The Daughter Chronicles

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Norah becomes a teenager, plus random photographs!

Today, while Mia was eating lunch, Norah was wandering around, because she hoovers up her food and then demands to be free! She took some time out from bothering Smokey to get her purse, in which is all manner of chick things like Krys's old college ID, a cell phone (fake), and car keys (fake) - you know, chick things! So Norah picks up the cell phone and walks around with it for a few moments. Then she opens it up, puts it to her ear (she learned very quickly where the phone goes), and starts babbling excitedly. After about thirty seconds of this, she says "Bye-bye!" and closes the phone. I thought that was one of the most adorable things one of my children has done ... this week. They're always topping themselves! Of course, the first thing I thought was, "When did she become a teenager?" Boy, I can't wait until she spends hours on the phone! We are, of course, not buying her a cell phone. Because we, of course, hate our children!

Okay, on to some random pictures, because it's been a while since you've gotten a good look at the prettiest girls in the world. So let's check out Mia and Norah in their natural habitat!

Norah loves big-people shoes. She can't walk in them too well, but that doesn't deter her!

Norah thought taking the tray from her high chair and placing it on her head would be funny. And you know what? It's comedy gold!

Here are the girls hanging out with Mommy.

Norah likes to walk around with her blanket over her head. Why? More comedy gold, I would imagine! Note: I did NOT do this to her in order to take a cute picture. She put it there herself.

Krys noticed the other day that while they were watching television, they were both giggling. She checked it out and they were playing with blocks together. That's nice, because occasionally they grab each other's toys simply because they can.

That's Krys's purse, by the way, not hers. Very often, when say anything about going out, or if she even thinks we are, she'll grab a purse. She's ready to go!

More big people shoes, this time my sneakers. Although, to be honest, the way she's wearing them would fit right in with some of the students I used to teach. She's ahead of the fashion curve!

Sorry I don't have more of Mia. She's at school or in therapy a lot, and there's that matter of her not getting around too easily, so Norah is just easier to shoot. I will have pictures of Mia on a horse soon. At least I hope she gets on the horse this Friday! So stop by over the weekend or early next week, because I'll have put them up by then.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


It has begun. I haven't said anything about it yet because I wanted to wait until it began. But now the full story can be told!

Mia began hippotherapy yesterday. What, you ask, is hippotherapy? Sheesh, people, that's why I provide links! It doesn't even take you away from this page! If you're too lazy to check it out, hippotherapy is horse therapy. By riding a horse, we hope to improve Mia's balance and trunk strength, and apparently it helps speech as well. Everyone we've spoken to about it says it is very helpful, so we are hopeful.

I took her out to the ranch where the hippotherapy takes place back in November to check it out. I got all the paperwork and filled it out, and we took it back after we got back from Egypt, and Krys came along to look around. They put us on the dreaded waiting list, and we waited. A few weeks ago one of the therapists called with an appointment time of 9 a.m. on Thursday - which is a school day. So we had to pass. But this week, a therapist called with an appointment time of 5 p.m. on Friday (which has already been moved to 4 p.m.). She asked if that was okay. I told her Mia would be fine with it, so of course it was okay!

Krys came home from work early yesterday and we all went out. Mia didn't actually ride the horses, as it was just an evaluation. That starts next week. She has seen the horses before and yesterday she went out again, and she seems very excited about the whole thing. She has been walking very well, and the only thing holding her back from getting even better is her balance. We're really hoping that this helps, and according to her speech therapist, her PT, and her OT at school, it will. In the summer, the place switches to aquatic therapy, because it's too hot for the horses. So that should be nice, too, because Mia loves the pool so much.

I will post more about this when she actually gets on a horse (with pictures!). We're very happy that the wait wasn't too long, because we think this will help her a lot, and we wanted to get her started. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why I like Mondays

I know most working people don't like Mondays, because they have to go back to work. But I like Mondays, because someone I know and love does go back to work, and that makes the kids better.

Yes, on Monday my lovely wife leaves the house and goes to work. I'm ambivalent about this. I wish that she could stay home - the six weeks she was off from work was actually pretty nice, all things considered. It was nice having a partner here to help take care of the kids. I could take them off her hands; she could do the same for me. And I know the kids enjoyed it.

