How Old is Hallie?

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Lilypie Second Birthday tickers

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Aunt Ney and Aunt Kim's Big Day

Last Saturday was a big day for Aunt Ney and Aunt Kim, and hence for our entire family. Hallie's lovely aunts, and patron saints, saviors, and medical transport team, decided to tie the knot. Happily, Renee works in New Jersey, one of the few states that currently has legal civil unions for same-sex partners, and so we all tooled out to lovely Haddonfield a week and a half ago and visited the very friendly folks in the Municipal Building who were happy to get the ball rolling. While I was the official witness they provided, Hallie did a good job of corroborating my testimony with a few "ahs" and "gahs" and a couple of quick games of peekaboo with the administrators who filled out the form. For this she was duly rewarded with a few nice-sized licks of whipped cream from Renee's venti mocha frappuccino (or whatever it was that Neystice ordered).

A week later, we all gathered in a lovely garden in Haddonfield for the casual but festive occasion:

The wedding party itself was quite small and consisted of me, Sharon, the officiant (Trisha) and her partner (Trish), and, of course, our little ringbearer, Miss Hallie Rose.

Here are the beautiful rings:

Aunt Kim fashioned a little bag for Hallie to hold them in:

Here's Hallie posing with Aunt Neystice:

And with Aunt Kim:

And here's Hallie annointing the glass that her aunts would later break:

This is a nice picture of Ney and Kim as they take their vows:

And here they are putting the rings on each other's fingers:

And, finally, breaking the glass (this wasn't easy in sandals, but between Renee and Kim, they got the job done. They'll keep the pieces in a lovely glass vessel as a momento).

After the ceremony, we all went out for a lovely lunch (all of us ate except Hallie, who played with toys, watched the ceiling fan, and fussed a bit until I took her out for a several block stroll through downtown Collingswood). Amazingly enough, even though she's not been eating really well and we cut out the 4 am bottle, she still put on a ton of weight this past week and was 20 lbs. 13 ounces at her last feeding clinic appointment on Wednesday. I'm not sure how she manages it, but her weight is great and she's at the 10th-25th percentil for her ACTUAl age. Yay, Hallie!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TMX Hallie

...or our incredibly, increasingly interactive little girl.

Over the past couple of weeks, Hallie has become even more interactive. Which, if you know her, is quite something, since she has always been an amazingly social busy-body. But something has changed, and her personality is emerging more and more each day.

First, the TMX reference. As anyone who has been to our home knows (or as anyone whose home we have been to for a Hallie feeding session also knows), our girl has a big, big thing for Sesame Street. She eats to any one of five or six Sesame Street DVDs, she seems to follow along with the plot lines even when there is just dialogue and no songs. Since she's not much of a verbalizer, we don't know what she gets from these plots, but she breaks out in laughter, gets excited in anticipation of seeing her favorite characters pop onto the screen, and the like. Anyway, the other afternoon, Hallie was in her room playing with her books and I noticed that it was 1:30pm, so I switched on Sesame Street (we pick up four or five PBS channels in the Philly market, which is great, since it gives us multiple opportunities to watch our show). A few minutes later, it was time for Elmo's World. The first few bars of that rather famous (in our home, ubiquitous) tune sounded and Hallie gasped---literally gasped---screeched, threw her books down, and high tailed it over to the television screen. She stood there the entire time Elmo introduced his audience to dinosaurs patting the TV screen, trying to pull on Elmo's nose and making all sorts of cute screechy noises. I swear, they must have test marketed Elmo for the toddler set before releasing him to the world---they have got the perfect recipe for toddler addiction all wrapped up in a cute, red, furry monster suit.

Second, Hallie has a new obsession: her books. We had to pack away all of the books made of paper since she was ripping and eating them, but this gave her a new free reign over the considerable collection of board books that she owns. Her old favorites, Peek a Who and the Baby Faces book, are now in shreds---she has mauled them, kissed them, bent them, sat on them, and now begun to eat them. We will replace them. Meanwhile, she is a new fan of Elmo Loves You (her favorite part is kissing Elmo at the end---she is quite a kisser, our kid), Oh David (with whom she identifies strongly since she is also prone to making a mess, having a stinky butt, being a wiggle worm, standing up in her crib, refusing to open her mouth, and, last but not least, being swept up in her mommies' arms and told 'oh Hallie, we love you') and the That's not my fill-in-the-blank series of books. She also has a demonstrated soft spot for The Nose Book and Hop on Pop. She's such a big fan of her books that, like most toddlers, she insists on multiple readings of each. And she has taken to pointing to creatures (sometimes demonstrating knowledge---like when she points to Big Bird when we ask her where Big Bird is---and sometimes demonstrating a random capacity to point and separate her digits but not much else). But she has also manifested her stubborn streak where books are concerned and, rather than use the sign for more (which we are pretty sure she knows), she literally throws the book at us. She got the corner of my eye the other day, and bopped Sharon yesterday. Our next lesson (which we are certain she will also resist) is to teach her "gentle, gentle."

