Saturday, December 29, 2012


We got back from CA yesterday; we had so much fun!

I can't believe how much Allie grew up over the past two weeks.  She is now a comfortable walker, toddling all around everywhere she goes.  She is talking a lot too.  The best addition to her vocabulary is "Yeah!"  Up until now, she would only say "no" to things and we would joke that an absence of a "no" is a "yes".

Yesterday on the plane, I asked if she wanted to read a book.  She said "yeah".  I asked if she wanted to read the Olivia book and she said "Yeah!"  Then, she changed her mind and said "No, no... baby" meaning that she would rather read her peek-a-boo baby book that we brought too.  I put away the Olivia book and grabbed the baby book and she was so happy that I understood what she wanted.  It was cool being able to have a conversation with her.

Allie does seem a lot more opinionated lately and I think that we may be entering the terrible twos.  The other night at dinner, I took a chopstick away from her and she slapped me in the face.  I was shocked and she burst out laughing. She has thrown a few tantrums since then and I think that Jonathan and I are learning to be firm, but I'm not looking forward to tear-filled fights to come.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Allie in California

Allie, Jonathan, and I are all in CA visiting my family for Christmas.  Allie is loving all the attention.  But, in typical Allie fashion, she got an ear infection while traveling.  I would love for this girl not to get an ear infection during at least one trip.

We went to an urgent care facility tonight and the nurse gave Allie a homemade pillow as a gift.  Allie loved it and was doing laps up and down the hall clutching her pillow while I filled the nurse in on Allie's medical history.  She was totally shocked that babies can have strokes but I'm getting pretty used to that reaction.

Allie was leading the way to a private exam room when she decided that she was too tired to go on.  She threw her new pillow on the ground, plopped down next to it, said "Night Night!' and rested her head on the pillow.  I laughed and said "Allie, you can't go night night in the middle of the hallway."  I picked her up and she mischievously giggled all the way to the exam room.

After the exam was over, Allie walked out to the main receptionist where we needed to check out.  Allie gave her a big smile, waved, and said "bye bye".  The receptionist said "she sure is a happy little girl, especially considering her ear infection."

Allie pretending to go Night Night while waiting for her ear exam.
Earlier today, much of my extended family went on a brunch cruise around the San Francisco bay.  Allie (and Jonathan and I) had such a great time.  Allie is definitely a buffet kind of girl.  She was shoveling everything into her mouth as quickly as she could and she ultimately decided to ditch the fork in favor of getting the food into her mouth by the handful.  My favorite part about the cruise was that Santa was on the boat.  Allie was less than thrilled:

I will NOT sit on his lap!
Let's go over there instead

Friday, December 14, 2012

Speech Eval and Parent-Teacher Conference

Big Walker (I love when she spots the puddle
and shouts "Wawa!" with complete surprise)

Allie had part 2 of her semi-annual speech evaluation yesterday and it was great.  The speech pathologist is allergic to cats so we went to her office for the meeting.  Allie was such a big kid.  She was walking all around this big room, exploring all the toys, asking us to get the toys that were out of reach, throwing mini-tantrums when we wouldn't immediately get said toys for her.  She seems so much older now that she is walking around everywhere. 

The pathologist and I filled out a paper evaluation of what Allie can and can't say and does and doesn't understand.  I am happy to report that our 22 month old Allie is scoring at 20 months for her receptive language (what she understands) and 24 months for her expressive language (what she says).  The pathologist said that these reports are not an exact science but Allie's scores show us that she approximately where she should be for her age.  It's strange because Jonathan, Allie's teachers, her therapists, and I all think that Allie understands everything we say but we are worried about what she can/chooses to say.  I would have expected the scores to be reversed.

It seems like Allie has a handful of words that she uses a lot.  However, we created a full list of the words that Allie says without prompting and she has over 40.  The pathologist said that kids should have 50 words by 2 years old, so Allie is on the right track.  She was also impressed that Allie is stringing 2-3 words together (for example, "more water please" or "it's a book") and said that kids aren't expected to do that until after 2.  She was also impressed that Allie says the beginning and ending sounds of some words because a lot of kids don't do that well until later either.

We will be doing another evaluation a couple months after Allie turns 2 to see how things are progressing.

It was a great evaluation but we're still carefully watching her speech development.  Although this is one of the areas that Allie is doing well in, it is perhaps the area that I am most concerned with.

On Wednesday, Jonathan and I had our annual parent-teacher conference with one of Allie's daycare teachers.  Moral of the story: Allie is kicking butt at everything.  Her teacher says that she's happy with how Allie follows instructions, learns rules and routines, and plays with her friends.  She commented that Allie is getting more and more independent, especially now that she's walking, and that Allie isn't getting as frustrated as she used to.  We see her frustration lessening too as she is gaining the ability to tell us what she wants or just do what she wants herself. 