But that's part of the problem. I've spoken before of how Krys is the "exotic" parent, and so therefore the kids want her more than they want me. That's fine. I thought her enforced vacation would cure Norah of this obsessive desire to be with Mommy all the time, but it didn't. Each weekend, as much as I like spending time with Krys when the kids are asleep, becomes a grueling session of children being jealous. Mia is desperate to sit with Mommy, and says so a lot. The instant she says "Sit ... Momma ... please," no matter where Norah is, she hears this and comes running. She could be in another room, and she will hurtle in to take Krys's lap. Krys sits with both of them, but that leads to hitting, and as the title of Mia's new book explains, Hands Are Not for Hitting. Even if Krys is not with Mia, Norah follows her around whining to be picked up. If Krys doesn't, she cries. If Krys does, she still whines, albeit more quietly. It's annoying. I know she will grow out of it eventually, but in the present, it makes weekends less enjoyable.

Then, on Monday, Krys leaves. Magically, Norah is perfectly fine. I take Mia to school, so she's out of the picture for a while, and then I hang out with Norah. She plays, she whines a little for me, but not to the degree that she does on the weekend. When Mia comes home, she doesn't scream bloody murder if I hang out with Mia. This afternoon I sat with Mia on the sofa for a few minutes and Norah climbed up and sat next to us, happy as a clam. Right now they're both watching a Sesame Street DVD. Soon Krys will come home. Then the whining will begin.

It's frustrating, because I would love for Krys to be able to stay home with them, and I'm sure that if she did, after a few months Norah would get over her jealousy. Can't we fast-forward to the days when she doesn't want anything to do with her parents?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A brief update on Mia in the new year

I've been remiss about mentioning what's going on in Mia's world and how she's doing. Just some quick updates:

She is communicating much better, and learning new words, it seems, every day. She's still stuck on one sentence ("I want _______, please!"), but she is saying more words. Her latest is "knuckles," which Krys told her once and she instantly learned. She still calls knuckles "boo-boos" (why, I don't know) until we say that they're not boo-boos, and then she smiles and says, very proudly, "knuckles." Knuckles are the coolest thing ever, apparently. She's also paying more attention to books and television (unfortunately - not the books part, of course, but the television part). What's nice about the television part is that she remembers which DVDs she likes and asks for them. She also is getting much better at reading along, even though she can't read, just remember the text. And when I read to her at night, she pays attention, even though she often doesn't act like it. I'm currently reading The Odyssey to her, and occasionally I'll say a word she knows, and she reacts to it. The other night someone sneezed, and she said "Ah choo!" and smiled. Last night someone danced, and she began bopping back and forth. So it's kind of neat that she's paying attention, because her attention span is still not where we'd like it.

She's still not eating terribly well, but she's been drinking like crazy, and since we give her chocolate whole milk as well as instant breakfast, she's actually gained some weight, which is important. Last week we were at the doctor's office for Norah's 18-month check-up, and she weighed 35 pounds and was 42 inches long. She doesn't look quite as scrawny as she used to, so that's kind of cool. We still can't figure out how to get her to eat more, because when she does try new things, she often likes them. It's getting her to try things that vexes us.

She has also made great strides (so to speak) with her walking. Ever since August, when she screamed bloody murder when her PT showed up, she has done well. We still can't figure out why she suddenly was okay with him, but we're not unhappy about it! She is zipping around in her gait trainer very easily, and for a couple of months her PT has been making her walk on her own and gradually giving her less help. I hold her hands and he kneels behind her, and these days he just holds her hips and lets her take the steps herself. When she walks, she tends to cross her leg over the other when she takes a step, and that's been a big problem to solve. She's getting to the point now where she puts one foot almost directly in front of the other, which is a big improvement, and a lot of the time, she actually takes a good step. Even if she doesn't, she knows enough how to fix her step, which is nice. We think the communication skills are helping, because she knows more what we're trying to do, and therefore is able to follow directions better. She still has problems with her hips collapsing, and that's going to be the biggest issue with her (beyond her balance, which might always be an issue) as we try to get her more ambulatory. But she's working hard, and that's a good thing.

So that's Mia these days. She's also interacting with Norah more as her sister gets older and more independent. They have problems sharing, like all kids, but they get along pretty well. We're waiting for that to change!

More information will be forthcoming as it comes up!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Norah has found a new deity!

I don't think it's any big surprise to anyone who has kids that kids are weird. They're always doing weird things that make sense in their little universe but are completely inexplicable to us boring unimaginative old people. Norah is a perfect example of this, as she has discovered a new god.