Third, Hallie's crush on our neighbor Karina deepens and grows more complex. Hallie and Karina both screeched and squealed with delight the last few times they were in each other's presence, and the other night, when we told Hallie to "kiss, kiss Karina," she crawled up to her, pulled to stand, put her arms around Karina and gave her a kiss. She did this again last night. Poor Karina, though. Hallie insists on chasing and following her everywhere and won't let her out of her sight. It's all very sweet to see and we wish we could even see more of Karina. We fear that Hallie is a bit bored at home and even if she's in a bad mood all day, the second she sees Karina (and our friend, Ethan, too) everything gets better.

And speaking of bad moods, let's not forget Hallie's new teeth. Way back when in May, Hallie got her first two bottom teeth. They were very cute and took a while to grow in. We thought that this was the beginning of a trend since she continued to have very extensive teething symptoms. But leave it up to Hallie to take an untraditional approach to teething. She spent all summer growing those two itty bitty bottom teeth into quite nice-sized chompers but added no new ones until this past week or so, when she acquired at least SIX more. She now has a full set of four on the bottom, a fifth on the bottom that she is working on, and four on the top. And we're pretty certain that she's working on her first year molars, too, since she always has something shoved in the back of her mouth (fingers, toys, tags, etc). Her teeth are quite sharp and we have to be increasingly vigilant about her use of them in inappropriate ways (like chewing off the cape of an Elmo beanie doll, which she did last week). We're hoping that she starts using them in more appropriate ways (like eating). Perhaps more on this later, since she has a followup appointment at St. Joseph's in Paterson with the Feeding Clinic.

Well, that's all for now. I hope to write more later or tomorrow, and maybe even get some pictures up!

Monday, September 17, 2007

What Do You Suppose Miss Hallie Rose Knows?

Hallie is a hilarious little kid. Every day, we discover new things about her and new tricks (for lack of a better term; yes, I know it sounds like a trained monkey and, yeah, right now we sort of are).

Here's a smattering of her latest repertoire, most recent one first:

1. Yesterday, Hallie started to play ball with me. Really play ball. She picked up her little yellow ball with the red stars on it (it's a nice size---bigger than a superball and smaller than a beach ball---so she can grasp it firmly. Then she threw it at me (overhand--the kid has a nice throw--so that it bounced once before it reached me). I caught it and threw it back. And then she did this again. And again. Sometimes rollling it, sometimes throwing it, but nearly always aiming correctly so that the ball reached me (this even though she was crawling about and hence throwing the ball from different locations. We did this for about fifteen minutes, which is bordering on forever in the mind of a one-year-old.

2. Hallie's receptive language seems to be exploding to an extent even we are unaware. In addition to Curious George (also known as "k") and Elmo, she's able to identify Big Bird. But her vocabularly, happily, is not confined to TV or cartoon characters. She also knows bear, book, ball, up, open, hi, block, bye-bye and probably a few other words. She definitely knows 'no' but still ignores this one! It's so hard to tell what she knows, frankly, since she is still so non-verbal. This has us worried but I am trying here to focus on the half-full glass.

3. How big is Hallie? "So Big!" I have to get a picture of this one, since she doesn't quite do it in the conventional way. Last weekend, Sharon taught this to Hallie, and now Hallie loves to perform this trick. But instead of stretching her arms way up over her head, she clasps the top of her head and holds it, making it seem like she is worried. Very cute.

4. Waving. We have a virtual waving machine here. She wakes up every morning waving at us, which makes us happy. She still does that cute little-kid wave where she curls her fingers in to her palm, sometimes holding her arm down, and sometimes raising it up.

5. FIrst signs of some desire to let go and walk. She thought about it yesterday and nearly took one step, squatted down, held that position for a bit, and then thought better of the whole enterprise. But you can tell that, finally, she is considering that walking might be an option. And in terms of things that we did not think she knew, the other afternoon when our friends Sheila and Brett and their adorable nearly-three-year old daughter, Alex, were hanging out here, Sheila asked Hallie to take a step toward her. And Hallie looked at Sheila and actively shook her head 'no.' We didn't know she knew that, and, like her words, we probably won't experience that one again for a while, but it's nice to know she can just say 'no' when she needs to.