I was dropping Allie off this morning and I caught some of her playing WITH instead of NEXT TO the other kids.  It seems like she is more into this than the rest of the kids are.  She walked over to a toy table next to a boy who was stacking blocks.  She picked up a block, stacked it on his block, and smiled at him.  He glared back at her not finding her nearly as charming as she was being, grabbed the other block that was in front of her, and walked away.  Allie looked up at me and laughed as if to say "He thinks he can get away from me that easily!"  Then she turned and walked after him.

I said goodbye and left, but I peaked in the window on my walk to to train.  Allie and the boy were racing cars together and Allie was crashing her car into his.  This time, he seemed to be enjoying it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Standing Up

Check out this amazing video of Allie getting herself up to a stand without any assistance. This is a totally big deal that she figured out all on her own.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Daddy's Girl

"Where's Dada?"
I had a business trip in Detroit this week and missed Allie desperately during it.  I got back home on Tuesday night after she had already fallen asleep so I had to wait until the next morning to see her.  As soon as I heard her waking up on Wednesday morning, I rushed in there expecting a warm reception.  Instead, she smiled at me, looked over my shoulder, and said "Dada?!?"  Not exactly the greeting that I was hoping for.

Allie has been absolutely Dada obsessed lately.  She's always looking for him, asking about him, talking about him, pointing him out... I'm starting to get a little jealous!  I remember about a year ago when Allie was all about Mama.  Her physical therapist joked that Jonathan had it coming and before he knew it, the admiration would shift to all him.  She was completely right.  

SMO Controversy

At Allie's semi-annual physical medicine and rehabilitation checkup, her physiatrist recommended getting an ankle and foot brace known as an SMO to help stop her right foot from turning out when she is walking. (By the way, she is walking so much these days!)  I reported the SMO recommendation to Allie's physical therapist and she was shocked.  She said that she is against bracing kids until they have been walking comfortably for at least two months because sometimes strange movements correct themselves.  She was also surprised that a SMO was suggested for her right leg but there was nothing recommended to even-out the newly added height to her left leg (such as a prescription insert).

The PT asked if we would be comfortable waiting until late January to go to the orthopedist for the brace.  She said that we may want to get some over-the-counter inserts to try out first and we will reevaluate in a month or so.  The physiatrist suggested that we check with Allie's PT to get her thoughts on the SMO and I'm very glad we did.

The plan is to work on Allie's strength training (walking up stairs, step-ups with her right leg, squats, and lots of walking) to see if she is still turning her right leg in a month or so.

Language Update

Allie had a speech evaluation a couple weeks ago and I don't think I ever wrote about it.  The speech pathologist (who has been peripherally following Allie for the past year) was thrilled with Allie.  She said that Allie is making all of the age-appropriate noises that she should be making.  Often, kids with strokes have speech problems not just because of the neurological issues but because they can't move their tongue and lips in the typical way.  It doesn't look like this is a problem for Allie---yay!

Jonathan and I have been keeping a list of Allie's words and her approximations for them (e.g., she says "water" as "wawa").  The pathologist said that kids are supposed to have 50 words by age two and Allie at 21 months has already exceeded this---another yay!

However, most of Allie's words are nouns and we want to work on improving her usage of verbs.  I think this is more of my issue than hers.  I noticed that I mostly point out nouns and I have been trying to get myself to describe actions more than things lately.  She seems to be catching on quickly.

We are getting another speech evaluation this month so that Allie can get a formal evaluation instead of the qualitative evaluation that we got last month.  I think that things are going better than we could have hoped for considering that the stroke wiped out all of what would have been the language center of her brain.  She continues to amaze me.


We increased Allie's cognitive therapy from once to twice a month a couple of months ago because she was getting really frustrated when we pushed her too hard.  The cognitive teacher is amazing and has shown us how to be firm with Allie while pushing her to do a little more than she wants to.  For a while, it was really hard.  Allie would get pissed and throw herself on the ground crying in protest.  Well, I think she is making good progress on this.

We were playing with some wood puzzles tonight that she normally has a really hard time getting the pieces into.  I don't know if this struggle comes from still slightly weaker fine motor skills or a difficulty in visual-spatial skills (which is also common for stroke kids), but Allie usually gets frustrated that the pieces aren't going in easily and gives up.  Tonight, she was determined to get these puzzles together... and she did!  There was a lot of grunting, a little sighing, and a lot of maneuvering, but she put together all three puzzles (about 20 pieces total) a couple times ALL BY HERSELF.  I was struggling not to jump in and help her, especially when she would look up and me and ask in her cute voice "Elp?" (aka, help?).  I somehow restrained myself offering only verbal cues ("Twist it!  Scoot it over!") and I am so glad that I did.

She figured it out and gave me a self-satisfied high-five after she finished each puzzle.  I'm glad she was able to work through her frustration and keep at it.  She's on her way to be a master puzzler.