There's really no other way to put it. She worships Smokey, our cat. She has always loved Smokey, as he has very long hair and is therefore somewhat fancy, is kind of old and therefore isn't terribly speedy, and is almost infinitely patient with both children, unlike our other cat, Zoe, who wasn't particularly fond of either of them. Smokey rarely hisses or swats at Norah, and I don't think he's ever used his claws on her, so she loves him. She does a pretty good job petting him, but occasionally she grabs his tail or tries to poke him in the face - this last thing isn't malicious at all, she just wants to identify his body parts - and he moves slowly away, only to have her come after him. We aren't sure why he doesn't jump up to higher ground where she can't reach - we think he secretly digs the attention, even though he has to endure getting a finger stuck in his face.

Recently, however, her relationship with Smokey has gotten weirder. She has begun to bring him offerings. He sits on the sofa or on the ground, and she brings him the small magnet toys that are usually stuck on the side of the refrigerator. These magnets are in the form of the front or back half of various barnyard animals, and the idea is to match the two in the "barn," which is another magnet. Norah likes putting them in the barn, because if you don't match them, it tells you that you're silly. But now, when Smokey is sitting near the refrigerator, she brings him the pieces and stacks them right next to him, in some sort of offering. He is nonplussed by the whole thing. Smokey is an aloof god! Norah, however, remains constant in her faith, and refuses to be deterred.

The first two pictures aren't that good, but the last one works pretty well to convey what she's doing. Yes, she's weird, but at least she's got religion!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Taking a timeout with Mia!

As Mia gets older and a bit more independent, she naturally becomes more free-spirited and, of course, undisciplined. I have mentioned before (I think) how difficult it is to teach Mia the meaning of "no," because for such a long time, she was unable to do anything, including anything wrong. But as she gets older, she's starting to be the purely evil child we all know she could be! And that leads to the ultimate punishment of the modern, non-spanking child ... the timeout!

Krys was reading up on punishing kids with brain injuries, because we're never quite sure what Mia understands and what she doesn't. Kids, of course, tend to have short attention spans, and Mia's is less than normal kids, so if you delay at all with punishment (or reward, even), she might not connect the dots too well. So there's that. But the book suggested that most kids understand the concept of timeout, even though your kid may vary. We're pretty sure that Mia gets enough of the idea of "no" to understand when she's doing something wrong. Of course, that still leaves the problem of her not doing too much, and even less that it bad.

Except the hitting. Why Mia likes hitting people is beyond us, especially because she really doesn't hit me very much at all. She's actually starting to hit me a little more, but she has been hitting Krys for a long time, with some breaks in the action. For a while, saying "no" to her was good enough, and she stopped. Recently, however (the last six months or so), she has started hitting again, and she has also hit her therapists now and then. Whenever Krys (or any of us) say "no" to her, she laughs. We're not sure if she just hasn't learned yet that hitting hurts and thinks it's some kind of game, which is probably what it is. She gets "no," but probably not the fact that it does hurt occasionally. So we have started, recently, putting her in timeout.

The biggest problem with this is figuring out where to put her. She doesn't sit well enough to put her in the corner facing the wall, and getting her into her chair is a lengthy process, to the point where she would probably forget why we were putting her in there in the first place. So we decided to lay a mat on the floor in her bedroom and put her on it, away from any stimulation. We put her in there and close the door for 4 minutes (for her age), and then go get her. So far it seems to be working - she's hitting a little less, even though she still does it. But we know it's a long process, so we're taking what we can.

This is one of the less obvious things about raising a kid like Mia. Sure, the major problems are there, but it's very hard to gauge how much she understands and can learn. She knows quite a bit and is making good progress, but it's still hard to fathom her. I know all kids say what they want without really thinking about whether it's an actual answer, and Mia's favorite word these days is "no!" She answers it to everything - "Do you want milk?" "No!" "Do you want juice?" "No!" "How was your day at school?" "No!" "Are you a girl?" "No!" - so we can't really be sure what she wants. We're hoping that as we continue to stick her in her boring bedroom, she'll eventually learn that if she hits, she will be put there. Whenever she hits Krys, Krys asks her "Do you want to go in timeout?" to which she will invariably answer "No!" Then she hits Krys again, leading to her exile. It's vexing.

We have also focused on the hitting, because we don't want to overwhelm her with reasons to go in timeout. Most of her offenses are very minor and often not repeated, so we figure we can let those slide. The hitting, though, is a pretty regular feature in her repertoire. We're pretty sure it's because she's less independent than most kids, but that's no excuse.

So that's our attempt to tame the child. It's like a rodeo!