6. And finally, Hallie loves to interact with her Sesame Street DVDs. The 35th anniversary celebration ("What's the name of that song?") is the reigning favorite around here and, amazingly enough, even after a gazillion viewings, Hallie finds the thing fresh and exciting. She laughs at SuperGrover's flying superhero antics; squeals every time Elmo comes on the screen, but especially in the lead up to the Operatic Lullaby segment; and claps heartily during numerous numbers. But, as they say, "nothing is better than a song about letters," and the best song of all is the Gospel ABC with lovely Philadelphia native Miss Patti LaBelle:

And, because I've been remiss about posting pictures, here's a few recent shots of our girl at the park:

Hallie loves sliding. I've even considered letting go and letting her do it all herself; I suspect she'd be fine with that, but I know that I won't until she can walk on her own.

And clearly, she is getting there:

The outfit in which Hallie was dressed on this fine early September day was one that I had discovered in her closet during the great Labor Day clean up. I discovered a lot of outfits that had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle and hence remained unworn. Six boxes of clothes ended up in the basement, but this was too cute to put away and I figure that she might get two or three wearings out of it before it gets too small on her or (more likely), the weather turns too chilly.

Anyway, the outfit includes the most adorable hat and Sharon and I were trying desperately to get her to wear it. Hallie, however, has a mind of her own:

I'm not sure what we're going to do once winter comes. She's going to be awfully cold without a hat and shoes on!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Make it a Double...

...ear infection.

At least we scored us some amoxicillin and have an explanation for why Hallie is ailing (and hopefully a cure that should kick in in the none too distant future).

The not so great news is that Hallie has lost a bit of weight again. She weighed in at 19 lbs. 11.9 ounces, which is about an ounce less than she weighed three weeks ago. At least she did not weigh any less than that. It's been a rough couple of eating weeks in these here parts (in contrast, it's been a great couple of weeks to own stock in Scott Paper Towels and Woolite Upholstery foam).

After Hallie's enormous weight gain of earlier in August, we were actually advised to back off on her bottle calories, so we were beginning to mix in some whole milk with her Pediasure/Neosure concoction. Needless to say, that's going to end!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hallie and the Surf(s) and Congestion Redux

On Labor Day weekend, Hallie had a grand time at the beach...

...followed by a grand time at the ball game. It was only the AC Surfs, but at least they won. (For those of you following sports here in the fine City of Brotherly Love, let's just say that we are known for our unreasonable loyalty to our teams that always let us down. The Phillies will break a lot of hearts again this year (maybe next year they could get a better and deeper bullpen? There's an idea for you) and the Eagles season opener yesterday does not bode well for the birds. Needless to say, our home teams get pretty far...just far enough to maintain audience and fan interest into the late season and often the post season. They just don't play like champions. I've heard it said that part of the problem is that we're a one-team kind of town. Back in New York (where I am from), there are usually two teams in the city (Yankees/Mets; Jets/Giants; Islanders/ get the picture) and that this helps keep the teams on their toes if they want to sell seats and make revenue. I am sure that having a GM who can buy the whole team doesn't hurt the Yankees either.

Anyway, Hallie had fun at the Surfs game, though it's not clear from these shots that she really took in any of the on-field action:

The shots were taken at night with Sharon's phone, which explain why they are not as clear as they could be.

On other fronts: Hallie had a great time at the block party on our block on Saturday, but has been having a rough week all around so far. I spoke too soon when I suggested in the previous post that our end of summer is turning out to be rather uneventful. As a matter of fact, the whole family has been felled by a pretty nasty cold that none of us really want or can afford right now (since we're very generous folks around here, we've also shared it with Karina, Mark, and Vanessa next door and hope that Josh, Nancie, and Ethan are immune to it. Particularly Nancie, since she is around 35 weeks pregnant).

Hallie came down with the sniffles last Wednesday, it turned into one of those colds that is accompanied by intermitten fevers and that produces nasty green and yellow boogers by Friday night, and by Saturday, the dreaded vomiting had begun again. She has been vomiting up pretty much one bottle a day (and they are now 6-7 ounce bottles, so they really count, not to mention that they are really productive of copious amounts of pink pediasure puke). She isn't choking on the bottle and then refunding it; rather, she waits until she has finished the bottle and is seemingly asleep. At this point, whatever mom is feeding her is generally lulled into a complacent place where she thinks that Hallie is beyond the point of all return and that the bottle is down for good. Then the coughing, choking, sputtering, and puking begin. They don't end until mom and baby are in a state of real distress, with Hallie screaming (often in hunger and exhaustion).

