Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving celebrations

Jonathan's parents came out to visit for Thanksgiving and we had a great time.  We also had some local friends and their two kids over for Thanksgiving dinner and Allie was stoked to have her own kids table.

One of the nice thing about having grandparents around: Andrew finally makes it into some photos.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Constraint therapy, round 4

I got an unexpected call the other day from the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) where Allie does her constraint therapy.  At the end of the last session, I had told them that we wanted to do another round of the month-long casting next spring.  The woman on the phone called to offer us a spot.  

Allie will be doing her fourth round of constraint therapy mid-April to mid-May 2015.  

The best part is that Allie is really excited about it.  She wants her new cast to show her friends and to make Righty "REALLY strong".  

We have been so impressed with Allie's Righty usage.  She does things regularly that I didn't think she'd be able to do.  She uses Righty naturally and sometimes we don't even jump up and down about it.  Stuff like watching her rub her itchy nose with her right hand or picking up a big toy with two hands no longer gets wild praise; it's just what she does.  I can't tell you what a relief it is to watch her flourish.   

I believe that a large part of her Righty success is due to constraint therapy.  It will be interesting to see how the logistics of this round go with Andrew in tow.  But, logistical pains aside, the program is totally worth it and we're excited to see how it goes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Botox update

Self portrait, while "helping" me organize her shoes to donate.  

It's been almost two months since Allie had her most recent Botox injections in her right leg.  Things went really well.  So well that I had functionally forgotten about it.  Allie walks more evenly, runs faster, rarely trips, and has a great range of motion.  She's also grown a lot over the last couple months so our timing was perfect in terms of getting some extra stretching in during the growth spurt.

It will be interesting to see how things go as the Botox totally wears off.  The results are supposed to last for about 3 months and we have a follow up with the physiatrist in late January to see how things have evolved.

This time around has been so much more pleasant and helpful that last time.  I'd definitely be open to doing it again, if she needs it.  But, most importantly, I think she would be in favor of getting it again too. 

Here are some more unedited photos from her photo shoot yesterday.   I think they're beautiful!

Cat food

The tray on our ottoman, loaded with her toys

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sick Photographer

Allie, Andrew, and I have been sick for about a week now.  We're all getting a little stir crazy, although Allie not-so-secretly loves being waited on.  I'm pretty sure eating oatmeal off a tray in bed while watching Curious George was a highlight of her year.

When I was asking if she wanted anything to go with her oatmeal, she paused to think about it.  After about 5 seconds, she placed her hand on mine and sweetly said: "Yes... I'd like a spoon too so I can scoop the oatmeal into my mouth."  This girl thinks of everything.  

And Andrew is loving all the TV time he's getting.

In an effort to keep her entertained today, I gave her my phone and showed her how to take pictures.  She walked around for an hour and amassed over a thousand photos.  It was really cool to see things from her perspective.   All of the following unedited photos are taken by Allie.

The back basket of her bike, loaded with toys.

The bell.

Sam, the cat. 

Close-up on the pillow.

"Hi Big Sister!"

Mommy making lunch.

Look how amazed he is by her

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Andrew's 4 month check up

Our little boy is now over 4 months old!

Andrew loves to play on the ground, grab stuff (with both hands!!!), and giggle at his big sister.  He enjoys tummy time and can roll over both from front to back and back to front.  He's an easy going kid and a good nighttime sleeper, but his nap schedule could use some work.  I think he's just too curious about the world to sleep when it's light out;  who can blame him?

Here are his stats:

Length: 25.5" (~70th percentile)
Weight: 14 lbs, 10 oz  (~30th percentile)
Head diameter: 17"  (~95th percentile)

Isn't he a cutie?

The 4 month check up is when we first raised the issue of Allie only grabbing with her right hand and the pediatrician assured us that she was just a "strong lefty".  This time, the pediatrician spent about 5 minutes just examining Andrew's muscle tone and symmetry.  All looks well!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Things I thought I'd never see

I am so in love with Allie's gymnastics class.  I can hardly describe it.  

I feel like we have found this sweet spot with her occupational and physical therapy, where they work on developing skills, and with her preschool and sports, which motivate her to use her skills and push herself.  

I was sitting back watching her in gymnastics yesterday in complete awe of all that she could do.  Below are two videos of her awesomeness.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Party weekend

We had a busy weekend with a birthday party at the local firehouse and a get together with a bunch of families of kids with strokes.

