generally she's a good kid, but you never know when something will set her off!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mia needs glasses!

Yes, it's so sad. I didn't get glasses until third grade, but it's never too soon for Thing One!

I took her to the eye doctor on Friday. (Krys and I always say "We're going to The The Eye People" because on one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, one of the movies was The Eye People but the title credit actually had two "the"s - a measure of the craft that went into it.) It had been two years since she went, and we didn't really have any big concerns, but she has been poking at her right eye a lot recently, and we figured it was time for a check-up.

I had a 9:15 appointment. The doctor showed up at 10:40. I only point this out because I get grumpy when my own doctor is late, but I get even grumpier when a kids' doctor is hopelessly behind, as kids are a lot less patient. The children were actually okay ... until the doctor walked in, at which time Norah decided to freak out. I have no idea why, but she screamed the entire time he was in there, and after a minute or so, it caused Mia to freak out as well. That was fun!

So the upshot of it all is that she has ... amblyopia! Yes, "lazy eye." It's her left eye that's lazy, which may or may not have anything to do with her brain injury. Probably not, because the injury is on the right side and therefore affects the right eye (even though it affects the left side of the body). So he said she needed glasses to correct it.

I chuckled and told him that she would immediately take off any glasses we tried to put on her. She hates sunglasses and hats. I suppose she's very sensitive about her head, possibly. Anyway, as we cannot explain to her why she needs glasses, it will be tough to give it a go. He said he has drops to put into her good eye - the right one - to make it blurry, and then, when she takes her glasses off, she won't be able to see and it will condition her. He also said he's never failed to get a kid into glasses. He says she sees fine for what a four-year-old needs to do, and we could wait a year or so, but she's going to need glasses eventually.

So we're going to do it. We'll probably wait until after Thanksgiving, because of our vacation right prior to it (we're going to Egypt). We don't want my mother, who will be the primary babysitter, to have to deal with yet another thing. So she has a few months without glasses. And then she joins the geeks of the world! Won't that be fun?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Showdown in the Barnes & Noble!

The other day I was trying to figure out what to do with Demon Child #2, because Mia was at school and Norah was tired and whiny. So I took her to the mall, more specifically, the bookstore, and I figured I would just let her wander. She enjoys wandering, and I think our house gets a little boring for her. Luckily, the weather is changing, so soon I won't have to take her to the mall to let her wander, because she can do it outside! But that's a story for another day.

So I put her down and just followed her around. She walked this way and that, checking things out, making sure she touched every little thing (because that means it's HERS!) and just having a grand old time. Then the girl appeared.

The girl was in a stroller with her mother, but I heard her say something about wanting to get out. She was older than Norah, about Mia's age, I would say, although I am very bad at judging ages. So she got out of her stroller and wandered around. It was not long before she spotted Norah.

Both children stopped about three feet apart. The girl was holding a doll, and proffered it to Norah, but withdrew it quickly before the gift could be accepted. Then the stare-down began. Both girls simply stood there, staring, for what seemed like days. An epic battle of concentration! Neither willing to admit defeat! The loser sure to spend a lifetime wandering through the desert with nothing but the bitter, bitter taste of defeat to sustain her! Oh, poems will be written about the showdown!

Okay, it probably only lasted a minute, if that. I'm not sure who broke off first, but both did. Then the girl took a few steps toward Norah! A breach in protocol! Norah retreated, knowing that when young girls approach you, nothing good can come of it. She was still calm, but she knew that she could not get into this girl's "grabbing zone."¹ As she backed away, the girl's mother chuckled. I said that Norah has a big sister, so she shouldn't be scared, but the girl's mother said she was smart for backing off. Was the girl, like Damian, a manifestation of EVIL? We'll never know. The girl lost interest and took off after her mother. Norah pawed a few items and then followed me.

I just mention this incident because it reminds me that kids are endlessly fascinating. They don't have our experience, so everything - even showdowns with strange kids - is new. Norah is fun to watch when she's out and about, like I'm sure every kid is. She wanders haphazardly, reaching out for everything, and staring at every person who walks by. Wow, the world is a big place!

I still maintain she won the stare-down. Alas, we may never know!

¹ The grabbing zone is the term I coined years ago when I would get goofy and affectionate with my lovely bride, and now has expanded to the children as well. I'm sure you can figure out its meaning. The children, of course, love to get into our grabbing zones, because that means we will grab them and hug them!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Mommy is trying to corrupt the children!

Krys has decided that Norah is not evil enough. So today, on her day off (Columbus Day), she took her out. To Designer Shoe Warehouse.

Norah, apparently, was in heaven. She did not want to leave when it was time to go. She wandered around with a glazed look on her face, dazzled by so much footwear goodness. She is lost to me. Krys has turned her into a shoe aficianado, like she herself is!

I still have Mia. For now. But it won't be long before she turns to the Dark Side as well. And then I'll be sadder than I am right now. The good news: Norah likes to pull comics from the cheap bins when I go for my weekly haul. Perhaps I can steer her that way!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mia drinks like a pro while Norah has a passion for fashion!¹

Mia has been doing better with her drinking recently, which is good, because she needs to poop more and drinking helps. She has been eating steadily if not copiously, but we're going to the doctor on Friday for Norah's 15-month checkup and I'll get Mia weighed while we're there. The one thing Mia has figured out is that she can pick up the cup herself and take a drink, which is kind of cool for her - Mommy and Daddy don't have to force her to do it! Unfortunately, she doesn't do it all that often - usually, when she picks up the cup, she turns it upside down or chews on it - but she still knows that she's supposed to pick it up, put the straw in her mouth, and take a drink.

She is also doing much better both in communicating and in walking. The Evil Mia, the one who screamed bloody murder whenever her PT came over, has left us, leaving only the pleasant Mia. We're not sure what happened, but we're glad it did. Being back in school has had a positive effect on her, too, I think. She's talking to us more, and trying to tell us what she wants rather than just pointing at things. This is limited by her lack of words for some things that she might actually want to do, but she knows "chair," "eat," "nuts," "walk," and "book," which constitutes a large part of her daily activities, so it's not that big a deal that she doesn't know other words as well. She's getting the hang of saying "Yes, please," when we ask her if she wants something instead of just pointing at herself (which is what she had done for a long time), but she still doesn't quite get that if she doesn't want something, she needs to say "No." We'll get there.

Meanwhile, Miss Norah has become a fashion plate. She discovered one of Krys's bracelet a while ago, and thinks it's very groovy, and like Mia, she loves Krys's necklaces. She kept getting into Krys's purse, so Krys got an old purse she doesn't use and put a brush, a (fake) cell phone, old car keys (from our Saturn), and sunglasses into it. Norah digs sunglasses, and Krys bought her a small pair this past weekend because the ones she had were too big for her head. So she saunters around the house carrying her purse, with Krys's bracelet around her upper arm, clutching keys or a brush, wearing her sunglasses. It's very cute, of course. This past weekend Krys bought her new shoes because she had grown out of her old ones, and these are, apparently, a lot more comfortable than the old ones, because she loves them. She still is not a fan of socks, but we figure once it gets "cold" here, she'll like them. She wants to walk a lot, which is nice, and we think Mia is getting inspired by her to walk more. At least we hope so.

Not to be outdone, of course, Mia got her first pedicure not too long ago. Check out her groovy toes!

Anyway, enjoy the pictures of the wee ones. They're such hams!

¹ If you grew up in the late 1970s and 1980s in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I'm sure you'll want to sing along with the Ideal commercial!