This is oh so very un-fun and we need it to end, pretty much immediately. I hate to think that what we experienced was a whole 3 weeks of congestion-free living, rather than an end to the chronic congestion of this summer altogether. We'll bring her in to the ped. on Wednesday. Our pediatrician basically said that a sinus infection can't be diagnosed until a cold has lasted beyond 10 days, but we are hoping that they take pity on us at the end of day 8. If things get worse than they are now, we'll obviously take her in before that (like tomorrow). This is a nasty, nasty bug that has given both Sharon and me major sinus headaches and has led to the rise in Kleenex's stock considerably, so we can only imagine how horrible Hallie feels.

Anyway, please keep your fingers crossed that this runs its course without any real intervention or that, in the event that it drags on and on, that we can get Hallie on amoxicillin ASAP to help clear things up.

*Note: this post was started on Saturday September 8th but not finished until Monday September 10th.

EI, Eating, and Hanging Out at the Beach

I can't believe that it's taken me all week just to contemplate sitting down to write another update; I have to say that starting up work again has really cut into my blogging time...

All in all, it's been a fairly uneventful end-of-summer for Hallie. (We LOVE uneventful; it's bad enough that her mamas can be major drama queens! I hate to be cryptic, but those of you who know us in real life may--or may not--know what we mean).

First, Hallie finally had her third quarterly Early Intervention team meeting. Yes, the math does not add up: Hallie has been in the EI system pretty much since a week after she came home back in October 2006. Since that initial meeting, we've had exactly 2 other follow ups. We requested the first one in December when we added our excellent OT, Amy. We were never told that EI was supposed to evaluate us quarterly, and were thus under the impression that they wouldn't come out again until we were aged-out unless we had an issue. In May, our next issue---Hallie's delayed speech and eating problems--prompted us to call our EI coordinator again. It was then that we found out that Hallie's caseworker had faked her visits to us (purportedly monthly) and quarterly follow-ups. No wonder the system has cracks in it! We're not sure what happened to that caseworker, but hope that she's not been reassigned to other (unsuspecting) families. If we hadn't been pushy enough, who knows how long that would have gone on. Anyway, in June we finally did get the follow up and were approved for Speech. Our current quarterly assessment was done, as is so much of EI, on the fly. First, they did not check with us (or two out of the three team members) and scheduled the evaluation to occur when Hallie was supposed to be hospitalized in August. Then, they never called us back. Finally, I called them again and again since our goal was to increase Hallie's Speech Therapy from once a week to twice since she's made only a little progress in the month that Jenny, a very good ST, has been seeing her. When I eventually got the caseworker on the phone, she said that she would set up something and chose a time three days later. Of course two out of the three team members were unavailable, but at least Jenny could make it. Now that the Labor Day holiday is over, we'll finally begin to ramp up Hallie's speech therapy.

Anyway, we really do adore our whole team. Here's a nice picture of Hallie with Crystal, the Special Instructor who was the first member of Hallie's team (she began working with Hallie back in November, when our girl would hardly tolerate tummy time on a boppy pillow).

As they say, "you've come a long way, Baby!" It's hard for Crystal to believe that Hallie was once so small, so frail, and so attached to oxygen tubing.

Meanwhile, Hallie's speech has picked up a bit on its own. She's still pretty inconsistent about talking and her voice is often very faint (we have just noticed that you can hardly hear her cry when she's actually in a bad situation; she must be missing whatever speech register she is trying to use. This is pretty frightening and unfortunately just reinforces our tendencies not to take our eyes off of the kid at any moment). But on a more positive note, we're hearing more consonants---she definitely has a "g", has been known occassionally to say "woo, woo" and likes to go around saying "dada-dada-daddy." We find this particularly ironic given our status as a two-mommy household.

She's also eating pretty nicely. In addition to her fondness for mozzarella cheese (ripped up finely) and our discovery that she loves mushrooms and olives, she's also done a lot better with tiny bits of pasta. She is very interested in self-feeding, and oreo cookies are one of her favorites:

It's a good thing that we're also working on great oral hygeine skills:

And, like her moms, Hallie has discovered the virtues of multitasking as a means of survival:

It's not all about work, though, around here. Yes, it's true that Labor Day is not a holiday that I or my students are permitted to celebrate (GRRRRR), but at least Hallie and Sharon got to go to the Shore for the long weekend. Hallie, as usual, enjoyed catching some rays. She spent Saturday at the pool and Sunday at the beach, floating on her baby raft in the former, and taking up surfing in the latter:

Doesn't she look cute and sandy? I'll be uploading a video of our girl cavorting with her cousins and posting it, and some pics of Hallie's first baseball game (not the self-immolating Phillies but the far more consistent Atlantic City Surfs) in my next post.