The firehouse was fun.  It was the second birthday party we've been to there.  Allie was scared of the fire engine the first time but was much braver this time around.  When she was going to bed that night, she wanted to read her Curious George goes to the firehouse book.

After the birthday party, we went straight up to Baltimore to visit with the families.  We talked a little about how all the kids have Rightys just like Allie, but she didn't seem to care.  She just wanted to know whose birthday it was and if there would be cake.

She had fun with all the kids.  The oldest girl was 10 years old and is an amazing harp player.  Allie gave it a try and loved it too.  Who would have thought.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Family pictures

Drawing people is a big developmental skill that Allie couldn't do at her last check up with the developmental pediatrician. Today, she suddenly drew the whole family.

Hooray for semi-lifelike portraits! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Times They Are a-Changin'

Allie is being discharged from her county run therapy.  

We knew it was coming.  Allie's doing really well and has a great private team in place.  But ending services just feels so... unknown. 

For the last three years, we have seen assorted physical, occupational, developmental, massage, speech, and vision therapists on almost a weekly basis.  Three years.  It makes me pause and reflect upon how quickly time really has passed.  

Our physical therapist has been with us since the very beginning.  She reminded me recently how Allie used to hate her. I had honestly forgotten because their relationship is great now but Allie did indeed cry her way through the vast majority of their early sessions.  It was so bad that Allie would burst into sobbing tears as soon as she saw the PT.  I don't know how she stuck with us but we're glad she did.  

We've received occupational therapy through a number of therapists, but the our current OT has been with us for nearly two years and is so impressed with all that Allie can do.  I really hope to one day see our first OT who encouraged us to quit therapy because, she said, Allie would never use her right hand in a meaningful way.  I wish she could see her now.  There was also the young OT who worked with us temporarily but she sat in the corner of our playroom and colored by herself.  It was weird.

Our developmental therapist was always helpful and encouraging, in spite of the fact that I never once remembered she was coming.  This woman must have thought I was so disorganized as I answered the door with a surprised and slightly panicked look every other week.

And there is our ever chipper speech therapist who declared herself Allie's "academic adviser" so that Allie would still qualify for therapy services for a little longer.  Once Allie had met all of her speech goals and was scoring age appropriately on everything, I'm pretty sure we were supposed to get kicked out.  We definitely appreciated the academic advising for our three year old; plus one for competitive parenting.

Then there was the massage therapist who was secretly a social worker.  I think that is the most brilliant way to get a family engaged with an otherwise stigmatized profession.  I can imagine being a little defensive if I knew that we were being evaluated by a social worker.  Very sneaky indeed.

And, lastly, the vision therapist who occasionally evaluated Allie to check for vision impairment.  The therapist was partially vision impaired and, even though she told me which eye I should look into when we talk, I forgot and then felt like jerk every time we met. In spite of my own issues, she was always very reassuring and comforting.  Something about her always made me feel like a potential visual field cut isn't so bad because Allie's doing so well.    

They will be missed.  

In their honor, I'd like to present our contender for the most awkward sibling photo ever taken.

Could they like each other any less? 
At least the individual photos were cute.

Monday, November 3, 2014


This year was the best Halloween I've ever had.

Allie was a cowgirl and Andrew was a puppy.  Andrew was a little confused by the whole thing but Allie loved every moment of it.  Their school has a Halloween parade every year so the kids can show off their cool costumes.  Andrew was the parade leader and was concerned with the drummer marching along next to him.  

He lightened up a little once we got home.

Allie was so excited to go trick-or-treating.  She woofed her dinner in record time and anxiously stared out the window waiting for other kids to start.  Once the first wave began, we were off.  Andrew and Jonathan came to a few houses with us but then it was just the two of us going on the candy hunt.

She did such a good job, especially with Righty.  She knocked on all the doors with Righty, picked up the candy with Righty, and put it all in her bucket with Righty.  She got so much candy.  A friend of her's joined us for a few houses and, since he is a year younger than her, she showed him how it was done.  Her little bucket was almost full by the time we finished our neighborhood loop.  After every house, she'd look up at me and say "I want to do MORE houses!  LOTS MORE houses!"

Andrew went to bed shortly after Allie and I got home, then the three of us camped out on the front steps to pass out the rest of our candy.  Allie was the candy distributor and she complimented the kids costumes and wished them all a happy Halloween.  Jonathan and I would chuckle every time she'd shout "That's a cool costume!" to someone.  It was a blast.